Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Power of Music

This video brought tears to my eyes. It shows how technology can be so transformative these days - a laptop, a microphone, a great song, and thousands of frequent flyer miles will get you this amazing video. Basically the video makers flew around the world with a base track from a street performer in Santa Monica and had musicians all over the world perform on top of it while listening to it on headphones, and the compilation is basically fucking awesome. Read more about it and some of the artists on gizmodo.

Playing For Change | Song Around The World "Stand By Me" from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Parents

My parents came to visit this weekend, for a really short visit from FarAwayState.

I love them and I miss them already. They are the best parents ever. EVAR.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Mr. Phizzle just told me I had to exercise today. I basically told him to go fuck himself and give me the last piece of pizza.

Except that I know he's right. I really do. I need to go take a kickboxing class or something, except that I'm full now and feeling petulant and ready to punch something, as long as I stay with my ass glued to the couch doing it..


I need to remember what the Buddhist sentiment - life is not supposed to be easy. It's hard, so just fucking deal with it.

Want to know what set me off today?

1) Experiments coming along slowly. Finally got a full set of results for one experiment today. Results bad. SHIT.

2) Watched a segment on the History Channel about Ben Franklin and what a freakin badass he was. I am in awe of his rockstar status. Made me feel bad about myself, that I suck so hard compared to BFranklin (yeah, talk about being mentally meta-stable...THAT set me off? Ridiculous).

3) Read my alumni magazine from ILU and realized that major feature articles are all talking about how fresh graduates can't find jobs. Greeeeaaaaattt.

For Toaster

I have a feeling you will crap your pants on this one:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Writing a Results Section

I'm working on a paper, new and improved from the last rejection, and I've got lots and lots more shiny new data.

It's a lot, perhaps too much, and I don't know how to present it effectively. I'm having a really hard time.

My advisor advised me to work backwards - think about the points that I want to make and then make the graphs from there. But I don't have all the data finished yet, and it takes a long time to run them all. My fear is I will plan to make a point that won't actually be shown by any of my data (which is a bit irrational because I'm pretty sure what will come out, but that's just the way I work I guess).

How do you write your results section? How do you lay it out and construct it?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Privilege Meme

I saw this over at RESEARCHERS from Dr. A. and was inspired to remind myself that I have had a fucking good life, and I deserve this time of "trial" in terms of job search. It will put hair on my chest. How privileged was I? We weren't rich in any way, but I didn't lack for anything, and my parents deprived themselves quite a bit so we could have what we had.

The items that apply to me are BOLD

1. Father went to college

2. Father finished college

3. Mother went to college

4. Mother finished college

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor

6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home

9. Were read children’s books by a parent

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18 see above (soccer, piano, *edit - I forgot swimming)

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively (what people? growing up there were like no asian people on TV, and if they were asian, they were men doing kung fu)

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs

16. Went to a private high school

17. Went to summer camp (once a soccer day camp, another time a sleepaway camp for gifted kids)

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18 (this is not a sign of privilege in my culture, but a sign of shame)

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels (sometimes - often we went camping but also we'd stay at places like motel 6 sometimes)

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18 (Just about, some homemade though)

21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them (it was $800, woot woot!)

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child

23. You and your family lived in a single family house

24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home

25. You had your own room as a child.

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18

27. Participated in a college entrance exam (eg. SAT/ACT) prep course

28. Had your own TV in your room (and neither will my kids, no matter how much money we have)

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in High School or College (I think my mom started one for me in college? I am not sure.)

30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16 (several times to visit the "land of my ancestors", also to move across the country)

31. Went on a cruise with your family (in college)

32. Went on more than one cruise with your family

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up. (Not many, but a few times)

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family. (In warm climes, heating bills are a non-issue)

From "What Privileges Do You Have?", based on an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you please acknowledge their copyright.

Bottom line, I had a pretty sweet childhood. I also have a selective memory, I apparently remember childhood much more fondly than my sister, and when I am reminded of shit that happened, I just go "oh yeah" shit happened but I DON'T REMEMBER IT!!! I'm kind of glad I'm that way.

Monday, April 20, 2009

No Longer Feeling Worthless - Just Pissed

I've been talking to a few friends who are also looking for jobs - good, smart, competent people, from freaking Top 5 programs, and they are having shittons of trouble too. Other friends are too afraid to even try, and part of me is like, "that will probably help, since maybe by the time they start things will be better."

I mean seriously. Yesterday I was angry at the world. I spent 30 minutes on a ferry ride reminiscing in a bad way about a friend I cut out of my life 5+ years ago. Rehashing shit and getting pissed. Then I went to yoga class and got pissed about yoga, it wasn't until she had us doing some crazy balance move that I had to really concentrate on that I felt a little better. Then I came back home and got pissed at my neighbors and their godawfully noisy kid. Then I got pissed because the computer at school that I was networked into hung and I couldn't access it anymore. Then I started with chatting with my friends who told me it's a fucking bitch out there in the job market.

I realized in the middle of all this that I was just angry in general. Fucking angry.

However, I realize being angry does nothing productive so I am trying to control it, but seriously, there is something wrong if PhDs in my field can't find jobs that suit them. I've never cared about financials much before, but I, too, am waited with bated breath for profit announcements from IBM and others, since Intel and Google gave theirs and, while they were ok, didn't inspire confidence on a rebound of the tech sector.

The main problem is, if everyone is tightening their belts, then they just don't spend money on tech. No new phones, new computers, new software...and the primary problem is corporate. Corporations usually rotate a lot of upgrades every couple of years or so and they are not really doing that right now, so the tech industry is hurting in that regard, all because of some rich dumbfucks who thought they could control the world and be masters of the universe with some dumbfuck financial derivatives whose value really could not be quantified except perhaps in terms of ExceptionalSuckiness.

Then I listen to these crazy insane assholes on Fox News talking shit about stuff and I just want to punch them all in the face because they are douchebag idiots who don't know a dumbfuck (like Bush) when they see one. Seriously, Sean Hannity needs to stop saying, "Maybe President Obama learned this from the pews of Reverend Wright's church or from hanging out with William Ayers too much..." Because seriously, the douchebag says it like every day. I'm not joking, I saw him say that 2 or 3 times on 2 or 3 different days in one week because he is a fucking moron.

Can you tell I'm angry? This post has turned out to be nothing a fucking rant because I am angry at the world. I just want a fucking job that makes use of what I am good at. Fuck. I fucking sound like CPP right now, I just need to throw in a reference to some fucking wackaloons and I am set.

Anyway, I used to wonder how I would deal in the face of adversity because I've never REALLY faced any real adversity because in general, my life has been one long picnic and I'm a fucking lucky beyotch. In the grand scheme of things, everything is still fine, because I am not out of options yet. So maybe it's my time to be tested a bit. My grandparents had dealt with way more serious shit by this age. My parents too. This is a fucking cakewalk and I should take it in stride. I'm trying. But I'm still fucking pissed.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Article for JLK to pick apart

A recent blog post in the NYT talks about a lot of the stuff JLK and DuWayne are super into. I read it with interest.

Apparently, these days a boy being called a "fag" or "gay" in school is the ultimate kiss of death in terms of coolness, to the point that some kids are being driven to kill themselves once they've been pegged with these epithets. And that all that it takes to be called one of those terms is to care about school, your clothes, or have an ounce of effeminate characteristics.

While I am all for "girls can be anything they want," I've been a bit disturbed by the lack of progress in acceptable boy behavior as a society. They really do seemed to be trapped in a really monosyllabic note in terms of what's ok, and that sucks.

I read in "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan that American suffragette Lucy Stone's mother cried upon learning the sex of her latest child, "Oh dear, I am so sorry it's a girl. A woman's life is so hard." I wholeheartedly believe that was true before, but I think it is definitely less so now.

These days, I just think it's hard to be a kid. Every time I see a kid, and I think about having one of my own (thoughts about that here), I get paralyzed with fear that my kid will be teased mercilessly for one reason or another. It's a miracle I got through my childhood pretty unscathed, but I think that was a combination of 1) my personality, 2) my parents, 3) my community, 4) my particular school, 5) my particular combination of classmates, 6) sheer luck.

How can I make sure that same tenuous balance happens for my kid? I think it's really important to live somewhere that's diverse and urban, so that a lot more behavior is acceptable for both boys and girls, and there is a lot of shit to do besides gossip about someone.

My high school was over 3000 people. No one could ruin your life because at any given moment only 500 people even knew who you were, the other 2500 didn't know or care about you. You could only become a pariah in a small distinct group and it wasn't too hard to just...move to another. On top of that, there were so many people that in general, you could ALWAYS find 4 other people who were as unusual as you and be friends. Groups of dudes who played D&D and Magic all through lunch? Yeah - about 10 of them. Kids who cared about school and took lots of AP classes? About 60-100 of them. Cheerleaders? I didn't know who they were, and I didnt' care. Football players? Pretty much the same. Kids trash-canned and thrown into lockers? Never happened. A guy my year even catapulted to popularity for getting a leading role in a play with the Drama Club. Band kids weren't even considered lame. They were a good band.

Can I find a school like that for my kid and make sure it's a pretty healthy, functional place? Why do I wonder this even if I am sooooo ambivalent about whether I even want one, ever?

Because I overthink things and am crazy :).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Shitty Shitty Fuck Fuck

I just got rejected from another job.

I take each of these personally, I can't help it. I feel worthless, stupid, impostor-ish, and I don't actually know how to do anything useful. Shit. I'll never find a fucking job.

Plus, Mr. Phizz's bike got stolen last night.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

On Children

I had a conversation with Mr. Phizz yesterday about children.

I have always assumed I would have a few, because...well, that's what you did. You grew up, got married, and had children. I did not grow up with an all-consuming desire to be married and have a family, I just assumed I would.

Well, I've (kinda) grown up and gotten married. But damned if I feel like having any children right now (or any time soon). But the idea of deciding to not have any seems sooooo radical to my previous assumptions, my upbringing, and that of my husband's, that I'm a bit thrown by the idea.

Mr. Phizz says to just not worry about it. We don't want any now, so that's that. We have a number of years before push will really come to shove and we have to decide if we want to avoid having to use fertility treatments and such. So we really don't have to make any decisions now. I suppose I'll just let it go and stop wondering if I want any kiddos at all. Because, while I like kids, I really...really...REALLY cannot imagine having one of my own any time soon.

I know a number of you science bloggers don't have kids and have actively and overtly decided you will not have any. How did you come to that decision? Do you ever fear you will change your mind?

NBC hits new low

Seriously???? Linky.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

STUFF - too much of it

In my young life, I have moved all of my "stuff" 14 times. I think that's about right.

As a result, my natural pack-rat sensibilities have been quashed by my hatred of moving "stuff". Every time I know I am going to move (which, let's face it, is like every year), I go through a frenzy of throwing things away. Just...getting...rid...of...stuff. It hurts so good.

I am currently listening to loud rock music and going through my clothes and getting rid of stuff I don't think I ever want to wear again and putting them in a Goodwill pile. Unfortunately, since I do this practically annually, I have not come up with a lot of stuff. However, I have ditched 3 pairs of daisy dukes I have not worn since early grad school. Husband was a little disappointed, but agreed that someone my age should NEVER wear those shorts. Ever. Ever. I can't believe I even have them.

So there - more grown-up-ifying of my wardrobe. I am also going through my purse collection. I used to have a big thing for purses and handbags. But that seems to have faded and I see no reason to drag a purse I won't ever use again that was in style 5 years ago from domicile to domicile. Especially since I have seen the light and don't even use purses at all anymore - I am now a wristlet girl. No more purses sliding off my slippery REI jacket!!

Any time I think about "stuff", I also think about how freaking lucky I am. Here in the US, we just have so much STUFF, most of it superfluous but much if it quasi-necessary to keep up with the pace of life we have here. I don't think I am particularly wasteful (I use cameras until they are no good - years, and same with my phones. I think it's insane to buy new ones every year or season or whatever - and I wonder what people who do so do with their old ones. I hope they dispose responsibly or donate or SOMETHING instead of tossing them in the garbage). However, I realize that I have more stuff than entire villages of people in Third World countries. And it makes me feel a both guilty and fortunate at the same time.

I just want FSM to know that I am very grateful for the life that I lead. But a little bit mad that life needs me to move. Again. Not only out to my internship for the summer, but out of our little apartment too. Sigh. And I don't know where I'm going to live come Sept. Awesome.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Many a Geek will be saddened by this

Co-creator of D&D dies.

I never played, but I know it's one of the first loves of many a geek.

Life Status

I am taking the internship.

I am not defending prior to taking the internship. For reasons I will not discuss openly, I am fairly comfortable with that. Besides, I'm almost done with Chapter 3 and am doing pretty well with Chapter 5, so that's all good. My latest mental deadline is October and I'm sure I can do that, not stress myself out, and get myself PAID this summer way more than with my miserable stipend.

I have not gotten any job offers yet. Another good thing about internships is they are usually extensible, so if I'm still in trouble in the middle of the summer and no one wants to give me a real job, I can just extend the internship. But still, I need to apply to a few more places, I think.

I wish I knew where we were going to live for the next few years. Then we'd totally buy a house. I can't help but feel this is just an awesome time to buy - but we have no idea. So no house buying. But I wish we could.......I find myself wistfully paging through listed homes on, all in various cities where we might end up but really have no idea....

I am planning to bike commute all summer on a cyclocross bike. I'm allz excited about that. Wooooooo! Any excuse to buy a new bike is a good excuse to me.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Bad Memory

I am back. I had a great time hanging with the JLK, then spent the weekend in BigNearbyCity while Mr. Phizz was away so I wouldn't die of loneliness. I hung out with friends, went to museums, and ate dim sum. I went shopping, spoke with my best friend IN PERSON, and it was just awesome. And now Mr. Phizz is back, and all is well. It's a good reminder that the Internet is just the Internet. I have a Real Life to attend to.

Anyhoo, recently an incident which occurred to me as a very small child came roaring back to me, for some reason. And it makes me sad, and it makes me mad. Because it has to do with some pretty heinous behavior directed at a child for her race.

I won't even pretend to know what it's like to be a different race. I only know what it's like to be mine, and it's not ALWAYS a picnic, though I will fully acknowledge that I believe it is a lot easier than being, say, black in America.

But when I was a little kid, I believe I was all of seven, a few things happened with a neighbor of mine. This man was father to two of my friends from across the street, and he always seemed pretty gruff and not especially friendly. But he was an adult. And adults always know what they are doing (that's what my seven-year-old self thought, anyway).

One day I was talking to this man for whatever reason, somehow the subject turned to presidents. I was probably telling him we were learning about presidents in school. He said to me, "Do you want to know who the greatest president in the history of America is?"

I surely did. I had a thirst for knowledge back then that kind of blows my mind right now.

He told me Harry Truman.

I tucked that piece of knowledge into my brain.

In school, I think the question was raised of who the greatest president was. Lots of people raised their hands, including me. I wasn't called on, but I was appalled to hear that no one said Harry Truman. After all, an adult had told me so. I didn't know what he had done and I had never heard of him before, but an adult had told me so. Therefore, everyone else had to be missing something, he must be greater than Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt...even though I had heard of those guys.

A few weeks later, his overstimulated son beat me up. He was a boy, and he wanted to fight, not because he was mad at me, but because he wanted to. He explained that he and his friend fight all the time and it was fun. I didn't want to fight. I had never been in a physical fight with anyone. He fought me anyway. My new pants got grass-stained. My head slammed into the wooden fence. I cried.

I ran across the street with two other neighbor friends (who were white boys) to "tell." I told him that his son had beat me up, my pants were ruined, and that he hit my head against the fence.

This man looked down at my little tearful self and said, "Well, what do you want me to do about it?"

I was shocked, I didn't know what to say. I explained again that his son had beat me up, had hurt me. He repeated, "So....WHAT do you want me to do about it??"

After a little while, it was clear he was not planning to mete out one iota of punishment, nor was he remotely sympathetic. Writing this is bringing tears to my eyes from the recollection. That this man could be such a jackass to a tiny little seven-year-old is beyond me. Even my other friends were surprised. I remember clearly, one of them said to console me, "He's not a very good father." The injustice was apparent to them, as well. They, like me, didn't know why he acted that way.

These are all just memories. I don't have a whole lot of memories from when I was this age, but these are very, very clear.

When I got older, I suddenly thought back to these events, and it struck me that this guy was probably anti-Asian. Probably, more specifically he was probably anti-Japanese but had never bothered to realize which Asian nationality I was, because I'm not that one. Not that how he acted would be ok if I were. After I got older and got a more complete vision of what all the Presidents were known for, I realized this: Harry Truman is known for his "The Buck Stops Here" sign, his excessive swearing, and dropping the Bomb. You know the Bomb I am talking about. Can you think of anything else you could possibly know about Harry Truman that would stand out?

Who knows. Maybe the guy hated little kids, except his own. Maybe he wouldn't have punished his son if he had beaten up anyone, whether they were Asian or not. Maybe he was just in a bad mood. But a large part of me, when you put it together with a lot of things I vaguely recall from childhood, feels sure that he just didn't like Asian people.

It still amazes me though, that he would treat a child the way he treated me. Well, suck it Mr. X. I rock.

To think that these days, this shit is probably happening to little Arab girls around the country breaks my heart.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Internet is Crazy

And I don't feel like being on it for a little while.

Instead, I'll meet JLK IRL today.

And I'll leave you with the totally awesome webcomic to read while I take a hiatus of undetermined length. It could be only a day or two, or it could be a week. Anyway. Geek girls, check it out. It's seriously, seriously rockin'.