Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Mingling with Nature

Ahhh... another quarter done :) I love 90% of the material I've been studying, but I really do yearn for these slow days when I can sleep in, stretch out, and walk around our toasty apartment in my wooden shorts (Joo's aunt bought me a pair of Korean shorts that are made out of some wooden fiber that is incredibly comfortable!)

My courseload this past quarter was fun, but even better were the fine lot of professors I had (and just in case you're wondering, grades are already submitted and I don't think any of them have the blog address!!) I took Theory of Statistics with Dr. Lin, which was a challenging yet inspiring class; I think I finally found my mathematical niche. I loved Modern Algebra and Coding Theory, but found it hard to justify the long hours I spent on proofs, because the connections with life were rare and mostly based on my eccentric analogies (which I still do... and still enjoy of course!). Statistics is just as interesting, but almost every problem is situated in some real life context- when I walk around now, I find myself constantly estimating risk, reward, lifespans, distributions, etc.

Another fun course- mostly because of the professor- was qualitative research methods. John Hitchcock (shown below) uses both qualitative and quantitative methods in his research, which seems to be the most suitable path for me. Kind of like when I was in high school and decided to never get married because Jesus' take on singlehood was, "the one who can accept this, should accept it" (Matthew 19:12). In other words, the most powerful researcher is the one who can flexibly use whatever method is most directly suited for the question. Like I said. Eccentric analogies.

The foods Joo brings home from her culinary labs continue to be just as delicious as ever, but they are getting progressively more appealing aesthetically.

One of the highlights of this past quarter has been having Drew attend Ohio University. He lives about 45 minutes away from Athens, so our home has become his base camp here. This creates lots of opportunities for solid conversations as well as adventures in DIY home repair (he just bought a cabin in a woods and I'm still mostly clueless when it comes to such things). One recent project was a trip to the junkyard to discard the accumulating pile of stuff around our house- we found a little friend nesting just outside one of the windows...I assume it's a garter, but if anyone knows differently, let me know :)

Just as cute and slinky, but perhaps more rare was a creature (caterpillar, I assume?) we found while taking a hike in Hocking Hills Park... anyone know what this is?

Every now and then, Drew brings along Roxy. Without fail- she gravitates straight to the spiny Korean foot mat we have in the kitchen. Mom recently gave us a little chair matching our other porch chairs specifically for Roxy. She seems to like it although she feels no need to be limited to conventional sitting positions.

With a slightly reduced workload this quarter, Joo has had some extra time to become involved in what I'm studying. Occasionally, she reads one of my assigned papers and then discusses it with me which is a real treat. I recently heard a statistic about the high divorce rate among couples where one of them is studying in a doctoral program... I could see how this could happen since the work can be all-encompassing. However, with Joo being open to discussions on any topic, we have much less of that separation (not that our marriage would be in danger otherwise, but it is a pleasant bonus :)

Speaking of happy marriages, the newlyweds Heather and Bob are doing well. Bob's a welcome addition to the family (as I've mentioned frequently before), and Heather's happier than I've ever seen her before.

Heather and Bob came done awhile back so that we could spend some time together in Hocking Hills before all the leaves fell. I didn't plan on going with them because I had so much work to do, but eventually we worked a strategic way for me to focus on my readings on the trip to and from the park...

I'm glad I ended up going because the views were gorgeous.

Bob was a biology major for quite some time and so he provided us with lots of cool trivia along our walk.

Joo, on a random whim, acquired a short-lived but intense fascination with fungi on our hike and was amazed to see how many kinds there are that she had never noticed. But then again, maybe it's because she married a fun-guy? (lame, I know; my brain's a bit fried at this point).

Chris and Allison drove down to spend a night and catch up a bit. Joo gave us a lesson in rolling kim-bap (Korean sushi). As you can see, Chris was a better student than me (his rolls are on the left).

We also did some fire and suction therapy (that's two separate things thankfully, although I hear they do combine the two in China).

I think I'll save my reflective piece on the last few months for the next entry since I'm still a bit anxious to get ahead of my research schedule.

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