Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bitter because I can't

There is an article over at the Chronicle of Higher Ed that is driving me crazy. (I don't think you need a subscription to see it.) Basically, the author says, she finds writing very difficult. When other people don't, first she doesn't really believe them, then she gets mad. She wishes they would all just shut their traps.

What is this, pre-school? "My mommy said I'm special so NO ONE can do ANYTHING better than me! So just shut up!"

You know, this is embarrassing, but I've never gotten the hang of using the Stairmaster. I just can't get the rhythm right. Everyone who looks at me funny when I say this, or says I just need to try agin, because Stairmasters are great - just stop showing off, alright?

I also have no ability to carry a tune. I wouldn't know an in-tune note if it wore a nametag. So next time someone talks about the joy of singing, or how everybody should just be able to have a nice sing-along, I'm going to tell them to can it. Don't make me have low singing self-esteem. As if singing could really be fun for anyone!

Then - and these are the ones that REALLY frost my cupcakes - there are the people who talk about how much they love running. Inevitably, they try to evangelize (maybe not to people in wheelchairs, but to reasonably mobile-looking types) that they ought to take it up. Endorphins, blah blah, great way to keep in shape ... whatever, I say running is hard. That's why I just sit and smirk when they start talking about injuries.

Alright, civilization, new rule: From no on, no one is allowed to talk about enjoying anything else that might possibly make anyone feel inferior. We don't want to know if you can bake a mean cupcake, get a weird thrill from vacuuming, are adept at curling, or can do really nice calligraphy. Because some of us can't, okay? Expressing a positive opinion is the same as rubbing the rest of our noses in it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ahoy, boots ho!

This morning it was finally chilly enough to wear my new winter coat. (Note to those in chillier climes: No doubt you'd call this a fall coat. But winter will never get that cold here.) I was very excited about this.

Now, if only I could find some nice boots. I don't want a plain pair where the top part has some stretch, although those are easy enough to find. I want something with a buckle or two. But some don't fit, just like with any shoes, and the rest are all too baggy in the calf. I don't have particularly slender calves relative to the rest of me, so this seems odd. I could just give up and get pirate boots or something made to be baggy.

Shiver me timbers, it's the dissertatin' pirate girl!

No, that won't work. I don't even have a pirate shirt.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Synonyms for what I'm doing today

Editing, revising, polishing, refining, revamping, correcting, amending, strengthening, bolstering, improving, lengthening ...

... manuscripts, documents, papers, research, precis, proposals, findings, results, write-ups, synopses, articles, statements ...


... grants, proposals, conferences, committees, sessions, foundations, discussants, researchers, audiences, experts.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Living the life

The other day I wrote about grad students can always see a glass as half-empty. I've been thinking about that and wish to emend my statement. First of all, it should be specific to doctoral students. Masters students are usually pretty perky, at least until the end when they get antsy to find a job. Second, they just don't find the glass to be half-empty.

No, the glass is half-empty, and the water is dirty, but they don't want water anyway, and half a glass isn't enough, and the glass looks like it might have a crack in it, and why is there no lemon, and it's lukewarm, and they would rather have it poured by someone else.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


This paper I'm trying to finish up uses an enormous dataset. I can't run more than 5% of it on my laptop, so I have to come into school and use the library computers, which have more memory. I still only run 25% of it there. The computers may be able to handle more, but I have to stay with the computer, more or less - no letting it go overnight.

I have a credit card.

The Apple store down the road has desktops.

I could just go buy a desktop.

No, no, bad Turducken. Wait until you are a faculty member and get startup money.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Oh yeah, that was voluntary, wasn't it

Ugh. I'm feeling stressed out, and for the first time since starting the program, I'm having a serious case of imposter syndrome. None of the details are remotely interesting, so I won't bore you with them. Instead, I'm going to complain about all the stupid stuff that is secondarily annoying me.
  • My hair isn't growing fast enough.
  • I haven't yet found the right shoes for my Halloween costume.
  • The Indians lost the series to the Red Sox.
  • It's raining, way too late to help agriculture.
See, that wasn't interesting either, but it was better than me whining because whaaa, I had papers accepted at a conference and now I have to present them, and I have to do homework because I'm in grad school which I wasn't press-ganged into, and I said I'd do X so now I have to do it, GEEZ. There's nobody like a grad student to look narcissisticly into a half-full glass and pronouce it empty, empty, empty.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Long trail at Edgar Evins State Park

Center Hill Lake
Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
I've reached the conclusion that the hiking trails at most state parks based around dammed lakes aren't great bets. The trails are built because they provide more recreation options for park users, not necessarily because there is something worth hiking to. They're worth doing if you're there anyway, but not worth driving for.

Since this is fall break, I had hoped to get as much done early in the weekend as I could, so that I could maybe camp out somewhere Monday night. But the weather report was almost guaranteeing rain for Monday and Tuesday, so I recalibrated. I decided to hike the eight-mile Jack C. Clayborn Millennium Trail at Edgar Evins State Park, about one hour east of here.

I slept in, though, and got a late start. I didn't start hiking until noon. Actually, I stopped at the visitor's center first. In the middle of the center is a tower, and the top of the tower provides a great view of the dam. That's better than any of the views along the hike.

I ended up not doing the entire hike, since I had started late and have been slacking since Mt. St. Helens. I skipped the 2.6 mile loop at the end. I don't think it's very different from most of what I saw. You get occasional glimpses of the lake (perhaps better in winter), but mostly you're in forest. The biggest reason to search out this hike would be if you were really into old stone walls, since they are abundant. The trail itself has suffered from a lack of trail maintenance, probably compounded by a lack of visitation. Today there were only three parties out, and the other two covered less of the trail than I did. In many places downed trees and undergrowth make the trail hard to sort out or rough underfoot. However, the park's Friends group does seem to be starting some active reclaimation, so hopefully this will improve.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Baseball season

So the Indians have come back from their trouncing in game 1 to look pretty good at this point in the American League series. Naturally, this is fertile ground for sports writers.

I saw an article that referred to their opponents as the "BoSox." That sounds like something society wives inject into their foreheads. I should ask the Bostonians I know if anyone actually calls the team that. Or is this just a part of the "Bennifer"-ication of proper names?

And I'm tired of seeing news stories about how if the World Series is Cleveland-Denver, no one will care. Guess what, sports writers in New York and Boston? The rest of world doesn't actually think the world revolves around the East Coast. Do they realize that no one outside of New York City cares about a subway series? People care when it's their team, or if they're just so into baseball they care no matter who is playing.

However, I do totally approve of the Fox Sports News constant online updates. If you can't watch the game, the next best thing is to have a status update every thirty seconds with who's batting, who's pitching, who's on base, and all the usual stats. It's still not as good as watching the game in HDTV, though. That's pretty awesome. Ever more awesome is, of course, being there, but we can't have it all.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Committee of Extra-Ordinary Gentlemen

In late 2007, rumors began to circulate on the street that Turducken had assembled a crack team of researchers. While never a solo operative, in the past she had tended to form a series of partnerships rather than entire teams, so the rumors were greeted with some skepticism. Details slowly emerged, however, revealing that she did indeed have an elite group of gentlemen-scholars at her disposal, consisting of the following experts:

Code Name: "The Chair"
Expertise: Mixed-method case studies, state policy, garbage-can theory, diffusion
Secret Weapon: Tenure

Code Name: "Mentor"
Expertise: Fundraising, development, institutional advancement, public relations, winning
Secret Weapon: Bow tie

Code Name: "Beta"
Expertise: Quantitative analysis, education policy, event history analysis
Secret Weapon: R

Code Name: "Georgia"
Expertise: Sociology of education, organization, finance, relocation
Secret Weapon: He has no secrets ... or does he?

... Which is just to say, I now have a dissertation committee.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Wednedsay was my last day of my org theory class. I really enjoyed the class, but part of me is glad it's over, since it was a lot of reading. In addition, my sociology class is canceled for the upcoming week. The upshot is that I feel like I can catch up a bit this weekend instead of frantically treading water. Today I did all of my reading for next week, and I intend to spend most of the next two days working on a dissertation grant application and perhaps a paper for ASHE. Papers are due in less than two weeks, and I still have so much to do.

While I don't consider myself a connisseur of the comic strip "Cathy," I am this close to shrieking "ACK!" about now.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rough times ahead

I've been lucky. My advisor and I have always gotten along, and our differences (for example, I don't wear a bow tie) have never been a problem. Unfortunately, all that is about to change.

You see, I am a Cleveland Indians fan, and he is a Boston fan.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

We all need a little good news

In November, word on AERA proposals is supposed to go out. However, we discovered last year that about a month before official notices come out, we could log in to the online submission system and see acceptances as they are decided. While the status line may say "awaiting final decision," if a paper has been assigned a session, it's in. If it doesn't give a session, it may have been rejected, or the decision may not have been made yet.

So I'm excited to say that at least one of my papers has been accepted. The paper Mr. Kindhearted and I submitted will be featured in a session on "External influences on institutional expenditures, revenue, and organization in higher education." We're going to New York City!

In honor of my research partner, then, I will fulfill a request he made a few weeks back. "I only check on your blog occasionally," he said. "You never put anything controversial in it. You should."

Alright, here goes. A professor recently told our class, "The only necessary requirement for OLS regression is that the independent variables and error terms be uncorrelated. The rest of the 'requirements' are nonsense." Discuss.

If you need to brush up on the theory behind OLS, click here. If you aren't sure what OLS stands for, weigh in anyway. That's what makes the internet great!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Back to Monday

For some reason, all the rare social bits of my social life decided to activate themselves Friday night. First was the opening night of the Peabody kickball tournament, in which our department won both of its two games - the second one just barely, because Teaching & Learning is very evenly matched with us. After that I ran off to a talk by Stanley Fish. The talk wasn't sufficiently advertised on campus, and I suspect the turnout was disappointing. It was part of a two-day conference that cost money to attend, so most students didn't even look into it; I only found out the day before that students could attend for free. Then, finally, I went to a wine and cheese party one of the first years was having. It was a good time, but I had to leave before it was over, as I was teaching the next morning.

So I taught and spent the rest of the weekend doing homework. For some reason, though, I was dead tired Saturday night. I was a little short on sleep the previous night, but not enough to justify sleeping for 13 hours, and that's what I did. My body must be hoarding sleep for some reason. Maybe it's the colds that are going around now - which seem out of place, since the weather is still hitting 90, but it technically is fall.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

In other news

In research news: Today we offically finished going through dissertations for Project Snowball. We should have cracked open the champagne or something. Woot.

In sports news: Indians > Yankees.

In art news: Soviet poster blog.

In health news: "Not a morning person? These Ayurvedic rituals will turn you into an early riser and change how you face the day," said the email. Well, I guess I can't argue - if I do all these, I'm going to have to start getting up earlier.

In world news: The prof coming to CWRU whose visa was stuck has had her visa issues resolved.

In business news: Stupid office morale games.

In intellectual news: An interesting approach to morality.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Staying organized

I have a new favorite piece of software called Check Off. It's nothing fancy, but it's dead useful. I am an inveterate list maker, and for some time now I've been using Stickies to post virtual to-do lists on my Mac. However, this is unsatisfying to me because I can't cross off a finished item. I can delete it, but then I don't get the satisfaction of seeing all my completed items. Check Off lets you, guess what, check off what you have done, so I just check off things and at the end of the day delete the finished tasks. You can also create folders for sets of tasks. This makes it easy to focus on "stuff to finish this weekend" or "dissertation tasks."

You can download Check Off here (if you have a Mac).