Why I don't miss Snoop Dog

Right, I promised our loyal reader a report on the Great High School Reunion of 2005.

In my usual fashion, I’ve spent the past three months freaking out about it. Have I accomplished enough in ten years? Is anyone going that I want to see? How did they manage to find me? Should I buy a new car to drive to the reunion? A new house to live in? Is it acceptable for me to take photos of *other* people’s houses and cars and children to show these people? And why, for the love of all that’s holy, do I have NOTHING to wear?

You’ll notice that nowhere in this set of hysterical reactions is there any mention of going on a diet in order to look thinner than I did at graduation. See, I was freaked, not certifiable. Besides, when stressed I tend to eat cake. And pie. And cinnamon rolls. And whatever else doesn’t crawl away from me when I open the refrigerator.

Also, my idea of a great outfit involves lots of cleavage, and let’s face it, skinny girls just don’t have the same, umm, gifts.

So I failed to get skinny, which was just as well because nearly everyone else had used the past ten years to join me in the land of Krispy Kreme and control top pantyhose. To the three who managed to fit back into their homecoming dresses I say, “Come on in, the water’s fine! And you get to eat fried cheese!”

Fried cheese would have been better than the food they actually served. If I had to guess, I’d say the catering theme was “orange.” And they ran out of beer at 9:15, forcing the guy in charge (who now looks like Garth Brooks during his chipmunk phase, even though I had a huge crush on him in fourth grade) to take up a collection for more kegs. Luckily my mother suggested that we take along an emergency bottle of vodka. “Because you never want to run out of alcohol at a reunion. Trust me, you’ll need a drink.”

Returning to the hysteria: it turns out that the new house and car weren’t necessary, since no one got past the questions about how old my kids are.

It isn’t that I don’t like kids, it’s just that I like them a lot better when I can send them home to their parents. No, actually, it *is* that I don’t like kids. Unless I like the parents, and that’s a pretty small group of people. I can think of maybe a dozen kids that I like (and now you’re going to wander off to figure out which kids didn’t make the list). Half of them are related to me. Now that my friends are all breeding, I suppose I’ll have to up my limit.

So the questions about children were annoying, at best, and painful, at worst. My favorite answer? “Twelve, but we’re thinking of having a few more so that we can buy the 18 count egg cartons.” I’m just not ready to have the pitter-patter of little feet waking me up on a Saturday morning. It’s bad enough that I have cats.

The outfit turned out to be fine, with a bit of last minute shopping. It was the rare zero-tat ensemble (How rare? My wedding dress showed three, and there were two on display at last week’s Small Regional Conference) in deference to the land of the Republicans. Cute, not too trendy, and comfortable. Much better than that worn by the girl who was my best friend in grade school, made me miserable in middle school, and has now grown too busty for the red handkerchief and fringe halter dress that she wore to do the splits during “Achy Breaky Heart.”

I vaguely remember a conversation in which several of us, former and not-so-former geeks all, flashed through our ink collections and compared notes on “great tattoo shops I have seen.” I’m hoping I didn’t scare anyone.

What does that leave? Oh, right, the age-old question of whether I’ve accomplished anything since graduation. Let’s see:

1) I’m in the 22nd grade. (No, I’m not counting kindergarten. It doesn’t have a number.)
2) I have a lovely set of degrees, none of which I’m using. (How much do I remember them? Someone else had to bring my JD up in conversation Saturday. I was trying to avoid the inevitable lawyer jokes.)
3) My checking account is overdrawn about once every three months. Twice in the summer.
4) I still think a good game of Risk is evidence that a party is really going well.
5) Have I mentioned that I have no children, and can barely tolerate the care and feeding of cats?
6) I am currently in the middle of the prospectus that never ends.
7) I write about a topic that makes my uber-geeky colleagues yawn, let alone that guy I knew in high school who is now in advertising. (But he works on the campaigns for Duck tape! How cool is that?)
8) The thought of random conversations with people I don’t know well still makes me break out in hives.

To recap: I’m fat, childless, poor, overeducated, and just as shy as I was in high school. But I’ve gotten better at hiding it. Good thing no one from high school has the faintest idea about what I do. [More on the identity whiplash *that* involved in a later post.]

I have a great haircut, a husband who loves me (he disagrees with the fat comment, but admits that I’m overeducated), friends who listen to me even if they don't care all that much about what I'm saying, and my brother thinks I’m a good role model. For what, I don’t know.

Turns out I don’t really care that much about people I haven’t seen since 1995, and I’m pretty confident that the friends I keep in touch with have gotten used to my eccentricities by now. The best part of the reunion was the trip to Mr. Beefy’s (It’s a bar, not a strip club. Get your minds out of the gutter) after the main event with a friend who is doing exactly what she always wanted to do, runs a funeral home with her husband, has the house, the kids, and the mortgage, but still manages to make me laugh until I cry.

So that’s probably enough.


Well, not much hope there either then...

Sorry, dear reader(s). I can't speak for E since she's disappeared since that long post about Thanksgiving food but I'm swamped with LS flunkie stuff and grading. I did manage to take time off to do this. I rather think I am quite cute in anime. I don't know why they say I'm not.

No offence but you're ugly in anime. Don't take it

Would you be cute if you were in anime?


A bit belated but all the same...

Thanks. For coming by to read our discussions about academia, food, football and, sometimes, a few other things. Or, even if you come by to play those many quizzes we put up for your entertainment.

Following a previous theme of being geniuses (and also fools but not to crow about that part), here's SuperN with an appropriate saying from Beyond Good and Evil

"A man with genius is unendurable if he does not also possess at least two other things: gratitude and cleanliness."

I presume this applies to women too. I just need to work on cleanliness as I reckon I've made a good start on gratitude.


Happy Turkey Day!

I won't bore you with a schedule for today (let's just say it involved a great deal of running around and smoke, plus my mother is losing her mind) but I did feel the need to put up a menu. So, Thanksgiving in the great midwest:

brined turkey (*so* much better than regular turkey, or the turkey jerky we used to have at the Big Family Event)
stuffing (from boxes, but doctored up to taste right)
mashed potatoes (my sister's favorite)
gravy (homemade, with no lumps)
sweet potatoes (with marshmallows, of course)
corn (no lima beans, because my dad doesn't believe in them, so it was just corn instead of succotash)
green bean casserole (35th anniversary, so of course we had to have it. Not that we wouldn't have made it anyway.)
more wine
cranberry relish (fresh cranberries and oranges)
cranberry gel (nasty stuff in a can. A waste of perfectly good cranberries, if you ask me.)
dinner rolls (parkerhouse this year, even though crescent rolls are traditional)
relish tray (olives, black olives, pickles, carrots, celery with cream cheese, celery with peanut butter)
apple pie
pumpkin pie (yay! And made by my sister, which made it even better.)
whipped cream

My mom lost her silverware, so we had to spend a half hour looking for it. That was fun.

After dinner, the Genius Nephew shot whipped cream across the room. My sister was not amused. Threats of returned Christmas gifts made their first appearance of the season.

And in addition, at the Big Family Event (the first one):
Waldorf salad (I've never really understood how this counts as a salad. It's a bit much, even for our neck of the woods)
cheese ball (with nuts)
cherry pie
apple pie
pumpkin pie
macaroni and cheese (the sort you wait all year for)

And my grandma handed out silverware to the grandkids to take home. Probably best not to ask.

And at the second Big Family Event:

spinach dip (S was eating the pumpernickel without any dip. We were forced to perform an intervention.)
crab dip (turns out to taste the same when you mix it together as it does when you spread it out on a plate.)
cheese ball (no nuts, because they make my brother's throat swell up and his face turn funny colors. Exciting, but not really festive.)
apple pie
potato chips

And my dad lost at euchre (see? I can spell it!) Or that was the rumor--none of us actually saw it. We were too busy complaining that someone brought Godiva chocolate instead of making buckeyes.

How anyone could think they're equivalent is beyond me.

Right, I'm off to try and sleep while regretting all that pie.


Wish I had a t-shirt that said...

I'm pulling this up from the comments, and adding the one that I posted here a few weeks ago and mentioned at the SRM. Anybody else have an idea (not necessarily related to our recent conference woes and triumphs?)

1. Ask me about bird flu [This exists, I just haven't bought one yet.]

2. Veni, Vidi, Theory


Philosophical songs...but no ducks. Or birds. Yet.

Check this out.

Lyrics to excellent stuff such as Solipsism's painless, We didn't start inquiry, and Hume on the Brain (this one's really funny)

The main table of contents for the songs includes music-only, lyrics and music and lyrics versions. So, gather friends and family around the turkey and sing. Fantastic stuff.

Blogs, conferences, mallard ducks, and chance vs. strategy

Hey, I'm trying to keep the titles topical. It's not my fault that my thought processes are so scattered.

1. Check out the new Site of the Month--it's to an oldie but goodie, a matrix developed to describe the many possible uses of blogs in academia. I thought it fitting, given

2. The new paper that P and I have submitted to the Quantitative Big Name Conference, on the establishment and codification of blog communities. I like the idea so much that I'm willing to overlook her *total theft* of my intended post on the valet who drove my car around for 15 minutes looking for my car. Strange that he asked for the license plate number, and then failed to, you know, *look* at it before driving off to use up some very expensive gasoline.

To add to my annoyance, I discovered upon arriving home that I left my favorite pillowcases in the hotel room. Yes, I take my own pillowcases. I worked as a hotel housekeeper in college, and I'd recommend that everyone bring their own pillowcases. The failure to pack them and take then home is *not* recommended.

3. More fun with H5N1. The Globe and Mail has this interesting article regarding "native" strains of bird flu in Canada and the U.S.
"I want to emphasize that the H5N1 subtype detected in Manitoba is completely distinct from the strain currently present in Asia," Dr. Brian Evans, Canada's chief veterinary officer, said in disclosing the findings.

"The identification of this virus, which has been previously identified in North American birds, poses no new risks to human health," added Dr. Arlene King, head of respiratory diseases for the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Avian flu viruses bearing the same subtype name can vary widely in their ability to cause disease in poultry or pose a human health threat.

In trying to clear the confusion over why the Canadian findings are not a source of alarm, Dr. Evans likened H5N1 viruses to people walking around wearing blue blazers and grey slacks.

"At any given time, you may see 25 people wearing blue blazers and grey slacks. They are different," he insisted.

Once you get past the unfortunate fashion analogy (Yes, the blue blazers and grey slacks are all different. But they universally have the effect of making the wearers look like accountants, so how much does the difference matter in that case?) there is an important point to be made. It's pure luck that it happens to coincide with my harping on *not* calling H5N1 "Bird Flu."

While I'm all for simplification of concepts to model a system, I believe that it's crucial to call things what they are. Care in naming, especially in this case, goes a long way in preventing people from panicking about endemic strains of the flu virus, and helps the public health community react strategically. Given that the public health system is underfunded, officials need as much calm and accurate reporting as they can get.

4. On an unrelated note, LOTR Risk is a totally different game to play, because the chance that the Ring will leave the game means that you can't pursue a grand strategy for conquering the entire board. Instead, you need to balance the immediate possibility of the end of the game against the cost in battalions of a series of attacks.

And there are orcs, Nazguls, and cavetrolls on the evil side, against archers, rohanians, and eagles--why would anyone ever want to be the good guys in this game?

Also, Diplomacy can be played by two people, but what's the point if you can't make alliances?

And this gem, from Bunny (see sidebar):


Another Take on SmallRegionalMeeting

Nicking the idea from E:

Well, SmallRegionalMeeting is officially over. It was actually rather good fun. The panel E and I were in was hugely useful despite having a fairly small audience. We got excellent comments which I hope to use in my paper.

Getting there, though, was an adventure: Got up just in time to catch the first Metro train to C'town to catch the bus to East Coast City. Turns out the bus to ECC was full. People, with tickets (or paper sheets) were waving them around at the bus driver. Bus driver was supremely unconcerned. Finally, Random Person told us another bus would be leaving from about 5 blocks away. Walk really fast to get there. Or, try to since had high heels on (lesson learnt: do NOT wear high-heeled boots when preferrred mode of transportation is dodgy buses). Finally make it to second bus stop. Yes, bus was full there too. Decide not to ask about any other buses and go to National Bus Company (the one with the dog sign). Bus full again. Wonder if there's something going on in ECC that I don't know of. Give up on buses and wonder if not going to ECC is an option. Realise E would probably kill me. Actually, make that "realise E would kill me". Go to train station. Buy train ticket for next train. Wait. Wait. Wait. Station voice, in its usual incomprehensible way, says train is delayed.

Finally get on train. Train is pretty full. Get a seat. Try to take a nap. Chatty bloke sitting next to me asks where I'm going. Answer. Chatty bloke asks where I'm from. Answer. Chatty bloke speaks perfect local language. Be shocked. Turns out he was in the Peace Corps and had spent time in a monastery (don't they all?). Try ignore chatty bloke by pulling out computer to work on. Realise left computer at home. Don't believe it. Realise, yes, since bag is fairly small, did leave computer at home. Panic. Have powerpoint presentation on computer. Which is at home. Though the cable (which I thought I'd forget) is in the bag. Panic some more.

Finally get to ECC. Follow E's excellent directions of "Get out of train station and walk towards tall buildings". Did so. Reach SmallRegionalMeetingplace. Meet up with E, Anomie and others from TUWSNBN. Worry about not having presentation and then proceed to talk for nearly 30 minutes during presentation. Shock myself again. Is probably most I've ever talked in any presentation. E's was, as usual, to the point.

Thought we did a good job. Become well pleased with ourselves for submitting a joint paper proposal for next year and decide that we may well be methodological geniuses. Refuse to believe anything to the contrary, at least for the next hour or so. Bask in new found joy of being a genius. Realise proposal still not done.

Go to really fun panel on pop culture. Decide to submit paper to that panel for next year. Then, realise already have a "hobby" academic interest (football (soccer) and identity-formations) so can't afford to take on another one. Resolve to tell E we should submit another joint paper anyway.

Go for walk. Come back and sit in bar until E's husband comes gets us. Talk with randomstudents not from TUWSNBN.

Listen to Elvis impersonator at bar. Decide it's definitely time to go. Go out to car park to get E's car (v distinctive car). See guy who is supposed to bring us our car get in it and drive off into the depths of the car park (five floors) to go search for the car. Wonder if he realises he won't find it since he's in it. Anomie sorts everything out. Get in car. Leave for home.

Proceed to talk the entire time in the car. Yes, well, apologies to S since he was driving (after a long day at work).

Get home just before 2am. Get dog out of crate. Hang out with dog and fall asleep on sofa.


Who schedules these things, anyway?

In twelve hours, OSU will once again meet the evil UM on the gridiron.

I will be in a panel, trying to use the wireless access to check the score.

It seems to me that this entire thing could have been scheduled for a different weekend, even if Penn State is going to win and so the result doesn't really matter.

Because the only time that we manage to beat UM is when we can't win the title anyway.


The things I do in pursuit of a vocation.

I suggest that everyone go harass Peter, since he gets to leave early and go home to watch the game. I hate to suffer alone.


SmallRegionalMeeting, cont.

The rest of yesterday's schedule:

3:45pm: Attend panel on technology and teaching. Get good suggestions, and productive conversation. So far, this is the best one.
5:15pm: Head for bar.
5:30pm: Trip to grocery store for breakfast and snacks. [It would appear that I have some sort of homing beacon for Trader Joe's. Sure, they're all the same, but every city I visit with one requires that I test this hypothesis.]
6:00pm: Return to bar. Drink. Talk about projects that people have.
7:30ish: Drop off giant bag in room, pick up cute little bag that holds almost nothing useful. And scarf.
7:45ish: Return to bar. Drink. Talk about politics.
8:00ish: Go for walk in search of dinner. Decide that it is, in fact, quite cold. Wish for gloves, or at least pants instead of a skirt. Act like it isn't cold. The beer helps.
9:30ish: Return to bar. Drink. Talk about drinking. [I'm beginning to sense a pattern here.]
10:30ish: Additional group of people arrives from TUWSNBN. Continue to drink.
11:00pm: Talk to husband on phone. He has not been drinking. Possibly.
11:15ish: Return to bar. Don't drink.
11:20pm: Head for room to work.
11:21pm: Return to bar to pay tab.
11:22pm: Head back to room.
12:00am: Start working.
12:15am: Fall asleep.
12:25am: Decide to go to bed.
2:00am: Wake up when ipod falls onto floor.


Laughing at Bird Flu

Since both E and I are presenting on bird flu this weekend (yes, yes, I know. But, I'm using the generic term here since you are doing the early 20th Century stuff and I am doing the new one. So, I'm right, right?) at SmallRegionalMeeting, I thought I'd put this up.

My paper-writing skills (if I ever had them) have deserted me, I still don't know if the Chinese bus (my preferred mode of transportation to East Coast City) is going to be running on Saturday (I've been told to "call on day"), and I'm getting increasingly nervous (and waiting for those nightmares about having forgotten my English-speaking abilities) about the presentation so a bit of laughter is probably much-needed.

Thanks to Oxblog for the link.


Today's Schedule:

12:30am: Finish packing and go to bed.
3:45am: Wake up and get ready to leave for the train station. Pour shampoo onto toothbrush. Resolve to brush teeth with eyes open, and stop keeping the travel shampoo on the sink.
4:15am: Leave to pick up Anomie. Discover that car is broken again, and will need to be fixed. Again. Husband looks less than enthusiastic about the prospect of driving in DC this early in the morning. Or maybe at the thought of fixing the car this weekend. Either way, he's not happy. [Should people be awake before the sun is up? I think not.]
4:45am: Tear skirt on car door; meet Anomie. Be grateful that yes, I did pack a needle and thread.
5:00am: Arrive at train station; buy tickets from little kiosk thing that has lots of words on it for this early in the morning. Miss the friendly ticket people who could figure out "I would like a ticket for the 5:30 train to East Coast City and directions to the nearest beverage establishment" from "Next one. Here money. Where coffee?"
5:15am: Anomie buys life-saving diet cola from fast food place. Decide that no one should ever walk around before Starbucks opens.
5:25am: Put nice bruise and scuffmark on knee trying to carry overstuffed suitcase onto train.
5:30am: Train leaves.
5:45am: Discover five things that are difficult to do in a moving train: applying mascara, applying eyeliner, applying lipstick, putting in contact lenses, and sewing. Do them anyway.
5:50am: Stop bleeding from thumb. Manage not to poke self in the eye with needle.
6:00am: Read papers for SRM panel. Add comments. Attempt to decide whether constructivists ought to be allowed to design models. Final verdict: don't really care that much.
7:00am: Listen to Anomie's presentation outline. Realize that she is much better prepared. Think about going home.
7:30am: Arrive East Coast City. Ignore advice to call a cab. Walk to conference hotel. Look for place to buy gloves.
7:45am: Arrive hotel. Check heavy suitcase at the desk. Resolve not to pack so many books next time.
8:00am: Obtain nametag, caffeine, and bagel from conference organizers. Play "spot the grad student." Win extra points for correctly guessing which profs are still carrying backpacks. Double super points for identifying tenured faculty at ten paces.
8:45am: Find panel location. Convince organizer that yes, there is a panel scheduled for the room. Help move boxes from the conference table to the floor.
9:05am: Begin panel. Listen to papers.
9:15am: Ignore conference organizer who comes to retrieve signs.
9:50am: Give comments and remarks. As chair, refuse to let self run over as discussant.
10:05am: Open for questions. Both audience members ask / comment.
10:15am: Finish panel. Weigh option of asking more questions against option of drinking more coffee. Choose coffee.
10:45am: Sit in on Terrorism panel. Notice that handout of terror typology closely resembles fractalization diagram. Decide it isn't sufficiently self-similar.
11:00am: Wonder when geekhood first manifested itself.
11:45am: Witness much more entertaining discussant style. Briefly consider trying it at BNM. Decide that it would be too much work.
12:15pm: Realize that all panels should be 15 minutes shorter, no matter how interesting. Think about lunch.
12:45pm: Wander streets of East Coast City, looking for market that RandomStudent remembers from childhood.
1:09pm: Determine that all three people are following each other, with no one leading.
1:10pm: Check map.
1:20pm: Find market, right where map says it will be.
1:30pm: Eating place, with chicken corn soup, mashed potatoes, and real apple dumplings. Buy lunch. Think about buying breakfast for tomorrow.
1:50pm: Buy chow chow and cherry jam. Feel homesick. Think about dumplings. Feel better.
2:00pm: Walk back to hotel
2:20pm: Check into room. Collect bags from front desk. Discuss whether bag dude should be tipped; decide he shouldn't because someone piled suitcases on top of RandomStudent's laptop bag. And we're poor starving grad students.
2:30pm: Greet more TUWSNBN students in the hotel bar. Ask them what took so long.
2:40pm: Find room. Drop assorted bags and other crap on beds. Think about taking a nap.
3:00pm: Blog instead.

This doesn't bode well for the Conferences...

Existential Crisis
You scored 60% Concerned and 36% Certain!
You're in a place of massive uncertainty, with very little idea of where to go. Maybe you used to think that there was Meaning with a capital M once before, but now it seems pretty hollow and delusional. You're not necessarily depressed, but you don't have much in the way of a firm center to work with.

Go here to take it

Thankfully, the figure in the pic is a bloke (which I'm not)...and is also sitting on a stool (which I usually don't do). So, perhaps, I am going to be okay in the Conference(s) after all. Or, maybe, I should just ignore the death threats and run away to join the circus. (but think of what happened in Mirrormask)


Next year, Oceania...after that, Asia

Good on the team, eh? the Australian football team (called the "Socceroos") qualified for the World Cup next year by beating Uruguay on penalties (despite the presence of Mark Viduka, who did his best to help Uruguay through. Unfortunately, that sentence will probably be lost upon many of our non-footy following readers).

This is the first time they've done so since 1974 and it's the last time they will do so as Oceania's representative. From the next qualifying round, Australia has decided it will be part of the "Asian" teams and play as part of Asia. So, there you go: A country (Australia) has changed from being Oceanic to becoming Asian, just because it and the other "Asian" countries have agreed upon this. And, people still argue (I was in one such class just today) that state and regional boundaries are "natural". Footballers and football associations have got the memo, it seems, so why haven't IR folks?

FYI, I am still working on my paper. Yes, I promise, barring unforseen occurrences, I will be at the Conference to present something. Just don't ask me what, yet. And, E, good luck tomorrow morning and have those G&Ts ready :-)

Also, E and I managed to submit a joint abstract to anotherbignamemeeting for next year. Let me tell yous, that was quite an accomplishment since we made it with about an hour or two to spare. And, yes, I'm gatecrashing regionalmeeting this Friday. I'll keep yous updated on how that goes.


The conference looms...

but a girl can only be productive for so many hours in a day.

But that doesn't mean I won't stay in the spirit of the academic endeavour, passing along to you, our loyal reader, this helpful(!) guide to writing a grant proposal.

First, a lemur...then, what?

While E and I frantically try finish writing papers (I've given up and am writing a "detailed outline" now), abstracts (anotherbignamemeeting and smallregionalmeeting abstracts both due today. I'm only trying for one of them) and also working (E in proper job, me in flunkie duties), amuse yourselves with thinking about how, in the future, if you're lucky, you can get a primate named after you too. I knew there was a point to this PhD-ing.

Apparently, a new species of lemur has been named after John Cleese.

Full story here.

I especially liked this bit:

Its [the lemur's] long legs are the only physical attribute it shares with John Cleese, says Urs Thalmann of the University of Zurich in Switzerland. "Woolly lemurs can't really walk - but they do enjoy silly jumps," he adds.


Woohoo! Quotation Marks!

I found this somewhere that I really ought to cite--but I can't remember who it was.

quotation marks
You scored 53% Sociability and 70% Sophistication!
There is a lot more to you than meets the eye. You certainly get plenty of "action," but you'd be happier if those who lusted after you were more selective. You hate being used as a general intensifier; haven't these people ever heard of underlining? Italics? And yes, you remember the cruel words Mr. Joyce directed at you.

But you let none of this get you down; those who abuse you are destined for a "special" reward, sooner or later. You feel particularly warm toward periods, commas, exclamation points, and question marks, and usually wish to have them next to you. Parenthesis can sometimes trouble you.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 64% on Sociability
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 72% on Sophistication
Link: The Which Punctuation Mark Are You Test

Ah, the memories

This post, from one of my favorite law blogs, is disturbingly familiar. As far as I know, S still has a room full of stuff in his grandmother's attic (the last place he lived). And while I'm pretty consistent in my obsession with getting rid of anything that I can't immediately use, there is nothing I like to get rid of more than his extra and / or damaged crap. Ahem, I mean, beloved possessions.

We're talking about a guy who, when moving out of an apartment five years ago, had his buddies pack up the kitchen (including half a roll of saran wrap and two boxes of ziploc bags) and then *never looked in the box again.* When we went home in October, he dragged the whole box over to my parents' house to sort. And actually considered keeping the saran wrap. And the slurpee cups that were in the box with it. I think I was quite reasonable. Right up to the moment when he held up a stack of *used* aluminum pie pans (the ones that frozen pies are sold in) and asked "should we keep these?"

Look, when my mother and father both find an idea so ridiculous that they glance at each other and burst into laughter, that should tell you something. It really should.

Because what we really need, in our cute little one-bedroom apartment with four closets, is more disposable food storage mechanisms. We can add them to the giant pile of Chinese takeout containers that fall out of the cupboard onto my head once or twice a week.

I am not making this up. This is normal behavior for him. Is it possible that I'm the one who's behaving strangely here? I thought maybe it was, but then I found a stack of Football Digests under the bed. This is not the sort of magazine that you save for the eternally interesting articles, right? The guy who was a promising quarterback in 2001 has either made good or not, right?

Either way, I've made it my life's work to keep the levels of pack-rattedness to something appraoching liveable. Socks with holes must go, but socks with no matches may stay. I only buy socks for him in six packs, so it's a reasonable assumption that eventually another sock from the same package will find itself alone in the world, and then he'll have a pair again.

This is the sort of saving that I can understand. That, and the need to keep books, which sit neatly on their many shelves and are handy to have around when I get bored. Books I can read again later. When is he going to use the PS-1 and its 138 games again, when we have a PS-2 and dozens of games for it? Exactly. He won't. And yet, there it sits, glaring at me and taking up space that I could use to store Christmas decorations. Or Halloween lights. Whatever.

Does anyone need 36 cameras and dozens of lenses? 35mm, no less?

Unfortunately, he's proving to be more stubborn than I am. Or passive-aggressive. Whatever you call it, it means that after two years, he still owns three cars and a truck (how many of them run? Just one. These are in addition to my car, which is the only one we have with us--the others are all back in Ohio, part of a flourishing redneck garden.) And any number of other useless objects that I'm dying to put in a bag for Goodwill. One similar to the bag that he's promised repeatedly to take to the dry cleaners, which is a whole different issue, I guess.

In return, I've turned into the sort of person who can leave a pile of papers and CDs at the end of the bed for weeks at a time. The sort who is growing immune to the irritations of clean laundry lying about the place unfolded. Someone who has been known to leave dishes to soak overnight.

My mother would be very diasppointed in me. My grandmother would probably clean my house.

But I guess if this is the worst habit he comes with, and I can refrain from tearing all my hair out long enough to make it to my high school reunion, I'm doing okay.

I don't have to give up meat yet?

Or do, I? Confusion over some recent reports...

I spent part of my weekend reading up on on bird flu (which I'm apparently supposed to call H5N1 from now on), and I thought I'd share this.

The Beeb, as usual, answers most of your questions. Including:

Q: Can I continue to eat chicken?

A: Professor Hugh Pennington of Aberdeen University underlined the negligible risk to consumers:

"The virus is carried in the chicken's gut.

A person would have to dry out the chicken meat and would have to sniff the carcass to be at any risk. But even then, it would be very hard to become infected."

So, no chicken jerky then. Also, do not follow through on that sudden urge you may get to sniff chicken carcasses.

But, wait, that's not what PETA says:

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) staged a small demonstration on Wednesday outside Agriculture Department headquarters (in Washington DC) with banners telling people, "Bird Flu Kills: Go Vegetarian."

Three protesters wearing only underwear and flowers lay in cardboard coffins while people in chicken and turkey suits offered vegetarian starter-kit brochures to passers-by.

Now, I'm confused. I thought only chicken jerky was off limits. And, aren't people in coffins fully-dressed? in general?



Above the white pond
Wild birds have flown away.
In the evening an icy wind blows from our stars.

Above our graves
Night leans down with its shattered forehead.
Under the oaks, we rock in a silver skiff.

The town's white walls keep ringing.
Beneath the arches of thorns,
O my brother, we are the blind hands climbing toward midnight.

--Georg Trakl, trans. Daniel Simko

Note: Prior to the First World War, Trakl was given an anonymous stipend in support of his poetry by Ludwig Wittgenstein. So this is about political science in many ways.


Mine is so much cooler...

I was going to post this as a reply to Priya's original post, but this is way too nifty to hide in the comments.

Your answers suggest you are a Mastermind

Heh. I've always wanted to be able to say that.

The four aspects that make up this personality type are:

Planner, Ideas, Heads and Introvert

This sounds the same as the INTJ result I usually get. But with cooler graphics.

Summary of Masterminds

  • Visionaries who put energy into achieving their goals
  • Prefer to work independently and dislike inefficiency
Definitely. I especially hate it when people I'm working with are inefficient. I make an exception for Priya. Sometimes.
  • Think of themselves as logical, thorough, and bright
Not so much bright. Or thorough. But logical, sure.
  • Values practicality and common sense above ideas and theories
Not so much. I'm quite fond of ideas and theories--in their place. Wait, this just says pragmatism with more words, doesn't it? Never mind, it fits.

More about Masterminds

Masterminds create a vision for the future by gathering and organising information. They then develop strategies to achieve their goals. They have a rare gift for looking at almost anything and seeing how it can be improved. These skills and the Masterminds' high standards often allow them to reach leadership positions at work.

Ooh. When can I get one of these hypothetical leadership positions? The rest of this is a common refrain here at PTSD.

Mastermind is the least common personality type in the UK, according to a nationwide survey.

Masterminds value independence and prefer to work on their own. Once they have decided on a course of action, Masterminds rarely change their minds, although they can be persuaded by clear reasoning by someone they respect.

See? I do listen to reason. Just not from everyone.

In situations where they can't use their talents or are unappreciated, Masterminds may cut themselves off from a group and criticize people who don't understand their plans.

Umm. Moving right along, folks. Nothing to see here. Ooh, look, a monkey!

Under extreme stress, Masterminds may overindulge in sensory experiences like eating, shopping or watching television.

Yes, yes, and yes. Which helps to explain my trouble with finishing projects on time, I think. That and the whole easily distracted bit.

Masterminds often have an unusual sense of humour, which arises from their ability to spot surprising links between seemingly unconnected facts.

Yeah, you don't need me to explain this one, right?

Mastermind Careers

Masterminds are drawn to jobs requiring logical analysis or abstract thinking common in science or technical fields.

Should have stuck with physics, I guess. Too late now. Or is it?

Resolver...not revolver

Proper post to follow at some time in the near future. In the meantime, amuse yourselves with this (the picture question is rather amusing)

Turns out, I'm a resolver (not a revolver, as I first thought when I quickly read it). What's that, you ask? Well:

Resolvers are:

Good at getting to the heart of a problem and quickly finding a solution
I'd have probably said good at ignoring problems until problems come up and bite one in the arse.

Make rational decisions using the facts available
Yup. Once they have decided what facts are.

Think of themselves as understanding, stable and easy-going
Hah. Or, rather, try to give off such an impression.

May focus on short-term results and lose sight of the big picture
Not when poverty is such a big motivator for making you see the big picture. Being poor definitely spurs interest in finishing that PhD.

Resolvers are independent people who quietly learn how things work by analysing large amounts of information. Should a problem arise, they solve it with as little fuss as possible. Resolvers are only interested in abstract ideas, if they can be used to solve a problem quickly.
Okay. Not sure how abstract ideas are used to solve problems but that can be left alone for now.

Resolvers like to take risks: Many of them seek jobs and pastimes that put them in harms way and guarantee an adrenaline rush.
Yes, like PhD-ing. Which is so dangerous. Or being LS flunkies. Which is far more dangerous. If not to physical safety than to mental sanity. Or lack thereof. Unlike the rest of my family, I've never paraglided (paraglode?), bungee-jumped, pierced various parts of my body, tattoed, etc. Rafting was about as exciting as it got. But, then, living in TCOTFW (the capital of the free world, for those of you who are not regular readers), crossing the street probably guarantees an adrenaline rush.

Resolvers have changed jobs most frequently since leaving full-time education, according to a UK survey.
Yes, well, I've been an after school counsellor, waitperson, fruit/veggie picker, fruit-veggie packer, economist, rural development worker, researcher, teacher, and flunkie (can't think of other stuff right now but I'm sure there are some)

Resolvers are often tolerant of behaviour different to their own as long as their values aren't compromised. They sometimes give the impression that they agree with other peoples' viewpoints because they don't actively disagree.
Our cohort, E. Our cohort. Were we all a bunch of resolvers?

In situations where they can't use their talents or are unappreciated, Resolvers may become cynical, negatively critical or put off decisions. Under extreme stress, Resolvers could be prone to inappropriate, tearful outbursts.
Yes, well, there's that too. I'm coming up for one of those this week, I think. Be warned. The cynicism and negativity are part and parcel of a postgrad student's lot.

Resolvers are quiet and sometimes it is difficult to get to know them; however, they often talk freely about subjects they understand well.
Football. That's it. Oh, also films. Sometimes, terrorism. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

Resolver Careers
Resolvers are often drawn to hands-on jobs that require an analytical mind and careful organisation of large amounts of data.
Macca's is waiting, I think. Is grading hands-on enough? Should I go back to my pre-academic jobs, instead?

The test ends with:

It's important to remember that no survey can predict personality type with 100 percent accuracy. Experts say that we should use personality type to better understand ourselves and others, but shouldn't feel restricted by our results.

So, no throwing oneself off the Key bridge quite yet. Better things are sure to come along. Maybe.

Is it too late to change my methodology?

I do have other work to do. But, right now, I just finished one thing and need a bit of a break before starting something else. So, what to do at 2am on Thursday? Play quizzes, of course! From the Beeb, again:

You are a Logical-Mathematical Thinker

Logical-Mathematical thinkers:

Like to understand patterns and relationships between objects or actions
Try to understand the world in terms of causes and effects
Are good at thinking critically, and solving problems creatively
Like Logical-Mathematical thinkers, Leonardo [da Vinci, that is] based his theories on evidence rather than speculation.

Other Logical-Mathematical Thinkers include: Isaac Newton, Archimedes, Albert Einstein

Careers which suit Logical-Mathematical thinkers include: Physicist, Chemist, Biologist, Lawyer, Computer programmer, Engineer, Inventor

If I invent a new way of looking at power, does that count? I guess not. Is it too late for changing careers?

Find out what type of thinker you are here

You never know when you need this type of knowledge

Starts off with: How to torch a car

Highlights include: light the car from the inside out and a burning newspaper is enough to start the fire. No need for major tools, then.

Currently being of much use to the French.

FYI: the article gives an example of efficient car-burning in Ohio (they burnt American flags. I'm shocked)


Reducing the profit margin and admin costs of the insurance companies might be another idea...

Seen on an Anthem Health Care banner ad:

Unhealthy lifestyles are the leading cause of runaway health care costs. By taking responsibility for our own health, together we can slow the rising costs for everyone.

Wonder if it works for bird flu too?

From the BBC (what else?).

Well, at least one of us (E, FYI, not me) has a better chance of survival :-)

Those damned spots

I want to point out that I owe yous a post on something E and I agreed upon. However, that'll have to wait since I spent most of yesterday retching on the local bus (and getting speedily kicked out before I could make things worse. Those shiny floors, you see).

Oh, I also collapsed on Anomie's floor and (apparently) talked a lot about "those lovely lovely spots" that I was seeing. And, how lovely they were.

Yes, near-death experience there, pretty much, I'd say. I'd also say that sentence was particularly vile, even by my standards.

E told me that hallucination should count as a reason for not having finished a certain amount of work in time. But, how can I "prove" hallucination? Isn't it rather like describing the smell of coffee?


Obviously I'm not going to get any more work done today.

So I'm going to post this instead. I've always wondered what you get when you ask for a shiny new office.

Via THe Republic of Heaven.

useful tools, given the news today

The biblical curse generator. I got it from The Green Knight.

And also this: Email time capsule, via boing boing.

More Bird Flu blogging

Shit. This is very possibly a not-good thing.

Why do we not hear more of Viking poetry?

There was a viking museum and burial ground at OOD (its only tourist "attraction"). During my travels around the country itself, I also managed to find a recreated Viking village (hugely popular with the heaps of German tourists who drove across the border). In both cases, the stories and the placards were mainly about how Vikings were adventurers and explorers and were fun-loving people who made bread and mead and cute little viking tools and jewellery.

From today's Pearls Before Swine

Heh. Someone should let the Danes know.


A bit more of this and I'll start talking about "Universals"

Just got home after a long (and pointless) walk, turned to my internet radio site and searched for a few songs I wanted to hear. Was quite pleased to find the new Franz Ferdinand (okay, I bought their first CD before they became popular). Besides, any band which names itself after historical figures has to be on my playlist. They have a blog too where a recent entry talks about how the wife of one of the band members was thrown out of a club.

Turns out the new song was actually being sung in Spanish at some radio station in South America. The music was the same but the words weren't in English. I was rather happy to find it's not just in Thailand and Nepal this sort of thing goes on. Made me feel right at home.

I wonder though if this means Habermas has it right after all? All this "local knowledge" stuff (take that, Geertz!) is pretty much similar everywhere? (no, don't get your knickers in a twist. I will still argue in favour of Geertz, despite his tendency to write about six sentences when one would do quite well)


Borrowing memes

Saw this over at BrightStar's and she graciously agreed that I could scam it for here.

Yes, I'm wasting time instead of a) working, b) writing NaNo, c) cleaning my apt or d) finishing my conference paper. Why are you surprised?

From what I can tell, this is being freely passed around. So if you're interested, go ahead and use it. It'd be great if you commented and told me where it's gone, though.

Another Music Meme

song I always put on mix CD's: "Hallelujah," Rufus Wainwright

song I try to woo people with: "I Love You," Sarah McLachlan

song that reminds me of my childhood: "Down by the Bay," Raffi. My mom used to sign this with us. Now she (and my sister) sing it with my nephew, and every time I hear it I think of our family vacations.

song that takes me back to junior high: "Cradle of Love," Billy Idol

song that takes me back to college: "Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand," Primitive Radio Gods. For some reason we played this all the time my freshman year. It always makes me think of one of my best friends, with who hooked up with one of my roommates and now isn't allowed to talk to us.

song that always makes me cry: "Mother's Pride," George Michael

song that takes me to my happy place: "If I Had $1,000,000," BNL

song I play to get the party started: "Radio Radio," Elvis Costello

first concert attended: Weezer, with my boyfriend (now husband) and my sister. Teenage Fanclub and 7 Year Bitch opened for them, in Detroit. The Sweater Song still rocks, so I make no apologies for this.

No, wait, it was that dog, not 7 Year Bitch, as an opening act. I think.

last concert attended: BNL, during the Peepshow tour. I think. It's not possible that it's been two years since I saw a concert, is it? Now I'm depressed. Can anyone remember a concert I've been to since then?

artist I've seen most often in concert: definitely BNL, followed closely by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Kid Rock, Dance Hall Crashers and Save Ferris.

first record/CD I bought: Hmm. The first CD I remember buying was Jagged Little Pill. Not sure if there were a couple before that or not.

last record/CD I bought: Whiskey Tango Ghosts, from iTunes. Last physical CD I bought was Bathing in the New Millennium. Last album I acquired was How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, by the always incredible U2. (No, wait, it was the new Harvey Danger album, Little by Little, which they're offering as a download from their website. Don't forget to send a donation, or buy the CD, because the whole thing is an effort to discredit DRM.)

album I love falling asleep to: Touch, Sarah McLachlan

album I love waking up to: Torch This Place, Atomic Fireballs

best after-hours album: Lockjaw, Dance Hall Crashers

best song/album for falling in love: best song is "At This Point in My Life," Tracy Chapman or maybe "You're to Me," Scott Fab; best album is Come Away with Me, Norah Jones

best song/album for breaking up: "This is Where It Ends," or "Break Your Heart," BNL. Preferably both, on repeat, and played very, very loud. And Born on a Pirate Ship is hands-down the best breakup album, because it isn't all about breaking up. But mostly it is. Matter of fact, I'm going to listen to it now.

guilty pleasure music: Bryan Adams or Wilson Phillips. Yes, I admit it, I like sappy ballads and guitar rock.

And I'm adding a couple:

song that I love to sing in the car: "Sweet Marie," The Anniversary or "Be My Yoko Ono," BNL

album that would be the soundtrack to a movie about my life: Double Wide, Uncle Kracker

album I *wish* was the soundtrack to my life: La Femme Nikita

Created by Lucky Buzz


It's not just about writing

It's also about hanging out with new people, talking about writing and totally unrelated things, eating, laughing and drinking. Or at least that's the impression I get from two events and the message board for NaNoWriMo.

A strangely high percentage of the people I've met so far write for a living--but non-fiction, rather than the focus of NNWM. Lots of science, a high number of grad students and academics, and more editors than I've ever seen in one place.

Haven't met any lawyers yet, which says something about the legal profession.

There's also this, a challenge to drink and post for Saturday. It was mentioned at the write-in tonight, which of course meant that I had to go looking for the source of this intriguing event for my own elightenment.

Anybody know of a place with free wifi and alcohol? Because that's where I want to be on Saturday night. Anyone interested can feel free to join me in the blogging equivalent of the drunk dial.

Write around the clock

I hope she'll still have time to hang out with the rest of us throughout the month but just wanted to let yous know (especially in view of the lean athlete carrying a big pencil running in place on the right-hand side of our blog and to clear up confusion about the many comments that have been flying around) that in addition to jobs and PhD-ing, E has signed up to write a novel in a month.

It's national novel-writing month, people. And, by the end of the month, I'll be mates with a novellist. All I ask is when Hollywood makes a huge blockbuster "based on" E's book and starring him, him, him and him and perhaps with him as a villain, I get to have a (minor. I'm well aware of my lack of thespian abilities) role.

Go, E!

And I'm waiting four years for this?

It's time to revisit footy, dear readers, with news that Bavarian folk dancers are "incensed" that their role in the opening ceremony of the football World Cup (to be held in Germany next year) will be only 45 seconds long.

They are also rather miffed (the article calls it "furious") that women will be banned from performing, leaving the men, who wear Lederhosen and Bavarian hats decorated with the beard of a mountain goat, to slap their thighs alone

I'm still trying to get the image of German blokes in ethnic gear jumping about "slapping thighs" by themselves.

To make matters worse,

Other Bavarian pastimes including Alpine horn blowing, musical whip cracking, and ceremonial gun firing, have also been dumped in the same 45-second slot

The organisers are probably worried that the Germans footballers (think efficient; think boring; think 1-0 wins or 0-0 draws) would find all this excitement a tough act to follow. One can't have the crowd clamouring for more Bavarian dancing over football after all.

No news yet on what will actually be in the rest of the 20-minute opening ceremony.