December 2007

Life19 Dec 2007 12:51 am

So I’m sitting here tonight about to head into a longish holiday break (thanks to some use-it-or-lose-it vacation time), in a melancholy mood, listening to Pachelbel’s Canon. My mother’s death certificates arrived today.

I guess it is a rite of passage that most of us eventually go through, taking care of things when someone close to us dies. Aided by a few Google searches, I now have a list of, well, action items that I have to take care of to settle Mom’s estate… Overall I’ve been pretty ok the last several weeks, but tonight the sadness seems to have descended on me.

We had a really nice service for Mom on December 8. She was a somewhat religious person, but when things got really difficult for her in the last years she definitely sought comfort by attending a church near my sister’s home. I’m not religious in the least, but we all agreed that it would be appropriate to hold Mom’s service at that church.

The reverend there is pretty new. He’d met Mom a few times but didn’t know her well. My sister and I gave him some background, and he did a very nice job talking about Mom’s life, the good and (towards the end) the not so good. He seems like a really nice guy.

At the service we displayed some of Mom’s paintings and crafts, and a photo album that Lara (our older daughter) and I put together showing pics of Mom from her childhood on. A pianist played Edelweiss, which Mom loved — very poignant.

Our younger daughter, Katherine, played Ode to Joy on her cello. Nicely done!

Afterwards we had a nice reception at my sister’s. There was lots of good food, good drink, and good company — a gathering Mom would have really appreciated :-)

When I look back on Mom’s life I’m always impressed with how creative she was. I’m also struck by how difficult her last 15 years were, and with the hardship she lived through.

Parting thoughts:

The world is often way unfair :-(

Remember people not just for their end game but for their whole life.

Life is short, make the most of it.

It sure is nice to be able to say goodbye.

Life and Physics01 Dec 2007 09:33 am

I completed my doctorate in ’98. At the time, I failed to heed Linus Torvalds’ advice: “Only wimps use tape backup: real men just upload their important stuff on ftp, and let the rest of the world mirror it ;)

I had electronic copies of my dissertation on CDs that, somewhere along the way, I lost track of. Recently I figured that I’d probably lost those soft copies for good. Then about a month ago I came across some old Zip disks and — after borrowing a drive from a colleague — was delighted to find out that one contained a file named thesis.pdf. Yay!

So following Linus’ advice at last, here is my dissertation (warning, a 4.5 MB download).

Atheism and Religion01 Dec 2007 08:51 am

As quoted in the second page of this Reuter’s article:

The Pope seemed to be addressing the fresh interest in atheism in the developed world with phrases such as: “Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope.”

Ha! That’s pretty funny.

Here’s the real deal: “Pope needs reason, otherwise he remains without clue.”