aryanhwy: (Default)
If Thursday was the day for reveling in my advanced seminar, today I want to put in a few good words for my 1st years. Friday afternoon from 1pm to 2pm when I have a tutorial with 13 people from my intro logic class is the highlight of my week.

The thing that's fun about intro classes is that you get a bunch of people who don't know each other, but also don't know anyone else, and you put them together in a situation which is easy for some and stressful for others, making it natural that they turn to each other for support. And then you kick back and watch friendships develop, friendships that you can tell will last. A week or two ago, they were already talking about having a "reunion" in two years time by taking my advanced logic course! (Which would be awesome.) Yesterday, I heard all about how Hugh proposed to George at the Philosophy Ball the night before, and that while George's first response was "maybe" he eventually capitulated and said yes. They then spent the opening minutes of the tutorial, while everyone was filing in, planning their wedding. :) Years from now, 10, 15, 25 years, these people will get together and their "do you remember when"s will involve "do you remember when we met and became friends in our logic tutorial", and it's such a privilege to be the facilitator of a space where this can happen.

I love how comfortable they have gotten with each other and with me, though it is tremendously amusing when they apparently seem to either forget I am there or that I am their teacher, and they start gossiping about their other courses and lecturers. (A bunch of them were distraught when the lecturer changed with the change of terms in one of their classes: "Andrew's hair was the only reason to wake up on a Friday morning!")

But not only that, they are a really smart group of people. They are invested in this course, they work hard, they help each other, and not a single one of them is afraid of making a mistake in front of the rest of the class, or to admit "I didn't understand how to do that exercise so I didn't do it". This is partly a product of my teaching style for tutorials, something which I've only been able to implement for the first time, really, this year, because of the nature of logic tutorials vs. philosophy ones. From week one there was the strong expectation that they come having done the work: I started learning people's names by going around the room, selecting a person at random and having them give their answer on the whiteboard in front of the rest of the group. For one or two people, it took only once of being called upon and then having to admit that they couldn't because they hadn't done the work before that never happened again. But the only way that this sort of arrangement works without putting a lot of pressure on students is to make not having an answer, or having the wrong answer, simply not an issue. If I call upon someone, and they can't answer, I simply move on to the next. They know there is no shame in not having the right answer, because this is difficult material that is foreign to them and I expect it to take work to get through it. The only shame comes from not having an answer because you didn't bother to work, and even then, the shame only comes from having to say that you didn't do the work in front of your classmates -- it's self-imposed, if you know what I mean. I never pass judgement on it.

The first few weeks, I would call on people either in order of how they sat, or randomly (to help me learn names), but after that I started taking volunteers -- among other things, I told them, this meant that if they didn't have answers for all the questions, or had answers they felt more (or less!) comfortable with, they could choose to answer something they were confident in answering or to answer something where they were uncertain and wanted my explicit comments. As a result, I usually am getting volunteers before I can even ask for them.

Most of the time we stick pretty closely to the nuts and bolts mechanics of doing logic; the exercises for tutorials are closely linked to examination questions, and are designed to give them practice with all the concepts I'm introducing in lecture, so there is a lot of simple practice and comprehension going on. Due to the nature of the subject, there isn't much up for philosophical debate in an intro logic course (there are of course philosophical questions relevant to topics in basic classical logic, but they are not the focus of this course), so when there is actually discussion in the tutorials, it's because people don't understand why the right answer is the right answer, and it's just a matter of talking through the right answer. But yesterday something special happened. We were doing English -> predicate logic formalization exercises, and the questions came up regarding how to know whether something is a constant or a predicate; how to treat definite descriptions; whether proper names were disguised predicates or definite descriptions; and whether something like $2.00 is a constant (the name of a number/amount) or a predicate (a property of an amount or a price paid). And all of a sudden the room erupted into discussion, with almost everyone having a particular view (there was definitely no consensus!), and people giving reasons for their views, and others countering with counterarguments or alternatives, and back and forth and without having read any of Russell, Quine, or Kripke they generated -- on their own! -- basically all of the important points of their discussions, and I pretty much kicked back and grinned for about 10 minutes as they just took it and ran. This is the sort of discussion you are always trying to generate in a philosophy tutorial, and if you get maybe three people out of the ~10-12 to engage in this fashion without any guidance from the tutor, you feel good. But this discussion involved EVERYONE, and sprung up completely without any nudging or guidance from me, and it was just amazing to watch.

I'm very proud of them.
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Inspired by my success at Logic Colloquium last month, I decided today that not only was I going to not go back to my hotel to hide instead of having dinner, I was going to make sure I had dinner with someone. (Two important facts: One, the conference ran from 9am to 7pm with too few coffee breaks in the afternoon. Two, there's a restaurant in my hotel that I could've eaten at, so I had a legitimate alternative to going back to my hotel and hiding that didn't involve other people.)

One of the short talks this afternoon was really interesting, and I chatted with the speaker, and one of his friends, during the coffee break. So when they were hanging around looking up something on her ipad after things broke in the evening, I walked over and asked if they'd ever been to Budapest before, and if they knew of any good places to eat. Turns out, Diana was getting recommendations from tripadvisor and had just found something highly recommended not far from us. So I boldly invited myself along, and we set out. Tripadvisor did not lie: Bors Gasztrobar was delicious, and worth the wait. They're a take-away gastro-pub selling baguettes and soup, and their tiny space was squashed full with people ordering. When we finally got our sandwiches, we sat down on the back of a truck parked right in front to eat. I was feeling proud of myself for having initiated contact, AND having gotten excellent food and some friendly conversation out of it, when Joan said abruptly, "I read a bunch of your papers for my master's thesis. I really enjoyed them, and wanted to tell you, but didn't really know how, so I'm just telling you." Turns out he'd wanted to talk to me at Logic Colloquium last month, but apparently was unsure of how to initiate a conversation!

Sometimes, it's good to remember that the uncertainty can be two-sided -- and this is likely to happen more and more often as I get older and become more senior. Someone asked in another conversation if I was at the last AiML, and I said "I've been at every AiML since Manchester, except for Australia". Manchester AiML was 2004, TWELVE years ago. People who are PhD students now were still in high school, or even grade school, in 2004. It's weird how simply being around a long time is enough to transition you.
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I do love being able to say "Oh, I went down to London for the day." Of course, when you're already in England it isn't quite as impressive, but there is something very satisfying about getting on a train, sitting for three hours (in a relatively quiet car, with no one sitting next to you, and your headphones on, and no four-year-old always talking talking talking) and stepping out in London.

It's actually been quite awhile since I've been there (I'm thinking it may be Dec. '13!), but it was nice to be familiar with the foot paths leading from King's Cross. It used to be that when I came to London, I felt like I spent more time on the underground than above ground. So it's nice to realize I do know some of above-ground London.

I like London. It's a very nice place to visit. I'm very glad that at the end of the afternoon, I hopped back on another train, sat for three hours, and returned to my quiet, dark city where at 9:30 on a Friday night walking home through the middle of town, I passed hardly anyone.

I went for the meeting of the medieval philosophy network -- three of the speakers were friends, and three other people I know were going to be there, so I knew it would be a good day. What I didn't expect was how an incidental note scribbled on a sheet of paper and passed to me by the person sitting next to me would lead to a discussion during the Q&A of a paper which led to the "Oh, didn't you know? Googlebooks has that book" which led to downloading it, ... and then as I paged through it after getting settled on the train, I may have startled some of the fellow passengers by reading something aloud in Latin and then squeeing.

Because I think I may have found something, something really quite amazing. It's been hiding there all along and I'm not sure anyone has ever noticed it before.

So I had a very good day.
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I saved all my notes, papers, course lists, homework assignments, reading sets, etc. from when I was an undergrad, grad student, and teaching assistant at UW-Madison. I saved them because "someday". Someday, I might have a need to revisit my proof of Theorem 3.6. Someday, I might reread those papers and find them more understandable. Someday, I might be teaching this course and want a ready made set of homework assignments or exam questions. Someday....

Oh, 15-years-ago-me, bless you, bless you so very much. I have to hand in my exam questions next week, and I've just spent the last hour going through said notes, which I extracted from storage over Christmas, and THERE ARE SO MANY QUESTIONS. I have a surfeit to choose from, and they're all so fun and exciting. The trouble is going to be deciding which to put on the exam and which to make them forego!
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Today, I covered roughly 6 white boards with definitions, lemma, theorems, proofs, and scary set-theoretic notation, knowing that I could write in a compressed/abbreviated form while speaking the sentence aloud and everyone would either follow me or be confident enough to ask for clarification ("What does 'QED' stand for?"). After having built up the importance of completeness to them since the beginning of my 2nd year course last year, we were finally in a position to prove the completeness of K, T, D, B, S4, S5, and other systems. (Proof of the completeness of K, verbatim from what I wrote on the board: "trivial".)

I had to pause the students for a moment to reflect on this. This time last year, if they had come into a room with all of that scribbled on the boards, they would've fled in terror or said "there's no way I can do that, that's way too hard." Instead, one of them commented on how it seemed almost a let down, how easy it was to prove completeness results, though it's only in retrospect, after 6 chapters and almost an entire term's worth of work proving other results along the way, that it is so easy.

But that's how logic should be: If you set up the definitions right, the results should be almost automatic. The question, then, is getting the right definitions...


Nov. 26th, 2015 08:46 pm
aryanhwy: (Default)
Last week when in Germany I had to cancel the Thurs. incarnation of my logic seminar, asking everyone to come to the Monday one instead (thankfully, everyone except for three could, so I met with them immediately after and we did a truncated version). But then wanting to get all the people usually who go on Thursday back to Thursday, I decided not to ask for student volunteers to present, as they'd only have 2.5 instead of 7 days to prepare, and that didn't seem fair.

Let's do a whole chapter instead of half a chapter, I said. It will be easy, I said. I'll do all the prep work, I said.

I sort of ran out of time and thus didn't start looking through the material until 9:00 this morning (i.e., two hours before seminar started). That was when I realized...I don't remember ever having done this chapter as an undergrad. So far, everything else we've done has required minimal prep on my part, because we're going at a pretty easy pace, students do most of the presenting, the techniques are ones I've used regularly over the last decade, or as I reread the chapter I remember my experience of learning the material. Except, I think we must've skipped ch. 5, because I didn't remember a single thing from it.

AND it is by far the most technical chapter that we've looked at yet. I did make it through the entire thing in my prep time, identifying which proofs to go over in detail, which to say "trust me, it works" (the reason we're doing this chapter faster is because the material in it -- while interesting -- isn't really relevant for the rest of what we want to do; it's a bit of an aside. Which is probably why we skipped it when I was an undergrad...), and found myself with 4.5 pages of notes, which is A LOT even for a two-hour seminar, especially when most of it is proofs rather than conceptual stuff.

I got through all the material, but MAN two hours of solid proof work -- lots of walking back and forth and gesticulating and writing on the board and erasing and writing again -- on top of two hours of prep work, I was ravenous by the time we were done! Had enough time to dash off to the pub, down my chili and garlic bread, and head back to the office where my MA student wanted to go over his (quite interesting and exciting sounding!) PhD proposal that he wants to submit next month. Then I had about an hour of downtime before I met with one of my undergrad supervisees who wanted to run through his thesis organization so far, and then to go through one of the technical papers he's reading, because he thought he understood the proof but was unsure of some of the notation. (Side note, this particular student pleases me so much. He's doing PPE, and when he first approached me about doing his thesis with me, back in April, I asked him if he knew anything about computational social choice, because this struck me as exactly the sort of thing that he might be interested in. He had never heard of it. Today, he was tossing around phrases like "Pareto efficient" and "random serial dictator" like a pro. *so proud*) So that was another hour of intensive proof work.

I'm knackered. Never have I been so glad to come home to find supper nearly finished. I'd been planning to do pasta with white sauce, which isn't difficult, but even so, SO nice to step in the door to yummy, yummy smells of lentils and rice. I'm off to go take a bath and then call it a night; though I'm quite pleased that despite having no gumption to do anything, I've managed to mend two more pairs of Gwen's pants and write a blog post on names as signals in historical fiction, something I've been meaning to do for a few days now. So I can go to bed with a clear conscience.
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It's the end of the first week of lectures, and I'm reminded of why it is I wanted to do this in the first place.

Tuesday afternoon I walk into a sprawling lecture hall, and watch it fill up with students. The part I hate the most is that awkward period between when I arrive and when I start talking, but I never manage to minimize that because I am almost physically incapable of not arriving early to things like this. But then right from the start I get them to talk, to each other, to me, to raise ideas half-formed, with probably 8-10 people (out of ~60, so that's a fantastic percentage for a big lecture theatre!) volunteering questions, comments, and answers. When plotting my lectures, I often earmark questions and the answers I expect/want to receive, and this time, the students basically went bang bang bang down the list -- even in the order I had them! It was fantastic, and it set the foundation for the rest of the term: If they know from the start that this is how things are going to be, hopefully the ones who didn't talk will feel comfortable doing so in the future. And even if not, even if it's the same dozen or so people who participate in lectures, that's OK. Some people don't have the snap-ability to come up with questions or objections. Those can prepare their thoughts in advance and contribute in tutorials. Afterwards, I received an email from a student asking to set up a meeting to talk about the logic side of things (which we won't reach for a few weeks! Pro-activity on the part of a student!), and it ended, "P.S Tuesday's lecture was wonderful. Thank you!"

Yesterday was my first logic seminar; I had 13 people signed up, knowing that 2 of them (and possibly one more not formally enrolled yet) were going to be coming on Mondays instead, I figured there was a good chance of getting a good crowd. I realized a bit belatedly that it would be worthwhile advertising this course to the MA and PhD students, so the email didn't go out until Thursday morning, but nevertheless 12 people showed up -- 10 undergrads and 2 master's students. Of the 10, 8 I had in my class last year, and four of them are writing their dissertation with me. :) I'm especially pleased to have these four back, I had some really interesting discussions with a few of them over the course of last year (and one of them, his dissertation topic has me very excited, it's a bit bizarre, really, because all my hanging out with the computational social choice people in Amsterdam (i.e., Joel's research crowd!) is paying off, because what he's planning to write on falls squarely within that remit.) We get two hours, so I spent the first hour sketching very briefly basics, to ensure that we're all on the same page w.r.t. propositional logic, and then after a break I gave them some exercise sheets just to brush up on truth tables, and got to listen to that glorious sound of groupwork. Judging from the discussions I overheard, it was a good idea to have them do some of these exercises, even if they're the sort of thing they should've mastered in their intro logic class two years ago. For the remainder of the year, I want every student to be in charge of running the seminar twice -- since there are 12-15 people, that's 2-3 people each week, which will give them the opportunity to work in depth with someone else, a skill that I found so tremendously useful in my early logical career that I want to encourage whenever I can. (They were rather shocked when I told them that I encourage them to work in groups on the homeworks, and if they do, they should just hand in one answer sheet with the names of everyone who contributed. I don't want to have to read numerous duplicates!) Because the assessment comes in the form of a single end-of-term in-class exam, those who put their names down on homeworks w/o actually contributing will feel the full consequences then!

When I met with the few who can't come on Thursdays earlier this week, one of them asked if I was planning a 4th year follow-up module. Now, in philosophy, there are only three years, and then we switch to the master's modules, and I'm pretty well certain that the dept. is not going to be interested in having me offer an advanced logic module to the master's students, since most of them wouldn't have had the basis necessary to take it. But apparently the maths programme either is or can be four years. I mentioned the very vague possibility of a 4th year follow-up in Thursday's seminar, and afterwards another student came up to me and said "If that happens, I'll take it." Now I need to look in how exactly to get that set up: I think it would have to be an actual maths course, with a maths code, etc., because it appears that there is no such thing as cross-listed courses at Durham. I have no idea what the protocol is for someone from one department leading a module in another, if that's even possible. If it is, and I can get this done, then I would be in a position where I'm contributing teaching to modules in philosophy, maths, and modern languages and cultures (that's the dept. that handles the MA in medieval studies, which I currently give one lecture in one module for; someday I hope to expand that to entire module). And you know what? That's a pretty awesome feeling. THAT is true evidence of interdisciplinarity. I bet there are not many other people out that who teach in three different departments.

Early in September I was invited by one of my 3rd year students from last year, who stuck around Durham to do a Master's and is now running the Arts & Humanities Society, if I'd give an evening lecture as part of their series, possibly on some of the material I'd covered in the class she took. This seemed a perfect time to talk about the paper that I co-write with one of her fellow students, which will be published next year (and which I got the final On-line First version last night, conveniently enough), discussing what lessons for traditional theories of meaning we can learn from looking at fictional discourse and fictional languages -- i.e., I got to talk about Santa Claus, Pegasus, Sherlock Holmes, Klingon, Quenya, Dothraki, Minionese, other nonsense languages, and play a couple of video clips. The lecture was yesterday, and probably 60-70 people came, including a few of my students. :) Gwen had been home from nursery the last two days after a stomach bug in the middle of the night on Tuesday, so she helped me make my slides -- they were just individual sentences to consider the truth values of, which I illustrated with random images from google. She helped pick them out. :) And then she helped me watch three Minion movie trailers to find the best one to link to, and there I was, sitting on the couch at home with her tucked under my arm, watching movies and laughing together, and calling it research. Work/life balance: It works sometimes.

Walking out to my talk last night, in the dimming twilight falling over the city, with the sun behind the clouds and the lights coming on, and the cathedral illuminated against the gloom, I thought about how amazing it is here and how lucky I am to have landed here. I intended to write this post about how Durham is the city where (my) dreams come true, but I need to break this off now as it's almost time to skype into the St. Andrews Latin reading group. Maybe I'll pick this back up after lunch.
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When I was a senior in high school, I enrolled at the local community college as a high school special student, meaning I could take 6 credits a semester (which I petitioned to get increased on 7, so I could work on the student newspaper. This was very worthwhile, because it showed me beyond doubt I did not want to be a journalist). My first semester, I signed up for introduction to logic. I went in to it convinced I was going to fail. After all, hadn't my dad, the most logical person I knew, regularly reminded my mom and my sister and I that we were not very logical? (Turns out he was wrong. It's common sense we often lacked, not logic. :) )

By the end of the semester, 6 out of the 7 other students had come to me for tutoring, and I had already combed the UW-Madison course catalog to find what upper level logic courses I could take when I got there -- this was before I'd even applied, much less been accepted. Philosophy 510 was the one I had my eyes on: it was a junior level course, and had as its prerequisite the course I was taking (and whose credits would transfer with me.)

Coming in to university with 12 credits (the newspaper work didn't transfer), I blithely disregarded my advisor's recommendations to only take 12 my first semester, or MAYBE possibly 15, and signed up for 18 with the result that I had sophomore status by the start of my second semester. Between taking the max credits that semester as well as summer school, I knew I could have junior status by the start of the next year. But Phil 510 was offered only every other fall, alternating with Phil 511, and that was the one that came up the start of my second year. Being on track to graduate in 3 years, this meant my final fall was the only opportunity I'd have to take the course.

And then. I'm checking the timetable to register for courses, and I find out that for the first time in 10-15 years, Phil 510 wasn't scheduled for MWF 11:00, but rather MWF 8:50 -- the same time as 3rd semester Greek (MTWR 8:50), which I needed in order to graduate. I was crushed. I went to the professor (whom by then I'd had for quite a number of courses, at undergrad and graduate level), and told him "I've been waiting to take this course for THREE YEARS. Is there anything that can be done?"

And there was. He offered to meet with me once a week, go through three hours worth of lecture material in 1-1.5 hours, with the caveat that I had to do most of the work on filling in the gaps on my own. I leapt at the opportunity, and those weekly meetings were some of the most useful and productive of my undergrad career. (When, as a self-described math-phobe who never made it past pre-calc in high school finally proves the Chinese Remainder Theorem all by herself, it is AMAZING.)

One of the first things I did upon arriving in Durham was start putting out feelers for teaching a 3rd year formal logic course on the incompleteness theorems. One of the only prereqs for applying to the Master of Logic programme in Amsterdam is "knowledge of the completeness and incompleteness theorems", and I felt very strongly that any self-respecting philosophy programme should at least offer their students the possibility. And, given that the maths department has no logicians, maybe some math students would be interested, too. In fact, I was banking on them being interested, because in order to make this a viable course, I knew I need to get 10-12 students.

First, the course got scheduled 16-18, since uni timetabling neglected the fact that I'm a caregiver and shouldn't be scheduled after 17:00. Then it was switched to Friday 9-11, and I got a slew of students emailing: Every single maths student who would've taken the course had a clash with a required math module (stats, I think). I asked for it to be moved again, which the phil. dept. was willing to do even though the only free slot left overlapped the departmental seminar (which often overlapped with my logic class last year, so I've yet to go to more than two seminars, I think); unfortunately, a number of people STILL had clashes. We asked the maths department, hey, could you maybe consider moving some of your modules, since it's mostly YOUR students who want to take this? No. Too many modules, too difficult.

I finally got the rest of my course schedule sorted out last week, and realized I've got a nice big gap on Monday afternoons. Why didn't I do what my professor had done for me? So I emailed all the students who had clashes and asked if they were free on Mondays. If they were, I would be happy to duplicate the seminar and meet with them on Monday afternoons, covering the same material that we did in the actual seminar the Thursday before. A few said they might be able to make the second half of the seminars, or occasionally skip their clashing class to come to the full seminar. Some said they'd probably still want to come on Mondays. I've got a feeling I'll open up the offer to the Thursday crew as well. I'd go ahead and switch the entire thing to Mondays except that 13 people is just a few too many to fit in my office. (I met with a few today to talk them through what I am going to tell everyone else on Thursday, and one of them has already asked if I'm planning a 4th year follow-up. I'll have to talk to the math dept., since there are no 4th year philosophy classes, but if i could get half a dozen people for that, I'd certainly consider it.)

It feels good to be able to pay forward the incredible experience I had 13 years ago.
aryanhwy: (Default)
...more about my academic research, there's an interview of me up at 3:AM Magazine.
aryanhwy: (Default)
Durham has an interesting system wherein courses leaders are required to respond to their evaluations to the students; in our department, any aspect of the course that got a cumulative score of 3.5/5 or less has to be addressed, specifically with comments about how things would be done differently. When I first got the evaluations, I skimmed them, mostly reading the comments and not looking at the numbers. It was...interesting; and then I put off dealing with them until I'd finished my marking, and finally sat down to tackle it today.

* I was pleasantly surprised that when looking at the Language & Mind evaluations, some the numbers were actually pretty high, including 4/5 for "did you find this course interesting". Because this course is going away after this year, there wasn't much to say about "how we'd do things differently next time", but there were still nevertheless a few things we'd tweak if we ever did something like this again, so it was pretty straightforward to write up the response to this.

* I knew reading the Philosophical Logic evals was going to be hard, and they were. Some of the complaints the students raised were legitimate: There were aspects about the course that I wouldn't have done the way I did if I weren't constrained by the fact that the course description was written 6 months before I joined the staff and I had no way to change any of it. But some of it was dealing with the deep unhappiness many of the students had at doing something which is radically foreign to what they generally do in their philosophy degree. And while I have some sympathy with being unhappy at taking a formal logic class when what you really want to be doing is reading Nietsche, the fact remains that logic is (or should be!) a central part of the philosophical curriculum, and if you want to do philosophy at Durham, you've got to do logic: It's part of the deal that you signed on for. So to the complaints that many people voiced about it being hard work, this is was my response:
Yes, the course was hard: It's supposed to be! If it were easy, something that you could do on your own, then there wouldn't be any point in having someone teach it. My role as the lecturer is to provide students with a deeper understanding of the readings and the broader context of the subject matter. However, this only works if the students do the readings and come to the lecturers prepared. I have to assume that students are coming prepared, because to lecture as if they have not is an insult to those who have, and a waste of their and my time. In the future, I will be more explicit about this: The assigned readings must be completed before the lectures they are assigned for. Additionally, I'd like to point out that every single person who came to all the lectures and tutorials, did all the readings, and did all the assignments succeeded in the course: So if you aren't one of these, maybe take a moment to ask yourself why, and what your reasons were for thinking that you could succeed in the course without taking advantage of all the tools we provided you with.

One of the reasons that I waited until after completing my marking before responding to the evaluations was because I wanted to see for myself that I was right, that people who put the effort into my course were properly rewarded, and I was. I bet that of all the undergrad philosophy modules this year, mine will have the highest number of mid and upper 1st class marks. On the other hand, due to the way that logic courses tend to have bi-polar rather than bell-curve distributions, I probably also have the largest number of 3rds and fails.

I don't really care if my students learned any logic this year, though of course I hope they did. What I really hope is that they've learned how to recognize when they're in a course that is going to require regular, continual, and extended hard work, and that if they let themselves fall behind, it's going to take extra effort to catch up. I think too many philosophy courses are compartmentalized enough that if you, say, miss most of one term, you can jump back in and catch right back up. That doesn't work with all courses, and I hope they've learned this going into their 3rd years.
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Haven't faltered yet! Incredible, given that 14 out of May's 31 days I was traveling, and 11 of those was without internet access.




Revision requested


"Logic and Semantic Theory in the High Middle Ages" 11 June 2013 invited book chapter
"Paul of Venice on a Puzzle About Uncertainty" 24 June 2013
"Sit Verum and Counterfactual Reasoning 13 August 2013 10 March 2014 2 April 2014
"The Logic of Categorematic and Syncategorematic Infinity" 14 January 2014 17 April 2014 16 May 2014
"Obligationes" (with Catarina Dutilh Novaes) 27 March 2014 28 March 2014 08 April 2014 15 April 2014
"Reasoning About Obligations in Obligationes: A Formal Approach" 08 April 2014 19 May 2014
"Code-Switched Occupational and Descriptive Phrases in 15th-Century York: A Study of Medieval Bilingualism" 10 April 2014
"Review of Marko Malink, Aristotle's Modal Syllogistic" 14 April 2014
"Intuitionistic Provability and the Structuralist Account of Modal Operators" 21 May 2014

This month's resolution paper was a short paper for AiML'14; it won't be a real publication, but I'm stuck on my question and can't get forward to a real paper without input from real logicians, so hopefully that'll be the time to do it.

At the conference in Lund, I had someone very interested in one of the papers that has been creeping higher and higher up in my queue (on different grades of possibility); I had thought I could bump it up to the top and have it be my resolution paper for June, but I really need to finish my joint paper with Birgit for the Lumbini proceedings; and when that's done, it'll be time for me to flesh out my Procida/Ratnakirti paper. Well...I could save that one for August and make the possibilities one my July resolution paper, that might work. Anyway, when I told the guy about my resolution, and that I'd met it every month so far, he was duly impressed. I'm beginning to be duly impressed to: It's not exactly more work than I thought it would be, but it has certainly caused me to do more work than I would've otherwise (which was precisely the point); especially because one thing I hadn't realized was that as the papers get accepted, they usually come with revisions, and thus I'm dealing with doing revisions at the same time as working on the new submissions. Ack! Still, it's pretty satisfying looking at my "forthcoming" list and it has on it papers in Synthese, Journal of Philosophical Logic, and Vivarium. This makes me feel better about any future job or grant application writing I might have to do.

2014 Publications


Publication info
"A Medieval Epistemic Puzzle" in Z. Christoff, P. Galeazzi, N. Giersimczuck, A. Marcoci, & S. Smets, LIRa Yearbook 2012, vol. 1 (Amsterdam: Institute for Logic, Language & Computation, 2014): 301-316.
"Medieval Destinations: Lumbini" Tournaments Illuminated 190 (2014): 33.


May. 20th, 2014 10:08 am
aryanhwy: (Default)
2004: Our advisor is retiring. Joel's funding has ended. We know that our best chance is to go somewhere else to complete our Ph.D.s We both want to do modal logic, but that's about the extent of our research programmes. I see an advertisement for a conference in Manchester, "Advances in Modal Logic". This sounds like the perfect place for us to go, meet people, find out who's doing what where, see what the research field is like. We go, and while the trip itself is fiasco after fiasco, the conference is eye-opening. There is so much more to modal logic than we'd ever gotten in Madison (and we'd gotten A LOT there).

2006: AiML is being held Down Under. A few Ph.D. students across the hall -- the hard-core modal logicians -- get papers accepted, but I'm still finding my footing in a real research environment, and attending doesn't even cross my mind, much less submitting.

2008: An email arrives; it's the CfP for the next AiML. The deadline is about a month away. I look over the books on my desk, and pick three: Why don't I write a survey of three 13th-century views of modality, along with a bit of commentary comparity them to modern views? After all "history of modal logic" is on the list of desired topics. At the worst, I can always turn the paper into a chapter for my dissertation. I am thrilled when the paper is accepted -- and later I find out, from Joel who knew one of the programme chairs, that it actually got the highest score of all the papers accepted. Presenting in Nancy was surreal and amazing, that 4 years after attending a conference I felt so out of water at, I'm now there giving a talk of my own. The talk went over very well; logicians loved having a bit of history thrown in, a break from complex talks on algebras, dualities, dynamics, model theory.

2010: AiML is in Moscow, and I'd love to go to Russia. I co-opt a student who is interested in ancient/medieval logic, and we used the January project period to put together a dynamic semantics for the apodeictic fragment of the modal syllogistic. It's a solid paper, not as good as I would've liked, but good enough to send me to Russia.

2012: I have just come off maternity leave, and the AiML deadline is, again, in about a month. I am finding it difficult to slide back into the research routine, so I decided to try the 2008 method. The book I happen to pick up is Paul of Venice's De scire et dubitare, and while the paper that I write ends up getting accepted only as short presentation and not as a full paper, I have since extended it in many directions and presented it quite literally all over the world. At the conference, I feel from interactions during the coffee breaks that I'm an established part of the modal logic community; during the general meeting at the end, when the discussion of where the 2014 installment should be hosted, a few people not unseriously suggest I consider it. Alas, I still don't know where I'll have a job, if I have a job, in 2014, so I cannot volunteer.

2014: The AiML dates are almost completely overlapping with our planned dates for Raglan. Argh! There is a possibility that I could attend for the first day only, then we could take the overnight ferry from Hoek van Holland to Harwich and get to Raglan by Wednesday afternoon, as we had planned. Do I want to write and submit a paper on the chance it gets accepted AND my talk can be scheduled for Tuesday? Silly question, of course I do.

And today I woke up to my notification of acceptance. Acceptance to AiML will probably always be one of the strongest proofs, to me, of my worth and status as a Real Logician. Presenting there means I have achieved my place in the field of modal logic. Acceptance rate this year was 55%, and mine was a "strong accept", which gives even more warm fuzzies in the stomach. We'll figure out a way to make getting there and presenting work, and I will also be sure to spread the word around to anyone relevant that when the general meeting happens, even though I won't be there for it, I want to be considered as organizer for the 2016 installment.
aryanhwy: (widget)
Another month over, another post on my New Year's Resolution

TitleSubmittedRevision requestedResubmittedAccepted
"The Logic of Categorematic and Syncategorematic Infinity"14 January 2014
"Medieval Destinations: Lumbini"28 January 201418 February 2014
"Reasoning About Obligations in Obligationes: A Formal Approach"27 February 2014 (abstract only)
"Obligationes" (with Catarina Dutilh Novaes)27 March 201428 March 2014/td>

March's only entry was an invited book chapter, so I was only responsible for about half of it. We overshot our target word count by 1000-2000 words depending on how you count, so of course we got the response right away "cut it down!" Ah well.

I had actually completed another paper in March, and it's all ready to be submitted, but [ profile] zmiya_san and [ profile] northernotter asked to read it, and so I figure I'll wait to see if they have any comments before I submit it.

Finally, while not listed on this table, I did have a paper submitted middle of August last year that was accepted with minor revisions on the 10th. Whoo! One of my goals for this coming week is working on the revisions, hopefully I can send it back by the end of April.


When I first started grad school, one of the things that mystified me was how people came up with ideas. (I think this is a good sign that I wasn't in quite the right field for the first few years.) Now, I have so many ideas, I can't pursue them all. I had one while biking out to pick Gwen up today -- it's something I certainly cannot pursue myself, and I would be amazed if someone hadn't done it already, but I wondered what sort of research has been done on the formation of cause-and-effect relationships and tantruming in small children. I was thinking about when I'd picked Gwen up on Friday. She threw a fit when I told her it was time to go home and this led to a fairly usual occurrence: I tell her it's time to go, she refuses, I try to pick her up, she cries "walk, walk!", I put her down and say "Ok, if you want to walk, go ahead and walk" (in fact I prefer it), she squirms on the ground refusing to walk while screaming "walk, walk!", I usually give her two chances, and then I tell her she's lost her opportunity and I pick her up and carry her. This led to such a tantrum that the promise of getting to jump from the three circles out front (we do this almost every evening) didn't even distract her: I offered twice if she wanted to, she said "nein!" both times, so we didn't, and I put her straight into the bike seat. And then got to bike home with a thrashing toddler who shrieked "jump, jump, jump!" the entire way home. It was a harrowing experience. I told her we could jump again on Monday, but that was, of course, no consolation.

What occurred to me biking out to pick her up was that we had both completely forgotten this come the morning: Not so surprising to me, but for Gwen, who is normally so very sharp at remembering things promised to her, that was unusual! It was like she hadn't remembered the epxerience at all.

And then this led me to realize that whenever I have scolded or reprimanded or even just re-directed Gwen when she's doing something she shouldn't, it usually takes just once, and she internalizes the stricture and repeats it back to me regularly:

  • we were at the park once, I was reading my book, and she got all excited and threw sand, and got it in my book. That received a sharp reprimand, and ever since, whenever we are at a sand pit, or she sees that particular book, she'll remind me "nein throw sand mommy's book Gwennie".

  • when we play with play-doh on the table, we do it without the place mat. She'll remind me, "No mat, no mat", every time. (Curiously, this is one of the few places where she'll say "no" instead of "nein").

  • the other day she started running down the hall with her scissors, and we stopped her and made her close them and walk. The next day, she again had them on her hand, and started to run down the hall, and almost before we could stop her, she stopped herself, "scissors closed! nein run!"

And yet, we have had the "if you say you want to walk, then you must walk, if you say 'walk, walk' and don't, you'll only get 2 or max 3 chances before I pick you up and haul you" routine a number of times, and the cause-and-effect hasn't seemed to have sunk in at all. The fact that she apparently hadn't remembered the promise I made her in the middle of such a tantrum made me think: I wonder what effect on the formation of cause-and-effect relations being in tantrum-mode has. It certainly wouldn't surprise me at all if there was something in the brain where one of the consequences of being in tantrum-mode was the diminishment of the ability to understand consequences. This isn't a hypothesis I'm in any capacity to investigate, but I bet someone has, and if not, someone should!
aryanhwy: (widget)
(Didn't have a chance to write this on Fri. as I headed out to an event straight from work.)

So I did finish up a paper in February -- on the 13th actually, so quite in advance! -- but I haven't yet submitted it because I really want Joel to read it over before I do. Luckily, it's for a conference who's deadline isn't until Mar. 21, so I'm not behind on that respect. As sort of a promissory w.r.t to my resolution, I submitted the abstract for the paper at the end of the month, so I'm willing to count February as a successful month, even if the actual paper is still in my hands and not the hands of the conference.

TitleSubmittedRevision requestedResubmittedAccepted
"The Logic of Categorematic and Syncategorematic Infinity"14 January 2014
"Modal Logic in the Metalogicon"24 January 2014
"Medieval Destinations: Lumbini"28 January 201418 February 2014
"Reasoning About Obligations in Obligationes: A Formal Approach"27 February 2014 (abstract only)
aryanhwy: (widget)
It's the end of January, and time for me to post an update on how my New Year's Resolution is going so far:

TitleSubmittedRevision requestedResubmittedAccepted
"The Logic of Categorematic and Syncategorematic Infinity"14 January 2014
"Modal Logic in the Metalogicon"24 January 2014
"Medieval Destinations: Lumbini"28 January 2014

Not bad! The first paper is one that was nominally due on Christmas, but since we didn't get the instructions for submission until Dec. 27, I didn't feel too bad that I had gotten absolutely nowhere near completing it over Christmas break. I got an extension until Jan. 15, and as soon as daycare re-opened and I could spend my days at the office, worked my butt off until it was done. It's not the best paper I've ever written. But, a bad paper which is submitted has an infinitely higher chance at being published than a good paper which is never submitted.

Which brings me to the second one. I wrote this for a conference back in April '12, and while the organizer had made noises about a proceedings volume, I'm not sure that will ever happen. I dug it out, re-read it, and realized there was basically little I needed to do before sending it off, other than find an appropriate venue (it's a little idiosyncractic. I'm still not sure what the best place for it is). I actually sent it off Jan. 9, to a generalist (but history-sympathetic) journal which promises quick response times. Quick indeed -- two weeks later it had been desk rejected. Since I wasn't sure of the fit in the first place, the rejection didn't sting too much. And I chose the next venue in line, turned around, and had it reformatted and resubmitted the next day.

The final thing doesn't really count, as it's a short invited piece for Tournaments Illuminated, only ~350 words plus some photos, but it was something which had a deadline (next Friday even), which I had to write up and send off, and which will entail a publication if not a scholarly one, so I figured I'd allow myself to put it on the list.

My next big deadline is Mar. 14 and I've actually got two papers I'd like to be able to submit to that particular conference. Both are about 2/3 of the way written; of course, it is the tricky technical parts that are left. However, I'm pretty comfortable that within 6 weeks I should be able to finish at least one of them, and have a good chance at finishing both. Then, I'll have about two weeks off before April when Birgit and I are going to meet regularly and intensively to try to write our papers for the Lumbini proceedings.

I have found over the last month that I have been much more efficient with my time while at work. Oh, I'll still fall down the rabbit hole that is JSTOR some days, and I'll take breaks to work on onomastic stuff, but not to the same extent as I had been last fall, and my threshold of what I consider sufficient progress for a given day has risen. I think both the long-term and the monthly goal-setting has been a good idea, and look forward to seeing what I can accomplish over the rest of the year.

Oh, and today is the last day of classes. Whoo! Fall semester is finally over! (I don't think I'll ever get used to the German university calendar.)
aryanhwy: (Default)
I'm not really bothered by wrinkles. You only see them if you look in a mirror, and I just don't spend that much time doing so (as evidenced by the fact that I am regularly surprised, by photos, at just how grey my hair is getting).

Nevertheless, I feel like I've spent the last two days with logician's brow (or mathematician's, I think it works equally for both). It's a furrowing of my forehead that I only get when I'm trying to puzzle out something logical. It's been a long time -- more than a year -- since I got caught up in something that was so purely logical without any external context or subject matter to balance things out. During one of the talks at FotFS two weekends ago, a few definitions were flashed across the screen and in the roughly three minutes I had to contemplate them, I thought I saw a relatively straightforward counterexample -- but since I wasn't familiar with the system in question I figured there was something I was missing. I spoke to the speaker during the coffee break, and he admitted he didn't know how the case would be dealt with either. I then spent one of the succeeding talks sketching up an outline for what I figured would be a 3-5 page short note introducing the structuralist approach to logic, how modal operators are defined in it, and then give my problematic case. I knew I had to do some background reading -- namely, the book where structuralist logic is introduced, and two successive summary papers -- to ensure that the problematic case hadn't already been dealt with or considered, but nevertheless at the start it seemed like the most difficult thing was going to be getting my hands on copies of the sources, which turned out to not take too long (one paper available on the internet; the other a preprint version received from the author by email and a scan of the published version sent by the FotFS speaker; and then I sent my student assistant over to the library to scan the relevant section of the book since I still don't have a library card).

It turns out that the example that I want to cite is by no means as straightforward as I thought, and I have spent the last two days falling down the rabbit hole of intuitionistic provability logics. I find it rather amazing that an axiomatization of and completeness results for GL have been known since the 70s, and yet, despite lots of work in the field since the early 80s, there are no results yet for the provability logic of Heyting Arithmetic. (I first found two papers in the early 2000's indicated that many questions were still open, and wondered if perhaps I'd find something more recent solving one, but then a bit of googling lead me to a page on open problems in provability logic, of which the decidability and axiomatization of PHA (my name for it) is one.)

It was also rather humbling, reading one of the big (174 pages!) survey chapters on provability logic that was published about a decade ago, covering the history of the field for the last century or so. It's amazing not only how many of the people cited I have met, but am in fact on a comfortable, first-name basis with. Some of them had offices down the hall from me. Some of them I meet regularly at conferences. Except that I'm enjoying this rabbit hole and want to keep following the trail (though I do have to prevent myself from falling into "Read ALL The Articles!" which happens all too easily), I'd simply jot off an email to one of them asking "hey, can you give me a quick sum of the status quo of X" and I'd have all my answers. (Well, insofar as they exist). When we were deciding what to do post-Madison, one of my arguments for Amsterdam was that going to one of the best places in the world to do logic would set us up well for our future careers even if it cost some money at the outset (neither of us took out any loans for our undergraduate or early graduate career, so we neither had any financial debt; taking out loans to move to Amsterdam for our Ph.D.s was a big leap of faith for both of us), and it's always nice to have a reminder that I was right, as well as humbling to reflect on how spoiled we were there, being surrounded by giants.

(Some days, I do feel rather isolated here, not knowing any other logicians in the university.)

But the problem though interesting is all very perplexing (Intuitionistic Logic has the disjunctive property! But it can be proven that, if Heyting arithmetic consistent, it cannot prove that it has the disjunction property! It can prove a weaker version, but is that good enough for what I need? I don't know! Does HA have a deduction theorem? Does IL? What about PHA? Does it matter? Who knows!) and hence I have spent the better part of the last two days with a furrow between my brows as I try to puzzle things out.
aryanhwy: (widget)


It's much more pleasant to write referee reports when you get to do it in a little Italian pizzeria in Cambridge. (All day I've been hankering for a slice of rather greasy pizza. Tonight, I had eight.)

I flew over this morning for Foundations of the Formal Sciences VIII, a conference series which my Ph.D. supervisor either began or has been closely involved in the running of since near the beginning, yet this has been the first one that I've had plausible occasion to attend. I ended up flying into Heathrow even though I really wanted Stansted, because there simply weren't any reasonably priced flights from Frankfurt, Stuttgart 1 or Stuttgart 2, or even Düsseldorf, whereas FRA-LHR, I got an extremely cheap BA flight, and it was on a 6-week-old Airbus A380, complete with stairs to an upper cabin that I could see from my seat at almost the very back. This was the first time I've ever been in a 3 - 4 - 3 aircraft for a non-long haul flight, and also the first time I've ever had in-seat entertainment for ditto. Made for a pleasant trip! I also picked up Pratchett & Baxter's The Long Earth from Frankfurt airport and have been enjoying it tremendously.

It took a little over 2 hours to get from Heathrow to Cambridge, and then another 45min. or so to find my accommodations (the conference is in Corpus Christi, but I'm staying in Christ's, because it was a few pounds cheaper per night), and then find the conference, so I missed most of the first plenary talk; which is a bit of a shame because judging from the questions, it sounded like it was very interesting.

But while I was sitting there listening to the comments, I realized, I'm not sure when the last real logic conference I attended was. Most this year so far have been medievalist, except for Geneva which was linguistics. This is part of the reason why I keep a webpage of all conference/colloquium talks I give, so that I can remember where I've gone and what I've done, and yeah, the last logic conference that I went to that wasn't also a medieval one was AiML last August! More than a year ago...(and I remember the timing quite well, because I came home and Gwen learned to crawl a day or two later. A year later, wow, she's running, climbing, sleeping in a big girl bed, talking. I always knew the first year we'd be in for big changes, but I hadn't realized just how different an almost 2-year-old is from an almost 1-year-old. Anyway). I'm rather enjoying going through the programme marking out some serious set theory talks to go to. I've rather missed this side of things.

I had an extremely pleasant encounter before the first set of contributed talks. It was in a different room from the plenary talks, and I got there a bit early so I could get online and let Joel know I'd arrived safely, and also to review the programme to choose what to go to in upcoming days (the contributed talks are in parallel sessions). One of the plenaries I'd been quite excited about, by Adriane Rini, who works in New Zealand, many of whose papers I've read and admired and whom I was hoping I could get Benedikt to introduce me to because I know he knows her. While I was checking my email, someone came and set down two seats away from me, and then paused, and asked, "Are you Sara?" Yes. "I'm Adriane Rini, I thought I recognized you from the picture on your website. I've been so looking forward to meeting you," and she pretty much went on to say that one of the reasons she accepted Benedikt's invitation was the chance to finally meet me, as she's wanted to for a number of years now. Later on during the coffee break, Benedikt volunteered the same information when he and I caught up for a bit. Well, wow! It's always flattering when a senior person working on things you find interesting is just as interested to meet you as you are to meet them, and even more that my presence was at least a partial temptation to counteract the horror that is the New Zealand -> England jet lag experience!

Given the time difference, it's only 8:00pm here and I'm about ready to curl up in bed with my new book. And the talks don't start tomorrow until 10:00am! I look forward to wandering around Cambridge some in the mornings, the weather forecast is unheard of for English fall, at least in my experience, 20-25 and sunny! Cambridge is such a beautiful, ethereal city. I've only been here once before, so I'm looking forward to having more time to wander and explore...and take more photos of King's College, which is just one of the most yummily scrumptious buildings I know of. It's like fairy icing.
aryanhwy: (Default)
This morning I prepared Joel and Gwen to be left to their own devices, and boarded a train to Geneva. Last fall, back in September sometime, one of my students from Amsterdam and I submitted an abstract to a big linguistics conference, and while the paper wasn't accepted for presentation, it was as a poster, which at the time was cool. And then time past, and both of us rather moved away from anything all that linguistics-y related (while still being interested in our topic of choice, seeing as it was medieval), and all of it boiled down to us not starting our poster until about a week and a half ago, and ditto me registering for the conference and making all my travel arrangements. (She, on the other hand, is lucky, as her boyfriend's mom lives in Geneva. Free accommodation! She would have offered me a place to stay there too, except she's making the visit with her two sisters).

The trip to Geneva by train is only about 5 hours, and it was a pleasant journey, except that I didn't dress for air conditioning so it got a bit cold. I got in about an hour before the final coffee break, giving me time to get to my hotel, change, rest, and head over to the conference venue, which turns out to be the place that I gave a talk in my first visit to Geneva, back a few weeks before Gwen was born. I was last in Geneva last summer, but at a different university location, which I walked past this afternoon so now my mental map of the city is finally falling together. My hotel is quite close to the train station and also, it turns out, the hotel we stayed at last summer. If I had more time here, I'd go to the fondue place we went to then, except I don't.

Because linguistics isn't really my field, and because there are enough other things I'm going to in fall and leaving Joel with Gwen, I decided to come down today and head back Thursday, even though the conference started on Sunday and runs until Saturday. The poster session in which we presented our poster was this evening, and Thursday evening is the next dept. meeting of the cluster, so the timing seemed good. This was my first time presenting a poster, so I don't have anything to compare to, but I think it went well; we never had a time when no one was there talking to us, and often we were each talking with someone else. Lots of people also commented on the aesthetics of our poster -- we were one of the only ones that picked a non-white background! And while ours had lots of text, it wasn't nearly as much as some.

After the session, we went back to Rachel's boyfriend's mom's house where he and her two sisters cooked supper and we all hung out and enjoyed Indian, drank beer, and then played poker. It was really quite a lovely relaxing time, and I think I've convinced Rachel and Chris that their drive back to Amsterdam next week should come via Heidelberg with a night's stop over. Chris appreciates good beer (he brews his own!) and so would enjoy a trip to Vetter's.

The thing is, when I picked the days/times I'd be at the conference, I didn't actually check the schedule in advance. I only looked at it on Monday...when I found out that Wednesday afternoon is the conference excursion day! And one of the excursions CERN!! Free of charge, though limited to 60 people. I tossed off an email to the person collecting names, and he said there were still a few spots open, so suddenly this went from an "eh" conference that I was attending to do my academic duty to an "awesome" conference involving two mornings where I get to sleep in, a chance to catch up with Rachel, pleasant travel to a city I've enjoyed in the past, and a chance to tour one of the most awesome of modern innovations. How cool is that?

Really looking forward to tomorrow afternoon. But I should go to bed now, or any advantage of sleeping late will be cancelled.
aryanhwy: (Default)
10 years ago, I took a graduate seminar on conditionals. Doing as every good book-loving graduate student does, I collected not only the required reading for the seminar, but also any other book that (a) I could afford and (b) looked vaguely relevant. I even continued this long after the seminar was over, and I had developed many strong attitudes towards conditionals, including a rejection of probabilistic-based analyses, and the gut feeling that in many cases, the material conditional is in fact adequate, snagging this book when my supervisor was retiring and invited a selection of the grad students over to his place to raid his library. (He first limited us to 10 books a piece, to ensure that there was no hoarding. Then he realized that this made basically no dent whatsoever in the books he wanted to get rid of -- and that we were all interested in different things, except for Joel and me and any book we took would be coming home to the same household anyway -- and let us take whatever we wanted. A large part of my logical library was built that day.)

And then I did what any good book-loving academic does, and kept all the books (well, we eventually sold our second copy of Ifs, at quite a good price too, since some books we decided we didn't need duplicates once we were married), even though I figured the likelihood of using them again was low. Fast-forward 10 years, and for a paper I'm working on I need to have some nice, succinct reports on different contemporary philosophical theories of might vs. would conditionals, and I've got a ready-stocked bibliography to hand. The stack of books is sitting next to my computer as I type, but the reason I am typing (instead of working on those reports) is that apparently, I was in charge of giving a presentation in the conditionals seminar mid-semester. I say this because tucked inside the beginning of Woods's book I found a one-page summary "Woods on Counterfactual Conditionals" which has exactly what I want, complete with discussion, quotes, and citations. I'm finding that much of what I said in it is clear, concise, and to the point that I'm currently making, though I go into more detail there than necessary here, which means transcribing a few paragraphs from that printed page fortuitously stuck into the book, looking up a few other things in the index, and I'll have what I need for one of the sources. I never would've dreamt when I made up that handout that I'd ever have a use for it again some 10 years later -- in fact, I have lately been getting daring and liberal in throwing away old notes from classes, etc., -- which I had previously been saving religiously -- on precisely that assumption that I will never need them again. In this case, I was wrong, and now I'm benefiting from my hoarding!
aryanhwy: (Default)
I had a wonderful time in Konstanz; I got in Thursday afternoon a few hours before I had to be out at the university, so I had some time to sight-see. It was a beautiful day out -- only 15, but sunny and just one of those days where you want to do nothing more than wander around a pretty old European city with neat architecture, a beautiful lake view with the Alps in the background, and surprising little statues that pop up where you least expect them. And icecream shops every time you turn around.

The workshop I was invited to happened Friday and Saturday, but another one that I was interested in ran Thursday evening and Friday, so I was able to attend the Thursday evening talks of that workshop, which was good -- I had comments on both of them, and during the coffee break had a good discussion with someone who has written on some of the same topics I have, unbeknownst to each other. I also then had dinner plans, since the workshop had organized a joint reservation at a place downtown.

The workshop I went to had a pretty full schedule, with two talks in the morning and four in the afternoon, each 45+15. It's always nice being the first person to speak in a small-group setting like this, since then there isn't any expectations about what the tenor of the workshop is going to be like and once you've given your talk, you're done and can enjoy the rest of it. I met up with a number of people I hadn't seen in years, and met a number of new people who were all extremely interested in medieval logic topics and I've spent part of the afternoon following up on discussions we had sending out references and texts. :) It's always good to spread the word of the wonders of medieval logic.

Saturday there was supposed to be a plenary discussion after the last talk, but by mutual agreement we decided to head downtown and hold the discussion at a Brauhaus over beer. Heading out from the Brauhaus to the market square to find a place to eat (we ended up having Chinese, very typical German Chinese :)), I was struck again by the wonders that is having an academic job: I just got paid to sit in a pub and drink beer. That actually counts as work. After dinner, about 9 of us were still going strong so we repaired back to the same brauhaus where we split a meter of beer. And even so, I still managed to get back to my room before 11:30pm, thus giving me a more than 9 hours of sleep before my alarm went off the next morning. It was great.

Gwen was asleep when I got home, but woke up about 20 minutes later, and I was rewarded with some very happy smiles when she saw me. Now, I know four days isn't that long, and that gradual change is always the hardest to see, but, being away, I was struck by how different she seemed from the mental picture I have of her. She's definitely not a baby any longer. Doesn't feel like one when I hold her, doesn't have proportions like one, doesn't act like one (we had our first bona fide temper tantrum this morning. I picked her up and relocated to her to prevent her from crawling headfirst down the slimy, wet wooden stairs onto our patio, and she screwed up her face and wailed and her little knees jerked in that "but that's not FAIR!" rhythm. I have to admit, a 10 month old's temper tantrum is adorable, and I had to hug her and tell her how cute she was). She's turning into a little girl, and that's so much fun. We're continually seeing new changes and developments. Today when I dropped her off at daycare, she took her first steps holding on to only one hand, and not holding on to any furniture with the other. It was only a few, but they were definite.

I say "first", but to be honest, who knows if she'd actually done something like that in the last few days. As she gets older and starts learning more things and developing new skills, something I reflect on is one of the standard arguments that mothers make about not wanting to put their child in daycare, namely, missing all the firsts -- first crawling, first steps, first words, etc. I have realized that I'm something of a Berkeleyan when it comes to parenting. I don't really care if she'd taken a few steps holding onto just one hand a few days ago: The ones I saw today were the first, since they were the first for me. If I didn't see them, well, perhaps I can't say they didn't exist, but they certainly weren't relevant. I don't care so much about her objectively first firsts, but about the firsts that happen when she's with me. And on that definition, I'm guaranteed to experience all of them. :)


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