Saturday, May 27, 2006

Look at all those nice, patient people out there...

What I have been doing instead of blogging:

1) Thorougly cleaning all parts of this apartment except the bedroom. The bedroom right now is a hopeless purgatory of dirty laundry, dust bunnies, and "undecidable" objects removed from the other (clean!!) areas of our home. What is an "undecidable" object, you may ask? An "undecidable" object is one which we have trouble finding a home for. Examples: one piece of gold posterboard, left over from Nate's poster session last semester. It is in perfectly good condition, so our Thrifty sides cannot condone throwing it away. Yet, it is awkward to store- i.e., doesn't fit neatly in a desk drawer with the other "office supplies" like pens and glue sticks- so right now it is cohabiting on our bedroom floor with one Tired Worn-Out Sheepskin Steering Wheel Cover. (don't ask)

2) Filing all our financial records for the past 7 months or so.
3) Undertaking a little project: Is Driving Our Car Significantly Cheaper than Driving a New Car? Answer: Why, yes! Yes it is!! Sylvia has had some Issues the past few months ($1450 in Dec. for transmission, $130 in April for oil pressure sender, $641 last week for radiator/thermostat) so I was sort of wondering, is this REALLY cheaper then driving a new (or newer used) car? I went through all our records and added up depreciation, registration, insurance, gasoline (which I estimated using a cool spreadsheet I found giving average weekly gas prices in the US broken down by region and grade), and maintenance (around $6000!! wow!!) and concluded that in the 45 months/ 62775 miles we have driven our car, she has cost about $386/month or about $0.28/mile.

According to AAA's brochure Your Driving Costs 2006, the average cost of owning and operating a new small sedan is about $521/month or $.42/mile. AAA isn't completely clear about how their model works; the website says the model is based on driving a new car 75,000 miles in 5 years, but it's not totally clear if we buy this car in 2006 or in 2001. (They use $2.405 as the price per gallon of gas- that was the average price at the end of 2005. I think this would be a gross underestimate of gas prices from 2006-2010. But it would certainly overestimate the price from 2001-2005. Maybe we should assume the AAA car is driven from 2003-2007, to average things out? If so, the figures would be a fairly good basis for comparison to Sylvia, who was purchased in Aug. 2002.) I even tweaked the AAA figures down a bit, realizing some of their numbers would be higher than ours (insurance, registration, etc.) and Sylvia was still a good bit cheaper. And, small sedans were by far the cheapest category listed- if we drove a medium or large sedan or an SUV, we'd be paying a LOT more.

So, would we be better off now (financially) if we'd bought a new car in Aug. 2002? Almost certainly not. Was there a USED car out there somewhere in America that would have required fewer repairs and been a better value? Sure there was. But 1) we're not clairvoyant and we're not car experts, so we could hardly foresee the future of those used cars we looked at back then, and 2) there's no surefire (surefire! I like that word!!) way to calculate the optimal point on the purchase price/maintenance curve for used cars. We spent about $3100 on Sylvia (including a small warranty) and close to $6000 in maintenance (including everything routine, like oil changes, tires, inspection, brakes, etc.) We could have spent $9100 on a car in 2002 whose value today would be about $4250 (assuming 15%-20% depreciation per year). While we probably wouldn't have spent all of $4250 maintaining such a vehicle, we didn't HAVE $9100 in 2002 so we would have had to take out a car loan which would have meant several hundred (over a thousand?) dollars in interest. Or we could have bought a $6000 used car which would have cost less in depreciation but more in repair bills...? And on and on, you see how it goes. I can't see any options that are likely to be significantly cheaper, and most options seem to be more expensive.

THAT'S for all you people out there who ask us why we drive such a clunker. ;-)

4) Reading: The Art of Mathematics, Boundaries in Marriage, and Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner. Well, okay, I read about the first 6 pages of that last one before Giving Up. Shout-out to any of you literary major types out there: any help with reading Faulkner? See, I feel like I ought to be able to read Faulker and enjoy it because he is writing about the South, and he is early-twentieth-century American, which are supposed to be things I can relate to (unlike, for example, the Ancient Greeks? I never did get along with the ancient Greeks.) I like the style and I am Happy that it's about the South, but somehow the reading does not seem to be a project I can continue for a full 300 pages. I tire easily. Perhaps I'm just out of practice...?

I also read blogs- um, A Lot.

5) Socializing with people we haven't had time to socialize with all year. (Hi!)

6) Enjoying our fifth anniversary here and here. :-) We had car trouble on the way down (radiator- see above) that scared me into thinking we wouldn't make it (and the hotel charge was non-refundable!! eee!!) but I Prayed a lot and tried to have a good attitude of "however this goes, I will still have a Greatful spirit." I think almost losing our chance to go made me even more thankful for the nice trip we had. :-) Dinner was awesome and our hotel room was awesome, and walking around New Hope and Lambertsville was really fun. (Happy 5 years, honey. :-))

7) Helping out with Girls' Bible Study at church and other things (like a video scavenger hunt last night.)

8) Visiting my old work buddies at NCC.

Okay that's enough (boredom for you) for now! Bye!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

"Day" One (so much for that idea)

Hey y'all, happy summer. Welcome to The Nebiverse, a tropical paradise of twirly skirts and sandals and reclining beach chairs (um, you know, the ones where you lay down...? What are those called...? I am such a dork) and little non-alchoholic non-carbonated fruity beverages in little glasses with umbrella straws.

(Technichally if you want the truth, I'm wearing the comfy grey shirt and flannel pajama pants because we're having a cooler-than-average May, a fact which makes my husband exceedingly happy, and there's hot coffee and a bagel being consumed. No pool or lounge chairs are in sight. The Nebiverse is all about truth in advertising, friends.)

So now (it's later) it's 11:33 pm and I have a headache. So why don't I go to bed and I'll "write more tomorrow" "maybe," m'kay?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Day of Jubilee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This was me, enjoying a piece of cake afterwards. :-)

Monday, May 08, 2006



Okay sorry with the all caps, I'll give your eyes a rest.

Good news: I just got great news about my Random Processes Final via email from Prof. RP- hurrah!! :-D

Bad news: THERE IS SO MUCH TO LEARN BY 10 AM tomorrow morning, it's not even funny!

Good news: By noon tomorrow this marathon will FINALLY be over.

See you all tomorrow, on Freedom Day.

:-) Love, Neb

2 Days Left (I'm studying now!)

I went to church and went out to Red Robin afterwards with Jerry and Judy and Hannah and had Chicken Milano, mmm! Then came home and napped and then... actually... eventually... started... STUDYING.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

3 Days left (Anyone want to buy some "jewelry"...?)


I read blogs and drank coffee and ate a bagel.
Then I decided, wow, I haven't exercised all semester, I should exercise! So I took an ~1 hr walk in which my pasty white flesh jiggled a lot and my body started to say (after about 20 minutes), "Exercise?!? What is this ex-er-cise of which you speak...?"

Then I came home and took a shower. Then I realized, hey, I just washed my hair! A perfect time to go get a haircut! (I get my hair cut for $11 at The Hair Butchery* 'cause I'm all Thrifty that way. It comes out shorter, and if they miss a few tufts of hair- well, I have scissors at home. Obviously at those prices they have to have you in and out the door in about 10 minutes flat, so if you want a shampoo you'd better take care of that at home first.) Then after the haircut (by the way, my hairstylist and I had a lovely little chat- I was much more talkative than usual. I opened by giving my standard "I don't really care what you do with my hair, I'm clueless, I just want it short, so do whatever you want" which always gets at least one raised eyebrow 'cause girls my age are supposed to KNOW how they want their hair, but what can I say, I'm a hippy, I don't really do that whole makeup/hair"style"/shoe shopping thing. Anyway, after that we had a lovely chat about hair etc., and she mentioned being in school, and I asked her where she was in school, and she said she was going to school for massage therapy because she hoped that giving people massages meant less talking interaction than haircutting because she really doesn't like talking to people. Then I was all like, "Oh.") I went to the grocery store and got Nice Things like chicken salad from the deli (but they don't put anything IN their chicken salad in this heathen state except CHICKEN and MAYONAISE and little bits of CHOPPED CELERY!!) Chicken salad is supposed to have EXCITING THINGS like little bits of APPLE and GRAPES and maybe PINEAPPLE and RAISINS and WALNUTS and things that you just totally aren't EXPECTING like, um... squid. Yeah, anyway, so I brought the groceries home then Nate and I worked on cleaning up our disaster of a kitchen- it was good to get it Clean. Then Nate cooked chicken enchiladas (or something like that), which were Excellent. Then I was kind of like, "Okay, um, maybe I should study for my Combinatorics Final..." so, I sat with my book open on the sofa with me, but then, you see... the TV! Something was on it! Oh yeah, it was Britcoms!! And then it was a movie called All the Kings Men (about Watergate), which was TOTALLY irresistably fascinating, I mean, come on guys, you know my obsession with early 70's politics... So then it was like 1 am and I went to bed.

But you guys saw it, right? I SAT NEXT TO my open combinatorics book on the sofa for a good three hours, watching TV. Knowledge TOTALLY can seep through the atmosphere. I am a believer. Word!

Oh yeah, the other two exciting things that happened Saturday night:

Around 9:30, there was a knock on our door. Usually Nate and I don't answer if we don't know who it is, but for some really odd reason I opened (upon looking through the peephole and seeing it was a woman who did not Appear to be a Big Thug Trying To Break In. I figured she just had the wrong apartment.) So she looks surprised to see me and says, "Hi hon, I'm selling jewelry, I have lots of stuff available, are you interested?" And I'm all like, "Um, no, sorry, we can't by anything today." And she's like, "Well, do you know where the Spanish people live near here...?" And I'm like, "I think they live next door" and she's like, "Okay, thanks."

Now, about a minute after I closed the door I realized something: she did not have any jewelry with her.

All she had was a small purse, you know, clearly a purse holding her own personal items, not the type of bag you would carry something in that you're selling. Now, if YOU were selling jewelry door to door or something, wouldn't YOU have, you know, some actual JEWELRy with you to sell people...?

And why was she looking for "the Spanish people"? (I assume she meant the Spanish-speaking people, as we do not have any esteemed residents from Spain in our building, to the best of my knowledge.)

Here are some facts for you to dwell on:
1) Our next door neighbors make very loud, very weird noises all the time. Not necessarily happy or angry noises- just weird noises.
2) They frequently spray A LOT of air freshner outside their front door (not IN their own apartment- they open the front door and spray the hallway right outside their door).
3) Now, mysterious "jewelry"-selling lady is looking for them at 9:30 on a Saturday night.

I think she was selling something- but it wasn't jewelry.

Finally, the Big Event of Saturday was that I finally saw the Special Visitor that has been inhabiting our kitchen-- The Mouse!! :-) For several weeks now we've known of her existence, and at night while sitting in the living room we've heard her enjoying the crumbs left on dishes in the sink, but every time we get up and tiptoe into the kitchen to try to get a sneak peek, she vanishes into the stove faster than we can see her. Well, last night I came around the corner to the kitchen and turned on the light very abruptly, and there she was, scurrying along the counter to get under cover! It was most thrilling.

If we could just housebreak her- we'd be all set.

*Not its real name.

And another

"5 days left" had a Blogger Weirdie- I tried to use the less than symbol on the keyboard (when I said z is less than infinity) and apparently that screwed up all the HTML for the rest of that paragraph. I didn't notice it when it first published, but I've fixed it now, and now it actually looks like I have a complete thought there, so go re-read it, please. (as much as I ever have a complete thought, that is...)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Brief Commercial Break

Just overheard in the Bush-Wentzel home:

"Hmm, this cup had coffee in it (sniff sniff)... Hazelnut... well, that's not too incompatible with French Vanilla tea, so it can be reused, no problem..."

The Great Clean Dishes Conservation Project Lives!!
PS Updated to add: Closer examination revealed that it was actually French Vanilla coffee, if that's comforting to any of you out there...

4 Days Left (Hmmm, maybe I should start studying for that last final... sometime...)

Hey nebiverse fans, and welcome to "Friday" in my little alternate-time-posting-universe! I'm Neb and I'll be your host, and today we'll be interviewing myself about the exciting day I had on Friday!

Hostess Neb: So, we hear you had a REALLY exciting day on Friday, didn't you?!?
Neb: Um, yeah... I guess so...
HNEB: So, tell us about all the great and exciting things you accomplished, now that two of your finals are out of the way!
Neb: Um... I had a bagel, and some coffee... and then I spent a lot of time reading blogs...
HNEB: Yes, yes, go on!
Neb: And then... um... I can't remember.
HNEB: Let me help your memory out here a little bit: right now you are SO GRATEFUL that two classes have ended and you only have one course left, and you're SO happy that you have a full 4 days to study for the Combinatorics Final on Tuesday, right?!
HNEB: Because, as we all know, you TOTALLY blew off about half the homework problems in the second half of the semester, right? Because you were "working on your other two classes"?
HNEB: But now, you are SO LUCKY that you have all this wonderful, uninterrupted time to study for the final, right? What a great opportunity! You can study thoroughly and calmly, without trying to cram the night before like you usually end up doing! What a blessing!


Two tests have been taken by me "today" (verb tenses continue to be mixed up), and moderate success has been had. Well, really, more than one mistake was made on the random processes test, and disappointment was Felt. Foreheads will be smacked by Professor RP when the grading of my exam is done and some of the mistakes that were made are seen. But all in all, worse it could have been, so trying to let go is being... tried. Um, yeah, Anyway, the Memorize Six Proofs Inbetween Exams Plan for Success was, indeed, Successful, in that proofs were comfortably recalled when the time came.

(Okay, switching tenses because I just can't keep this up anymore...)

After the Complex Analysis Final, Professor CA spoke with me out in the hallway for a moment, returning my last homework on which I had successfully solved a few problems that gave some of my classmates grief but on which I had, once again, committed the Unpardonable Sin of CA by writing z is less than a number (in this case, infinity). Perhaps the deepest truth I learned this semester is that THE COMPLEX NUMBERS ARE NOT ORDERED!!! Although, clearly, I haven't really learned it yet because I still slip up once in a while. At a few points in the semester I remember thinking, why can't our book be better organized- like, one chapter on sequences, one on series, one on integrals, etc. instead of being all swirled together- but then I discovered the

Theorem: The study of complex analysis cannot be ordered because The Complex Numbers are Not Ordered.

I also formulated the

Hypothesis: God created complex analysis on Day i.

Anyway, after pointing out my little foible, prof. Complex Analysis sat down with me on the bench outside with some paper and a pencil and just started Talking, at random, about all sorts of things... approximation theory and probability theory and Bernstein polynomials and many other Great and Mysterious Wonders, things that are far beyond me... and I have to wonder, what was the point? Did he just want someone to talk to for awhile? Did he expect that I would be interested and ask questions? Was this some kind of Meta-Test?

We do not know.

Then I eventually went home, and took Thursday night Off. I watched TV without feeling (very) guilty about it. (Texas Ranch House on PBS is an interesting but rather disastrous and ridiculous show, in case anyone is interested.)

*The End*

Friday, May 05, 2006

6 Days left (no more space on the hard drive!)

Hi, it's "Wednesday" today but I am not writing in my blog because today I am STUDYING. Because tomorrow is E-Day- back to back exams, 8-11 and 1-4. In the morning I type my last Combinatorics problem in Latex (that's the last problem I did, not the last one assigned- there is a big difference) to email in, and then I spend (are we in present tense...? I'm so confused by this little charade) far too long happily filling in the details of a complex analysis proof with 5 hypotheses and one conclusion that involves choosing 6 capital letters (6!!!) (Eric will know what I'm talking about here.) Things like "Choose N (in bold N*) such that k greater than or equal to N implies absolute z sub k minus l is less than epsilon over 3Q." (That's step five of this proof.) It is a proof about regular matrices- the necessary and sufficient conditions thereof (although we only proved sufficiency.) On the last day of class, Professor King's lecture was sort of a Mathematical Field Trip- he talked about summability theory and approximation theory and probability theory and Cezarro matrices and many other Wonders, things far beyond our understanding. I took notes out of habit.

Eventually I go to school with Nate, and head to the libary, the place where I do my serious studying. Problem: apparently the undergraduates actually stop drinking beer and start studying, at least a little bit, during finals week because THERE ARE NO EMPTY DESKS IN THE LIBRARY. I wander the floors, looking for a desk, noting that literally about half of the desks are not occupied by people but merely by possessions. (including a LAPTOP COMPUTER!! What kind of mindset allows someone to leave their laptop computer abandoned in a library?!?) Where is everyone? In the bathroom at the same time? Greeting their friends in other parts of the libary? FINALLY I find a desk that is unoccupied because it has no chair- I steal an unused chair from a nearby group study table, unpack, and settle in. I start going, slowly (too slowly) through the final exam study check list for Random Processes (which is a wicked cool class, by the way). Things that I learned in January have largely been forgotten. After a while I realize that my growing irritation is due to the fact that I am only a few feet from the door leading into this area of the library, which squeaks upon opening and has people going through it literally EVERY TWO SECONDS. (I suppose they are commuting between their slovenly occupied desks and... the bathroom? Visiting their friends?) Finally I can't stand it anymore and pack up to head to my office, which has more privacy and snacks in the desk drawers and a bathroom and waterfountain nearby and a phone to call Nate and tell him I can't to go dinner with him, too much to do. (Why don't I study there all the time, you ask? The chair is less comfortable, the lighting is not as good, and the school computer on my desk takes up too much space.)

Fast forward to several hours later- I leave with Nate to go to the last Ladies' Bible Study of the semester (on self-control), where there are donuts, which must serve as my makeshift dinner. (Why would you bring donuts to a Bible study on self-control? To practice...? I have no idea.) I get home around 9, put in three more hours of stuyding, and go to bed.

As I told Becky at Bible study- the problem with two exams in one day is that you have to figure out how to partition your brain into two parts, one side to hold all the content for each exam. As I studied Random Processes throughout the day, I felt like my brain was filling completely and there would be no more room to contain the proofs of twelve theorems required for the Complex Final. So in a strategic move I decided to memorize only 6 of the proofs, saving the other six to memorize in the two hour break between exams the next day. Would my strategy pay off, or be a disaster? Tune in tomorrow to the exciting conclusion of, "No More Space On The Hard Drive"!!**

*This is the Natural Numbers N, i.e., 1,2,3,4,... . I know how to do this in Latex now, but, computer illiterate as I am, I suspect that the Latex code for this type of N is not the same as the blogger code for this type of N...? (It's not just bold N, really, it should have a doubly-thick middle line... I don't know how to explain this to y'all unless you've seen it on a chalkboard...)

**This is a Cheesy Marketing Ploy to try to ensure brand loyalty on the part of my readers. (But you WILL tune in "tomorrow," won't you?)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

7 days left (Just Hand Over the Chocolate, and No One Gets Hurt)*

The days are simply not passing fast enough. Also, I cannot find any chocolate in this household. Wait, I'm going to go look again... maybe, just maybe...

Ha ha! I had forgotten about the good-old standby option, chocolate chips in a bag. :-D

Well, I've turned in 4 2/3 of the ten problems in the last combinatorics homework set, which is actually a bit better than I thought I might be doing at this point. The good/bad news, however, is that Professor Cowboy is releasing solutions tomorrow, meaning (I assume) that tomorrow is the absolute deadline to turn anything in. So I'm kind of half-heartedly trying to get a couple more done tonight.

Note to the mathematical community: can you please make up your minds, once and for all, about the meanings of "monotone," "increasing," and "decreasing"? Better yet, dump these terms altogether: Strictly (or weakly) increasing (or decreasing) is unambiguous and would avoid all confusions.

Thankfully my weird dizzy spells from yesterday went away- I took a vitamin and ate an orange, which perhaps helped- so I am feeling better. Better enough to go try one last time, I suppose, to solve some Combinatorics problems.

*Winner, 2006 BlogHer Awards, "Most unoriginal and uninspiring blog post"

Monday, May 01, 2006

8 days left

Someone call Maintenance. My brain is extremely Out-of-Order today. Like, twilight zone out of order. Eating nutritious food has, so far, not been helpful. This is not a good day for this to happen, as I am tackling the last major Combinatorics problem set due tomorrow. (Out of ten problems total, I have 2/3 of one done.) I want to curl up in a small ball in the sunshine and wait for the world to stop spinning. Have you ever taken cold medicine that made you absolutely loopy? That's how I feel right now.

9 Days Left

(I'm writing this Monday but pretend like it's still Sunday, okay?)

Today we went to Adrienne's choir concert, which was highly agreeable and a great opportunity for Reflection. The choir was behind us in the balcony for a good part of the concert, so with nothing to look at I traced out the contours of the stained glass window in my mind, over and over again.

(We are sorry, due to a Technical Malfunction this otherwise promising post will have to be cut short. See "8 days left.")