So Proud of Katie!

Tuesday I had the enormous privilege of attending Katie's public PhD dissertation defense. What an incredible moment it was as my wife stood before her colleagues and presented her research findings, the culmination of her last six years of work and the reason for our cross-country move to North Carolina!
To be clear, Katie's dissertation research was fraught with challenges. Her initial target group became reluctant to participate after the 2016 election. She had to change her research subjects on the fly but ultimately managed to recruit dozens of participants and maintained 90% of them over the full year of her longitudinal study. Some of the data she collected posed great difficulty in analysis such that Katie unexpectedly had to develop new methods to process them.

In addition to these direct challenges, we also had significant indirect challenges in our personal life. We experienced four pregnancy losses during this time period and, as much as these heartbreaking events affected us both emotionally, Katie bore the brunt of their effects physically. She lost months of time recovering from these losses - not to mention dealing with the challenges (nausea, etc.) of being pregnant in the first place!

Then, when we finally had a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, those were certainly joyous times - but just as certainly not times that lent themselves very well to deep time and focus on research! Not long after our baby was born, Katie interviewed, was hired, and began a job at Duke University, where she has been thriving for the last year while writing her dissertation in parallel. Oh and, by the way, Katie has been an amazing partner to me / mother to our child the entire time!

It has not been a straightforward or easy road for Katie but, despite that, she persevered and accomplished her goal. There are still some revisions to be completed but the major hurdle of defending her thesis against leaders in her field has been passed with flying colors. Her strength, resilience, and competence is inspiring - not only to me but it certainly will be to our toddler as well.

I have been in awe of / inspired by / in love with smart women since literally the day I was born. Some, like my mom, had no choice but to be stuck with me. Katie, however, actually chose to spend the rest of her life with me and to build a family together. I'm not sure I deserve it but I'm grateful for it every day. And, on days like this, I'm just so damn proud of who she is and what she has accomplished.

Congratulations to the soon-to-be Dr. Katie!


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Chapter 4

Can we talk about how OP Hermione is? She's the smartest (IQ) of the Power Trio by far and then this scene (when Harry arrives at 12 Grimmauld Place and Hermione anticipates how he must be feeling / how to talk him down from his lashing out) demonstrates how she has the highest EQ as well.

They always say that she's the cleverest witch of her age - but, if you are a genius at #allthethoughts and #allthefeels, I say you are the most powerful witch or wizard period. Not that I'm complaining; this Ravenclaw adores Hermione!


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Chapter 2

As we are winding down for bed each night, we read a little bit with our toddler. Currently we are making our way through the Harry Potter series and just finished book 4 / started book 5. Book 5 / Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is where my my online Harry Potter book club began which means I have had the chance to engage in thoughtful discussion with other Potterheads about it.

As my family progresses through this and subsequent Harry Potter books, I will post some thoughts from my book club discussions here, starting with the chapter we just finished at home: Chapter 2. Caution: there be SPOILERS below:

  • It has always fascinated me how/why Mafalda Hopkirk sends Harry a letter so promptly after he casts his patronus. Is she the only person who would send such letters? In which case, is she on duty 24/7/365 to do so? Or was she just the person on call / on shift at the time? As well as magic works, this should actually be a very automated task, but the fact that Harry receives another letter from her shortly thereafter in response to Dumbledore's arguments seems to contradict that possibility. 
  • Or, if the dementor attack was a concerted attempt by the Ministry to silence Harry, was there an entire team of ministry officials coordinating it, including Hopkirk standing by to send the letter as a Plan B in case Harry successfully warded off the dementors instead of having his soul sucked out by them? 
  • We actually DO get an answer to this question in Chapter 32 of OotP: 

“He never knew I ordered dementors after Potter last summer, but he was delighted to be given the chance to expel him, all the same...” - Dolores J. Umbridge

  • It sounds like Umbridge was operating on her own, not coordinating a Ministry-wide conspiracy to murder Harry, in which case I am still left with my original questions about the inner workings of the Improper Use of Magic Office.