Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nightmarish ending of a difficult semester

The program at MSRI is finally over, and I am back home. Scientifically the program seems to have been quite successful, with a great group of participants, talented mathematicians of various ages from all around the world. Everybody looked like they were having a great time, with a lot of continuing and developing  interaction and collaboration on new projects.

The program was built around a concept discovered by my friend and collaborator Sergey Fomin and myself about 12 years ago. It doesn't happen very often that such a young subject will have a semester-long program devoted to it. I couldn't possibly miss such an exceptional occasion, and indeed was treated very well there, being given probably the best office in the whole building! It was actually a great fun taking to other participants or listening to their talks and conversations, freely using the concepts and terminology introduced by Serezha and myself only recently, so that they sounded like they've been around for a long time.

Unfortunately, the good stuff ends here. I've caught some nasty infection in mid-September, and never really recovered from it, feeling gradually worse and worse. Then G.'s father passed away in the beginning of October. After returning to Berkeley from the funeral, I continued to feel rather poorly but the real crisis developed in the last couple of weeks of my stay. I had to go to Bielefeld, Germany on December 8 - 15 to attend a conference and give three lectures there, which I did on sheer willpower - the two very long direct flights from San Francisco to Frankfurt with a long trip by train to Bielefeld made me feel even worse than before. And then on Thursday December 20 I finally made it home but in a really poor shape. After landing I've learned that when my flight to Boston was in the air, my mother-in-law has suddenly (and very quickly) passed away too, leaving G. without both parents in two months. The memorial service and funeral took place today but before that I had to be admitted to a hospital for two days where they gave me a not very pleasant procedure yesterday (I spare the reader not too appetizing medical details). Usually they keep a patient for 24 hours after this procedure but they kindly discharged me almost immediately so that I could attend today's service and funeral. Fortunately our great kids took care of everything, so G. did not have to worry about the food, etc.

Anyway it's all over now, except my health problems (rather serious, I am afraid) that I will have to take care of. By the way, if any of my readers can recommend a good specialist in liver diseases in the greater Boston area (especially in the South) , I will be very grateful.

Oh yes, and our traditional family trip to Caribbean (Aruba this time) for the last week of the year will  be obviously without G. and me this time. Too bad, we were really looking forward to it ...

I am extremely grateful to my colleagues and friends at MSRI and Berkeley for their friendly kindness and help under these difficult circumstances. And to my Walnut Creek relatives Alik and Lyalya, and to A.B. and Marina  for their wonderful hospitality (sorry if I forgot somebody). And to the LJ-user sthinks who has become a real friend. Sorry guys, I was probably not the most entertaining company this time ...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Epitomic cuteness

Unbeatable in the cuteness department.
Maybe one should use this as a unit of cuteness?