Nina's Stillwater Calendar

Monday, December 31

Happy New Year

The New Year is almost here. My New Year's resolution is to regularly write witty stories in my blog. Of course, when I put it like that it sounds like homework, only with more frequent deadlines. So when I go to write I'll be feeling guilty for procrastinating and too boring to do a good job so I'll procrastinate some more until the guilt is overwhelming and then I'll write a lousy post that isn't even funny and spend the next week feeling embarrassed that anyone ever saw it. I know because this is how I do my homework. So, to start off the year right...

We don't have TV and I don't listen to much radio (typed as Prairie Home Companion streams out of my speakers) so my primary only exposure to current political shenanigans comes from watching Daily Show online. Since the writer's strike began, I have plunged into a political blackout. I'm not really complaining, but primaries are coming up sometime soon so I thought I'd go look up some shenanigans. Did you know Mitt Romney's great-grandfather had five wives? Yeah? Well my great-grandmother had five husbands and her mom had four. It's true. Can Mitt Romney's great-grandfathers top that? Didn't think so. :P

Friday, December 21

My Mom Rocks (Again)

Tonight my Mom and Dad picked us up and we drove to Woolaroc to visit the museum and see the Christmas lights. We exchanged Christmas presents last week because my parents are going out of town for Christmas, but my Mom had an encore present to give me tonight. She called and emailed my friends and acquaintances and got people to say lots of nice things about me. Then she printed each story or compliment out and wrapped it around an Andes mint with a bow and put them all in a jar for me. No seriously. My mom really did that. Isn't she wonderful? Of course, then she threatened to give me a singing snowman. It's nice to know she's still my Mom.

Post-Semester Manic Depressive

The end of every semester follows exactly the same arc. I spend about 5 manic days cleaning and cooking and organizing. Followed by 3 vegetative days watching TV, surfing the Net, and eating chocolate chip cookies. I am on day 3 of TV. I don't actually have television so I've had to find alternatives. I could go rent a movie but that involves getting in the car and driving somewhere which I don't do during my post-semester vegetative stage. So I signed up for a free trial of Netflix which comes with 17 hours of online watching. I watched the first season of 30 Rock yesterday on Netflix. The second season isn't on DVD yet, so today I'm watching it on NBC's website. So I don't even have to move from the couch to the chair when I switch from watching TV to surfing. As an extra bonus, someone brought me tins full of chocolate covered cherries and pretzels, frosted sugar cookies, and orange-flavored gummies. So I've had a little more variety than the usual chocolate-chip cookies. I keep thinking sitting all day watching TV and eating chocolate ought to start making me feel bad. But somehow the post-semester vegetative funk never bothers me. It's the only time I can do this totally guilt free. I love it. I would write some more, but I have 5 episodes of 30 Rock left. I am just too busy to stay and chat.

Tuesday, December 18

Lesson of the Day courtesy of Astronomy

From an article detailing recent discoveries made by astronomers:

Tyson said there are two main lessons to be learned from what the telescopes have found:

"This is a reminder that you are not alone in the universe. You are not isolated. You are not an island."

And "avoid black holes when you can."

Sunday, December 16


A week ago I was chatting with a possible new neighbor (assuming that we ever actually move) and he expressed his family's (read: his kids') delight that two dogs might soon be residing next door. As he said, "There the best kind of dogs. They play with your kids and then you send them home." I responded, "That's funny. That's exactly how I feel about kids." I love playing with kids and I love handing them back to their parents. Which is why I love church. During Sacrament, I play with Emmaline and Bryan Jennings who are 1 and 5. During Sunday school I get Tacoma McAllister, who is still a baby. Then I only have to spend 45 minutes during Relief Society pretending to pay attention to a lesson. Today Tacoma was tired so she started fussing. She start crying and then change her mind and then think about it for awhile until she decided she really was in a bad mood and then go back to crying. I took her out in the hallway to walk until she calmed down. She kept crying and crying until suddenly, during a pause to take a breath, her head fell forward. She was out. I handed her back to her mother and she spent Relief Society snoring quietly in her car seat.

Friday, December 14

The Heavens Open Again, Maybe

I just finished my last final and as I walked out into the cool crisp air the same heavy fog that has been hovering over Oklahoma since last week was still there, but it looked a lot prettier than it did before the final. No drizzle or ice marred my moment. And snow is promised for tonight. Before finals, snow means difficulty traveling and extra stress. After finals, it means I get to snuggle up at home with cocoa and not do anything remotely useful. I love snow!

Wednesday, December 12

Seen while shopping online

Suggested Retail Price55.00
Our Price54.99

Monday, December 10

Someone Else is Having a Miserable Day

The plant is called a corkscrew rush, seen here in a less challenging environment. It likes to sit in water and the barrel holds a small pond and fountain. So normally, it is a reasonably happy plant. I am guessing this is not what the corkscrew rush means when it requests plenty of water. While it may be having a miserable day, I think the results are beautiful. Why is it that I always delight in others' misery and pain?

A Miserable Day

Today is Monday of Final's Week at Oklahoma State University. Just imagine for a moment that you are taking an 8am history exam. After nearly 2 hrs of struggling to remember how the political policies of Prussia affected WWI, you turn in the exam booklet completely demoralized. And the moment that should be the highlight of your day, walking out of the exam into the fresh crisp outdoor air, has betrayed you. You walk out to sidewalks covered in ice and slip on fall flat on your back while your papers scatter over the ground. As you lay there on the cold ground with a suddenly sopping wet back end, the heavens open and down comes, not God's mercy, but the drizzling monotony of freezing rain. Now, how do you feel about your life at this moment? So perhaps this wasn't the story of my morning. After all, I don't have any history classes. But walking through that drizzly rain while slipping and praying I wouldn't wind up flat on my back, I had some empathy for whoever's story it was.

Friday, December 7

Mitt Romney: Mormon for President

Republicans finally get an intelligent, articulate, personable, successful, and good-looking person with a beautiful and close-knit family to run for their presidential nomination. And all they can talk about is the fact that he's Mormon. There are news articles detailing the political contributions from Utah. There are news articles detailing bits of obscure Mormon doctrine, that I, as a practicing Mormon, had never even heard of. There are news articles on underwear. Reading these obscure bits in the news is boring enough for me, a believer. Why would anyone else care? Has the writers' strike really cut that deeply into American entertainment options?

The gist of all these news articles is 1) Mormons are weird; and 2) Conservative Republicans won't vote for Mormon-style weird. For the first point, no journalist pulling up obscure bits of doctrine that nobody really cares much about can possibly grasp how truly weird Mormons are. We sit through 3 hours of (often boring) church services every Sunday. We don't drink coffee even during finals week. We donate 10% of our money to the church instead of going on a Spring Break ski trip like every normal college student. Many of us drop everything for two years to go to rural Brazil, learn Portuguese, and teach people about Christ. And, as anyone who has ever chosen to be baptized as a Mormon and then changed their mind already knows, we show up smiling on the doorsteps of people we don't even know wanting to see how they're doing. Journalists sitting at their desks googling "Mormon" have no idea what weird is.

For the second part, well, they may be right. There may be people who won't vote for Obama because he's black or Clinton because she's a woman, but at least they know saying so is completely beyond the pale. In the Republican primary however, any religion question is apparently fair game. From the debates we've learned who believes in creationism and who believes the Bible. (yawn.) There's a news story about Mitt Romney's taste for Vanilla Coke and whether good Mormons can drink Coke. (I don't personally think so. I stick to Dr. Pepper.) There was even a reporter's question about his sex life. (If there is one thing I am pretty sure I don't ever want to know about my President again, it's the details of his or her sex life.) Then there's Mike Huckabee calling himself a "Christian leader" and claiming that real evangelicals have to vote for him. Which seems to be working.

So, while a Democrat like me won't be voting in the Republican primary, I feel a little torn about the outcome. As a Mormon, I'd like to think that this country has gotten past the sort of religious bigotry that would keep Mitt Romney from getting the Republican nomination just because he's a Mormon. (Sort of the same way I'd like to think that evangelicals have developed enough to tact to stop trying to "save" Mormons by telling them they are going to Hell.) On the other hand, I happen to think many conservatives really are religious bigots (and haven't developed much tact either) and I'd like for them to reaffirm my personal prejudices by voting that way. So the Republican primaries are bound to make me happy either way. Too bad that probably won't be the case in the general election.

Thursday, December 6

Favorite Quotes of the Semester from Lecture

That's life in a Banach space.

I have to define what I mean by "is". One of our presidents is famous for saying something like that. Anyway...

Go to bed with Hungerford. Get romantic with Lang.

The last quote is my favorite. By the way, Hungerford and Lang are textbooks (name is the author's). Hungerford is generally regarded as a better textbook for a student learning the material for the first time. But once you've learned the material, you'll never pick up Hungerford again. Lang, on the other hand, will be with you forever.

Tuesday, December 4

(Failing to) Measure Up

I mentioned my anti-Ken Jennings leanings (remember that guy who kept winning Jeopardy?) once before and my subesequent conversion. I was worried when I started reading his blog that the good posts were a fluke and pretty soon I'd be subjected to boring trivial facts. Perhaps he'd even do one fact for each letter in order like some chick did in her speech at my high school graduation. Right down to Y and Z. I nearly cried. But a month later and Ken Jennings' blog is consistently funny and informative. And he's rich. He's got me totally beat. Which is okay. My self-esteem can survive being less cool than some trivia nerd. Really, it can. What I'm struggling with now is measuring up to a chimp. According to recent studies, a 5-yr-old chimp can consistently beat college students at a computerized memory game. By consistently, I mean the chimp solved it 80% of the time compared to 40% for the college students. After they practiced. Following this brutal beating to my self-image, I have to go present a tricky proof this afternoon in front of three of my professors. My self-esteem is sure to be a twitchy puddle by 4:30.

Monday, December 3

Mother, the Martyr

My mom was talking to a friend today and recommended she read my blog if she wanted a laugh (Aw, how sweet, a compliment. I hope.) and offered to send her friend a link to it. Her friend accepted the offer so my mom went to the computer, wrote off a short little email including the link, and sent it off to her friend. Actually, I made that last part up. She called me, told me about her conversation and asked me to send the link. Because that is so much easier. For her.

This reminds me rather strongly of the time my mom wanted to buy something online and called me: "I'm worried about my credit card number getting stolen, but it's a really good deal. Can I use your credit card instead and just pay you back?" Or the time she wanted to get rid of boxes of stuff like my Dad's elementary school report cards that she had saved for 20 years and insisted I take them home with me: "I saved this stuff for 20 years. It's your turn now." Or the time she gave me a 3' tall singing animatronic Grinch doll for Christmas and then pouted about all the time and effort she put into getting it for me when I didn't want it.

Disclaimer: None of the above statements are intended to imply that my mother is anything less than wonderful. Because she is wonderful. As I am sure she will be sure to remind me as soon as she reads this post. (Hi, Mom!)

Sunday, December 2

I am an idiot

The women's group at church held a retreat last Friday night. By "retreat", I mean a slumber party where a bunch of women enjoyed soaking their feet with salt scrub and painting their toenails, staying up playing games and laughing, and sleeping in late. All of which is well and good, but I am getting to the idiotic part. One of the women at the retreat I've known for five years, ever since she moved to Stillwater. We were visiting teaching companions for awhile, but I didn't really like her very much. She wasn't awful, but I whenever I was around her I felt like I wasn't measuring up. And I thought she was a little boring. So for the next five years my interactions with her consisted of "Hi." and "How are you?" For Five Years. And somehow, in all that time, it never occurred to me that I might see people differently at 26 than I did at 21. Or that she had just gotten married and moved when I met her and maybe she was just getting comfortable here. Or that I am sometimes a self-centered brat and perhaps I shouldn't judge people badly just because they happen to notice. I never really thought about any of that. Until Friday night when I learned she's interesting, and thoughtful, and very funny. And incidentally, she's planning to move soon. So, to sum it up, I have been ignoring an interesting and funny woman at church every Sunday for five years just because I decided when I was 21 that I didn't really like her all that much. Yeah, I am an idiot.