Nov 30, 2014

Fall 2014 Classes Review

  • "Diversity and Film": Loved the class. Learned nothing.
  • "Calculus II": Loved the class. Learned a lot.
  • "Object-Oriented Programming": Hated the class. Learned a lot.
  • "Intermediate Writing": Hated the class. Learned nothing.
Only two days left of classes before finals, which is insane. And I'll be done with general ed classes forever, which is also insane.

Nov 19, 2014


I crave anonymity not because I want to be invisible forever, but because of the hope. The anticipation.

If nobody knows me they don't know how boring and self-absorbed I am. I can be anything. Anonymity is a chance to emerge interesting and important. While a nameless face, the dream is alive.

I crave the hope of the dark. Stepping into the light, I am fresh. All is possible.

Interest is a fickle lover. Freshness dies and I must leave. Find a new dark corner for fanciful ambitions. Dreams are much gentler than the struggle to obtain them.

...I really should be doing homework right now. I'm so embarrassed of everything.

Oct 27, 2014

10 years

My 10-year high school reunion was last weekend / is next month (I went to two high schools). I didn't attend / won't be attending, since the travel would be more of a pain that it's worth to see people who are mostly distant acquaintances (I've kept in touch with very few people from my high school days), but seeing the posts on facebook about the reunions leaves me thinking about the last 10 years quite a bit.

When I was in 10th grade, we did a project about what we imagine for our future, and I thought it was just a generalized thing about the future and made mine all about what I imagined college would be like. But apparently the assignment was "15 years in the future" and I missed the teacher saying that somehow. So everybody else's was about careers and families and whatnot. I was completely embarrassed with that deep horrible embarrassment only teenagers feel that mine was not set in the distant a future like everyone else. But jokes on them, because here I am 12 years later and still in college with no end in sight! Hahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa.....

My life is in almost no way like I imagined it would be when I was in high school. In a lot of ways that's good. I'm really glad I'm not a Mormon housewife with four kids right now. Not because there's necessarily anything wrong with that, of course, but it's just not the kind of work that I think I would personally find satisfying. I like my freedom right now. I like all the intellectual stimulation I get right now. I like a lot of things about my life.

I'm also dissatisfied with a lot, of course. But it's mostly money stuff. I hate being 27 and not having a dime saved for retirement. I hate that it will still be at least another two or three years before I'm done with school and can finally have a "career" instead of a "job".

I hate all the anxiety I have about the future. Is there an age where that's supposed to stop? I figured I would be settled into a more stable life by this point in my life. That's the flip side of the freedom I enjoy, I suppose. I guess that's worth it.

Also, I'm an infinitely better dresser now than in high school. Pretty sure I used to wear nothing but unisex t-shirts and bootleg jeans that were always slightly too short. Now I'm a style icon, baby.

Sep 22, 2014

Women in Tech: Tiny Anecdotal Case Study

It's pretty well-established that there is a deficiency of women in STEM fields, particularly in the technology industry. There are a lot of factors involved, certainly, but let's talk about grades and my particular experience.

I started an Object-Oriented Programming class this semester. The first day of class, I noted that about 11 of the 31 students in the room were female, which was not as bad as I'd expected, considering that nationally women make up only 14% of computer science graduates. But today, as I looked around the classroom, I realized I was one of only two women in the room. I pulled up the class roster and discovered only three women were still enrolled in the class, meaning eight women had dropped the class sometime during the first couple weeks of school before the add/drop deadline.

Plenty of men have dropped the class as well (the total number of students is 18 compared to the original 31), but it seems telling that 73% of the women in class dropped, while only 25% of the men did. It's a tiny sample size, and it's entirely possible that some students switched to the same class at a different time or there might just be something I'm not realizing about women specifically at Salt Lake Community College that doesn't apply to the national picture. However, it's still a large enough gap between the male and female drop rate that it makes me wonder why/if women are weeding themselves out of the tech field nationally for fear of bad grades.

My programming professor is a tough grader and (I feel unnecessarily) particular about exactly how your code looks and how it's submitted. Nearly everybody in the class (myself included) did not do very well on the first couple assignments. Most of us have figured out what the professor expects by now and have done better on subsequent assignments, but the first couple weeks were rough on a lot of us.

This Washington Post article, cites a study indicating that part of the reason women don't major in higher-paying, but harder fields in college is that they are more afraid of bad grades then men are. I remember hearing somewhere something like "Women get an A- in a math class and say 'Oh, I'm bad at math'; men get a B+ in a math class and say 'Oh, I'm good at math.'". That rings fairly true to me.

I currently have a B+ in my programming class and a B- in my math class and I am constantly beating myself up, tossing and turning at night stressing about getting those up to A's by the end of the semester. Struggling with some of my math or programming assignments, I have thought so many times "Why am I doing this? I'm never going to get this. I'm a failure of a human being." 

I'm just one woman, but I'm sure there are plenty more out there like me who dwell maybe a little too hard on what letter is on their report card. I personally never seriously considered dropping those classes because they're both prerequisites I have to get done and I'm already a million years old for a college student and don't have time to waste, but I can absolutely sympathize with anyone who has dropped.

Side note #1: Every single person of Asian descent also dropped out of the same programming class. I'm not sure how many we started with, but it seems like there were three or four at the beginning of the semester. Now there's no deficiency of Asians in tech, but as they are another group that traditionally focuses hard on grades, I can't help but wonder if for this particular class weeding out for fear of bad grades was a factor.

Side note #2: My math class only had two women out of forty-ish (I never made a real count, but it was around there) at the beginning of the semester and both of us are still there while ten-ish of the men have dropped. So for Calculus II, the drop rate is higher for men, but the gender disparity was so huge from the get-go on that one, that I'm guessing any women self-weeding-out happened at an earlier level of math class.

Side note #3: I'm obviously getting A's in my film class and in my writing class, but those subjects come very easy to me. I fart A+ level film analysis papers. We have to write a film analysis each week and after every single one I'm like "This is so fun and easy, why am I not just a film major? Oh yeah, because I don't want to be a waitress forever."

Side note #4: There are three women named Andrea in my writing class. The percentage of women with my name in my writing class is higher than the percentage of women total in either my math or programming classes.

Side note #5: Isn't it cool that I can even count the number of people in my classes? This is such a better learning environment for me than BYU ever was. In general, I'm much more invested in school than I ever was at BYU, but the smaller class sizes definitely helps. All of my professors know me by name. I don't think I ever had a BYU professor who knew me by name. I can only recall like two classes I ever took there with less than 40 students.

Side note #6: I'm obviously just adding anything that comes to mind as a side note now, because I'm putting off doing homework. Maybe women are all just too busy blogging about the lack of women in tech to go off and succeed in tech. No wonder I'm a failure!

Sep 15, 2014


Forbes did a write-up about a great teacher a few days ago.

This semester, I signed up for Calculus II, despite the fact that I haven't taken a math class in ten years. I technically have the credit for Calculus I from my high school AP class, so they allowed me to sign up, but it meant a lot of independent math study over the summer to relearn everything I needed to prep for this fall.

I just kind of stumbled upon Jim Fowler's Calculus I class on Coursera while dabbling in their Data Science course track, and it turned out to be the absolute best way for me to learn a lot of Calculus as quickly as I needed to.

Jim Fowler has incredible enthusiasm for his subject and is very good at explaining why things work in a lot of different ways (for like every formula you get a numerical proof, a graphical proof, a logical proof, and a geometric proof). He takes full advantage of the film medium and presents ideas in all sorts of interesting ways. It was seriously fantastic. Even Trevor, who typically avoids math like the plague, would get caught up watching some of my lessons with me, because the presentation is just that engaging.

Just look how jazzed he is:

Calculus is still a difficult subject and I had plenty of frustration trying to pass some of the quizzes, but it was overall one of the best learning experiences I've ever had. I highly recommend.

I'm doing well-ish in my current math class (currently have a B that I wish was an A, but I'm trying not to dwell too hard on that because I will have a panic attack and there's still plenty of semester left to salvage things). I without-a-doubt have Jim Fowler to blame for any success I have had with math this semester.

Sep 10, 2014

Server Update

For the last two months, I've been working as a server at our local wings place (not Hooters). I switched jobs because I needed the flexibility of schedule with all the school I've got going on these days. I've never worked in the restaurant industry before, and I kind of like it. And kind of hate it.

  • Servers are almost always "people persons" and the rapport among coworkers is totally different than anywhere else I've worked. There's a lot more joking, messing around and (most happily) spontaneous breaking into song/dance.
  • My klutziness has had a chance to shine at this job. I have spilled a couple drinks on people, broken a beer mug, and (most cringe-inducing-ly) flung alfredo sauce from a used fork into a customer's hair. Customers have luckily all been understanding, but it's still absolutely horrifying.
  • I eat multiple times a week at work and it isn't exactly the healthiest place in the world. Also, (most health-damaging-ly) we get free soda and popcorn whenever we're there and I have no self-control. However, I've still lost a few pounds since working there just because I'm moving around so much.
  • I've just been promoted to a bartender position. The bartender still serves tables, and most of my job is still serving since there aren't a ton of alcohol orders, but I get to make more money and (most excitingly) I'm learning how to make a lot of cocktails. Also, the people that sit at the bar are the craziest people that come into the restaurant.
  • When I started, my feet hurt all the time, but I've gotten somewhat toughened up to it. If I work a shift longer than seven hours or so, it's still pretty bad, but five hours without sitting is no problem at all anymore.
  • I hate that I have to wear a uniform. I am doing laundry a lot more often since I have to constantly keep my uniform in shape, which I guess is a perk, but it's still terrible. My work pants don't fit me well at all, but I hate pants shopping enough that I haven't bothered to get new ones. And I just like looking like I have some sort of style, and the only leeway I have is earrings. So I wear a lot of big earrings to work. It's all I've got.

Aug 18, 2014

One Semester Down. A Lot More to Go.

It may not be much considering I'm a 27-year-old taking low-level community college classes after failing out of university seven years ago, but I'm proud. First college semester ever that I've taken more than one class and gotten a 4.0 GPA. Taking 15 credit hours this fall after just 10 during the summer, but I'm feeling confident I can keep up the good-student-ing.

May 25, 2014

Best Laid Schemes

I never really read Sylvia Plath because even when I was one, I never wanted to look like one of those mopey depressed pseudo-intellectual teenage girls. But it seems like every time I come across a quote, it really rings true to my experience, and I probably should just break down and download a copy of The Bell Jar. Today's:

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

I'm a week into summer semester and awesome. Ahead on all my homework, despite the fact that some of it's already a little harder than I anticipated. Just got to keep on being awesome.

But there's the lingering terror that I'll grow bored or get distracted or some surprise major life change will strike and it'll all be for naught. Only time will tell if that terror will prove a savior, destroyer, or silly annoyance.

Anybody who reads this blog surely will notice that most of my life is planning for some future that doesn't actually materialize. I need to stop planning when plans always go awry, but without plans there isn't hope and life loses all savor.

Just keep on being awesome.

Apr 13, 2014

Quick Personal Update

Move to LA postponed or cancelled due to unexpected financial factors. Possibly moving to Denver as an opportunity has arisen there. I'm not waiting around for possible moves to get going on school anymore and am blowing a fair chunk of our "move to LA" funds on tuition/books instead. Doing more online classes throughout the spring/summer and starting full-time with brick-and-mortar classes at SLCC in the fall. Rocking it so far. Hoping it pays off.

Feb 16, 2014

Goes to the Movies 2013

This probably should've been a late-December/early-January post, because it's the sort of thing that bloggers do around New Year's, but you're getting it now, because awards season made me think to do it. Also, I've only recently watched a couple of these, so while they came out in 2013, I wasn't prepared to list until now.

I've seen fifteen films that came out in 2013. I don't think I've ever seen so many recent movies in my life, but lately it's become a frequent date night for Trevor and I to go to the movies. I think I want to keep up on that tradition. Watching movies at the theater is fun and walking home and discussing what we watched with my husband is even more fun.

Below I have a ranking of how much I enjoyed each film. I've tried to be very honest about my own enjoyment level and not let critical opinion sway my judgement. Mild spoilers might be involved.

15. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - I'm not a book purist. Film and books are different mediums and if you want to add things or change things, that's fine with me. I'm not going to get uppity like some of my nerd friends. But when you're obviously just adding things because Warner Bros said that you need to make The Hobbit story stretch across three films, I'm going to be upset. Especially when what you're adding is chase scene after chase scene after chase scene. Best part was Legolas telling Kate they have to go back to the Lost island.

14. Man of Steel - If I never see another superhero movie again, I'd probably be just fine.

13. Pacific Rim - Some cool visuals and mildly cool concept, but otherwise meh. I'm not the target demographic for robots fighting monsters.

12. Star Trek: Into Darkness - It seems like I kind of liked this film, but I don't remember anything about it. I like Star Trek in general, but nothing about this movie seems to have stuck with me. Star Trek is best when it's about the exploring characters and philosophy, leaving the action sequences to a minimum. I don't think that's what this film did.

11. 12 Years a Slave - The acting was superb and I loved the attention to historical accuracy. However, I never really felt pulled into the story. It's one of those movies where you pretty much know exactly what's going to happen at every step. But let's not criticize this film, because that somehow makes you a racist.

10. American Hustle -I was excited to see this film. The critical acclaim was massive (though there has been some backlash now after all of it's freaking Oscar nominations, and rightfully so). Maybe I was expecting too much or maybe I'm missing something, but it wasn't a good movie. It had too many protagonists, none of which I really wanted to cheer for because they were terrible people. Only Jennifer Lawrence's character was terrible in a fun way to watch. Everyone else was just selfish and horrible and I wanted them off the screen. The only two characters I truly liked  were Louis C.K.'s who didn't get enough screen-time, and Amy Adam's cleavage who unfortunately always shared the screen with Amy Adam's character.

9. Gravity - It was really neat to watch. A lot of neat visuals. But the plot was basically "Sandra Bullock's Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day", and there's only so much of that you need in your life.

8. We're the Millers - I know putting a silly comedy like this one above Oscar nominees makes me a terrible person, but we're being honest here. The plot relied on way too many coincidences for me to be truly satisfied, but there were quite a few laugh-out-loud moments. And that Will Poulter is going to be a big star, you watch. Very funny kid.

7. Elysium - While there were, admittedly, some flaws, I liked the overall premise of this movie. I think about it sometimes when income-inequality comes up, and I always like when something adds to my conception of ideas. While there was a lot of action and I'm not really an action fan, there was plenty of politics and emotion and all that. And I like that the main guy and the main girl had a really deep connection but weren't love interests.

6. The Great Gatsby - I know this one got mixed critical reviews, but I loved it. The story of The Great Gatsby is undoubtedly great, and the portrayal was decent, but I would've loved this even if it was nothing but Leo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan walking around in 20s costumes surrounded by 20s architecture/furniture and nothing happened at all. I'm super fond of the aesthetic of that decade. This was all about the visual spectacle and I enjoyed every second of it, anachronisms and all.

5. The Wolf of Wall Street - And on the subject of Leo DiCaprio playing some rich dude, this one was pretty good as well. It was also about the visual spectacle for me, something about watching excess makes me excited and sad in a way that is both fluffy fun and emotionally satisfying. I'm sure a lot of people watching this film thought all that money/cocaine/hookers looked like an ideal life, but man that would stress me out. If I was ever that filthy rich, I'd read books in an endlessly warm bathtub every day and go to a party like once every other month. In other news, I like Jonah Hill more with every film.

4. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues - I liked this a lot better than the first Anchorman, actually. Not because it was actually better, I'm sure, but because my comedic tastes have become a lot more okay with this kind of wackiness over the years (I'm sure part of this can be attributed to my husband and our many improv comedy friends).

3. Blue Jasmine - The plot had a number of surprises for such a simple story. Plenty of laughs, too, in the "this is so true to life" or the "this is such a unique character" kind of way, not the jokey kind of way, which is often the humor that sticks with you longer. Every single character had that superb balance of likeablity and unlikeability that is the hallmark of very good writing and acting.

2. This is the End - Laughed the whole way through. It looked like the actors had a lot of fun making it, which is always a plus to me, especially in comedy (this also can definitely be said for Anchorman 2). The Backstreet Boys cameo at the end was the happiest I have ever been in my life.

1. Her - This will definitely be the movie that sticks with me the longest. I think about it quite frequently, as the themes of the film touch on so many themes of real life: relationships, technology,  what makes us human, where are we going as a human race, etc. I happened to have just finished Jeff Hawkin's On Intelligence when I watched this film, so the differences between humans and computers was already very much on my mind and the ideas of film fit so nicely into a lot of the things that I've been very interested in lately. Also, the set and costume design was impressive in its portrayal of the not-particularly-distant future. I also liked the optimism of the whole thing. I can think of very few films set in the future that aren't dystopian. I could see a million other stories that would fit into the setting created for this film, and that made the slice of that world that we did see feel very full-formed. Just plain a well-done film.

Jan 25, 2014

Mormon Money

Conversation #1

Relative (driving into my apartment complex): Do many LDS people live here?
Me: Yeah, some.
Relative (gesturing at the nicer apartments across the way): Probably more live over in these, huh?
Me: Yeah, probably.

Conversation #2

Me (talking to friend from out of state): Well going out on Sundays is always a little funny because places are filled with non-Mormons, you know?
Friend: Uh, not really. Everywhere I go everyday is filled with non-Mormons.
Me: Oh, I guess that's true. But in these parts it's only like white trash and immigrants that shop on Sundays.


I don't know if the idea extends outside of Utah or not, but there is definitely a preconception that Mormons tend to skew wealthier than the rest. I haven't seen any statistics that back the idea up, and I wouldn't be surprised if it isn't even true, but it's definitely a stereotype that I recently realized I inadvertently hold to.

Possible factors:

  • Most of the big business leaders in Utah are naturally Mormon because they're a group that's been around longer. When I think of most of the places I've worked since living here, the owner of the company is usually LDS and the peons on my level usually aren't.
  • Mitt Romney. The first two things many think of when they he's brought up are 1) Rich, 2) Mormon.
  • The emphasis on appearance in LDS culture. Especially in Utah, there seems to be a lot of pressure in the Mormon circles to always be well-dressed/well-groomed, have a clean/nice house, etc. This reads as wealthier even if it isn't necessarily actually wealthier.
  • The Book of Mormon is chock full of examples of "when you are a righteous people, you are a wealthy people". This is possibly part of why there is the emphasis on appearance. It also is possibly part of why this state is very friendly to the pursuit of wealth, both culturally and politically.
  • The nicest parts of downtown Salt Lake are church-owned. The nicest shopping center in the state (City Creek) is church-owned.
  • Emphasis on education in the church. Education statistically equals money, and there is a push in the church toward learning that goes back to the very early days. "The glory of God is intelligence" and the School of the Prophets and all that. One of the only two "good" schools in Utah is church-owned, and the other is State-of-Utah-owned, which sometimes feels like it might as well mean church-owned.
  • The way the church hierarchy and ordinance structure is set up is very goal-oriented. Always gotta get to the next level. In this way, the LDS mindset is from a very young age trained to a model that translates to the business world nicely.
  • Brigham Young. More than anyone, this guy had the vision that Utah's power would be self-reliant business: ZCMI, railroads, sending people on steel missions/cotton missions, etc. The very foundation of this state is very money-oriented, and it's the families that come from that old tradition (the Mormons) that seem the most immersed in that tradition.
Regardless, I think I'm pretty okay with moving out of this state to a place where not being LDS doesn't have a stigma that you live in a trailer park.

It would also be nice to live somewhere where living in a trailer park doesn't have a stigma that you're uneducated, dirty, and on drugs, but this is America.

Jan 15, 2014

Moving Update

For those curious about where the moving to LA thing is at:
  • Barring any unexpected financial catastrophe that causes us to push back the date, we're leaving Provo on March 7th.
  • My last day of work will be February 28th. I don't hate my job, but I can't help but count down the days every time I'm there, excited to get out. Mostly because I'm still naive enough to think that whatever job I end up working in LA will be better.
  • Between my last day of work and our moving day, I'll be doing a trip out to California to pin down an apartment and pick up my parent's large van, which we are using in lieu of a moving truck because even with the gas to drive it to Utah and back, it's the most economical option. Especially since we don't have that much stuff that's coming with us.
  • We'll be buying a car in Utah just a few days before moving so that we only have to register it in CA, but can still use it to drive out there.
  • I keep browsing TMZ street pictures. Not because I love "celebs are just like us!" crap, but because I like seeing how little clothing those celebs in LA are wearing even though it's January. Makes me excited about the weather in our future.
  • I'm feeling kind of drawn to the Franklin Village area, followed by North Hollywood, followed by East Hollywood. But I'm waiting until I'm actually out there to really commit to living anywhere.
  • Sometimes I lie to people about why we're moving (not people I care about, just like acquaintances and strangers who it happens to come up with) because "My husband is going to go become a famous actor/comedian!" is embarrassingly cliche, and you can see in their eyes that they don't believe it'll ever work out for you.
  • We have a lot of really great friends and family who are super supportive and encouraging of this crazy thing. And while I'm a obviously a believer in the dream myself, I worry about disappointing them. It'll likely be years of the struggling-LA-actor grind before anything happens. If anything happens. I know Trevor feels that weight on his shoulders much worse than I do, so I try not to bring it up. But really, we have nothing to lose. We don't have kids to move or illustrious careers we're leaving behind or anything.
  • I'm mostly just excited. I never wanted to settle down in Utah. I want to try life in the city. Trevor's excited to get more training and perform for a whole different audience and prove his talent in an improv scene that takes itself more seriously than anything here.
  • I'll try to pin down a job while I'm out on my apartment hunting expedition. We have enough money saved that I won't have to get a job immediately before we starve, but I'd rather not use up all of our savings, if possible. I feel really confident that I should be able to find something quickly, because I've never really struggled with finding work in the past. Though I do realize LA is a completely different sort of place from Utah Valley. So hopefully that doesn't become a nightmare.
  • At one point in the movie Her, Joaquin Phoenix runs through a space which I recognized as the metro station at Hollywood and Western by the tile on the walls. When he exits, he is at the beach. This made me upset because the intersection of Hollywood and Western is nowhere near the beach. Two realizations came out of this: 1) Once I'm a seasoned LA resident and know the city really well, I'm probably going to start noticing things like this all the time in film/TV and nobody's going to ever want to watch anything with me again. 2) I might be over-researching certain aspects of this move. I've never been to the metro station at Hollywood and Western. But I recognized it instantly. Because I've looked at apartment complexes in that area and wanted to see if the station looked nice. I could tell you what the inside of grocery stores in some of the areas we might live look like. This isn't helpful info. But I have to keep looking into every little thing. The internet was made for people like me.