The Usual

We did a corporate litigation double feature this weekend. I almost forgot how good Erin Brokovich was and how bad A Civil Action was.

In the school front, I am doing both awesome and awful. I am way ahead and excelling in all my classes except fractals, in which I am completely crippled by the technology. I totally can't get past it. I spend so much time spinning my wheels. I haven't completed a single assignment and it doesn't look like I will. I've given up on hopeful optimism, tipped the scale beyond passive alarm, and am into dreadful resignation. If my teacher does not actually do the assignment for me step by step all the way to the finish line, I'll never get there. He must really be sick of me.
It's sort of sad, because this is the class I am the most topically interested in, and I really enjoy thinking about it, researching stuff on the side, and lectures.


Mt. Lemon

We just drove out a few hours to Tucson again, this time to scale the highest nearby peak and enjoy the pines. It was not to be. We kind of forgot that we've had .32 inches of rain since October - second lowest rainfall for winter since they started writing it down. Everything was dead. There might have been some wildfires or something. All the trees except a few pines were totally leaf-less and cactuses were wilty.

It was a pretty drive anyway, with lots of sweeping vistas.

We ate at a horrible fresh mex place - and were both immediately sick. (Mark literally so.) They didn't tell me that "the big one" I ordered was a full 15 inches long and an easy 4.5 inches in diameter. (They had to use two tortillas. If we knew this, we probably would not have ordered nachos as an appetizer to share. It was filthy.

I love our daytrip weekends.


I'm on the dean's list. Now if only I can figure out how to get on Santa's list... Posted by Picasa


From the White House Posted by Picasa


I love Mark. Pretty saccharin, I know.

Try not to throw up.

We're always watching movies. I should sometimes mention the shows we're watching.

I finally made it all the way through 'pi.' Sadly, every math movie features an insane person. I don't thing you need to be insane to be a mathematician. I should write a script. The ones that actually feature real math usually get it wrong as well. This one called my favorite number, phi, "theta," which is a pretty big thing to get wrong. I guess the writers were not mathematicians, so I'll give them a break, but they could've called in someone who knew something as simple as the name of the number that the number theorist is talking about. Additionally, I couldn't figure out why the guy would write out stuff we knew thousands of years ago ... the formula for the circumference and area of a circle to learn about pi, or the golden rectangle to learn about phi ... when he has a computer that can compute stuff that has never been computed about these numbers. *phi has been calculated to 1,241,100,000,000 digits by Kanada and pi has been calculated to 3,141,000,000 digits by Gourden and Sebah as of 2002

We also watched 'The Weatherman.' This is just a commercial. We think some lobbyist for the fast food industry took out a bulk ad. Every shot has a wrapper, convenience food item, or store location in it. Lots of corporate labels too. I'm not recommending it for the gag factor.


The Weekend

I really need to mention what a fantastic weekend I had. We waited to celebrate Valentine's Day and our nine-year anniversary until now because Mark wanted more time to prepare. He really went all out for me and knocked me off my feet.

After work on Sunday he took me out on a day trip to Tucson and the Biosphere 2. It was really amazing and impressive. I can't believe we put seeing this marvel off for so long! There are some good pictures on Mark's site. They took us under the glass and inside the ecosystem. The rainforest had a huge cliff overlooking a coral reef ocean area (with a beach and everything)... it was so humid and smelled just like Costa Rica. We saw some of the familiar plants from our recent trip. The desert was pretty unimpressive (because we see it everyday) but they needed plant regions that could were productive at different times of the year to keep oxygen and carbon monoxide levels balanced in their artificial system. We went down in the basement where all the techology is, radiator systems to cool the air, the lung system to keep the pressure balanced, and all the tubes and pipes that circulate and filter the water. At one point, you can look into the ocean from glass in the basement. This was my favorite part. The coral was so beautiful. I was interested in finding out that all the coral that live in a community (clump) are genetically identical, even though they take on two different external structures.

We had lunch and a nice drive back. I love our drives. We always have interesting conversations that span every imaginable topic.

Then, Monday, while I was at school, Mark launched his secret plan. He rented a chick-flick I've always wanted to see (Shakespeare In Love), got some food and wine, and purchased/wrapped some very nice gifts. He must have really worked fast, because I knew that he hadn't had the car to do anything and was expecting nothing special assuming that yesterday was enough.

I was pretty blown away. He gave me "The Math Gene" by Keith Devlin (which reinspired me after burning out last semester to love math again) and "The Golden Ratio" by Mario Livio (the history of my favorite number, phi) and a very cool white and red (valentine-y colors) Puma hoodie.

It was a good weekend. I try to spend some time with Mark every week, and our dates really mean a lot to me. I have so many priorities, but I feel like you have to make time to balance your life. I could have worked non-stop on several ongoing school projects, or gone to the gym, or finished the laundry or prepped the taxes. Everything important will get done in the end.


Day of the Dead

I am taking a class on Death and Dying. Today, I sat down with a few classmates and interviewed the Director of a Funeral Home. This sounded terrible, but turned out to be really cool... I mean, aren't there just a thousand questions you would love the opportunity to sit down and ask a Mortician? We were free to ask anything, and we pretty much satisfied our curiousity about a lot of things. It was fascinating!

To top off the day, I watched the movie Donnie Darko with Mark. (Very appropriate top 50 pick)



I watched this movie that just came out on DVD yesterday - not a bad drama - could have been more "math-y" but for all you non-geeks, it's probably just right.



We are just bumbling around the house today. We decided to "celebrate" valentine's day by exchanging gifts next weekend because I still haven't told Mark what to get me.

I feel like I have tons of things I am supposed to be doing, but I don't know what any of them are (except my laundry, which would be hard to miss.) I think school is going well. I haven't gotten any real feedback to tell me if I am working hard enough or need to give more, so it is sort of hard to say. I try to put forth my best possible effort, in terms of balancing all my priorities. I'm giving more of my time to Mark and my personal wellness because I don't have to go to school every day. Usually I feel isolated, burned out, and running constantly, so my schedule this semester providing for a life is really welcome. Especially since I only have this and maybe one more semester to go. As tired as I was, I need the benefit of variety.

So, today is kind of the day we use to track how long Mark and I have been a couple. Today, the odometer rolls over to 9 years. Boy, that sounds like a big number. Mark said he didn't realize that it had been so long. He's been telling people we've been together 5 or 6 years. I guess time flies when you are having fun. It seems like it just gets better and better.


Date Day

Mark and I had a great Date Day yesterday. He posted a synopsis and some pictures on his blog. I realized that my rockclimbing skills are rusty and that I want to get back into that sport. I also remembered that small towns close up shop on Sunday. We were looking forward to browsing tons of little shops in small town America, but they were all in church.

I want to go to the Renaissance Festival this year but I need someone to go with me. I want to get really into it: rent a costume, watch all the shows, browse all the shops, see the joust, ride the elephant, the whole enchilada. It's on now until April 2 - $10 per. Takers? Evan - You think we should call the Vegan if she's still around? DJ - you would love this thing. You should come down, bring Kathy and the kids.

Today, one of my classes got cancelled so I think I am going to go home early and have another date. Seems like the thing to do on Valentine's Day weekend - go on two dates!

I think sitting on the floor eating chinese take out with chopsticks and watching a movie is romantic.

I just found out that most crossdressers are not gay. I did not know that. You see a girl in a suit, you don't automatically assume she is gay, but you see a guy in a dress and it's the first thing that crosses your mind. I guess that is why gender issues are so interesting for me. They are the final frontier in social taboo. And the double standard runs both ways. You usually don't think of sexism as hedging straight men, but they are the group that had the most rigid rules. I saw a funny related quote yesterday.

If high heels were comfortable, men would still be wearing them.
It just demonstrates how dynamic our social rules are. Once it was perverse for women to wear high-heels or lace and now the reverse is true. If Jesus was born during the golden age of Europe, would he have worn high-heels instead of sandals?


Why I Hate Federal Programs

I went to the social security administration to change my name for valentine's day. I learned a few things. So, a bit of advise for anyone entering a federal building.

Read the fine print on the door of all the things you aren't allowed to take in. Or better yet, leave your whole purse in the car. Especially your cell phone.

Don't show even the mildest of contempt when the security guard dumps your purse out on the counter no matter how humiliating you feel this is.

Don't bother explaining to the security guard that you were planning to take your cell phone to the car but wanted to see if they had any forms by the door. They expect you to read the door and not have anything with you on the list. They only tell you so that they can trespass you from the property so that you can never come back and conduct whatever important business it is that dragged you there in the first place.

I am so glad that I am not some little old lady who can't read signs very well who depends on her social security check to get by.

I called to complain about this power-trip of a guard, and the lady on the line said he must have had some reason to assume that I was an urgent security risk - and that I should have read the sign. It must have been my deep exhale when he grabbed my purse and dumped it on the counter. He told me to "take my attitude and leave." I would've shown him my attitude, but I figured this power happy idiot would probably have my in guantanimo bay by dinner.


I Love Evan and Mark / Date Day

I had the funnest day with Evan yesterday. We went to the thrift store. He walked away from me for a minute and came back decked out in the funniest outfit. He was wearing cowboy boots, brown polyester pants, a bolo tie, corderoy jacket, a pimpish looking cowboy hat with tiger printed band, and BIG square fade-down sunglasses (which he just had to buy.) I totally did not recognize him. Then he picked out a super-B girl outfit for me, red/white star bikini top, yellow bikini bottom, wonderwoman belt, knee high boots and a cape. I didn't try it on. But I haven't laughed so hard in a while.

Today, Mark is taking me to dinner and a movie after school. I am really looking forward to it. We are going to see "Good Night and Good Luck" about McCarthyism. Appropriate because in religions class today, we talked about Galileo's trial in the Spanish Inquisition "are you now or have you ever been a Copernican."

I want to go on a study abroad. Can you take your husband on those things?


Busy Again

What a relief. I decided to reschedule my Actuarial exam for May. I was really breaking my back to be prepared and then suddenly, school got very demanding. I agonized over putting it off, but there is no way I would pass without hitting the last few topics very hard, and I just can't do that without setting something else aside that is equally important.

The upside is that I can go about changing my name now. It's been weird with a pseudo name. It's will be officially McCowen pretty soon. Weird, but in a good way.

I'm writing three essays this weekend, trying to get some studying done for a few classes, and have a test in a couple of days. Not enough to skip the yoga class. I've been going to the gym 6 days a week lately. It's really kept me energized and focused on everything I am trying to do. You'd think the time spent would be lost, but it isn't. I actually hit a new milestone. I worked out so hard I threw up. (Or it might have been the carne asada I ate before the spinning class, I'm not sure.)

But, things definately feel paced again. There's a certain comfort in that. I just wish I hadn't gotten hooked on Zelda, and a few other fun time-management nightmares before the rush got back underway. (I'm at the second to last dungeon and am fighting the bad guy right now - after this, I fight the big-bad guy and free the princess from her curse and we're back to flashcards full time.)

I feel like a contradiction in motion. (I guess that is better than a static contradiction.)

Another thing... I really love my family. I try to be unselfish and unconditional about this love. I think that is the main definition of family. I love all of the people in my family regardless of who or how they are. I feel like I don't have to like them or how they live their lives in order to love them. But I am really repulsed by the ones who do not share this attitude. But, like I said... I still love them.

I think I've covered all my major thoughts for the week.