Some Creek

Sedona and Flagstaff

This week's road trip was another burst of cool weather up north. We drove up Sunday, took some pictures up Oak Creek and then drove up to Flagstaff and got a hotel. We spent some time in downtown Flag, which is a really cool little city designed for walking, shopping, and hanging out. We took some cool urban pictures with Mark's new telephoto lens that he got for his birthday and had finally arrived two days before. We were both very tired, coming out of the work week and up all day, so we just sat in our hotel and watched a "House" marathon for five hours. The following day, we drove back to Oak Creek to get some pictures at a specific spot. Just before we arrived, we pulled over to get some shots at a neat place and the lens fell out of Mark's camera bag and tumbled over a cliff and into the river. We pulled it out of the river, but I don't know why. It's a peice of electronics. You can't save them once they've been dunked in a river. After that, we went to the catholic church on top of the red rock and a few other nice spots and took some nice pictures... but the day was kind of marred by the loss of the new lens. We came home, got pity food, and ordered it again.

This is Mark at a really pretty spot by the road just before we lost the lens. I think he looks like an extra on the movie "Flatliners."


Fossil Creek

Over the weekend, we drove up to Fossil Creek, which is between Payson and Strawberry to go hiking and take pictures. The leaves are just starting to change and this particular area is just so pretty and green compared to other parts of the state, which even at higher elevations can look "brushy."


Counting Weeks

I have 9 weeks until Graduation. I bought my cap and gown and ordered my announcements the other day. This might be more satisfying than preparing the wedding. I could say in contrast, that the only difference between the two is that I didn't have to work 5 years to earn the wedding, but that's just funny.

I have 7 weeks until the next Exam P. I am super excited. I am trying to look at this next attempt as experience for the February testing window, but I am hiding lingering hope that it might do the trick. I just finished my once through on the 123 problem practice test and catagorized the problems I had trouble with and realized that I don't have a lot of weak spots, because they are all falling roughly under three or four umbrella topics. I am very organized about what and how to study. The key will be keeping the rest of the skills fresh while I hammer the difficult topics. However, I am sure that I am on my way to passing... even if it isn't this try.

I have just started a 4 week health kick. I just ate a bowl of cooked oatmeal with flax seed and prunes in it instead of my usual Cracklin' Oat Bran. It was good. My goal is to wean out my extra calories (our schedule makes an occasional extra meal tempting) and add veggies, whole grains, etc. I've gained a pound a week for every week that I've been in school because when time is short, time for health is a tough priority. But, I am going to make it one for the next 4 weeks - and get back to my August weight. At that point, I need to figure out how to keep us from lapsing back into bad habits.

I am dressing up for halloween and going trick-0-treating with Stephanie.



  • I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes.
  • Gardening Rule: When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.
  • The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.
  • Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.
  • There are two kinds of pedestrians: the quick and the dead.
  • Life is sexually transmitted.
  • Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
  • The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.
  • Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.
  • Have you noticed since everyone has a camcorder these days no one talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?
  • Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again
  • All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
  • In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.
  • How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?
  • Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?
  • If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?
  • If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?
  • Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?


The Weekend

We celebrated the 29th anniversary of Mark's existence this weekend. His bro from CA was here, and his Grandma Oma, who just moved here, was on hand. We had an awesome dinner (which I made) and desert and sat around talking and relaxing. The following day, the siblings drove over to check out Gma's new apartment and visit with her for a bit. Then we sat on the couch for 12 hours. It was awesome. Oh, and we ate another awesome dinner (this time Jennifer made it.)

I am working on a take home exam (financial math-bonds) and taking a testing center exam (discrete structures - algorithms and congruence) tomorrow while studying for the certification exam in the breaks. I really appreciated the two days of turning off the brain to hang out with family. I really want to take a few hours and just scrapbook, but I can't. It is too fun and consuming and if I do it at all, it takes over my brain and then I can't study because I am creating projects in my head all the time.



If you have seen an equation, which you probably have, it was given to you by an educator along with an explicit task... solve for x or get everything on one side of the equals sign. But equations don't give themselves to you in daily life. So where do they come from and what are they?

They are "models" - someone takes raw statistics or measurements and figures out "trends" and then finds a "common form" of an equation that comes as close as possible to explaining the data. A simple example is: width times height equals area. Someone back in ancient times probably measured a couple hundred pastures and looked at the data long enough to figure out a way to generalize it for any pasture as a time saver. The most common equations are so simple that we use them without realizing that we are using them.

I am studying probabilities, which use the same models. By definition, an equation is a probability if the area is 1. The model is usually some scale and solving the equation for a part of the area gives you the corresponding probability of that part of the model. Here is an example. A common form of an equation is a exponential. Most commonly seen as: y equals "e" to the power of negative x. It starts out very small and then gets large very fast. In probabilities is is often used to model the lifetime of a part. The part is more likely (y, the probability, is a progressively bigger number) to die later (as x becomes a larger number) in the timescale as opposed to earlier. This is where math becomes so much easier when the equation is looked at as a picture.

Some key points:

Setting the equation equal to zero and solving for x (using any method such as completing the square, quadratic equation, etc.) just tells you what value of x has a corresponding y=0. In probabilities this means, when there is zero/no chance of x occuring. (Meaning the part can never die under those circumstances.) This is just as important in many other applications. In physics, when y=0 might mean the tank will not explode or the project is finished or earliest point that the shuttle will escape Earth's atmosphere successfully. Anyway, you get the idea. Solving for the x that corresponds to a y=0 is important. They just never tell you why when you are learning the 20 different methods to do it. (Nor do they tell you that the 20 things they are teaching you are different methods to get at the same result, so you never know what the thing you are learning is for... they tell you the good stuff well after everyone else has lost interest.)



Mark and I have been having a great time taking photos during the few free moments that I am carving out of my study schedule. This last weekend we went out to the desert, once during the day, and once at night on the full moon, hiked around a bit and took some nature shots. It is really hard to find something interesting to catch the frame in the desert, so we didn't get anything. The night shoot was more productive because there was so much moonlight. We hiked to the top of South Mountain and got some shots overlooking the town. They turned out really strange because the city sort of looked like daytime, but with everyone's porch lights on and stars out.

Then, later in the weekend, after going to Savers for dressing accessories, we had another photo shoot of me. It was really fun. I got a pink wig and fairy wings that match a dress I got from Grandma Zola. We're going to retake them with different make-up because the pink in the wig clashes with my olive skin.

Mark made this scrapbooking page (he calls it a photo layout to secure his masculinity) of our first photo shoot. As I noted before, you can check out the tons of excellent shots on his blog or better, his flickr account.

In the next few days, Mark will be posting the winning shots of our weekend shoot. There were not as many. I am posting this one that I like of which he isn't a fan.

Now both of our hobbies include photo editing so we got a new 160 gig external hard drive that I am really excited about and put photoshop on the laptop (so we can both work at the same time.) It is awesome.

Some updates on other topics...

I found out that my next sitting for my exam is Nov 3o, not Nov 8, so I have a little more time to study than I thought. I am still trying to average 4-6 hours per day and still keep up my grades in my classes at school as well as I can.

I have been trying to apply for jobs. It is a lot harder to find jobs that I am qualified for without that exam under my belt. I have found and applied for a couple and applied for a few more that would like the exam with the added cover letter line of pleading to consider the expectation that I will have it in the near future. My biggest setback so far is that we are not very flexible about our location. We would like something in the Los Angeles area so that we can be near Scott. There are TONS of jobs in San Fransisco. However, for someone on a starting pay salary, San Fransisco would be harder than Los Angeles in terms of increase to cost-of-living.

There are a lot of unknown factors playing a part in our near future. I'm a planner-type person, so I don't like the uncertainty or having so little control of so many things. Mark is so laid back. He keeps saying, "let's just see what happens." I could take lessons on mellow from him.

I arranged an o.k. carpool situation that costs less than gas and insurance to keep the Escort on the road, so the problem with the engine going out last week is resolved. It's not a perfect arrangement but it will do for the short term need until we move.

I'm also back to cycling regularly since I am no longer trying to attend my college classes. Just by not going, I get to sleep when my body needs it and be productive for the 6 hours of the day that I couldn't function on the other schedule. I get a lot more effective study in as well.


Photo Op

Mark took a ton of great pictures of me today. Check them out on his blog. The second one down is my favorite.


I'm o.k.

I think my pity party is winding down on the whole exam thing. I know I played down the chances of passing to everyone else, but inside, I thought I was better than the average test taker and that the statistics predicting failure did not apply to me. So I didn't prepare myself well enough for that reality. -And I didn't continue to study for the next try while I waited for the results.

Then, the next day when I started studying again, I realized that I forgot A LOT! -- The next test date is November 8. Five weeks away and the clock is ticking.

Then, the next day on the way to work, my engine on our older car went out and I had to hitch to work. This means that for the rest of the semester, I have to ride to work an hour and a half early three days a week when time is already premium.

So, I had a couple of hard days in a row. -- But, I pulled myself up off the ground, wiped myself off, and went cycling the other day. Cycling is so therapeutic for me. I was back to invincible by the end of the class. So, I think I'll survive - and I learned just exactly how imperative it is not to stop doing what you love just because it is hard.

I chose this profession because it is challenging and demanding. Because when I pass that exam, I will belong to a very elite club. So, I think I'm O.K.