Busy times, 3

Marking is finished – at least until Friday, when I pick up my St Andrews marking. This will be a rather different affair, just eight masters’ students instead of 300 first-year undergraduates.

I can’t give a summary of how the first-years did, except to say that some did extremely well and others extremely poorly. After filling in the mark sheet today, I tried to enter it into the exams database; but I had been too quick with the marking, the files are not ready for editing yet. So I simply had to hand on the scripts. Since I got my P45 back in November, I don’t feel too bad about this, although I don’t like the idea of making work for my colleagues.

I survived the marking by simply gritting my teeth and doing it, working four twelve-hour days with only short breaks for meals. As usual, chocolate is the fuel that makes this possible. Fortunately the Co-op sells good chocolate now, Ghanaian or Peruvian with up to 90% cocoa solids. Lovely stuff.

In the meantime, my collaborators have been busy. I hope I will soon be able to report on a new result with Celia Glass and Robert Schumacher; there is also new stuff from João Araújo, and from James Mitchell and Yann Peresse. When I get back to St Andrews I would not be surprised to hear that Colva Roney-Dougal has some new things as well.

Demetres Christofides told me that my “new” proof of Euclid’s theorem is indeed in Proofs from the Book. Explaining it today made it clear that it is actually little more advanced than the usual proof. The problem, of course, is that my copy of the book is at the other end of the country, being one of the relatively few that I have carried north on the train in recent months.

Apparently things happened in the wider world as well. (I read the news today: oh, boy!) A football team won a competition, it seems. A certain one-horse UK political party has added “All old people hate homosexuals” to its official policy that “All immigrants are scroungers”. Where does that leave me, as an old immigrant? They also set the police onto a political rival who had mocked them on Twitter. Oh dear. It would please me if the Scots opted to remain in the United Kingdom, for various reasons; but if they decide they want out of this madhouse, I wouldn’t blame them (us, I should say).

Perhaps more significantly, WordPress reminded me that it is the fifth anniversary of this blog: my first posting, on (unsurprisingly) open access publishing, was five years ago today.

Anyway, coming up are the two London Combinatorics Colloquia; I hope to see you there, at Queen Mary tomorrow and at LSE on Thursday (where I have the honour of giving the Norman Biggs lecture). Next week it’s Leuven, the following week Hay-on-Wye, then Philadelphia, St Petersburg, Waterloo, Caparica, … Not what I thought semi-retirement would be like!

About Peter Cameron

I count all the things that need to be counted.
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