Friday, March 30, 2012

It's a wrap. A math rap.

Well, that's it. So ends my postdoc at York, and so begins my maternity leave. Work seems to have ended much better than I could have expected, with most everything tied in a big neat bow.

Here is my 3-step lesson in getting things done.
Step 1: get pregnant.
Step 2: realize that all the stupid things you've been putting off really aren't going to get easier to do once the baby arrives.
Step 3: do them.

I submitted four papers this month! FOUR. You can check out my (almost) full opus on the arXiv, or on my updated website. I even updated my CV so it is ready to go for the 2013-2014 job market.

I also threw out all my notes from graduate school today, with the exception of one course (Group Theory and Geometry). Strangely, I had the hardest time getting rid of my functional analysis notes. Why? I think if I could be reborn as a different type of mathematician, well, I'd probably pick mathematical biology, and then maybe even statistics, but after that I would be a functional analyst. Instead I'm just a lowly discrete geometer... sigh.

Now on the agenda for the coming days/weeks/period of time before the inside baby becomes an outside baby:
- converting my office into a baby room (this is in fact more for the purpose of selling the house, and less for the baby, who probably won't ever be far from P or me)

- Yes, selling the house! This means lots of de-cluttering, painting, fixing up little things, and "staging": where we pretend to live a minimalist lifestyle... with a new baby

- weekly visits with the midwives

- finishing my three ongoing knitting projects

- making a lot of food for the freezer

- watching the rest of Arctic Air

- other stuff

- writing long winded and pointless blog posts [oh, check]

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I get on the TTC...

Well, I actually think I have mentioned this awesome track in the past, but it deserves re-mention because basically because, right?

This has turned out to be a little bit of a pregnancy pet peeve for me. I don't like taking the TTC now that I'm more visibly pregnant, and the weather has the bump less layered up. It isn't because I am uncomfortable, I just don't like people abandoning their seats for me. Sometimes I don't want to sit, but people can be pretty insistent. And sometimes I do want to sit, but I don't really want to displace anyone.

There was also the time that an old lady used my standing on the subway as an excuse to scold some teenagers, that was no fun for me at all. The teens were actually pretty awful, but I didn't want to be in cahoots with the old lady. She kept giving me the eye, but I wasn't into it.

Today a woman struck up a conversation with me on the train (about my belly, of course), and then told me about her two children and one grandchild. I had to be surprised... she only looked to be maybe ten years older than me. I asked her for the secret, she said it is Nivea. Seriously people, get some of this cream. That and apparently she drinks green tea after eating muffins, cakes or bread. Hm. I was more interested in her skin care routine.

Also today I made the interesting decision to run for the bus at York. The driver actually honked at me and indicated that I should walk... I guess me running doesn't look as good as it feels at the moment (feels surprisingly fine).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The three paper day

I probably shouldn't count my chickens before they hatch (weird analogy at the moment), but today may have been a three papers finishing kind of day. And it is only Tuesday! 

I submitted one paper today, the second has a few details remaining to be attended to, and then it needs to be checked by the UK Super Secret Police before we submit (not entirely joking, due to my coauthor's part-time job doing top-secret stuff, they need to make sure he isn't giving away the master plans or whatever), and the only thing standing between me and submitting the third (single author) paper is... just doing it. 

Woo! No really, Woo! 

However, submitting a paper is not necessarily the most straightforward thing to do these days. From a technical perspective, I spent a week trying to submit my last paper, and was only able to do so with much help from the tech support folks (with 33 beautiful figures, the online uploader was quite hostile). But more importantly, there are currently some interesting things afoot in the academic publishing world. In particular, many mathematicians (and other scientists) are currently boycotting Elsevier journals. There are several reasons for this, chief among them being the high prices, the company's practice of "bundling" journals for sale to libraries, and Elsevier's support for several policy matters which are seen by some to curtail the open dissemination of scientific knowledge. All this is especially alarming when you consider that the journals receive free labour from their authors, referees and editors. 

I suppose the fact that I am not going to submit paper #3 to an Elsevier journal isn't exactly going to cause any ripples over there (not like the Fields medalists and other fancy math folks who are withholding their submissions). 

In other science policy news, here is an interesting article about Canadian scientists. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

36 weeks and building my nest

Here is my 36 week minus one day belleh:
So: nesting is on. Never has cleaning out the fridge taken on such importance (complete with new lightbulb, how satisfying).

Here is a drawer full of tiny garments!
Here is another drawer full of highly glamourous birth items (I'll spare you the details)!
There are more drawers holding yet more delights, and mountains of laundry to be done. 

The other news this week is that this baby has dropped somewhat. In theory they do this a few weeks before making their appearance on the "other side," but I'm hoping we get the full four weeks. There is so much more cleaning to be done, and at least three knitting projects to be finished! As a result of this "lightening" I have a little less pressure under the ribs, but A LOT more downward pressure in general, eehh.

This is my last week of work, and I hate to say it,  there are still three papers to go. But they are all so close! Wish me luck.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Best pregnancy comment yet

From pretty serious hungarian mathematician (male, if it matters), on my belly:
"The convexity is good."

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

If I had to pick a type...

Well, I guess the 35 weeks + 1 day update is a little silly, but I saw the midwife this morning. Actually, I saw a new midwife (kind of like the back-up to the back-up midwife), who has more than 30 years of midwifery experience. We were talking about the unpredictable nature of this whole business of being born. She took a look at me and said, "If I had to pick a type to go into labour early, it would be tall women carrying small babies low in the pelvis." Oh. Noes.
On a bright birthing note, Dalton McGuinty today announced that Ontario will open two birth centres, which is an excellent step in a good direction for allowing women more choice in how and where they deliver their babies.

Speaking of which, I feel suddenly incredibly lucky to be receiving such amazing prenatal (and eventually,  postnatal) care in the hands of the Midwives Collective (and it really is amazing). I just learned that of about ten women in my prenatal yoga class, only two of us were able to find midwives (due to a midwife shortage in Ontario). Some of the women had somewhat astonishing stories about their OBs (e.g. at 25 weeks, only having met her doctor once for all of two minutes).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

35 and 35

Well, tomorrow I'll be thirty-five weeks, with thirty-five days to go. Ahhhh! Even pregnant from the front now:
I have two more weeks of work, and unfortunately, still three more papers to write. There are also only two more weeks between me and the "full-term" baby designation. I'm reassured to learn that the neonatal intensive care unit rarely gets babies who are older than thirty-five weeks. Still, there are lots of reasons for this squirmy bean sprout to keep cooking (three papers being one of them).

Here is a portrait of the belly, and a broom.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What to do at 4am

Suppose you wake up at 4am and can't get back to sleep. Maybe someone is practicing the running man, inside your belly. Here are some things you could do.
1) change into the second possible sleeping position (right side)
2) try to hypnotize yourself
3) think about giving birth (tip: this won't help you get back to sleep)
4) get up and get going!

Today I picked option 4 (OK, after trying options 1 - 3 for a quite some time). My workday started so early! I made this:

Monday, March 12, 2012

A few more things

Check out my new chandelier! I think it is one of my better roadside finds, especially when compared to what was in its place previously (bare bulb). It is yellow.
One thing I forgot to mention in the 34 week update is that I now have three weeks left of work, and three papers to finish in that time. Woo and also Ahh!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thirty Four

34 weeks, really?

Not so much to report this time, except the new thing: baby hiccups! Yes, I was wondering if and when I'd feel these, and it has begun. It is kind of cute, but I also feel bad for this poor bean, who seems to squirm around extra at hiccup time. On a separate note, last week I took the big belly out for a swim, it was quite nice to feel weightless-ish for a while. The only downside is that I don't have any maternity swimwear, so the community centre patrons are subjected to the bizarreness of me in a bikini. Ah well.

Here we go!

Two people today told me that I'm having a boy (although one of the people said that it was a boy, because I'm carrying low... and teh internets says that if it is a boy then it should be high so....). Yesterday someone told me I had a movie star pregnancy. I'm not sure exactly what that means, but I'll take it. I also heard a lovely birth story yesterday from a woman at yoga, which was a welcome change from the mostly bad stories I've heard from others. I'm looking forward to writing my own story.... I hope that it can be a positive one.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A few links

This is just a few bits of silliness.

First off, this reminds me of everything I love AND hate about California: there is now a "yoga room" at SFO (which sadly I missed on my recent pass through there). I would like to use this, but also to scoff at it.

Secondly, do you know about cat cafes in Tokyo? Apparently since there are so many people living in the city there are tight regulations on how many of those people can own pets. But it is OK, because if you can't have your own cat, you can go to a cat cafe and hang out with cats! Here is just one example. I could really stand to go hang out with Kantaro and Birt right now.... Kantaro is apparently a wheedling cat, and Birt just looks like a cool guy. Plus, everything is cuter in Japan, even cats.

This also reminds me of my visit to the Poozenboot in Amsterdam.  I miss my poozen.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A tale of two hats

Here is a little baby hat that I knit for my cousin (whose baby is due two days after mine):
Here is a little baby hat that my cousin knit for me:
I guess we must be related or something.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Palo Alto report

I'd like to tell you about three wonderful days that I spent in Palo Alto and environs. I was hosted by the lovely Dr. Ms. A., who provided excellent many-pillow accommodations. I slept like a (strange bumpy) log.

First of all, basically it is summer there. Not really, but the weather was niiiiiiice, the sun was shining, and there are palm trees everywhere! I even got to go swimming outside, which was funn with two 'n's. 
Here is a pigeon that tried to eat my mochi. No luck, bird. Because it was so warm out, I wasn't wearing my puffy coat, so this was the first time that strangers were reacting to my belly. The woman in the mochi place actually reached over the counter to give it a pat. Yep, it is hard to resist.

Speaking of eating, A. and I basically ate our way across SF. There was the Burmese food (with the wonderful Mako!), custom/flash frozen ice cream (spicy chocolate, if you must know), a ramen noodle lunch and a mochi in Japantown, and finally a burrito the size (and weight?) of my head in the Mission. I NOM SF.
 Maybe the bird was trying to tell me something....
Here I am in San Francisco. I really liked the light on the hills in the background, they are sunny and dusky and just nice. Plus you can't really see it but there is a bakery on the corner there which is really good, and I'd like to go there riiiiight now.

Now we come to Palo Alto. This apparently is what a university looks like, if the university is Stanford. It is pretty fancy.
I was probably too excited to see this Kenneth Snelson piece on the campus there. I have seen images of this guy's work so many times, but I'm not sure I've ever actually seen one of his pieces. This one is called Mozart I (1982). So here is the question: how does he make these things? Well, according to this awesome quote on wikipedia, it is achieved through "a win-win combination of push and pull." Yes. This is a tensegrity, which is a major topic of interest for rigidity theorists. The thing is, we don't have a general method for making these types of structures in 3 dimensions or higher. Trial and error works, which is what must be at play in Snelson's win-win sculptures. We know exactly how to make planar versions of tensegrity frameworks, but no general methods exist in higher dimensions. In fact, Snelson's sculptures really inspired this whole branch of mathematical inquiry, which is a nice little art inspiring science link.

Safety first for prego bikers. Happily Palo Alto has good bike routes, so we stayed off the road for the most part.

 Speeding off into the subset on Palm Drive, the quintessential California car, a Prius. The end. It was a great trip.