After almost 30 years of post-college life, I have finally acquired a self-freezing ice cream machine only because a sister-in-law thought I might like it and decided that Christmas of 2003 was the right time to act. It had always seemed like too much of an indulgence, even though it's really only a matter of a couple hundred buck investment, hardly anything for a kidless professional couple like us. Who at this age are now destined to only be uncle bob and aunt ani to some actual nieces and nephews and some close friends' children where we get the honorary titles.
aunt ani, real nephew shant, uncle bob (2003)
limoncello gelato (with a little help
So why are so many of those who are now running the nation, including some of our classmates, seeking more wealth and power than they need or deserve at the expense of the many underpowered and underwealthy of the world while I was still waiting for my ice cream machine? How did the idealism of the 1960s turn into what we are living through now? Where is the caring and fairness that is supposed to underlie the "Judeo-Christian" foundations of our nation?
I came from a working class family and followed my interest in math to Princeton, but got sidetracked into physics with the help of David Derbes '74, then veered back towards math via general relativity which landed me a lifelong connection with Rome (via Remo Ruffini, from John Wheeler's relativity group in the 1970s) that has enriched my life considerably. Graduate school took me to U.C. Berkeley to another Princetonian, Abe Taub *35, just before his retirement. And after 5 years of wandering postdocs including Chapel Hill, Rome, Munich and Cambridge (MA), the math department at Villanova University provided a comfortable academic home, permitting a continuing part time academic life in Italy and bringing Ani and her Armenian-Lebanese heritage into my life.
In 2000 I made a small contribution to holding on to some of Princeton's
history by putting on-line The Princeton Mathematics Community in the 1930s:
An Oral History Project, which I stumbled upon after Abe's death in 1999:
And since we all need a little humor to help lighten up the harsh reality of our world (and everybody has to eat), I continue to grow our humorous on-line cookbook for those who care to drop by my part of the internet:
If you have any reflections to share about any of this, I'd be happy to hear from you.