27 September 2015


Caity and I have sadly moved away from the nation's capital. We loved our time in DC and very well may return in the future, but for now we are settled in central Virginia. Charlottesville, to be exact, the home Thomas Jefferson's University of Virginia. Since we're so close to UVA, I decided, What the heck, I might as well just apply for a Master's Degree!? So I did, and I was accepted, and now I'm studying statistics. It sure beats commuting back to DC to continue working! It's with a heavy heart that I left teaching 7th grade math at Gunston Middle School. It was a great ride, but now it's over (although Gunston still creeps up in my dreams from time to time).
My first six weeks studying Statistics have been... mathy. Very mathy. Lots of math has been happening all over the place, like a 2-year old trying to eat mashed maths. Who know statistics had so much math? Also, it's been tough. Turns out graduate school is a little more challenging than I originally thought. The first two weeks I felt like I was in a Russian III class because I couldn't really understand anything that was happening. Now, luckily, I've gotten used to much of the vocabulary and my background knowledge is starting to contribute. Also, I've learned that graduate school is pretty much hard for everyone. Nearly every classmate I speak with feels just as confused about the same things as me.
I think I like it. I'm not totally sure about that, but I think I do. I like the lifestyle of being a student, that much I know. Being able to study when I want, where I want, for as long as I want- now that is nice. Having only a few commitments each day and then having the rest up to myself, that is wonderful. As far as the content goes, some of my classes are interesting, and some not so much. I'm taking a computing class on SAS and R, and I find that fascinating. It's very applicable, and very informative. I'm also taking a class on Linear Regression, and shesh, I never knew there was so much to learn about a simple formula (Y = mx + b). The entire class is based on that one formula. I will really know it inside and out by the time Christmas rolls around. Then I'm taking a class on the theory of probability. It's difficult, and involves a lot of math proofs, but all in all I find it interesting. It goes over the very foundations and basic principles of probability, which is neat to learn about. My fourth and final class is on multivariate statistics. It's basically a class all about matrices. If you've ever taken linear algebra, it's pretty much an extension of that. So far it's not too exciting, but the professor says the first half of the course is usually less enjoyable for the students, and then when they get to apply the principles to real life scenarios in the second half they like it much more. I hope he's right.
I was hoping that this program would help me decide what I want to do with my life. (I mean, I'm almost 30...) Unfortunately it has not so far. But, I'm only six weeks into a 2 year program. I believe things will become more clearer as time goes on.
Caity got a job as a technician at an opthomolgy office here in Charlottesville, and has been impressing the opthomologist since day 1. She is really good at supporting me through school too. She's just the best. We like our new life here, and you should come visit. The Blue Mountains are at our doorstep and Thomas Jefferson beckons!

30 November 2014

NYC 2014!

This Thanksgiving Weekend Caity and I decided to take a little trip to The Big Apple. There's a lot to write about, but alas, time and patience only allow for so much. Instead I'll just write about this super hip dining establishment we went to called L'ybane. You must be in New York when your restaurant of choice begins with and L and a Y separated only by an apostrophe. L'ybane was selected because of its close proximity to the theater we would be attending afterward, and by its specialty in Mediterranean cuisine (my favorite) and hipsterness (our new favorite, apparently).
As is true with all NYC restaurants, the facade was not much to boast about; we hardly even noticed the restaurant when we walked by. Once inside we almost turned around because the majority of what we saw was wine, and we were in more of a food mood. But, we  decided to give it a shot anyway. Our table was a tiny little table in the back with an interesting property: Its occupants (us) were closer to our table neighbors than we were to each other. Indeed I had my ruler safely nestled in my sock and I pulled it out to get a more exact reading. Here's what I found:

  • Distance from Caity to me (the length of the table): 24 inches, or 2 feet.
  • Distance from me to the stranger sitting at the table next to me: 8 inches, or 3/4 of a foot.
They lady to my left was a little bemused as to why I was asking her to hold still so that I could put a ruler flush with her elbow. She was again perturbed when I had to ask her to keep it down so that I could hear my tablemate to the front (Caity) as she recounted to me the story of Jonah and the Belly of the Whale, which seemed appropriate since we were in a Mediterranean restaurant. Luckily our dinner guests did not stay much longer after we sat down, perhaps because we started picking at their food after it appeared they were finished (apparently they weren't). We assumed since we were basically sharing a table with them we ought to eat Family Style. They did not share this sentiment. When they did get up to pay, however, they did something really interesting. The man pulled out a clump of tin foil from his coat pocket and proceeded to unwrap it. What was it going to be? Leftovers from last night's dinner? A space helmet? A giant Hershey's kiss? As you'd have it, he pulled out a wad of bills. He had a whole bunch of 20s all wadded up in his tin foil. It was hundreds of dollars, but apparently not enough for the meal because his wife then pulled out her own wad of bills and contributed two 20s to the cause. At this Caity and I grew a little nervous. What if L'ybane only accepted cash wrapped in tin foil? Would they laugh at us if we tried to pay with bills kept in a leather wallet? Would they refuse to serve us because of our more traditional practices? We decided to ask our waiter, and luckily she informed us that any kind of money was acceptable- US dollars, Canadian dollars, Lebanese pounds, or even Indian rupees.
There was another couple seated at a table behind us that also helped make the experience one that I will not soon forget. The couple consisted of a gentleman with U-shaped baldness and a ponytail of white hair falling down his neck. His date was a younger woman who did not seem to fit in quite right. Then, another couple showed up who were obviously friends with the man. The new man had brought along a foldup chair/cane with him, because you never know when you'll be seated at a restaurant in NYC and there just won't be enough seats at the table. Never mind overcrowdedness with you tablemates a mere 8 inches away! The woman was also a hoot. It looked like she was trading World of Warcraft cards, but then Caity used her insanely good eyes to see that they were actually VIP passes. So... then I didn't think they were quite as weird as originally thought.
Anyway, we enjoyed the restaurant and felt like we got an authentic NYC experience. I have no idea what we ate or how to pronounce it, or if it was a meat, a vegetable, or a wine, but it was delicious. Next time you're up on eighth avenue, be sure to check it out! L'ybane!

02 November 2014

Time Constraints

I had a lazy Sunday today and decided to check up on my blog. I was shocked to see that I haven't posted in over three months!? I checked and I'm still paying a monthly bill to my automatic blog writer so I'm now quite disappointed in him and yes, a lawsuit will be headed your way Mr. Ibrahimer of Sudan. I'm going to need that $10,000 back, plus interest! Anyway, I can sympathize with Mr. Ibrahimer because, well, sometimes life gets in the way of blog writing. For him it may be piracy; for me it's marriage, teaching, running, sawing, hopscotching, book binding, and table cloth sewing. There are just so many things that compete for my time and even though I see blog composing as fairly worthwhile, I can rarely justify its position above journal writing or talking on the phone with my family. Blog posting just keeps getting pushed aside for more appropriate tasks until you wake up one day and realize that you're paying a non-English speaker $10,000 a month to also not update your blog. I can't say this is necessarily a turning point because my busyness has not subsided, but perhaps it will act as a reminder that I am still alive and you can take down the "Missing" posters of my face that I've been seeing around the local library.
One hobby that's been keeping me occupied is running. I signed up for another half-marathon this year and I'll be competing in the Richmond (VA) half on November 15. That gives me about two weeks. Luckily, I didn't just start preparing. I started yesterday. Just kidding! In fact, I started running on September 15, two days after taking the GRE. In two months I've seen myself improve dramatically and I think I'm going to be well prepared for race day. That is, of course, if my replacement legs come in by then. You see, during the first week of training my legs got pretty tired and I realized that they were never going to keep it up for two months. Because of this I responded to an internet request made by an email acquaintance of mine, Prince Juhara of Senegal. Prince Juhara originally mistakenly emailed me- thinking I was a dear friend of his- asking for some money to get out of a sticky situation he was in. I replied and told him that I was regrettably not the friend he thought I was, but since he had 'prince' for a title I was immediately intrigued. Turns out he didn't have the email address of the friend in question, so I jumped up his friend list with just a few friendly emails and before I knew it he was enlisting my help!  I cannot express the honor I felt when he told me I was considered among his top 6 friends and that he had turned to me when he was in a pickle. I sent him the $8,000 he requested, but only with the guarantee of something in return. I'm no dumb investor. In return for the cash he promised to send me some prosthetic legs that he guaranteed would help me run 'faster than Usain Bolt.' What a great guy, that Prince Juhara. Once I learned that those were coming I pretty much just stopped training and dedicated my time to stalking the post office instead. They still haven't arrived but I'm feeling pretty confident in my new found best friend. Stay posted for the race results (not on my blog, but on the Richmond Half Marathon website).
Also, married life continues to be blissful. I'm loving it.