Saturday, October 11, 2003

There were students in the fluid mechanics course this morning, but there was no lecturer. From what I heard, it sounded like most of the class was still mumbling over the homework, and was perhaps happy for the time to confer. I spent the time talking with another CS student taking the course, a graphics guy who I've known for a while and who is interested in a lot of the same simulation issues. And then I was able to go to the office at 9:30 instead of 10:00. So while I'm disappointed that I missed the lecture, I did at least get some unexpected time out of it.

I spent the afternoon working out the slides for the talk to Anant's group. I think I have them in more-or-less final form, except for a few at the end. My talk is scheduled for this Friday now, and I'm glad it's so. I look forward to giving this talk, but I also look forward to being done with it. I have too many things on my plate right now. That's eternally true, but it makes it no less a relief to be able check tasks off.

I had an interesting conversation with Anant, Mike, and Tracy after dinner this evening. The conversation wandered back and forth across a range of topics, as conversations often do. At some point in the natural flow of topics, Tracy commented that my speech reminded her very much of a Pennsylvania Dutch colleague. I said I thought it was likely in the vowels, since that's what I notice most when I'm among relatives in Pennsylvania. She thought it was the lack of variation in my tone during normal speech.

I thought a little more about Tracy's observation later. I've been told the same thing on other occasions, but I still have not figured out why my accent should sound Pennsylvania Dutch. It's true that this is my mother's accent, and the accent of her side of the family. But it isn't my father's accent, nor the accent of where I was born (Iowa), nor the accent of Maryland, where I spent my years from middle school through the end of college. And I know there are traces of all those places in my speech. So why does the contribution of a specific Pennsylvanian subdialect stand out so?

I made fried potatoes and sour cabbage with honey and apples this evening, and Anant made daal. Surprisingly, the three dishes went together reasonably well. Tracy likes this variant of sour cabbage better than the one I often make (with garlic and pepper), while I think Mike prefers the other version. Anant didn't express a preference. I'll happily eat either.