This is going to be a long trip! The original plan was to arrive in Atlanta at 2 pm on Wednesday, May 3, rent a car and drive to Athens, GA to hang out with my friends and attend Hans Parshal’s Ph.D. defense on Thursday. On Friday I was suppose to drive to Atlanta to speak at the analysis conference at the Kennesaw State University, then fly to NYC on Friday evening in order to speak at the AMS Special Session at Hunter College on Saturday morning. On Sunday morning the plan is to fly to Seoul, South Korea, to speak at the conference in honor of Peter Jones. The following Sunday I am due to fly from Seoul to San Francisco to speak at the analysis workshop at MSRI. This is an insane plan and it was certain from the beginning that logistical obstructions are inevitable.
Small problems began on Day 1, namely Wednesday, May 3. My flight out of Rochester was delayed and I did not arrive in Atlanta until after 3 p.m.. The folks at Payless Car Rental, all wearing the unmistakable “I don’t give a fuck” grin on their faces claimed that I arrived too late and economy cars were no longer available. They offer to rent me a slightly more expensive vehicle, which I rejected as a matter of principle. After a short exchange of pleasantries I retreated to a nearby bench and reserved a car at roughly the same price with Alamo on Priceline. Just after 4 p.m. I was finally on the way to Athens, GA.
Since I left after 4 p.m., I was driving into the teeth of the Atlanta rush hour. It was nearly 6.30 p.m. when I finally reached Yorgis and Lenore’s house, tired yet deeply amused by the number of gun shops I passed along the way. Yorgis and Lenore treated me to a wonderful spaghetti carbonara and some very pleasant wine. I followed this experience with a double single malt scotch with Neil and Akos and the nearby bar. There is nothing quite so satisfying as catching up with old friends, especially when mathematical ideas try to penetrate the murky haze induced by sleep deprivation and a light buzz.
In the morning Yorgis and revisited some of our favorite problems that we have been beating our heads against wall over for the past few years. The one problem that has been the absolute bane of my existence is the question of how large , prime, needs to be to ensure that
Derrick Hart and I proved almost ten years ago that the conclusion holds if and I fully expected the problem to be solved by now. But no such luck! The exponent has not moved below at all, not even by a logarithm. I have not heard a plausible idea to advance this problem in a very long time.
After a very pleasant lunch at the Royal Peasant, Yorgis and I returned to the department, chatted with Neil and Akos and then went downstairs to attend Hans Parschal’s Ph.D. defense. Hans did a fantastic job and the presentation smoothly transitioned to a trip to the local beer garden followed by an excellent dinner at an authentic Central American restaurant.
The plan to speak at the Kennesaw State conference began to unravel on Thursday, though it was not clear until late that day that it was a corpse. Due to weather issues in NYC, my early evening flight from Atlanta to NYC was very likely to materialize, so I was advised to take a 6.45 a.m. flight to NYC instead. This forced me to cancel the Kennesaw State talk and get up at 3 a.m. to drive from Athens, GA to Atlanta, turn in the rental car and fly. AM radio kept me awake during the drive and the shrill voice of our glorious leader woke me up faster than any coffee ever could.
Upon arrival at La Guardia, I took an Uber to Azita Mayeli’s place, dropped off my back, gave little Carla a little stuffed kitty with glasses and took the Long Island Railroad train with Azita to Manhattan. There we met up with Chun-Kit Lai and did a bit of mathematics. Azita went off to teach while Chun-Kit and chatted a while longer. But soon after I collapsed on the couch in the lounge of the CUNY Graduate Center and Chun-Kit went to his hotel room. When I woke up, Azita was done teaching and it was time to listen to an analysis seminar lecture delivered by my Rochester colleague Kazuo Yamazaki. This was truly an excellent talk on the Navier-Stokes equation with lots of background material. But by the end of the talk I understand that I can no longer process anything resembling complicated information until I get a few hours asleep.
The rest of the day and evening was a blur. Azita and I picked up some groceries and I made an eggplant, garlic and tomato pasta which Reza, Azita and I proceeded to consume with great vigor along with several glasses of nice red wine. I am now on the couch typing away and thinking that I should be sleeping instead. But writing is a real pleasure, so I continue even though my eyelids are getting droopy and my thought processes have long passed the state of coherence.
Tomorrow I am supposed to be speaking the AMS Special Session at Hunter College and after that I am getting together with Sinan Gunturk for lunch followed by some beer drinking with David Karapetyan later in the evening. This is the plan anyways and in my next blog entry I will describe how closely the reality followed it in the end.