Two days later, I’m still laughing. This past weekend Rice University threw an enormous retirement event for my PhD advisor, John Anderson. It spanned two days and included parties, fancy food, and even a full day of academic talks from colleagues and former students. People came from all over the US and as far as Stockholm and Tokyo to be here to celebrate John. I think I probably laughed for three hours straight during the Saturday night event, which was essentially a full roasting of John by over 40 years’ worth of students. The cherry on top was this rendition of an old Jimmy Dean song performed by the great Richard Alley, esteemed climate scientist and John’s longtime friend and colleague:

Richard’s version of the lyrics (as well as I can interpret them):

Every morning at Rice you can see him arrive,
Head over the crowd as he walks up the drive,
Kinda broad in the shoulder, narrow in the hip,
All the students know you don’t give no lip
To Big John.

Somebody said he studied at South Alabam,
Where they say “Please” and “Thank you ma’am”,
Then New Mexico, his Master’s great
And a PhD from Florida State,
Big John.

Three years up north, Michigan’s Hope College,
Where he taught and gained a useful knowledge,
It’s a long long way from there to the coast,
Which is where we needed John the most,
Big John.

So he headed back south to Houston’s Rice,
In seventy-five, and the fit was nice,
As he climbed the ranks to the Ewing chair,
Forty-three years he’s been happy there,
Big John…. [see more]