This afternoon I plan to fly up to Fayetteville, Arkansas to the University of Arkansas Physics Centennial. Assuming that I make my flight given some work demands, I will attend a lecture tonight by an MIT professor on a subject whose title I almost understand. Friday I will attend some additional events, interrupted by some work things I must do, such as a court hearing by telephone at mid-day. Friday night will be the dinner at the regal "Town Center" at which the physicist who is a trombonist will provide an entertainment with his jazz ensemble. I wish my wife could come, as she would enjoy this trip to the Ozarks, but her own work is very demanding now. I know I will have to work even on the road, but I hope that my work demands do not impair my trip.
Saturday morning will be the actual "reunion" function. I must confess I am looking forward to seeing people whom I knew in college. Let's take as read that I was not a social butterfly in college, and that the pastel-painted cinderblock halls of the physics building at the University of Arkansas perhaps differed from one of those New England colleges where ivy no doubt runs up the portcullis and people think Great Thoughts. Yet there was a singular charm about the kind of place in which one of the fellows would brag about the new laser he planned to buy, and life was defined in equations I could never understand and in the smell of fresh solder in the morning.
I never bought a laser, and I was always relieved when they let me take a lot of English literature courses to fill out my arts degree, rather than requiring me to study more arcane areas of quantum mechanics. I found my professors to all be quite decent folks, and I was pleased to see that many of them are still professing at the university.
I read a history of the physics department at the University of Arkansas, and find that I am one of less than 90 people in 100 years to actually graduate with the bachelor of arts in physics. It's a degree for people like me, who are interested in science and not entirely without a clue, but who really should be practicing law instead. I ran across a weblog of the person who was the senior level teaching instructor at the electronics lab when I was a freshman,and found that she used her B.A. as the foundation to become a plastic surgeon. It's all about gravity and dynamics in the end.
I'll be glad to see the Ozark Mountains in the distance, though I do not plan to stay past Saturday afternoon, and thus may not have time to hike. On Sunday, I get together with my Little Brother for some hiking. I was pleased to hear that he has rather taken to the can-jo I got him for his March birthday and not only learned the three songs for which I gave him sheet music, but also "Ode to Joy".
But before these plans all begin, I must go have a very productive day.
I used to know a lot of people in Fayetteville, but now I am not sure any of my old friends still remain there. Perhaps, at least, I can visit an old cafe haunt or two, for nostalgia's ambrosia-like sake.