frustration, mushrooms, and toothpaste

How can we relate these three things? Well you see, it all started when... Ok, just kidding. They're unrelated other than the fact that all three are mentioned in this blog.

It's been a tough few weeks for me in the math world. We're very close to finishing a nice (though small) result, just one little loose end to prove. It's crazy frustrating because it seems like there should be an easy way to do it, but nothing works. Twice now I've had what I thought was a proof, only to notice later there was a mistake.

This particular problem has frustrated a lot of people. Last year a friend at UD was working on the problem and thought he had solved it, which would have made a nice addition to his dissertation (he was graduating at the end of the spring). He thought he had it, but that same day (or maybe a couple days later?) he found out someone else had already submitted a proof to a journal. He left it alone and found something else to finish up his dissertation. He graduated fine. But it was frustrating for him to lose a month to this problem.

Jump forward to a couple months ago, the journal article is out, and we find out there's an error in the proof. Oof. Those guys didn't know the problem had frustrated them (their proof was short and easy, if only it had been valid), but I'm sure it's frustrating them now...

Now I'm working on the problem with my adviser. Why still work on it if my friend proved it last year? Yeah, his proof had an error too (although, in my opinion, a much less serious error than the guy who actually got his proof published...), so, more frustration.

We've been working on it a few weeks and we came up with a nice proof Tuesday to the part we had left. Excitement. I typed it up and noticed... nope. Mistake. It wasn't valid. So yesterday, one last time, I solved it. Elation. Relief. I went to a mushroom festival with Sharayah, even. Ok, I would have gone with her anyway, but still. Anyway, when I got home and reread it... No. Wrong. This problem. It's so stupid. Frustration.

So, I'm back to square one again.

Things I learned at the mushroom festival while I still thought my problem was solved: There are a lot of people who really, really like mushrooms. There are many, many different foods you can make with mushrooms. Mushrooms are sometimes grown from a bag of oats or rice or wheat or... lots of other grains depending on the mushrooms, and I think some other stuff was in there too, and they just let the fungus grow in it, and then it starts poking holes in the bag to grow out of it. There are also other (perhaps less weird) ways they grow some types of mushrooms. There are pink mushrooms. There are yellow mushrooms. There are not that many foods sold at a mushroom festival for someone who does not eat mushrooms. Oh! But I ate a frozen banana dipped in dark chocolate. They had a person in a banana suit at their booth. It was like I stepped right into Arrested Development. Without the dysfunctional family part. So. A++, would go again.

Sharayah and I have typically used separate toothpaste. Weird, I know. We just each had the kind that we liked to use when we got married, and we kept replacing them until that was just what we did. So we had separate toothpaste. No big deal. Anyway mine ran out recently and I haven't gotten around to replacing it yet so I've been using Sharayah's and you guys she squeezes it right in the middle of the tube. I mean, she really just goes at it. Just squashes the thing, right in the middle. So every day I slowly squish it all back to the front and squirt out my toothpaste like a civilized person, and every day she smashes it all back to the back. Oddly enough (because I've heard of couples fighting over this sort of silly thing), I think it's pretty funny. But, I may get my own tube again sometime.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe it's strange, but I read Sharayah's post about Hay vs Straw before this one, and when I get to the end of this I quite literally laughed out loud, over toothpaste. Well played you two. Well played.