Nina's Stillwater Calendar

Monday, April 30

Just when I had decided to give up the news...

Well, I know I was determined to give up reading the news a few days ago. But then a DC madame let slip that the US coordinator for AIDS Policy, who supports abstinence and fidelity as the way to prevent the spread of diseases, uses prostitutes. Psychoanalysis of school shooters, news of mall shootings, car bombings, and other news are getting a little tired. Like I could TIVO a few choice hours of news each week and then keep replaying it with new names and places just dubbed in. I never hear anything new. And then people have the same completely inane debates about gun control, Iraq war policy, and...snore...oh, sorry, where was I? Oh yeah, the abstinence-only poster boy hiring prostitutes. Now that is entertainment. So I am back to reading the news.

Sunday, April 29

Time for Pre-Test Stressing!

I finished working over the mid-term and homework problems this morning and I just now finished the rest of my lecture notes. This leaves me with a few suggested problems I should still work, but I think it is not too early to get a head start on the stressing segment of my study schedule. After all, the test is only 11 hours away and I can't remember half of the stuff I have studied! This is the part of grad school where I freak out and convince myself I am going to fail and lose funding and get kicked out of school. Don't worry, it'll pass.

Saturday, April 28

Final Exam Study Time

Well, it is 9:26 on Saturday night and I am sitting at the computer in my office, occasionally looking fearfully over at my Topology book on my desk before suddenly remembering one more thing I wanted to look up or check and turning right back to the computer. Obviously, this time "one more thing" was my blog. I got through one month's worth of topology notes earlier today, but there is still another month left. And then working problems. And then memorizing theorems. And then pre-final stressing. That really is the order I do them in. It is good to have a systematic way to study for exams. It keeps you from stressing out the whole time. You just have an appointed time for it.

I noticed the Blog of the Day a few weeks ago and thought it was incredibly funny. So I kept reading it. And it is still funny. So if you like baby-related humor, check it out.

Tuesday, April 24

The Hypocrisy of "The Hypocrisy of..."

I keep telling myself to give up reading the news. It isn't insightful or informative or useful. But I keep going back and running right into pieces like this one by Navarrette. He begins by commenting on the hypocrisy of people who use the "w-word" while complaining about people who use the "w-word". He gives a hint as to what the "w-word" is, but I guess I am really dense because I just couldn't figure out what it was. That is, until he actually quoted the "w-word" that he was criticizing people for using when criticizing others who used it. Yes, this really is as incredibly stupid as it sounds. Here is an example from the column:

In arguing that offensive speech shouldn't be censored, Rich wrote that we should "let Bill O'Reilly talk about 'wetbacks.' ..." That is exactly how Rich wrote it -- wetbacks. So what that he was quoting someone else. That's no excuse. If that someone else had used the long version of the n-word, you had better believe that Rich would never have printed it in his column.

This all goes to illustrate just three things:
1. Navarrette is an idiot.
2. It is plain silly to expect adults to conduct a serious discussion about a word or term without ever using it.
3. I really should stop reading the news.

Pictures I used as part of my final presentation in Chinese class

My presentation was about Chinese character tattoos as sported by Americans. Most of the pictures come from The site is a blog run by a Chinese man living in America totally dedicated to stupid Chinese character tattoos. There are lots of funny or strange stories on the site. There was the guy with a rabbit character on his foot, for good luck (get it, rabbit foot?). And some guy that wanted to know what character meant "slut" so his wife could get it tattooed on her hip. I chose a few favorite categories of wierd character tattoos:

Hollywood-style stupidity:

Justin Timberlake as a drug dealer, an ice skating drug dealer:
Avril Lavigne promoting Hong Kong tour with "Japan's the best" on her arm:

"Professional" stupidity:

They look really bad and some aren't even right (look at page 5):

Chinese character fonts: These fall in two categories. The first is English-language fonts designed to look like Chinese characters. The other is made up of actual Chinese characters, or at least radicals, but randomly assigned to letters.

Psuedo-Chinese Font:
And Actual Chinese Used as English letters:
Resulting in: and

Silly Girls with lower-back advertising space: I guess they were sold out of "Get it Here" t-shirts so these girls went with something more permanent. (bu4 gan3 dang1)

Monday, April 23

Gift that keeps giving

A few weeks after my brother Zac died, a woman at church offered me some iris bulbs. I turned them down because I wasn't up to planting them. So she came over and planted them for me! Now every spring when the irises bloom I remember how wonderful it was to have someone plant flowers for me when I was too tired to do it myself.

Sunday, April 22

When French do better than Americans

I am not a fan of French anything. I think, as a group, they are cultural snobs. Of course, this is an excellent example of the pot calling the kettle black, but still. So I was dismayed to learn that France had an 84% turnout in their recent primary election. I couldn't find any good numbers for the American presidential primary and even if I could, they'd be a little skewed since votes made in states with late primaries literally have no impact. But I am guessing something way under 20%. Like 14%. Maybe. And France pulled out 84%. It is embarrassing.

Suicidal chickens

We had four chickens on Thursday. On Friday we only had three. Our neighbor said he has seen a chickenhawk around and we found feathers so we don't expect to see this chicken again. So we've been on the lookout for the hawk. And this morning I heard the flapping of large wings outside my window. I immediately looked out and saw three nervous looking chickens, all tensely poised to run, and all standing completely in the open. Nearby was a tree and a coop, both much safer places to avoid a chickenhawk. But the chickens remained in the most dangerous possible place they could, worrying about the chickenhawk.

Friday, April 20

God and Guns

Lots of people lately have had a lot to say about gun rights. Great! We can have an informative discussion about the benefits and dangers of widespread availability of guns while will lead to a well-thought out national policy. So here are a few entries in the debate courtesy of that beacon of deliberative thought called CNN:

From the NRA: Who likes dead good guys? I'll tell you who. People who tramp on the Second Amendment, that's who. People who refuse to accept the self-evident truth that free people have the God-given right to keep and bear arms, to defend themselves and their loved ones.

Ah yes. The old debate standbys of calling the other side evil, seeing as how they like dead good guys, and claiming God's on your side. Because if there's anything God likes as much as peace, it's an automatic assault rifle. And the other side?

Some guy at UCLA: So let's just disregard all the hoopla about the race of the student responsible for the slayings. These students were not killed by a Korean, they were killed by a 9 mm handgun and a .22-caliber handgun.

Excellent riposte. We intimate that anyone who opposes gun control is racist by making an unjustified leap from "race of shooter is irrelevant" through "cultural background of shooter is irrelevant" all the way to "shooter doesn't matter, only guns". Apparently 9 mm handguns kill people. Perhaps we should try pre-sale self-esteem classes for all small caliber guns to help them deal with their inadequacy issues before we let them out into the real world.

Thursday, April 19

I care...I care not...I care...I care not...I care!

Scott and I started a "child-free" family home evening group a few weeks ago. When I first thought of it, I called it "adult-oriented", but I quickly realized that didn't sound the way I meant it to. Anyway, we invited some other people from church, couples and singles, who don't have kids to join our group. One of the women I invited is someone I really admire. She is brilliant, interesting, and just a joy to be around. So instead of saying something like "I would really like it if you could join us" I said something more like "We have this group and if you'd like to come you can". What I meant was "I really want you there" and what I conveyed instead was "I don't care if you come or not". It's sort of my modus operandi. When I like someone and think they are interesting, and invite them somewhere, and I really do want them there, I pretend I don't much care. Why? Is it fear of rejection? Fear that I'll sound weird? I have no idea. I used to do this to one of my brothers too. How mean is that? But I am working on it. So when I saw this woman yesterday I told her how much we missed her on Monday when she wasn't able to come.

Tuesday, April 17

Among the horror and carnage, this just stood out

Like many other college students around the country, I have been reading a bit about the Virginia Tech shooting. At least I am now. When I first saw it on the news yesterday I thought "Oh, another school shooting" and read something else. How cynical is that? But back to the shooting. It is horrific and saddening. And yet, in the middle of an article filled with horrifying and saddening details, this statement about a gun purchase stood out enough for a double take:

State police conducted an instant background check that probably took about a minute, the store owner said.

Maybe it is the mathematician in me, but an "instant" background check cannot take a minute. I mean, technically, it can't even take a second, but I don't mind stretching it that far. Even 15 seconds. But a minute? My dad won't even focus for 30 seconds while I try to explain a math concept. It really shouldn't be called an "instant" background check. Maybe we should call it "background checks while-u-wait". Or "minute-checks". Or perhaps "semi-useless minute-long exercise intended to give people a false sense of safety".

Asian girl

I went to dinner with asian girls and decided "when in rome..." applied. So here is a picture of our food! (For anyone who doesn't know, Asian girls take ALOT of pictures. I went on Fall Break vacation with a few once. Trust me. A lot of pictures. In particular, some of them take pictures of their food on special occasions.)

mobile blogging

i know this is a lame and boring picture, but it is just there to demonstrate that i am actually on a bus while i blog this. scott, being the wonderful husband that he is, bought me a new gadget...again. this time it is a samsung blackjack with a full qwerty keyboard and internet and everything. the only problem is my fat fingers hitting the wrong buttons all the time. but now i can blog from anywhere!

Thursday, April 12

Sick Me

Well, between my office-mate, my husband, and my dog, I guess I was going to catch something sooner or later. Now I have a sore throat, a sore tummy, and two new video games to tempt me to stay on the couch. Methinks this is not a good combination.

Wednesday, April 11

Sick Hubby, Sick Puppy

It is allergy season and Jessie and I can only watch as Scott and Murphy suffer through. Well, actually, we could try to be helpful. Jessie was in the living room cleaning Murphy so I figured I should follow her example and take care of Scott. I ask him what he would like to do. "Nothing." What would he like to eat? "Nothing." Drink? "Nothing." So I finally hand him a Wii Remote, a plate full of food, and a ginger ale. He eats and drinks everything and asks for seconds while playing for the next three hours. And then he wonders why I never include him when I make decisions.

Tuesday, April 10

Ditching Class

When I was an undergraduate I was a big proponent of ditching. If I could do the homework and pass the exams, why attend class? Of course, not every class worked this way, but many did and I worked very hard to ditch them consistently. Like Statics. I would attend once every three weeks right before the exam to find out when and where the exam review would be held. I would attend the review and then get an A on the exam. The there was Number Theory and Linear Algebra and C++. Oh wait. I went to C++. I just played on my laptop during class. But anyway, the point is that I ditched a lot of class.

But all that changed when I started grad school. Grad school is for serious students and I don't just ditch class because I feel like it anymore. At least, that's what I told myself on my first day of classes last year. It lasted for a few weeks. Since then I have very consistently ditched Combinatorics (Spring 06) and Intermediate Differential Equations (Fall 06). But I didn't have any easy classes like those this semester so I've had to go to class, like I'm paid to do. As a reward for my exemplary behavior this semester, today I treated myself to ditching Algebraic Geometry from 4:45 to 6:00. I don't know if this is the sort of positive reinforcement I ought to be trying.

Friday, April 6

Old Gadgets

Scott just bought me a new phone. I already had an rather nice pink Razr that I really liked. So I totally didn't need a new phone. But, as I explained to a friend who asked, Scott likes buying me new gadets and I like letting him. My new Blackjack will play Daily Show and music and radio and phone calls. Very sweet. All of this left me with figuring out what to do with my Razr. I have a pretty sweet deal going with my parents and in-laws. Scott and I buy new gadgets and dump our old (to us, anyway) gadgets on them. We don't have to go through the hassle of finding a buyer on eBay or something and they get both a reduced price on the equipment and a seller they trust (I hope). So I called Mom to offer my phone and some other accessories. A few hours later my Dad called to say he had talked to a guy at a Cingular store about changing to a new phone.

Now I love my parents and in-laws, but they generally don't know their way around technology. My mother-in-law needed to know which side of the CD is supposed to face-up and my mom once asked if she could borrow my credit card to make an online purchase because she was worried that hers might get stolen (thanks, mom). My dad, however, really doesn't do technology. And, frighteningly enough, neither do the people at Cingular stores. They are just there to sell stuff. And the Cingular guy told my Dad it would cost over $100 to switch my mom to using my phone, when it is actually free and doesn't require anyone even telling Cingular it happened. (Note: I suspect this is an effective, if completely dishonest, way to get an insurance policy on your phone after it is broken and then cash in on it immediately.) So my dad called sounding a little annoyed at the thought of spending over $100 to switch mom to a new phone. And I almost replied with something along the lines of "Dad, don't go talk to anyone ever again. Just do what I tell you to with your technology and don't ask questions!" I didn't say this of course because it isn't nice, but sometimes it would be soooo much easier than explaining.

It's Snowing

No really. It's snowing! Why?!? It was perfectly warm and beautiful and there is fruit on my trees and happy, happy chickens in the yard and I didn't close my windows for a couple of weeks because it was so nice. And right this very minute, snow is falling. This is so wrong.

Thursday, April 5

Blow Up Maps

We are learning about blowup maps in Algebraic Geometry. They take a perfectly nice plane into a copy of itself except at one point. At that point you get a whole line thrown in, with points corresponding to the different lines in the original plane that went through your point. So now your previously nice plane wraps around this line. This is supposed to be useful. I guess it is in the same way that a nifty piece of new software is cool. You know, the one that replaces the perfectly good version you were using for the sake of some bells and whistles that you don't even want and don't have time to learn to use because you are busy figuring out how to do the basic stuff that you used to be able to do but now can't figure out because all the buttons moved and once you do get the bells and whistles down they'll come out with a new version and then you'll have to start all over. Yeah, that's math class. Once I get blowups down they'll hit me from behind with some other insane construction.

Wednesday, April 4

Outsourcing just ruins the sense of community!

A once booming industry in Oklahoma has begun to crumble as production is moved to Mexico. It used to be you could go down to your local mom-and-pop run meth lab and get a few doses. They knew you and would maybe spot you a bit if you didn't have the cash. And if you couldn't pay them back, they would just let it go, no hard feelings. Now it's all big business what with crystal meth coming in from Mexico. You miss one payment and they blow up your car. Meth has really lost that local, human touch. At least, this is what a former meth lab operator told NPR for an article on the rise of crystal meth.

Sunday, April 1

The End of the Floods

On Thursday evening it had stopped raining for bit and the whole world was beautiful. There was a rainbow and a sunset and all the colors of the plants and buildings looked like someone had moved the hue saturation bar up a few clicks. We took a few pictures but none of them came close to showing how it looked right then.

We were outside this afternoon fixing our fountain pump and inspecting our fruit trees. Scott pointed out this cocoon in one of the nectarine trees. If you look closely, you'll see the little nectarines beginning to grow on the branch. I am excited about seeing what grows here.