I am sorry to have abandoned you, my darlings. I understand that without my postings you have, as one disgruntled reader writes, “nothing to read when you come home late and drunk.”
My excuses are many. I have been visited by medical students and law students and wanted to impress them by cooking such delights as thirteen-ingredient fried-egg sandwiches and improvised chocolate fondue. My attendance has been required at several rock and roll events and solstice parties. Holly and I had to be sure to get stoned by the fountain in Lincoln Center and see the Wes Anderson movie before she left town for Christmas.
The precocious children of New York have required my services for their semester math finals. Do you know how to tell if a hyperbola opens up-down or side-to-side? Well, it depends on whether the equation starts with x or y. But if it’s an ellipse, the equation always starts with x. So how do we tell whether an ellipse is vertical or horizontal? The orientation of the ellipse depends on whether the a (the larger number) is the denominator of the x fraction or the y fraction.
Yesterday I had four brilliant young Jewish women lined up along the BDFQ line, stretching from the West Village to the outer reaches of Brooklyn, all of them studying for their pre-calc final. It was a festival of curly hair and logarithms. My teaching of logarithms has improved exponentially (little math joke there for those who know that a logarithm is an exponential function [and here, in the interioir parentheses, is where SuperLefty reveals to the world that despite her decadent habits, she is and always has been and always will be THE BIGGEST NERD]) since that dinner party where I drank the special cocktails made from the Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy recipie and the public health students were talking about their statistical analysis and suddenly logarithms were instantly clear to me at a whole new level.
On the way home from the math olympiad (not THE math olympiad, which I also participated in in the mid-1990s, but just my own personal math olympiad) I was reading One River, a book by an ethnobotanist about his adventures seeking sacred plants in the Latin American rainforest. A drunk but affable man sat down next to me on the G train platform and asked for directions. He turned out to be Peruvian (or so he claimed) and when I politely tried to get back to my reading, he asked that I read aloud to him. I couldn’t think of a good reason not to, so from Bedford-Nostrand to Metropolitan Avenue, I read to the second car of the G train a particularly vivid description of a famous ethnobotanist’s experience at a Kiowa peyote ceremony.
A reader has written to ask if I have any opinions on the Israeli-Palenstinean conflict, and if I haven’t posted them “for obvious reasons.” I have no idea what these obvious reasons might be and so, Michael J. Brandt, I will soon post my opinions on the Israeli-Palestinean conflict. Whatever they are.
Dispatches to follow from my heavily suburban interfaith Christmas experience.