Thoughts on education

I've been on lj over 20 years now, and I've had lots of thoughts on education [also, I was posting stuff on marypat.org in longer form from 1996 - 2002; I've also written a lot at the Actuarial Outpost on this subject - RIP, Actuarial Outpost [November 2020]]

So this post is simply to amass posts as I find them, and categorize them. I am defining "education" very broadly here. I may be linking to some friends-locked posts, and will note that when I link. Some of these posts may need to be moved around for better organization.

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Additional thought on pain diary

I need something that will also capture local weather, esp. barometric changes.

I'm getting a bad migraine right now -- on right side of face, in right eye, and right side of skull... every so often stabby in the back of my head, but mainly from front & side.

I think it's b/c a weather system is moving through, and I'm trying to hang in on dealing w/ work as it may just pass. Of course, it may not.  Argh.

Pain diaries

Ideally, I would have an app that has one of those helpful gingerbread man diagrams of the human body, one could pick different colors for different types of pain (burning, dull, etc.), maybe slap in a pain scale or two.... well, yes, I did have a pain recording app some years ago, but it was a pain in the ass to use, and that's a pain I definitely don't need (given the size of my ass).

But in the meantime, I will write out a few notes here so I can remember stuff.

Yesterday, I got up at my usual time (5am) and got ready for a blood donation appointment (I'm AB+, so I do plasma every 4 weeks or so). While driving to the appointment, I started getting stabby in the eye (that's how I put it), the back right of my head, and then down my right shoulder and right arm.  Given I always donate from my right arm (there's a large blood vessel very close to the surface that is not only easy to find but you can easily see it. It's a side vein, if you know what I mean), and that I had to cut a donation short due to a migraine last year, I actually walked in the place, told them I was the 7:45 Mary Campbell and I needed to cancel bc I felt unwell. And then I drove home. And sat on the couch w/ Stu all day. It was relaxing.  I believe the pain/migraine was related to "weather" coming through.... and yeah, I had a different pain today.

I've been having muscle spasms/cramps in my hands and arms. (yes, I take vitamins. It's possibly a mineral deficiency, but I've only ever tested low(ish) for Vitamin D and I take that every day (with Vitamin K).  I got a really weird one in my left pec a few days back, and it was acting up today. Yay.

So yesterday, pain was on the right side... today, pain was on the left side. I had to rest my left arm on the door while driving (today is shopping for groceries, etc.), but in general I was able to get stuff done. I bought less than I usually would because I didn't want to be picking up too much stuff. Also, Stu & Bon had picked up a bunch of non-standard groceries when they went to get duck feed yesterday (note: this is standard human food, just that we go get duck feed every two months or so, and they go to a grocery store we usually don't go to, and they buy stuff like hot pockets and frozen burritos.)

Anyway, still have the pain on my left side, and thank goodness I'm still good at one-handed typing (get your mind out of the gutter -- I got good at it, with either hand - when I was holding my babies.  Babies reallt don't care if you're typing w/ the hand not holding them, esp. if they're getting fed at the same time.)

They never ask me

Stu had been telling me about this-that-or-the-other which was totally in opposition to my perspective (no, this is not political) and I said, "They never ask me."

It made me think of all the talk from the WORK FROM HOME FOREVER folks, as if all of us have a good place at home to work from.

I don't want to get into the details about why this is my current set-up, but my work set-up is in the front parlor. I have a two-monitor setup: the laptop monitor, plus a separate one from my company (maybe 28 inches? Just approximately.... )  I have the big monitor up on a gateleg table that used to be a kitchen table to eat breakfast on. I have my laptop set on a sidetable, plus 4 of my favorite hardcover books lifting it up: museum catalog from a Candace Wheeler exhibit at the Met; North Carolina museum of history book on Thomas Day (a black furniture maker from NC/VA from he colonial period, and I love his work), The Illustrated Wee Free Men (Terry Pratchett and Stephen Player), and The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward Tufte.

I'm sitting on an IKEA futon couch/pull-out bed, and I have a wall that has been completely tagged by D. Sometimes I get on Zoom/Teams meetings with camera on and blurred background, but most of the time I have my camera off, or I just don't bother with blurring. The lighting is poor in here in any case.

I liked driving 70 miles one way from home to Hartford, giving me time and space to thing about things, listen to long audiobooks, etc. I liked being in Hartford during the day, walking around the Connecticut River at lunchtime or going to noon Mass at the downtown Franciscan church. I never plan on living in CT (though if I did, it would be on the coast - great sailing opportunities). I like taking that trek, but especially I like having a big separation between where I live and where I work.

There have been loads of plusses for me with all the WFH: I have been able to go to conferences that I would never be able to go to in person. I can't do a lot of travel now, even if there were no pandemic. So I had been excluded from loads of events... but now I can participate! Long-distance attendees are normal, and so I can present or get involved in things I normally wouldn't.

However, I am surrounded by my family. Stuart is the easiest to deal with - I can tell him I have meetings, etc.  But Diarmuid is the most difficult. He knows there are things I can do for him that he has trouble with, and others in the family can't really do it.  This mainly has to do with really intricate marble-run/chain-reaction-type set up kits. The girls don't have the patience, and Stu doesn't have the fine motor abilities right now due to peripheral neuropathy coming from his cancer treatments. The issue in general is that Mama is always available now, and frankly, I need to not be available.

That's not the only problem. My working world has shrunk only to those I have scheduled meetings with -- I used to walk around and chat w/ people from other departments, and that's an important way to spread/share information.

In any case, various people seem very happy to make certain changes, but I was never asked if I was happy about it. Everybody assumed I was.

Well, I'm not.

Clearing out old email: pandemics

I have had a habit of not deleting old emails, which has had me run into trouble more than once.

I have decided it's an easy project for me to work on, because I either keep or delete something. I keep all the stuff from actual people, or I try. I don't like losing contacts.... even though many of these people are no longer at the email addresses I have. And, of course, some of the people are dead.

That said, I've started on the oldest emails in this particular account, and it goes back to at least 2006. Maybe 2005.

I decided to work on the actuarial emails first. I was going through deleting through all my old receipts from actuarial exams, SOA newsletters, etc., but I do look at the emails before I delete them.

I have all these announcements for the Society of Actuaries... dealing with pandemics. From May 2006. I'm going to copy some text from the email:


The SOA's new multi-faceted pandemic initiative is actively providing resources to address the potential consequences of an avian influenza pandemic. Because actuarial science identifies and quantifies risks associated with extreme events, actuaries are being looked upon to provide guidance on mitigating the risks of widespread illness. The SOA's multi-part effort includes an expert round table and a commissioned study along with other mechanisms that underpin the important pandemic initiative. This plethora of information can be accessed via the Web at:

Obviously, that link doesn't work anymore (and there are other articles and links listed below that...). Here's an archived page.

In May 2006, this was going on: H5N1 pandemic -- the case fatality rate for H5N1 was/is pretty bad.

The risk from pandemics was, of course, known among actuaries (not that anybody asks us about anything).

Some of the pandemic-related stuff from before that May 2006 email:

Influenza Pandemics: Are We Ready for the Next One? What Actuaries Can Learn From 1918 By Max J. Rudolph, July 2004, Risk Management newsletter

Specific industries that featured overcrowding and moist conditions were particularly susceptible. In 1918 Met Life reported that 6.21 percent of all insured coal miners and 3.26 percent of all insured industrial workers died. Overall estimates of worldwide deaths have ranged from 20-100 million, with the higher numbers now considered more credible. The high end of the range translates into 5 percent of the world’s population dead from influenza within about three months. Based on population increases, today as many as 350 million would die.
In the United States, the consensus is that 25 percent of the population became infected with influenza and, of these, 2.5 percent died. This resulted in .06 percent of the population dying from the virus (.25 * .025 = .00625). This left 600,000 Americans dead and reduced the expected lifetime (taking the probability of surviving 1918 for each attained age and multiplying the results) from 51 to 39. More Americans died from the 1918 influenza pandemic than from all 20th century combat deaths. Up to 10 percent of the world’s young adults died.

June 2006: SOA - Influenza Pandemic: The Impact on an Insured Lives Life Insurance Portfolio
by Dr. Andrea Stracke and Dr. Winfried Heinen

Flu pandemics, i.e., worldwide flu epidemics, occur at more or less regular intervals. There were three pandemics in the 20th century: the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918/19, which caused 50 million deaths around the world (some sources even put the total up to 100 million), the Asian Flu pandemic in 1957/58, and the Hong Kong Flu pandemic in 1968/69, which resulted in around one million deaths each worldwide. The Spanish Flu alone killed approximately 4 percent of the global population at that time. It is therefore apparent that flu pandemics represent a serious threat to the population. Accordingly, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on member nations some time ago to develop plans for dealing with a pandemic.

Regarding the current bird flu, it is claimed that around 50 percent of all cases reported to date have been fatal. This mortality rate is several times higher than the rate for the Spanish Flu.
It should be noted that the SARS virus, which is transmittable between humans, had a case fatality rate of 9.6 percent (cf. WHO [10]).

There were two papers the SOA commissioned that came out in 2007:
Potential Impact of Pandemic Influenza on the U.S. Life Insurance Industry by Jim Toole, May 2007

Study of the Effect of a Flu Pandemic on Insured Mortality Using the Delphi Method in May 2007

It is amusing to me, as I go through these old emails, finding old things the SOA tried out and obviously did not pan out.  Lots of websites they tried out and abandoned.  I was often frustrated in the mid-2000s by how much their main website sucked, but they've gotten a lot of those issues taken care of now. 

I'm still here! And other places!

And I mean something specific -- I am on livejournal (add me, dammit, people... some of y'all don't let me comment on your posts if I'm not a friend)

I try to make it easy for people to find me -- "Mary Pat Campbell actuary" will usually get you to me on any internet search. There are loads of Mary Pat Campbells online, but so far, I'm the only actuary in the group.

I've got a website: marypat.org

The only real active part of that website is my blog: STUMP, which I mirror at substack: STUMP substack

I can be reached via email: marypat.campbell@gmail.com - I have others, but that's the one most likely to reach me.

Trying to message me on facebook or twitter often doesn't work, sorry. I don't get notifications (I don't have a smartphone - never have had one). Even when I do notice there is a message, often I can't access them b/c the tech keeps screwing up.

And, worse comes to worst, you can always snail mail me. Email me if you'd like the address.  I haven't had pen pals in a long time - the people I used to write regularly have all died (they were old and/or had cancer, it wasn't a curse of the meep letters or anything)

I'm still here. Right now.

Inspired by this tweet:

I decided to go look back at what I wrote on January 1 this year. [yes, I know that tweet is a joke]

This is what I wrote: New year, same old meep [an excerpt]

The 2010-2019 decade ... well. It's been extremely rough.
Let's see — no, let me not detail it.  I will say that it's been rough and even worse than the 2000-2009 situation.
In a way, I give up, but not really. What I'm giving up about are the resolutions.

So no, I'm not trying to improve.

I'm just trying to survive at this point.

Well, I survived.  To now.


I'm not saying a damn thing about 2021. 

Wiped out

Well, that was pleasant.

I spent the last two days, essentially, in bed.

I almost called this post "hard reset", but I haven't reached that point yet.  I have literally collapsed before, multiple times in August 2010, and once in October 2015.  The first series, I had no clue, and the second time, I kind of knew I shouldn't have pushed my luck. But I did.

Now I know better, but sometimes stuff has got to get done, and I'm the person who does them. In particular, I had to get all the presents wrapped up. It wasn't only that, but that I've been running on fumes for the past month.

Yeah, I knew a reset would be coming, as I had to take off a couple days from work from being just plain tired, but generally one full day of sleeping does it. This time, it took two.

<a href="https://meep.livejournal.com/2160916.html">I've mentioned about needing to just get shit done when I can</a>, and I just stop when I hit a wall. For me, there were weather systems coming through, which always gives me a migraine. But migraines do not necessarily lay me out for two days.

Anyway, every year for several years, my New Years resolution was to get more sleep.

I have yet to achieve that.  Dammit.