Some of you have been wondering how my thesis is going. Well, in the long tradition of grad students before me, I am delaying graduation another term to take more time to write. So, instead of a mediocre product by next week, I'll have a couple more months to hash things out and get something I'm happy with, probably even a publishable paper.
I am only hoping the many litres of Coke I bought to finish this weekend will not go to waste.
Today I received anohter American Mathematical Society credit card application. Basically, they offer this Platinum Plus card with up to a $100,000 limit where instead of a rewards program, money is donated to the Society. However it mentions several times on the application that my household income must be above $35,000/year. Surely they know I am a grad student. Do they want me to apply anyway? What sort of blingtastic grad student makes that much? *sigh* . . .
I don't know when universities started implementing interlibrary loans, but I can now say that, in my experience, the system works. I put in an order for a book that is not available at the University of Saskatchewan, and about 10 days later, I've got a copy from the University of Alberta. Excellent.
One small problem with this text, independent of the loan system, is that it is written in German.
I don't know any German. Fortunately, my supervisor has provided me with some useful dicitonaries (dealing with general, scientific and mathematical terminology respectively) to help decipher this beast. Fortunately the math is the same. Unfortunately, I am more interested in the descriptions of the physics behind the math in this case.
There are also a number of German-speakers floating around the department. I suppose techinally they are Germans, not just people who know how to speak German.
This type of situation is the reason that math degrees have a language requirement. In addition to English (assuming you are taking your degree in English), you are expected to have a working knowledge of at least one of French, German or Russian, as those three comprise the other major languages of publication. I've actually put my French to a bit of use in this regard, but fortunately the bulk of my research has involved English or translated publications.
Before the White Cowbell Oklahoma excitement, however, we (Tim, Grant, Mike, Ben and I) went out for dinner. This being Alberta, steaks was the meal of choice, and I arrived just in time for us to leave for our reservations at the Hy's in Edmonton.
Hy's is a fairly classy place. They have a sign saying proper dress is required, but they don't seem to enforce it too strongly (we had a couple collared shirts, a couple t-shirts . . . I was in a t-shirt after removing my Sybian Athletico bunnyhug). What might have been a posh dinner for other patrons turned into a contest of wills for our table. Upon examining the menu, we got into a discussion about how big a steak is (based on its size in ounces), and how much somebody should order. We noticed that the biggest steak on the menu was a 24oz porterhouse. Mike, feeling lucky, bet me the price of the meal that I couldn't eat the whole porterhouse order (veggies and potato included). I wasn't sure if I could, but was willing to give it a shot. Ben, Grant and Tim acted as judges.
After a solid effort, I still had food left when everyone else was done. This is often the case when I eat with other people, though, so nobody was counting me out yet. Mike's shoulders started to slump as I plodded through the last few bites. It was not quite the monolithic slab of meat he was hoping for (it was no Great Outdoors steak scene, for example), but to his credit he made good on his end. I was a little woozy heading out of the restaurant, but otherwise in great spirits. I made a point of drinking beer later and they made a point of poking me in the stomach.
As I said at the time, this was partially in response to a dare/bet made in first year, where certain "friends", many of them readers of this journal, encouraged me to chug a Hermannator (strong dark beer, 9% alcohol, about 800mLs) right before one of our exams. In retrospect, that exam was not a big deal (look at me now!) and I'm sure the $50 they were offering would have made the apres-exam festivities that much more festive.
Saturday night in Edmonton saw our little crew at Side Track, a bar a block from Tim's place. I was a bit uncertain what kind of place it was, as there were some cowboy hats present but it didn't feel like a full-on country bar. Also, there was a signup sheet at the door for a/the wet t-shirt contest (whose entrants amounted to a couple girls and a guy).
The opening band did not play the kind of music I'm used to hearing anywhere. Ben called the type of music "cow punk", which seems pretty fitting. The lead singer had one of those big country guitars and a cowboy hat, but his band mates had backwards baseball caps. The music was kind of like that, with a country feel over a nouveau punk sound. Interesting. Oh, and they covered Motorhead's Ace of Spades, which was cool.
The headline act for the evening: White Cowbell Oklahoma. Their genre of music was much more country than the opening band, but still . . . edgy. The exploits of White Cowbell Oklahoma are well-known in Toronto, or so we were told in some promotional material. At the beginning of the show, there were about 9 people on stage (just a regular bar stage, with room to comfortably accomodate a band of five with guitars and drums and such). Some played guitar, others sang, they had a drummer, one guy hit either a cow bell or wood block. Then after a few songs they were joined by people I had originally placed as being part of the entourage, so there were a good 15 people on stage. The second wave consisted mostly of dancers, and they would go out into the crowd and try to get people pumped up. The crowd was quite into it. I couldn't figure out how much I liked them, but they had great energy and if I weren't rolling around in a steak-induced blur I might have gotten more into it.