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I got back from Montreal last morning and now I'm mostly over jet lag.
I spent a lot of time over the last three weeks thinking about old favorite subjects of mine: quantum gravity (thanks to the conference in Zurich) and higher gauge theory (thanks to talking with my former student Derek Wise in Erlangen).
The two-week-long conference reaffirmed my belief that people working on quantum gravity are stuck. Many of those people are good friends of mine, so it was nice to see them again, but I'm very glad I quit working on that subject. If I had any regrets, they've been eliminated. I guess that's good.
On the other hand, talking to Derek, we had a really good idea on how to see general relativity as a higher gauge theory, and I couldn't resist helping him write a paper on this. The idea took one minute to have, so I wanted to write the paper in a 'blitzkrieg' style, finishing it off in one week, but it's not working that way. I'm sort of regretting this, because I want to focus on environmental issues. However, it's a very nice idea, and Derek keeps making it nicer. Since gravity is his main area of research, it's easy to forgive him!
One of my goals now is to write some This Week's Finds on Milankovitch cycles, glacial cycles, stochastic resonance and bistability. I guess I should start with an easy summary article, and then a more detailed one on Milankovitch cycles, and then... well, I've discovered that it's bad to plan these things out too carefully, because then they feel like 'work' and I resist doing them! I've already put this off for way too long, perhaps for that reason.