The first week of Spring quarter was mostly terrific. My first class was graduate real analysis. I’m a bit confused as to why Labutin had us buy two books on ergodic theory when we won’t be doing ergodic theory but just more functional analysis, but I guess he keeps changing his mind about what we’re going to be covering.
Scharlemann’s calculus on manifolds class is wonderful. It’s very easy, but he’s a very good teacher, and the material is interesting. He gave me a copy of Calculus on Manifolds a little over two years ago since he decided that Stewart wasn’t a good book for multivariable calculus. I took a look at it back then, didn’t understand a thing, and put it away until summer of 2003. But with a teacher lecturing about the stuff in the book, it is very easy to understand. Maybe it has something to do with my work over the summer and first quarter topology, but maybe it doesn’t.
Music theory eventually became rather boring last year since we were going through easy material far too slowly for my taste, so I have decided not to go to the lectures this quarter. Then I won’t have to hear the TA talk about how useless figured bass is and brag about his piece consisting of nothing but parallel tritones.
Differential geometry only has nine students this quarter (well, ten if you count Kevin, who will probably show up only for the midterm and final). Crandall is taking a much more informal approach this quarter and personalizing the course a lot, and I think we are all happy about that.
Orchestra on Monday was annoying. I was demoted, and that made me slightly angry. What made me more angry was that we are playing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto #1 and some ridiculous piece called Critical Mass by Donald Davis. After sight-reading those two dreadful pieces, we tried Tchaikowsky’s “Pathetique” Symphony #6. As a group, the sight-reading was atrocious, and I had no idea how the piece was supposed to sound. The conductor asked us if we wanted to play it, and since I did not manage to understand the piece at all from the sight-reading, I didn’t raise my hand. So he said to me “You don’t want to play this piece?” I wanted to say something along the lines of “I’d like to play something written before 1800. Haydn wrote 104 symphonies, so surely at least one of them must be good enough.” Instead, I asked “What would the alternative be?” He said that it would be Sibelius’s Symphony #2. Well, at least Tchaikowsky’s 6th was written before 1900. On Wednesday, the seating changed around, and I’m back to my normal position of 2nd chair I think.
Undergraduate real analysis is really a neat class. Putinar is a very good teacher, and when he explained wedge products, they seemed so easy. When Agboola explained them, they seemed completely incomprehensible. Some people have told me that that class is supposed to be quite difficult, but it seems easy enough so far.
We’re doing Galois theory in algebra. It’s a really beautiful subject. On Thursday, we were doing high school (or middle school) geometry which was fun. I think for about three weeks in that class, I might actually be on top of things.
Cooper changed the time of differential topology from 2-3:15 to 1-3. He also decided that the original classroom wasn’t good enough, so he sent off two scouts to find a better one. But at 2, another class was supposed to use that room that the scouts had found. So we moved to another room. On Thursday, the same thing happened. The class is interesting and quite understandable.
I heard the Emerson String Quartet play in Campbell Hall yesterday. They played string quartets by Haydn, Debussy, and Beethoven as well as the final chorale from the Art of Fugue as the encore. I don’t know what I’m supposed to say. I don’t think it makes sense to say that they played well. Of course they played well. They’re a world-famous group. So I won’t say any more about them.
I was working on Tchaikowsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme earlier today, and to my surprise, I found that I was actually playing pretty well. I suppose I have spent years saying to myself and others that I’m not good at anything (which I think I actually believe), so it came as quite a shock to me to find that I was playing well.