Friday, December 25, 2009


I love Christmas. I love people opening presents that I've given them, I love opening Christmas, I love that no one in the family goes to work or attempts to do anything productive at all. I love the traditional lasagna and ribs for dinner.

Also, a note on family gatherings on Christmas Eve: Starting out present opening by everyone under 22 opening a nerf gun is a good way to go. This leads to a 20 minute Nerf gun fight and repeated Nerf gun volleys throughout the night. It's really quiet something.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I am home. Praise be to God.


I am very tired. If I were a super hero, my fatal flaw would be the need to sleep 8 hours a day to be functional. As it is, this is simply one of many flaws.

I'm excited about Christmas. I'm excited to see my family, and I'm excited to give everyone their gifts, and I'm excited to not have to go to work for a week and a half, and I'm excited to sleep in, and I'm even excited to see snow, from the warm comfort of the house.

I am currently bored of reading the news, which is what I'm using the (blessed) free internet for. SLEEP.


Have been at airport for full three hours now. Flight scheduled to leave in 38 minutes. Flight predicted to leave in 80 minutes. Updated time to get from one plane to the other in Minneapolis: 32 minutes. Doable? Maybe. Helpful airline person has booked me on two flights, however, so if I miss the first one, i get on the second, 50 minutes later. Am very pleased about this. Very much preferable to the time Jeremy CANCELED my flight and rescheduled me on a flight 7 hours later. It's been awhile since that happened. I'm considering forgiving him.

Oh. And happy Christmas Eve.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Stupid, stupid, stupid essays.

I have very much hate for writing application essays. Which is why I spend so much time when 'writing' these essays doing other things, like posting to this blog.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

It's Almost November

I've been in Seattle a long time now, it feels. And I liked the city so much during the summer--endless sunshine, nearly endless 70 degree weather (I'm selectively blocking out that one retched week it reached 100), 16-17 hours of sunshine in a day. And I'm liking the city so much less the longer and longer and Longer the darkness goes on. It was pitch black at 7am every day this week, and was well on its way to getting dark as I headed home from work. I know that day lights savings is tomorrow, but all that will mean is that for a few more days it will be almost light at 7am and it will be dark on my way home. I was not meant to live this far north.

I've been at IHME for two months now. I'm pretty sure I've learned quite a bit while working there, but sometimes it doesn't seem so because everybody else already knows so much. This week was a superbly frustrating week at work. I was assigned several new tasks that I had (have) no idea how to do, we had training for something else all day Tuesday and Thursday so there wasn't much time to get anything done and whenever I thought I had figured out something, it didn't work. I spent an amazing amount of time this week staring at my computer in despair.

I'm still happy I'm there though. I don't think every week is going to be like this week--last week certainly wasn't, and I'm still holding out hope for next week. And I am learning, and I am having the opportunity to hear people speak all the time and to think about things that I think are important. And I get to go to school while working at job where school is part of my job, and I get to do so with a whole bunch of people who I very solidly enjoy being around. That last part, the part about enjoying my co-workers and classmates (who are essentially one and the same) so much probably been the largest blessing of this whole experience so far.

I think the real question about this whole thing is how to keep up the pace for the next three years. I already miss the people who I don't get to see as much because I'm always at work or doing classwork. And I still like to dream about making friends outside of an academic context. We'll see.

Meanwhile, since November is tomorrow I've started thinking about Christmas presents for my family and for friends. For a few people I already have fantastic ideas, and am quite thoroughly pleased with myself. Other people are going to have to drop some pretty heavy hints. Probably a good thing that Christmas is still two months away, though I do wish it was closer so that I could be going home (hurrah Illinois!)

It's nice and sunny out today. I don't have to go to work. I'm going to go enjoy the sun.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Yesterday was the last day of training camp for us pbf's. So on Monday we have to actually start pretending to know how to do something useful (I hope to soon be able to actually Be Useful). Thursday morning we were given a survey to fill out regarding which of the working groups we most wanted to work in. It turned into a rather lengthy undertaking, perhaps predictably, but after nearly an hour (we were initially allotted 10 minutes) we had all successfully managed to rank our choices for working groups. Yesterday, at the end of the day, we were assigned to our working groups for the next year or so. So I will be working in the Mortality working group, which after some initial sadness and disappointment--it was neither my first nor my second choice and I had, again predictably, become rather attached to those two choices--I am actually quite pleased about it. The other pbf, Megan, who was assigned to the same group as well as myself talked a bit with our new supervisor, Julie, and I am excited about what will be doing and very, very, very much hoping that I will be at least marginally competent at my job next week. And actually competent in the near future (fingers crossed).

Anyway. This is the link for the working group: I think the various projects are interesting, and I even think it's possible that I'm not the only one who thinks so. Which is a good thing since everyone will inevitably be hearing about this for the next year or so.

The end.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A New Truth I Have Discovered

The more numerous and the more widely varying ways there are to define a statistical concept that you have, at best, only the loosest grasp on, the more difficult it is to find any kind of assistance on the internet. This unfortunate situation is exacerbated when it becomes Obvious that no one else has any idea either.

I probably shouldn't take it so personally when the internet fails me. But I do.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Post Bachelor Fellow

Today was my first day at IHME (the institute for health metrics and evaluation) as a post bachelor fellow. It was a rather long day, though shorter and better than it could have been. I was nervous going into today because I don't especially like meeting new people, and I particularly dislike meeting large groups of people whose names I will inevitably forget. But it turns out that everyone (seriously, everyone) was exceedingly friendly. It was rather reminiscent of meeting all the people in the honors program at Greenville the beginning of Freshman year, and as I still love that group of people as well as I love anybody, this bodes well for the next two or three years. I've already given a blow by blow description of my entire day to Jeremy and my mother and am in no mood to write it again (not that anyone actually reads this except maybe future me) but here are several relevant lists:

Things I Now Know:
1) In 2011, I get to go abroad for 6 weeks to do research. Hurrah!
2) I will, at least for now, be taking one formal class at UW each quarter in addition to the classwork I do directly at IHME
3) I get an office which I will share with three other people
4) UW has good benefits for its employees. Very good benefits.
5) I have a husky card and a bus pass (I am THRILLED about the bus pass) and may also sign up to get a membership at the UW student gym. Where I can go swimming. If it turns out that I have time.

Fun Facts About Today:
1) We all went to a bar after worked and I was the only one carded. Which is ironic because I'm also the only one who didn't order something alcoholic.
2) Jimmy John's has fantastic vegetarian sandwiches
3) Put a bunch of smart and motivated people in a room and talk about benefits and they will insist on asking questions about dependents until they fully understand all aspects of the various benefit plans. This is in spite of the fact that (to my knowledge) none of them actually have any dependents.

Also, it should be noted that today I learned that I am far and away the least accomplished person in this program. Everyone has done multiple internships and has worked abroad and has graduated from crazy prestigious schools, except for me. I have decided to not let this bother me. So far I am succeeding. Tomorrow, if it turns out that everyone is eight times smarter than me when we start learning Stata, I will probably be bothered.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Midwest

I ran across this quote in American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. It sums up pretty much exactly what I think about the Midwest.

"Then we were back in Wisconsin, a place that in late summer is thrillingly beautiful. When I was young, this was knowledge shared by everyone around me; as an adult, I've never stopped being surprised by how few of the people with whom I interact have any true sense of the states between Pennsylvania and Colorado. Some of these people have even spent weeks or months working in such states, but unless they're midwesterners, too, to them the region is nothing but polling numbers and caucuses, towns or cities where they stay in hotels whose bedspreads are glossy maroon and brown on the outside and pilly on the inside, whose continental breakfasts are packaged doughnuts and cereal from a dispenser, whose fitness centers are a single stationary bike and a broken treadmill. These people eat dinner at Perkins, and then they complain about the quality of the restaurants.

"Admittedly, the area possesses a dowdiness I personally have always found comforting, but to think of Wisconsin specifically or the Midwest as a whole as anything other than beautiful is to ignore the extraordinary power of the land. The lushness of the grass and trees in August, the roll of the hills (far less of the Midwest is flat than outsiders seem to imagine), that rich smell of soil, the evening sunlight over a field of wheat, or the crickets chirping at dusk on a residential street: All of it, it has always made me feel at peace. There is room to breathe, there is a realness of place. The seasons are extreme, but they pass and return, pass and return, and the world seems far steadier than it does from the vantage point of a coastal city.

"Certainly picturesque towns can be found in New England or California or the Pacific Northwest, but I can't shake the sense that they're too picturesque. On the East Coast, especially, these places--Princeton, New Jersey, say, or Farmington, Connecticut--seem to me aggressively quaint, unbecomingly smug, and even xenophobic, downright paranoid in their wariness of those who might somehow infringe up on the local charm. I suspect this wariness is tied to the high cost of real estate, the fear that there might not be enough space or money and what there is of both must be clung to and defended. The West Coast, I think, has a similar self-regard--all that talk of proximity to the ocean and the mountains--and a beauty that I can't help seeing as show-offy. But the Midwest: It is quietly lovely, not preening with the need to have its attributes remarked on. It is the place I am calmest and most myself."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Today was my last day at Trader Joe's. I didn't realize until this past week how weird and actually even hard this would be. I've worked there (albeit on and off) since I was 19. Since I started working at Trader Joe's I've lived in Naperville, Greenville, Washington DC, and Seattle. I've met Jeremy. I've graduated college. I've moved into an apartment of my own for the first time. I've learned how to use public transportation. And I've changed career paths like five times. It's a lot of change and I'm not a huge fan of recognizable change. I honestly prefer the type that sneaks up on you gradually.

Working there has not always been fantastic. It is often frustrating and ungratifying. There have people who I have not enjoyed working with and there have been customers that I would have very much liked to strangle. It often makes me hurt. Getting up at 3:00am unvaryingly sucks and not having a consistent work schedule makes planning anything but work a challenge. But by and large I have enjoyed my time there. Almost all of my coworkers in Naperville and many in Seattle are people who I have been blessed to know and work with. However mundane working a grocery store may seem, eating is nonetheless an essential part of life and getting food to people is a vital position to hold in society. I learned a lot about food, and about people, from working at Trader Joe's. I also gained confidence while working there, though that also has had to do with growing up, I think. But I was allowed time and again the opportunity to learn how to do new things and found (thankfully) that I could usually rise to the occasion. This is important because I often wonder if I'm ever going to be good at anything that's not school.

I'm glad to be moving on, I think. I never intended and still don't want to make Trader Joe's my career. Most of my angst at the moment is stemming from the contrast between Trader Joe's, where I am secure in my ability to do a good job, and what comes next at IHME, where I do not yet know that I will succeed. I hope that I will. Experience indicates that there is a good chance that I will. But we shall see.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Beginning (again)

I've had this blog for some time, though I've never actually posted anything and until now it's been set as 'private' so that no one else could see it. Originally I intended to use it as a sort of journal, hence the private setting, but this, as with all of my attempts to keep a journal, fell rather flat. I've thought about keeping a blog for awhile now. I like the share with people the things that I am reading in the news and thinking about, which is why so many people at work probably don't like having their lunch breaks at the same time as me: I am incapable of Not Sharing whatever it is the news that I am reading about because I am also incapable of understanding how things I find interesting are not interesting to the rest of the world. And maybe a blog is a more polite way to share my thoughts with the world because in this way by simply not reading it anyone at all can politely decline to participate in what interests me in particular. At the same time, I have held off starting a blog for a long time because even though anyone can choose not to read it, I do feel that by making it available I am making a statement that I feel that what I have to say deserves an audience. After talking with two of my friends last night, both with blogs as it were, I decided to get over it. I believe that what others think has value and I enjoy reading my friends thoughts on blogs and facebook and the like. It's possible that there might be handful of people out there who feel the same way about me. And someday soon I might even tell them that this blog exists.