July 25, 2021: A long-delayed update

So a lot has been happening with my life in the months since I last posted here. Let me try to summarize these in the fastest way I can write them down: as a sequence of separate summaries.

I set out to pass the preliminary actuarial exams I mentioned in my last post, specifically the Financial Mathematics exam. I wish I could say that the exam was a cakewalk and that I passed with flying colors on the first try. Unfortunately, I have so far not been successful at passing them, despite taking them twice. I suspect this is due to the exams themselves requiring much in the way of memorization of weird concepts, as well as the fact that the exam concerns a whole branch of mathematics I did not cover in either college or graduate school. I am planning on taking the probability exam in September: this should be easier than the financial mathematics exam, but it is also relatively more intense than I expected it to be, so I will need to study.

While I was studying for the exams, one of my parents' dogs, Holly, a beloved golden retriever, developed an aggressive bone cancer in her skull. We were originally hopeful that surgery could be employed to remove the bulk of the tumor and prolong her life; this turned out to not be the case, as the tumor at this point occupied a large portion of her skull and could not be safely removed.

At first I was admittedly in denial. While Holly had been in extreme pain before the diagnosis, the pain medication she was on seemed to work perfectly. She acted completely like herself as soon as she was on it. She played with our other dogs as she used to, went hiking and hunting with my dad with the same gusto and joy as before, and in all other ways seemed as unlikely to die in a few months as she was before the diagnosis. Indeed, for a while, the thought of Holly being gone seemed less like an immediate threat and more like the more distant passing from old age we'd expected before the diagnosis. Granted, we all spoiled her; what our emotions could still not grasp, our minds knew all too well.

It was a few months later that the small lump on her head started to grow more and more, and the fa├žade of normality began to disappear, eaten away by the lump just as it ate away at her. For a while, it just sat there, growing increasingly fast but seemingly not harming her to any real extent. Then Holly developed other symptoms: first a slight limp, then a worse limp, then blindness in her left eye as the tumor invaded the space.

On the last day, we knew it was time. My parents talked with each other, and decided to take Holly to the vet one last time. Holly's tumor had grown to the point where she was showing neurological symptoms, and it was clear to my parents that from here on out, it would be impossible to manage the pain. We all said goodbye to her at our home; due to COVID restrictions being in place, only my parents and older sister could be at the office.

Holly's body was placed in the furnace room —, the coldest part of the house at the time. Me and my father buried her that afternoon, under the same trees we buried our first golden retriever under.

I have been looking for jobs. It's been harder than I expected.

Software jobs that don't require prior experience are hard to find, and data analysis jobs are seemingly rather finicky. On the other hand, tutoring jobs, particularly remote ones, have been surprisingly abundant, and I have at least two potential avenues that seem immensely promising as part-time or full-time positions I could do well in.

I have started to lose weight after years of excessive gain. I have taken up exercising on a more regular basis than I did during graduate school. I established a good routine, to the point that I think I can make this a weekly blog rather than an intermittent one, with essays being uploaded monthly. I feel better about myself. I long to move out on my own again.

I shall post another update next Sunday. I'm currently thinking of a topic for my next essay on this site; unfortunately, jan Misali's Lojban criticisms will have to wait quite a while for me to cover.