I’m So Excited, I’m So Scared

December 3rd, 2014

I reached my thirtieth birthday without ever having to take a standard 9-to-5 job. It’s not that I’m some kind of mountain-dwelling free spirit or world-changing entrepreneur, I just think corporate jobby-jobs are gross. I’ve done some freelancing here, part-time work there, and so far I’ve managed to bring home a livable income.

But my glorious freedom ends tomorrow. When my 32-ish-hour, choose-my-own-schedule, super-casual start-up job dissolved three months ago (the company went under), my other income streams couldn’t fill the gap, and so I began the dreaded job hunt.

The part of the search I struggled with the most (besides retyping my resume information over and over and OVER again on each new application) was putting a name on the job I wanted. I can see it in my head—I’m working with data, solving puzzles, using my mathy smarts and my language skills to find answers to questions about . . . anything, really. It could be space or insurance or urban planning or manufacturing, as long as the problems are complex and the details are key.

I thought this might be the sort of thing a data scientist would do, and it is. The problem is that most companies expect their data scientists to know multiple programming languages and be able to build a database solution from start to finish, and I’m not quite there yet. “Entry-level data scientist” is not a popular listing.

So I set my sights a little lower, on “data analyst” jobs, of which there seem to be plenty. Most of the employers I applied to never responded at all, as I gather is the norm these days. The one actual rejection email I got was a refreshing touch.
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Gymnastics + Data = Love

October 4th, 2013

Over the last few months I’ve been thinking about combining two of my favorite things, data and gymnastics, into . . . something. I created a MySQL database and started putting results in there, I’m learning R, various things. I’d like to be a data scientist, and I figure the best way to learn is with data that I’m interested in.

Most of my fiddling around has been for myself so far, but here’s a quick little prediction I’ll make to see how it goes. Worlds are happening right now, and the women’s all-around finals start in two hours. Here are the scores of the top ten all-around qualifiers.

Worlds 2013 AA Qual Actual

I tweaked these scores based on each gymnast’s past performance in all-around competitions, weighted by date and “Worlds-iness.” This is the most basic model I could think of. The scores didn’t change that much, which isn’t surprising because that’s how I designed it. The biggest mover is Aliya Mustafina, who I’ve predicted will add nearly a full point and move up from 5th to 3rd place. Considering that she sat down twice in qualifying, that doesn’t seem unlikely.

Worlds 2013 AA Prediction

There’s not much data to work with here, as gymnasts only compete all-around nationally or internationally a few times a year, so these predictions will probably not be super accurate, but let’s find out! I’ll be watching the finals live, or at least as much as I can get away with at the office.

Not Broken, Don’t Fix It

June 20th, 2013

Here’s a odd garbling of language I found at work today that amused me. I could write a whole blog about these things, and I would be quite pleased with it, and NO ONE WOULD READ IT.

The legal notice on the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s website includes the following paragraph:

WARNING: By accessing this website, you consent to system monitoring for law enforcement and other purposes.Unauthorized use of or access to the site may subject you to criminal prosecution and penalties. Further, with regard to corporate filings, be advised that Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 156B § 68 makes it unlawful for anyone to knowingly make, execute, file or publish any report or statement required by law to be filed by a corporation in the Commonwealth. Such action shall be punished by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000.00) or by imprisonment for not more than three (3) years, or both.

If you read the sentence in bold, you will notice that it makes no sense. There are certain statements that are required to be filed by a corporation, and knowingly making such statements . . . is unlawful?

Puzzled, I looked up Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 156B § 68 to see if there was any elaboration on this rule, and I discovered that the statute actually says (emphasis mine):

Section 68. Whoever knowingly makes, executes, files or publishes any report or statement required by law to be made, executed, filed or published by a corporation in this commonwealth, or whoever causes the same to be done, which report or statement is false in any material representation, shall be punished by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than three years, or both.

So someone ALMOST copied the statue verbatim, but tweaked it just a little to make it two sentences instead of one, and to remove the ten words that contain the central idea of the rule. What?

I tried to think of a comment to close with, but all that came to me were terrible cliches like “Must have been a Monday!” or “Looks like SOMEbody ran out of coffee.” Wokka wokka!

It’s April Now

April 22nd, 2013

I’m still busy with all the stuff I mentioned in the last post, except that I’m done with the play (super fun), so I haven’t made it back to gymnastics class yet. I’ve stopped running, too, which is not great. Doing better with the divorce, though. I decided not to see or talk to John for a while, and that’s really helped me focus on other parts of my life.

The weather’s great these days, which Sam is enjoying—he’s been to the dog park twice this week.

My hair’s purple now, or rather it has purple highlights in it. Excited about that. I tried a new stylist this time, since my old one switched salons, but she didn’t cut it the way I like, so I think I’m going to have to track the old one down.

Trying to cut down on the number of times I omit the subject and helper verb “I am” from a sentence. Not doing a great job so far. Maybe I should write sentences that aren’t entirely about myself and what I’m currently doing, so they won’t sound so repetitive in the first place.

Headed out now for some pub trivia with friends. Totally gonna sit outside. Yeah.

First Post Since NaBlo

March 15th, 2013

Looking back at November, I see not much has changed in the last four months. Job’s still going well, still having a hard time with the divorce, still watching way too many gymnastics videos. I got a part-time staff position with my taiko group, and I’m kind of an understudy musician in a play (long story), so with all that going on I don’t have much time for gym class any more. Pity. I should make time. I miss the exercise and the learning new things.

But like RIGHT right now, I want a hamburger. It’s 9:50 PM, and I already ate dinner, but for some reason I’m starving. What’s that about?

P.S. NOT PREGNANT, but thanks for reminding me that I’m going to die alone and childless, if you were thinking of asking. Time for a quick rant: Nothing personal to anyone I know, but I hate those winky pregnancy questions with a burning passion.

I swear, do not ever ask a woman if she’s pregnant, even if you know she’s married or trying or whatever, unless you’re pretty sure that baby is yours. There could be all kinds of things going on that you don’t know about that could make your comment really hurtful. Like maybe she’s having fertility issues, or she just miscarried, or, I don’t know, her marriage is breaking up and she hasn’t told Facebook yet.

Have I talked about this before? Maybe I’ve alluded to it once or twice. Sorry if this is a repeat.

Okay, must eat now. What’s open at 10:00 and won’t keep me up all night?

Getting the Gravel Out

November 29th, 2012

Speaking of gymnastics, tonight was the first time I left class without a headache. Okay, with a slight headache, but only every now and then. I used to have pretty bad headaches at the end of each class that would last two or three days, to the point where I was worried that I was giving myself a series of minor concussions.

I couldn’t find much information online about head injuries in gymnastics. You’d think they’d be common, with all the spinning and crashing that gymnasts do. Maybe not. Or maybe they pale in comparison to the broken bones and torn ligaments that abound.

McKayla Maroney had a concussion earlier this year, you know. So we’re totally twinsies, except that she over-rotated a triple-twisting layout and sustained an actual concussion, whereas I, um, “over-rotated” a few handstands and kind of got a headache.

The point is, I’m getting slightly better at not doing permanent damage to myself.

Note to My Future Self

November 27th, 2012

If you’re wondering what most characterized this time in my life, apart from my job going well and me still struggling to come to grips with the divorce, know that this was the time when I watched a lot of gymnastics videos. So many videos.

This was also the time when I took gymnastics classes, but I spend way more time watching videos than I do at the gym.

Last year it was cheer videos, before that college a cappella groups, and before that . . . vlogs? That would have been 2006 or 2007, so maybe there were a few epochs in between. Maybe the ellipses were when I read a lot of blogs.

Anyway, self. This age, this is the one with all the world championships and olympicses and documentaries and tutorials. Oh, and tons of podcasts, too. But not gymnastics podcasts, that makes no sense. Right.

Three more days of NaBlo, y’all.

The Single Woman Cooks

November 25th, 2012

Because I live alone in a small apartment (with a correspondingly small kitchen), I don’t have much extra food lying around. Almost anything perishable will surely perish before I finish it, and I hate wasting food.

So when I want a few bites of something savory but have no leftovers or snacky things handy, I get creative. Or I walk to the gas station for a bag of chips, but only rarely, because I double-hate making a trip for just one thing.

Tonight I scrounged around in the cupboards and tried falafel on a corn tortilla with mango chutney. It was . . . not terrible. And I filled my belly without spending any money, so I’m calling that a success. Living the dream, y’all.

Skinny Jeans

November 23rd, 2012

I didn’t post yesterday, but hey, it was Thanksgiving. Hope all yours were lovely. Or if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you had a nice Thursday.

Today I bought my first pair of skinny jeans. I am under no illusion that I (short, small waist, big thighs) have the ideal body type for skinnies, but, you know, they’re in style these days. And more practically, the boot cuts I’ve clung to for the last decade are all but impossible to wear with, well, boots—the kind that go outside your pants, anyway.

Skinny jeans

I was looking for a reasonably well-fitting pair in a dark wash, and I found them on sale at the Gap. Score. And then, among the ten pairs I tried on, I fell in love with these green ones to the right, so I bought my second pair of skinny jeans on the spot.

Skinny jeans - green

The camera on my phone distorts the colors a little. The green you see in the photo is the green I *wish* they were; in real life they’re more of a bluey-mint. Still fabulous.

“But Natalie,” I hear you say, “No store ever makes pants in the right length for moderately short women!” And you’re right, of course. Most stores seem to assume that the average American woman is about 5’10” and cut their pants accordingly. Gap does make petite sizes, but they only sell them online, and hell if I’m going to buy pants without trying them on. The pants I bought are “ankle length,” which means they just about reach the floor on my (one inch below average height!) frame.

Skinny jeans are too long

By comparison, check out this third pair. These are SKINNY jeans, IN MY SIZE, but they look like sweatpants because the extra three inches on the “regular” length bunches up around my calves. Even if I stand on my tiptoes, they still flood at the bottom. Ridiculous. I guess Gap errs on the long side and assumes most people will hem them. Nope, I’ll leave them in the fitting room instead.

I managed to get out of the store without buying anything else, which I’m pretty proud of. Okay, except a belt, which I TOTALLY NEEDED, you guys. My other brown belt doesn’t go with these pants, all right?

But seriously, except for a couple things in LA, I haven’t bought new clothes in about eighteen months. I only have a teensy bit of spending money left over in each paycheck, and right now I’m choosing to spend it mostly on tapioca tea. My Christmas list is like ninety percent clothes this year. Clothes and a new laptop. Also CLOTHES.

Sorry, feminism. I like science and actually I’m fairly good at it and also I know some things about computers! There, now we’re even.

Early to Bed

November 21st, 2012

As we often do—but haven’t done in a few years—my family is going to run in the Turkey Trot tomorrow. It’s nice to do things together, and to have traditions, but ugh, the crowds, and double ugh, the leaving at 6:30 IN THE MORNING.

This is the first time I’ve run a 5k when I’ve been running semi-regularly beforehand. That’s pretty neat. Maybe it means I can finally regain the fitness level I had at age twelve.

I haven’t been running as much since the end of Daylight Savings Time because now when I get home from work it’s dark or nearly so. I feel like running in the dark ups my chances of (1) getting raped, (2) getting hit by a car, or (3) tripping over a crack in the sidewalk and breaking my clumsy self. Mostly the third thing.

Do you know when my second-least-favorite time to run is? Butt-early in the morning. Speaking of which, I’m off to bed.