Balanchine Short Stories, Jan. 20

Balanchine Short Stories was one of the NYCB Winter Season performances I was most looking forward to because I particularly love narrative ballets. The three pieces were Balanchine’s La Sonnambula, Balanchine’s Prodigal Son (which I saw ABT perform last fall), and Robbins and Balanchine’s Firebird (of which I’d seen two other choreographies, but not this one). Continue reading


JMM Wrap Up

I went to my first Joint Meetings in 2007; this year was my ninth. Obviously, the way in which I experience JMM has changed dramatically, but I loved it when I first went, and I still love it. Continue reading


Look, I’d be excited about any of the Astros I grew up watching making Cooperstown. I was ecstatic about Biggio two years ago, for example. But Jeff Bagwell is a different matter all together.

I went to my first games at the Astrodome when I was three or four. We sat behind first base, so for little!me it was natural for Bagwell, the first baseman, to become my favorite player. I went to games whenever I visited my grandparents in Houston during the season, and we kept sitting there, both at the Astrodome and later at Minute Maid. We kept sitting there, and Baggy kept playing first base for the Astros.

Those short bats for kids with signatures stamped on then? I have one with his signature. I have two stuffed animals (from different uniform eras) that bear his name and number. I have a 2005 World Series baseball that he signed. I don’t have memorabilia for any other player. Just Baggy. Even a decade after his retirement.

I’ve been waiting over the past few years, hoping, desperately wanting him to make the Hall of Fame. So when it became real today, it was not just the excitement I’d felt for Biggio. This was personal. It was a reminder of the little girl I was, playing a baseball-like game in the living room while wearing a dress, the Bagwell bat in my hands. This was the man I grew up watching more than any other player, a player who was a key part of me falling in love with the Astros and with baseball.

I almost cried trying to find these words.

Congrats, Baggy. I loved watching you play.

NYCB Nutcracker, Dec. 1

I went to see City Ballet’s Nutcracker last month. I’d seen a couple of different filmed versions of it at least a dozen times, but seeing it live was still wonderful. Spoilers/tl;dr: Balanchine choreographs perfectly for groups of women even in full-length story ballets,  I’ve never clapped so hard for a Nut grand pas in my life, and I still think the violin solo is heresy.

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JMM 2017 – Day 4

The last day of the conference was pretty relaxed for me. I had no obligations, so I just got to go to talks, look through the exhibits and the math art show one last time, and stop to talk to people that I ran into.

This morning I went to a nonlinear Schrodinger equation talk that I knew would have some material I wouldn’t understand, but it was related to a course I took last semester. I was able to understand the setup of the problem, the beginning of the solution, and the results, and I was happy with that. The other three talks I went to in the morning were all from the same research group, and they were about mountain waves (a type of gravity wave). One of the talks looked at the resolution necessary to fully understand vertical velocity and effect on potential temperature surfaces of these waves, and the other two were concerned with the effect on models of mountains waves of a two-layer or three-layer treatment of the tropopause.

After lunch, I went to some talks about teaching Discrete Math. These involved activities to promote active learning, thoughts on designing a course for a diverse audience, and using team-based learning. A couple of talks (including one that I missed) generated discussion about getting students excited about proving identities combinatorially instead of algebraically. (My ideal solution to this is to have people thinking about the meaning of combinations before talking about the expression in terms of factorials, but a lot of students have seen combinations in high school and would rather do the algebra.)

Finally, I went to Ingrid Daubechies’s incredible talk about using mathematics to help art historians and art conservators. She did a really good job going through work others have done as well as her own work to highlight the different mathematics that is used as well and the different types of art history, conservation, and restoration that can be aided by the use of math. Check out this site for some of Daubechies’s work; it’s pretty cool.

That’s the end of JMM for me! I’ll write a wrap-up post soon reflecting on the conference as a whole and how I spent my time, but it was another fun and inspiring year.

JMM 2017 – Day 3

I started today with my talk, which was based on modeling work I did for my senior capstone and continued over the summer. That went well, though the questions were really different from what I expected. I went to three other talks in that section, which was focused on business, industry, and government math, as well as a couple of talks about good homework or project problems.

I went out to lunch with my father and some friends of his from grad school, which was fun; we talked a lot about teaching generally and teaching differential equations in particular.

Most of my afternoon was taken up by the undergraduate poster session. I was presenting graph theory work that I did as an undergrad alongside a current student in the group. That also went well; we had good interactions with the judges and with other people who came by the poster. A professor whose work we cited stopped by for a couple of minutes, which is always cool

I went out to supper at a Mexican restaurant with students and staff from the Research in Industrial Projects for Students program. I did RIPS in 2015, and all the other students there were 16ers. At one point, we got to talking about math tests and competitions, and no one at my table had heard of the Mathematical Contest in Modeling. That’s a better competition fit for the average RIPS student than something like the Putnam, and a few people seemed really excited when I described the problems and the format. I also ended up talking for a while with a student who shares similar interests and applied to a lot of the same grad schools. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into supper, but I really enjoyed getting to know the 16ers.

JMM 2017 – Day 2

After a day of math research talks yesterday, most of the talks I went to today were in the Inquiry Based Learning session. That was all in the morning, and I got to hear people talk about using IBL in Precalculus, Real Analysis, and Discrete Math as well as discuss how they’d adjusted for very small classes or suboptimal spaces.

I also spent some more time wandering about the exhibits. There are always lots of cool books (data assimilation and uncertainty quantification and measure theory and…) and toys (120-sided dice and beautiful puzzles and knots!), and the math art exhibition is amazing.

From lunch on, my schedule was much more social. I had lunch with a group of Olin students ranging from class of 2010 to class of 2019, had coffee with someone else who works on the AMS Grad Blog, spent two hours volunteering at the Budapest Semesters in Math booth, and then went to BSM and Mathcamp alumni receptions. I also got to speak in (rusty) Hungarian with a woman who makes puzzles. It was a lot of talking with people, but I really enjoyed all of it, especially talking to prospective BSM students.

Finally, I went to the showing of The Man Who Knew Infinity, a film about Ramanujan. I enjoyed it, and it was a good way to end the day.

JMM 2017 – Day 1

I’m currently at the Joint Mathematics Meetings! I’ll be writing more about them after the meetings are over, but I thought I’d do a brief recap of each day.

Today was the first day of the conference. My favorite talks were about clouds and looking at different regimes of shallow cumulus clouds as phase transitions, continuous data assimilation without observation error for 2D Navier-Stokes, and using Massey and Colley matrix methods to predict winners of the Tony Awards. I also went to graph theory, modeling, dynamical systems, and math in sports talks as well as two invited lectures, one on cryptography and one on focusing nonlinear dispersive wave equations. (That last one was really related to a class I took this semester, so I understood a lot more than I would have a year ago!)

I was also pretty social today. I had lunch with a friend I’d never met in person before, met one of my mother’s friends, talked to another student in the graph theory sessions, said hi to someone I played board games with at JMM 2012, had a cool conversation about atmospheric science with one of the conference center workers, and then met an author/book blogger who also does math-related things and talked about books and math with her.

Overall, it was a really good Day One!

2016 Reading Summary

I already posted about my favorite books of 2016, but here’s a broader overview of what I read this year.

I have 174 items marked as read on Goodreads this year. Two were short stories that had been previously released that I read in an anthology this year, so from here on out I’ll treat this as 172 items.

Those 172 included 163 books, of which 32 were picture books. The other 9 were short stories. Continue reading