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. :)