Book Review - Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie 
Monday, May 29, 2006, 04:44 AM

Actuarial Rating: -ln(.6) out of 5
Chick Lit. Rating: 3 out of 5
Overall Rating: (1.07)^10 out of 5

Well in one of my earlier articles, I stated that I never read a romance novel where the hero/heroine was an actuary. However yes, outliers do exist, and by sheer chance, a fellow junior actuarial assistant at the superannuation consulting firm I work at, lent it to me as I simply had to read it (for its novelty value if nothing else).

Realisation soon dawned that such an intriguing premise would be negatively correlated with to a consistently good story. Crusie's writing is fast-paced with funny (but highly improbable) situations. I can appreciate why her books are popular - it belongs to the subset of Chick Lit. and in the Sample Space of books I've read intersecting with that particular subset, comparably not terrible.

However, despite the heroine Minerva being an Actuary, her only truly actuarial feature is her nickname 'Stats' and she sporadically spouts them in the book. I feel that the significance level of this is quite low in the grand scheme of things. Her more distinguishing characteristics appear to be converging towards orgasm as she eats food and weird & wonderful shoes.

As I have once said to Cow, to an actuary (or really to the point, this particular instantiation of actuary), statistics are not something I beat in the face all the time - I just automatically have it on an intuition level. Crusie's attempt to make her character 'actuarial' through random statistic spouting makes her character appear contrived.

I am aware, that isn't much interesting things you can write in the 'exciting' job of an insurance actuary for Chick Lit. (believe me I know working for a General Insurer) but I like my job and I talk about it. I love pricing and hate investments. I make random comments about the state of the insurance market and get fustrated at incomplete data because stupid broking houses don't know how to maintain good records or organise data consistently. Minerva's job seems like a gimmick to the story, as opposed to an intrinsic definition of her personality.

(I do realise that I am being highly hypocritical being that this blog is using actuarial stuff as a gimmick, but at least I am an actuary whereas I'm fairly sure Crusie isn't)

All in all a fun read if you like Chick Lit. - but if you are looking for actuarial goodness, I recommend reading Two Ducks Swimming column in Actuary Australia. Get your copy from the Institue of Actuaries Australia now!

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Friday, May 26, 2006, 05:25 PM
I met this guy Drspirograph at a party a couple of weeks ago - and we had hit it off. He went on to imply we might have some sort of future together. However, in the following evening, he called me up to say that he was hung up on some other girl and didn't want to pursue anything further.

I'm not over it yet. In fact I did something foolish tonight - I drove over to his place after I saw a movie with a crowd that he was also with and I went over to his place, proceded to tell him what an idiot I was and kept apologising that I was obsessive but also saying that I quite hate how guys tend to tell me the relationship is over without giving it a real shot.

So there I was, rambling to Drspirograph who probably doesn't really care and doesn't quite know how to deal with an obsessive female. Though to my credit, I did state that I am obsessive from the very beginning (and this ends with him kicking me out of his house cause he has an early start tomorrow with the promise he'll talk to me about it in the future).

I have this disclaimer policy - kind of like the "I'm not a qualified financial planner but this is what I think of superannuation..." spiel that my boss from my last job always said - whenever a guy shows any interest of pursuing a relationship with me I recite what I perceive (and yes, there is an inherent bias) are my flaws in my personality.

"I'm obsessive. I don't take rejection well. I'm clingy."

And of course the boys always find it hard to deal with me whenever I do these things in the aftermath of rejection.

Most of the last guys I dated in the recent past have all been short term with them dumping me. Maybe for these very reasons. But I guess I hate that there is no love and empathy from them when I do these things. Why go for it at all and bring my hopes up only to crush me afterwards? It's like using a model and shouting to everyone in the office "yup, this is the model I'm going to use!" only to then quietly just comment it out in the macro and use a different one.

Maybe there is no mystique in putting my disclaimer out first and then putting 100% in. There's no challenge, there is no puzzle to solve. The excitement is no longer there - just something you've figured out and can now put it on the list of achievements of the day.

And then they avoid me and make it worse for me.

My first long term relationship was with Elm and we dated for 2.25 years. We spent about mu = 0.5 (stdev = 0.2) years fighting about the same thing before breaking up. I like protracted arguments because then you have to get to a point where both of you agree you've got to either get over it and get on with it. You've got the full exposure data.

And so the story goes with me making yet another fool of myself. I think I bothered with Drspirograph was because I felt empathy (or was it pity?) when I talk to him - an outlier indeed - which only makes me want to try harder.

With love,
The Actuary

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