Thursday, September 28, 2006

This RENT thing is getting way out of hand...

"School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences"

The School of Social Sciences at UTD has apparently changed its name. I guess it makes sense. But for some reason I don't like it. I realize it makes no difference whether or not I like it. Not only do I not go there anymore, but even if I did it wouldn't really matter. Maybe I don't like it because it completely leaves out the "social" part and seems to be deemphasizing sociology? Not that sociology doesn't study economic and political policy, but the name seems to emphasize the school's programs in Economics, Political Science, and Public Policy (obviously), with no mention of Sociology. I realize soc is a smaller program, but I kind of have an attachment to it.

Or maybe I just don't like change. Which is true, too.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

This post is keeping me from dozing off.

I'm sitting in stats right now, actually typing this up in the command window of Stata. We had a pretty good discussion in theory today. But the best part was this quote:

"Lets just stipulate that there can be issues of sample truncation where people get killed before they can get into the dataset."

My kind of research.

(Just for clarification, the study in question was Gould's look at the participants in the 1871 Paris Commune. Arrest records were used as data sources, but, of course, those who were killed were not arrested, so they were not a part of the data set. Our class kind of wandered into a long discussion about the limitations of the data, and this was an attempt to crystallize those issues and to get us beyond them.)

Monday, September 25, 2006

My friends sometimes make fun of my parking abilities...

...but rarely do they charge me $35 for my lack of skill in the area. I just saw that my car had a ticket on it. I was "occupying two spaces." In the "notes" section of the ticket, it said, "rear crossed line."

Fair enough. The back of my car was edging in on the space beside me. It was a straight parking spot, and I was kind of angled. But, I am going to appeal this citation. All of the other cars around me were angled. If I had pulled in properly, the my car would have hit the rear of the car beside me, who was into my space. The car on the other side of me was similarly angled. It was the only spot available. No, this poor parking was not, in fact, an artifact of my lack of skills but a necessity of the environment.

I took a picture of it with my phone, but I'm not entirely sure how to get that onto the computer, so just trust me when I say that angling in was the only way to park. Thus, I will not pay $35.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

What's been distracting me lately?

RENT. I liked the soundtrack. Well, some of the songs. But I had, curiously, never seen the movie. Ema was obsessed. Patrick and Deanna loved it. Everyone told me I had to see it. But I had put it off. But, this past week, when Deanna was here, being the wonderful, lovely person she is, she bought it for me. We watched it Wednesday night, and I thought it was okay. I was mostly distracted at the time, thinking about the work I should've been doing instead.

But on the way driving Deanna back to the airport on Thursday morning, I found the soundtrack cd that Ema had left at the apartment before she left. I stuck it in. La Vie Boheme came on. When I got home I watched the movie again. I laughed, I cried, I bawled. I thought. I felt. Then, the clincher, I watched the documentary about Jonathan Larson, the writer of the original play. The story, his as well as the plot itself, was compelling. I watched the director's commentary. I listened to the music on my computer while I worked. I wasted a lot of time in the car, driving around, (poorly, I'm sure) belting out the songs along with the actors. I told myself I was "lost," looking for somewhere to go sit down and get work done. I mean, I could've gone to campus, or sat somewhere on University. But, no, I had to drive somewhere. I wasted a whole lot of gas. All because I wanted to sing.

Right now, as I procrastinate, it's on in the background. I think I'm becoming obsessed.

My favorite songs: La Vie Boheme, Light my Candle, Take me or Leave Me, Another Day, I'll Cover You, One Song Glory, Tango Maureen... ok, I'll stop. My favorites are all of them.

At first I thought I liked the Mimi and Roger story line best, but the more I think about it, Angel and Tom are edging them out. I was listening to the director's commentary, and Chris Columbus (director for the first two Harry Potter films!) mentioned that the kiss between the two of them during the song "I'll Cover You" prompted some walking-out during screenings of the film.

So, naturally, being obsessed with scary conservatives (as I am), I went to specifically look for reviews of the movie trashing the homosexuality, etc. I was particularly looking for someone to condemn the movie with Fred Phelps like vitriol (e.g., "AIDS as cure for homosexuality..." who said that? Was it Falwell? I distinctly remember this.).

I looked on the Christian movie review websites (not that I am at all stereotyping Christians as scary conservatives or the type to bash gays!) as the most likely place to find this sort of thing, and was happily surprised/disappointed not to find much of it. There were reviews. Sure, some did mention "morality problems" in the movie, but all acknowledged the quality of the movie, the important questions it raised, etc.

So, anyway, Rent is awesome, and you should see it. It, and the documentary, and the director's commentary, and listen to the soundtrack, and let it suck away as much as your time as it has mine.


I love those moments when things just "click" in your head. They're so exciting.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quote of the day

"Whether or not you want to get involved with the footnotes, is, of course, a personal decision." --theory professor

Monday, September 18, 2006

Friday, September 15, 2006

Am I going to die? (part 2)

So, yesterday, when I got home I was pretty hungry. So I opened the bag of fresh spinach that I got the other day while grocery shopping. I cut up some tomatoes, put in some tasty croutons, and added a splash of my new favorite salad dressing: Romano Basil Vinaigrette.

So, I have this lovely salad, take a few bites, and then turn on the tv. It's set to CNN. Just as I'm about to take another bite, I hear Paula Zahn: "Do not eat any fresh, bagged spinach." She said this very emphatically. For a moment, I wondered, "how do they know? is she talking just to me?" I was sure they must have cameras in my apartment and a feed coming straight from Paula to me.

Anyway, it turns out that fresh bagged spinach has been implicated in one death and over 90 cases of e. coli in 20 states.

I'll be honest, I ate a few more bites. That's some really good salad dressing.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Am I going to die?

Maybe. The fire alarm is sounding, rather loudly, in my building, and has been for about the last five minutes. I've holed myself and the laptop into the bathroom, where the ubiquitous screeching is less loud. I did this all of the time in my undergrad apartments. Alarms were frequent while fires were few. I suspect that is the case here. However, if I die in some huge fire consuming my apartment building, this post will stand as a final monument to my stupidity.

Card carrying sociologist

So, I joined the American Sociological Association, and today in the mail I had a little packet including, among other things, an ASA membership card. Really? Under what circumstances would I ever need an ASA id?

Random person: "Well, I think that Congress should do X."
Me: "Well, actually, I think society would be better off if we did Y."
Random person: "No, I think you're wrong."
Me: [busts out ASA membership card] "Actually, I am a genuine, card-carrying sociologist. I'm obviously right."

"What's the Taliban?"

I don't have a whole lot of time right now, I've gotta get to class, but right now I'm watching the CNN pipeline coverage of September 11, 2001 as it happened. I just had this incredible moment of connection with the past. I was sitting in Spanish class, watching CNN, and "Taliban to hold press conference" scrolled across the bottom. No one was saying much in class, and I blurted out, "What's the Taliban?" In retrospect, that seems like a silly question. But, I remember Nathaniel Brown answered my question.

It was just weird, to see that on the screen and know that exactly 5 years ago, to the very moment, I was sitting in class, watching this horrific event.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Taking a break.

When I finish my statistics homework, I am going to go rent a movie. Any movie. And I am going to sit down and watch it.

It will be lovely.

Now, some of you may be thinking, "wait! don't you procrastinate all the time? why do you need a break?" Because procrastination, while by definition means not working on what you should be working on, always involves a not insignificant amount of guilt. You can sit and watch videos on youtube rather than reading for theory, but you're not really enjoying those videos because in the back of your mind, you're berating yourself for being lazy.

This is different. This is not procrastination. This is taking an honest-to-goodness break.

Now, I just need to stop procrastinating from doing statistics so that I can take the break.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

smells & memories

I have mentioned before how certain smells are indelibly linked with events and people in my memory. Well, I was emptying a box that I haven't gone through since I moved here, and I found a perfume that I haven't worn since last fall. Specifically, the smell for me is linked with the hassle of applying to grad school, taking the GRE, asking for letters of recommendation, etc. I don't know why, but as soon as I sprayed it, I felt the same rush of excitement and sense of urgency, though it took me a moment to link the urgency and excitement to last fall and grad applications.

This olfactory memory (and a desire not to read what I really should be reading at the moment) caused me to look back at that time via the blog. First, after putting it off for a very long time, I took the GRE. Then of course I waited, and waited, on recommenders to get their stuff out. Finally, I got all the December applications in. But then the January ones came along.

First response: In at Wisconsin, but no funding. I was still having paperwork problems with some schools, though. Despite some pessimism, finally, everything was in.

I then felt like an idiot, but Wisconsin had already accepted me... no take-backs! Besides, my self-esteem was lifted by the fact that I was in at UCSB. A while later, Arizona sent an acceptance letter. Later, I had a two letter day, but one was wait-listing me. And neither of them was Northwestern. It got so bad, I made a CD about waiting. And did I really post a Beatles video?

But I didn't have to wait for much longer to hear about Northwestern: I made $2 on the thing, at least.

I went to visit Arizona and had a good time.

I looked for a post where I actually announced my decision. But apparently I never did. For those of you completely out of the loop and who haven't read anything else on this blog in the past few weeks: I chose Arizona.

And, all that, from a whiff of perfume. And a strong desire to procrastinate.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I can't figure it out.

Is he deluded or evil? In a bubble or solely self-interested? An idiot or cold and calculating?

I can't even figure out which one I would prefer him to be. Either is scary.

(I realize words like "evil" are hyperbolic, but you know what I mean. And, I suspect the truth is somewhere between the two.)

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Today feels like Saturday. And every weekend so far this semester has seemed really short. I finally figured out why. It's actually quite simple, but it never occurred to me before: for the past few years, all of my weekends have been three day weekends. I haven't had Friday classes since my freshman year in college. Friday was always the first day of the weekend.

Here, I don't have any actual classes on Friday, but I do TA in the mornings (no sleeping in!) and then I have a graduate seminar for first year grad students, and then the department brown bag. It feels just like a normal day, not part of the weekend.

Today, I woke up and it felt like Saturday. I have a whole next day to finish things that need to be done this weekend. Which is true, for this week at least, because it's a holiday.

There's really no point to this post except to remind me that Fridays are not part of the weekend, that three day weekends are not the norm, and that, even if they were, I should still be busy getting work done.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


I have literally spent 9 hours today (yes, with some breaks, but, really, the better part of that time) creating a data set by copying pasting a bunch of different variables for all 50 states. And I just finished Wyoming. It's a good feeling to be finished, but I'm lacking that accomplished feeling that you often get when you finish a big paper/project/etc. It feels so anti-climactic...I put a bunch of numbers into a bunch of excel files. Go me! Honestly, I feel kind of like I've been sitting watching tv all day. This work is kind of mindless, so I've been watching movies while doing it. I've seen Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Mona Lisa Smile, Parent Trap (the old/better one), and am currently in the middle of Mrs. Doubtfire. I feel like I've just wasted the day.

I guess at least now that this is finished I can concentrate on the other things I have to do this weekend.

Dear person/people in the apartment below me,

It is not cool that you play your music so loudly that my apartment vibrates. Just so you know.