Click for Farmington, Maine Forecast

"And this I know, whether the One True Light
Kindle to Love, or Wrath consume me quite,
One glimpse of it within the Tavern caught,
Better than in the Temple lost outright."
---Omar Khayyam

 Dr. Paul J Gies

Associate Professor of Mathematics

Office: 205 Brinkman House (between the Psych building and Merrill Hall, on Main Street)

Phone: 778-7119 (home: 645-3384)


Office Hours: MTWTh: 8-9 am, 11:30 am to 2 pm;
...and anytime you find me in my office or elsewhere. I answer questions in the grocery store, at the pool, in front of the post office, and at home on the phone (within reasonable hours).

It's possible you got here without seeing the website of my employer:

The University of Maine at Farmington,

quite simply the best undergraduate institution of higher education in the country, with (not counting me) the best math teaching faculty in the world.


My Elementary Geometry classes have, over the years, produced some remarkable things in pursuit of a measly four point bonus on art projects. Click above! to see a few of them.

The Tale of Countess Vivian

Vivian, 17th Countess of Clane... is my other hobby, and I'll bet she wishes she wasn't, because I certainly put her through a lot. This is a fantasy novel I wrote (and continue to rewrite); it's gotten good reviews from the eight or so people who've read it. It's recently been heavily rewritten (with a weight loss of about 15%). It starts faster than it used to, but it does end with rather a bang.

Alan Turing: one of the true heroes of mathematics. And here's a link to a Turing machine simulator.

Also of (possible) interest:

Euclid's Elements online: the greatest single math textbook ever, possibly the greatest textbook ever, and now (surprise surprise) it's in the modern equivalent of the Great Library of Alexandria, the Internet. (Or is that more like the Tower of Babel?)

Orbits: the web site of the Near Earth Objects survey. This site contains one of the neatest applets I've seen, almost justifying the Web all by itself. When you go there (and you will), you'll be able to choose from a long list of near-earth asteroids and get a display of its orbit against the orbits of the inner planets. But that's not all! You can tilt and twirl the picture to view it from any direction. But that's not all either! You can even set the planets and asteroid in motion to see when Earth is going to be smooshed like a big bug on a tiny windshield! Wow!

Ville de Quebec: Telegraphe de Quebec's very nice web site. Make sure to see the Vu Global 360 degree images of some of VQ's many pretty places. Head-spinning! This would also have to be one of the neatest applets I've seen. I'm not sure if you can use it to figure out when an asteroid will hit Quebec...

Astronomy Picture of the Day: My guilty pleasure, candid and intimate photos of heavenly bodies on the Internet.

The Nine Planets: How many have you been to?

Math Quotes: a generator of mathematical quotes. My favorite so far: "I don't believe in mathematics." --Albert Einstein

Linda Freeman and her boy Ed, friends from grad school making a life for themselves in the wilds of Seattle.

Index of English Poetry: from the University of Toronto. Lists among others, "Anonymous", who wrote an awful lot and apparently lived from 1100 to 1800.

NEAR: Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous: The NEAR Spacecraft went into orbit around the asteroid 433 Eros on Valentine's day 2000 and wound up its incredible mission by descending (12 Feb 2001) for the first ever landing on an asteroid. We have never gotten as good a look as this at an asteroid, and that includes the ones that have hit Earth. It's also an especially good web page for a space mission.

Harvey Mudd Fun Facts, a site at Harvey Mudd College that has a searchable collection of interesting items about math.

Pictures of My Son Tom

Our Cat Pages

Sad news: I regret to inform you of the death, on Sunday 17 June 2007, of our cat Quebecoise, at the age of fourteen. In the words of Tommy Clark, "She was just a good kitty. She was just good... She was a sweetie. Sweetie, sweetie, sweetie." Now she rolls in that catnip patch in the sky.
And in October, we lost Nana after a two-year battle with cancer. Nana was so shy, but so sweet and loveable. We miss you so much, Nanasweetie! As Tommy said when he informed me of her death during the night: "Paul. We have three cats." But we will never again have a cat like Nana.

Ann Ritchey and I showing enthusiasm at graduation. We love our students and we're happy to see them succeed (and leave). But I was very sorry to see Ann leave. She was smart and creative and just a lot of fun to be around. On the positive side, I may have already stolen enough stuff from her to last the rest of my career.

I have also taken the trouble to put my four-part narrative poem online. Whether this makes any sense or has anything to do with anything, is up to you, but the basic subject is, um, reality. By the way, I list them only in the order I wrote them; if you're actually going to read the dang things, I'd start with "My Enemy's Retreat," which seems to me the most "accessible", or maybe "Dark at the Flame's Center" because it was chronologically the first one... whatevah.

Vita Brevis, if you care

I was not actually born on Pluto, but Zirkons destroyed my home asteroid when I was a young child, so I went to school in the Outer Planets School District (that's SAD 500,000,000,009), where I was voted Most Likely to Crash-land on Earth and Manage to Blend In. (That's not a compliment, by the way, but my Earthling friends tell me it's also not true.) (My colleague Ann Ritchey went to Neptune High, Pluto's arch-rival. She is like, SO typical of Neptunians!)

On a trip to the grocery store, I got lost, and, not feeling like asking directions, I ended up on this benighted planet. At least there's beer... Wanting to find the place on Earth with the fewest distractions, I moved to Iowa, and not wanting to do anything to attract attention, I got an English degree from a university out there. My original cover story was that I had gone to high school in Illinois, but I found that claiming extraterrestrial origin aroused less suspicion than being from Illinois, and with good reason.

While there I met and fell in love with a beautiful and wise Earthling called Kenlyn Clark, and we got married and had cats. We now have four (see above), two of whom come with functioning brain cells. Desiring to remain in school as long as possible, Kenlyn and I made the rounds of various colleges in the area: Northeast Mo State, Parkland College, University of Illinois, none of which would attract any particular attention. I have since arranged to have Northeast change its name to make it even harder to trace me.

At Illinois I attempted to get a PhD in English, figuring that such an achievement would finalize my blending into the population. Unfortunately, through computer error, I was assigned to Mathematics, and every time I went to change it, the line was too long. I soon found out that I stood out much less among mathematicians than among the general population, so it turned out to be serendipity. Under the direction of the best advisor in the world, Dr Paul Schupp (another alien, I'm sure---he claims to spend every third semester "in France", ha ha ha!), I got a PhD.

Where to go, to continue my goal of blending in? It had to be somewhere where my peculiarities would not stand out, and where the cold and the accumulations of water crystals would make me feel at home. The problem was again happily solved when the University of Maine at Farmington agreed to hold its collective nose and hire me. And here I am.

In the fall of 2005, my enemies within the department, and they are many and bold, engineered a brazen coup and forced me to become Chair of the Department. I was never properly trained to be a piece of furniture. But I'll have the last laugh. I'm only going to be chair until July 2007, and then I'm going to foist the job on someone else. And then I'm going to take a very long shower with a big bar of Lava soap and scrub till I bleed, to get all the administration off me.

This page last modified 19 May 2010

Comments: e-mail me (see above)