Small Group

My roommate's first response after seeing the painting: there's a black guy in your small group?!

This is my small group, “Seamless.”  I liked the name so much I was able to influence another bible study group at a different church to also be named Seamless (I think they’re still called that).  I’ve been with this group a little over a year.  I think it’s called Seamless since they wanted all parts of their lives to be without seams or delineations so there wouldn’t be a point where their spiritual lives ended and their vocational, marital, social lives began but I also learned recently that Jesus’ tunic was seamless so the soldiers taking his clothes wouldn’t tear them but cast lots, which fulfilled some prophecy.  I guess I never learned that in Sunday school as a kid.  Probably because I never went to Sunday school as a kid. Anyway, this was for a white elephant gift exchange, which I guess is sort of like casting lots for presents.  I got a spatula.  Prior to age 30, I would have been as excited about a spatula as a six year old boy getting a spatula, but now that I’m mature and wise beyond my years, my utility of spatulas have seen a sharp increase, especially since I started watching clips of Gordon Ramsey cooking eggs on toast on youtube and trying to follow suit (without the colorful language).  I even started adding butter to them to give them a “velvety finish,” as Gordon puts it, which I have to agree makes it better.  Although does it really matter if you season it after rather than before as Gordon suggests?  The scientist in me wants to do a experiment.  Or … an eggsperiment.  Ha ha ha, heh, heh, ehh … sigh. I woke up pretty early this morning and a bit tired since my small group and I were up past 1 talking about attractive celebrities, songs we liked, and whether we’ve ever had a bad date.  I didn’t remember any, although I can’t remember a break-up that wasn’t at least a little disappointing.  Anyway, I woke to the sound of my fire alarm chirping, which I thought would stop after I removed it from its wiring and placed it underneath the bed in the other room in desperation.  It still chirps!  It’s the tell-tale heart of fire alarms. Random: my friend just emailed and told me that this video reminded him of me.  I don’t look anything like that guy in my opinion.  

It's been awhile since I signed something.


Official Nerd

I found out yesterday I’m officially an associate of the Society of Actuaries (pdf). Yay, I’m an official nerd!  And I’m in the top 20 of their new associates!  (arranged alphabetically, minor detail) And it only took five exams, three college credits, and eight modules, over the course of five years. Actually come to think of it, it took a good chunk of grade school doing math problems to finish all these tests. And those Saturday mornings when my dad would teach me trig at home. I guess before that I needed to learn language skills and how to count, and how to move around, and how to breathe. I guess this took my entire life to do! Phew! Anyway, it’s nice to have something to show for all this work. Previously I only had my knowledge of Brownian motion to show for all this and we all know how bonkers people go for that stuff. Actually my knowledge of Brownian motion is pretty spotty. Something about drift… and brownies? Something about chocolate brownies and how they spontaneously move to my mouth? I don’t know, I may have forgotten it all. Speaking of eating chocolate brownies, my decent into nothingness has continued and I have lost over ten pounds since I started keeping track a few months ago, which is almost 10% of my body weight. I now currently weigh as much as I did in early college. I don’t have any surprising tips for any of you that want to diet. All I know is that I just started eating less and got busy with other things. Like Thursday I kinda skipped dinner (actually I drank a glass of pineapple juice from Trader Joe’s. Does that count?) to go out to get a frame for this painting I just finished for my small group’s gift exchange, which I’ll post later. 20121130-111501.jpg My friend told me not to wear polo shirts any more because they make me look like a grandpa so I vowed to try to only wear them in private. Painting, as most creative acts go, is a very solitary endeavor and it’s a bit depressing in this regard. Occasionally, though, I’m able to get lost in it all and seeing everything come together is kinda satisfying. I think playing guitar and photography is also like that for me although it’s not really a creative for me. More like trying to learn something and getting lost in some happy place, trying to getting better at it. I haven’t quite found that happy place studying for these exams.  It’s been a long, hard slog, and I have two more rather large ones on the horizon for the Fellowship title my company wants me to get.  Back to the drawing board!  Er, memory card board!

My weekend with flashcards

So I started studying for my next exam and have a whopping 372 cards to memorize and I just finished card number 24, Elements of Prescription Drug Plans:

  • Member eligibility cards
  • Online claim adjudication
  • Tiered copays, deductibles, coinsurance
  • Pharmacy branded networks providing Discounts for branded medications
  • Mail service
  • Maximum allowable cost pricing for generics
  • Formularies and/or preferred drug lists
  • Prior authorizations for certain high-cost medication
  • Therapeutic interchange or switching

Yup, I have 372 of these babies. What was more interesting was the mnemonic written at the top of this card:

Men Ought To Pay More Money Do Much More For Pretty Things

Sounds deep. Anyway I’m not really sure what “Theraputic interchange or switching” actually is but I’m imagining it has something to do with highways. Or railroad tracks. Yeah, healing highways. I’ve been dreading memorizing these cards, but I’m finding that its more manageable walking around and studying them so I might try to walk Cookie, my roommates ex-girlfriend’s dog, in the mornings while saying these lists to myself. Anyway I went to the beach today with them (what else would any self respecting actuary do at the beach?): 20121125-201739.jpg I took this photo with my new iPhone which I’ve had for almost a month now and I have to say it does make a lot of things convenient (I’m using it now to post) like getting directions to places or finding the population of Denmark (5.5 mil). But I’m also finding it to be quite the time sink. It’s so easy to play one more game of Letterpress. One of my favorite apps has to be Sleep Cycle which generates pretty graphs of your sleep metrics. I don’t think it actually helps me sleep better but somehow I find the pretty graphs to satisfy my analytical appetite. Go figure.

Liz' wedding

I went to my friend and coworker Liz’ wedding over the weekend.  I remember her taking me shopping once before and she helped me pick out some shirts and a belt (which I ended up wearing to the wedding) and I think she has a much better sense of fashion than I do.  At that same mall is where she met her husband, David, for the first time over dinner.

I always felt a little guilty about taking lots of photos at weddings and thought I should be enjoying the wedding instead but I’m glad that there were people into posing for shots.  I handed my camera off for a photo of my coworkers and me and the happy couple but the person seemed perplexed about my camera’s lack of a zoom function and I felt guilty telling the person he’d have to stand way back with my 45mm fixed lens so we just gave him Christina’s iPhone:

Before and after

I reached my PTO cap at work for the first time since I’ve worked there so I decided to take Friday off and took my roommate’s ex-girlfriend’s dog Cookie for a wash and haircut:

One thing I like about Cookie is that she’s generally a happy dog, even with simple things like a car ride.  Although she seems to be sneezing a lot due to old age and I noticed droplets of dog sneeze on the back seat upholstery (maybe I should have gotten that cilajet car seat sealant as an accessory…).   I also did the laundry but the photo came out remarkably less cute: Yesterday, I also tried writing a children’s story involving a hedgehog but the words didn’t come out as easily.  

Blue Sammy

I got a new car.  

Considering the spreadsheet I put together comparing horsepower, gas mileage, passenger and cargo volumes, crash safety ratings, and reliability and service scores of various subcompact, sub $20K cars, getting the exact same car I had before was a little anti-climactic.  It was, however, blue instead of red (I call it Blue Sammy) and it did come with some things my old car didn’t have like tinted windows, cruise control and a pen holder in the glove compartment. Cookie, my roommate’s ex-girlfriend’s dog, seemed disappointed that I didn’t take her for a ride and was indifferent about my new purchase.  But I guess dogs don’t really use pens, so…

Let's play crossword puzzles

Hmm, I should probably figure out something better to do with my Saturday mornings… Occasionally I like to watch other let’s play videos on youtube and thought I’d try doing one of my own on crossword puzzles. Coming up with audio commentary was the hardest part. Trying to speak without saying “uh…” or “umm…” is more challenging than I thought.

An old memory

My mom has this story of this guy she dated before she met my dad. He took her to this fancy restaurant and was going propose to her but for whatever reason she just couldn’t say yes. He went on to have his own family and successful career but I think they kept in contact and I remember meeting him awhile ago, although I didn’t know their history.  A few years ago my mom was in Thailand and my stepdad had to leave for visa reasons and my mom one day noticed a shadow on one side of her vision in one eye. She knew something was wrong so she covered it, asked people where the hospital was, and found out she needed surgery that day to treat a detached retina.  She had surgery the next day and had some gas bubble put in her eye which required her to have her head facing the floor for a month.  So she returned to her hotel room and kept her face head down the entire time. My mom described how this guy from long ago brought her food during this time and how he was so kind to her and how she couldn’t see him with her head down but only see his feet.  I remember her crying as she told this story and for some reason I thought of this story in DC and I cried too.

The Gaylord National Resort

is quite possibly the nicest hotel I’ve stayed at.  It has an indoor courtyard area that looks like a little small townsquare with a house.  What would be more impressive, of course, is if this house was gigantic and housed a small hotel with another courtyard with another small little townsquare.  I’m still waiting for that one. At the Associateship Professionalism Course, I learned the importance of integrity in the business world (strikingly similar to integrity in the non-business world…).  We also went around the room and, as an icebreaker, told something unique about ourselves.  There was both a competitive Starcraft II player and a former professional gambler in the room.  I was debating whether I should share about my feelings of nostalgia, sentimentality, and last impressions but I thought that might be laying it on a little thick for a first meeting so I just said I used to work in animation. It’s a bit strange, I sort of still half identify myself as being from animation and I did sort of feel like some, hmm, outsider spying on what it’s like to be a real actuary.  I guess the marble walls and 18 story glass atrium just doesn’t feel like home.