Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Dear Hop

Dear Hop,

I'm writing to you from atop a cliff overlooking the ocean. The cliff faces inwards to a small bay which often has very good surf, but which today is just a pretty bay. C and I drove out here last night after I'd spent the day windsurfing. As we do almost every night, we set up our camp stove and cooked and talked and read our books until it was time for bed. Life here on Maui in our self-built RV has been both easier and more difficult then I expected. The island is getting more developed every year, so finding those perfect, serene, idyllic spots to park for the night -- and then to be able to wake and enjoy our standard cottage cheese and papaya breakfast before a morning swim in the ocean -- has gotten trickier. But good spots still exist, and most nights we go to sleep to the sound of waves breaking nearby.

The physics I've been thinking about has been interesting. I was very severely focused on a particular approach for the past year in Colorado. I was quite discouraged when I couldn't get things to work perfectly along that line -- but I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that the universe isn't conforming exactly to the way I think it should work. It only means I need to look at the puzzle a little differently -- and the distance, both temporal and conceptual, from my work of a year ago has allowed me to broaden my perspective a bit and come up with a few more possible approaches to try. However, since living out of an RV means I'm perpetually on the move, I haven't been able to devote the large, uninterrupted stretches of time to working on physics that I'd like -- and having those long periods to be able to spend thinking and working have been necessary in the past to my getting anything worthwhile accomplished. Ah well, it has been a trade off -- my body has certainly been getting in much better shape from all the surfing and windsurfing. But I do feel the physics work pulling at me, and sooner or later I'll have to be devoting a lot of time to it again. One possibility that has presented itself: there's been a hint that a professorial position in physics might be opening up at the local community college. Teaching is something that I've always loved, and I miss, so I'm looking into this with my fingers crossed.

On a different tack, I've been enjoying a set of books you might like; the trilogy goes by the name of "The Baroque Cycle" and is by Neal Stephenson -- with the first book entitled "Quicksilver." The books are very well written historical novels with interwoven threads spanning the rise of Newton and the Royal Society, as well as touching on many other fictional and factual events of the period. Overall, a good read.

Well, such are the bits and pieces of my life here on Maui. I hope this letter finds you well, and happily putting the "X" back in X-mas -- where it belongs.



P.S. I expect to be in California for two weeks starting January 17th (provided I'm not teaching) -- would love to see you then.

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