Tuesday, March 13, 2007

In an effort to stem my recent insomnia, I thought I should shunt some thoughts out: Driving and walking around Lennoxville sometimes makes me miss all the weird things that happened on public transport. One of my more treasured memories was when I got on a bus in Vancouver (the 99 I think, towards UBC campus) about 3 years ago, and I walked to the back of the bus only to watch a small debate between two guys over the role and definition of art spontaneously almost entirely take over the bus – random strangers just started talking to each other, debating and sharing their thoughts with passion and gusto rarely seen in the brusquely apathetic and stoic public transport crowd. It was over in 10 minutes, but I remember it well, having ended my own debate with a professional photographer who eventually got into resolution requirements on digital cameras.
Something else that I’ve been thinking about is this impending thesis-that-isn’t of mine: it seems like every time I think I understand the key algorithms going on beneath the hood, I manage to pick an example to try it out on that seems to either fail horribly or make me realize that I’m missing knowledge – typically a good thing, except when you’re hoping that you’ve gathered enough material together to stew a paper together. In no ways trying to sound emo or needy, I often think about what Andrew Wiles’s reaction was when he announced to the world that he had solved Fermat’s Last Theorem, only to later find a hole that he couldn’t plug. This is a guy who had essentially dedicated his life to a problem and after a superhuman amount of concentration and frustration thought he had it in the bag, only to watch it trickle out between his fingers. Wiles managed to grind onwards anyway and fix it months after, but that feeling of desolation has still got to be soul-crushing.

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