Sunday, November 11, 2012

Snow!

Flagstaff and the surrounding areas got a nice sprinkling of snow this week. It's beautiful. Hopefully it will be a good skiing year.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lunchables

Those of you that know me very well know that I really really like pizza lunchables. I simply can't help myself. The sad truth is that lunchables are not very good for you. They are full of preservatives and have little nutritional value. But they are so tasty!

So I decided to make my own lunchables that were both delicious and healthy. And I succeeded :)



Whole wheat pitas
Pizza Sauce
"Off the Block" Mozzarella Cheese
Fresh Yellow Bell Peppers
Turkey Pepperoni
Sprinkling of Oregano

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Longboarding

A couple of weeks ago I bought this longboard (it was on sale at the time.) For those of you who are unfamiliar with longboards, they are basically long skateboards. They are great for going really fast downhill, cruising around, and transportation. I bought mine mostly for transportation. Parking permits at school are upwards of $400, which I think is ridiculous. So I did not buy one. As such, I usually park off campus about .5 to .75 miles from school. It usually takes about 15 minutes to walk to the math building. This is kind of long and I get tired of doing it every day. So out of laziness, I bought a longboard.

Enough of that. I use my longboard to:

Get the mail



Take out the trash



Ride down to Big 5 and back for fun


View Larger Map

And of course, ride to school

video

Overall it rides really well. So far I can't really do anything cool except not fall off, which is a big improvement from the first day I took it out. I went from stumbling and sending the board into the bushes and  wiping out right in front of the library to riding smoothly while cutting my commute in half (and having fun!)

I feel pretty confident pushing (standing with one foot on the board and the other foot propelling the board by pushing along the ground) but I'm learning how to pump (propelling the board without your feet leaving the board by shifting your weight and turning).

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Carrot Cake

Today I made this Carrot Cake. The cake is sweetened with dates and bananas rather than sugar and the cream cheese frosting is sweetened with maple syrup. I added some vanilla, butter, and cinnamon to the frosting to add some extra flavor. I'd never cooked with or even seen dates before. I was able to find some at a local farmers market. They were very sticky with a seed inside that looks kind of like a pecan.

Dates. Very sticky and sweet.

The inside of a date. Who knew?

Flour, cinnamon, & baking powder; carrots &bananas; dates & butter

I may have licked some batter from the bowl :)

Yum!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Visitors

Last week Cassie, Marissa, and Natalie came to visit for a week.

We started off the trip by backpacking in the Grand Canyon. This was an awesome experience. We hiked Grandview Trail to Horseshoe Mesa. It was a grueling, steep, rocky 3 miles and 2500 vertical feet from the rim to the campsite. Then it was an additional 3/4 mile to Page Spring, the nearest water source.








View of Horseshoe Mesa (Flat green area shaped like a horseshoe) from the Rim. Yes we hiked that far!

The rest of the week was much more relaxing. Dinner at Pita Jungle (a truly Flagstaffean restaurant), plate-sized cinnamon rolls, chillin downtown, minigolf, pool, ping pong, hot tub at the resort.






Sunday, September 16, 2012

Teaching

This semester I'm teaching STA 270 Applied Statistics. It's definitely a step up from the class I taught last year in several ways. First, it's quite a bit more work (or a step up in the number of hours I spend preparing for class.) The class I taught last year was very structured. We pretty much were provided a day by day summary of what material we were supposed to cover and were provided weekly quizzes over whatever we were supposed to cover that week. 270, however, is not as structured. We were given a book and told to cover chapters 1-11. And that was it! It's completely up to each instructor how in depth to go with the material, what to skip, and how much time we spend on each topic. Secondly, it's much more fun! Last year I had to cover topics like the equation of a line. You know, y = mx + b. We also did some elementary graph theory. This year it's all statistics, all the time! Thirdly, the caliber of students is a little higher. Last year I had 80-90% freshman. Freshman sort of get a bad rap for being irresponsible and unprepared, which is not far from the truth. This year I have very few freshman and quite a few upperclassmen. This is nice because by the time you are a Junior or Senior in college you know how things work. You know you need to go to class, turn in your homework, etc. Upperclassmen tend to participate in class more, have learned that instructors like it when people laugh at their nerdy math jokes, and don't just stare at the instructor looking terrified.

I am giving the first exam in my classes next week. Here are some review problems I created. Number 6 was inspired by Luke!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nibbly Buckwheat Cookies

I saw this recipe a few months back and have been wanting to make it ever since. I made several modifications, notably using different flours and adding cranberries and nuts.






They were pretty easy to make. Standard cookie dough then roll into a log and refrigerate. When chilled, take them out and slice and bake. The result is a delicious shortbread-like cookie with bits of chocolate, cranberries, and nuts. Yum!

Nibbly Buckwheat Cookies

3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 cup rye flour
1/8 cup flaxseed meal (ground flaxseeds)
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Whisk flours (and flax) together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a medium bowl, beat the butter with the sugar and salt for about 1 minute, until smooth and creamy but not fluffy. Mix in the cranberries, walnuts, chocolate and vanilla. Add the flours and mix just until incorporated. Scrape the dough into a mass and, if necessary, knead it with your hands a few times, just until smooth.

Form the dough into a 12 by 2 inch log. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or, preferably overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper.

Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place the cookies at least 1 1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

Bake until the cookie are just beginning to color at the edges, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking. Cool the cookies in the pans on a rack, or slide the parchment liners carefully onto the rack to free up the pans. Let cool completely. The cookies are delicious fresh but even better the next day. They can be stored in an airtight container for at least one month.

Makes forty-eight 2 1/2-inch cookies.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Video Tour II: New Year New Place

This is another video tour. I moved to a new apartment and it's really nice. I mostly wanted to show it off :)

One thing I forgot to mention in the tour is our washer/dryer. It's one unit that both washes and dries. It's pretty bizarre. I thought about redoing the video, but it started raining so I decided not to.

I like living here so much more than where I lived last year. It's nice just having one roommate rather than three. My roommates name is Laura. She's getting a masters degree in literature and is a graduate teaching assistant (like me!) that teaches English classes (not like me!) I think it will be a great year.

video

Sunday, August 26, 2012

School Starts Tomorrow

Note: I want to be more consistent with blog updates so I plan to update every Sunday and maybe in between if something extraordinary happens.

School starts tomorrow {sigh}. I'm somewhere between looking forward to it and dreading it. Tomorrow I have Interest Theory at 12:40 and then I teach STA 270 Applied Statistics at 3 (and again at 4:30.) I spent some time last week making a syllabus as well as several chapters worth of PowerPoints. Here's the one I'm going through tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer's Over... Blogging's Back!

A new post can mean only one thing: summer is over and school is starting soon (if it hasn't already!)

Hope you all had a great summer. I sure did. I was having such a good time, I didn't have time for updating the blog! I'm sure you all were too busy to read it anyway. 

I was in Colorado this summer interning as a data analyst at Seagate Technologies. You may have heard of them. They make hard drives for computers and other electronics. There's a good chance you're using a Seagate hard drive right now as you're reading this! Anyway I loved work. I loved my coworkers, the people I lived with, the Denver church, all the fun things one can do in Colorado. I loved it all. And now it's over. But there is a good chance Seagate will offer me a full time job when I graduate, which would be awesome.

I'm back in Flagstaff now and school starts next week but I don't want to talk about that. Instead here's some of what I did this summer:

Play outdoor chess in the rain at the mall with brother. Also drive brother to and from Wyoming in the middle of the night.

Go climbing in Vedauwoo. Best climbing ever. Also the most fun I had all summer (and I had a lot of fun this summer!)

Hike a 14er. Grays Peak: 14,278 feet.
Note: A 14er is one of the 50 some peaks in Colorado with elevation 14k feet or more. 

Go paddleboarding.

Make delicious treats like this blueberry panna cotta.



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Characterizing Candy

It's finals week and I'm really missing candy so I made s'mores cookies and to keep from eating all five dozen I brought some to school. There was some debate between my office-mates about whether or not cookies are candy. Clearly, they are not and this brought up the need for a characterization of candy. So here's how I would characterize candy.

Candy is an edible substance that satisfies three or more of the following properties:
(1) beloved by the majority of children
(2) consists mostly of sugar
(3) commonly given to children at Halloween
(4) commonly found in the candy section of the candy aisle
(5) brightly colored


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Summer Plans

I finally know what I'm going to be doing this summer and I'm really excited about it!

I got an internship at Seagate Technology in Longmont, Colorado. Seagate is a world leading manufacturer of hard drives for computers and other electronics. My official job title is Data Analyst V. I'm not exactly sure what the V stands for but I'll basically be analyzing reliability and performance data and trying to determine factors that can improve reliability and performance as well as reducing the variability of these factors in the manufacturing process.

I'm really excited about this internship for several reasons. This is the type of work (statistical analysis and/or predictive modeling) I want to do when I graduate. Seagate is a really cool company and working with hard drives is much more exciting than working with insurance. It's in Colorado which I think will be an excellent place to spend the summer.

I plan on driving to Denver the day after finals (Friday May 11th) and then flying to Indiana. I'll be in Indiana for a couple weeks and then the whole family is going to vacation in Denver for Memorial Day weekend. Luke and I will stay and everyone else will go back to Indiana. I'll start work on the Tuesday after Memorial Day and Luke starts at his job at an outfitter a couple hours north of Denver the week after that.

The next couple weeks will be crazy with finals and packing/moving but I really wanted to be home for Mother's Day because, well, my mom is awesome :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

$20 well spent

A few weeks ago I bought a creme brulee (or crème brûlée if you must) torch from Bed Bath and Beyond and it's been the best $20 I have spent in a long time...possibly ever.



Need I say more?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Finance

Someone (Luke) was complaining that my last post wasn't "current." What's more current than tomorrow? In MAT 114, the class that I teach, we are just wrapping up the finance section and tomorrow in class the students are going to work on this worksheet that I made today. How many of the questions can you answer? Here's the key.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Excursions in the Snow

Now that the snow has completely melted, I'll write a blog post about it. It's been so long hopefully I remember how to do this. Here goes...
The date was March 17th. I was driving up to Flagstaff from the Phoenix airport hoping to make it before the big storm. About halfway there it started to rain and I started to get nervous. When I reached my apartment I had (almost) never been happier to see it. It's ironic because just a couple days later I was never happier to leave it.

It started snowing late that night and didn't stop for almost three days. The Snow Bowl got...prepare yourselves...53 inches of snow. That's about 4.5 feet, enough to bury those who are not tall enough to ride roller coasters. I'm not actually sure how much the city got, but it was around 3 feet by my estimation. In any case it's more snow than I've ever seen before. They closed down the interstate and everything! I was snowed in for days mostly because I couldn't get the doors open in my car and I didn't have a shovel.

They canceled school Monday and I desperately wanted to head up to the Snow Bowl for some amazing powder skiing, but unfortunately my car does not have awd and would have never made it. I actually ended up going skiing the next weekend and it was a blast.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Racquetball Friday and FAMUS

Every Friday I play racquetball with a few of the other GTAs. I can't think of a better way to spend Friday afternoon. It's a great stress reliever because you get to hit a ball around a tiny room and it's good exercise.

Today we were pretty even hit-wise. First, Eric hit me in the arm (the really tender back part.) Then I hit Zach in the back. He may have said it was the hardest he had ever been hit. Then Zach hit Eric in the leg. Next I hit Eric in the back of the head (softly this time.) Eric hit Zach in the eye and Zach hit me in the back. I had to leave early to be a guest speaker at FAMUS, and the "fun" probably continued after that.

FAMUS stands for Friday Afternoon Mathematics Undergraduate Seminar. I was asked to be a guest speaker. Basically Ian (another GTA) and I sat in the front of a room full of math undergrads and answered questions about what grad school is like, what a GTA does, why we decided to go to grad school, can you solve this rubik's cube (in 49 seconds no-less), etc.

Note: Today was not a normal Friday. Usually we hit the walls more than each other when playing racquetball. Also this was the first and likely only time I will be a speaker at FAMUS.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sweet Potato Fries

I'm posting this recipe mostly for Amy. We made sweet potato fries over the weekend and they were delicious.

Sweet Potato Fries
4 large sweet potatoes
olive oil
salt
garlic
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t cumin

Wash potatoes.  Slice into thick wedges. Cover with a thin coating of olive oil. Combine spices and sprinkle over potatoes. Transfer to a greased baking sheet in a single layer. Bake at 450 until tender and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Long Overdue

As the title of this post suggests, a new post is long overdue. I've been pretty busy and haven't really done anything blog-worthy. Well that changed last weekend when Amy came to visit.

Her flight got in late on Friday so we stayed in Phoenix Friday night. Saturday we had a delicious and nutritious breakfast of Jamba Juice then tried to go hiking. I say "tried" because their first place we went to had no available parking and the second place was not a hike we wanted to do. But third time's the charm as they say. We ended up hiking Lookout Mountain.


We stopped by Sedona on the way back to Flagstaff.


When we got back to Flagstaff, we made some peanut butter cookies and then spent a couple of hours cleaning the kitchen in my apartment. The oven was the worst but I found some foaming cleaner that had noxious fumes.


In the evening, we made sweet potato fries.


Sunday we went to church in Prescott. After church we went to the condo and chatted with Don and Suzie Firchter for a while. When we got back to Flagstaff, we ate supper at Pita Jungle. I wanted to show Amy where all the true Flagstaffians (aka hippies) hang out. I ordered Chicken del Sol (Chicken of the Sun) and it looked like this:


Overall, it was a really fun weekend and I had a great time hangout out with Amy.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fit February

New Year's Eve I made a hasty resolution to not eat any candy this year. (Those of you that know me well may want to pick your jaws up off the floor now.) Well it's been a month and I'm candy-free. It really hasn't been that difficult mostly because I don't buy any so it's not around for me to see and then want to eat. On an unrelated note, I have been eating more cookies lately. I wonder if the two are correlated. :)

Now to the main topic of today's post: Fit February. This semester my classes are all during late morning and afternoon and I've been less than motivated to get up in the mornings. So to help me be more motivated and self-disciplined, I've decided to make this month Fit February. Here's how it works: I will do some form of exercise (yoga, racquetball, tai chi, running, jumping jacks, etc.) every day during the month of February.

I already got a head start by going for a run Sunday prevening. And, prepare yourself, I liked it {gasp}!  I didn't go very far on the road before I stumbled across the Urban Trail.


Wouldn't it be nice for this to be part of your run? In case you were wondering, yes that is snow despite it being 50 degrees.

One of the reasons I liked it was because I have no idea how far I went distance-wise. I just ran for a while and then turned around. It also felt good for my ankle. I rolled it pretty good in October and it's been slowly getting better and I think running will strengthen it enough to eventually be good as new!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

One Week Down...15 to go

Well I survived the first week of school relatively unscathed and I can tell you that this semester will be very busy. In fact, it will the the most difficult semester of my graduate career. I already have two homework assignments to work on and 70 quizzes to grade. Homework assignments take between 1 and 5 hours to complete depending on which class they are for (Theory of Linear Models and Math Stats II assignments take much longer that Statistical Methods II assignments.) Next week I will get three more homework assignments (one for each class I'm taking) and will have to grade 70 homework assignments and 70 worksheets. Oh the joys of grad school :)

One nice thing about this semester is that I'm teaching the same class that I did last semester, only this time I'm teaching two sections instead of one. So there's twice as much stuff to grade, but very little preparation as I can simply reuse all the lecture notes and worksheets that I made last semester, which is a huge time-saver.

One interesting thing that happened this week is that we convinced one of the GTAs in the math program to switch to the stats program. Welcome to the dark side Phil.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Food Tour

Food Tour (n.) - Drive around and eat small amounts of food in multiple eateries.
Sala Thai

Sala Thai - Shrimp Wonton Soup

Sala Thai - Napkins

Sala Thai - Pad Thai

Sala Thai - BBQ Chicken

Sala Thai - Blended Thai Tea
Gyro House - Closed Sundays!

Cyprus Grill

Cyprus Grill - Spanakopita

Cyprus Grill - Falafel Dinner with Greek Fries

Cyprus Grill - Baklava

Bluewater Grill

Bluewater Grill - Spicy Charred Edamame

Bluewater Grill - Calamari Fritti

Bluewater Grill - used to be Key Lime Pie

Bombay Spice Grill

Bombay Spice Grill - Chef's Lamb Combo Plate