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2022 / jd2718

January 1, 2022 pm31 5:19 pm

I wish 2021 were a speck in the rearview. Soon. We hope. But not yet. Here are some wishes, some thoughts, and a few resolutions.

COVID

There’s an immediate goal. I have not been infected. I would like to avoid infection. But omicron is making that tough. 43,000 NYC residents tested positive Thursday – that’s about one out of every 200 of us. Wednesday was 44,000. Tuesday was almost 40,000. Monday was less than 30,000. I’d like to stay relatively isolated for another few days. I’ll do my best.

And then mid-term goals – for 2022. I don’t mind keeping precautions in place, but if subsequent waves are smaller, and the proportion of serious cases falls, I would be ok with that.

Culture

I’ve started reading (again). For years I have let the internet/screen steal my eyes, keep them out of books. I made progress this year. I know that numerical resolutions are a bad idea, but this will not be my first bad idea – start and complete at least one book each week of 2022.

I’ve systematically been listening to popular music from when I was a kid. It’s fun! I will keep doing that. My 1973 top 100 got to be a little much, but I will keep exploring. There’s a sense of nostalgia attached to some of those, but I am listening to old artists who are new to me, exploring genres, sounds, times. I will continue to explore older music (50s/60s/70s). I will look for good music that has politics attached. And (actual resolution) I will pick up a turntable so I can hear the vinyl that I have been dragging around with me for decades.

I haven’t been inside a movie theater since before the pandemic – I’m trying to remember, but probably since 2019. Instead, I’ve been bingeing Netflix, much of it not very good. I’m going to cut down on the bingeing – and I hope that COVID gets to be less of a threat, and that I get braver – I miss the big screen, and would dearly like to return at some point this year.

Broadway? Live theater? That’s asking too much.

Travel

I certainly want to visit friends and family – and those nearby, not a problem. But traveling further? I’d like to venture out for at least one longer car trip – that’s usually not my thing, but it feels safer. But where? I’m stuck on the Cumberland Gap. But there are other choices.

I am definitely heading north more than once. I will visit Essex County, NY. I have found some nice land, in between Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. That’s happening.

I have tentatively planned my first big trip. Probably my first plane trip. McRib is turning 60 in July – the plan is to splurge on a northern Norway midnight sun extended drive tour, maybe with a stop over in Iceland on the way back. I wanted an Arctic cruise – but he wasn’t wild about being trapped on a boat, and, well, COVID…

And then as much more travel, train, plane, or boat, as I am able.

Recreation

Hiking doesn’t count as travel, but it takes me away from home. And I love it. And given how little I hiked in 2021, it will be easy to hike more in 2022. I see no reason not to commit to at least two walks in the woods every month, more in warmer weather.

And I’d like to clean up my bicycle, pump up the tires, and take it out – for the first time in a long, long time. At least one bicycle ride this year (on the premise that it will lead to another).

Work

Hey, I want to survive. But I’m interested in really enjoying teaching.

The biggest challenge will be revamping Axiomatic Arithmetic, a once a week completely voluntary elective. It’s potentially the most fun teaching possible. I’ve built up some anticipation for this – I think there is a good core who is looking forward to joining the class. So here’s what we will do: 1) Relearn arithmetic, but base 4, and using strange symbols {0,1,∆,☐} instead of the digits {0,1,2,3}. Sneak in the vocab associated with Peano’s postulates. Sounds like not much, but wait for long division… 2) Teach proof by induction. Maybe 3 sessions. Nothing too wild, just practice. Review proof by contradiction, but some of the students will have just done some indirect proof in logic – and the rest will have just done a bunch in set theory. And 3) Working from Peano’s Postulates, construct the natural numbers (with addition, commutativity, multiplication, distribution…) Proving every item that we encounter. Hey, I’m pretty excited about this. I will have to write more, full posts, once it gets going.

I also have some regular challenges – like continuing not to test students – and continuing to provide alternative feedback. I’ve also trimmed the quantity of content in my courses – and that has been good – ratchet it back a notch, and get more kids to master more of the material. I am looking to continue it.

Probably the biggest thing about work is deciding whether or not to continue. I am eligible to retire. June 30? I’ll tell you then.

Union

There’s my UFT chapter. We’ve been very busy. I’d like to keep us focused and active. There are building issues that we have to stay on top of. We have an expanded consultative committee. I’d like a new chapter leader to come from that committee. I’m near the end of my tenure.

And there are union elections.

This pandemic has changed the landscape. Many more teachers than ever before have participated in Town Halls and Virtual Assemblies (remote option was a game changer) and a huge number were shocked about how Unity operates. The pandemic response has also angered members. The political action? They blew almost all the endorsements in the primaries, and kept sucking up to Andrew Cuomo until almost the day he resigned. And Mulgrew got caught plotting to force retirees into Medicare Advantage Plus. Some retirees will go with the privatized health care, but he gave the impression he was trying to deceive retirees, and messing around with health care, which makes this an election issue.

All of that adds up. The ground under our feet has shifted. And this will be the most competitive election ever. United for Change, a coalition, is challenging Unity. I will actively work with UfC in this election.

Mathematics

I mentioned above getting to teach an excitingly challenging course to a handful of highly motivated students. That’s cool.

I also have a commitment, once he’s done with a paper for grad school (why???) to start reading mathematics together with my friend (see Norway, above). He’s asked to start with a basic Number Theory text. I’m cool with that. And if that goes well, what comes next?

And beyond that? I’m looking at some of the combinatorics I have worked on – lots of interesting starts, and no finishes. Maybe bring some of that work further?

And if I do retire, that opens up lots of possibilities. I loved studying during my sabbatical year, (logic, combinatorics, number theory, cryptography, algebra) and would almost certainly find a way to return to my studies. Mathematics? The history of mathematics? The history of the teaching of mathematics? Or something brand new? Probably just math. It calls to me.

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