Friday, May 19, 2006

stabbing victims

Two things: since I last updated, Xander managed to make off with the 'C' key and the dash key, and F9. You know, he could have ALL the function keys if he would just leave me the letters! So, now I'm missing x and c. Obviously, I can still type them, but it takes a concerted effort on my part, and I might be risking electrocution. Not sure. But hoping this is fixable. I found all the other keys he took, but I don't know where these other ones are. I also don't have a back arrow key.

Second thing: At work today, I was zoned out. I must have been really zoned out. No coffee was the culprit. That's my line, anyway. But one of my bosses came in and asked what I was doing (always her precursor before asking me to work on something), but I answered completely honestly "Thinking about stabbing victims. What did you want me to do?" And she just backed out of the office and said "umm, nothing." Then I kind of snapped out of it and was like "No, sorry, I was just thinking about... what it's like to be stabbed. It must be pretty awful." It wasn't exactly the "No, the thought I was having was perfectly normal" save I was hoping for. But at least she knew stabbing was meant as an adjective, not a gerund. Um.... yeah. You know, that I wasn't thinking about stabbing people (already calling them victims).

What I really had been thinking was I would probably prefer to drown than to be stabbed, as scared as I am about drowning. Then I started thinking about how they both involve your self's integrity to be breached, but one allows something in (water in your lungs) and one allows something out (your guts on the street). Then I started thinking if this was true of all unnatural deaths--some kind of breach. And also if it meant something about me psychologically that I'm more afraid of being out of bounds than letting something foreign past my security...... again, these are thoughts that I have when I'm unfocused and uncoffeed. I'm glad R-- came in when she did. Even if she's not.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I feel like at some point I promised my mom I'd show her the Yahoo Avatars I made for my brother and me. So, I just figured out how to download them, andbruder

damn do we look fine! With our kitties!

So much to say! But so little of it do I remember. At the moment, all I can think about is my perpetually flat bike tire. Because of it, I had to walk half a mile home, pushing a bike. So I won't get to participate in Ride Your Bike to Work Day and the biking birthday party tomorrow. And the organic gardening tour the next day. And now I have to walk to the grocery store, which I wouldn't mind, but my iPod keep rejecting all of my downloaded podcasts. Which brings me to:

My new obsession. They have all kinds of podcasts! I quickly learned that however much I love Veronica Mars and Firefly, the podcasts of fellow fans sharing rumors, or just talking about what they like about the show is a waste of my life. However, daily lessons on German and Russian, daily updates about word origins, weekly installments on the history of the Byzantine Empire, weekly updates on science news, All Songs Considered, and more---this is all GREAT. I love not taking classes, so that I can learn more. I've felt so free since the end of classes. Which brings me to:

My social psychology teacher really liked my paper, and wants to use it as an example! My mom is writing a book! My brother is getting a job! I'm going to Argentina! I'm buying a condo next week! Which brings me to:

My second-newest obsession. What I want more dearly than anything in the world is a spongey roller, like they use on so many of their programs. If you would like to see what I mean, I think one is featured on this segment about painting stencils, the segment that got it all started. Okay, so, that segment doesn't feature the spongey rollers. Nevermind. But it's a good segment, anyway. I was at the bank the other day, and mentioned that it was my first house, and it seems like it should be a big deal, but so far the only big change that I've made is I can't stop watching HGTV once I turn it on. The banker didn't answer, and I asked "Have you ever seen it?" and he looked up and gave me this look, which at first I thought said "Lady, I am male." But instead he said "Oh, yeah--when my wife and I got our first place, we must have watched it like 20 hours straight when we found it." So apparently, it wasn't that my obsession with HGTV was uninteresting to him--he must just hear that a lot dealing with people taking out mortgages. And unrelated:

Hat Trick?
The last two works of art (okay, a cartoon and a comic book) I have really enjoyed were recommended to me by TB. Shall I ask her advice for more and hopefully win the triple crown? Because I am not doing at all well choosing my own stuff. I chose: Exterminator! (William S Burroughs) and Tropic of Cancer (Henry Miller). Am I alone in saying those two gentlemen need to be beaten soundly about the neck and shoulders? Not to mention around their man-bits. Actually, I didn't choose Tropic of Cancer--it was a book club book, which was originally this Saturday, but it got postponed two weeks because no one's been able to finish it. I was so happy when the Argentina/New Orleans trip meant I didn't ever have to finish the book

This is all old news to anyone I've talked to in the past month. But I felt I should update. All inspired by finding out how to download Avatars!

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Have you ever been to a pumpkin farm where for a set fee, you can have as many pumpkins as you can hold, as long as you can take 4 steps with them? So you pile up your little brother with pumpkins and send him walking? And it doesn't matter if he drops all the pumpkins on his head at the fourth step--you still have the pumpkins at that point?

That's how I've felt this past week. Pumpkins=knowledge about microeconomics and social psychology. My brother=my brain. Well, I finished the exams, and now all of the information is toppling out of my brain. In a few weeks, there will be no trace that I ever learned anything about these subjects. But because of my masterfully cramming the pumpkins in my head, I will have good grades that will last long past the knowledge's expiration.

Tonight, I'm going to watch Harry Potter at a park, while I finish my social psychology paper about the Veronica Mars episode "One Angry Veronica." Then maybe I'll finish watching Star Wreck: In the Pirkenning. I think it's safe to say I get the randomest mail from my friends in California. Second-randomest comes from Louisiana, and my family.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Save our Bluths

Remember when my version of studying for economics was listening to The Hives' Supply and Demand? Remember that? Well, it seems my version of studying for Social Psychology, which is watching the entire third season of Arrested Development, is equally ineffective. I took the first two exams today. I have a B. Which is unnerving. Because they won't tell me which questions I missed on either exam. I am not good at multiple choice, though, and that's what I now know. I may or may not know the details of the self-cognition approach to blah-blah-blah. How can I know what I know if they don't tell me? Frustration!! And I did learn in chapter 12 frustration can lead to aggression and violence. So they better watch out.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

partisan science

So, something strange I noticed about both my economics and my social psychology textbooks is they've cited a few passages of literature in the course of their "scientific" reasoning, to varying effect. I was kind of put off by the social psychology excerpt (to follow) until I read this horrifically clunky one from microeconomics:
Even Nathantiel Hawthorn was troubled by moral suasion, as evidenced by his classic novel The Scarlet Letter in which the humiliation of public exposure was used as the deterrent against adultery. These days, moral suasion is most likely to take the form of ad campaigns aimed at the public.

I didn't even feel that The Scarlet Letter at all accurately exemplified the idea. I felt like they were trying to sound erudite and well-read, and they thought of all the books they read in their life (which I'll assume because of the eventual choice were all in high school) and took the closest one. Even *Nathanial Hawthorne* thought it was a bad idea!! No! Not Nathanial Hawthorne! My illusions have been shattered about moral suasion!

Random pet peeve: Use of the word "troubled" and "troubling" unless ironic. (although an ok example is also "i find your lack of faith troubling.")

Here is the mitigated passage from social psych:

In Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, a mob of white southerners was assembled to lynch Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of rape. Only Atticus Finch, the defendant's lawyer, stands between the mob and the jail. But then Scout, Atticus's 8-year-old daughter, walks into the middle of the crowd. Here is what the mob looked like through her eyes:

I looked around the crowd. It was a summer's night, but the men were dressed, Most of them, in overalls and denim shirts buttoned up to the collars. I thought they must be cold-natured, as their sleeves were unrolled and buttoned at the cuffs. Some wore hats pulled firmly down over their ears. They were sullen-looking, sleepy-eyed men who seemed to unused to later hours.

In other words, the men were highly deindividuated. It was night, they were dressed alike, and it was difficult to tell one from another. It was a mob with one purpose, not a collection of individuals. At that moment, however, Scout recognized
one of the men, a farmer named Mr. Cunningham, and greeted him by name:

"Don't you remember me, Mr Cunningham? I'm Jean Louise Finch. You brought us some hickory nuts one time, remember?" I began to sense the futility one feels when unacknowledged by a chance acquaintance.
I go to school with Walter," I began again. "He's your boy, ain't he? Ain't he, sir?"
Mr. Cunningham was moved to a faint nod. He did know me, after all.
"He's in my grade," I said, "And he does right well. He's a good boy," I added, "a real nice boy. We brought him home for dinner one time. Maybe he told you about me. I beat him up one time but he was real nice about it. Tell him hey for me, will you?"

At first, the crowd did not respond, so Scout continued her banter.

I was slowly drying up wondering what idiocy I had committed. I looked around and up at Mr Cunningham, whose face was equally impassive.
Then he did a peculiar thing. He squatted down and took me by both shoulders.
"I'l tell him you said hey, little lady," he said.
Then he straightened up and waved a big paw. "Let's clear out," he called. "Let's get going, boys."

Scout succeeded in turning a faceless mob into a collection of individual citizens, who
had children who went to school together and to dinner at each other's houses. She had unwittingly performed a brilliant social pscyhological intervention by increasing the extent to which the mob felt like individuals who were accountable for their

Even though I like the passage as a way to describe the concept by showing a scene that hopefully rings true, the way they were talking about "her brilliant, unwitting decisions" even though she's a fictional character was kind of confusing, and as much as I already scoff at the way some actual experiments are designed, this just seemed so beyond scientific, I was astounded.

Anyway, in some ways, the two ideas these passages deal with are one of the "convergences" I've noticed between economics and social psychology in these last chapters. In this case, I guess the similarity would be "threat of public exposure as a deterrant to mob mentality and the tragedy of the commons." Blah. Something like that. Oh, I will not be doing well on these papers and tests.

Umm. Yeah, so you might think this sounds like I've been studying, making connections, really thinking about stuff. But no. I've been blogging about insignificant parts in both the textbooks, discussing the second-to-last episode of Veronica Mars, and going on walks with my iPod, which I got to work right-ish. And now it's almost 1am. Again. It was just 1am 24 hours ago!!

ADDENDUM (24 hours later):

I also wanted to quote this part of my social psych textbook:

Research indicates that reciprocal liking and attractiveness are powerful predictors of falling love amoung many people, including Anglo, Mexican and Chinese Americans, as we as Russians and Japanese.

I imagined all the researching renting romantic comedies of the world and writing their research paper on what they found: "Good looking people who like each other tend to fall in love."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

it's one of those days where even though i'm working nonstop, it's not taxing my brain very.... at all. so my brain entertains itself quietly, then eagerly taps me on the shoulder and says "Google 'Fear and Apathy,' and see what it's all about!!" and I comply before thinking, "Wait--what?"

Googling reminds me of two things. One is on some Austin web-forum, a girl asked where one could go to get cheap eye exams in Austin, and the first response was some guy who linked to his Google search of "cheap eye exams Austin" with no other commentary. She wrote back "Um, thanks. I know how to Google." And I just found it very funny. Was the guy's comment hostile, or just clueless?

And second, after years and years, I'm pretty comfortable using "Google" as a verb. I don't know what it is about slang and neologisms I hate so much. Maybe if I were actually a word historian, it would be interesting to see the language in action. But generally I'm put off by the kids today (and yesterday) and their hip speak. I find some phrases moderately interesting, and sometimes funny ("snakes on a plane" finally struck me as hilarious last week). But there's nothing I hate more than apocope, because it's overly-hip AND uncreative. It makes me think of an old SNL-skit for an informercial that would help you shave "literally SECONDS" off the time it takes you to talk by teaching you simple abbreviations (Example phrase "Hey, bud. How's the weath?").

Okay, back to work. Fantastic!