Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Geocaching: An Addiction?

In the past I have made the call as to whether I am addicted to something or not by if I can't fall asleep because it is on my mind repeatedly. I am not quite at that point... but I may get there soon with this geocaching thing.
The first one we found was on the way back from a family reunion. It was a challenge. Luckily, there were some fellow geocachers who were also on the hunt and gave us a hand. They were more experienced and we were just digging through a pile of rocks. (If you've ever been to Frank Slide... no further explanation required).
If you don't know what geocaching is, it's a GPS-oriented "game" where other geocachers hide a "cache" (usually a camouflaged tupperware or hide-a-key) and log the coordinates online for others to find. Depending on the size of the cache, there are sometimes little trinkets to trade or geocoins to pass along to the next cache.
Since the first find, I have marked code down. Many a battery has been drained from my iPhone as the GPS and compass features have been utilized. Everywhere I go, they're around! In a way it's exciting, but at the same time overwhelming!
It also doesn't help that I'm not extremely good at it. Especially this last round at them, it was so frustrating. It didn't help that the entire province is under snow, but even some of the ones designated as winter friendly gave us a bit of trouble. Of the nine I have attempted since arriving in Calgary, I have found two. Never the less, they are fun and adventurous. I saw some country that I wouldn't have seen otherwise.
I will share one such adventure with you. On the way back to Calgary from our Christmasing, there was one just off Hwy 1 on the west side of Chestermere. We pulled over (in the dark) and walked along a snow covered road to an inch of wood sticking up. I thought it may be hidden underneath, so we started digging. Then I fell through the snow up to above my knees. We kept digging. Spencer fell through too. Keep in mind, it's dark and we're holding flashlights, digging at the snow along a highway. I'm sure people thought we were burring a body or something (that's the one thing I don't like about this sport when done in public- it makes you look suspicious, like you're making a drug trade or something). Eventually we gave up and got back in the warm car. When I got home, not only did I look up a picture of the location and realize that tree stump is the hight of a small child, but I realized there were two winter friendly caches just meters away. *Sigh* :) It just means I'll have to go back...
People also create ridiculous challenges that are so inspiring I think I may just try one. Like the Texas County Challenge. The goal is to find one cache in each of the 256 Texas counties. It will make for quite a road-trip, but that's what summer vacations are for. And years and years of caching. There are people out there with 3000+ finds though. They must have such good eyes, or an incredible amount of perseverance!

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I played Cranium with my mom, Spencer, and Carley last night. It was loads of fun, drawing with your eyes closed and trying to come up with a way to use the word "callipygian"... we can't figure out if it's a noun or adjective. (This post is titled such by Spencer's request).
My flight went really well. I got lots of reading done (started and finished a 100 pg book, and got 93 pgs into a 200 pg one) and watched Julie & Julia and Postgrad (which I wasn't as impressed with). I definitely like Julie & Julia though. I had actually gone to see it in theaters with my dad. He suggested it and was one of the only men there, but it was fun, and I think he enjoyed it. I like the blogging aspect and cooking aspect, as well as the history. Julia Child's character is hilarious. Good movie, all around.
Today I got up pretty early and Mom and I went to Market Mall for some Christmas shopping. I finished everyone up that I had left, and helped mom with some gifts for Courtney and me. So yes, I know what I'm getting. But I don't mind. I found that when people spend money on me and either I really don't like it or it doesn't fit or whatever the issue is, I feel guilty that they spent "so much," even if it was just a little.
However, my mom won't let me have my presents yet! That part is awful! Because one of them is a Christmas piano book, and I want to practice... there's no point in practicing Christmas music after Christmas. Sigh... :)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"Home" Is Where... the Bills Go

I'm going home to Calgary tomorrow morning!

It's just sort of weird though. I only lived in Calgary for about 18 months, and I have been there about two months total this whole year. It doesn't really feel like home. Except my mom and sister are there of course. And my puppies. I am excited to see them all.

Exams have gone decently. I suppose I'm writing this sort of depressed, because if you had asked me yesterday, I would have said they have gone incredibly, but Calculus sort of did me in today, and I'm still recovering. This break will be good, but it's sort of started on a sour note, compared to if it had begun yesterday. Maybe once I get my grades back it'll look rosier.

I was talking to one of my friends about what she wants to get out of the next two weeks. I think my big goal, aside from seeing family, is doing some reading. I feel like I haven't read for a while, which is totally inaccurate. I finished the Numerati this morning, and have been quite consistent about my Bible reading, which always makes me feel more humble and content, so that's good. I just feel like I've done a lot of math and Scripture, so I'm not sure why two of the books I have picked out are about math and Scripture... maybe I'll pick something else up first. Like Jane Austen. Hmmm. :)

I also want to come up with some sort of detailed itinerary for "THE Road Trip." It was originally concocted in the summer of sixth grade, and I feel that in order to get a little more support, both from parents and potential co-trippers, it needs a little more structure. And maybe my marathon trip that I dream of is a little lengthy and I'm oblivious like everyone is secretly thinking. Some planning will help me realize it. So I got the Discovery Channel's United States on the Road book, as well as 1,000 Places To See Before You Die in the USA and Canada. Maybe that will be my fun flight activity for the long day ahead of me tomorrow.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ice Skating Pictures

Wednesday morning, Mrs. A, Sarah, Lauren, and Andrew took me ice skating. They all did extremely well, especially Lauren who, as we discovered once we came off the ice, was wearing her skates on the wrong feet!
Mrs. A used to ice skate a lot when she was younger, so she was doing all sorts of spins and twirling Andrew around on the chair. It was all lots of fun to watch! I got tons of pictures of
Andrew, because he was moving rather slowly, but the girls were harder to get. The lighting was also awkward to work with because of the light tones and all the ice, but I managed to take a couple good ones.

Sarah and Lauren

Andrew, trying out this skating thing.

The chair is much more fun!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Numerati

I love finals weeks. They are my kind of weeks. I think this is mostly because I don't stress out over exams. I look over the material, sure, but I learned long ago that math isn't something you can "catch up" on at the last minute, so I make sure I learn it as we go through classes. Then, when tests come, life is a whole lot easier.
It means I get to do other things this week. Yesterday I went ice skating with the A's (see next post). Tomorrow we're going to the Nutcracker. And today... aside from looking over geometry... I am reading The Numerati. Call me a nerd (one of my friends did) but I like math books. They motivate me.
The Numerati is about that classified group of employees that makes us into math. I had no idea what sort of industries were out there that blend computer science and mathematical analysis, but they range from political polls, to advertising, to matchmaking sites. The Numerati are the people that take all that data and feed back results to companies so they know what to do with it. For instance, Umbria Communications has computers that read millions of blogs just like this one, and read "customer reviews," along with targeting the demographic of the writer. They then send the information back to the company. So Canon knows I like my Rebel... now. They don't have to wait to check sales projections because blogs are updated constantly. Scary. There's a whole lot of scarier things in this book, but they're a little more complex than that example. I would recommend it to people who are interested in a mix of sociology, computer science, and statistics. There is a disappointedly little amount of math in it, for the title, other to say that math is used. Still, I find it interesting and a quick read. Back to geometry!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Welcome, Clara Cannon!

As many of you know, dear Clover Cannon, my Rebel XTi broke Newton's laws and disappeared last Spring. I am still at a loss as to where she is, but I finally figured it's time to move on and started researching cameras a couple weeks ago.
I finally took the plunge and got a sweet little Rebel XS. She's quite the dear. Basically all the same features as my XTi, plus a little extra quality. Like I can take pictures in black and white (which I may have been able to do before but never figured out). And there's Image Stabilizer.
What this means for me: I get to take good pictures again!
What this means for you: You get to see my pictures again!
Win-win. Or in the world of Michael Scott, win-win-win.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Mr. Matthew Tumnus

It snowed today in the great land of Southern Texas, and the natives did not know what to do. However, it appears that a foreigner, one who is familiar with snow, was around to help. He's not sure how he got there, or how he'll get home to Narnia, but he looks at home.

Have I mentioned that I have the most amazing man in the world? What a sense of humor.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Reflections on the First Semester

As quickly as it came, the first semester is nearly over. Today I had my logic final exam. I remember the first day of university- running blocks because the bus had a construction detour and nearly being late for my class (I walked in as the professor was introducing himself). I remember my first Calculus class, being near tears as the professor did what was supposed to be a quick "review" of what we should know so that he can move on to the new content, and not recognizing any of it. I remember meeting new friends and my first midterm... and today, my first final. I think out of all of it, a couple things have stood out.
First, we're not as smart as we think. Even if you graduated at the top of your class, there is someone, actually a whole lot of people, who are smarter than you. Deep down, we all know this (I hope), but the reality hits when you fail assignments that you spent hours on, while the person sitting in front of you gets A's. Or when you listen to different conversations going on at the school coffee shop. Or when you peruse midterm answers posted on bulletin boards in the math building, and see fourth derivatives. There's a whole lot out there to learn. It's humbling, which is good. Apparently I needed that.
Second, water can grow things. Not water and soil. Just water. In a glass, that sits on your desk for a couple weeks. First it gets hazy near the top. Then it sort of gels up. Next, there's a white fuzz layer. All this to say, if you know me, you know I'm not the cleanest person on the planet. I have greatly improved. Because one day, you have to deal with that glass and the three next to it, and it's just not a fun day. Plus, if your door is kept closed throughout the day, and there's no air circulation, things start to smell funky.
Third, subjects are incredibly interrelated. I remember one day, very early on in my year, when all of my math classes used vector cross products in the same day for three different things. The truth tables for my logic course were used in the if statements of Java programming. And when helping a friend with her Life Science calculus, I discovered the relation between carrying capacity and limits. Neat stuff going on in the world.
All that to say, I'm enjoying university. I'm looking forward to my classes next semester, as I think they will be equally challenging, but I feel a lot more prepared now that I know what to expect and have released the stress of perfection. It's almost less stressful than high school, because in high school, you are always trying to get the marks to get to university. Now that I'm here, it's nice to just sit back and learn.