Christmas type post

It looks like Christmas is all up on us. Err, upon us. Right. Seems like each year is a little faster than the year before (there's actually an interesting explanation for that around the 3rd minute of this video, though the whole thing is interesting). Anyway it's almost Christmas. We'll be going to Tennessee to see Sharayah's family, which should be fun. We leave soon! We did cut down our own tree again this year. After which, I performed some feats of strength to impress the wife (it worked, by the way). We also made a cool wreath for our door, and made Christmas ornaments by melting bits of crayon inside of a clear hollow ornament. Sharayah has a couple pictures of that and other type Christmas stuff on her facebook. And we went Christmas shopping and bought baby clothes and toys for that salvation army angel tree thing. Sharayah wants all the baby clothes and toys. Not sure how much more of that stuff we can buy before she makes us keep some of it for ourselves (or small people who live with us).

So far, trying to do research has been tough. It's way different from being in a class and being told "know everything in this book." There is no book, no one knows yet what I'm trying to learn. I don't have much interesting to say about that. I'm just working on it.

For some reason Sharayah and I have been watching magic tricks lately on youtube. It's fun to wonder how in the world they do some of the tricks. Lots of them have been on a show called "Penn and Teller: Fool Us", where a magician will come perform a trick for Penn and Teller (and an audience), and try to fool Penn and Teller (who, if you don't know, are very famous and experienced magicians themselves). It's interesting to see which tricks they know immediately and which ones stump them. Actually some of the better tricks they aren't fooled by. Anyway you can just search on youtube to find some. Here, I'll do it for you: link! I'd suggest videos that have a person's name in them rather than the videos that are a whole episode (and you may have to skip past some boring filler about the people before they do a trick). We have also learned a few tricks ourselves. Very easy, silly ones. Because we can't even do basic sleight of hand, so we only do the tricks that rely on math or something.

I just titled my post. Why is "type" spelled with a "y"? Just look at it. Type. It doesn't even look like a real word. Type type type. Nonsense. We should spell it tipe. This has been a Christmas tipe post. Much better. And thus shall it be, forevermore. Amen.



the most wonderful time of the year


  • Fall and all of its colors and leaves and frolicking and all-around gloriousness.
  • Harvest times and festive barns and pumpkin-patch-destroying cows.
  • Thanksgiving food and Thanksgiving people and innumerable Thanksgiving thanksgivings.
  • Never being too warm to cuddle in a huge pile of pillows and blankets.
  • The sawing down of Christmas trees and decorating of such.
  • Our terribly meager but oh-so-happy red and green and sparkly Christmas decor.
  • Christmas music. Christmas music. Christmas music.
  • The Snow Wishes.


  • While I'm typing this blog, I  keep using the foot pedal that I use to play the dictations for work. Needless to say [but obviously I'm still going to (annoyingly) state it], using the foot pedal while doing non-work typing accomplishes nothing except to make me think I'm still working. :/
  • I'm attempting to become ambidextrous in my ability to manipulate a mouse in order to give my left hand something to do on the days when my right hand feels lazy. 
    • It actually significantly increases the time to do... anything.
    • It makes my right hand type as though it's my left and vice versa. 
      • I type sentences like this:  "Ambekixteriyt is gark." Seriously.
  • You have to have at least 3 main bullet points in order to have a legitimate bullet-pointed list. 

One last list:
  • Phil Wickham's Christmas album. Amazing. [The fact that I sometimes let myself think that it's Kevin Max's Christmas album is just an extra perk.]
  • We get to spend a Christmasy week in Tennessee this year with my family. Looking forward to it? Most definitely.
  • Jason has 1.5 weeks left in this semester. Oh my gravy.
  • Speaking of gravy, our refrigerator is absolutely packed with delicious leftovers. I'm pretty sure they'll last us until the Christmas leftovers.

OH MY. I almost forgot to mention:  Come January 13, I and my funnier, furrier, friendlier half will be embarking on our Almost-Five-Years-of-Awesomeness cruise vacation. An entire 9 days of loveliness. So much Excitement. 

I cannot possibly state how much I love this time of year.

this just about describes me.



Well. It's been a long and difficult roller-coaster ride, but somehow I passed both of my qualifying exams. At different times during the past 2 months, I was fully convinced that
(a) I had no chance of ever passing,
(b) I might pass later on my 2nd attempt (you get up to 2 attempts on each exam, and it is very common to have to take 2 attempts to pass at least one exam), but definitely not on my first, or
(c) (only in a few rare instances) that I'd be totally fine and pass it on my first try.
I guess it turned out the answer was (c), but at times I genuinely wanted to just quit so I wouldn't have to stand there for 3 hours in front of 4 professors and demonstrate my ignorance. I owe a lot to Sharayah, who continually encouraged me and assured me I could make it, and to God who gave me the ability to persevere and understand enough. It was a pretty scary experience, especially the first exam. Apparently I knew just enough, however, so I passed. That being the more difficult test (in my opinion), it gave me the confidence that I could pass the other. So I guess (subject to some paperwork being filed) I am now a PhDc. I think that's a largely meaningless title, but I've only had it for a little over a week so I can still enjoy it.

The hard part now is accepting that the exams were not the hard part. While I likely won't have to do something that scary and intimidating again (I think usually when you do your thesis defense it's not so scary, because if you weren't ready then you wouldn't be doing it yet), I still have a lot to do. In this illustrated guide to a PhD, I'm just reaching the step where you reach the boundary and begin to focus. Realistically, I'm more at the place where I can see the boundary and I have most of the tools to understand the boundary, but I still have a few months of reading and studying before I reach it. And I don't know yet exactly at what point I'll hit. Somewhere within a few degrees of my current trajectory, I suppose. Anyway, I'm sure in reality the "push at the boundary for a few years" step is much harder than what I've done so far. But! I believe I can do it this time.

I have also apparently had another birthday. Sharayah made a treasure hunt with riddles and clues for me to search for all my gifts. She's a pretty cool lady. First I had to solve a crossword puzzle. Some of the letters from the solution were a scrambled clue to the location of my first gift. At that location were 4 mechanical pencils, each with a single letter on a piece of paper wrapped around the base. Those letters were a clue to the next location, which was 5 more pencils with letters. This continued until I had 24 pencils from 5 hiding places. That was my first gift, the 24 pencils. Since I lose 2-3 pencils a day, these should last me until the end of the month. Actually, it is a good gift because I do lose my pencils a lot. I had actually lost my last pencil right before my birthday, so it was perfect timing. I will try not to lose these. I'm sure I can at least make it to my next birthday. The last set of pencils led me to the new Owl City CD. You may recall I have something of an obsession with Owl City. This CD is also really good. It's kind of different and evolved from the earlier CDs, but it's still distinctly Owl City and very catchy and enjoyable. And then finally, inside the CD case was a clue which led me to my final gift (which was closely guarded by her stuffed dog Puppy, who I got her for her birthday a few years ago), the Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Collection, which contains 6 or 7 of his most important and/or well known works, which I am really looking forward to reading. It will take a while, because C.S. Lewis wrote very densely. Not that he was dense. Anyway. Apparently, inside the book were supposed to be tickets to a hockey game sometime later this month between the Flyers and Stars, but those dummies are still on strike, so that part is not going to work out. But since it's really the thought that counts, I appreciate that gift, too. It would have been a lot of fun. So as I said, Sharayah is a cool lady. You should tell her that if you see her.

Last Sunday our soccer team had our first win. There have been games we should have won, and games we had a fair shot at, but this was the first one where we actually kept it together and won. That's actually a little sad. But we let anyone play with us, whether they know what they're doing or not. And we're old. I just had a birthday. So, we won, and it was a good time. I think there are a few teams we have yet to play who lost to this team, so we might even win a few more. Who knows.

Is it illegal to throw eggs at a tree? We looked on the google, but it just tells us whether it is illegal to throw eggs at a person, or a house, or a car (moving or otherwise), or if it is illegal to shoot at someone who eggs you or your house, or if it is illegal to throw pine cones at a person, etc. We really need to know. Urgent. Thanks.

Also, I might have accidentally typed hows instead of house up there. Twice. But my brain was already on the next sentence and my fingers just don't know how to spell on their own.

neither knowledge nor understanding


years, plans, and warm chairs

Well, we did it. You may recall that last year we each started on a one-year plan to read the entire Bible. At the end of August, we finished our plans. Sometimes we fell a little behind, but we always managed to catch up (I think we actually finished 1 day behind, but since it was a leap year, we should have had 366 days anyway, right?). It was actually pretty easy once we got into the habit of reading a little every day (and knowing how much to read was easy because the plans on YouVersion tell you what to read).

Anyway, we now started the chronological plan together. They tried to put everything in the order it probably happened. It's also helpful when multiple books were written at the same time or about the same events, because the plan has you read through them simultaneously, which gives better context to each. Right now we're in Job. Sharayah likes me to read Job's overly-dramatic pleas and complaints, while she reads his friends' not-so-compassionate responses. Pretty entertaining. We're not really sticking to the schedule too strictly, we're just using the plan to keep everything in chronological order.

On a slightly related note (and probably more interesting), this weekend at our church was another Hot Seat Weekend, where the pastor answered questions on the spot without ever having seen them (hence the name). People submitted questions (about anything from evolution to homosexuality to catholicism, if the service we went to was any indication) over the past few weeks and the church staff consolidated the list to 35 questions, 7 of which were answered at each service (yea, he had to do it 5 times in two days, ouch). He's a pretty smart guy with well-thought-out responses (at the service we went to anyway, I haven't heard the others yet :-p). At some point tonight all 5 services will be available on the podcast, so you should check them out. People did not ask easy questions, and he still gave pretty good answers. (Side note: there are also a few years worth of old services on the podcast. If you want to listen to the main pastor, that's Mark Johnston. There are also messages by Andrew Wilson, the assistant pastor.)

Sharayah made eggs and hash browns for lunch, and I just ate them. Good.

it's a long way home


the art of sploosh

I'm not a baker. I'm barely a cook [er?], but I have managed to keep both of us alive with my concoctions these past 4 years. With baking though, I have just enough following-a-recipe-is-boring-and-predictable-and-tedious syndrome to make most of my baking experiences result in the classic "So, baking is a lot like chemistry class... " lecture.

I'm not a baker. Give me flour and a recipe, and the promised "moist and fluffy" will most likely end up dry, dense, and "Did I just break my tooth?" I think flour is my nemesis. It's such an exciting ingredient that I might just get caught up in the moment of "creating" [the things you can make with flour are practically limitless!] and "splooshing" [that's when the flour dust goes all "ploosh" in the air] to remember the specific recipe instructions.

I'm not a baker, but I do have one redeeming factor in my baking equation: Jason, the "if it has flour and at all resembles a bread-like food, I will eat it, no questions asked" variable. He's quite the morale-saver when it comes to my kitchen experiments. As long as we're not talking about some kind of leafy vegetable or mushrooms, he will eat anything that I put in front of him. Mushy beyond recognition? No problem. So hard it needs to be soaked in a soup before you can ingest it? Again, no problem. And he'll eat it all, complete with the sounds of enjoyment [possibly for my benefit?] and requests for seconds that all meal-preparers want to hear.

Anyway, as of late, I've had urges to sploosh things up in the baking arena. Perhaps it was the purchase of some new flour a few weeks ago. Or maybe it was my craving for pizza. Or maybe it was just the fact that I knew Jason has been studying/stressing hard about his candidacy exams coming up and I just wanted to make something I knew he'd really like [I'm pretty sure his love of pizza just stems from the idea that pizza, at its simplest, is just bread and cheese]. Whichever the case, I decided to make a pizza, and not only was the splooshing a success but, for the first time ever, the doughiness was a success. It actually turned out crust-like and not super dense or purely hard and crunchy as my flour products have a tendency to do.

With this smashing success, I had the immediate desire to do it all over again. More yeasty smells. More splooshing. More rolling pin action. With Jason's first day of school being a stupid long day [he leaves in the morning and doesn't get back until 7 or so], I knew that he would completely appreciate coming home to a fresh pizza and... pie.

The last time a pie was baked in my kitchen was when Colleen was here and she was doing the baking and I was doing the pretending-to-be-baking. Best pie ever. Sadly, this time around there was no Colleen in my kitchen. And no fresh fruit [except for grapefruits... as odd as I am, I couldn't quite convince myself that grapefruit pie would be a good plan]. The only fruit available for a filling was the bag of frozen fruit that we use to make smoothies [apple juice, frozen fruit, blender: delicious]. Now, being a very inexperienced pie filling maker and a very experienced just-throw-things together maker, I put some honey, water, and flour in a pot and dumped in as much of the frozen fruit as I could fit, gave it a stir, and waited for something magical to happen.

Lessons learned from this pie filling experiment:

  • Honey is quite sweet. You do not need a cupful of honey to sweeten a pie.
  • If you heat up honey in a pot without stirring it, it will start to burn onto the bottom of your pot. Making a candy-like substance. Tasty, but not really desirable (for your pie or your scrub brush).
  • Frozen fruit totally works. Peaches? Good. Strawberries? Good. Pineapple and honeydew? Goood. 
we may have already started to eat the pie crust by the time i took this picture...

Anyway, on a scale of failure to success, I would give the fruit pie conglomerate a 7.0 with point deductions for the honey overload and the sketchy crust consistency [still haven't quite mastered non-pizza flour products, I suppose] but bonus fractions for the artistic nature of the crustwork [duh] and the fact that I didn't burn myself the entire time.

As for the second go at the pizza making, it was ridiculously delicious. Jason would take a bite and then convulse [in a good way] for 30 seconds. I was quite excited. This time I wanted to season the crust and so, part of the way through the baking, I sprayed some olive oil on it and sprinkled some garlic powder, salt, and pepper on it. It toasted perfectly and tasted like 20 bucks [i.e. it's going to be hard to convince me to buy from pizza chains anymore].

Well, I was going to write about a couple of other things, but I think they'll save until next time since this went on longer than expected.

To yumminess!

i promise i don't have to do this to jason...anymore.


we made a pizza! and other things.

Apparently I never made any posts after my summer course ended. So, the course that I taught this summer ended. I no longer have to wake up at 6:30 every day. Also, I no longer have to have those mutton chops growing all up on my face. It's not that I'm against facial hair. They were just too much work.

Anyway, perhaps I can post some thoughts about the class now that it's over. It was interesting having the responsibility of the entire class resting on me. I've been a TA for 4 years now, but I've never been in charge of a course myself, where I was the one setting the policies and the content and everything else. I think my students enjoyed my teaching as much as anyone can really enjoy being taught math at 8 in the morning for two hours every day for 5 straight weeks. My teaching evaluations were all positive. Of course, in the space at the end where you can leave comments (the rest of the evaluation is just multiple choice, rating me on several factors) only two of them wrote anything. One of them said they didn't like the textbook (it's really not a good book, but the choice of textbook was the one thing I couldn't control), but the other one said I was smart and knew the material (I would hope so after this many years of calculus). I wish more of them had written something, but I almost never do that part either so I can understand.

Since then I've been continuing my studying for candidacy exams (which I'll have to do this semester, ugh), and trying not to think about the fact that fall classes are about to start. Yep, it's that time again. However, talking about classes and studying is boring, so I will stop doing that... now.

Also in the last couple weeks, I've been playing tennis with Sharayah. She had never played, and I'm still very much a beginner, but I'm teaching her what little I know and we're playing every now and then. It's been pretty fun so far. I'm trying to enjoy that brief period of time where I'm still better than her. I know what's going to happen soon, just as it happened with ping pong... She passed me in ping pong so quickly. One day I was winning pretty much every game, the next day she was so much better she not only won pretty much every time, she could decide how much to win by. (Yeah, I ended a sentence with a preposition. What are you going to do about it?)  I'm hoping we're not too close to the day where she decides how many sets I get to win, and how many games in each set. I'm pretty sure it's coming.

Maybe the coolest thing we've done the last couple weeks is make a pizza from scratch. Well, we didn't crush fresh tomatoes for the sauce, but we did everything else. We made dough! It rose! It turned out pretty awesome. We even did stuffed crust! There was cheese in our crust! So cool. And it was delicious pizza. Just the right seasonings in the sauce (that part we did do ourselves), nice crispy crust underneath, soft enough around the edges (and with cheese inside!), great cheese. We will have to make another pizza. You should all be jealous of me and my pizza-making wife.


time is fiction



The thought of "How did I get from there to here?" is something I've always found intriguing. Time, change, progression... Sometimes it's hard to appreciate the process of it all. Getting from Point A to Point B can be ridiculously stressful, frustrating, scary... But it can also be incredibly exciting, fulfilling and, in the end, life-changing...

You just have to get past the "How do I get from here to there?" It's daunting. There's no denying it. The process can be rough. But the end result? Worth it. 

Everything is a process. All you have to do is recognize you can do it, and then go and show the world what's what. Progress may come slowly, but the day will come when you're suddenly asking yourself in amazement, "How did I get from there to here?" You may not be able to break down the process, but that's okay. Because it's all about the little steps.

Dedication. Confidence. Courage. Trust. Day in. Day out.

And the most important part?  Consciously recognizing that the Process is oftentimes more than you can take on by yourself. But, that's okay. There's a Helper, and He's just waiting to be asked.

You can get from here to there. It's a daily process, but it's completely doable. You're going to get to Point B and look back, just as you've done at every other milestone in your life, and think, "How did I get from there to here?" Because you can totally do it. 

I've always wanted to capture one of these processes in daily photos. Unfortunately, the subject matter is either not photograph-able (?) or I just don't have the diligence to follow through with the desire. As an example? Our little saplings that Jason mentioned in a post a while back. We got them for free at Longwood Gardens' Arbor Day celebration. We bought some dirt and a pair of matching pots, and, just like that, we were tree owners. I wanted to take a picture of them every day and watch their progress, but I didn't want to do it if their "progress" just meant "die in a week." So, instead, Jason and I diligently watched them every day while we sat at our desks working/studying. And for the longest time, nothing seemed to be happening. They had their little buds and thin little branch-trunks, and that was it. I found myself too bummed to even think of possibly capturing their non-growth with daily pictures. 

But then, one day, all of a sudden, completely out of the blue, there were leaves. Real, live, beautifully green, truly leaf-shaped leaves. I felt like a complete success [it's all about the little things]. Those two little leaves brought such happiness, enough so that I wasn't even bummed about missing the opportunity of doing the whole "take a picture every.single.day!" Unfortunately, since I didn't start the whole picture thing from the get-go, I chose not to do it at all. But that's okay. Even though I don't get to see the entire process through each step, it doesn't keep me from enjoying each new stage [which, oddly enough, inevitably occurs overnight..?] in all of it's leafy goodness. 

Sometimes Jason and I like to sit and plan out the life of our little trees, what with the coming fall and the turning of their leaves, the [probably sad] shedding of the leaves come winter, the upgrading of pots as time goes by, and [fingers crossed] the planting of successfully grown trees into the backyard of our all-of-our-own-one-day house. This is an example of one of those pleasant "From Here to There" scenarios. We have grand plans for our trees to fulfill.

Mario [left] and Luigi [not left]

Another process of interest at the moment is the transformation of Jason's face, er, facial hair. Luckily, the mutton chops are a thing of the past. Jason finished teaching his calculus course, and the mutton chops were removed post-haste. The scary part? I think Jason actually liked having them... I'm just glad that I have enough wifely sway in his actions that getting him to shave them off wasn't an issue. Whew. It could have been disastrous. I can't help but love his face, so if he'd kept them much longer, I might have ended up loving the Chops just because he was the one who had them. Ishck. Disaster averted.

i love you, mister

Last process of note:  Work. I can't remember if I ever mentioned it, but way back in the beginning of February I had my initial QA review. I had been incredibly nervous about it because I was still pretty sure at that point that, surely, I would screw up and they'd have to fire me and I wouldn't be able to be hired by anyone else and I would be a disappointment to Jason and, even more, myself. Of course, I tend to over think everything, usually to the negative end [still working on that], and nothing could have been further from the actual situation: I received a 99.7 on my first QA review. I had 2 miscellaneous errors [i.e. not knowing to have 2.5L instead of 2-1/2L], but nothing of consequence. 

I was super stoked about the high praise from both the QA manager and head manager for all about... 10 minutes? And then I started the stressing out of, "But now that I did so well from the start, how in the world am I going to improve for my next QA review in 6 months? There's no way I can improve a 99.7, so I'm going to get a worse score 6 months from now, and they'll think that my first score was some kind of fluke, and then they'll fire me and blah blah blah." Ridiculous? Yes. But sometimes I just can't help it... 

Anyways, today marks the 6 month mark. And I received the QA review results today. And you know how you improve on a 99.7? Get a 100. Yep. The QA manager sent a note of congratulations for the perfect review and mentioned that not only did I not make any point-reduction errors but I also had zero revision notations [i.e. things to keep in mind that aren't medical errors but that should be changed for future transcribing]. 

Such an unbelievable relief. Ever since the beginning of August, I've been periodically stressing about the upcoming QA review, but since I had no idea when in August I was going to get the results, I just kept pushing it out of my mind. Whew.

Talk about progress. How in the world did I get from where I was in December to where I am now? I'm a consistently productive, exceptionally accurate medical transcriptionist. I'm totally doing this job in spite of all of my self-doubts and many, many moments of utter frustration. job.owned. </brag session>

As always, this blog is all over the place, but I think I've said everything I've wanted to. One last thing:  While writing this, it reminded me of one of my old xanga posts [blast from the past!]. Read these old writings if you are so inclined. I was just as rambling back then as I am now. Some things just don't change no matter how much time passes...

Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and take the plunge. You can do it. 


the intersection of calculus and big sideburns

Well I started the first week of mutton chops by growing what were essentially just slightly big sideburns (down to the bottom of my ear, but wide at the bottom instead of even with the top), but Sharayah called foul, so since then I've been growing proper mutton chops. Once you get past the itchiness stage they're not so bad. I've at least gotten to the point where I don't think I look bizarre every time I look in the mirror. Still, I'll be glad to shave them this Friday (don't worry, there will be pictures taken before they're gone). It's just too much work to keep them shaped the right way and making sure they're even. Also, they are mutton chops, so... do not want.

Teaching a class has so far been an interesting experience. I'd say it's very easy to teach but very hard to get students to learn. Some of them are self-motivated and I don't have to worry about them. Others, though. They're tough. I can be thoroughly convinced that I've made something clear, and then someone will ask a question that proves... well, that it's definitely still murky to them.

I think the main problem is that many of my students don't have the proper foundations. There are just so many things that you already need to know when you get to calculus that they seem to have never seen before. I can't say whether that's their fault or the fault of their previous teachers. At any rate, the big problem is that many of my students don't have the prerequisites for my course. Maybe they have them on paper, on some transcript, but they don't have them in real life. Somewhere along the line, some previous teacher did them the disservice of passing them in a class where they didn't learn what they were supposed to. I don't think they've been done any favor when they're told they understand all they need to and they really don't. It's also the system as a whole's fault. I understand in high school there's huge pressure on teachers to pass all of their students. I guess you look bad if students fail your class? Still, I think some of my students have been set up for failure by being inadequately prepared and simultaneously being told that they're doing just fine.

End rant.

Still, overall it's been a positive experience. I think it's confirmed to me that I'd like being a professor, though it's also proved to me that I'd very much prefer to teach more difficult classes with students who actually want to learn math. Presumably math majors, although being a TA for discrete math in the spring taught me that apparently math majors also ask what the point is of learning to prove things... Well, if you don't want to prove things, then you don't really like math. That's what math is. Otherwise it's just a bunch of arbitrary rules that someone made up and now we all memorize (that is not the case!). Anyway, if plans work out, I'll be doing original math research and, yes, teaching math. If a student comes along every so often who tells me they used to hate math, but now I've made them like it (this happened to me!), maybe it won't be so bad.

when the rockets came to life


the big picture

Earlier this year, Jason and I volunteered to take on the childcare portion of our life group's service project [objective:  minister to the ministers]. Compared to the other less entertaining (albeit more adult-ish) options of preparing a lunch spread (definitely not up our [my] alley), lending a hand with the back massages (despite all of the experience I gained in SAGA, I'm still pretty sure the certified masseuse was better equipped for the job) or ministering to the leadership through conversation and prayer (there were definitely more than enough enthusiastic people filling that role), taking care of the short-in-stature energetic ones seemed like a no-brainer choice for us. And, turns out, I think it was the best choice.

Basically, we got to goof off for a few hours with a handful of the kids of our church's leadership. It was quite entertaining. I'm absolutely awful at guessing ages, but I would say the age range was from 1-1/2 years old to...12? Somewhere amidst the nonstop I'm-never-going-to-stop-running energy, the "look how loud I can make animal noises," and the diligently-worked-though-not-always-accurate math problem-ing [side note:  almost all of this was produced by 2 rather engagingly cute sisters, made doubly fascinating by the fact that they were twins] were me and Jason. It was immensely fun. Of course, the youngest kids seemed to necessitate the most one-on-one attention while the older ones seemed to desire/demand it more. However, since we wanted to make sure that we could hand over all of our charges to their parents at the end of the afternoon in as close to the same condition that they were given to us, I think Jason and I definitely gravitated most of our attention towards the little guys since their potential for crying/getting hurt was obviously much greater than the older ones.

The littlest fellas were rather adorable. Eli and Ethan. Eli liked to color. Ethan liked to eat only half of each of his grapes. They were buddies.

Life is kinda like any book or movie (which makes sense since I'm pretty sure life is what book and movie writers are trying to portray [though that is a pretty generalized statement, and it sometimes seems like that may not be the case anymore, given the current trend of what is considered popular entertainment these days]). That first scene or chapter opens up with some scenario that captures your attention and you sit back and wait to be taken to all kinds of pleasant places. However, if you've read any number of books or watched any number of movies, it doesn't really surprise you when the plot takes a turn for the worse. In fact, you're expecting it. Because conflict is inevitable and it just feels like something that has to happen in any kind of successful [predictable?] entertainment medium*. You can usually figure out ahead of time what conflict the story is going to be centered around [with that amount of time being determined by a) how many reviews/trailers you've seen and b) how well it was written overall].

That's the difference, though, between real life and a movie:  It's hard to predict when and how that terrible moment of conflict is going to raise its ugly head. (Perhaps that's an interesting indication that life is pretty much the most well-written-est story ever?) Life's conflict comes completely unexpected. Completely unwanted. Like in the case of the car accident that Jason talked about in his last post. Or like the movie theater shooting in Colorado this morning. Or, like in the case of the story above, when we found out that 1-1/2 year old Ethan had one day slipped into a coma and died.

You just never see it coming.

I can't quite wrap my mind around handling the pain that comes with your first and only child just... dying. Or how you can, as the mourning father, get up on Sundays and continue to lead worship as passionately as ever. I can't fathom being that strong. And yet, I can. Because of one rather significant detail:  God is with us.


I suppose the harder thing to imagine is how those who don't have a relationship with God handle the grief that comes with those abrupt moments of conflict, those moments that give you no choice in the change of life's story. Yes, knowing God may not keep the bad from happening, but I so entirely believe that it is the most impacting factor in how we handle (and get through) the bad that does happen.

Knowing God doesn't immediately take away the tragedy itself or even the resulting pain or grief. He's not a quick-fix band-aid. But He does offer something that helps with the aftermath of it all:  Peace. The peace that comes from His Presence.

Peace is an odd thing. You don't always know it's there at first. Sometimes you have to really dig deep to find it. Sometimes you just can't imagine peace possibly infiltrating that one particular chaotic-filled moment. But it's there, because He's there. Sometimes all it takes is re-acknowledging the fact that the One who made the world is entirely in control. No matter how out of control everything might seem.

If I was little Ethan's mom, I absolutely know that the only way I could get through the grief would be by daily reminding myself of the bigger picture. The picture that, compared to eternity, this life really is just a breath. That saying good-bye to someone on earth, as painful and heart-wrenching and seemingly life-shattering as it is, isn't a forever good-bye when God is in the picture. That's the neat thing about being friends with the Creator of this story called Life:  Despite the absolutely pointless tragedies that cry out in injustice or those completely unexpected turn of events that cause intense moments of doubt and heartache, you can come to know peace in the midst of it all knowing that He knows the Ending. And even though, to us, it may feel like it's chapters away, I think it can sometimes be just enough to get us through knowing that the upcoming Ending most definitely is going to be a Happier Ever After kind of ending.

Sure, not all of life's conflict moments are death and grieving [thankfully], but even little things have the ability to shake you up if they're unexpected enough. I think the key [and, thus, challenge] is to think bigger than ourselves. Of course, this is easy to say when I'm more removed from the situation, when it's not my baby boy dying or my friends being shot at or even myself in the totaled car. But I hope that even with the [comparatively] less significant bumps in life that I can still remember to embrace the bigger picture in the midst of the tragedies. In my mind, the Bigger Picture is a numbered list, so...

  1. God is always in control, no matter the magnitude of the conflict.
  2. God embodies peace and justice, clearing the way for us to handle grief and pain in a way that allows for His healing in all of its forms.
  3. God wrote the story, so He knows the ending, and it's so much greater than we can possibly imagine.

The One the wind and waves obey is strong enough to save you.
- "Strong Enough to Save" Tenth Avenue North

As always, thus ends yet another rather roundabout rambling about... life. It's nifty how you can pretty much sum up any topic under the category of "Life."

And now, if you made it through this whole thing, feel free to take a nap. You earned it.

*I think I'd like to write a book that has no wait-for-it! conflict... perhaps have it run like a series of journal entries. Boring? Mayhaps. But I think it'd be intriguing in an odd sort of way.


teaching and learning

I had planned to make a blog post last weekend to talk about the class I'm teaching this summer, since it was to start the following Monday (a week ago today).  I'll still make that post after I explain why it's a week late.

Last Saturday, a guy ran a red light and hit my dad's car, totaling it and landing my dad in the hospital. He broke 4 ribs, 4 vertebrae, his sternum, his right shoulder, and several bones in his left foot. In the accident, several fingers and his left ankle were dislocated, he got burns on his hands and arms from the airbag, some glass lodged in his right hand, and plenty of cuts all over, many of which should have had a few stitches, though once he was stabilized the hospital he initially went to didn't do much of anything for him, so he never got the stitches. He's now at a rehab hospital and working hard at getting better. We're taking it a day at a time. Any prayers would be appreciated. We're believing for full recovery.

That Saturday morning I was working on my lecture notes for the Calculus class I'd be starting on Monday. I got through Monday's notes, and was about to start the next day, when my mom called with the news of the accident. Obviously I didn't get anything else done before class on Monday, bright and early at 8am. Let me just say I'm already tired of getting up at 6:30 every morning. Anyway, each night this past week I've been working on more of my lecture notes, and I finally finished last night. I've also made 3 of the exams (one of which they took on Friday - the whole semester only takes 5 weeks, so every Friday they get an exam, including the final exam on the 5th friday). Hopefully I'll get the last exam and the final done tonight, so that I can go back to studying for my exams, which will probably be at the beginning of September.

Some people think Calculus is a little dry. Ok, so it is. Add to that the fact that the class is 8-10am, Monday through Friday, and you've got a recipe for... pain? Sure. Pain. Oh, speaking of pain, all the chalk in my classroom is always super short, so it gave me a blister on the tip of my index finger. Pretty uncomfortable. My dad had no sympathy when I told him about it. Anyway, before my class started, Sharayah was worried my students would find my class (or me?) too boring so she came up with the idea that I should have them vote on what kind of facial hair I'd grow throughout the course, and I'd keep it the whole course. Here's the picture she drew for me to use as a ballot:
Man, I'm just glad mustache didn't win. Anyway, now I'm growing mutton chops. Maybe it'll get me better teaching evaluations from the students at the end of the semester. Or at least I'll have gotten to have mutton chops for a few weeks.

This isn't the post where I get completely into this, but it's interesting what repeated tragedies in your life will do to shape your faith and worldview. Obviously bad things happen, but usually that's a distant abstract idea. My family's gone through some pretty tough times in the past year or so. If Amber was still alive, today would be Shawn and her 7th wedding anniversary. My dad is thankfully still alive and will get better, but he was essentially brutally attacked. If any one else had been in the car with him, they'd be dead. My mom had to witness the horrifying accident from the car behind his. What kind of world is it that we're living in? Again, these are things that we're all aware of occurring, but they don't happen to us or the people we love.

We're not promised anything here. And this is one fallen world. I wanted to end this with some kind of uplifting, non-cliched encouragement, but I think most of the apt things to say have been overused in situations where they really just don't apply. They've lost meaning. So just live. Love God. Love your family. Love people. "Life is but a breath, don't waste it." - The Wedding.

don't abandon the ship


people pegs and [i wish] pogo sticks.

I like to make stories all kinds of long and rambling, and this will be no exception. Honestly, the following bajillion paragraphs can be summed up in the following points:

  • I'm an odd duck and I luckily found someone who not only tolerates my weirdness and neediness but also participates in it.
  • Game of Life is entertaining if you dig past the trauma [stemming from the duckness aforementioned] of "living" a life that is not real life.
  • I do so love my Jason.
  • My stories come out through my fingers heavily peppered with parenthetical thoughts [or bracketed ones], which often increases the difficulty of reading them. I do not apologize. (And anyway, I think they're way easier to follow in reading than they are if I'm telling them in person [since even though there are quotation marks for appropriate times in speech, there isn't really a way to indicate "Oh, this is a side thought that is kinda related, but it might lead down a rabbit trail of goodness or confusion, and I don't know which one it will be before I just go ahead and just say it, so I'm just going to go and say it." what an oversight of society.], so you should be thanking me for writing it out instead of calling you up and telling it to you that way.)
  • I'm an odd duck.

The rest of this post all somehow or another manages to squeeze itself into one or more of the above points, so, if you are short on time or interest, you can stop reading here and feel like you didn't miss out on anything. It's all good. However, since the point of our blog is to just jot down random stuff that may or may not be found entertaining to us in the future, this story [and, thus, the inevitable rambling] must be told.

And begin.

Last night Jason and I played Game of Life. As soon as we started setting up the game, a predicament immediately presented itself that I had somehow managed to overlook. I will explain [and most likely sound ridiculous in the process].

If you know us at all, Jason and I are rather... attached to each other. We like to be with each other. All the time. Now, of course, this just sounds like any normal husband and wife, no? Well, I am afraid [and also, admittedly, pleased] to say that we might take the "we prefer to be with each other" sentiment to a clingy level of "oh, now that's just a little ridiculous."

Let me count the ways [by demonstrating just a few random tidbits here and there]:

  • Sleep apart? Never. We have somehow managed to avoid all situations that might involve separating us at bedtime. No overnight trips apart allowed. We hope to keep this up for as long as possible. Fingers crossed.
  • Same team buddies! Playing a game? Teammates! No questions.
  • Must.sit.together. This coupled with the previous bit tends to present a problem if we're playing a game of canasta with a group since you don't sit next to your teammates. It's a sad game.
Now, those are the only ones I'm going to mention because it can start sounding weird really fast. There are a lot of little things that shall go unmentioned that would most likely just result in a head tilt and slightly perplexed, "Hm. Interesting." 

Anyway, really, those 3 things aren't all that odd, right? You might almost think they sound pretty normal for a couple to want to always sit together, play on the same team, and stay together as much as possible. I mean, you can just put the Biblical spin on it of two becoming one and it all makes sense. We're a unit. We stay together. I suppose the thing that might cross the line from normal to odd is that not being together (and by together, I mean actually next to each other [be it at night, in a game, in a car]), actually makes me sad

Yes, I realize this is ridiculous (and stupidly clingy-sounding [fortunately, Jason doesn't mind his girl clingy. whew.]) and ridiculous, and a little ridiculous. But we're an Us. And separation of an Us is just not natural. It feels weird. And sad. Which I like to think should be the normal response of an Us when threatened with impending doom [ie. 15 minutes or more of not being within hugging distance], though I recognize this is probably just me trying to pretend we're normal [a very fun game, if I do say so myself]. Anyway, all this just to make the point that we have a different definition/life style of being together. And while I realize it wouldn't work for a lot of people, perhaps coming across as overly dependent, stifling, or just a ridiculous expectation overall, it works for us. It's like we were made for each other. Or something.

Okay. I feel like that was a tangent. Back to Game of Life.

So, the thing about Game of Life is that all players are [obviously] living their own individual lives. Which includes having your own car filled with your own spouse "peoples" and kid "peoples." (In the game instructions they call the peg people "peoples" [with the quotes], which I found to be entertaining for some reason.) For two people who are bound and determined to do everything in as together of a fashion as we can pull off, putting our little peg "peoples" in our separate little blue and green cars was actually pretty traumatizing. 

The fact that Jason sped off through college (I believe he spent 1 turn in there as opposed to my 3 or 4?), landed on the "elope! move ahead to get married!" space, and landed the 2nd highest paying/best potential job available (real-life Lawyer Jason would be rather intense, I think), all whilst I'm just plugging along through college working a part-time job, was a tough pill to swallow. Little blue "peoples" Jason was supposed to put his life on hold [up to a couple of years doesn't seem like too much to expect!] and wait for me and my green car to get through school so I could join him at the altar. He wasn't supposed to find some little pink "peoples" named Nancy to join him on his journey through Life. This was not working out the way it was supposed to.

But, it was too late to turn back and rethink our playing of the game, so onward we spun and moved. Let me tell you, there were many a face-buried-in-hands and [semi] angrily-thrown game cards as Life just kept plugging along in the most not-at-all ideal fashion. We [obviously] both ended up retiring at the Millionaire Estates; me with my 5 sons and a husband named Ronald, and Jason with Nancy and their 1 daughter [who, of course, went to college and had a kid of her own along the way]. 

My life, though full with everything that actually matters [lots of kids (both adopted and not), some rescue pets, a little log cabin, and a $45,000 cruise vacation (it was $5k a head for each kid! ishk)] had many a setback, including being fired from my job twice. I had my college-degree-supported veterinarian job, was fired and [as per Life rules (which, thankfully, do not actually reflect life rules)] banned from any other college-degree-required job, became a lowly athlete [poor base salary but unlimited potential salary], was fired yet again, and eventually retired as a police officer [how do you support a 7-person family on $40k a year?]. 

Meanwhile, Jason and Nancy were living it up with their $100k+ salary (by the end, he was making $150k), winning a couple hundred thousand in various singing/performing competitions, and buying up Executive Cape homes. Now sure, Jason's life sounds like an appealing one, but you have to know that his "peoples" were practically jumping out of that little blue car. Seriously. He had to keep putting his little pegs back in the car each turn. He had all the fame and fortune in the world, but no love.

So, moral of this drawn out story:
  • Despite the sadness of not getting to play "together," Game of Life is an entertaining way to learn life lessons, such as:
    • Love and family are worth more than those orange $100k bills.
    • It doesn't matter how much money you make, you still get to retire at Millionaire Estates.
    • The only profession that beats a lawyer is a doctor.
    • If you have to have 2 minivans to cart around all your kids, some mountain passes may not allow you to drive side by side.
  • I don't care how ridiculous it is that I can "miss" Jason when he's just sitting across the table from me. I don't ever want the day to come that I'm not affected by his distance from me. We're a packaged deal.
  • Lastly, God makes a way better life planner than a 10-colored spinner [though I was totally reminded last night of how much I like that clickety noise that the spinner makes when you spin it really fast... ah. childhood.]
I am going to find a way to play Game of Life in 1 car. I am. It will be entertaining. Oh, I do so like making up new games... :)

Alright. Done. 

What you may feel like if you successfully read through this entire thing.


there is still a blog here

Well hello. Welcome back to our blog. Did you enjoy your break? We wrote all kinds of entertaining stuff while you were away. It's such a shame that you missed it. Out of spite we have removed all the posts that were published since your last visit. That'll teach you to go 2 months without reading any of our posts.

The other day, Sharayah and I flew the little kite my parents got us for Christmas. I haven't done that since I was a little kid, and I really enjoyed it. It was just windy enough that we could usually get the kite to fly, but intermittent enough that it was actually sometimes a challenge to keep it up. It made for a pretty fun time. I'm sure Sharayah will post sometime some misleading pictures that make it look like she was much better than me, but it's all a trick. I was an excellent kite-flyer.

We also got two free tree seedlings from Longwood Gardens. Eventually they'll grow into Red Maple trees (if we don't kill them), but for now they're just a couple of twigs sticking out of planters. We're hoping they'll last a few years and get big enough to plant in the ground by the time we actually have a yard.

This summer my parents are taking all their children (that includes me!) to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. We've been there as a stop on a cruise, but never had a chance to stay for more than a few hours. We will relax on the beach and make sand castles. We may get to go deep sea fishing and will definitely get to wander around a beautiful island for a week. After a long and difficult semester, this should be an awesome vacation.

I think I mentioned a few times the candidacy exams that I needed to pass by this semester to remain in the PhD program at UD. Thankfully, I found out I don't have to pass until fall, which is quite a relief. I'm pretty sure I needed more time, so I'm glad to have it.

I gave a presentation in one of my classes this past Thursday that I thought went really well. The talk was titled "Three Alternative Proofs of Tur án's Theorem." It's probably the first time I've talked so long about math to a bunch of people who all know more than me about math (pretty much everyone in that class has already passed candidacy and begun working on a dissertation). Just because it took me so many hours to prepare, I have posted it here for anyone who is interested to take a look. Much of it is self-contained (it contains the definitions of most of the terms used), but you'll need to know the definition of a graph, a complete graph, and a complete k-partite graph. I won't pretend the paper is supposed to make sense to someone who hasn't studied graph theory, but maybe it could be interesting to glance over (if you're really interested, you can find definitions to any of the terms here, or just use google).

Well, that's all for now. After all the posts in the last two months, I'm just out of things to talk about.

look down and keep on singing


the e that matters

It doesn't matter how good/enjoyable/productive day I've had working, my day gets 100% better the minute Jason gets home from school. This is especially true on Tuesdays, this semester's long day of the week.

I just had a sudden desire to go out and find a package of orzo or, even better, alphabet pasta.
Mini-golf also sounds good right now. 

Jason and I went bowling (which I just typed as boweling since I'm pretty sure I've typed the word bowel more times this week than you non-doctors have thought about it your entire life) as a part of our Valentine's celebrationy times. I'd forgotten how terrible you could actually execute the throwing of a heavy round object down an oiled lane edged by gutters that magnetically attract (I'm pretty sure) anything you aim towards those pyramidally-placed pins. If I ever had any kind of official "form" whilst bowling, I can officially say I have lost it (perhaps it is hiding somewhere with all of my free time?). I'm tired of mistyping bowel, so consider this topic finished.

We received another update on our little sponsored girl, Zu, and since I'm at a loss for what else to write about, I might as well mention the following excerpt:  "She took part in a calligraphy competition and won third place... She likes rubber bands. She knows many rope skipping techniques and likes skipping barefoot." This made me happy for some reason. 

Jason and I watched Babe the other night. I'd forgotten how much I like that movie. It for sure makes it in my top 5 favorite movies. Marley and Me is still my #1, but Babe is such a rewatchable classic. Love it. 

If I had words to make a day for you,
I'd sing you a morning golden and true.

But just as a heads up, don't watch Babe: Pig in the City, which is the sequel. We watched it once and were sorely disappointed. 

Anyway, life goes on. I think Jason is finishing up his work so I'm going to go pay attention to him. He's more interesting than the internet. :)

Best friends.


things I have done

One thing about UD that I'm pretty sure I like is Christmas break. We don't just get the last half of December off; I'm still not back in school. I don't start until this coming Monday. The reason for this absurdly long break is that UD offers a 5-week winter session, much like a summer session at any other school. For graduate students, that adds up to either an opportunity to teach a short class or a 5 week break after Christmas. Let's just say I'm not teaching this winter.

So what does a(n almost) mathematician do with so much free time? I'm not going to lie to you, it's definitely a lot more free time than I would have during classes, but I am trying to be as productive as I can. I may have mentioned at some point some slightly important and possibly terrifying exams that I need to pass this spring to remain a candidate for a PhD in this program. I've been trying as hard as I can to spend as much time as possible studying for that. Since most of my classwork this semester will be in Combinatorics, I've been spending most of that time in this Algebra book, which is as useful as the book description on that page implies. However, it's a pretty dense book. I can't spend all my time there, or I'd go insane, probably. Thus I must fill the time with something else.

One of my favorite things this break has been playing the new Zelda game with Sharayah, but as she's mentioned she is now working full time, so this is mostly an evening activity (when we're not playing random old board games from the box my mom brought up from Texas). Still, we've spent a good amount of time on it, and it's been very enjoyable. It's a 1-player game, so we alternate. Sharayah plays the fun, care-free parts and I fight the scary bosses. It's a good arrangement for us. Sometimes the bosses can be pretty tough, though, especially since to defeat them you usually have to use some new weapon that you've recently acquired and have been practicing with briefly while fighting your way through the level, but since I wasn't the one fighting my way through, I have to defeat the boss having only watched someone else use the weapon. Sometimes it's not so bad; if the dungeon is difficult enough, Sharayah will let me play the parts leading up to the boss as well, so I get a little more practice. It sounds like I'm complaining but I'm only trying to give Sharayah a hard time (and hopefully elicit a giggle from her).

Since Sharayah is working during the day, that's when I try to do as much of my studying as possible. I can't study for as many hours as she can work, though, so I take breaks to read. My wonderful parents got me a Kindle Touch for Christmas, and I've read several free ebooks on it, from those in the Kindle store which are in public domain to some checked out from the library. I still think it's pretty cool to be able to check out an ebook from a library. So far I've been very pleased with the Kindle. It really does feel like I'm looking at ink on paper. The only difference is that I turn the page with a swipe or tap instead of physically turning the page. I've also been reading my way through the Lost Books, which Shawn got me for Christmas. I had already read the first few but never made it to the end, so I'm hoping to get most of the way done with that before school starts up. As with anything in the Dekker Circle universe, it's quite gripping.

Other than that I've had indoor soccer, being sick for about a week, helping around the house while Sharayah gets used to her work hours, and trying to thwart Puma's ever-growing curiosity to keep me busy. Speaking of Puma, his curiosity combined with his new fear of knocks at our door (which we believe he acquired from Panther, since he used to like knocks at the door) has led him to discover some previously unknown locations in our little apartment (one unknown to him, and one unknown to all of us). First, he has figured out how to open the cabinets and crawl inside. To top it off, he figured out that if he only opens it enough to squeeze in, then it will close again behind him making it a much more effective hiding place. Second, apparently if you somehow pull back that liner thing between the floor and the cabinets, you can crawl under said cabinets and find a whole world of hiding space. He disappeared under there for several minutes one day and we've been trying to keep it blocked since then. Now, Puma is not allowed in the kitchen, and he's gotten to dislike the consequences of entering (having us clap at him, stomp on the floor, or spray water at him), all of which serve to scare him away from there pretty well. Still, he's found the time to get in there and explore enough to find some pretty good places to hide. We probably will never cure him of going in there. We're thinking about baby-proofing our cabinets, but we don't want a situation like Joey had on Friends. We'll think of something.

Well, I'm sure I've been doing other things, but they escape me right now so you're in luck, you can finally stop reading. Until next time. Wait, no! You must stay and read one more sentence. I have been listening obsessively to three Owl City CDs which I received for Christmas from my parents (I liked Owl City and had heard a few songs, but had never owned or listened through an entire CD). If you are reading beyond the one additionally required sentence, then you must buy his CDs and listen to them until your ears fall off. That is all.

I was terribly lost


reason 17 and 10 outbursts

Welcome to Why My Job is Awesome: Reason #17: A couple of days ago I started having all of those annoying cold symptoms, stuffy nose, itchy throat, frustrating congestion, blah blah blah. Granted, my job doesn't have supernatural healing benefits or anything like that (if any such job exists [...for some reason I immediately thought of a doctor having that magical employment, but I'm pretty sure that's inaccurate..?], please let me know), but I think it does have the second best thing: I get to stay home. And still work. And accomplish however much or little I'm able. No one has to listen to me blow my nose all day, which is a plus for everyone potentially involved. I don't have to be embarrassed by how awful I look (having the nose of Rudolph the reindeer doesn't help anyone's self-image), and I don't have to go through any of those tiring efforts of making myself look presentable to the public. I can stay home, be doted on by Jason all day long, and be paid for whatever work I happen to get done (in between the constant eye tearing [sometimes my eyes would tear for so long that I was almost convinced I was crying, which is just not conducive to transcribing], sneezing, and 3.2 bathroom breaks per hour [the jury is still out on whether drinking gallons of water while sick is more helpful than it is annoying]). I lo... whoops. The L word almost slipped out there. I don't think this job and I are at that level yet. But apparently, we are getting closer. Let me rephrase: I really like this job. I so want this job (and, at the moment, more specifically, this company) to love me. But that's still left to be seen. Oy.

So, this marks week 5 (I think?) of working. And even though Edoc calculates their week Saturday through Friday (while I've been keeping track of my weeks Sunday through Saturday), I am still going to declare that this week I completed 5000+ lines, which is Edoc's desired rate for full-time employees. Success! Now, I did have a pretty incredible half day today (I absolutely love doing the 7+ minute dictations of my favorite dictators), but to balance that out, my production has been inhibited by the past 2 days of under the weatherness. So... I think  it all works out somehow. Anyway, once my overall quality has been reviewed, there is a monetary increase to my line rate at 5000 lines and 6500 lines. So, 6500 lines a week is the next goal to shoot for. No clue how long that will take. Oy.

To entertain me during my sniffling misery these past couple of days, Jason has played several a game of Outburst with me. (Brief Explanation of Said Game In Case You are Not Familiar [else you won't be able to fully appreciate/experience the indignation/pain/disbelief that I did tonight]: There are cards with a subject [such as "Household Chores"] with 10 answers [such as Vacuuming, Doing the Dishes, Washing the Windows, etc.]. The goal is for one person/team to guess as many of the 10 topic answers as possible within a certain amount of time. You get awarded points based on the number of answers correctly guessed from the card. Simple enough, eh?) This game is from 1994, and so the "Updated topics!" boasted about on the box top is not really much of a boast anymore. It's more of a subject of laughter. Yes. Anywho, the game is rather outdated, and there are also plenty of "What? Famous Red Heads From 1963? Overweight Comedians With a Toupee? Most Popular TV Shows From the 90s? Yeah... skip it...." cards about which we just have absolutely no clue. (And, speaking of that last card... How can you have a list of 10 of the "Most Popular TV Shows From the 90s" when the card was made in 1994? Oh, things to ponder...) But there are plenty of cards that we give a fair shot and even some that we do really well on ("Parts of the Body That Come in Pairs"? Heck yes).

Earlier today, the card I passed to Jason was "Famous Authors of Children's Books." The reason I passed the card to him instead of taking it for myself was because A) he always passes absolutely awful cards to me ("Bands Who Played at Woodstock"? What?), B) off the top of my head I could only think of 3 authors who might be listed, and C) I figured he probably wouldn't be able to come up with any more than 3. It turned out to be a good pass on my part because he ended up only guessing one of the answers, Dr. Seuss. The downfall of passing the card to him was the above-mentioned indignation/pain/disbelief that I experienced. The nine remaining answers on the card included well-known greats such as A. A. Milne, E. B. White, Beatrix Potter, Robert Louis Stevenson, Hans Christian Anderson, and Richard Scarry. (I believe the other three were Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, and The Brothers Grimm.) Now, like I already said, I probably wouldn't have guessed nearly all of them, but I know for a fact that I would have loudly groaned the fact that I missed so many obvious famous children's authors. Jason on the other hand just looked at me with a completely blank face. He had no clue who most of them were. How can someone not know who wrote Treasure Island and Charlotte's Web and Winnie the Pooh? He thought Beatrix Potter was a character in a book or movie. I laughed at him for quite a while, partially because it just seemed so bizarre (my definition of "common knowledge" doesn't always line up with his) and partially to lessen the sharpness of my "Oh my word, are you illiterate?" reaction. (I realize illiteracy doesn't have a direct correlation to knowing the names of famous authors, but I think there's at least an indirect connection in there somewhere...)

I think his reason for why he'd never heard of these authors was the final straw: I brought up the fact that he knew, in general, most of the books that I mentioned were authored by these people. If he knew the book/story, why didn't he know the author? His response was that they were either read to him by someone else or he only ever watched the movie or TV show. Oh, so much laughter. I love him.

Anyway, so that's the short story long. I probably sound super mean in the above telling, but it's all in good fun. I love him. He knows it. And it's OK that he didn't read a fraction of what I read as a kid. He's still the best thing that has ever happened to me. I suppose one good thing did come of the whole thing: He said that we could institute a rule with our kids that, once they know how to read, they will read the book before watching the movie of a given story. Obviously, we realize this rule will undoubtedly be broken before it is ever even thought to be enforced, so it's a moot rule, but he definitely soothed my ruffled feathers by offering the solution. And I love him for it.

Anyway, moral of the story is that Jason gives me more reasons to laugh than I could ever imagine and everyone knows (or should come to realize) the written version is always way better than the viewing version.

It's late. I'm tired. Jason is home from his soccer game. (Since I didn't feel well, I had to miss one of his soccer games for the first time. Sad day.) I think I'll call it a day.

This dog's forehead is as wrinkled as my brain felt during Jason's Outburst Confessional.


perks and such

Going from having a completely open, do-whatever-I-want schedule to working M-F 9-5/Sat. 9-1 each week isn't a very fun transition. But despite that, I actually am really enjoying my job. It's so incredibly perfect for me. I am still well inside the "I'm new at this and so everything is still really nerve wracking and I hope they don't fire me" time period (which I predict will last for at least the first 6 months), so I haven't yet reached the point of saying "I love my job," but... I can honestly say I can see myself reaching that point (check back with me on... May 20th), and in the meantime, I am fine settling for "I really, really enjoy what I'm doing" and "This is the best job I've ever had." 

Here are the perks of being a medical transcriptionist:
  • I get to make my own schedule. I can work whatever crazy (or normal) schedule I choose. This will no doubt be much handier once there are little half-asians running underfoot, but I'm still enjoying the freedom now. 
  • I don't have to step foot out of the living room (or pajamas for that matter). Working from home is pretty much awesome. You should be jealous.
  • My compensation is completely production-based. I realize some may not consider this a perk, but I definitely see it this way. The more efficient I am, the more I can earn. It's that simple. I'm only starting my fourth week, but already I can feel my competitive nature kicking in as I race to top my previous week's line count. The spreadsheet of my endeavors is quite magnificent, if a bit unwieldy at the moment. I will probably get Jason to organize it for me in the coming weeks. (...oh, by the way, Jason, do you mind organizing my spreadsheet?)
  • Currently, since Jason is out of school until February, I get to sit next to my best friend the entire time I work (I guess this kinda falls under Perk #2). Every time I start getting frustrated at myself, he's there to make it all better. And he'll still be my desk buddy when his semester starts, just for not as many hours. 
  • IM and email are the primary means of communication. I'm pretty awful interacting with new people, especially in new situations where I feel solidly inferior to everyone else. So never having to turn into a bumbling mess in front of people who are getting their first impression of you? Win. 
  • There's a really neat balance between proficiency and opportunities to learn. One moment I feel like I've finally gotten it and the next I feel completely lost. There's so much variety to it (different dictators, different formatting, different accents, different speech patterns), but at the same time there's a lot of routine to it all. I love routine, but I dislike getting bored, so this job has the perfect mix.
  • Time passes proportionately to the speed of my fingers. The faster I type, the faster time goes by. It's awesome. 
This job field is so ideal. I can't believe I'm actually doing it. 

After I've been out of training for a month, I'll have my first QA review. I'm not looking forward to that. I don't know what to expect, and that's the worst. However, I'm pretty confident my self-confidence is going to drop through the floor the week leading up to the review, so at least that's something I can safely expect. Foreboding thoughts aside, I am super psyched about this entire opportunity. I am really, really enjoying the entire experience.

I need to go soak some beans for tomorrow's dinner. While I've been adjusting to the job and all the past couple of weeks, Jason has been amazing. He's been so sweet and has pretty much been in charge of scrounging up meals for us. I'm starting to feel a bit more settled in now though, so I hope to be more help again. Fingers crossed! 

Unrelated to transcription: Here is an entertaining visual for Jason's next 2 years. For a more detailed elaboration, read this

Goodnight. :)