Document D-day

I declare that my mini-war with the Social Security Administration is now over. I won. My nemesis security guard was not at work today, so I got in the door... and got my name change processed - finally! One really should not have to wait more than two hours for administrative changes that are commonplace and required by law. They need to raise the number of windows open to the power 4.

I did get two extra hours of study time during time that I ordinarily spend doing something I'd rather be doing.

The monotony of my own posts these days is really boring me to death. How are you reading this?


Try New Things

We are using Mozilla Firefox as our internet browser now. It looks funny.

However, it did get the mini-video on Stephanie's webpage to play. I was pretty excited about that. (Stephanie, your video works... you don't have to take it down.)

Also, I tried a few new healthy exotic-ish snacks:

Roasted Wasabi Peas. So spicy hot that my nose and eyes started running but the heat is gone so fast that I was back for more. I was worried that they would be hard like corn nuts, but they were more like "crispy" than "crunchy" and I liked them.

Dee's Mighty Muffins. I tried the flourless oat bran, sugarfree, flourless, and fat free, but still with a fluffy muffin-ish texture. They were filling and hearty and basically low-cal. (If you don't miss the point and smother them with butter.) You really feel like you're endulging, but really you're just getting your fiber.

Pretzel Chips: Slices of fat free prezel, lightly flavored. Really big on flavor. Great with a dip. Downside is that 8 chips later, you're in for 100 calories. Not counting the dip.

Anyone have any suggestions or tips on how to improve one's concentration or focus? I need to study, but I am having an attention deficit moment every time I sit down. I'm burning low.


This Week's Picks

In the entertainment realm, I recently watched the following.

Dead Like Me - Second Season on DVD. Awesome.
SCI: Miami - First Season on DVD. Sucked, didn't finish it.
CSI: NY - First Season on DVD. Not as good as Vegas, not as bad as Miami.
Shield - 2nd Season. Awesome.
Memoirs of a Geisha. Just as good as the book, which never happens.
The Squid and the Whale. One of those movies we like that no one else likes.

Lots of TV. This means that nothing good has come out on DVD in a while and we've seen everything. (Except TV, which we never watch.)

Massage Challege Update

You may recall that three weeks ago, I took a "biggest loser" weight challenge with my spinning class at the gym. The winner gets a massage.

You have to either cut out of your diet or burn an additional 3,500 calories per week beyond your normal routine in order to lose a single pound each week. I misunderstood that this was for two pounds, so I only cut/burn 3,000 calories for the challenge. I already go to the gym on a semi-regular basis, so I don't get to count that and half the week, my diet was already really good... so I don't think I can find another 4,000 to try to meet the challenge goal (8 pounds per month - I don't need to be that aggressive, anyway.)

I decided to stay on the challenge at my 1 pound per week rate (because being accountable to these ladies every Tuesday at weigh-in is good motivation - they actually cheer me and give me woo-hoo's) and buy myself a massage when I meet my personal goals.

I am really getting into cycling. I might even buy the special shoes that clip into the pedal. Mark and I are talking about renting some expensive bikes to go out on the canals before it becomes an inferno. I want to see what it is like on the street, because I am getting competitive, and I could see myself entering races in the future.

So, next week is final weigh-in for this month's prize... I will post my net loss next week. My group has attracted people who want to join the challenge, so we are going to do it again next month for the same prize.


Graduation Info

Maybe it's a little early for this info, but I am a planner and maybe you are too and want to plan for this.

My Commencement for graduation will be held on Th. Dec 14, 2006 at the Wells Fargo Arena. The event is open and free to the public, but I can reserve space for family to sit together if I know how many tickets to get. I will be getting a bachelors in mathematics with a minor in religion with an honors designation (I won't find out which one until I get my grades back from this semester, but it will probably be Magna Cum Laude.)

I would like to have a little party afterward, food and games.

At some more reasonable point in the future I will be sending out announcements for the Commencement. I am not sending "invites" to my shindig. It's just afterwards and for anyone who wants to come. Let me know if/when you know you are coming so I can order enough food.

This is the cummulative result of five hard years of my life's energy, so I am kind of excited. I think I will not start a masters program for a few years so that I can focus on getting my Associateship designation as an Actuary. (The certification process can require 6-10 years of study.)

I want to buy myself a convertible as a graduation present when the Escort dies and goes the way of scrapmetal heaven. (Funny, that rhymes with Evan. I guess I spoiled the surprise, Ev.)


Fun Puzzle

Here's one from Chana's extra credit at school.

Each letter represents a digit from 0 to 9.

D R I V E +

Hint: You have to think about carrying over from the farthest right column to start.



I really love the desert when it is cool and the flowers are blooming and the air is moving. It looks and smells and feels so beautiful. I had this moment the other day sitting on a bench at school that was really surreal... taking in the fleeting, remarkable moment.

Glad I enjoyed it. I think our three days of spring are over and summer is on. I got a sunburn on my arms walking to my car today.

I just got into full swing on exam prep and today I got assigned a research paper. It is so hard to keep up, prioritize, and make everything work. If college teaches me anything, it will be endurance. I'm so excited at the prospect of it winding down.

My cat, Akira, just jumped up on my lap and went to sleep in mere seconds. This never happens. (The sitting on my lap part, not the sleeping part.) This particular cat hates me and loves Mark. (But Kazi loves me. He lays on my back while I sleep. I presume he is also sleeping.) Note of the obvious: Cats sleep a lot. Do they have some kind of special brain activity that requires a particularly high level of rejuvenation or something?

I decided to answer my own question and did a little research on cat brains and sleep. Apparently, they sleep 2/3 of the time. However, they have a unique state in which their brains are sending out high voltage signs of wakefulness while their entire musculature system is completely slack (a sign of deep sleep.) Perhaps this state of wakeful/deep sleep is a factor in the need for lots of sleep. (The brain not at rest during most sleep periods.) I bet this is a predator thing.

I am recommending the book "Study Manual and Solutions for Exam P of the Society of Actuaries" to anyone trying for the exam. It is very good. I have avoided it previously because the problems are crammed in together so tight that it is hard to read. But the effort is rewarded. If only the editor had formatted the pages...

The cat's awake now, so I can get up and go to bed without feeling guilty for cutting the rare lap-sitting moment short.



Yesterday was a blast. I love holiday food. (In particular, the M family has a great green rice.) One of my favorite games is catch with those velcro mitts... but we played a lot of fun games (highlights include making words out of the letters of "Happy Easter" and Mark making a killing at chess.) I helped the kids decorate a cookie house with candy. It turned out really sweet. In the evening, we walked to the golf course lake and fed the ducks and geese while the sun went down. I had camera problems, so luckily it was memorable. I think we'll get a pic of the bunny-house later.


All I have to show for Friday

I have been really interested in drawing knots lately. I don't know what it is. It's like assembling a puzzle that you have to make up the peices for. It's a compulsion. Knotty, isn't it?


Total Nerd Paradise

Give your self (or your child) a mental leg up in the math world. Learn to count in binary on your hands. Don't take #4 personally



Congratulations on your arrival to the Universe, Andon. I have a new nephew.

I TEST in 35 days.

My graduation commencement will be December 15, if you are planning to attend. We were going to have a luncheon and games to follow. I am getting a BA in Mathematics with a minor in religion.

Any out-of-staters planning a Utah trip this year? I would like to go, perhaps coordinate dates with you?

Four weeks of classes left. I expect a perfect report card (as usual.) I'm not bragging. I'm just smarter than you.

I lost 3 pounds in week one of my biggest-loser challenge that my cycling teacher from the gym is sponsoring. I really want the prize: a massage. (I'll need it after all the extra workouts I'm putting in.)

We should do something special for Sade, I'm thinking something scary. His birthday falls on a numerically significant day this year.

I'm late for bed.


Stephanie's Birthday Party

I took Saturday off to go to the best kid's bday party I've ever been to. Stephanie had a "Survivor-Maui" themed party where all the kids drew to be on either the orange team or the green team. They got headbands with the survivor logo on them and gender appropriate necklaces as token for the challenges they did. They had to compete one-on-one to find bubblegum under a pile of whipped cream with their hands behind their backs, find and assemble large poster-board puzzles, race to collect item (such as candy) and had a water balloon game that turned into a water fight under the sprinklers. The final challenge was who could stand on one foot with one hand on their head the longest and the winner got to keep the "idol." Pizza, cake and the usual. Tons of fun.


Hey Mark - Enable your Comments!

Mark's quotes on his blog reminded me of this gem I stumbled across. My fractal class was discussing the new intelligence of human behavior and how much of what we do in a given day is auto/programmed patterns. It got me thinking. And then I remembered that thinking is taboo in our social structure. We value it in theory, but don't like new ideas that come from it.

"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinion, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation."

~Oscar Wilde

01:02:03 - 04/05/06

A neat numerological occurrence today... won't happen again in our time-keeping system for 100 years.


New Goal

I took a weightloss challenge at the gym today. Some girls in my cycling class and I put some money in a pool and whoever loses the most in the month of April wins an hour massage. We are all shooting for a massive 8 pounds. (That's about the most one can expect to lose heathfully and requires cutting or burning 3500 calories per week.)

These ladies are tough competition, but there is only one thing I love more than food... massage.

I had carrots for dinner. I might keep a food/workout journal for this one.

Physics is Weird

E=mc² implies that as you accellerate, your mass actually increases.

If you were in a spaceship that could gradually go faster and faster forever without concerns about fuel or anything... you could never get fast enough to reach the speed of light. As you got faster, your mass would increase and slow you back down a little. (Accelleration is not speed and applies in any direction.)

Light can go the speed of light because light does not have any mass. It is thought to be the only thing that is massless in the univese.

We can go the speed of sound because sound has mass.


A Faire Tyme

Stephanie, Jennifer and I went to the Rennaisance Festival on the last day that it is here in Phoenix before it moves on to Texas. We spent the better part of a warm day, got some good sunburns and enjoyed some interesting activities. We watched a comic skeleton ventrilliquist named "Ded Bob" or Muerto Roberto to the ladies. There were some good Morse Dancers and Bagpiper/Drummer people. I was impressed with how many kilted guys and Fairies I saw. (I did not inspect the kilts, so I don't know the answer to that question you are thinking, but I did see a couple of kilt inspectors. I forgot to ask them.)
This is Jean. She's from Africa and she let me and Stephanie have a ride for three bucks each.

This is evidence that the Queen was flirting with some dude in her court. We looked all over the village for the King to show him the photographic evidence. But, when we finally saw him at the joust, he was getting ready to duel and was declaring war on France and he looked pretty upset already, so we just let it go.
I rented a costume. Note: I am not a wench.



This weeks movie watching included:

78 - History of Violence
75 - Capote
63 - Complete Season 4 of CSI on DVD
80 - Bladerunner

(Scores are out of 100)


April Fool's Day

Stephanie is 10 today. Her party is next Saturday.

It is the one-year anniversary of Ben and Karen's accident. It is still hard to belief that it happened at all, let alone that an entire year has gone by since.

Career Day

I looked fabulous in my suit, but realized that I should have "practiced" wearing it before the event. The skirt kept slipping up the liner, I was out of my comfort zone, and I felt like I kept pulling and adjusting too much. There were a lot of other students also totally decked out, so I'm glad I didn't go the dress casual route.

The event was a seminar. First a presentation of basic information about what it takes to be an actuary was given. Then, a panel of people who have just started the profession and have one, two or three years experience talked about what their day was like (sorting and resorting spreadsheets in excel all day with a few meetings here and there,) what the exams were like (there is a sequence of them to accredit and the students all study 2-3 hours every day for their next one but their employers pay them for some of their study time.) Finally a panel of actuaries (who have the ability to hire) talked about what it is like to be an actuary. These people were really impressive. They just command respect and you can tell that they are important. They said they spend all day in meetings and rarely get to the computer. They talked about what they want in candidates they hire. They made me very excited and very nervous.

The interview process sounds like several panels of people who ask very good questions. I've never been in a panel interview. And they talked about questions they ask and, well, lets just say that I am going to do some role-playing before I go on any interviews.

During the breaks, people milled around passing out resumes. Three of the employers have internships in the immediate future, and one employer even brought their HR rep with. I waited in line to talk to people but never made it before the next panel started. Luckily, after the panels were all finished, I was in the front row and had a better idea which employers I would want to have an internship with. So I got to talk to everyone I wanted to and in most cases, no one was behind me waiting for their turn. I also avoided wasting the time of people who require an exam first. (I can contact these people after May if I pass.)

I also realize that a lot of people don't expect to pass the exams. There is only a 40%-ish pass rate. I still feel good about the level of studying I am doing and if I keep up this pace, I think I will at least come close to passing.