Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jon and Kate Plus 8 and Gender Roles

I think I might watch a bit too much television as a grad student, but it's just one of my vices. I never watched as a kid - maybe why I was so good at school, but now I watch a bit more than I should.

Regardless, I just have to talk about how much I love this show, Jon and Kate Plus 8, a show about a family where they have a pair of twin girls who are 7, and then sextuplets who are 3 years old. It is absolutely fascinating, the kids are soooo cute, the family is soooo insanely crazy (because of the circumstances, they're not crazy themselves), and I just love it. And I find the relationship between the mom and dad fascinating. They're cute and it works, but their relationship is sooooo different than mine and Mr. PhizzleDizzle's relationship, our lack of children notwithstanding.

The mom, Kate, is a "city girl" and so super...female, in all the stereotypical ways. She doesn't like dirt. She doesn't like bugs. She doesn't know anything about sports, technology, or anything like that. Jon is the stereotypical man; he thinks of the golf course as his "safe haven" and is the one to handle all the man stuff. He once said [paraphrase], "I don't like how feelings make me feel." It's classic.

I just think it's so funny. Kate at one point was like, "Me? No....I never put gas in the car. Isn't that normal? In our house, it's like the unspoken rule: the men take out the garbage, and the women do not put gas in the car." Mr. PhizzleDizzle and I looked at each other and laughed and laughed because it just tickled us silly.

But the more troubling aspect to their clear gender delineations is the effect it will have on the children. I always always BRISTLE inside when people say stuff like, "Well, girls are just like that and boys are just like that," especially when the "like that" involves traits that are commonly found in scientists and engineers. I will have NONE of that attitude in my house when we spawn some baby engineers in this place. My kid is going to LOVE linux by the age of 6....muhahahahaha.

The Blogosphere

I had read about the "blogosphere" in the media before, and this word always baffled me. But I have FemaleScienceProfessor to thank for helping me understand this world.

First, I found FSP through some google searching on some subject I don't remember, which led me to her wonderful site. I began reading it religiously through trusty Google Reader. Then, one day I found on Google Reader the "Discover" feature, which I had noticed before but never used.

When I clicked on it, there then was a long list of "chicks and science" blogs for my perusal. So I began to read a number of them. Then, I decided maybe I wanted to enter this "blogosphere" myself, which I did. And in recent days, I have discovered even more members of the "chicks and STEM" blogosphere, whom are all interesting and have significant things to say about the plight of our sex in this world and have been added to my "science chicks" blog list.

Basically, I am glad I am not alone. And maybe also glad that I have no future PhizzleDizzles yet. They sound like a lot of work.

Parents In-Law

It appears that I am not the only chick in the blogosphere to have been whisked off to a waterfront recharging station this weekend, but the difference is we went to go stay with my parents-in-law. Who are lovely people, but it's definitely different than being whisked off to a romantical weekend.

My MIL is a lovely lady, but she is very funny to me. She is a science teacher, but very unscientific. For example, here is a very typical exchange:

MIL: "I am sure it is not X. It is not X."

Me: "Why? How do you know?"

MIL: "I don't know. It just...you know. I am just sure of it."

Of course, I cannot then say: "That makes absolutely no sense, is illogical, and goes against scientific principles. Please try again."

We actually have a fairly good relationship and I do not want to ruin it because of her lack of logic, especially since her lack of logic thus far has had no effect on my life except for "interesting" conversation. So, I keep mum and then I tell Mr. PhizzleDizzle that his mother is funny, and one of the reasons I love him is because he agrees.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thesis Audience

So today I spoke with my advisors about what audience I should aim my thesis introduction towards. One advisor said that his advisor said your thesis introduction should be something you can give your (non-technical) mom and dad and they should be able to get through.

This is a pretty tall order, but one to which I will try to adhere. It makes sense - a thesis is not necessarily geared at a particular audience the way a conference or journal paper is, and thus greater introductory background is necessary. I actually would be quite amused to see what my mother would make of my thesis introduction, "That's nice, dear, it looks very nice." Haha. My mother is adorable and sweet and wonderful.

I just wanted to share this tidbit of information which is going to be helpful to me. Now I can continue writing!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Writing...dun dun dun....the THESIS

Yesterday, I kinda sorta started thinking about writing my thesis. Mentally I did all the things people on TV do when they are going to start writing something. I cleared off the desk, I opened the spec sheet, I made sure I was ready. Kinda like this:

I have a thesis proposal, largely formatted according to specification, which is about two years old. First, I started to try to write the abstract. But then Mr. PhizzleDizzle advised me to write the abstract last. He says he always writes the abstract last because well, I guess it makes sense to write the "summary" when you've finished the work.

So then I move on to revamping the introduction, and find that I am totally stuck. I mean, this is the THESIS, not just some paper. I felt all compelled to make sure each sentence, nay, each WORD was perfectly selected to perfectly convey what I was thinking. Not only that, I began to wonder about general content.

Like I said, this proposal that I'm retooling is a few years old. Things that were true when I wrote it are no longer true, in the sense that I started out with, "X is becoming more and more Y", while nowadays it's more like, "X has become Y." So when I wrote the proposal, a large part of my introduction went far into background, explaining the phenomena of the trend of X towards Y, going into detail because not everyone in the field might have known or cared at that point.

But now, the fact that X is Y is basically a given, so I am not sure whether, because this is the THESIS,I should still provide the background information to lay the groundwork for my research, or be like, well, everyone knows this by now so let's just get on with it.

If any experienced thesis writers could provide insight as to how much background to go into during introduction, I would be appreciative. And of course, I will also be asking my advisor, who is actually a reasonably good advisor. Most of the time.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ivy League Fun

I must admit that I went to an Ivy League University. Despite all that connotes, I enjoyed my time there and I did not meet any fabulously rich people because I was an engineer. All the rich kids were either rebellious Art History majors who smoked a lot of weed or Economics majors and wore pearls and Burberry headbands. I, on the other hand, was in the engineering building. Like, all the time. Rich kids don't become engineers, it's too much work!

Anyway, as a result I read IvyGate, a blog devoted to all things Ivy League with a very tongue-in-cheek attitude. I like it.

This following post led me to discover the hilarious antics of a Dartmouth student group called "DYE" - Dartmouth Yale Enthusiasts, all of whom purportedly applied to Yale and were rejected, and were thus forced to go to Dartmouth - at least until their transfer applications go through. I won't ruin it, but check it out. These kids are seriously funny. There is even a very funny Brown joke involved.

It reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Lisa Simpson fails a test because she has become addicted to Bart's video games, and various administrators from Harvard storm into the room and tell her she will now never be admitted into the hallowed halls of Harvard University...but she will still be able to get into 2nd tier Ivys like.....Brown.

Anyhoo, here's a link to the IvyGate post.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Taking the Next Step

I have a really hard time sometimes taking the next step with research. Once I get my claws into a process that will take time to complete, I can go at it like white on rice. But if I wind down a step, and then have to start something else, it can literally take me days to actually sink my teeth into it.

There are two next steps that I need to take now, and I am dragging my feet on both of them. One is, revamping my thesis proposal to become an actual THESIS. eek. Talk about intimidating. No wonder I am sucking at getting started. The other is revamping some experiments so that I can make them slightly more precise/tighter for inclusion into said thesis. Sigh. Someone kick me in the ass and get me going.

On a totally other note, today I was reading ScienceWomen, and I was pointed to a blog by a Dr. Isis, and I have decided I have a girl crush on Dr. Isis. Not only does she share my adoration of sexy shoes, particularly of the pointed variety, but she is funny. In the near future I would like to be the Dr. Isis of Computer Science. However, one way in which Dr. Isis and I differ is that I like to get my shoes from Zappos, which offers free shipping for purchases and returns. But she recommends shoes.com, which has the same delightful perks, which I will have to try.

P.S. In regards to my last post - I fixed the problem and my results look good now, like expected. Hooray for calmness in the face of calamity. I spoke to my advisor about my momentary panic because it could have meant the flushing of my entire PhD, and he said basically, "yeah, it would have." So it's extremely good that it was a configuratory (I like to make up words sometimes) mistake and not a fundamental flaw to the work. And thus, the winddown mentioned above, because this piece is kinda done.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bad Research Day

I am having a very bad research day. My results look bad and I have to figure out why. I was hoping that they would just look fine since it's just an extension of stuff I had already done, which looked good.

So now I'm hungry, dismayed, and disheartened.

One thing I have learned during research is that you have to just keep going. Panic does nothing to help the situation. NOTHING. So I will be forced to just continue and plod and figure out what is wrong, instead of stressing.

Though I still feel stressed. Sigh. But PhD's go to those who are stubborn. I guess I am stubborn. Hopefully stubborn enough.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

America's Next Top Model -- Hannah

So, I watch America's Next Top Model. Maybe I shouldn't, but I do. It's a bit "cult of Tyra" for me, but damn, she's a smart lady and a good businesswomen so more power to her.

Anyway, so I watched this last week's episode and DAMN is Hannah ridiculous!!! I'm one of the more...relativistic people I know. For example, if someone is a total dickwad, I will sometimes say, "It's not really their fault because their mother never hugged them" or some crap like that. I once drove cross-country and when I really experienced South Dakota and Montana, etc., I was suddenly like, ok, I understand why God, country, family are the most important things here -- because there is NOTHING ELSE AROUND. But seriously, it gave me a better understanding to red staters and I stopped thinking they were aliens and started thinking they were products of the diverse physical and economic landscape of this magnificent nation. Wow, talk about a tangent.

Anyhoo, the point is I can usually consider someone a good person despite evidence to the contrary because I can rationalize some reason for their stupidity.

But Hannah. Oh, Hannah. I felt bad for this small bird when she first got on the show, and she couldn't stopped saying, "See, I'm from Alaska so...." It totally reminded me of "This one time, at band camp...." She wouldn't stop, and I thought, oh, this child would be eaten alive by the modeling industry...So, I sort of feel bad for this little girl because she doesn't know shit and she doesn't even know she doesn't know shit.

But this past episode, she likened the girls confronting her about being a small-minded little hick (I'm not prejudiced, I've just never seen black people/transgender/bisexual people before and therefore I'm afraid - and you can't blame me for it), to GANG RAPE. Is she fucking kidding? All that other shit she said I could look past and just think, she's just sooooo naive; but this....this I found offensive. Anyone who's been gang raped should officially be allowed to smack her upside the head. She just demonstrated, even further, how little she knows about anything. She should just shut up and absorb. There is a lot more to the world than Fairbanks, Alaska and if she's against/afraid of/doesn't want to go near the rest of it....well, then she should quit modeling and just go back.

Hannah, I can't decide if I want you off the show so I don't have to see your ridiculous earnest little face saying some ignorant-ass shit, or if I eagerly await some sort of miraculous reality-TV turnaround in which you become best friends with Isis and begin a lesbian relationship with Elina. Who is hot, by the way.

Maybe next week I'll have decided.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vending Machine Thought Process

So, I am graduate student (not for long!!!!) and this means I don't make any money. So today, I get the 4pm munchies. Bad. I'm STARVING but I don't want to leave the building to get food and least of all do I want to spend a lot of money. On top of that, I am semi-health conscious semi-regularly, and today is one of those days I don't feel like clogging my arteries with cholesterol and stuffing my face with fat in food form.

So, I hit the vending machine, considering my options. Wow - there is a clif bar! That would seriously hit my hunger in the gut with some reasonable amount of nutrition as well, score! Except, damn, it's 2 bucks. I don't even have 2 bucks. I have a single dollar.

Next, I begin looking at all the packages and seeing how many ounces of food there are. I am trying to get the most ounces/$ so that I can maximize my sense of fullness. At the same time, foods consisting mostly of sugar are nixed because of the likelihood of crashing in an hour.

I notice the Cheetos and the Fritos are both TWO ounces. That's a lot more than the other non-candy/cookie options. Nice. But they are SO bad for you.

Suddenly, I notice bag of Cheezits with the words "3 oz. bag!" emblazoned across the top. THREE ounces of food for...yes, only 1 dollar!!!! And somehow, whether it be true or not, I mentally consider Cheezits not as bad for you as Cheetos or Fritos, so I am truly satisfied with spending my dollar on a bigass bag of Cheezits.

What a good day :).

Michael Phelps on SNL

I watched Fishie McSwimFast on SNL off TiVO yesterday and discovered that he is not very funny. Which is ok. If he were hilariously funny, there would be even more reason to be totally in awe of him. As it turns out, in terms of comedy he's totally mortal. For most of the skits, you could remove him and put Joe Schmoe in there and it would be the same. Except for the last one, about his diet, which I found funny, except that he flubbed his lines a few times.

On the other hand, a few weeks ago I watched Brian Williams (the NBC news anchor) on SNL on a replay, and he was frickin awesome. He was so funny that I honestly thought he could be an actor. I suppose being used to being on camera helps, but he really was hilarious. And the humor was largely self-deprecating, which I always like. I really like Brian Williams. If I watch the news, I like to watch Brian. Plus he kinda reminds me of Pierce Brosnan, who I used to have a bit of a crush on when he was Bond.

Explicatory Post

I feel the need to explain why I have this blog. It's just to regurgitate random thoughts to the net, because somehow everyone these days must have an Internet presence to achieve true personhood. So, I guess this is my contribution to the random crap on the Inter-Nets.

I don't believe there will be a "theme" per se, like science, engineering, the news, politics, or whatever. It will just be mental diarrhea. After all chicks with Phizzle Dizzles are deep, and think about many more things than just what the Phizzle Dizzle is about. heh.