As a youngster, I often responded to inquiries about my day with
I ate lunch; I had recess;
and... um... I've changed in many ways, but my response to such pleasantries has changed
little. I know people who can reply smoothly and quickly to such inquiries, and to other social
pleasantries; I have not decided if the smoothness of their response comes from some
quickness of thought that I lack, or whether some habit or reflex allows these people to handle
such routine interactions without any thought.
When I spend a day writing and revising, re-reading papers I've cited, and generally chewing
over the presentation of a few technical ideas, I have an even harder time answering social
questions. Writing code, sketching calculations, and related pursuits can be wordless things,
difficult to express even to someone who asks about them with more than a perfunctory social
curiosity. But a day of wordsmithing, perhaps, engenders the opposite problem. It's all too
easy to express the words I've been thinking about all day. Do you want to hear why local
moment-matching approximations are so attractive for producing reduced models of RF resonators
with anchor losses taken into account? Or would you like to hear how to formulate the analogue
of Sommerfeld's radiation condition for linear time-harmonic elasticity problems? The answer,
of course, is likely a resounding no: the question
what's up? is an invitation
to a smile and a nod, perhaps, but not to an impromptu lecture, let alone an impromptu research
presentation. So I smile, I nod, and these days -- usually -- I keep my impulses in check
and stick to safe topics of conversation, like what I had for lunch; at least, that's what I'll
do until my mind has had time to warm to some more mutually entertaining topic.
I had New England clam chowder for lunch, and a cup of Russian Caravan tea afterward. And dinner was a scramble of leftovers, combined in a way that called for no particular culinary skill, with some spiced black tea later. Oh, and I spent some time writing, and some time managing my recipes. Or managing my references. Um...
- Currently drinking: Hot water with lime