Sabbatical 2011-12: My European sojourn

I was granted sabbatical leave for the academic year 2011-12. My colleague Eva-Maria Feichtner had invited me to visit her at the University of Bremen for an indeterminate amount of time, as a guest professor, so I decided to try to piece that together with other things in order to spend an extended length of time in Europe, to visit my other colleagues there and perhaps attend a few European conferences that I ordinarily wouldn't be able to. Dave Cornelison, formerly of the NAU Physics Department, had suggested a year earlier that I might apply for a Fulbright Scholarship. One day, while listening to some of my favorite Celtic music, I had a "brain wave" - I realized that there was a topologist in Dublin, Tom Brady, that I had met many years before, who works on similar kinds of things, and knows some geometric group theory and combinatorics that might be useful to me. I emailed him about "my wild idea" about two weeks before the deadline, and managed to get an application submitted. Meanwhile, I had also talked to my old friend Sergey Yuzvinsky, who has often visited the Max-Planck Institute for Mathematics (MPIM) in Bonn, about whether that might be a good place for me to spend some time. He recommended it heartily (well, in a taciturn kind of way, as you wouldimagine if you knew him). Expecting that the Fulbright application would be unsuccessful, I applied for two months' residence at MPIM. In fact, I made arrangements with my colleague Alex Suciu that we would both visit Bonn in Fall, 2011.

In the event, both of my applications were successful, and last year I lived in Dublin for four months, Bonn for two, and Bremen for six weeks. I travelled around Ireland a bit, and to Belfast, and visited Bonn and Bremen from Ireland, co-hosted an arrangements workshop in Bremen in May, attended an arrangements summer school in Pau, France, and visited Alex Dimca in Nice. Alex Suciu changed his plan, so I was by myself in Bonn for six weeks in the Fall, a very productive period, and then spent three weeks there with Alex and Graham Denham in May. My Fulbright application had included some verbiage about my musical interests, so I felt obliged to partake of the Dublin music scene, and I did. By the end of my stay I was playing in three weekly sessions, two Irish and one "American old-time stringband," two at the Cobblestone Pub in Smithfield, Dublin, and the other at Duffy's in Malahide. I also attended many concerts, some of my longtime heros: Andy Irvine, Kevin Burke, Altan, Planxty, and some that were new to me: Lisa Hannigan (my new favorite), Triur, Enda Reilly and Stephen James Smith, and many others. I made many musical and mathematical friends in Ireland, and cann't wait to have a chance to go back - it was very interesting and lots of fun.

Here is a listing of the major events, mathematical, musical, and otherwise, during the year. It's unfinished, but I figured I'd post what I've done so far, and continue editing as I have time.