Vernal equinox and tangential thoughts

Oh; March twentieth already?

Happy equinox, the twice-yearly day when day and night are equal in length —

Well, that’s close enough. The actual exact details are such that an hour into them you’ll be calling someone in, saying: “Come here. You have a big, round head I can use as the Sun. Oh, and bring a knife and a lighter.” If the details interest you, and you want someone with patience enough to explain them, go get your cerebellum pun-ished by Phil Plait.

Since (I might have mentioned this before) I am a night person, a darkness person, a type that gets charged up by loneliness and quiet and exhausted by crowds and lights, I like the autumn equinox a lot more. This spring one — eh, it’s just the melting of snows, sludge and again uncertainty about which jacket is thick enough but not too much, sweating and uncounted occasions when the light just spoils your vision and it’s so, so…

Hey, positive things about the coming spring: 1) can wear sunglasses again without looking like a moron, and wearing sunglasses is one of those things that makes me totally irrationally and exceedingly immensely happy, and 2) my agonophagic / passionovoric nature will make me stronger (“I vill be much stronker than you!”) with the depression and misery of weather-frustrated others. (Hey, reserve junior sergeant!)

Well, those are the chief positive things about spring.

And hey, there are negative ones, too! 1) You no longer can shock anyone by getting a cone of ice cream and eating it outside, 2) the roads, dear empty heavens the roads; bicycling in ten centimeters of something that might be ice, might be slurry, and might change from one to another quite unexpectedly, or might be one atop the other, is no fun. (Well, it might be fun for an adrenaline junkie, but if I wanted that, I could, you know, start skateboarding or jumping off roofs or something. Make a hobby out of it. Crotchety old bastard, aged twenty-six, crotchety crotchety.)

Ah well, at least for now it’s still raining snow outside. Still, it hasn’t been a very cold winter — at least not so far — and as such, I again curse that the University of Greenland teaches in Danish and doesn’t have a department of mathematics.

Then again, the University of Tromso, Norway, is still farther north — and they do maths! And they have Huginn and Muninn in their logo, which I think is just, to use a youthful idiom, cool beyond all words. (But, seriously, Norway? Dear cod!)

Oh, and there seems to be something university-related on Svalbard, a place I can’t help associating with sentient giant bears engaging in coups and bloodily slapping lower jaws off each other. (That’s the thing books do to you, even when you’re an adult.) But the Svalbard place doesn’t seem to have a Center for Arctic Mathematics, however. Would someone fund me to start one?

“What’s here, Sven?”

“Well, Svante, seems some Finnish grad student wants go to the Dread Bear Islands, study effect of permafrost on polynomials. Asks for twenty thousand euros.”

“Those damn fool Finns! Not enough cod in their diet, I’ve always said.”

(Note: It should not surprise anyone that Wikipedia has a page on “World’s northmost things“.)

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