I was granted sabbatical leave for the Fall semester of 2004. I spent the semester living in Berkeley, California, and working at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. I played a major role in a program at the institute called Hyperplane Arrangements and Applications, which included three week-long workshops, several weekly seminars, and lots of mathematical discussions. I learned a lot of new mathematics, and I came home with four different collaborative projects underway, and many more ideas to pursue over the coming years.
I also used my time in the Bay Area to pursue my another passion, traditional music. I took mandolin lessons from the amazing Czechoslovakian mandolin player (and outstanding teacher) Radim Zenkl. I also took a lesson from a local bluegrass picker, Tom Kingsley. I played in a few Irish seisuns at the venerable Plough and Stars in San Francisco, and took a DADGAD guitar lesson from Rich Mandel, who teaches regularly at the Lark In The Morning camp. I went to weekly jam sessions/classes hosted by friends of a Flagstaff friend Avram Siegel and Allison Fisher (of the Kathy Kallick Band and True Blue), where I worked on lead and harmony singing, besides just picking. I went to one of the bay area picking potlucks. I did some mandolin jamming with internet friends Larry Berger (who's also a friend of a Flagstaff friend) and Arthur Stern. And I went to many outstanding concerts (see below), mostly at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley.
Because I had a child in high school, and one starting college, I moved to Berkeley solo. It was a long time to be apart from the wife and family, and that was difficult, but we survived, and it seems like it might have been a healthy thing to do. (Old married folks need sabbaticals too!) We're sure glad that part is over.
On the other hand, my brother Don, who's
a year-and-a-half younger
than me, lives in Berkeley (as he has for 25 years), and I was able to
spend a lot of time with him. Don does non-profit housing development
for the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Commission in San
Francisco. He is who connected me with Rich Mandel, who is one of
TNDC's tax consultants. (Real musicians have day jobs!)
To give a better idea of what the time
was like, I put together a
hyper-linked time line.
|August 2-13||I was one of the four
lecturers in the MSRI Summer
Graduate School on Hyperplane arrangements and Applications. I
spent the two weeks sharing an motel/apartment with Alex Suciu. We
talked a lot of math.
||I trained to Portland to
meet Darcy, who flew up for the weekend. On Sunday we drove to the
coast with some friends from Flagstaff, to attend a dedication ceremony
for our deceased friend Conny Frisch, who was the Siuslaw District
ranger before she moved to Flagstaff to be Kaibab Forest supervisor.
There is now a plaque honoring Conny on the bench on the Cape Perpetua
overlook, the highest point on the Oregon coast.
|August 15-18||I flew back to Flagstaff to
move Keenan down to U of A in Tucson, and to pick up my car.
|August 19-20||I drove to Berkeley from Tucson, about 15 hours total. Lots of time to think about what lay ahead!|
||I went to a Giants game with
my brother Don. Barry Bonds hit homer #699.
Introductory Workshop on Hyperplane Arrangements and Applications
I was on the organizing committee, who were expected to give most of the lectures. So I gave the first talk, a historical survey/introduction, and a second talk on resonance varieties later in the week. There were about fifty partici
||I went with a bunch of mathematicians (Dan Cohen, Nick Proudfoot, Trisha Hersh) to an Oakland A's game.|
||I drove to Palo Alto, to visit
Gryphon Stringed Instruments and our old Flagstaff friends Barry Gold
and Cindy Carpien. It was nice to be in a house with a family around. I
played a Collings MT at Gryphon and decided to sell my Summit.
||I went to my first "jam class"
at Avram Siegel and Allison Fisher's house. They are good friends of my
good friend and picking partner Julie Sullivan in Flagstaff. Avram is
the banjo player for the Kathy Kallick Band, and Avram and Allison are
members of True Blue, a popular Bay Area (very traditional) bluegrass
band featuring Del Williams. (Allison plays bass.) I used the jam
classes to work on my singing (lead and harmony), trying to develop a
better ear for harmony and more self-confidence. Avram is a good
teacher, and patient. As bad we sounded from time to time, he always
smiled and said "That was great!" The jam class continued every week
until November 10.
||I gave a two-hour
(interminable) lecture to kick off the "Cohomology Jumping Loci"
seminar. Alex and I were the organizers.
||Don and I watched the A's play
from a luxury box in Oakland Coliseum - he has "relationships" with
many bankers through his job; this is one of the perks. He's a big
||Another A's game - this time
we sat in the upper upper deck. Alex Suciu and Aaron Abrams came with
||I returned to Flagstaff for
a visit. It just happened to be Flagstaff Open Studios/FFOTM Fall
||I took my first lesson from
Radim Zenkl, the (amazing) "Czechoslovakian mandolin player." He came
to my place - my first visitor!
||I saw Altan in concert at
the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco with my brother Don.
||I drove to Santa Cruz to see
Laurel Bliss and Carol Elizabeth Jones with Tom Rozum at the Cayuga
Vault. I left Berkeley about 4:00 on Friday afternoon. "How bad could
it (traffic) be?" It took me 3 hours to get there, 90 minutes to get
back that night.
||Yet another A's game. This
time I got field level seats for half price, about 15 rows up behind
home plate. It was a lot like watching a real baseball game. Saw Ichiro
get a hit - he tied the record the next night.
|September 29 -
||Darcy and David flew to
Berkeley for a visit. We spent Friday hiking around Muir Woods. We took
David to see the Golden Gate. We spent Saturday and Sunday in Palo Alto
at the Bat Mitzvah of Jessie Gold, daughter of our friends Barry Gold
and Cindy Carpien, who moved from Flagstaff two years ago. There were
lots of Flagstaff people there. We drove out to Half Moon Bay and then
back along the coast, but missed the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
at Golden Gate Park. Bummer.
||I drove into the Mission
District to Larry Berger's flat for a little mandolin jam. We ended up
driving out to "Inner Sunset" to his friend Steve Cohen's house - Steve
plays guitar. It's always fun to meet another CoMando when I'm on the road.
Workshop on Topology of Arrangements and Applications
I was chair of the organizing committee. This relieved me of any obligation to give a talk, but I did attend every session. As I said in my closing remarks, the speakers provided enough food for thought to last us several years. It was exhausting.
||My brother and I went to the
Freight to see the Bay Areas favorite western swing band, Lost Weekend.
They were lots of fun.
||I gave an invited 20-minute
talk in the special session "Knots and Braids" organized by Ted
Stanford at the regional AMS meeting in Albuquerque. I talked about
resonance and characteristic varieties, and 2-plane arrangements and
2-bridge knots. It went pretty well, even though it was a little bit
"out of left field." It was the 1000th meeting of the AMS; I won the
big door prize!
||I attended the Allison
Fisher benefit at the Freight. Five bands: High Country, Eric and Suzy
Thompson, Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum, The Kathy Kallick Band, and True
Blue. A great show!
||I saw Bruce Molsky, solo, at
the Freight. I think this was my favorite show of the fall.
|October 21 - November 21
||I attended Bernd Sturmfels'
graduate course "Combinatorial Commutative Algebra" at UC Berkeley.
Interesting mathematics beautifully presented.
||We (a bunch of MSRI folks)
went to Stanford to attend David Eisenbud's Commutative
Algebra/Algebraic Geometry seminar, which meets at Stanford
periodically. Sergey Yuzvinsky gave an interesting talk about freeness
of certain modules associated with arrangements. A graduate student
mistook me for Eisenbud - I had to laugh, because I was wearing one of
my bluegrass caps, backwards, something I cannot imagine David Eisenbud
doing. Stanford is incredible.
||BAD Math Day (that is, Bay
Area Discrete Math Day) at UC Berkeley. Yuzvinsky and Graham Denham
gave talks about arrangements.
||The traditional Musicale
evening at the home of David Eisenbud, MSRI Director (and then
president of the AMS). I played O'Carolan on the mandolin and West Fork
Gals on clawhammer banjo. The rest of the program was chopin, Verdi,
German lieder, and Philip Glass. It was trepidatious in the
extreme. (Sorry, David!)
Workshop on Combinatorial Aspects of Hyperplane Arrangements
I had no official involvement in this workshop. It was great. Many very interesting talks (especially, I thought, Ken Brown's, Richard Stanley's, and Sasha Postnikov's).
||Darcy travelled to Berkeley
for a visit.
||Darcy and I drove to Palo Alto
and went to see the Kathy Kallick Band with our friends the
Carpien-Golds and their children.
||Darcy and I had dinner at Chez
Panisse. It was sublime. I try not to think about how much we spent on
||I saw Liz Carroll and John Doyle at the Freight and Salvage. Wild fiddling and incredible guitar|
||Radim called and came around
for a 90-minute lesson.
||I gave a lecture for the UC
Berkeley Mathematics Undergraduate Student Association (their math
club) during their traditional visit to MSRI. I talked about pencils of
curves and resonant weights, and showed Jim Swift's cool animations.
||Home to Flagstaff for
||I gave a lecture in the
Combinatorics Seminar at San Francisco State University. The talk went
well, and it was fun spending the afternoon with Serkan Hosten,
Matthias Beck, and Joseph Gubiladze.
||I had my third two-hour lesson
||Rich Mandel gave me a one-hour
lesson on backing Irish music on guitar in the DADGAD tuning. Then we
went to the Plough and Stars for a great seisun, with a flute and
concertina player named Jack, and some great fiddlers.
||I drove home to Flagstaff, a
day early to surprise Darcy. (She was.)