Friday, November 28, 2008


Yesterday morning I went to a special Thanksgiving yoga practice consisting of 108 sun salutations. I wasn't sure I could make it through, even with the breaks we were promised every 27 salutations; after all, after 10 at the beginning of an ashtanga practice, I'm already tired. To my surprise I made it through the whole thing, without having to modify the salutations, but even more surprising is where I am sore. I figured my arms would hurt from chaturanga (it's like a push-up), but instead it's my hamstrings that are suffering.

I spent the rest of the day eating, hanging out, and watching Four Christmases. (More amusing than I expected.)

The other big news here is that Wednesday I turned in a chapter of my dissertation to my writing group.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Twin Arches hike

Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
On Sunday we did a hike at Big South Fork National Park. This park, which straddles the border of Kentucky and Tennessee, is beautiful but not highly visited. It is honeycombed with trails and is a great place to get away from the crowds you can find at some national parks. Our hike started with the Twin Arches and took us southwest to the Middle Creek trailhead. There are a lot of impressive sandstone formations. Sadly, there is also a lot of pine beetle damage.

Mullens Cove

On Saturday we hiked the Mullens Cove loop, which is 10.2 miles in Franklin State Forest. The trail is not new but is now part of the Cumberland Trail. The highlight of the trip is this overlook, called Snooper's Rock.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Popular majors

Article: Division I athletes cluster in certain majors.

What I'd like to know, and what is missing from this article, is, "Do other students with similar academic qualifications end up in the same major?" We know that athletes, at least those in the "big" sports like football and basketball, have lower average SAT scores and GPAs than do their non-varsity peers. At many schools, sorting into majors occurs after students enter - students find they can't succeed in a certain program, or they have to apply for admission to competitive majors. At Vanderbilt, the sorting occurs even earlier; students must apply to the college they wish to study in (i.e., Peabody or Arts & Sciences) - and the students are not the same across colleges. It's easy to switch from a philosophy to a Spanish major, since they're in the same college, but harder to switch from Human and Organizational Development to engineering. It's likely that some clustering is simply due to the the difference in ability, not due to athletics per se.

This doesn't deny that inappropriately firm guidance or cheating don't occur, but clustering itself is not sufficient evidence to prove it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Before news about ASHE gets any staler, here's the report I promised.

The first time I went to ASHE, I was excited to go to all kinds of sessions, even stuff outside my interest, just to see what was going on. By my third ASHE last year, I had a pretty good grasp of the kind of work being done, and there were a set of people I looked forward to seeing.

This year the dynamic shifted yet again, because I am on the job market. My anxiety level was heightened as I wanted to make a good impression on search committees and find out the scoop on jobs. Also, I had a series of meetings to go to instead of just sessions.

Hopefully, next year I will have a job and not have to worry so much about trying to impress, but it seems that as times goes on people spend more time in meetings and catching up with friends than they do attending sessions.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Return to Stone Door

View from the top
Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
We went back to Stone Door on Sunday - not backpacking this time, but day hiking. We started at the ranger station, headed down the Stone Door trail to the Big Creek Gulf trail (heading in the opposite direction from last time), and then back around to the Door via the Big Creek Rim trail. All told it was 9.8 miles. A couple of us stuck around to do the quick .3-mile Laurel Falls loop afterwards.

Naturally, it was fall instead of summer, changing the landscape, but the biggest difference was that there was more water. This photo was taken where Big Creek drops underground into a sinkhole. Last time the creek was dry. We skipped the side trip to Ranger Falls entirely last time, assuming it would be dry, and this time it was roaring nicely.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Do Synthroids dream of electric sheep?

The last two nights I have had extremely vivid dreams. Nothing particularly bizarre has happened in them (relative, of course, to dreams, not real life). A little web surfing has revealed that this is something some Synthroid takers experience. As far as side effects go, it's not a problematic one, mind you.

I do promise to blog about ASHE soon, BTW.

Monday, November 10, 2008


The doctors at student health sent me to a specialist for a minor medical issue I've been having. The specialist said, "I think it's a hormone problem. Go to the lab for some tests." So the lab sucked a little blood out of my arm and tested for about eight different hormones, and the results suggested my TSH was slightly high. This is indicative of hypothyroidism, so the specialist sent me back for another round of tests just to be sure.

Meanwhile, I start reading about hypothyroidism online. The trouble with reading about any medical issue is that it's pretty easy to convince yourself you have it, especially when the symptoms are not highly unusual. Fatigue? Trouble losing weight? What Americans don't feel like these are problems? But several of the symptoms were things I had noticed over the past year or two without considering them to be medical problems. My skin has gotten drier; I thought that was just aging. I get cold more easily; I thought that was just getting acclimated to the Southern weather.

But then the second test came back high, too, so I'm being put on Synthroid. Now we get to see what symptoms are really hypothyroidism and what aren't.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Exciting news! Our proposal for the annual AERA conference (held in April in San Diego this time around) was accepted.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cloudland Canyon

Group shot
Originally uploaded by TheTurducken
Here's the group photo from a 6.8-mile hike we did at Cloudland Canyon, in Georgia near the TN/AL border. The leaves were just beginning to hit their stride.