And Gutenberg Lived Here: Of Sunshine Blues And Notable Math Transit

Spring has sprung here:

Above four degrees Celsius,

Snow melted, for the moment,

and Carnival (German Mardi Gras)

has taken over the city.

(Time to rent out the apartment for a bazillion pblslozies per night

and go on vacation)

As everyone writing a blog at the moment,

especially the travel blog people, apparently,

are making great and fascinating plans for.

(Personal favorite- see Tara Sparling on the trans Siberian railroad.)

Which means:

As I have often written,

I am a music and comparative lit geek.

Hubby is a mathematician, who has sung,

and occasionally still does sing,


And gospel.

As I do.

Which means:

during the small amount of down time we have,

from September to June,

we travel.

To sing.

And in summer,

when the others are traveling,

we sing.

Or travel to math conferences.

So now,

nearly at Lichtmess,

the German version of Santa Lucia,

where you celebrate

that the weak daylight suddenly still  exists

after five at night,

and long sun-deprived spirits start to soar,

and the others in our town are planning vacations,

usually to places with sun,

we plan…

“Harold, Is there a conference somewhere near a beach?”

“It’s in a great place in the mountains.”

“Great meaning totally isolated?”


Huge grin.  “Twenty-five real blackboards in the place.”

“And no tv?”




“Nearest cafe?”

“two miles down the mountain trail.2

“And back up?”

“But the conference is great.”

“Take your assistants.”

“There is a wives’ program.”

“Twenty five miles down a mountain road?”

“Actually there is a bus.”


“To a museum.”


“And a cafe. And a meeting with other mathematician wives.”

“And husbands?”

“Yes, there is one.”

“What does he do for a living?”

“Math and physics- high school teacher.”


“Is there anyone there who isn’t?”

“Besides you?”

“Take your assistants.”

“The string quartet will be there…They thought we could bring some music and sing with them.”

“Oh be still my heart.”

A small moment of consideration



“Yes love of my life.”

“I want to go to the beach.”

“Of course, dearest Epsilon.”

“Somewhere alone, Harold. And with no one who smells of chalk or white boards.”

No answer.


“Yes, oh dainty flower of Hawaii.”

“Hawaii, that’s it.”


“Harold, I want to go to Hawaii.”

“Well, the University there does have some very good people in their math department…”

And as the sun sets on Harold and Dunna

we get a small view through the proscenium arch

of shadow pictures on the walls.

With commentary:

“This is us. At the Luau.”

“Wasn’t it great that I bumped into that Finnish mathematician buying sun tan oil?”

“This is me learning to dance the local dances in Spain.”

“Wasn’t it great that one of my ex students lived near there?”

“This is us in the snow on our way to the Bouchercon in Toronto.”

“Wasn’t it great that I got that call from a student asking me to speak at the Fields Institute?”

And so, as the first rays of spring pass through the windows,

we see our hero and heroine

getting out bathing suits,

mats, suntan oil,


including the sonata “Poor Epsilon”

checking Firefox for trains, planes, and hotels

to conferences somewhere,


near a beach,

and then, finally,


“I could go to the writers’ conference in Nottingham, Harold.”

“Oh good, I got a note from a student some time ago. He’s at one of the red bricks.  And from there we could visit a conference in Edinburgh.”

Dunna, hopefully “in Scotland?”


And other people wonder where the ideas for a murder mystery come from.

Copyright 2018 All rights reserved.

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