Saturday, September 29, 2018

Stained Glass

Day 2 of the conference. Productive. Marina and I have started drafting a minor in data science. Based on what we've seen here from folks in industry and at other schools, we already have the courses, really just a matter of packaging them together into a sequence for students to take.
The Utah Valley campus is impressive. The buildings are new, clean. The quad is lovely. There's a beautiful water feature in the quad:
The feature at the top has a sheet of water that looks really cool in slo-motion:

There's an alcove in one of the buildings that has a wall of stained glass under the heading "Roots of Knowledge". It's a kind of history of human knowledge in stained glass. It's an impressive piece of art--especially for a mid-sized public university.
Here is a close up of one of the panes:
I liked the juxtaposition of the mathematician Euler and Independence Hall. I'd never really contemporized those two entities.

I took Marina to the airport in SLC after the meeting. We stopped at Pizzaria Limone on the way up. Pretty tasty.

I fly out tomorrow morning. I'm taking two colleagues from Morehouse College to the airport with me. They were attending this workshop to help prepare for when they host a similar workshop at Morehouse later this year.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Data Science

The conference didn't start until noon. Marina, my Whitman colleague, wanted to go see a nearby waterfall. Since I have a car, I drove us out there to have a look. It's called Bridal Veil Falls (like so many waterfalls in this country haha). It was a couple of miles up one the of canyon roads.

It was pretty cold up there, about 45 degrees. We didn't stay up there long. We came, we saw, we took pictures, we left.


This conference is about incorporating data science into math curricula. It's at Utah Valley University.  The campus is lovely. The students friendly. We couldn't find the building where the conference was being held. We stopped a student to ask for directions. She tried to explain and then said, "Why don't I just walk you over there? I was just on my way to find a place to study. I can just study there." So, she walked us over there and we had a nice conversation along the way. She really seemed to like the place. She was a senior majoring in special education.

The afternoon was a series of panel discussions. A panel of industry folks talked about the skills they like to see in their employees. A panel of math professors talked about implementing data science in their departments. A panel of students in data science programs talked about their experiences. All very useful and informative to us as we think about how to set up a data science program at Whitman.

A former student Elly Farnell (nee Smith) is here. It was fun catching up with her. Also, Michael Dorff is here and it was fun catching up with him. As busy as he is, he always makes time to talk. His family is doing well. His oldest daughter, Rebecca, is now in the PhD program in math at BYU (Michael's dept). I chatted with her for a while too. I knew her when she was just a little kid back in Kentucky. She doesn't remember me though, haha.


This evening there was an organized dinner at the Sundance Resort about 15 miles out of town (actually up the same canyon road as Bridal Veil Falls). This is the same resort where the Sundance Film Festival is held (or was, it's been moved to Park City). It's a beautiful, rustic resort and ski lodge. Here's a random water feature on the resort property:
Dinner was good. To my right was a USC math prof, Eric Friedlander. I talked about USC with him for a bit. Nice guy. Not sure if Emily ever had a class with him though.


Back at the hotel now. Conference resumes tomorrow morning at 9am.

Thursday, September 27, 2018


Rachel dropped me off at the airport this morning, but not before a trip to The Salty Donut is kind of on the way to the airport. We shared three donuts. All were excellent. One came with a little bottle of rum.
Flights were on time today. After a 5.5 hr first leg, I changed planes in Las Vegas. I have to say I was briefly shocked at this sight as I emerged from the jetway:
But then I remembered where I was.

It's nice to be back in the American West. Seems like home. By the time I got down to Orem, UT, the sun had dipped behind the hills to the West:
As always, the Wasatch Range to the East is impressive:
But not as impressive as this Raspberry Rhubarb Vegan donut that Rachel and I had this morning:
Spent a little time this evening catching up with my dept colleague, Marina, from Whitman who is also attending this conference.

Another time change, another attempt to stay awake until 10pm. Eight minutes to go! According to the internet I'm about 5,300 miles from Sevilla and Laura. I'm sure her Spanish is improving by leaps and bounds now that I'm not around dragging her back to English.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Curly-tailed Lizards and Other Miami Sights

Rachel worked at the student center this morning. I walked down to Target to see if I could find a new pair of sneakers. I walked around the store twice and didn't see shoes and concluded that they didn't sell shoes at Target. I walked home. I was mostly in it for the exercise, so all good. Along the way I listened to the first episode of the Serial podcast. This season is spent entirely in the Cleveland court house following the more mundane aspects of criminal prosecution there. It was really good. I'll definitely keep listening.

When I reported my failure to find shoes at Target Rachel assured me there were shoes in Target because she went with Shubham once to buy sneakers there. I think I'll just see what there is in Utah this weekend.


Rachel came home for lunch and we had bean burritos again. I could probably eat them every day, so worked for me. After lunch, we walked to campus and found a nice place on the shady patio at the student center to "work". Some work happened, lots of people watching happened. This is a regular place for Rachel:
After a couple of hours, Rachel's laptop needed power, so we hunted around for an indoor place to work. We didn't find anything, but there were a couple of nice views of campus:

Also, on Wed there's a nice collection of food vendors in a temporary market on campus. A lot like Walla Walla's food truck gatherings. This fruit vendor's space was amazing:
Still looking for an indoor place to work, Rachel led me to her grad school office. There I met Gina, the administrative director of Rachel's program, and an avid cycling fan. We talked about the recently concluded Vuelta a Espana and the upcoming World Cycling Championships. Next, I met "Deshane" (not sure about the spelling), a grad student from Sri Lanka in Rachel's program. She'll be returning to Sri Lanka for a two-year period of data gathering about "road kill". In other words, she's interested in quantifying the effects of roads and other barriers to animal movement in Sri Lanka. She's also interested in approaches to mitigating those barriers. After her two years there, she will return to Miami and wrap up her PhD.

I'd like to say we got a lot of work done in Rachel's office, but between talking to Gina and Deshane, not much work really happened.

We walked back to Rachel's house and then on to a Mediterranean restaurant for dinner and then to the nitrogen ice-cream place for dessert.

Back at Rachel's now doing laundry and preparing to fly to Utah tomorrow for the conference.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


After a 6 hour time change, I managed to sleep relatively well. Got about 8 hours and woke around 6am. I went to the grocery store to get some food for breakfast and lunch.
Turns out it doesn't open until 7am, so I went and put gas in the car and by the time I got back, it was nearly 7am.


I did math most of the morning while Rachel worked on campus. She came home for lunch and then we went out to the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) located about 25 min drive from here on Virginia Key. Rachel had a class there. We went a little early and met Shubham at his home away from home, the University of Miami Aquaculture lab (also on the RSMAS campus).
The lab comprises a research building and a number of fish stock and breeding tanks. Shubham kindly showed us around and told us about a few of the fish stock they have there. For example, they have a large tank of flounder (which are impressively aggressive):
and disturbingly asymmetric. There are some hogfish tanks:

There were also mahi and cobia tanks:

Most of these fish are bred for research purposes by the Aquaculture lab. The tanks are all fiberglass construction and the water is supplied from a pump that just sucks water out of the surrounding bay.


After the tour, Rachel went to class and I just worked in the RSMAS library until her class ended.


We drove home through the slow Dixie Highway rush hour traffic. This evening we went to the Rathskeller bar. This is an on-campus bar that has trivia nights on Tuesdays. We had a nice time doing bar trivia with a few of Rachel's friends including Max and Shubham.


It was pretty hot most of the day. Perhaps not as hot as Sevilla, but definitely more humid. It's 10pm now, so time to cement my timezone transition by going to bed.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Back in Miami

Made it back to the US without much hassle, though a long 8.5 hr flight. Rachel picked me up at the airport and drove me to her place through busy Miami traffic like a pro. Went to a nearby burger place for dinner with Rachel and her friend Shubham. I had a good veggie burger. I also had a veggie burger for dinner last night in Madrid. I was left wondering if I was the first person to have veggie burgers on consecutive nights in Madrid and then Miami. Probably not. I am willing to state unequivocally that all occurrences of the aforementioned events have been after say 1950. So, even if it isn't a unique event, it is a relatively modern phenomenon.

As you can tell, I'm tired. I stayed awake through the whole flight and have managed to stay up until 10pm (as it is right now). Of course, 10pm here is 4am in Sevilla, so goodnight all!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Life in the Fast Train

Laura and I went up to Madrid today. I'm flying to the US out of Madrid for a conference tomorrow. We used that as an excuse to go up a day early and do a little sightseeing. The day started at a relatively humane 8am. We walked across the bridge and caught the 21 bus out to the train station. We were pretty early, so sat around for about an hour until our train to Madrid boarded. They took our tickets as we got on the escalator to the platform. At the bottom of the escalator there was a bag scan and metal detector. On the other side of the security check, I snapped this picture of the train (actually a couple of trains):
The seats were comfortable and the ride smooth. At one point my phone told me we hit 171 mph:
Everything ran on time and we arrived in Madrid at around 1:15pm. A short walk across the train station took us to the metro station. We still had our metro cards from when we visited Madrid in July. We just recharged them and took the metro out to our hotel (near the airport). Check in at the airport hotel went fine. I also made a 9:20am reservation on the hotel's airport shuttle for tomorrow. We took 5 mins in the room and went back down town to visit the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina SofĂ­a--our primary goal for this trip. This is a largely contemporary/recent art museum. They have some Dali and Picasso and many others. There was also a Russian dada-ist exhibition.

Here are a few pieces that caught my eye and that I actually remembered to snap pictures of. This one is in the "cubist" collection. I didn't remember to note the artist's name.
 Here I like the quote above the painting:
 These next two were by Dali. Done when he was young and definitely not like his more surreal stuff:

 This was in the room with the Dali's. Not my favorite pieces, except, I love the expressions on the two horses' faces:
This giant metronome actually worked:
The museum closed at 7pm. I snapped this picture of the stairwell as we left:
And of the front of the musuem:
We walked over to the Parque de el Retiro. Along the way we passed a statue of the famous Spanish artist Murillo. Mostly an interesting coincidence since we visited his feature exhibit in the art museum we visited in Sevilla yesterday:
In the park itself, there were a lot of people. It was a beautiful evening and I'm sure the throngs were not unusual:
Like everyone else, Laura and I took a selfie in front of the lake:
That's all from Madrid. Laura heads back to Sevilla tomorrow. I go to Miami for a few days, then to Utah for my conference.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Working Moms

The shortening days definitely evident as we move into Autumn. This morning I noticed that the sun hadn't even cleared the cathedral in el centro:
When I first started my morning walk/runs, the sun was way up by the time I got out there, usually around 8:30am. Now it's just barely above the horizon. I imagine at some point I'm going to have to delay my morning activities a bit just waiting for daylight.


A week after the procession that wasn't, a couple of young volunteers went down our street today with a ladder and a pair of scissors and took down all of the decorations:

They were not super confident with the ladder. One of the painters that was doing some touch up on the building across the street gave them some pointers on how to raise and lower the ladder and move it around. While they worked hard, the two seemed to be a liability lawsuit waiting to happen. They worked most of the day and it was hot.


During the daily shopping trip today, Laura spotted some ginger snap cookies. We both like them, so we bought some. Pretty tasty, could be a regular thing:


This afternoon, after the laundry was all done, we went to el Museo de Bellas Artes de Sevilla. There were paintings and sculptures with Sevilla connections dating back to the 15th century. The overwhelming majority of the art was religious in nature and Catholic to be specific. There were no photos allowed, but I snapped a couple of quick ones (no flash) of pieces I really liked. For example, this piece of tile dated back to 1490--two years before Columbus landed. I liked this because we live in the ceramics district of Sevilla:
This painting of Triana by Emilio Sanchez features la Puente de Isabel II (el mejor puente):
It dates back to around 1890 and, if our building existed then, it would be in among the buildings on the right. My favorite was this painting of women working in a tobacco factory from 1915 by the artist Gonzalo Bilbao. I liked it because we see a woman in the foreground breastfeeding her infant and the child's empty cradle next to her on the factory floor. We also see the women around her seemingly supportive. The challenges of the working mom from over 100 years ago:
The museum is housed in a block-sized building with a number of lovely courtyards:

There was so much in this museum, that I think I could go back several times and enjoy myself. Perhaps, once I get back from my conference next week, I'll head over there again.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Really Low Water Fountain

A few weeks ago the city installed a new water fountain on the main street here in Triana. Recently, I noticed that not only are there high and low fountains for accessibility, but there's a really low fountain... for dogs:

Hey, it's a hot city and there are a lot of dogs!


La Puente de Isabel II (our bridge, the best one) was particularly lovely this evening as I read down by the river:
If you have a really sharp eye, you can see some tents being erected on the far side of the river. Not sure what the occasion is, but we'll probably find out tomorrow. Might be a big deal, there seemed to be a lot more traffic today than usual around here.


We took the bus up to Carrefour this morning. We went looking for a reusable ice pack since I've got a muscle that's been bugging me after my morning runs. We found one, but it's not ideal. I think it's mostly for use in coolers not for putting on sore muscles. We'll probably just ourselves a more appropriate one.


Math was good. I found a couple more useful references. One that discusses centroids of convex polytopes and another that shows how to compute centroids using boundary integrals. I have an idea about how to glue these ideas together to get at some stability results for the Lloyd algorithm on convex polytopes.


Laundry tomorrow so we'll be ready to go up to Madrid on Sunday morning. I need clothes for the week since I fly to Miami on Monday.