Friday, April 27, 2007

Congratulations Dr. Kevin!

Kevin defended his thesis on Wednesday. I've already told you of the differences between defences here and in Finland, but I have to say that Kevins party seemed to be nobly reaching some Finnish qualities. And Kevin's defence lecture was great.

I've received much criticism on the Mythological Creatures: “Why didn't so and so get a mythological creature?” or “What is this talk about the upper class?” or “Why are the students not here?”

So I decided to humor some of my critics by drawing another card. This is for Kevin.

But before you start complaining again let me tell you that here the people are chosen by the following criteria: Me plus Mario's students plus Juha's students. If you're not on the card, it doesn't mean that I don't like you or that you don't deserve to have your own animal. But you see how small the clearing in the woods is, there simply wasn't enough room for anybody else.

Notice that we are all cute small fluffy animals. Appropriately.

And while we are on the subject: try googling “Pekka the Unicorn” (with the quotes), you'll get only one hit. The same works with all the other Mythological Creatures. Except for Mario the Dragon. The search “Mario the Dragon” gives 2520 hits, for example fractal dragons.

To critiques I'll say as the poet in a Moomin radio play: “TAIteilijallahan ON oma vaPAUtensa!” This is not funny really if you haven't heard the hole story: A poet had hidden on the Moomin boat and eaten all the cakes and drank all the vine. When caught his answer was the above: “But artist has his poetic licence!” Later he found an entusiastic audience for his poems – tahmatassut. They liked to eat his poems. The Moomin Family got trouble when one tahmatassu later ate their charts (the maps you use at sea). When questioned, he answered: “Mminä luulin sitä rrrunoksi kun siinä ei lllukenut jjuuri mitään!” (“I thought it was a peom since there was practically no text”) Maybe it's not funny either if you haven't heard the play?

Saturday, April 21, 2007


I'm starting to panic about going back to Finland. Well, yes, I do miss one guy and two cats. But I don't want to leave yet! It feels like last years two months were so much longer than this years four. Do you know? When you have enough time to forget that you're there and you're just hanging along, then the time goes by so fast that you don't even notice and afterwards you're just left with the feeling that nothing happened. But this is inevitable.

I also realized that I picked the wrong day to fly back to Finland. It's the day of the final of the Eurovision song contest. And Hartwall Areena (which is where the final is held) is sort of on the way from the airport to our place. But luckily finns only tend to get crazy when we win something and that's – shall we say – a rather unlikely occurrence.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Doubling Places

Did you know that one can teleport between math departments?

It works like this: You go to the women's rest room and into a toilet booth and lock the door. Then you close your eyes and think about another women's toilet booth in another math department. You should be able to teleport to any other women's toilet booth in any other math departement where you have been and have closed your eyes and thought about teleporting. Thus I should be able to go to Helsinki, Jyväskylä and Aarhus. And now Ann Arbor.

Why only women's toilets you ask? Well, I wouldn't know about men's toilets now, would I? You have to figure it out yourself.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Vacuum Store Mafia

I'm convinced that there is a vacuum store mafia here in Ann Arbor. I've seen at least two vacuum stores and heard rumours of a third one north of town. Both of the stores I've seen are actually located on the same street. Admittedly, Packard is quite a long street.

Here's the proof:

I just googled “vacuum Ann Arbor”. Apparently there are two Arbor Vacuums (1226 Packard and 2990 Carpenter Road – but they are actually both on Packard), Ann Arbor Vacuum Warehouse (5237 Jackson Road) and the Vacuumstore (2380 Dexter Avenue). And once you've got all your four vacuums you'll undoubtedly be also in need of the services of Dick Sampier Vacuum Cleaner (2165 West Stadium Boulevard).

Sunday, April 8, 2007


For some reason there has been quite a lot of references to graduate studies in Viivi ja Wagner lately. Maybe to humour me?

is yesterdays strip. This time I think I can attempt a translation again:

Viivi: You should study! Don't you have any ambition?

Wagner: Animals don't. Or are you telling me that penguins write dissertations?

the penguin: Hi Wagner! Will you come to my karonkka?
Wagner: You've got to be kidding...

Karonkka is the party you have after your defence in Finland. The defence is a great ordeal with tail-coats, interrogation and protocol. The party is held in honour of the opponent with full-length menu, tosts and ceremony.

As opposed to the tradition here where you give a short talk in your jeans and sweater and afterwards go to a pizza and beer party...

The Truth

I suppose the locals were right.

Friday, April 6, 2007

My Thanks to MGO!

Here's an account of what happened last weekend. The short version is that we were here. A longer version follows.

Here you can see the Michigan delegation – excluding me, but stricktly speaking I might in fact belong to the Finnish delegation – walking towards the campus. That is not the math building, though. It is the art building. But the campus was really beautiful, at least what we saw of it. And here I am gracefully forgetting the chemistry and engineering buildings of course.

The fact that the campus was located on a small hill somehow made all the difference, it gave a feeling of exitement, air and great views. Or maybe I'm just sick of the omnipresent flatness here in Michigan.

The math building had the warm warn atmosphere of an old library building – which it really was – with the pompous cold stones and cosy warm woods.

I think that a yearly math grad conference is an amazingly great idea. I had problems understanding why everybody wasn't there. Imagine: All the fun of a conference and the possibility of actually understanding some of the talks. Also if you really want to be a mathematician, these are the people you'll want to be working with in the future. The current big guys will actually be dead when we are older.

We should definitely have a math grad conference in Finland! Do you suppose one could apply some eu-money for it? Also a math grad student organization is a great idea, but we already do have one of those in Helsinki. Their organization sounds a bit more lively than ours does yet, though... How is our organization holding up, buy the way?

The only fault with the conference was that it was really short. Such a shy finn as me won't have enough time to meet new people in just two days. Also we were really tired during the reception on Friday. Maybe if we had stayed longer and had more wine also meeting new people might have been easier. That just proves my principle of always to arrive in the conference place the day before the conference starts.

I gave a talk on doubling measures. The proof can be seen in the picture here. Do you like my title slide? The talk went well and Tomasz praised my slides so I'm very proud.

I also listened to Kevin's, Marie's, Tomasz' and Derek's talks. That ment that I was able to hear only one talk by a grad student I didn't already know before.

But we did meet some new friends including Saara from Rice and Marie from Michigan. The proof of their existence can be seen in this picture.

We also got acquainted with the us airline practices, learned something about prime numbers (at least I did), discussed taking pictures of buildings, drank lots of vodka, learned about the Finnish mafia in the Syracuse math departement and of course – met uncle Tadeusz, as he is warmly called amongst the Helsinki analysis grad students.

To conclude I have to say I'd go to any conference Tomasz is organizing, he took such a good care of us.

Also huge thanks to all of the people at MGO: the conference was simply great!

Here is Tomasz. Some other friends can be seen through the mirror in the background. Also go and check out a bunch of other pics from the trip on my Flickr page including “Too Much Math Makes You Yellow?” and “Live long and prosper”.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Graduate Student Appreciation Day

It is today. So are all other days faculty appreciation days? What about the undergrads? Are they ever appreciated?

Anyway, it's nice to appreciated!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Spring and Syracuse

This time I have a good excuse for not posting for a while. Last week was very busy because during the weekend we were visiting Syracuse for their math grad conferense. We had lots of fun and I'll post a story with pictures soon.

While we were in Syracuse the Spring finally arrived in Ann Arbor. How do I know? Any local would tell you that it'll still snow in April. But the flowers are always right. They came last weekend. This morning on my way to work I found at least five different colours: