Monday, January 28, 2019


I slept until 9:30am this morning--very late for me. Still jet lagging I guess. In an effort to get back into the groove, I made a schedule of activities today and mostly stuck to it. Largely because of that, I was pretty productive today.

I read a couple of interesting articles about centroids (centers of gravity). The notion dates back to Euclid and Archimedes, but no one really knows where it originated. It's such a basic idea that it probably didn't originate with a single mathematician, but rather just emerged. The centroid is the balance point of a shape. For example, if you've ever balanced a plate on one finger, you found the centroid of the plate. The problem of finding such balance points is a recurring theme in geometry. I've been interested in developing a generalization of the centroid. This new project has me reading as many papers about them as I can.

My next task was to review my Spanish. I started my next Spanish language class today. Having been thinking and communicating in English for the past two weeks, my Spanish is rusty. I made some good progress there. I found a spreadsheet containing over 600 Spanish verbs and their conjugations in 20 different tenses. Laura helped me to cut out a lot of the tenses that I don't need right now and to focus on just 5 of them. Now I can pick a random line in the spreadsheet and practice conjugating.

I've been trying to read books that might be valuable to the data science class I'm developing. I finished Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari. A deeply philosophical, but clarifying look at human history. The burning unanswered question of the text ends up being: What is the purpose of our conscious awareness? Without a clear answer, the inevitable course of human development seems to be usurpation by unconscious artificial intelligence. I've now moved on to Factfulness by Hans Rosling (thanks Rachel). The premise of this book is that we seem to have an unwarranted negative view of the state of our world. We think that most of the world is poorer, more violent, and less educated than it actually is.

My new Spanish class was good. My new teacher, Piedad (means 'piety' in English), is very nice. Sadly, I was the only one of the 4 students enrolled in the class to show up today. I think this is largely the result of an email from the school administration saying that the class wasn't going to meet on Mondays moving forward. I checked in with the school this morning and was told that the class was returning to its original Mon/Wed schedule. I suspect that the other students in the class were not told of this return to normal. That said, it was nice to have 90 mins one-on-one with the teacher.

I didn't do my river walk until after class today. It was cool as the sun dipped, but the sky was lovely:

This sad sight is the end of the milk duds I brought back from the US. Jo-Anne bought a couple boxes for me before I left. They're not available here in Spain and Laura and I really like them every once in a while: