Well, Summer break is over, the days are surprisingly short already, the sky is rarely clear, and the students are back.
Warm-weather highlights ranged from the intellectual pleasures of my visits to Portugal and Chicago, to the rather more visceral ones of Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation at the Roundhouse, The Hold Steady at Shepherds Bush, and the diminutive Prince somehow filling up the massive O2 arena formerly known as The Dome. I also let my PhD Alma Mater pimp me to promote themselves, but I got lunch with the writer of Freakonomics out of it, and a surprisingly wonderful cocktail party at the residence of the used-car-salesman-cum-American Ambassador in London.
But now, back to real work. I’ve spent the day in front of my computer, more even than usual, dealing with the repercussions of our having decided to give the returning second-year students a test to get them to flex their mathematical muscles in preparation for the year — during which they’re liable to see lots of new mathematical and physical concepts for the very first time. We’ve decided to run the test through our online learning system, and, unfortunately, new technology almost always has its quirks: we had some fires to quench in the early hours of the day, but things seem to be running smoothly now. My proverbial and actual fingers are all crossed.
I’ll be covering quite a few of those new concepts in my second attempt at teaching our course on Fourier Methods; it didn’t go very well, last time, I must admit, and I’m hoping that the changes I’ve made in both the form and the content of the course — and the test they’re taking now — will make it better for the students. Feedback, positive, negative, or even ranting, is appreciated, from any present or past students.