Wait, when was the last time you blogged?
Since my last post, I took a new position at California State University, Fullerton, got tenure, became vice-chair of the department, had to give up homeschooling my three boys, coached a tremendous amount of Little League, and ran my first marathon. I’ve also gone from being an enthusiastic (maybe even avid) gamer to a certified hobbyist (read “nutjob”). My gaming collection far exceeds 300 games, with some number of expansions in the triple digits. But you didn’t come here to read me bragging about my game collection—if you did, then you should come over and play some games with me. You came for the kind of insightful commentary you read over at dy/dan or Solvable by Radicals. Well, I might be a touch out of practice to reach those levels.
Why blog again?
I’m going to assume you aren’t asking that question as a way of passive-aggressively suggesting that you were quite happy with me not blogging and that you would prefer I had kept my keyboard shut. Instead, I am going to assume that you are genuinely curious as to why a successful (some would say amazing) professor and father, who has achieved all conceivable forms of academic and personal success, would feel the need to say anything to the math edu-blog-o-sphere (is that still a thing?). The answer is simple: a promise.
A little dramatic isn’t it?
Yeah, well, a big change requires something drastic, right? In this case, though, the something drastic was a not-so-chance meeting with Bret Benesh at the MAA MathFest in Cin City. For those of you who don’t follow the comment section of Bret’s blog, I’ve been a long-time reader and occasional responder to Solvable by Radicals. Over the years, we have communicated via blog comment section and even a few times by email, but we had never met in person. When I saw that Bret was planning to go to MathFest, I immediately commented on his blog that I would be going. Naturally, he didn’t see it before the conference, but amazingly he saw my name in the program and sought out my joint talk with colleague Matt Rathbun (I’ll describe the talk in my next post). After the talk he found me, and then I got to have a fun conversation over lunch with Bret and his super cool patient wife, along with Matt and another new friend and CSUF alum Michael Martinez. Recently, Bret started blogging again after a hiatus and the world is a much better place because of it. He encouraged me to start again, and, well, I promised that I would write a blog post on the airplane ride home. And you don’t break your promises to your heroes!
So, do you actually have anything to say?
Wouldn’t you like to know?
Yes. that is why I asked, and why I am reading your blog.
Hmmm…you called my bluff. Here’s the deal. I’ve done a lot over the past seven years and some of it might even be worth mentioning. Let’s keep this stuff compartmentalized, though. This blog post fulfills the promise. The next one will get into some real thoughts on—well, anything I find relevant. The good news for me is that I am clever enough to be able to connect to my work to anything in which I’m interested, and not so clever as to realize when I’ve jumped the shark.
Fun fact: Students today are more likely to know the phrase “jump the shark” than to have any clue as to its etymology.