Sunday, December 18, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Well I made it home! Look for more posts after the new year since most of the people who read this will be seeing me soon if you haven't already!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Finals Week

This is what my desk looked like yesterday.

Yes, all of those candy wrappers are mine, and yes, that is from one day. Sugar helps me study.

I took my last final yesterday and had my grades approved today, so I'm officially finished with the semester!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

About That Time

You may guess that the title of this post is referring to the fact that it's about time for another blog post, which may be true, but it's also about the time for this semester to be over. Next week is finals week! I will be busy grading, studying, grading, taking exams, packing, and grading. I have to give a final, grade it, meet with my mentor to have my grades approved, study for and take 2 finals, complete a take-home final, and pack all before Thursday at noon. But it will all be worth it because this time next week I'll be in Indiana!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Far Side

Last time I was home someone (Cassie) gave me some Far Side books and here are some of my favorites:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Math Stats

This is a homework assignment I recently completed for STA 673 - Mathematical Statistics I. There are a few things I'd like to point out:
  • While it is 7 pages long, there are only 5 questions. If you think this is's not. This is the final write up. The first time I tried these problems, I used 12 pages.
  • The first problem took three pages (and a little of the fourth).
  • For problem #1, if I had not written the preliminary results, I would have had to integration by parts 14 times! In case you don't know what integration by parts is, this is a ridiculous amount of times for one problem.
Today we had a test in this class. No calculator was required/necessary. On the test, I proved some stuff (one of the things was that E(Y) = E(E(X|Y))), wrote a paragraph, and drew some pictures among other things. This is just a taste of what I'm studying. In case you were wondering this is my most difficult class and the fun continues next semester with STA 674 - Mathematical Statistics II!

Friday, November 25, 2011


Here's wishing you all had turducken and cherpumple for Thanksgiving.

I gave this presentation about cherpumple for my professional development class a couple weeks ago. Also, before you click on the link you should know that I'm quite possibly the worst artist in the world. Consider yourself warned.

Since my artwork is so bad, here are some of the pictures of the cherpumple I made about a year ago.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blindfold Cubing

Last night, for the first time, I successfully solved my 2x2 Rubik's cube blindfolded. Well, I wasn't actually blindfolded, but I had my eyes closed the entire time.

Blindfold solving isn't as hard as is sounds. Once you learn the method, which is surprisingly easy with only 2 main algorithms and a handful of shorter setup moves, it's a matter of memorizing orientation and permutation.
So for my first successful solve, this is what I memorized: (020) (1002) (68) (5175). And that's it. Really! Each of the numbers corresponds to a specific setup move and algorithm, so when you are blindfolded (or in my case have your eyes closed) you know what to do. I've been working on this for a couple weeks, so it's nice for it to finally pay off!

Since you brought up cubing, here are some of the others I've solved:

3x3 Rubik's Cube
(yes I have the nerdy else are you going to display it?!?!)
4x4 Rubik's Cube aka Rubik's Revenge
(this one has the stand makes my desk looks organized)

5x5 Rubik's Cube aka Professor Cube
(I have a stand for this one...even though it's not shown in the picture)
MegaMinx Puzzle aka Dodecahedron aaka 12 sided 3D shape
(no stand for this one, in fact, it's not even mine! Believe it or not, I solved everything but the last face with no outside help.) 

QuadCube aka "it'll drive you insane" at least that's what it says on the box.
 I actually did this one with no outside help (ie the internet).

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Really Delicious Pasta Dish

Today, for the second time, I made this really delicious pasta dish. It reminds me of macaroni and cheese, but there's no cheese in it. Here's the recipe:

Really Delicious Pasta Dish

What You Need:
4 quarts water
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 ounces macaroni
4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup butter
2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup water
1/4 cup raw cashews
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon paprika

What You Do:
In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
In a food processor, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 25 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup butter, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and about half of the cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth. The sauce should be the consistency of a cheese sauce.
In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 13 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bonus Problem

I put the following bonus problem the last test:
You have a 47 meter lead on a velociraptor that is catching you at a rate of 2 m/s. How long before you are caught and devoured?
Can you believe my students ask "When are we going to use this?"?!?!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

5 airports in 5 days

I know what you're thinking...I must really like airports. The truth is last minute tickets are hard to find (not to mention expensive!) Despite the circumstances, it was really good to be home and see everyone again. It was like a giant, never-ending family reunion, mostly because everyone was staying at my parent's house. All in all, it was a good trip and when I got back to Flagstaff, I was greeted with fresh snow!

In case you're curious, I the airports I visited are: Phoenix Sky Harbor, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, South Bend, and Phoenix Mesa Gateway.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin!

It's pumpkin season and I couldn't be more excited! Here's some of the pumpkin flavored items I've either made or enjoyed (or both!) the past couple of weeks:
Pumpkin Smoothie
Cinnamon Vanilla Pumpkin Pancakes
Spicy Pumpkin Banana Bread

Otherwise Enjoyed:
White Chocolate Pumpkin Latte (made with real pumpkin and white chocolate chips...tastes like pumpkin pie in delicious hot beverage form)
Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Pumpkin Cake Roll
Harvest Pumpkin Spice Granola
Pumpkin Smash Jamba Juice
Pumpkin Pie Blizzard

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Math Skills

Since I've started grad school, I've noticed a significant increase in my advanced math skills at the expense of my simple math skills.
This basically sums up the turn my math skills have taken. For those that are curious, a diffeomorphism is a smooth map which has a smooth inverse. It's a topic usually discussed in algebraic topology.

When asking our math stats professor if we would need a calculator for the exam we took a couple weeks ago, he actually said "There probably won't be any numbers on it." He was true to his word. About the only numbers on it were the numbers to the problems. In case you don't believe me, here's a couple of problems from the latest homework.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Typical Tuesday

Have you ever wondered what I'm up to on a Tuesday at 1:00? Or maybe 4:30? Well wonder no more!
Welcome to the first in a series of posts about my daily activities.
A typical Tuesday starts like this...
7:15am Time to get up! I'm usually not that excited.
7:45am Arrive on campus and haul my bike up to my office
8:00am-9:15am Regression Analysis
9:20am Walk over to the Health and Learning Center
9:35am-10:50am Statistical Methods
11:15am-12:15pm Office Hours/Lunch Break/Homework Time
12:45pm-2:00pm Theory of Mathematical Statistics
2:10pm-3:00pm Professional Development
3:05pm Suppress the urge to get a Jamba Juice
3:07pm Walk to the Union to get a Jamba Juice
3:15pm-4:00pm Take the edge of doing homework by drinking my delicious Jamba Juice
4:00pm-5:00pm Colloquium
5:15pm-5:35pm Course Coordination Meeting
6:00pm Arrive back at the apartment
6:00pm Make dinner or find leftovers
Rest of the evening Do homework or, more likely, relax
Well, that's my typical Tuesday. Now you know.

Birthday II

Denise made this delicious cookie-cake for my birthday.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


As many of you may know, Sunday was my birthday and even though  my mom is almost 2000 miles away, she managed to get a party thrown for me, which was kind of nice...I guess.
It all started Saturday morning when Denise (one of the ladies from church) called and invited me over after church. I immediately suspected that my mom called her and told her it was my birthday. And I was right.
After the whole church sang to me during lunch, everyone got together at a park and had some pizza and cookie-cake for my birthday. It was actually really nice.
Come Monday, I got several cards and a package from the folks. Thanks to everyone who remembered my birthday :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This, That, and the Other Thing

When I was reviewing my notes for an upcoming test, I found this problem. We were asked a question that led to another question that led to more questions.
Given a random variable X, find a constant b such that b is a "good" estimate of X. This led to the question:  What is a good estimate? Well a good estimate is one in which the average distance between b and x is small. This leads one to ask: How small is small? and How to I measure distance?  And on and on...
This turned into an entire page proof which you should thank me for not posting :)

On a different (and less sad) note, here's a worksheet that my MAT 114 students did last week. With little formal training in probability, you might be able to answer a question or two.

Again, completely unrelated to anything else in this post, I rolled my ankle on Sunday. I haven't rolled it this bad since 5th grade when I fell (more like the rope I was swinging on broke) down from the hay bales. Anyway, my foot's been practically a rainbow of colors. First it was green, then blue, and how it's kind of purple. The swelling is almost gone and today I could finally walk normally.

I know it doesn't look like it in the picture, but the whole ankle region is a blueish-greenish-purple color. Also I do not normally have's swelling.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

An Eventful Weekend

My weekend was pretty eventful. Not all the events were good and most of them weren't exciting, but there were many (hence eventFULL)

I'll start on Friday Night:
I got back from school around 6 and made sweet potato fries to go with left over chicken stir fry. Then I had a nice video chat with mom and dad. Then I went to the store to buy ingredients for Banana Chip Cookies (which feature banana chips, chocolate chips, and toasted wheat germ) and pick up a few other groceries.  
Three grocery stores later (yes I went to four grocery stores in one evening!) I found banana chips. Who knew they would be so hard to find. I went to Walmart, New Frontiers Natural Market (I thought for sure they would have them in the bulk section), Safeway (like a Save A Lot), then finally Bashas (like a Kroger). I was so happy to find banana chips and to end my grocery store shopping spree (I may or may not have purchased something at each store.) When I got back what felt like hours later (it felt like hours because it was an hour and a half), I made cookies. On a completely unrelated note, I thought this only happened in Bluffton, but when I was at Walmart, I randomly saw one of the GTAs I share an office with.
What a night! Next time I get invited to play Bar Golf, maybe I should go :)

I slept in until 8 then I did some cleaning. I washed up some dishes and swept the kitchen. Then I tidied my room and cleaned off my desk. Remember when I said not all the events were exciting? This is what I meant.
Anyway, the main reason I cleaned off my desk is so that I could use it to study. I have two homework assignments and a test next week, and I need to write a test for the class I teach. So most of Saturday was spent doing homework or studying for my Theory of Mathematical Statistics midterm. If I had to describe how I feel about the impending exam in one word it would be terrified. My only solace is that everyone else feels the same way. So that's nice...I guess.
I've got all the essentials: notes, homework, scratch paper...most of it already scratched on, highlighter, book, pencil, pot of tea, can of compressed air, etc.
When 10 o'clock rolled around, I was not at all tired like I usually am, so I stayed up studying and writing an exam. An hour later, I'm still wide awake. It could be the copious amounts of tea I drank (at least 6 cups but whose counting?) but I'm not convinced. So after another hour and a half (it's after midnight now) I finally got tired and went to bed.

When I tried to leave for church Sunday morning, my car wouldn't start. It just made this clicking noise. I don't have jumper cables and also there was no one even beginning to stir at 8:30 on a Sunday morning (they were probably all our last night playing bar golf!) to give me a jump even if I had cables. So I popped the hood and sure enough the battery looked pretty old and really crusty. 

Before buying a new battery, I thought it was a good idea to at least try and clean the connections of the one I had. Like half an hour later I got the bolts off so I could clean it. It took so long because I don't have a wrench and as I previously mentioned, it was pretty crusty. This was all for naught because the car still wouldn't start. 
None of my roommates are up yet, so I rode my bicycle a mile down the road to Walmart to buy a new battery. I knew car batteries were heavy, but I forgot how heavy. As I was struggling to carry the battery from the furthest back corner of the store to the checkout, I wondered how on earth I was going to get the stupid thing home. I'm happy to report that I only almost fell over once. Also the ride was really wobbly because as I would ride the battery would swing back and forth on the handle bars and throw off the weight distribution, but I made it. After another half hour or so, I got the new battery installed and presto! It started right up.
It's a little taller than the old battery, so I can't get the metal brace to fasten over the top. I also had to kind of smash on the plastic battery cover, but I'm calling it good. 
By now it's around 10 so I pretty much missed church. It's times like these that I miss my Dad. He could have got me running in much less time with much less frustration.
Anyway, since I missed church, I decided to take the old battery back to Walmart along with the set of wrenches that I bought that were the wrong size. Sadly, I couldn't find my receipt. It must have fallen out of my pocket on the ride back. 
I still wanted to go to church, so I decided to go to a church in Flagstaff. After a quick google search, I picked a church pretty much at random and was on my way. When I get there everyone was standing and the singing had started. The first thing I noticed was that one of the members of the worship team looked just like Luke. Red hair, beard, similar build and facial features. He was even wearing a shirt that looks like a shirt Luke has and had rolled up the sleeves like Luke does. For a second I really thought it was him. But it wasn't...obviously.
After a couple of songs, we all sat down and then I saw the rest of the worship team, one of whom looked like Matt, my boss. And in fact, it was Matt. What are the odds? 
After I got back from church, I studied some more.
As you can see, I've really gotten serious by getting a dry erase board involved :)
Then I took a break from studying to write this blog post...which took a while. In case you haven't noticed, it's kind of long.
After supper, I went to play volleyball. I'm a club team and we had two games tonight.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Last night Flagstaff got it's first snow of the season! It continued periodically throughout the day. So far, it has only stuck on the mountains, which is beautiful although it was a bit of a chilly bike ride to campus today :)

So anyway today in my class, my students were taking a quiz when someone in the hall yells "It's snowing!" Immediately the entire class stops working on the quiz and cranes their necks to look out the windows. Apparently some of them had never seen snow before. I felt like an elementary school teacher when I had to remind them that they were taking a quiz.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Things I learned this week

  1. You can get pulled over while riding a bicycle
  2. Staying at the office to work on homework until 8pm is, in fact, less fun than it sounds
  3. Abuelita hot chocolate is perfect on a chilly evening
  4. I always buy more things than are on my list when I go to the store
  5. It occasionally snows in October in Flagstaff
  6. The (2nd most and 3rd most) ginormous hills I have been biking up every day can be avoided by taking a different (and shorter!) route
  7. Homemade oatmeal wheat bread is delicious
  8. My normal walking is quiet enough to startle a blind person
  9. The microwave in our office makes odd pigeon/dying cat noises when microwaving certain tupperwares
  10. Marco does a really good pigeon impression

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Power Outage

So yesterday I had too much work to do (grading mainly) that I didn't really do anything fun until...the power went out.
Actually I didn't really do a lot of fun stuff then either. Here's basically how my day went:
Get up around 8 and make some delicious eggs.
Start grading.
Take a break around noon to go to the Math Department Annual Picnic (it rained).
Go to my office to finish grading.
Finish grading and reward myself with a Jamba Juice (Pumpkin Smash if you must know).
Finish the PowerPoint for my class for next week and start making a worksheet.
Go back to my apartment. I was there for literally 5 minutes before the power went out. By this time of day (or night) it was dark outside, which means it was dark inside too. I decided to go back on campus to get some more work done (and so I could microwave my supper).
Arrive back in the office and microwave then ravenously devour my supper.
Start the assignment for Professional Development Seminar (the class is as "fun" as it sounds).
Play racquetball with Marco who just happened to also be in the office on a Saturday evening (yes we have no lives).
Finish the assignment for PDS (surprisingly, I've never called it PDS before).
Go back to the now electrified apartment where my smoke detector has started beeping periodically, much to my roommates' annoyance.
Steal the battery from my clock and put it in the smoke detector.
Miscellaneous nighttime rituals.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Walnut Canyon

Today I drove out to Walnut Canyon and did some hiking and sightseeing. The Island trail is a really steep 1 mile loop with lots of stairs. It goes down into the canyon and you can see some cliff dwelling rooms where the Indians used to live. The Rim Trail is an easier .7 mile trail that runs along the rim of the canyon. I did both trails in addition to going to the visitor center. Bonus: I had no idea before I decided to go, but today was a fee free day in honor of National Public Lands Day. What are the odds?!?!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Can you pass MAT 114?

This is the exam I gave to my MAT 114 students on Monday. They had 50 minutes.
Exam 1
How'd you do? The average in my class was around 77%. It took about 4.5 hours to write but only 1.5 hours to grade.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Thought-Provoking Question

What would you call the milk that's been poured on cereal? Is it a broth, sauce, or beverage?

Since I'm the instructor of a course, I have to have office hours so that if my students have questions, there are designated times that I'm in my office and they can come talk to me. But I'm teaching a lower division course and students never come to office hours, so it's basically time that I have to be in my office but no one comes with questions (I promise this is relevant to the above question.)
Today was one such day. Alex and I were sitting in our office during office hours and he brought up this question. So he and I (and Ian for a while) debated it and came to no agreeable conclusion. So we decided to put the blackboard in the office to good use. This is what we came up with:
So in conclusion, the milk that's been poured on cereal can be a beverage and/or a sauce but not a broth. Mystery solved, crisis averted.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Friends :)

So I thought I'd freak you all out by starting with this picture. It's at the Grand Canyon.
Anyway, Natalie and Marissa came to visit for the weekend. It was so much fun having friends!
We did some hiking in Williams, did some shopping in the downtown area, and went to the Grand Canyon.

Yes that's me. Yes they straightened my hair. Yes it took forever!

We randomly saw this elk when we were walking along the rim back to the car. It literally came out of nowhere!
If these clouds look ominous, it's because they were. We got caught in a giant thunderstorm at the Grand Canyon. There was hail and everything. Luckily...

we found this ledge to wait out the storm under.

Step 1: Find some random wheel barrows along the trail
Stem 2: Wonder inwardly (or outwardly) why there are wheel barrows along the trail
Step 3: Take funny picture

If you haven't been to the Grand Canyon, you should. It's amazing!

At the top of Bill Williams Trail. In case you didn't know, this is what Northern Arizona typically looks like.

Still at the top of Bill Williams Trail. This one's kind of dark, but the clouds are cool.

Downtown at Criollo Latin Kitchen.