Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Tomorrow has me jetting off to Austin (from what I'm to understand just about the only livable place in Texas, and just about the only place in that state I've never been) to take part in the Ninth Biennial International Writing Across the Curriculum Conference.

That's a mouthful.

It's also mildly frightening, since it'll be the first time I've ever presented at a decidedly non-math conference before. Frightening but exhilarating at once. The feeling I've got going into this shindig is not unlike the one I had when I made my first research presentation at a non-group theory conference a little more than two years ago now. (As a group theorist by formal training, I felt a bit of a dilettante in dabbling with graph theory, so I felt it a pivotal moment when I started going to/presenting at graph theory conferences.) It's a jump.

It's fitting that I've started reading Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's Flow: the psychology of optimal experience (Harper: New York, 1991), the centerpiece for the summer Learning Circle in which I'm participating.

A relevant passage, read just last night (p. 61):

What people enjoy is not the sense of being in control, but the sense of exercising control in difficult situations. It is not possible to experience a feeling of control unless one is willing to give up the safety of protective routines. Only when a doubtful outcome is at stake, and one is able to influence that outcome, can a person really know whether she is in control.

This conference should be fun.

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