somehow made it through

Well, year one of PhD school is over and vacation is upon us. I wasn't sure if I would make it through, but it seems I'm still in one piece. I feel like I'm having a very different reaction to the experience of a PhD program compared to my fellow first year students. I hear a lot about how it's too hard, or this or that professor is ridiculous for expecting us to know something. Now, I won't say that this year wasn't stupid hard. In fact, I spend most of the time feeling like I definitely am stupid. But that's the thing. Whenever it's amazingly hard, and I think "wow, this is nearly impossible, can anyone actually make it through this?" I'm not really thinking they should make the class easier, I'm just thinking that I might not be smart enough. I mean, one of my classes, I think, wasn't taught very well, and that, I know, is not my fault. But for the most part, I think maybe it's supposed to be this hard. I think about the level of mastery that the professors have. We're supposed to become equals with them by the time we're done. So I don't know. Maybe there really is no difference. All of us are saying it's stupid how hard it is. And no one is as different as they think they are. I just think that in general, my disappointment is in myself for not succeeding at the level I thought I could, instead of in the professors for not making a fair exam.

Also, did you know that there is a grade that is an "A-", and that it is a thing that you can get on your transcript, and it is different than an A? That's bizarre to me. Anyway, I think with just one of those I can still say I got all A's, right? It's not like it's a B. Right. That's my story.

DUDE. We get to see Marth tomorrow. He lives between here and Williamsburg, so we're meeting for lunch. You are jealous.

Then we start our awesome vacation. We'll try to post about it as we go so you can all feel left out that you're not here. We are that nice.

On that note, I have some packing to do.

when everything falls apart


the glorious 20th: a rabbit trail leading to the fishing hole

Today marks 47 months. Since Jason's simple math skills have declined with his absorption of higher math skills, I will break this down for his sake: 47 months is 1 month shy of 4 years.

He mentioned today that he can't remember when we weren't together, and I feel the same way. He's the soy sauce on my rice, the fur on my bear, and the dandelion to my patio. It's a good life.

Jason has 2 more finals and then his first year of PhD-ing is complete. Many, many hoorays and such. I'm super proud of him. And simultaneously soo stoked about The Vacation that begins... next week. It will be good times indeed. I've always wanted to row a boat, and I'm pretty sure that is going to come to pass in the very near future. I sure hope my expectations aren't set too high (I highly doubt this will be the case). And I sure hope my arms and coordination skills don't make me look like a fool (This is a very likely outcome). I thought maybe kayaking last year would be a reasonable substitute for rowing a boat, that once I kayaked I would be able to mark "rowing a boat" off my to-do list. But, nope. My brain rejected this as a legitimate substitute (though it did put kayaking at the top of my "awesome things to do" list). Next week, however, I know I will be able to conclusively check off rowing a boat. I just feel it in my bones.

There may also be some fishing involved. It's a bit iffy though since neither of us have been fishing, seriously or not, on our own. I think I've gone fishing with my grandfather, and Jason has been fishing with his family, but that's about it. I like the <insert specific descriptive word that I can't think of at the moment> idea of sitting in a rowboat, with a fishing line in the water, and just sorta... floating. The predicament with this whole plan is that I'm not sure how I would now react to the sport of fishing (if you fish with the intent to immediately kill and eventually eat the fish, half of the predicament disappears). When I was a kid, I didn't care much for it either way, but I wasn't super bothered by the fact that I was spearing a living thing through with a hook, pulling it up by its mouth, somehow unhooking it from said hook, and then releasing it to live its life (supposedly without pain or negative consequences) until the next tempting sharp object. I feel like since I've gotten older, I am somewhat more... sympathetic towards animals, more sensitive to them in a way. I have always loved animals, but I think it's harder for me now to see or think of animals in unfortunate or painful situations than it was when I was a kid. No, I'm not one of those crazy PETA people (though once they did send me a packet of stickers that said all kinds of funny anti-carnivore messages). I just don't like seeing or thinking about helpless animals in pain, or acting as if they are in pain.

I will take a brief break here to clarify a hopefully already known tidbit: I love animals, but I do realize that human life is more important. I do. I just tend to sympathize with animals more often because they are more helpless in their unfortunate circumstances (the majority of humans have a large part in digging their own proverbial graves). (______) Babies are also helpless, and I can honestly say that I sympathize with them even more so than animals, because I do value human life above furry creature life. I am really not a very passionate or opinionated person, especially when it comes to broad pseudo-political/social topics, but abortion absolutely infuriates me. It's disgusting and inhuman. The illogical behavior and opinions of the "pro-choice" rabble when it comes to this topic frustrates me to no end. Yes, an elective or "therapeutic" abortion is absolutely murder, people. Since it's late though, I'll save that rant for another day. I just wanted to be clear that I do believe that human life is more important than animal life, despite having a very strong sympathy for animals and their lives.

Anyway, back to fishing. Knowing that I don't like seeing animals in pain, and knowing that a fish is an animal, and not knowing definitely if the fish is going through or going to go through negative consequences of my catch-and-release "sport," it makes me question how I will react to a fish flopping around on the end of my hooked line. It's complicated. The most conflicting part (beside the question of "Is my entertainment actually worth more than the comfort and/or life of this fish?") is that I want that above-painted picture of sitting, staring, floating, line in water, sun overhead, etc... It seems like it would be peaceful. I like peaceful (spoiler alert: I'm a pretty boring person).

So, if I can convince Jason, this is my current plan:
1) Rent poles and row boat.
2) Row to middle of a lake.
3) Tie whatever type of bait (worm, bread, etc) to my line, without hook.
4) Wait for line to tug.
5) Quickly pull up the hookless (and hopefully now baitless) line.
6) Exclaim, "By golly, he got away!"
7) Rinse and repeat.

Silly? Probably. Fun? Most definitely. I will get the experience that I want without the unwanted mental hassle.  It will be a win-win-win situation, which is the best kind of conflict resolution according to paper company management in Scranton, PA.

Speaking of bait, doesn't this little fellow look like he'd be the perfect kind of bait? Not for fishing obviously... but he does look bait-like, no? The way he's sitting back on his little haunches makes him super adorable.


an ostrich is not a 4-legged animal

Ah, Walter Farley. Hero of my youth.

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved reading Farley's Black Stallion series. Such epic, magnificent horses. I envied Alec Ramsay quite a bit. Who wouldn't want to be the sole friend and rider of a gloriously wild stallion? I knew I would never get to be as lucky as that fictional red-headed boy. (Seriously, who gets to be stranded on an island and become best friends with a majestically fierce stallion who also happens to be the fastest mount of all time? Just not fair...) Since I'd already given up on the prayer for God to make me a boy (yep, I figured after 12 years of being a girl that God probably thought it was a no-go) and since my largest pet to date was an extremely fat hamster, I decided that I could only be Alec Ramsay inside my head, for the hour and a half that it took to read each book. It was a sad realization.

Anyway, so all that to mention that I've decided to re-read these awesome childhood novels. The pages seem a bit smaller, the style a bit more simplistic, and the font somewhat larger than I remember, but the story is still excellent, the Black still awe-inspiring, and the human-horse relationship still enviable. I love when a memory doesn't let you down just because you're older.

I'm half-inclined to launch into a discussion about the quality of media for children these days, but I won't. It suffices to say that I hope my kids will either be avid readers or imaginative outdoor play-ers, or both. I realize I won't be able to force Tyler, Lucas, Matthew, Jordan, Sean, Timothy, and Emery to love my idea of quality pasttimes, but I sure can keep my fingers crossed and not-at-all-subtly prod them in the right direction.

Back on the topic of horses: I have still never ridden one, and I want to quite badly. I have never ridden any four-legged animal come to think of it. It's a shame and something that will have to be remedied at some point. It doesn't have to be a horse - a cow, or an elephant, or even a Great Dane would partially satisfy my desire. It would just be that feeling of swinging my leg over the animal, holding on tight to their wool or wrinkles (whichever the case may be) and then riding off into the sunset at a good, steady... plod. Unfortunately, I don't know many farmers who would willingly lend me their livestock for a day of mounted adventures, so I am forced to look elsewhere. A second unfortunately is that the more socially acceptable fix to my predicament is outrageously expensive - stables charge a ridiculous price for an hour ride. If only I were stranded on an island...

Welp, I think that's all I have to say for now. Oh, why the title? Well, I felt like I needed a strong, obvious statement to introduce this post, and while it turns out that it may not be that strong of a statement, I think it makes up for it in its obviousness... Obviousity...? Obviousation? I think it's obvious what I'm trying to say here, so I'm just going to quit while I'm behind.

This post is about as streamlined as my brain can possibly make a post (sad, no?), so I don't feel like there's a need for a summary.

As a nod to Mother's Day being this past weekend, meet Mrs. Opossum. She would stop to chat but she has her back full. And yes, this is the one time that I look on a opossum without feelings of ugh. :)



Today is our 3rd wedding anniversary. It's pretty cool to think that we've been married 3 years. Actually, it seems a lot longer. If I try to think about it, it's really a struggle to try to remember what life was like before we were together. I think we were different people then. Smaller, less complete. Actually, bigger, but that's another story. Anyway, we weren't whole. Everything from before is part of who we are, but only a small part. So much of who we are is who we've become together, as one.

A long, long time ago, before we were even officially dating, I bet Sharayah $5 that she could make me happy forever. We agreed that this would be difficult to verify, or at least by the time one of us won it would be difficult to pay them, since it would be forever, and $5 wouldn't exist anymore. So, we picked a time that would be a cutoff, something far, far in the distant future. You're thinking, because of the timing of this blog post, that we picked our 3rd anniversary. Well no, we weren't even dating. Don't be silly. But we did choose Sharayah's 25th birthday, which is now less than a month away. It was such a very long time ago, and now I'm so close to winning. She's made me far happier than I ever imagined when we made that silly bet. Now it's just a few weeks away. That $5 is as good as mine.

That wasn't our first bet, or our last (though it's our only currently ongoing bet). The first recorded Jason and Sharayah bet dates back even further into the history of the before-we-were-together time (which is when we were great friends, but for some reason hadn't yet realized that we were made for each other). There was a place along Riverside in Tulsa where you could walk down a boat ramp right up to the water. Sometimes we'd go down there to skip rocks, probably after a Wal-Mart run or something. One time Sharayah found an enormous rock for me to skip. It wouldn't really fit in one hand, so I didn't think it would skip, but I thought I might as well try. She bet me I couldn't do it. If I skipped the rock, she'd have to marry me in approximately 2.5 years (it ended up being under 2 years), but if I couldn't do it, she wouldn't have to marry me ever. Well, I didn't see the harm in that. After all, if I won, I wasn't bound by the bet, she was. If I lost, she wasn't forbidden from marrying me, she just wouldn't have to. So, with nothing to lose, I took that giant, un-skip-able rock, spun part way around, and flung it as hard as I could, as parallel to the water as I could get it. That goliath rock skipped not once, but three times. It was pretty awesome. I won, and she had to marry me.

That was a few months before the other bet, which was another several months before we started dating. I want to paint an honest picture, I don't win all the bets. Currently we're tied 4-4, so on Sharayah's birthday, I'll not only get $5, I'll get my 5th victory, and I'll gain the lead. And I'll still be happily married to my best friend, who continues to make me happier than I'll ever deserve to be.

It's been an amazing 3 years. I love you, Sharayah.

I was born to tell you I love you


Dueling mathematicians

I was doing some studying yesterday on the theory of algebra (no, it's not the same thing as what most people think is algebra), and I came across some work by Evariste Galois (pronounced Galwah), which reminded me of his interesting story.

Galois was some kind of math genius in the early 1800s. He was brilliant enough that at the time no one understood any of his work and he couldn't get into the good math schools because they thought his work was nonsense, and 200 years later it's taught to every graduate pure math student in the world. What's more remarkable is that he did his research in his teens. He died when he was 20, and he understood and contributed more than nearly any other mathematician who ever lived, and most of them lived full lives. Sure, there are your giants like Euler (pronounced Oiler) who surely did more than Galois, but not many did.

He was 20. I'm 25. It's just crazy to me that he "made up," or discovered, or whatever you want to call it, so much about modern algebra that I don't begin to understand the scope of it, and he died at 20. What could he have done if he had lived to be 50?

Galois died in a duel. It's not known exactly why he was in the duel, but it was apparently over a girl. He was in love with some girl who I guess he had a history with, but she was engaged to someone else (who may or may not have been who he dueled, we don't know). I heard a really dramatic version of the story, but I don't remember the details and apparently most of it is speculation. It was a gun duel, unfortunately. For some reason I often picture it as a sword fight which would have been more epic, I think. Anyway, all that's really known is he was shot at age 20 in a duel, and he had a pretty strong feeling he'd lose, so he spent most of his last night trying to compile all of his theory. A later mathematician said that what he wrote that night, "if judged by the novelty and profundity of ideas it contains, is perhaps the most substantial piece of writing in the whole literature of mankind." Pretty remarkable for a 20-year-old.

Galois was a lot smarter than me, but I guess at least I know not to fight a duel to the death when I'm pretty sure I'm going to lose. Sharayah was wondering what weapon I would use to fight a duel for her. First of all I'd avoid a gun duel. I guess I'm not great with a sword either. I suppose when it comes down to it there's only one type of duel I'm sure I'd win, so I guess that's what I'd have to challenge my opponent to: a thumb war. I haven't lost a thumb war since I was probably 10 years old. In 10th grade I won a thumb war tournament (thumb tournament?) at my high school. I had to beat the quarterback in the finals, his hands were huge, but I prevailed. Probably I wouldn't even have to do the duel, because my reputation would precede me and the guy would forfeit and run away. I would obliterate anyone in a thumb war, and then I would take my prize (the korean) and walk away with my head held high.

the noise inside