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Faculty Meeting

There was a faculty meeting of our college today. I have been missing them because I have class at the usual time, but today is reading day and there are no classes.

I sat next to Elle. She had brought along a loose leaf article on cognitive science to read for a class she's taking. A lot of us multitask during faculty meetings. And at least hers was constructive. When I was not secretary, I used to bring along a spiral notebook to doodle in. I used to joke to Elle that I was taking it so "I could pretend to take notes." (The irony was not lost on me when I was elected secretary and had to really take notes.)

Elle very graciously handed me a couple of pages she had already read and an pencil so I would be able to doodle. I could doodle on the back and then return them when she was done. She was very kind to indulge me like that.

On one of the sheets I solved the following diophantine equation:


This looks like the old familiar pythagorean triple problem, but I gave it a twist. Instead of integers, A,B, and C are two-dimensional arrays of integers. I don't know a good general way of solving it, but I have figured out a method for when the numbers on the main diagonal form a pair of pythagorean triples. I gave enough detail to show what my method was, and gave an example of a solution.

I was trying to be excellent in her presence.

I also drew a cup of coffee. She had seen me draw a cup of coffee during my doodlings before, and was actually impressed. She had said "You gave it shading and everything." Seriously, this is one of the most gratifying interactions I'd ever had with her. She is really smart and has lots of skills so impressing her takes some work.

This time she asked "can you draw anything else." Not really. I made an attempt at drawing a human face. She said it wasn't bad. Maybe it wasn't as bad as I thought it was, but I could tell she wasn't impressed. At best she wasn't unfavorably impressed.

This may reveal a flaw in the Tao Of Steve. If you try to be excellent in front of a woman too many times, her threshold of excellence goes up. Maybe that's why the next step is to retreat.

Still, I thought the matrix equation was pretty close to excellent. I  hope she thinks it's excellent too. Or at least puts it up on her refrigerator.

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