Tag Archives: Harry Potter


Scars are bad-ass sexy, right?

It’s hard to believe but it has been roughly 2 years since I last set foot in Hawaii. Given my recent bout of wanderlust, you’ll understand that this has been preoccupying my mind of late.

Yesterday, January 22nd, would have been the two year anniversary of the day that my face was introduced to the hardwood floor in the house that Rick and I had rented for a week on the Big Island. The coming together of face and floor, albeit brief, was so powerful that it bore fruit; specifically the Harry Potter-esque lightning bolt scar that now sits above my left eyebrow, reminding me daily of our adventure1.

Sitting back and thinking about the past two years reminds me of how lucky I am. Not only did I have an amazing adventure in Hawaii, I managed to land an amazing job, travel a lot, run a lot, and climb several mountains. I got to know some amazing new friends in Guelph, and I got to take part in so many shenanigan filled adventures2.

Looking back at all of the things I’ve been able to do, I can’t help but smile and feel such gratitude that – for whatever reason – I’ve been able to do them. I’ve been very fortunate in my life to be surrounded by some amazing people – pushing me farther, helping me achieve things I never would have thought possible, encouraging me on my way, picking me up when I stumbled or fell. And I know that it’s because of them that I am able to do all of the things that I get to do. When I’ve had times of doubt, or questioned my ability to finish something that I had started, I often thought of the people who had provided support along the way. That thought was usually exactly what I needed to push me through to the finish line, whatever form that finish line took.

So here’s to all of the people who have inspired me, challenged me, and pushed me beyond. Here’s to everyone who encouraged my wanderlust, who supported my personal challenges, or smiled knowingly when I confided an as-of-yet unwritten desire to do something crazy. Thank you for everything.

Most of all, thank you for not fearing my ever-so bad-ass gangster scar. It’s pretty bad-ass, no?

1 In the event that you want to relive The Stitchening, click here – because Rick filmed the entire hospital face-stitching adventure. You are welcome. Note: not necessarily for those of weak constitution.

2 Shenanigan filled adventures being the best of all the adventures.

And The Award Goes To…

A foot of onion rings. I feel sick. But they were so tasty. Ok, half of them were.

Yesterday Bernie had surgery; part of the long journey on the road back to health. The surgery was for his pelvis, and based on what I’ve heard, it went well. Aidan and I dropped by last night to see how he was doing and to keep Becky company. Of course, her dad was already there with her, and our friend Erin arrived shortly after we did. So really, it was another rocking night in the ICU Lounge at Hamilton General Hospital.

We didn’t stay in the lounge long, however, as it was rather crowded and Becky and I both needed to eat. So we found a pub nearby for onion rings and various other pub fare. And when I say onion rings, I clearly mean a stack of onion rings that was eleventy-billion feet high. Okay, 1 foot high, but given my stomach it might as well have been eleventy-billion feet high. Verdict: so damn delicious. Sadly I couldn’t finish them all (big surprise), but the good news is that I now have leftover onion rings. Granted, leftover onion rings have a tendency to be not nearly as good as the fresh variety, so whether or not I eat them is another story. For now they sit in my fridge tempting me with their onion-y goodness.

When we returned to the hospital, Bernie was still sedated – probably a good thing given the surgery and all. Aidan and I sat with him for a while, trying to check out his fancy new scar. Clearly it was all bandaged up so I have nothing to report other than that he’ll have a fancy new scar. I should point out that my Harry Potter scar is still way cooler, but I’ll let him have the ‘biggest scar’ award. I’m all about the giving. Ha! I’m such an ass.

Since only 2 people are allowed in the room at any one time to visit, we’ve been playing musical visitors. Whenever I leave the room, I either sit in the lounge or wander the halls looking for things that make me smile or giggle. It’s my way of coping I guess. That, or I’m a heartless bastard; I’ll leave that up to you to decide. Anyway, I now offer to you dear readers, several of the things that I’ve found while wandering the halls of the Hamilton General Hospital that made me smile.

No slipping in my brothers room. Good advice for someone with a crushed pelvis.
This room intrigues me.
This room made me giggle
If I understand this sign correctly, this is where you go if you've lost your heart.
It seems odd that these are offered at the hospital (Heath fail) but that doesn't mean I don't want one ;)
Mmm, Stat lab.
A note for daddy. This makes me smile.

Does This Spell The End Of My Wanderlusting?

A get well note for Bernie from his eldest daughter Makenzie.

After visiting the hospital today to see Becky and my brother, Aidan and I headed to Simcoe to visit my parents. We figured it would do all of us good to have a normal family dinner. And it did.

Over dinner we chatted about the obvious; that being my brother and the accident. We also chatted about Christmas and what that would entail. You see, Aidan and I had planned to fly to Europe for three weeks over Christmas and New Years. However, given the current situation with my brother, it seems like a far better idea to stick around and spend time with the family.

But don’t worry folks; this isn’t the end of my wanderlusting ways. Far from it. During our drives back and forth from the hospital, Aidan and I have been chatting about what our plans could be. Clearly we both know that being home for Christmas is the only option. But we also know that travel is still in our very near future. In fact, after our conversation today I think we’ve figured out where were going to go and when we are going to go there. So, without further ado let me present to you the

New & Improved

Dan & Aidan Fun Time Christmas Travel Adventure


Destination: New York City!

Say what? New York City? Again? Weren’t you just in the Big Apple?

Why yes, yes I was, thank you for noticing. But really, this is a no-brainer. Flights are inexpensive. Hotels are inexpensive (for NYC). The time of year is right. I love the city. And even more: Aidan has never been there. This is clearly something that I should have rectified long ago. Regardless, the plan is to hit the Big Apple one more time this year. On our list of things to do:

I’m sure there will be other items added to the list, but this is a good start for now. And as always, I shall keep you posted on my wanderlusting and my adventuring.

Waiting For Rickman

Friday night, after wandering New York, gorging on chocolates from Godiva and from Michel Cluizel, attempting our hand at shopping, seeing The Book of Mormon, and enjoying a most delicious post-theatre dinner accompanied by a very nice bottle of Don David Malbec at Sosa Borella (an Argentine restaurant we randomly stumbled upon), Gerarda, Steph, and I made our way back to On The Avenue hotel.  There we tried some of the 30-year-old port that I had picked up, along with a small bottle of bubbly that Gerarda and Steph had purchased to celebrate our first full day in the city. While this might sound like a wild night it was actually low-key; which was exactly what we wanted given that Saturday night would be anything but – what with the planned wine dinner at Maloney & Porcelli’s.

Gerarda and I searching for tickets.

Anyway, while we were enjoying the port we opted to listen to The Book of Mormon soundtrack – something that Gerarda had on her iPod. While listening to this we decided to investigate a play that we had noticed in The Book of Mormon playbill earlier that day. Specifically, a comedy written by Theresa Rebeck called Seminar, and staring Professor Severus Snape (a.k.a. Alan Rickman in the land of the Muggles). The inclusion of Rickman was enough to tempt all three of us to perhaps open our wallet one more time that day. Amazingly and despite the fact that the official opening was set for Sunday, we managed to snag 3 excellent seats for the Saturday matinee.

The Doctors, ready to take on New York

The play itself is about a group of four friends who gather together to have their writing reviewed and critiqued by Rickman. They all approach writing from different worlds, different views, and for different end points; but they are no match for Rickman’s sharp tongue. The play is engaging, witting, intelligent, and a lot of fun to watch. In a way, it’s a bit of getting to see Snape in action, but without the PG restrictions of the Harry Potter films. As the play shifts from one of the friends’ apartment to Rickman’s home (at the end of the first act), we are granted full access to the experience and wisdom of Rickman’s character. His speech is moving, heartfelt, and also tough to hear. But it resonates because we realize that what he does, he does for love of writing and a desire to see the best writers make it. It’s here that we learn how much of a teacher he really is, despite his questionable methods, his questionable ethics, and his exceedingly sharp tongue.

The play was fantastic and I’d definitely recommend that you check it out if you have the opportunity. I’m so glad that we managed to get tickets to see it. Seeing Rickman live was worth every penny we spent.

For those curious, the play also starred Lily Rabe, Hamish Linklater, Jerry O’Connell, and Hettienne Park. We managed to spot Hamish, Jerry, and Hettienne after the show. Sadly, we were left waiting for Rickman. He and Rabe opted not to sign autographs and greet the fans. No worries – Harry Potter himself (a.k.a. Daniel Radcliffe) was playing just down the road; so Gerarda, Steph and I moseyed off in that general direction in hopes that I might be able to show him my Harry Potter-esque scar. Yup, we truly are that nerdy.

Show Me Your Downward Dog: Week 2

So yesterday marked the end of the 2nd week of my 35 day yoga challenge. That means I’m 40% bendier than I was before I started. Okay, maybe that math doesn’t quite add up. And maybe, perhaps, I haven’t really done anything to determine if I’ve actually become bendier. But I stand by my statement. Forty. Percent. Bendier.

How did week 2 go? Pretty good actually, if you ignore the fact that I missed 2 classes over 2 separate days. But, I doubled up on Sunday so I’m only short 1 class for the week. For those who are counting, that’s 13 classes completed in 14 days. I figure I can make up the other missed class some time this week. And, this doesn’t screw up my challenge as the requirement is that I complete 35 classes over the 35 days.

Why did I miss getting my bend-on on two separate occasions? Well, in the first case (Tuesday) I went to see Harry Potter with a bunch of friends. So. Freaking. Awesome. In fact, so awesome that I saw it again on Thursday with Kevin. Which is why I missed yoga on that day too. I could have gone earlier in the day, but then I wouldn’t have been able to have dinner with Aqleema. Clearly I had a difficult decision to make, but I believe I made the best decision given the situation. Dinner was awesome. The movie was awesome. And I still have 21 days to make up the missed classes.

Anyway, here is a summary of week 2.

  • Monday: Moksha Level II – 75 minutes
  • Tuesday: Harry Potter with Steph, Gerarda, Alan, Sean, Mike, Victoria, Randy, Kim, Maggie, and Elizabeth
  • Wednesday: Moksha Yin – 75 minutes
  • Thursday: Dinner with Aqleema and Harry Potter with Kevin
  • Friday: Moksha Kharma – 60 minutes
  • Saturday: Moksha – 60 minutes
  • Sunday: Moksha – 60 minutes, and Yin – 90 minutes
Two weeks down, three to go.

Despite The Logo, Nerdfest 2011 Isn’t Being Held At Hogwarts

While this logo looks like something from Harry Potter (and to be honest, if someone asked I’d tell them it was), this is actually the crest of the Statistical Society of Canada (SSC).  Who knew we had so much in common with Harry Potter?  Lightning bolts AND owls?  Seriously?

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to announce that the abstract I submitted to the Annual Meeting of the SSC (also known as nerdfest 2011) has been accepted!  w00t!

What does this mean?  It means that I will be giving a talk about my PhD research.  I’m stoked.  The abstract I submitted is below.

This also means that I will be heading to Wolfville Nova Scotia in June to attend the meetings, which is great for reasons beyond the nerdery of the Annual Meeting of Canada’s statisticians.  That is, I’ll be able to check off item #136 (travel to Nova Scotia) from my Not-So-Bucket-List list.  And if things work out according to plan, I’ll also be able to check off items #134 (travel to New Brunswick) and #138 (travel to Prince Edward Island) as well.

Of course I will keep you posted on the conference as it happens.


Gastrointestinal (GI) disease data provides motivation to extend Mixture Model (MM) literature to classify disease based on infection source.  Specifically, MMs are employed to classify GI data as foodborne or waterborne.  This work accounts for spatially indexed disease using two methods.  In the first case, independent multivariate conditionally autoregressive spatial priors will be assigned to the log linear term of each of the mixture components.  The second case investigates a non-independence assumption.  These two models are contrasted with the standard CAR spatial model.  All models are compared via a simulation study, with application to Alberta GI data (1992-1998).

Just Call Me Ass Prof For Short

Professor Frink of the Simpson's. Oh to be as nerdy as he.

Before reading this you might want to find a chair and sit down, for the magnitude of what I am about to relay to you is so shocking that you might actually pass out from the sheer intensity of it (assuming you are of exceptionally weak constitution or prone to random bouts of fainting).

So today it is official. After spending the bulk of my life in school, I have signed all the necessary paperwork, and can announce to the world that I have a job. A real job!

My shiny new position comes with a title as well. Specifically, I am no longer just a Doctor of Statistics, now I am also an

Assistant Professor of Statistics.

My new home is in the School of Computer Sciences at the University of Guelph. It comes with a newly constructed/painted office1 (in the former Axelrod but now refurbished and newly minted Alexander building; rooms 101 and 102 to be exact), and a lab to fill with young minds that I might shape and such. I know, I’m shocked too that someone would entrust the shaping of young minds to me, but hey, it’s an awesome job and one that I gladly accept.

My shiny new keys for my shiny new office.
My shiny new office. Big space. Bad furniture. All mine. Door name plate to come.
My desk, pre new computers. But that is a sexy MacBook Pro.

I also get to purchase some fancy-pants new computers. It will come as no surprise to anyone that I plan to purchase Macs. When I know what I’m getting, I’ll be sure to blog about them :) [Update: Clearly I wrote this ages ago, as we are all aware that I've already purchases said shiny new computers - as documented here]

Professor Farnsworth of Futurama fame. My goal is to be as cranky as him.

The position officially started on January 1, 2011, however there were some paperwork issues, and as such I haven’t been able to sign the contract until now. Regardless, I’m stoked. I’ve already started teaching two courses: Math2080 – Calculus for the Biological Sciences, and IBIO6070 – Advanced Methods in Population Modelling. The former I’ve taught twice before. The latter is a course of my making. I’ve actually been surprised at how well the latter course has been received. At this point, I’ve had to turn students away so as not to overload myself in my first semester. Crazy stuff!

Anyway, now I need to figure out what to do with myself given that I am gainfully employed. I have a good idea what my research goals will be, but I still have to fill in a bunch of details to get from where I am to where I want to be. A little overwhelming to think about all at once, but also very exciting.

Professor Snape of Harry Potter fame. His nasty is so epic, I can't help but love him.

In other news, I’m still not accustomed to stating my degree/profession when queried about my employment status. Take for example the following two situations.

Situation the first: Shortly after getting my Ph.D., my phone rang. Someone was calling to get a reference for one of my former students. The conversation began something like this:

  • person calling: Could I speak with Dr. Gillis, please?
  • me (to person calling): Who?
  • me (internally): Oh wait, that’s me.
  • me (to person calling): Oh wait, that’s me.

Epic fail.

Situation the second: Everyone will recall the recent introduction of my face to the floor through the matchmaker that is yoga. While I was at the hospital getting my face repaired (or improved if you are to ask Rick), I was asked my profession by the attending nurse. I actually giggled to myself before saying it aloud, and even when I did, it sounded hilarious. So much so, that the attending nurse had to ask numerous times. I think the professor part of assistant professor threw her (but to be fair, she also needed me to spell statistics, so maybe she had just never heard of the profession before).

Anyway this is guaranteed to be an adventure of a lifetime, and to say that I am stoked is a gross understatement.

1 Of course, the furniture leaves something to be desired, but hopefully my CFI grant will cover the cost of fancy new furniture like things (assuming of course I get the grant).

A Wintry Junk Punch Triggers A List

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Ottawa for a presentation with several Public Health Agency of Canada big-Whigs.  And as I mentioned, the presentation was a grand success1.

On our flight back to the Toronto area, Victoria and I were shocked by the sudden return of winter.  Ottawa, while chilly, did not get the snow that Toronto and area received.  The weather forced us to circle the airport for about 45 minutes prior to landing.  There was zero visibility.  Well, I could see something, but all that I could see was white.  To be perfectly honest, I just assumed we were still in the clouds.  And then as if out of nowhere, the ground appeared.  It honestly scared the shit out of me.  My first thought was “Holy shit, that’s the ground!  Is the pilot aware of this?”  My mind raced with visions of a fiery wreckage as we slammed into the ground.  Thankfully, and obviously, that was not to be my fate.  We landed ever so gently and safely and made our way to Terminal 1.

Anyway, as everyone in the Greater Toronto Area is aware winter decided to junk-punch us once again.  It might be spring, but Old-man Winter is still in charge, and not going out without a fight.  The drive home was long and brutal.  I really have to give credit to Victoria for not losing it, as I would have wanted to punch a baby seal given the lunacy of other drivers, and the terrible conditions of the roads.

We kept ourselves entertained on the 2.5-3.0hr drive home by listening to the radio, chatting, and commenting on drivers, vanity license plates, and plates that looked like they could be of the vanity variety, but were likely not.  For example, one such plate read

BDAN 392,

which I remember because 3^{2}=9, and because who doesn’t want to B Dan? HA!  Clearly this could be a vanity license plate for myself, given my love of math and such.

During our very slow crawl home, some radio personality on the CBC (I forget who) queried the listeners regarding their favourite book.  This got me thinking; what is my favourite book?  Victoria and I discussed this and I realized that I don’t think I can pick one particular book above all others.  I have favourite math-y books, stat-y books, brain candy books, kids books, etc.  There are just so many epic books out there that have influenced me in some way that I can’t hold one above all others as the book to rule all books.

However, I can offer the following list of my favourite books.

  1. I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb.  This book is incredibly beautiful.  I was absolutely devastated when the book ended.  Not because it has a devastating ending, but because it had to end.
  2. She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb.  Heartbreaking.  Uplifting.  Everything.
  3. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad.  I’ve read this book several times and every time I get something new out of it.  Dark, beautiful, challenging.
  4. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Some people find this book rather dry, but I absolutely loved it, and still love it on every read.
  5. Young Goodman Brown, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  A short story, but once read was immediately added to my list of favourites.
  6. A Widow For One Year, by John Irving.
  7. A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey.  I didn’t care about the controversy surrounding this book.  It was breathless and frantic, difficult to read at times, and completely in my face.  I loved it.
  8. The Highwayman, by Alfred Noyes.  An epic poem, beautifully interpreted by Loreena McKennitt.
  9. Oh the Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss.  This book just makes me happy, and optimistic.  I love to read this whenever I feel not-so-awesome.
  10. Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney.  This book is sweet, and beautiful, and a great gift for anyone with kids.  Little Nutbrown Hare is so freaking cute.
  11. Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch.  Another great gift for anyone with children.
  12. The Lord Of the Rings Trilogy (and The Hobbit), J.R.R. Tolkien.  Dragons, ogres, elves; what’s not to love?
  13. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling.  Magic, wizards, witches, adventure.  Awesome does not begin to describe this series.
  14. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak.  My first love.  Seriously.

The last book on the list, Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, I’ve previously discussed in detail on Dr. Beth’s blog (as a guest-blogger).  Check it out and you’ll know why I think this book is so incredible, and what it really means to me.  As a follow-up to reading that, let me add that I was not disappointed by the movie.  I loved, loved, loved the movie, and I was instantly 7 years old again.

The other books listed above, for one reason or another, spoke to me at the time I read them.  They offered something that I clearly needed to know, or questioned my world view.  In some cases, they provided me an outlet, a voice, or an escape.  Regardless, they are and always will be special to me.  And while I’m sure there are other books that I should probably add to this list, these are the ones that immediately come to mind.  You may not agree with my list, but that’s okay, because this is my list.

Anyway, I leave you with this question: what are your favourite books, and why?

1 Clearly, that’s my opinion.  I have no idea what the big-Whigs really thought, but I’m sure they thought we were awesome; it is the natural reaction.

The Vacation That Just Keeps Giving – I Mean Taking

We all remember the hilarity that was the incident I affectionately refer to as Face Smash 2011.  Well, today I got a lovely surprise in the mail.  It was an envelope from Hawaii Emergency Physicians Associated, Inc., or HEPA for short.

My first thoughts on receiving the envelope consisted of a collection of What the what?, and This must be a receipt of payment, or Maybe they sent me a survey (is it surprising that a Statistician would think this?). And, if I am to be perfectly honest, I have to admit that there was even a small part of me that thought Maybe they realized they overcharged me and have sent me a refund.  Ya, I can be that stupid.  Well, that’s probably not true.  I know I can be far more stupid than that.  Although I prefer to think of it as being not so much stupid, as optimistic.  Okay fine, let’s just say I’m optimistically stupid, or stupidly optimistic; whatever.  As Rick would say in a most dramatic way “I’m done with this”.  Either way, and moral of this paragraph, I’m an asshat for being so stupid.

My Physician, Dr. Coker - who was awesome - was also worth $619.75 apparently. Should I take comfort in knowing that his skills are worth more than the cost of the stitches?

Anyway, upon opening said envelope I was presented with an almost illegible invoice.  Yes folks, that’s right; an invoice.  It’s not a receipt of payment already received, it’s an invoice.

Now, you might be asking yourself, Didn’t Dan already pay something like $550 when he got his stitches? And you know, that is exactly what I asked myself.  Well, not exactly.  I may or may not have thrown some expletives into the mix, and I may have opted to refer to myself in the first-person.  Regardless, I was ever so slightly confused.  Maybe I had smashed my face so hard, that I imagined the entire paying-the-hospital-a-ridiculous-sum-of-money-that-could-have-been-better-spent-on-pina-coladas scenario.

Nope.  I double checked my bank account.  I did indeed already pay about $550 for wound cleaning, wound numbing, and wound stitching.  Five hundred and fifty dollars on 5 stitches.  That’s $110 per stitch.  Clearly, this invoice must be a mistake.

Desperately hoping a mistake had been made, I started sleuthing, as one is inclined to do in a situation such as this.  I managed to find the HEPA website, and it was quite informative.  Apparently HEPA is a group of emergency response physicians that work in the hospitals of Hawaii.  Let me restate that; they are a group of doctors that work in the hospital, they do not work for the hospital.  Which means they need to be paid too, because clearly the hospital bill is a completely different animal than the doctor’s bill.  And clearly $550 can’t be expected to cover the costs of cleaning, numbing, and stitching a wound, plus the 15-30 minutes that it took the Dr. Coker to perform the required stitching (especially since I could have just bought some crazy glue and had a glorious DIY party on/in my face).  GAH!

Don’t get me wrong.  I fully believe that Dr. Coker’s work deserves payment.  I mean, he did stitch up my beautiful face and leave me with a rather sporty Harry Potter scar.  He was professional.  He was entertaining.  He allowed us to document the procedure.  And he also assured me that the scar would be minimized because of his stitch-work.  So I’m not upset with him.  How could I be?  Plain and simple, he was awesome, and is very much deserving of being paid.  I would recommend his work, and if I were in the state of Hawaii again finding myself in need of medical care, I would absolutely, 100%, and without-a-doubt seek out his expertise.  Ultimately I am annoyed with the stupid American medical system.  Let me write that again, because it feels good to do so:



I guess what bothers me the most is that no one at the hospital informed me that this would be the situation; that is, that I would receive 2 separate bills, the last more expensive than the first.  This despite the fact that I kept asking How much will this cost? and I can’t afford this, so let’s replace stitches and needles with some old chewing gum, and elbow grease if that keeps this cheap.  Of course, according to the HEPA website:

When someone comes to the Emergency Room, it is implied that they have a medical emergency. Specific regulations require that Emergency Room Clinicians first see the patient before we can discuss any financial questions.  We understand that this restriction can be frustrating.  However, the regulations are there to ensure everyone who comes to an Emergency Room will be seen regardless of their ability to pay.

While I support the idea that everyone should be seen regardless of their ability to pay, I have to wonder what happens to those patients who, after having seen a doctor, must choose between paying for food/shelter, or paying a doctor’s bill.  The poorer families in the USA; what do they do?  How do they survive in a system like this?  Perhaps they don’t.  Anyway, I digress.  Bottom line: I wish I was made aware that 2 payments would have to be made.  It certainly would have prevented the annoyance that I am currently experiencing.  Once more for good measure:


It still feels good to write :)

Thankfully, while the bill is $619.75, it’s not the end of my financial world.  Given the state of the American medical system, the bill could have been for so much more, and that is the silver lining that I will cling to.  So despite being a glorious pain in the ass and wallet, I will pay my HEPA bill like a good little patient.  And I will submit the expense to the health coverage I have through the school in the hope of getting a refund.  And I will move on from this and focus only on the awesome that was Hawaii, because that is what awesome people do.

Unless the nurses of Hawaii also have an incorporated association that requires some form of payment.  Good gravy, let’s hope not.

Although I’m More Than e Weeks Late, Happy e-Day To All

I found this word cloud on the intertubes (see footnote 3)

I can’t believe I missed it.  Just over e weeks ago, mathematicians, statisticians, physicists and other nerds celebrated a very important day; one of the math-i-est of math-y days.  And I missed it.  Missed it!  Gah!

That day was e-day.  “What is e-day?”, you ask?  Well, it’s only the celebration of Euler‘s1 constant, represented by the lowercase letter e.  Specifically

e=\displaystyle{\sum_{n=0}^{\infty}}\frac{1}{n!}=1+\frac{1}{2}+\frac{1}{6}+\frac{1}{24}+\ldots\approx 2.71828183\ldots

Notice how the first two digits have been used to identify the date on which this awesome number is to be celebrated.  Two decimal seven, or February 7.  This year.  Last year.  Every year.  The date that I completely forgot.  Gah!  If I were in Mathemagical class at Hogwarts, Gryffindor would have just lost about e million points2.  Sigh.

Anyway, e is a rather important number in the world of mathematics.  Like \pi, it is ubiquitous, appearing even when least expected.  Probably the most bizarre place is in the famous equation


This particular equation (a.k.a. Euler’s Identity) is rather interesting, at least to math-y type people, given that it combines the multiplicative constant 1, the additive constant 0, the complex (a.k.a. imaginary) unit i, Euler’s constant e, and my favourite constant \pi into one tidy package.  Math is awesome.

Euler also gave us the exponential function e^{x}, which can be written as follows:


And of course, we all know that this is the function whose derivative is itself.  Crazy stuff.  Finally, Euler also gave us the following formula


which can be used to generate Euler’s Identity (set \theta=\pi and watch the magic happen).

So much awesome in one little constant.

On a fun note, check out this site.  You can determine where in the first 27, 182, 818 base 27 digits of e you can find your name.

  • Dan appears 1358 times; the first occurrence starting at position 7066.
  • Euler appears only twice; the first occurrence at position 18260334.
  • Math appears 43 times; the first occurrence starting at position 125764.
  • Pi appears 37535 times; the first occurrence starting at position 443.

1 Pronounced in English as Oiler.  Just like Oiler in the Edmonton Oilers. I know, I can’t believe I just dropped a hockey reference either.

2 Yes, I assume I would be part of Gryffindor, thank you for asking. And it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m now sporting a Harry Potter lightning scar on my forehead.

3 You can find this word cloud here.

The Radius Of Stupidity

So I’ve noticed that my scar, in a manner that I can only describe as what Harry Potter must experience, tends to tingle when I’m surrounded by stupid people. True story. Okay, maybe that’s a lie, but how cool would that be?

Anyway, I imagine that it should tingle/burn/hurt whenever I’m surrounded by stupid people. I also imagine that the intensity of the feeling would be directly proportional to the quantity of stupid people within a particular radius1, and the magnitude of their collective stupidity2. I write this because stupid people happen to be my very own personal he-who-must-not-be-named-but-I’m-going-to-anyway-because-I’m-clearly-bad-ass-like-that Lord Voldemort.  That is, stupid people are the bane of my existence. They stand in complete opposition to what I stand for.

I further imagine that the tingling/burning/hurting of the scar would look something like this, but with 50% more awesome:

For awesomeness like this on a t-shirt, go to http://www.cafepress.com/thestupidburns. You shant be disappointed.

It should be noted that I have no particular reason to write a post about stupid people3; at least, not at present.  I have fortunately not had to deal with any of them this week, and I just returned from a 16 day adventure with Rick who is as far from stupid as one human could possibly be.  Granted, if stupid people happened to enter my radius of stupidity in the past 23 days, they were either low enough in number, or their collective stupidity was of such small magnitude, that I hadn’t noticed.   Regardless, this is where my brain went when I sat down to update ConsumedByWanderlust.  Aren’t you glad you decided to read this?

Speaking of my Harry-Potter-like scar, I thought I would present a timeline of the healing process for all y’all that are interested in such things.

The face that may have, but likely didn't, launch a thousand ships (i.e., pre face-smash)
Day 1 post face-smash. I have beer, hence I am happy.
Day 3 post face-smash. Some very clear swelling.
Day 4 post face-smash. Still swollen, and apparently stoned?
Day 15 post face-smash. Looking more Harry-Potter-like every day.
Day 15 post face-smash. A close up of my lightning-bolt-shaped scar. Eat your heart out Harry Potter.

As you can see, I’m almost back to my normal charming self.

1 We shall call this radius, r, the radius of stupidity. Note: a Google search for the phrase “radius of stupidity” yielded no results. As such, I’m claiming this phrase as my own. You read it here first folks! I’ve just been informed that the phrase can be found on the interwebs. So “you read it here first” should be replaced with “you read it here recently”. Sigh.

2 I imagine the intensity, I, could be defined as follows:

Intensity of scar-tingling, given the radius of stupidity r, and set of all stupid people (including their individual contributions mi to stupidity) falling within a circle of said radius.

where we clearly have a logistic-type curve:

The logistic curve describing the Intensity equation.

And yes, I actually graphed the general shape of the function, because I really am that much of a nerd. Carrying on, we have that r is as defined in footnote 1, Ni are all stupid people (i=1, 2, 3, …)4, and mi represents the iths persons stupidity magnitude. Finally, Ni ∈ C(r) is the set of all stupid people that fall within a circle C centred on me, with radius of stupidity r; that is, my neighbouring idiots. The idea being that the intensity would remain low so long as the number of stupid people within the radius of stupidity was low, or the magnitude of their stupidity was low, or both, and it would climb quickly to some sort of threshold. Clearly at the threshold, I’d pass out from the quantity and magnitude of stupidity that fell within C(r).

3 I should also add that by writing about stupid people, I am not immediately excluding myself from this group. I know I have my moments; you know those moments5, we all have them; when you say or do something of such immense stupidity that you wonder if someone out there is planning to sterilize you so that you don’t produce any stupid progeny. I’ve been there. I’ve been that guy. As such, I know that I have on certain less-than-stellar-days invaded someone else’s radius of stupidity and caused their version of a boy-wizard-scar to burn. For all those cases, past and present, let me apologize now.

4 I’d like to assume that there exists a maximum value to i; that is, there exists someone out there that represents the last stupid person. However, I’m pretty sure that isn’t the case. I don’t think life quite works that way. Hence, I stand by my use of the dot, dot, dot.

5 A certain face-smashing moment comes to mind.

Yoga – A Contact Sport Between My Face And The Floor

Last Friday I ventured off to the Big Island of Hawaii.  The intention: hike, swim, tan, hike some more, see some lava fields, climb a mountain or two, play on cliffs, and get as many awesome photos as possible.  While all of those things have occurred to varying degrees, this particular post relates to my most recent adventure.  And the outcome of said adventure.  The rest of the vacation will be documented in later posts.

After a helicopter tour of the Big Island (which included flying over lava fields, Mauna Kea volcano crater, and several water falls), Rick and I decided to quickly stop into the Mauna Lao macadamia nut farm.  We filled ourselves full of free samples, purchased a few items, and then headed to our rental home.  Rick was checking email in one room, and I decided to do some yoga.  During my practice, I wanted to continue my attempts at a handstand.  While I can comfortably do a head stand, I have made it my mission this year to be able to do a proper handstand.  Anyway, I had seen a guy on the beach earlier in the day doing a version of the handstand, and after watching him for a bit I realized that by curving my back a bit, and letting my legs remain bent, I might be able to hold the position for longer.  Normally my balance does not permit such a thing.  So, charged with a renewed sense of awesomeness and an intense desire to finally get the handstand, I started practicing.  I had a few stumbles, but nothing severe.  And I found that by using what I had learned from the guy on the beach, I was able to, if only for a few seconds, maintain some semblance of balance.

Of course, being the awesome man I am, I slipped and landed on my shoulder.  No major damage, no blood, no problem.  Undeterred, I went right back to work.  A few more successful lifts and I was feeling very good.  And then it happened.  While getting into position (that is, I wasn’t actually even doing a handstand, I was just setting up to do a handstand) I slipped.  Large.  It was at that point when the universe decided that my face needed to be introduced to the floor with a rather large sense of gusto.  Rick, being in the other room, came running out wondering what I had done.  The noise of a face hitting a floor is rather loud apparently.  Feeling rather silly, I wanted to get back up and pretend that nothing was wrong.  But that is when I saw the blood.  More than what I would like to see.  I assumed it was my nose, as that is where the sting was mainly felt.  But when I looked at Rick I realized by his expression that this was not the case.  I had, in my extreme awesomeness, lacerated my forehead, just above my left eye.

Anyway, when I looked in the mirror, I realized that we had just witnessed the birth of my Harry Potter scar (see below).

Amazingly, it stopped bleeding relatively quickly.  I’m not sure if this was due to the pressure I applied, of if it was just not that bad.

My first thought was – I’m in the States and will not be able to afford their health coverage.  Given this, I suggested to Rick that we simply go buy some crazy glue.  He vetoed this rather quickly and took me to the hospital in nearby Hilo.  After discussing the cost with the attendant, I decided to see the doctor and get the stitches or glue, based on his assessment.

Being the dork that I am, I found the entire event very fascinating.  Rick was uber cool during the entire situation.  I owe him huge; for insisting that I go to the doctor, for getting me to the doctor, and for documenting the entire procedure.  I also owe him for being so calm while I was bleeding.  To say that he is awesome is clearly a gross understatement.

As for the procedure – it has been documented.  I shall upload those photos as soon as I can get them off of Rick’s computer.  There are also videos that will be posted, but some might be too graphic, so they will include warnings for the squeamish.  One such video shows the muscles of my forehead contracting as I move my eyebrow – via the laceration.  Uber cool if one is into such things.  Which I am.

UPDATE – Photos have been uploaded.  Videos still to come.

Finally, I have to write a big Thank You to RN Sara, and Dr. Coker.  They were professional, personable, and efficient.  And they put up with the craziness that was Rick and me.