Friday, June 30, 2006

it's vaderrific!

Teddy Love e-mails from Madison that she has recently made her indie television debut in the Channel 101 pilot of Chad Vader, a short short sitcom about the underachieving brother of, well, you know (which I guess would make Chad the uncle of, well, you know and you know). The show itself earns the coveted JFW Actually Funny Seal of Approval (click here to view). Teddy appears in the scene with "Clarissa," as the blurry woman in the green buying baby food. Notice how swiftly she scurries down the aisle between cuts.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

addendum regarding the charles river run

The race photos are in, and so I have proof that the race was wet and I was there:

Notice the baggy knit shorts one would normally associate with sleeping (which is in fact what I had been using them for) rather than running. Also I presume you see how freaking awesome the floppy hat looks.

The woman in blue, btw, is Kathleen the economist from the program who ran with me and therefore had to listen to all my prattle and deal with my various gesticulations to the photographers. Here are the two of us making the brave turn into the chute toward the finish:

Anyway, as the most important thing, if Simpleton or Sal reads this, they will be happy to know I also have photographic proof of my repeat performance of finishing the race by jumping to a stop on the finish line. Check out my astonishing vertical leap:

It really was a good time, and so I'm glad I got out of bed to do it. We've talked now about doing the run for breast cancer in the fall, which would mark my first foray into any kind of philanthropic running. Meanwhile, Sal and I need to figure out if we can find a marathon or half-marathon that is still open for registrants for this fall.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

mysteries of time management

At one point in graduate school I realized that I had not read a novel in two years. So then I read five in the following week and afterward concluded about the two year hiatus, "I will never let sociology do that to me again." I'm worried nowadays that All The Time Online is a bigger impediment to my fiction reading than the labors of social science, but I have been buying up novels lately again. A problem for me is always that I want to read them straight through, which I could do when I was younger but a harder trick to pull off nowadays (although a fellowship, let's be honest, helps).

Over the past two days I read The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. I think after my spasm of watching 80's videos the other night, I wanted to read an 80's novel. Which this is, taking the form of the mystery novel and using it to perform various inversions that make the stories really about language and writing. But, he does it in a way that stays true to the form by having really clever plot developments throughout. I mean, if you are the kind of person who likes finishing a novel with the sensation that it twiddled with your brain, to the point where you are still feeling a little swimmy as you remember parts of it hours (and, I suspect it will be for me, days) after the fact, it's a book I would highly recommend.

I suppose I can be upset with myself for taking the time to devour this novel when I could be finish this revision to a Stata program that conducts a model specification test that I don't think works on real data anyway. I will not, however. I will reserve such regret for procrastination that leads me to disappointing novels, unstimulating Wikipedia searches, or watching a distressing number of American Idol videos one after the other (even when it is Taylor Hicks doing "Levon").

Perhaps it is time for me to read Getting Things Done again. Alan had a post about some software for implementing GTD principles; too bad it looked well beyond me to actually be able to get the software working, much less use it to actually reorganize and reanimate my work patterns.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

sunk and soaked

"Sunk cost" is a concept I picked up from economics. Roughly, sunk cost is a cost toward some future activity that has already been paid and cannot be recovered regardless of whether the future activity is performed or not. A rational actor does not factor sunk costs into decisions and thus avoids the trap of throwing good [whatever] after bad [whatever]. Imagine, on the day of a concert, not feeling like going even if somebody gave you tickets for free, but now imagine that you do have tickets that you already paid $50 for and can't get a refund. If having spent $50 motivates you to go, then you are in the irrational thrall of the "sunk cost fallacy."

Two correlated facts I've noticed about sunk costs are that: (1) productive people commit the sunk cost fallacy constantly and (2) economists seem to commit the sunk cost fallacy in their daily lives at least as often as the economically-innocent. I suspect this is because whatever the demonstrable irrationality of the sunk cost fallacy in particular cases, it's indicative of perseverence, and perseverent people rule the world. Me, on the other hand, the sunk cost fallacy has probably been one of the more toxic concepts ever to enter my head, as I've used it to rationalize abandoning various uncompleted things.

Anyway, I signed up for a 7.5 mile run scheduled for this past Sunday with one of the economists in my program. I woke up that morning and it was pouring rain. Had I known it was going to pour the morning of the race, I would not have assented to do it even if it had been free.

I called the economist, though, and asked if she thought we should still run. And, of course, she wanted to run, because that's the good-perseverent-person-attitude to have. (Plus, unlike me, she had actually trained for it, although training-time would be almost a perfect example of a sunk cost.)

So, I rolled out of bed and basically just wore the same clothes I wore to bed. The exceptions being (1) running socks and shoes, (2) my Madison Mallards floppy hat, and (3) a garbage bag that I wore for the 45 minute walk to the starting line. I took a photo of myself before I headed out the door:

charles river run - before

We were planning on a 10-minute-mile pace, and the economist prepared a playlist of songs exactly so that the tempo would be appropriately matched to the different parts of the run and it would end on her best exercise song ("A Murder of One" by Counting Crows, intriguingly enough). We actually did more like a 9:30 pace and so this song was just starting when we finished.Meanwhile, I just had my Nano on my usual kicky exercise shuffle, with the result that I started the race with "The Humpty Dance" and ended it with "Friday, I'm in Love", the latter being a former breakup-anthem I've since reclaimed as jogging-rejuvenator.

I think the economist thought I was a strange for some of my race practices, namely insisting that we high-five after every mile and regularly shouting "We are tough! We are so tough!"

Ultimately, the sunk cost fallacy here wasn't much of a fallacy, since the run was actually fun and it wasn't even raining for much of the race. Most of the runners had on baseball caps, but I received several complements for being the only one with a floppy hat. In any event, I returned home happy even if completely soaked through:

charles river run - after

Saturday, June 24, 2006

i'm starting to get tired of how tired i seem to regularly look in photos

at k & w wedding
(with unidentified hanger-on at wedding last weekend)

exploding pen
(after freakish exploding pen incident in Madison last week)

At least I've been running and eating better since getting back to Cambridge, so maybe I will succeed in climbing back on the fitness horse. Cheese and cola continue to be severe vices that I keep saying I should do something about, just like I am procrastinating on taking charge of the whole procrastination thing.

As a different matter, I was talking to my mother last night and she is now apparently looking at my blog sometimes. "Most of it just goes right over my head," she said, with a little "Ffyoo" sound effect of something sailing over her head. But she said she likes the pictures. (Look, Mom, more photos in which I look tired!) I told her that if she clicked on the photos she would be transported to a page that had even more photos, and that Sister A could use this same magic place to keep her photos as well. My mother has also apparently become fond of the Internet Checkers game that is bundled with Windows, although she's noticed that when she is beating an opponent they will just quit rather than let her follow her triumph through to completion.

Friday, June 23, 2006

no, i am not going to simulblog a dissertation defense

Even if I am participating in the defense by phone and even if the defender-in-question is herself a blogger. Still, everyone should click on over to Constance's blog for a moment and congratulate her.

Presumably this will be the only dissertation defense in which I will ever participate that includes the following exchange between faculty: "Are you really thinking about getting braces?" "No! I've learned that it's already bad enough that I'm circumcised!"

(timesuck) 'tis true, they don't make them like they used to

(from the most recent Madison karaoke, Emily does the robot in the interlude of us singing "Birdhouse In Your Soul", whose video unfortunately is not available on this site [then again, it's from 1990, so isn't 80's anyway])*

"Oh My God!" Jeremy shrieks in his best Valley Girl voice. Thanks to Eszter, I just found this site of 80's music videos. There goes an hour of my life well-spent. The first ten I listened to:
Take on Me, A-Ha*
Could You Be The One?, Husker Du**
Walking on Sunshine, Katrina and the Waves
Straight Up, Paula Abdul***
New England, Kirsty MacColl****
Mexican Radio, Wall of Voodoo
Pure, Lightning Seeds*****
Girl You Know It's True, Milli Vanilli******
Don't Believe the Hype, Public Enemy
* I thought this video was the coolest thing I had ever seen in my life when I first saw it. It's now only like maybe the 39th coolest thing.
** As I've said, this is my favorite HüDü song, and I'm glad they did it after selling out so there's a video.
*** I had a crush on Paula back in the day and owned this album on both tape and CD. Looking back on it now, I was, as I so often am, absolutely right.
**** R.I.P. You have not been forgotten.
*****This is my nominee for most underappreciated dork-joy-pop song ever.
******This song is totally awesome; I don't care what anyone says. It's worth rewatching just for the opening, although I played the video twice, dancing in my Native Iowan shirt and robot-pajama-pants for the entertainment of those in the Harvard Divinity School dorm across the street.

* This was the first song of the night. Emily insisted she do her "Why is six afraid of seven?" joke as the soundcheck. Funnibumpity.

sometimes i think my family doesn't understand me at all, and then sometimes...

...I get a shirt like this sent to me by Sister A:

native iowan shirt

I had it on without five minutes of opening the box. I may never remove it. Perhaps I will wear it under my clothes as my part of my secret superhero outfit.

Meanwhile, this would be an example of when I have felt less understood by members of my family.

Update: I didn't realize that the shirt would be hard to read in the mirror, so here (thanks Paulette):

nativeiowanshirt - flipped

Thursday, June 22, 2006

root root root for the home team

I went to a game at Fenway with an economist from my program on Wednesday night (as well as a political scientist and his wife, but they weren't sitting with us). Over the course of the evening, I picked up several different tips about handling financial matters that means my scalped ticket easily paid for itself. (Minor example: you can use Coinstar here to cash in your coins and now have the money credited to Amazon so that there is no fee charged.)

I felt otherwise sorry for the economist, as those who know me know I basically have "awkward/boring" and "(thinks-he's)hilarious/fun" modes for social events, and I was in the former last night for whatever reason, probably connected to (1) spending much of the afternoon working on a programming problem that was both frustrating and a ridiculous way to spend almost half a work day and, well, (2) not having any alcohol.

By happenstance, I am going to another game at Fenway this Sunday afternoon with two friends of mine from undergrad. I bought four tickets, but don't have a fourth person to bring, so I don't know what I will do with the other one. Let me know if you have any ideas. I will be in my more enjoyable mode then.

Speaking of which, I am going to need to spend much of my next 36 hours cleaning for the arrival of said friends. Ugh, I'd rather be working on a frustrating programming problem. I should have found a way to outsource the cleaning (I know, I know).

the greater goal

I've said that one of the things I like about the World Cup is that I can root for the US and not feel like you are rooting for the Yankees vs. the Twins, for Muncie Central vs. Hickory High, for Goliath vs. David. Then I read stories about tomorrow's match vs. Ghana with angles like:
[Ghana's win over Czechoslovakia in the last game] created Carnival-like celebrations back home, where the Accra Daily Mail compared it to the day the nation gained its independence in 1957.

Thursday will be a half-holiday in the country, and everyone will be allowed to leave work at noon to watch the match. Randy Abbey, a spokesman for the team, estimated that "99 percent" of the country will watch. Several of them will gather in town squares wearing Lance Armstrong-type bracelets that say, "Black Stars 2006, Believe It -- Believe It!"
And I think, even though Ghana is favored vs. the US tomorrow, it would be sort of nice if Ghana won.

I am not so unpatriotic* as to actively take pleasure in the US losing, even in sports where the US has not just size and resources but seemingly greater interest, like softball and those extreme-games-like sports that are part of the Winter Olympics. There is this online site from the World Development Movement that contains various statistics on the countries and gives their rankings in terms of "cheerworthiness." They have Ghana ranked first and the US ranked 30th (of 32). Given the politics of those running the site, I wondered what two nations they would rank worse than the United States. Iran? No, Iran doesn't come out so bad. Instead, it turns out there were two nations (Serbia-Montenegro and Togo) for which they did not have enough information to provide a ranking.

* I'm not unpatriotic at all! I'm more, well, mostly non-patriotic. Actually, I do have a really strong patriotish streak, but instead of for the United States, it's just for Iowa. If Minnesota or Nebraska ever tried to invade Iowa, I would quit my job immediately, travel back there, and volunteer for service in whatever way I could help.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

i just shouted a profanity at my monitor. why?

Why, because of this CNN poll result:
Regarding potential Democratic candidates, 47 percent of respondents said they would "definitely not vote for" both Clinton, the junior senator from New York who is running for re-election this year, and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, the party's candidate in 2004.

Forty-eight percent said the same of former Vice President Al Gore, who has repeatedly denied he intends to run again for president.

Among the Republicans, Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani fared better than the Democrats... Only 30 percent said they would "definitely not vote for" Giuliani; 34 percent said that of McCain.
So, for McCain vs. Clinton, the most likely matchup as judged by online prediction markets, Hillary would have to win something like 85% of the voters who now say they are open to voting for either candidate in order to win. Even if the poll is off to its 3 point margin of error, she would have to win like 2:1 for those voters. Watching Hillary Clinton's march toward the Democratic nomination feels sort of like having deck chairs on the Titanic, if the Titanic had instead creeped unveeringly toward the glacier at plate-tectonic speed.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

(back in cambridge) the insider

I have apparently won the election to be a Council member for the Social Psychology Section of ASA. Yes, I am surprised by this too.

The general election results are available here. No real surprises, but I was still hoping that my dissertation advisor might win one of the seats for ASA Council, especially after he had reportedly been endorsed as "muy simpatico" by a prominent member of the SWS listserv. Indeed, he was the only candidate for which I voted, even though you could vote for up to four--nothing against any of the other people, but if he ended up losing by only one vote, I didn't want it to be because of me.

Monday, June 19, 2006

(cleveland) layoverandoverandoveragain

I am stuck at the Cleveland airport. Flights on the board are listed as much as 3 1/2 hours past their departure time, whereas my flight to Boston was changed from listed as over two hours late to just saying DELAY.

The Cleveland airport may have the worst set of dining options for any airport its size. I would much rather be stranded at the Great Dane airport bar in Madison than anywhere here.

Meanwhile, the couple whose wedding I attended this weekend appear to have made it to their honeymoon destination and now appear from the bride's blog to be highly preoccupied with their hotel room. Hmm.

Somewhere along the way I have become a Silver Elite member on Northwest Airlines. On my last few trips, I've been getting asked at the e-kiosk if I wanted an upgrade to First Class if one was available, and I kept selecting NO because obviously I wasn't going to pay for an upgrade. Someone with me on a leg of a recent trip had to tell me that they were offering me a possible free upgrade, which is when I realized I had the Silver Elite designation. Anyway, I sense your worries and just to assure you: nothing about this blog will change just because of my new status. I still put my pants on one leg at a time, although now there is the possibility of doing it with free alcohol and a cord separating me from the commonfolk.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

(milwaukee) the wedding

(example of notes taken on my tablet PC at wedding)

Without further delay, here are my written-live-but-posted-later notes from the wedding, as survived a unduly laborious tablet-writing-to-text conversion as well as a strange hardware malfunction earlier today. I reserve the right to clean up, correct, or otherwise change the text later.

The wedding is at Saint Hedwig church in Milwaukee. Rumor has it that W & K chose this church from among three Catholic contenders mostly by the usual criteria but also partly because the name is the same as that of the owl in the Harry Potter books.

The church is beautiful and has the Stations of the Cross and all the other iconic-acoutrements that give Catholicism its timeless gravitas. I have to admit I find the bright red conga drums a bit incongruous with everything else, but they are off to the side. The Lutheran church I went to as a kid started having a contemporary service and for it had this bright red drum set near the front with "New Song" emblazoned on it, which was more distracting.

S looks nice. she's wearing these shiny black Mary Janes with heels that she has worn to every wedding except when she has been a bridesmaid. She considers them lucky, because she has never been to a wedding in which the couple later divorced or even had a particularly animated argument. The shoes are cutting into her feet but she says that wearing them has become her duty.

I am in a suit. I forgot a tie in Cambridge and so borrowed two alternatives from Sal. S. rejected both (mostly out of the principle that guys can't fend for themselves tie-wise) and made me borrow the tie W wore to the rehearsal dinner. This is the first item of Tommy apparel I have ever worn.

The tablet is so discreet with my black suit that A. didn't even notice it until I pointed it out to her.

A key point of suspense for the ceremony will be whether W wears a monocle. Yes! A monocle. The monocle was central to K's vision for the ceremony. A monocle has been purchased, but W has been resistent to the idea of actually wearing it during the ceremony. To my knowledge, the outcome of this battle remained undetermined even as of last night.

I am not sitting in the last row of guests as would be my preference. We mis-projected what this would be and so there are at least three rows with some guests behind me. S was surprised last night to see herself listed in the program as "Wedding Coordinator, North Carolina," Within minutes of arriving at the church for the rehearsal last night she was put in charge of the six flower girls. (all between the ages of 2 and 5). She's off managing them now and then will slip in discreetly and join us. Her instruction before the wedding to the lead flower girl: "You just have to do two things: walk slow and look like a princess."

The procession begins. The lead flower girl does, indeed, look like a princess.

The bridemaids are in green with green bouquets. K's sister, the master of style and girlification herself, is Maid of Honor. For those who wrongly think girlification is about traditional femininity, K's sister did just shave her armpits this morning for the first time in four years.

W & K hired a bagpipes player for the wedding music. Indeed, the date for the wedding was set partly due to the availability of the player. Bagpipes would not have occurred to me personally but they are on now for the wedding march (or whatever its called), and they sound gorgeous.

K, it would go without saying except this is the official-blog-record and thus must be said, looks stunning. She is wearing orange heels handmade of silk in New York. They were the first thing she bought for the wedding. She has earrings to match and her hair up. She looks elegant in that way that is especially-effectively-pulled-off when a woman is tall with good posture. S told me that K was a little surprised by the conservatism cleavage-wise of the dress she picked out--apparently she had always envisioned herself styling as a bridal provocateur. K and her father are smiling widely chatting about something as they pass by me down the aisle.

Last night, S asked K as she was practicing walking down the aisle, "Isn't someone else supposed to walk for you? Isn't it bad luck?" K replied, "We don't believe in luck. We believe in God." (Earlier, btw, I had to explain to to S that if you aren't religious, you are supposed to either look down respectfully during prayers or just fake it.)

W is wearing a brown suit with an orange boutenir to match K's shoes, but no monocle.

First hymn, "Praise to Lord Almighty." As with all hymns, I sometimes pretend to sing and sometimes don't even both pretending. The hymn includes the rhyme of "reigned" and "sustained" FT is singing loudly and has a good voice. It must be awful to be a priest who can't sing.

First prayer makes reference to the "Holy mystery" of marriage; first reading is the new covenant passage from Jeremiah.

One of K's brothers is cantor. We're doing the "responsorial psalm" which has as its antiphon: "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord; Taste and see the goodness of the lord." He raises his right hand for the parts to signal the parts where we are supposed to be responsorial. S whispers, "those Flynns are all good singers."

Second reading is by W's father who is in theater. W & K have known each other since children but only started dating in last two years. When K was a child, she knew she wanted to have W's father read at her wedding one day because he was such a good reader. Back then, though, there was not the idea of accomplishing this via marrying W.

Gospel read by FT. It's the passage from John that includes: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."

FT does the homily standing in the aisle, walking back and forth between W & K and the first row of attendees. "This marriage is an act of hope." He mostly talks directly to the couple and then turns and steps back toward the audience when he is making a joke.

FT says he has a gift for the couple. A knotted rosary made by an older member of the parish. He talks about a different parishoner who had been like 90 and had made more than 30,000 of these knotted rosary. FT said he told the woman, "You know, since you've made so many of these rosaries, you could probably sin a bit know if you wanted." To which she replied: "Father, I took care of that before I ever made any of them."

FT talks about the knotted rosary in terms of it being a metaphor for the "circle of life" for a married couple and the "flexible circle" (since the rosary does, after all, stretch and marriages do, after all, require flexibility). Then he says he will give it to them on one condition: sometime, and he assures them they they will know it is the right time, they need to give the rosary to someone else.

(The rosary streches enough that, had W worn a monocle, he could have used it to shoot the monocle into the crowd after the ceremony as a prize for some lucky attendee. These are the kinds of things I think would be great crowd-pleasers at weddings but no one else ever agrees.)

S cries during the vows. W first, then K. "I will love and honor you, all the days of my life." The church is hot--it's over 85 degrees in Milwaukee today-- and the programs are being pressed into service as fans by many in attendance.

Rings. Again, W first, then K. "As a sign of my love and fidelity, in the name of the Father..."

At the rehearsal, W just pecked K at the kissing moment and the priest told him that lip contact so brief was NOT satisfactory. He does better in the ceremony. Indeed, FT notes this to the audience.

Prayers of the Faithful: This is the part where various contingencies of "For those who" are listed and everyone says "Lord hear our prayer." While I have known people to slip idiosyncratic requests in here, their list seems pretty conventional.

Lord's prayer, doxology, nuptual blessing. The last includes "May you live to old age together in the company of family and friends. May you live to see your children's children's children." They are also told to live their lives "so the afflicted and needy will find in you friends"

Apparently there will not be the part where the priest asks if there are any objections. If I had a live Internet connection, I was going to allow readers to e-mail in any objections that I would voice on their behalf.

W & K kneel, parents come forward for nuptial blessing. Then to the Altar of Mary. Ave Maria from the balcony. S whispers, "Mary is like the big difference between Protestants and Catholics, right?"

W & K walk back down the aisle. They smile at us as they pass. The last person they pass on the aisle before leaving the church (i.e., in the back pew) is K's dissertation's advisor, whose eyes are all red from crying.

Outside the church K motions to S and S goes over to retrieve some flowers from her. K: "What did you think?" S: "It was so beautiful. It made me cry." K: "That's what we were trying for."

Update: Apparently W did have the monocle with him the whole time, and posed with it at the ceremony.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

(milwaukee) yes, they did get married

There are some technical issues with the blog coverage of the wedding, related to (a) the increasingly poor quality of my handwriting as I was rushing to compose text as the ceremony went on and (b) my absolute need to spend some quality time viewing the Masters of American Comics exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum after the reception.

BTW, Milwaukee is supposedly easy to navigate, but through some combination of intrinsic difficulty, my bad sign reading, and Stella's even worse map reading, we have driven literally over 30 miles out of our way being lost at different times the last two days.

Friday, June 16, 2006

(milwaukee) prelude to a kiss

(Father Tim, seated between the groom's father and myself)

For the wedding blogging, I will be using some abbreviations for principal participants as I post. Expect at least the following:
W = the groom
K = the bride, a.k.a. Simpleton from Maximum Girly
S = "Stella", who will be sitting with me during the ceremony
A = Angela, who will also presumably be sitting with me during the ceremony
FT = Father Tim, the priest
So, I went to the rehearsal and dinner tonight as my friend S's plus one. For those who don't have access to the stories behind the pseudonyms, S and I went to graduate school together, and K and I know each other from Madison. When they were both moving to North Carolina last fall, I introduced them, and now they are pals thick as frozen custard (and, S adds, smooth as gelato).

Anyway, at the rehearsal dinner, it became plain that this wedding simulblog thing has taken on a life of its own. For one, I sat next to the Father Tim at dinner, and he was very enthusiastic about it. Apparently there has been some talk from parishoners about podcasting his homilies. (Father Tim, btw, is a very gregarious and entertaining fellow, and exactly the kind of priest I would want to marry me if I were Catholic and marriageable material.)

One highlight of the dinner conversation with Father Tim was when S asked him, "Do you mind if you a personal question?" This seized the attention of everyone within earshot, because who knew what was going to follow. As it turned out, S wanted to know about the logistics of how priests are compensated. This, in fact, turned out to be quite interesting, but part of the response involved Father Tim noting that he was not the type of priest who had taken a vow of poverty. At which point S squealed, "Rock on!" and held up her hand for a high-five. Father Tim also got high comedic marks from me when later someone asked him how he became a priest and he deadpanned "A crucifix spoke to me when I was fourteen" before waiting a beat and giving his real answer.

As for tomorrow, strictly speaking, the wedding will not be simulblogged, as I checked and there is no wireless connection from the pertinent pew. So do not think you can actually click here for updates while the wedding is in progress. Instead, I will upload the post afterward, which is better anyway since I don't know if I could actually update and write and do all the appropriate standups and sitdowns expected of a wedding guest.* Note that guests will not be allowed to take photos for most of the ceremony, that the official photographer is taking very few staged photos at the church, and there is no videographer -- so, as far as the official record goes for what happens tomorrow, this blog would seem your exclusive source. Stay tuned.

* Technical details for those who doubt wedding blogging can be done discreetly: In addition to sitting in the last row of guests, I have configured my computer so there is no possibility of it making any sound during the ceremony and I have also set the tablet screen to its absolute dimmest. Writing on the tablet eliminates any keyboarding noise and means no tacky keyboard will be visible. This will look much more like me writing on a real tablet than doing anything on a computer (granted, I understand weddings do not commonly feature someone writing in a real tablet either).

Thursday, June 15, 2006

(madison) ssf: the sequel

This past spring, I took a course on "short short fiction" and thoroughly enjoyed it. The course is being offered again this summer, and another guy in the class (Bill) this spring told me he was taking it again. He had talked to the instructor and she said some assignments would be the same as last time, and some would be different. I decided to do so as well, even though I was going to have to miss the first class (and maybe others) and even though I'm not sure how much time I am going to have for storywriting.

The first class was last night. Bill sent a report this morning:

Class is bigger (13 or 14). Some with some writing background. Two
high school students. One other guy took the class before.

First assignment same as last time.

Two stories:

1. 5 chars, less than 500 words, each char must have a name (we will
read these in class next week)

2. Story about an object (btw. she read both severed ears and traveling
ham again to everyone in class)
Dorotha has said that if I post what the assignments are, she will try her hand at SSF herself. You should, too! Less than a thousand words. Here are the stories I wrote for #1 (postpended to the 'severed ears' story) and #2 last year.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

q: is it true jeremy looks just like that drawing on his blog, only balder?

all pensive at picnic point

a: You decide. Maybe "only balder and with gray hairs" would be better. In any case, I think I would like to go around animated all the time if I could.

The photo was taken on a walk along the lakeshore path to Madison's famed Picnic Point, where my excitement at being by the lake finally overcame me and I took off my socks and hopped in the water for a photo.

taking off my socks to get in the water at picnic point
at picnic point, in water

Omitted from the photographic record is a shot of my slipping on a rock and falling, or the interesting purply welt on my shin that followed.

(Also BTW, click here if you missed my beloved Tonya's blog photo unveiling of herself last week.)

Monday, June 12, 2006

something old, something new, something blogged, something blue

Many prehistoric cave paintings appear to depict weddings. Wedding sketch artists date back to antiquity, and wedding photographers have been around since the late 1600s. Thomas Edison was the first wedding videographer, choosing to record a ceremony to showcase his invention of the Betamax VCR format.

This Saturday, the evolution of nuptials-preservation will take its next logical step. Mme. Simpleton from Maximum Girly will be getting married. From the discreet platform provided by a rear pew and my tablet PC, I will be simulblogging it.

If you are getting married and want me to blog your wedding, e-mail me and we can discuss services and associated prices. While I've generally thought of "life coach" as being the entrepeneurial project that would draw me out of academia, I think "your wedding blogger" might be it instead.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

news from home

broken stoplight
(Thanks to special JFW correspondent Paulette for this photo of my hometown's temporary/permanent solution to its problem.)

My hometown has one stoplight. Now it's broken. Although I have no expertise in urban planning, in my estimation there has not been enough traffic at that intersection to justify a stoplight in at least twenty years. So I'm curious as to whether they will fix the stoplight or just convert it to having a stop sign instead. Taking the stoplight away from a one-stoplight small town is sort of like taking the keys away from an elderly driver; they might as well change the motto on the sign when you enter the town from "Celebrate Country Life" to "Waiting To Die."

BTW, before I had this blog and instead just had a colorful website, I used to update a "Hometown Pride" page.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

weekend at sal's*

First weekend of the World Cup, and Sal and I got out the matching pajamas to watch Sweden play Trinidad and Tobago. I spent three weeks in the hospital from a scorching case of the Tobago when I was a kid, so we rooted for T&T even though the Swedes were heavy favorites. Here you can see us watching the game while working on our laptops, with Sal occasionally strumming a rousing folk song to cheer the underdogs on:

sal and my matching pajamas

In case you can't tell, ours are not just matching pajamas, but matching robot pajamas--and matching menacing killer-eye-laser robot pajamas at that.

Meanwhile, at halftime, we took a break to check our horoscopes and look for skincare advice:

sal and i reading allure

The friend who took these photos also tried taking one from behind the sofa as we watched the game, but her efforts were foiled by my bald spot messing up the lighting for the photo, even after I tried wearing the stuffed giraffe on my head to cover it.

* I will admit to worrying when I titled a post Weekend at Sal's that Sal-fans would worry that Sal had died and forced Andrew McCarthy and me to engage in no end of hijinks to try to cover it up.

Friday, June 09, 2006

(madison) breakfast at sal's

Sal went out last night to get breakfast food and asked me if I wanted anything. Sal is still in his marathon-shape-fitness mode. So, I'll let the reader guess which of these purchases was my request:

Okay, well, you don't have to guess, because here I am, enjoying a good healthy breakfast with one of Sal's special smiley-face cereal bowls:

Mmm, it's not just Fruity Pebbles, it's Bronto-Bright Fruity Pebbles.

Update: When I came home tonight, Sal was sitting on the couch eating Fruity Pebbles. "Hey, these are good, man."

(hanoi) if only, when people say iraq is turning into 'another vietnam,' they were talking about this

From the NYT:
Corporate executives who find themselves invited to sing karaoke while on business in Vietnam might want to think twice before declining the offer. The newspaper Tien Phong (Pioneer) reported yesterday that 21 officials of P.V.F.C., the financial arm of the state oil monopoly PetroVietnam, had been ordered to make "self-criticism" reports after they opted not to sing at a contract-signing ceremony near Hanoi on Saturday, Reuters reported. The newspaper said that at least eight department heads were facing suspension. [...]
I have introduced repeated resolutions that Madison Sociology require 'self-criticism' reports of those who do not attend karaoke nights, or, even more appropriately, those who attend but refuse to go onstage even when a particular song is objectively perfect for them.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I'm staying with Sal at his apartment on Madison's Near West Side. We are contemplating getting matching pajamas, except we can't come to agreement as to whether they should have footies or not. Anyway, this will continue to be a busy trip on both work and social fronts, so it's likely going to be some lean days ahead for JFW. Regardless, however, I can assure you that Sal will fail in his relentless efforts to hook me on watching the HBO series Big Love.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

(madison) floorward!

Charles Franklin is showing graphs that the Bush decline in approval ratings appears to have ended. However, those addicted to watching Bush fall can always click here.

(madison) overheard

"You've grown up a lot the last few years."
"Shut up!"
"What? You have."
"Well, you've grown up, too."
"'Tis true."
"You've also gotten more bald."
"True as well. And you've gained weight."
"I think your bottom teeth are getting even more crooked."
"This is why I need the letter writing campaign to get me on Extreme Makeover."

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

(madison) charmageddon

Thanks to Dorotha, I'm not letting the holiday pass here in Madison with at least a mild nod to festive dress. And, yes, I'm wearing it on my left (i.e., sinister) hand. Dorotha was trying to teach me to do all the death-metal hand signs that she learned from her years working as a roadie for Megadeth, but my lack of dexterity foils me yet again.

Monday, June 05, 2006

it's a small world after äll (that is, if you know eszter)

with Bill Clinton
(Note: Kieran beat me to posting about this.)

So, one variant on the six degrees of separation thing is that idea that everyone is six handshakes away from a President of the United States. In that respect, my own personal handshake number has been unknown, other than that I have not personally shaken hands with any president. Now, however, I am pleased to announce that it is certainly 2, as Eszter has shaken hands with Bill Clinton, and Eszter was all excited to teach me the official astrosociology-cadet secret handshake last year at the ASA meetings.

Strangely, I received word of Eszter reducing my Presidential-handshake number to 2 as I was proofing the article in which Eszter lowers my Erdös number to 4. (Your Erdös number is the number of collaborative articles it takes to get you to the mathematician Paul Erdös.)* The chain:

B Aronov, P Erdös, W Goddard, DJ Kleitman, M Klugerman, J Pach, L J Schulman. 1994. "Crossing Families" Combinatorica, 14(2), 127-34.

P Agarwal, B Aronov, J O'Rourke, C Schevon, 1997 "Star unfolding of a polytope with applications," SIAM. J. on Computing, 26(6) 1689-1713.

J Feigenbaum, E Hargittai, J O'Rourke. 1994. "Expanding the Pipeline, CRAW Database Aids Academic Recruiters" Computing Research News. September

J Freese, S Rivas, E Hargittai. 2006. "Cognitive Ability and Internet Use among Older Adults." Poetics

* Being Hungarian herself, Eszter will be scandalized when she sees I've spelled Erdös with an umlaut over the o instead of a tilde/double acute/titlo or whatever it is supposed to be, but I'm too tired for the diacritical inquiry required to figure out how to enter it in Blogger.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

(madison) just checking

Shorts and argyle socks: never okay, right? Not even if you already carry oneself as an eccentric-academic-type-with-little-clothes-interest-or-taste?

Argyle socks have been a major innovation in Jeremydress over the past eight months, as I've bought a bunch of pairs and have them now as my daily sock default. However, bringing only one pair of regular white socks for this Madison-Aspen-Madison was egregiously shortsighted with it being summer.

I'm staying at Sal's for this leg of my trip right now. He's away, but has left behind various distractions in his apartment that might crack my usually impregnable work ethic. I came to suspect this when I was trying to get several different things done the night before leaving for Aspen but still got ensnared by a dead-of-night HBO showing of Spiderman 2. As if cable TV wasn't dangerous enough, Sal has also left behind his guitar (along with Guitar for Dummies and Rock Guitar for Dummies) and various issues of the strangely fascinating Shih Tzu magazine. Suffice it to say I am up at my office now, as I needed to flee here to get anything accomplished.

Friday, June 02, 2006

dispatch from aspen

The low point of the conference was when a prominent sociologist whom I hadn't before met mistook me in front of many people for a prominent health economist who is in at least his mid-fifties. This low point was compounded when later someone invoked the same health economist in talking about the distinction between the near-elderly and actual elderly. It was compounded yet again by someone else bringing it up in order to say earnestly that, once he thought about it, the health economist and I did sort of look like one another.

One nice thing about how the conference is organized is that they give you three hours off in the afternoon, and it was a beautiful day for hiking or walking here in Aspen. I spent the three hours sitting in my hotel room trying to re-download and re-install Acrobat on my Tablet PC so that I could do some last-minute checking of articles before submitting a paper for a deadline today. Acrobat still doesn't work properly, and to submit the paper I ended up having to e-mail the paper to someone else and have him convert it to pdf so I could submit it.* Given that this was easily the most frustrating block of time I've had wrestling with a computer in awhile, I'm not sure what it says about me that I identify being mistaken for someone 20+ years older than me as the conference low point instead.

The conference itself has been great. My own presentation went ok. One of my fellow-fellows at Harvard, a sociologist who does qualitative (ethnographic) research, gave an absolutely impressive talk today, one that made me effervescent with sociology pride.

* I do adore the tablet, except the configuration is so slow and buggy and I can't figure out whether it's just aspects of the set-up or something more endemic to the Tablet OS. I'll feel bad if it's the latter, as I think my enthusiastic endorsement and ostentatious notetaking might have convinced two other fellows to buy Tablets.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

(aspen) pretty in pepto-bismol pink

I'm in Aspen for the annual conference for my health policy program. I'm presenting today and, between that and traveling, have been too preoccupied to post to this weblog. Wish me luck today. I have on the lucky Pepto-Bismol pink shirt that I wear whenever I want to lull the audience into a soothed docility and thus reduce the probability of being intellectually bludgeoned by the audience.

BTW, the sunburn I got during the "marathon" has started to peel, making me look like I have some kind of hideous degenerative scalp disease. Perhaps someone in the audience will have a health policy suggestion regarding that.