Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Distinguished Visitor

Yesterday my former advisor, Mike, came to the lab as a distinguished visitor. He gave a seminar at 1:00. I was there, front row center. It was a good thing, too. At the beginning of his talk, he explained his long association with the lab, having been a staff member for many years and now his former student has begun working here. In the middle of the seminar, he told a joke that nobody but me got, at which point he said, "That was supposed to be a joke, but nobody but Rebecca laughed. You can tell that she was my student." That crack then got a good laugh, and he went on with the seminar.

Mike is a very entertaining speaker. Aside from that one joke that nobody but me seemed to notice, he has a good sense of the audience and keeps it lively, although not so lively that he's not taken seriously. His slides were peppered with visualizations of rockets and other interesting graphics, which also keep people from sleeping.

After his day of visits was over, I got a chance to talk to him alone for about a half hour. We had a very enjoyable talk, some about work but mostly about Oak Ridge and how it had changed since he worked here. In fact, his first joke at the seminar was that he used to park his car about where he was standing (in a beautiful new building). He also told me where he and his wife used to live in town, and that they had donated a piano to the Oak Ridge Children's Museum, so I told him that if I ever went there, I would look for the piano.

He is a really nice man and I miss him a lot. He was a good advisor and always very supportive. He has like three different jobs, which means he's really busy, but he always made time for his students. I think he's quite proud of me and that makes me feel really good.

If my abstract gets accepted, I imagine that I will see him in February at the conference in San Francisco. I could see him again sometime this semester, too, if I successfully persuade the right people to sponsor an FE! in Illinois.

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