Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

This afternoon I'll be flying out of Nashville to visit Houseboy's family out East, and I just finished packing, Round I, in which I try to shove too many different t-shirts into a carry-on bag and then realize that my contact solution is more than three ounces, so I can't carry the bag on anyway and then think about getting a bigger bag so I can bring my nice boots for Christmas Eve because everyone knows that church is all about looking cute for the Catholic/Presbyterian in-laws. Guesses as to which religion is better dressed? Anyway, after a lot of shoving and balling up and re-thinking I did decide to check luggage, which is tempting fate considering that when we did this two years ago we unknowingly participated in "voluntary separation" from our luggage, which is to say that we apparently gave up our right to our own bags by taking a different flight when ours was cancelled due to weather.

But all this is just practice for the fact that I have TWO week-long data collection trips in January, one of which involves driving a rental car up to Louisville, Kentucky, and the other of which involves flying to Minnesota, and both of which involve driving rental cars all over the city to visit middle schools, which is something like evil torture to me. So, I had to have the embarrassing conversation with the project manager about how I, like, have a driver's license and all, but I haven't exactly operated a vehicle more than three times in the last seven years, and that was most definitely by choice, so even though I'm probably the only member of the team qualified to drive in the snow and who used to drive in downtown Minneapolis regularly, I'd prefer it if someone could chauffeur me around. Because I'm really smart and pretty I got what I wanted, of course. That was anti-climactic, wasn't it?


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

If it's not one thing, it's fleas

Look, I promise we don't live in squalor or anything, but some of you might remember that time that we got the fleas? Yeah, well, somewhere in between writing 90 pages of papers and breaking the toilet, we also managed to contract the dread blood suckers again, though this time we seem to have caught it before they infested my hair and embarrassed me at work. Nonetheless I'm washing all our bedding and spraying down the couches and soaking the walls in bleach just in case.

Also, the Neurotic Cat has developed this kind of OCD where he sits on my dresser and knocks things down until we lock him in the cat carrier. It started as a punishment, but now he goes running FOR the carrier every time. What does it mean when a cat can't handle the freedom of a one bedroom apartment?

So, anybody in the market for a couple insane flea-ridden beasts? I'll cut you a deal.

P.S. - Yesterday I went to the drug store and had to ask the bagger to repeat himself eight times because he kept asking if I "kirred if the paper was binned." I decided the answer was "Uh huh."

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rain in December

Al on the Today Show informs me that it may snow 9 to 12 inches in Minneapolis today and 1 to 3 inches in Chicago, and meanwhile in Nashville it's drizzling outside and I've only gotten to wear my nice blue coat twice this year. In class yesterday I wore a short-sleeved sweater (which is neat since I don't think there are more than four hours together in Minnesota when a short-sleeved sweater makes sense) and my classmates wore jackets and scarves. Indoors.

All of this reminds me also that our first year in Chicago Houseboy and I lived in a crappy apartment with giant roaches, a broken shower drain and, as we discovered in the winter, heat that was spotty at best. For about three weeks in December it shut off altogether and we survived by wearing several pairs of sweatpants at once, drinking a lot of coffee and cuddling under four quilts with the Neurotic Cat, while it dropped to about 35 degrees inside as measured on the Jack Daniels wall thermometer. I developed a nasty cough that lasted about six weeks, but the landlord ensured us that the problem was "being addressed."

Meanwhile, we only turned the heat on here yesterday because three fourths of our windows are cracked or stuck open and the temperature got down to about 57 degrees, which makes the cats chase each other around and around and around the apartment, knocking things over and interfering with the digital antenna on the teevee. 57 degrees, though. In December. With no insulation and a gentle breeze coursing under the front door.

At least down here I'll probably never get the pig flu.


Friday, December 4, 2009

I'm creeping myself out

On my walk between class and my office this afternoon I was being followed by a whistler. Not a happy-go-lucky whistler or a "here doggie" whistler, but a creepy Omar whistler, by which I mean that the song he was whistling was that creepy one that has like four notes and reminds you of every brain-sucking or soul-stealing movie you ever accidentally watched too late at night and then couldn't sleep for four days straight until you came up with the idea to put pillows in your bed and sleep in the closet to fool the demons.

That totally works by the way. All of my pillows are possessed by the devil, but at least I'm not.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

In which I talk like a dork about math for a bit

So, those of you who know me know that I am a tricksy hobbit who landed my man by being a creative writing major and never talking about the maths in front of him until I had him locked down in holy matrimony and being Catholic he can't leave me now that he knows I know what a regression line is. You might also know that being a better at math than a history major is hardly a feather in my cap, particularly when you throw in the fact that the whole "mental math" thing so eludes me that I tend to go into panic attacks over calculating the tip for the delivery driver and just start throwing wads of cash at him until he runs away. Which is pretty much not until I'm out of money and start throwing cats instead.

Well, anyway, I'm all up in this PhD shiz now, as the kids are saying, and so far it's been really disappointing what with spending most of my time editing Theory of Action documents and interview protocols, and I was starting to think that having that Dr. before my name was going to result in me having to talk to people and squishy things like that, when all of a sudden today I got to meet with the student achievement data subteam, which is one person plus me, and this one person introduced me to a whole new level of awesomeness in data, which is being called HLM. Okay, so I knew about HLM before this, and in fact learning it might have been my major motivation for going back to school, but nonetheless it was pretty awesomely eye-opening what with the gammas and the random effects and the students nested within teachers, which is a really cute metaphor at the Kindergarten level and somewhat more disturbing when you apply it to high schoolers.

So, the point in the end is that a simple thing like a beta coefficient can really brighten my day, which is dorky beyond all measure, and also, in a deeper way, truly awesome.