I am in Pittsburgh this week visiting David.  After he gets up in the morning, I crawl out of bed to eat breakfast with him (usually still half asleep).  He torments me for about a half hour (singing songs & being cheery) before he has to go to work. After his departure, I take my time getting ready then head out to a coffee shop to do some work.

Today, I went to Crazy Mocha in Squirrel Hill.  It is only a short walk from his apartment.  I worked on estimating the persistence values for the “ghost”/extra maximum that appear in carefully constructed Gaussian Mixture Models (my current research project).  After making a pretty graph (the previous one did not look like a graph of monotone increasing function due to imprecision of the estimate, but now it does), I headed back to the apartment to eat leftover pasta for lunch.

On the way back, I passed an 80 year old lady who was out for a walk.  We said hello to each other, then she asked me “how are you today” but I did not hear her, so she repeated her question.  Her voice was shaky, which made it almost incomprehensible.  I told her I was doing well, and I asked her how she was.  Then, we discussed the weather and how the heat is really unbearable.  She asked me if I was off from work today, to which I replied “I am a graduate student and work everyday.”  Then, I told her I was working at a coffee shop that morning.  She thought it was funny that I pay them to do work there (maybe I should start going to the library).  Then, she tells me that she was an electrical engineer, and earned a masters from Columbia University.  She was the only female student in the school of engineering!  I told her that was a great accomplishment.  I think she took it the wrong way though, because her response to my acclaim was:  “I wasn’t there to meet the men.”  At the end of the conversation, she wished Dave and me luck in our endeavors.   Her parting words were: “study every day”.  Her name was Yael (a Jewish name meaning ‘itself’ … I looked it up).


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