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Wed, Apr. 21st, 2010, 01:52 am
The fast-receding finish line (Part 5 of 5)

The problem with not posting these updates every day or every other day is that while each post catches me up two weeks, the amount of stuff that I haven't covered yet increases by a week at the other end. Oops.
Left out of last entry: I can't recall exactly what it was, and neither can Brent, but Jen and I had some minor, possibly sarcastic, dispute at the reception. Jen noted that it was the closest we've ever come to an actual argument. Jen can't remember what it was about either. It was a joke, anyway.

The week after the wedding, the AIME (round 2 of the Olympiad series) was Tuesday. I got an 11, Michael got a 12, and one of BCA's students got a 13. Consensus was that this was easier than usual, and while we had two students sure to make USAMO and one in very good shape, there were several more who were on the bubble. I thus spent the next three weeks fielding the questions "Is the cutoff out yet? When will it be? Do they know who qualified yet?" That weekend was the start of the NCAA basketball tournament, where I was doing incredibly up until a buzzer-beater knocked my champion out. Oh well. It was also a quiz bowl tournament at Bloomfield that was run like a pile of shit. After the competition, I drove out to PA for Mom's birthday weekend.
In the last full week of March, nothing tremendously exciting happened, besides the BCA chocolate competition. Yummy. Jeffrey held a housewarming at his new place near Trenton, so I drove down and Jen drove out there. A good time was had, as Chris's kids had a lot of fun with the Wii and Daniel in particular at one point drew Jen into some elaborate Lego Star Wars duel for which he made up the rules and story as he went along.
The Alt-AIME saw me think I'd solved all 15 problems, with two incredibly dumb mistakes, one silly mistake plus slight mis-doing of the problem and one completely wrong solution. None of the students taking the Alt were USAMO threats, but it did mean a day that I didn't have to man the cafeteria during lunch.

April saw a tweak on that last instruction. Since it was spring and getting warm, I was told that on sunny days, rather than sit in the cafeteria loft, I should go to the track and supervise the students eating and playing outside. This kept me amused, but also left me sunburnt. Of course, right after I buy sunscreen, I am told that assignment has been revoked, and for Thursday and Friday I was back in the loft. With the onset of third trimester, I again began to sit in on Michael's bridge class, teaching students the ladder of card games: Hearts, to learn trick-taking; Oh Hell, to learn bidding and trumps; Spades, to learn partnerships; pseudo-Bridge, to learn the mechanics of Bridge.
That weekend was the awesome Chicago trip, which deserves its own entry.
Upon returning, I got the brakes and hubcaps on my car fixed, so that it stopped shaking, then drove down to see Jen for a few days. I met a few more of her Toms River friends, and we sat on the piers at Island Heights for a while Thursday evening. On Friday, I drove up to New Brunswick to pick up a team of quiz bowlers from Columbia University to drive down to College Park for ACF Nationals, which I was staffing. Holy crap long questions, long rounds, long day, capped off on Sunday with the championship going to Stanford over Minnesota on a protested question.

More on my weekend in Chicago later, as well as my newest assignment (thanks to Iceland's volcano), but I will now consider myself caught up.

Thu, Apr. 8th, 2010, 03:04 am
The mix and the matching (Part 4 of 5)

Things I forgot to mention last time: On Wed Feb 24, the second AMC was as obnoxious as the first, and official HMIT results are posted online, with us in third place. Reports are that the scoring program used by HMIT is so complicated they screwed it up, and possibly had for the past several years as well. Also, before going to TR for Valentine's Day, I staffed the quiz bowl state championship. BCA ran the table until the final against St. Joseph. Leading late, they wound up losing 335-280.

And now, the new stuff:
I procrastinate. I haven't really gotten out of that habit, well, ever. So the CD that I ordered Jen for her birthday off Amazon (after no store had it) had not yet arrived when it got to be her birthday. Not wanting to show up without a tangible gift, and in return for her having burned me some Rilo Kiley CDs a short time earlier, I spent the Friday night before driving down making an Old 97's collection for her.
I immediately decided I wouldn't limit myself to one disc. My ground rules were that the first disc would be standard stuff; the second would have their live CD plus Rhett Miller's solo songs. I generally preserved catalogue order, with the exception of putting "Nite Club" first, since its opening lyric provided the title of the mix ("Eighteen hundred miles from this old nite club / A girl is turning 22 today"), and putting "Terrible Vision" at the end of the second disc, since it's probably my favorite Miller solo song, and provided the title of Disc Two ("You got terrible vision if you don't see / That I'm in love with you and how that means everything"). If I'm going to title Disc Two, then I need to title Disc One. Unfortunately, a vast majority of Old 97's songs are not especially uplifting. Eventually, I decided on parallelism in titling, using "Indefinitely" as the basic ("There's a fragile girl inside of you and I'm gonna set her free"). Of course, after I burned the disc, there were songs that I realized "How did I not put that there? Dammit!"

Visiting Jen that weekend was fun. We met up with two of her girl friends (Christina and Ally, the latter of whom I hadn't met before) and went to Cheesecake Factory. On Sunday, Jen's mother took us and Jen's brother Marc out to Chili's, and then I watched the US-Canada hockey gold medal game. When the US tied it with under 30 seconds left, I shouted "YES!" so loud that from the basement Marc yelled at me for disturbing his dog. Sadly, of course, Canada won it on overtime, but what a hell of a game. Also during that weekend, the AAST Math Team went to Stanford, though they lost a day of sight-seeing because the snow pushed their flight out from Friday to Saturday, and won out there. There was no question on this win.

The following week was pretty dull, though there was one encounter with a student who was looking for a teacher in regards to a rec letter. The next time I saw that teacher, he said "Tell her I'll have it tomorrow morning." Five minutes later, I see the girl again. "He promised me months ago he'd have it yesterday. And it needs to be in the mail today." That Saturday, however, was the math team's first trip to the Lehigh Math Competition.

Lehigh Valley is the defending ARML champions, and this contest is the first round of weed-out for selecting that team. Since it's not too far, Mr. Holbrook contacted them about us coming. The final arrangement wound up being that we would bring three busloads of students (roughly 70, constituting 1/4 of the total field), but we would contribute $500 towards the prize pool (CASH PRIZES for the top scorers!) and only be eligible to win one of the team plaques. This is good, as we would have won all five team plaques (overall and one for each grade). Michael, sitting next to me during the awards, reacted to that announcement (that we'd shown up and stolen the contest's metaphorical lunch money) by saying "Oh god, we're never coming here again." We borrowed a USAMO winner from last year who attends NV/OT, and he won first place. There is noise about putting him on our ARML team, but I am wary of that idea. Back in 1998-99, I was expressly told by the Bergen County team that they had first dibs; it is undoubtedly the same with this student.
The real fun was before the awards ceremony, with an unofficial team round. The premise was that you form teams of 15, and you get problems five at a time. When you hand in a set of problems, you get a cone party hat for one of your team members; the first team with 15 hats on heads wins. Since I was done with my part of the grading, I went back to the lecture hall, however students and non-students couldn't be on a team, so Michael and I joined up with two random parents. Eventually, the Pigeonhole Principle dictated that we had to wear multiple hats. I'm still wondering when those pictures will show up on the internet.

The following weekend was great fun, as my high school classmate Eileen got married! There was a long email sent out by Betty informing us of the carpool arrangements, from morning set-up to end-of-night drop-off at the hotel we were staying at. Then Eileen called me a few nights before to say that I wasn't needed at set-up (and neither was Tamsin, who I was supposed to be driving). So Jen and I got ready at home, picked up Tamsin, and went to Tracy's house, where we met up with Dave. By this time, the rain had started in earnest, leaving us rushing out the door to the cars. I had to pick Jess and Brent up, as some of the last-minute back-and-forth left her at home, and her mom at the church.
The ceremony was wonderful, with a funny officiant. "Marriage is final. There is no divorce in the Christian church. So, right now, your last chance. You can change your mind right now, we'll all go home, no hard feelings. Are you sure?" Yes, I'm sure. "Certain?" Yes. "100%?" I've already had a paper published with my [new] last name! "OK. [turns to Greg] Are you sure?" There was also an interesting sermon, regarding spousal "service" that Jess couldn't help but crack up at.
After photo posing that may have taken longer than the ceremony itself, we got in the carpool to go to the reception (Jess commended Jen on training me to go through the rain to get the car myself and pick them up at the door; Jen said I came pre-trained in that respect). After first driving past the hotel where we were to drop off my car, we doubled back. Jess, Brent, and Tamsin got in Pat's car, while Jen and I were to wait for Kent. Someone warned that Kent would almost surely get lost. He didn't quite get lost, but in fact mis-read the plan and went right to the reception. Tamsin said later, "I got here, and Kent was already drinking and I thought 'Oh fuck.' " It took ten more minutes of unanswered calls before I was able to determine as much, but whatever.
We got to the reception just as cocktail hour was ending, and after going upstairs and entering the main room, I hear "Mr. Pinyan, what are you doing here?" It was Mike, one of the students on the AAST Math Team. "Oh, you must've been one of Eileen's teachers!" Oh, teenagers. You have no sense of relative age. It turns out Mike is one of Eileen's cousins. Jen and I wind up being at the table next to everyone else from our group of friends, so we sit on the end nearest that table, and Jess and Brent sit next to us at that table (Jess tells me later that Jen has received Brent's seal of approval).
Introduction, Chinese line dance, speeches, soup, salad, etc. go by. Then just as dinner is about to come out, the lights dim. Then they go out. They stay out. Blackout. The tiny candles on each table provide the only light left, and are quickly doubled. The bouquet toss happens anyway, with some six-year-old catching the bouquet and Kent catching the garter. Eventually, the newlyweds wanted to depart to rest up for their trip to Hawaii. As the last pictures were being taken, the lights come back on! After more than two hours of being off.
I am told that I am responsible for carrying the vase with several of the table bouquets, with Tracy informing me, "There are four of them, so if you screw this up you will have four slightly drunk girls pissed off at you." Jen had volunteered to not drink so she could drive my car back to the hotel. Jess and Brent and Jen and I get the couples room, while the other six are all together in the singles room. Before we went to bed, we all got caught up on each others' lives and told stories. Dave took a ton of photos, but also some stories about his stealth mission to make sure the newlyweds were, uh, prepared, as well as share the entire list of Everything That Went Wrong, up to and including Greg's car completely dying within sight of the church in the torrential downpour two hours before the wedding.
The next morning, I drive Jess and Brent home through the wreckage of the previous night's storm, though it takes some maneuvering when 208, Maple Ave, Godwin Ave, Glen Ave, and Wyckoff Ave (in Waldwick) all are closed at various points due to trees down. I tried to slow down enough for someone to take a picture of a gigantic tree that lay across the road right near Waldwick HS, but a line of cars was behind me, so no one got the shot. Jen and I got back to my place and were still pretty well exhausted (long day + late night + Daylight Saving Time = still tired) so we didn't do much except watch Disc 2 of Firefly.

Fri, Apr. 2nd, 2010, 01:15 am
Rhett Miller concert

We will return to "Catching Up" shortly. However, I went to a Rhett Miller concert on Thursday, and had to share his amusing monologue from throughout the song "Question" (which is about a guy proposing to his girlfriend). Note: Just before the previous song, he asked if there were any kids in the audience; there were, so he didn't tell a dirty joke at the time.

[opening chords]

So, has anyone ever proposed on April Fools' Day? It seems like a sketchy proposition. Like, you get down on one knee and say that she's the only person for you, and then "Will you marry me?" And she starts crying and just when she's about to say yes, you say "APRIL FOOLS." And that's your last date. Ever.
I don't mean with her, I mean with anyone.
'Cause she'll tell everyone. And you'll be f-- well, in a bad situation.

She woke from a dream...

You know what would be even worse? If he's serious. She says yes, and just when he's about to put the ring on her finger and make it official, she says "APRIL FOOLS."
And that's his last date. Ever.

She'd had no idea...

Do the French have April Fools' Day? 'Cause I've always thought the French were humorless. I'm not trying to be racist. The only funny thing I know from France is this painting that says "Ceci n'est pas un pipe".
And that's funny because "pipe" in French is something that sounds like something Freud would think of.
[mouths "PENIS"]

Elle sortir de reve...

[unfortunately, my cell phone picked tonight for its camera/video features to stop working. groar]

Mon, Mar. 29th, 2010, 08:39 pm
February sweeps (Part 3 of 5?)

So if you watch a lot of network TV as I used to (at this point, almost all the TV I watch is sports), you may be familiar with "sweeps" periods. Specifically, in November, February, and May, extra attention is paid to ratings, so TV series have especially interesting episodes during those months. Well, one could say my February was kinda like that.

You see, the way Jen put it is, "Yeah, you're kind of mine that whole month." Three consecutive weeks, and by chance of calendar all weekends this year, are milestone dates: The 14th is obviously Valentine's Day, the 20th is the one-year anniversary of our first in-person meeting, and the 27th is her birthday. On the plus side, it's easy for me to remember all of them. On the other hand, aaaah gift ideas.

The second week of February, my second week at BCA, featured what's probably the single most important math competition of the year: AMC (formerly AHSME). For those who didn't do math competitions, it's a multiple-choice exam that forms the first step in the selection of the US team at the International Mathematics Olympiad. I actually wasn't needed to proctor, but was asked to be in the math team room during that time, to keep the parents who were making bagels for the students company. While talking with them a bit, I took the test for fun and got a 124.5 (out of 150), with 3 that I couldn't do and left blank, one that I guessed incorrectly on, and one that I just screwed up. My first reaction was that I had lost my skill at quick-pace math contests. Then everyone descended upon the math team room and I found out that only one student, Alex Z who has since garnered a reputation with me as "the kid who always sleeps in the room first hour", with a 126. It was a damn hard test, in other words. Michael later took it and got a 121.5. The first of the massive snowstorms hit Tuesday night, leaving school canceled Wednesday and Thursday, the former being declared "a day of boardgames, meatball, and drinking" by Ralph. We came back for Friday, and the always-hilarious Valentine's Day assembly. Oh, Romance Chronicles.

Meanwhile, Liz was asking for advice in balancing her third date with a guy over a long-awaited trip back to Cornell for Anti-Valentine's Day. I continue to remind her that under no circumstance should I be considered someone who knows what I'm doing or should be asked for relationship advice. She thus asked her roommates for advice on how to interpret the boy's response to her request to not get her anything. Roommate #1: "I would break up with him if he doesn't. Men are supposed to get women presents for Valentine's Day, everybody knows that". Roommate #2: "I would dump him if he does. I wouldn't go out with someone who doesn't take me seriously." Liz's verdict: "I decided to take both their comments under advisement... where by that I mean completely fucking ignore them."

I drive down to Jen's for that weekend, and as she had insisted all she wanted was "candy and a card", that was what I had, though I was briefly scared when she handed me a large bag containing my gifts. We spent the weekend introducing me to Arrested Development. [makes note to go about getting that to keep watching] February break came and went with me watching the Winter Olympics. Oh curling, how fun you are to watch, and how terribly the Americans did. The following weekend, Jen drove up here for our anniversary weekend, and we kicked it off with her triumphant return to Drew for a party. Good times were had, and continued on Saturday when we went to The Village Grille in Waldwick for dinner. She gave me a letter she'd written thanking me for being part of her life for the past year, but insisted I wait until she left before I read it. While that was happening, the Math Team was at Harvard/MIT. Despite a lack of individual success, the team did well enough on the cooperative rounds that they were named champions. One member of the team skipped and jumped down the aisle in celebration, and Mark V, the captain of the team, asked for a chance to say a few words to dedicate the win. "Mr. Holbrook wasn't the kind of guy that would get mad at you if you came home and you didn't win anything, but he didn't mind winning. So this victory is dedicated to him, so thank you for being here and losing to us." Some people on the internet thought that was in poor taste.

I then got called Monday morning to go back to BCA and told Michael, who's been in contact with administration for the past two months about math team, that while I wouldn't mind the "sitting in the math team room" job, I'd prefer not to get it a day or a week at a time. Spoiler alert: I'm still getting it a week at a time. Wednesday was the AMC-B, the second chance for everyone to do better. Almost no one did. I got a 121.5, Michael a 120, and the school winner 118.5. What the hell AMC. All told, though, we had 52 students move on to the second round. Another gigantic snowstorm occurred on Thursday, and by the time I got to school that day, the electronic message board said "EARLY DISMISSAL". I said I'd be willing to work Friday if the school was open, knowing there wasn't a chance in hell it would be. In fact, the Math Team's trip to Stanford was delayed until Saturday; luckily that competition was Sunday. With the snow continuing into Friday, I decided it'd be better to wait until Saturday morning to drive down to Toms River for Jen's birthday.

But that, and my preparation for it, will have to wait until next time.

Thu, Mar. 25th, 2010, 02:50 am
The first week (Part 2 of X)

When we left off, it was January 29.
Friday 1/29: Jen drove up in advance of our weekend together. I got a pizza from the local place, but by the end didn't feel so good. It was unclear whether it was from the pizza or just getting sick...
Saturday 1/30: After getting breakfast and checking the train schedule, I concluded that if we left at 1:20, we'd easily get to the train station in time. Then we get distracted and at 1:20, we start to gather our things together. We walk towards the train station, and just before the Crescent Ave underpass, I hear a train. "Don't worry, that's the one going northbound", I say, and indeed it is. Two minutes later, I hear another train. Fuck. It's an hour until the next train, and it's damn cold, cold enough that walking back to the house is a losing idea (because we'd then have barely enough time to have a hot cocoa before turning around and walking back to the station). I text Andrea that we'll be an hour later than previously scheduled.
Luckily, neither Jen nor I freeze to death, and we get into the city at a reasonable time. Andrea's texted as to where her, Jennifer and Carolyn are getting lunch. We take the subway to the Lower East Side, I give someone directions in the wrong direction because I myself have us going in the wrong direction, and eventually we get to the restaurant where just now, the three sisters plus Jeff and Kristin are getting their food (when someone asked for a Dr. Pepper, the waiter went to the convenience store next door and purchased one, and there was the slight chance someone's burger was a re-packaged Whopper). I introduced Jen to Carolyn and noted she was now just one away from the "Meeting all of my siblings" merit badge. Food was consumed before we went over to the theatre.
We, as well as Chris and Mom and Dad, were all in the city for Andrea's authorial debut, A Brief History of Cross-Dressing in the Civil War. As if the title and her personality weren't enough, she told us, "It's a comedy. Please laugh." Such requests weren't necessary, as it was hilarious. After the show, the sisters, Jen and I go to a bar and have a drink to celebrate Andrea's successful play, before Carolyn and Jennifer drove us back to my house. That night, Liz IMs me with a story that starts "So I just went on what was already the worst date ever before the guy even got there", but I'm not at the computer to respond.

Sunday 1/31: I get up to use the bathroom. I open my bedroom door, take one step into the hallway and start cursing loudly: "WHAT THE FUCK WHY IS THE GODDAMN DOOR WIDE THE HELL OPEN?" It seems Krishna, as part of his "Fuck you, I'm moving out" policy, decided he would leave the door open every time he left the house. It gets better. Jen has to go back home, and I have to go to Chris's to drop off a suitcase with Mom and Dad, who are going to Egypt. While I'm there, Krishna's move-out continues. Ralph reports that Krishna calls Mark, "I'm done, come by and give me my deposit." Mark walks in, walks downstairs, looks in the room. "You're not done, call me when you're done" and leaves. Mark is tired of Krishna's shit. By the time I'm back, Krishna is all but fully gone. Ali attempts to move out, but can't move his bed, and he bitches about stuff, and I stop caring enough to listen. I also get a call from a woman who Dr. Bath had given my information to, about tutoring. We set up a first meeting on Tuesday, and unfortunately I don't realize that if they are making an appointment before knowing my fee, I can probably charge more than what I've already been told is lowballing myself.

Monday 2/1: Since bumping a curb a few weeks prior, my car had been shaking at highway speeds. Since I was planning to drive up to Boston the following weekend, I went to the Mazda dealership and booked an appointment for Wednesday. When BCA called me to offer the "sitting in Mr. Holbrook's room" substitute position for the next two weeks until break, I took it but had to call them back later to cancel the Wednesday. Ali finishes moving out, then Mark comes to set up the room for the guy and girl moving in, disturbingly saying "Separate beds, so you won't need to hear the squeaking of the bed, and get kept up all night." Thanks, Mark. He leaves Ali's deposit with me, and Ali comes back later that evening to bitch that it's only $700 rather than the $725 minus $20 for the bookcase he took with him. I really don't care enough to listen. Juan and Marianella move into Ali's room, the 9th and 10th roommates I've had in this house since last July.

Tuesday 2/2: I report to the main office at BCA and then go to Room 150 (hereafter "my room" for ease of typing, though it will always be "Mr. Holbrook's room" to me) where the gigantic IGS has its attendance taken. I again met a few of the key students on the math team, and talked with Dr. Abramson (hereafter "Michael"), as much as I could with my sick and raspy voice. Coincidentally, this was Mr. Holbrook's birthday (hence his representation by the artists of the math team as a groundhog), and there were donuts provided by the Math Team boosters, one of which was delivered to me early in the morning as "I've been asked to give this donut to whoever is in charge of this room." When the school day was over, I went to the Ridgewood Library to take a half-hour nap, followed by tutoring the Ridgewood kid and then the Mahwah girl, setting another appointment with the latter for Thursday. When I get home, at about 9:30, there is more or less a family dinner for meeting the new roomies, who work with Sven at Stryker (while Ali worked at Stryker, he was in a different building) and are co-op students from RPI (as Alicia was). Ralph calls me a schmuck for not telling him before scheduling an appointment with Ramsey Mazda, as well as for telling them I jammed a curb as now they may invent things to say are wrong.

Wednesday 2/3: As snow falls, Charlie helps me off the car at the dealership. I am told there will be a diagnosis charge if I don't have any repairs done, and am unable to pull off whatever tricks Ralph suggested to avoid such. When they call back and suggest repairs that would amount to more than half of the car's actual value, after consulting with Dad, I tell them to piss off. Dad suggests that we switch cars on Friday, so I have their minivan while they park the red car at the airport while in Egypt. At some point, Ralph asks me if I've noticed the bathroom is dimmer. I say it seemed like it, but I wasn't sure. Turns out, Krishna, in his last act of "Fuck you, I'm moving out", TOOK A DAMN LIGHT BULB from the bathroom!

Thursday 2/4: Another day of feeling sick, but going to BCA. Thursday is Quiz Bowl day, so I stuck around for practice, and discovered that my voice is not quite yet ready for Saturday. From there to Cresskill to Mahwah. The last leg of that, Google suggests going via the Palisades and Thruway. When I get on the Palisades Parkway, I discover... hey, the car isn't shaking. Push it to 60, still not shaking. No rational explanation exists. Mahwah gives me a mug of green tea to take with me to help me get better, because when your family can afford a house that massive you can just give someone a mug. I call Dad to let him know that the Mazda is running fine, but that I'll meet up with him at Charlie's on Friday just in case.

Friday 2/5: It's a half-day, but I'd been asked to stick around to babysit some club which is watching Up. I hadn't seen it before, and it's a good movie. The wordless five minute montage of the love story was so sad. The club apparently was planning to use this as a fundraiser and had tons of food they were expecting to sell, but there were less than a dozen students. Mom and Dad were delayed coming in from PA, so since I was OK with my car, I just went up to Boston. CT-15 was pretty awful, so I cut back to I-95. I kinda got trapped in Boston and downtown Cambridge unable to make the turns I wanted, but eventually found my way to the apartment where I was crashing.

Saturday 2/6: I helped staff NAQT Sectionals at Harvard. Initially, I was one of two people staffing in a room, and I read two rounds then scorekept two rounds while my voice recovered. When the other guy had to save another room that was falling behind (or maybe just not getting through enough questions), I got the room to myself. While I was finally over my sickness, my voice was still not 100%. So by the end of the day, it was scratchy as all hell.

Sunday 2/7: Ralph said that his crazy friend was inviting us back to the bar in Ramsey for the Super Bowl. It was an exciting game, and Jen and I exchanged snarky remarks over the course of the evening like "Did the Census just spend two million dollars on... that?" (in all fairness, the Army must spend tens of millions of dollars on advertising, and the Census is no less noble an organization).

Next time: The rest of the month of Febr-snow-ary.

Fri, Mar. 19th, 2010, 01:30 am
Setting the stage (Part 1 of X)

No excuses, I'm just gonna catch you up in a bunch of small posts over the next week. The last legitimate update was... DECEMBER?! Are you fucking kidding me?

OK. So, umm, what's happened since then...
My birthday, I finally go do the trivia night at ABG. I finish second, but the winners give me the prize: two tickets to the next night's Nets game. The Nets being godawful, I am unable to sell the tickets, and that's the first game they win all season. During a snowstorm, I proctor a math competition at BCA, and then go into the city to see Kent and others for his birthday. Plans are made for a locker group New Year's, but no one ever gets back to me, so I spend it was Jen and JD (another person named Jen, I've taken to call her by initials).
With a rent increase pending, the roommates and I make plans to get new digs, and consider leasing an apartment above Allendale Eats in the center of town. But with no one willing or able to co-sign the lease with me, and me certainly unwilling to sign a lease by myself without any steady income, the deal falls through. Krishna has by this time worn out his welcome and is being an all-around dick, and Ali wants nothing more than to move away from New Jersey and bitch about NJ until he does, so the two of them say they'll move out anyway, and with Sven moving in mid-month and reports that someone will replace Ali at the start of February, the rent increase never actually happens.
As I posted, Mr. Holbrook passed away in late January. I attended a grief/planning session at the Academy the day after, a Saturday, and then on Sunday went out with Ralph to watch football at a bar with his crazy rich friend. We went to Ramsey Country Club, where apparently Real Housewives was taping, though Jen was disappointed that I couldn't get any spoilers. The following Thursday, a wake was held, and Mr. Bath got my information to pass on to a girl in Mahwah about tutoring. That night Jen texted me to say she needed to get out of her house and could she come up on Friday night rather than Saturday afternoon for the weekend. I said sure and informed the math team people I wouldn't be able to help out on Saturday morning.

That brings us up to Friday January 29. Part 2, coming soon, covers the ten days beginning with that day.

Thu, Feb. 4th, 2010, 02:54 pm
Joe Holbrook (1937-2010)


Joseph Ivan Holbrook (2/2/1937 - 1/22/2010)


This life keeps movin' on
You're gone away before too long
So tell your friends just how you feel
You better say it loud for the world to hear

'Cause it's getting late, it's time to go
The paper moon is fading slow
But the night keeps moving on
And it takes you in and it brings you home


I'm certainly late to mentioning it, and I have a lot to say about what's been going on this week, but it all does start with two weeks ago.

Wednesday January 20, I was called in to sub at BCA. At one point, I talked with Dr. Mayers and said I intended to come to math team on Saturday to give a lecture and/or help out. He said that Mr. Holbrook had gone home sick the previous day, so he wasn't around, but that I should feel free to come in over the weekend.
Friday morning, I saw a message from Ken on Facebook that Mr. Holbrook was in the hospital with flu complications. That afternoon, he passed away. I received word from the phone chain around 6pm. When I saw the BCA number calling, my first thought was getting called in again, but realized they wouldn't call me on a Friday night.

The aftermathCollapse )

Mr. Holbrook was my mathematical mentor. From the time Jeffrey started at the Academy, I attended math team and the after-school programs. He showed me some of the beauty of math, but even more, he was about opportunity. He gave me the chance to go to ARML as just a little kid, and though I've expressed doubts about his policy, he still did, taking 8 teams to ARML 2009 including one team of just pre-frosh (Current math team senior Sherry said at one point "We hope to honor Mr. Holbrook by bringing our most teams ever." Good luck). He wrote recommendation letters that got me into PROMYS, and helped get me a scholarship at Wash U. During college, he let me teach the summer math camp twice, and I've taught it twice more since graduating.
As many have said, it wasn't about winning with Mr. Holbrook, it was about learning math and having fun. That said, he did win three AMC national championships here (1997, 1998, and 2005) and apparently another one earlier at Freeport in the 1970's. Over the last 14 years, BCA won the regional (NY/NJ) title on the AHSME/AMC six times (the other eight Stuyvesant won). And the team has also won many Mandlebrot competitions in recent years.

The Academy has lost a great teacher, a great mentor, and a great friend. To Mr. Holbrook, thank you for all you did, and for the legacy you've left.

*-For ease of conversation, I will refer to my various tutoring clients by town.

Sun, Jan. 10th, 2010, 11:05 pm
Playing poker

If you, like me, are a mediocre poker player who blogs (or journals or whatever), and you might like a chance at free money:

Online Poker

I have registered to play in the PokerStars World Blogger Championship of Online Poker! The WBCOOP is a free online Poker tournament open to all Bloggers, so register on WBCOOP to play.

Registration code: 111769

Sun, Jan. 10th, 2010, 10:57 pm
2009 in review

[Way back in 2003, over the last two weeks of the year, I wrote several one-paragraph essays on LJ with each paragraph corresponding to a month of the preceding year. In 2004, I started to do the same, but stopped halfway through because I didn't have internet access. I didn't even bother the following year, because not enough interesting stuff had happened. This past month, I resumed the practice on Facebook. For those who aren't friends with me on Facebook, here are those twelve posts.]

2009 in reviewCollapse )

Thu, Dec. 3rd, 2009, 07:45 am
I'm not copping out

Really? It's been two months? Wow am I lame. On the one hand I still have enough free time I could be posting every week or more. On the other hand, though, it's because not too much has changed.

Jen has met some of my non-related friends, as she came with me to a Thanksgiving get-together with Academy people. Good to see (over the course of three meetings within a week) Shyunti, Dave, Jess, Tracy, Eileen, Betty, Kent, Pam, etc. again. It's the second straight Thanksgiving that someone's announced they were engaged. Place your bets for next year's announcement. 3-1 odds for Tracy, 5-1 for Jess.

Jen's also met the new roommates. 'Cause, yeah, there are new roommates. Ali I've mentioned before, as he moved in back in September. For the past month his girlfriend Katrina from Germany was here. Ali does a lot of traveling for his job. There was a problem when his trip to France was canceled, so Katrina canceled her trip to go with him. Then at the last moment, his trip was uncanceled, so he wound up in France for a few days and then in Turkey for a few days. He got back the Sunday before Thanksgiving before having to leave on Monday for Iowa. Kata (as apparently everyone but me calls her, though I didn't realize that until the name was etched into my mind) flew back later on Monday. Apparently they had some sort of fight about him not being around for that last week, not that it was really his fault. Just yesterday a postcard he sent from Turkey arrived, not that there was any chance it would've gotten here before she left.
On the first of October, Krishna moved in. He's Indian. I still don't really know too much about him other than that he's taken over almost all food-storage space in the kitchen and has a wonderful hacking cough. Ralph moved in a week or so later, just as the Giants and Jets went from unbeaten powerhouses to sucking at everything. Ralph is from Northern Ireland, though by some strange coincidence went to the same college as Krishna in England, though a year apart. Freaky. Ralph is a car salesman and the other day gave a sample of how people in his business go about their dealings: "Oh, I'm sorry, that contract clearly states that it is contingent on Tier 0 approval, and unfortunately we can only approve you for Tier 1. We can still get you this car but not at quite a deal..." and so forth. Ralph's girlfriend Keira hangs out in the house a few days a week, and is already planning the Christmas decorations.

For a short time, the Jenga ripoff that was already in the house when I moved in was the official game of the house, but I have retrieved Taboo and Apples to Apples from PA and each has been given a try. We haven't yet had a chance to take on trivia night at ABG, but I'm going to try to get us there tonight.

I've been tutoring two students in math and I've been called in a few times by the BT district for sub work, but still no full-time job. I'm getting by for now.

I'm pretty sure only one person who reads this gets the title reference...

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