jmadigan.net

30Sep/03Off

Sex?

How's that for a headline?
I'm referring, however, to the sex of our unborn child. We had the ultrasound today, and it could have gone better. But first, without further delay, let me say that if you're a family member reading this, the doctor is "pretty sure" you have a new granddaughter, niece, or ...uh, cousin on the way. PHAT!
Ger and I are moving our operations forward based on this intelligence, but let's just say that we're going to be leaving the tags on any gender-specific gifts and we're going to paint the nursery a nice gender-neutral color (yellow and white, pale green, something like that). I've heard that misclassifications on girls are more common, since if you don't see a little wang between its legs it could be because either a) there's nothing there, or b) you just couldn't see it. So we're now adopting a proper pronoun, but we won't be disappointed if things turn out differently at birth.
As I mentioned, the ultrasound fell a little short of our expectations. Baby wasn't positioned quite right, and it took some extraordinary measures (believe me, it's best left unsaid) to get a good look at her. We went first thing in the morning, but they asked us to come back in the afternoon in the hopes that baby would strike a new pose that was more suited to our needs.
The really bizarre thing happened when we came back in the afternoon and the ultrasound technician looked us and said --and I swear I'm not making this up-- "Did I give you a picture of the baby's twat?"
Geralyn and I have been together a long time, and we can communicate volumes by just exchanging a glance. In this case, our silent message was rather simple: "Did she just say 'the baby's twat'?".
After a brief pause, we answered the only way we could think of: "Ah, no." It was true.
As I write this, I'm still not 100% sure she did say "twat". I mean, I think she did --both Geralyn and I thought that's what we heard. When I got back to my office I consulted multiple online medical dictionaries to see if it there was some kind of clinical use of the term with which I was unfamiliar. Or maybe it was some kind of acronym --God knows for what. It was none of those things. My co-worker even called a pediatrician friend of his, who informed us that no, there is no noble context or definition for that word in the medical literature.
Yet I just couldn't believe that this very nice ultrasound technician had referred to my unborn daughter's anatomy with such a base and vulgar term. I guess I even feel indignant about it. There are so many other words that would have worked: "privates", "naughty bits", "primary sex organ", "genitals", "vagina" ...heck, I would have even settled for a good old fashioned "crotch". But no, the Tourette's Ultrasound Lady had other ideas.
So, anyway, to recap: We're (probably) going to have a girl, and the ultrasound tech said a naughty word. Oh, and sorry, no pictures from the ultrasound. None of them came out well enough. That's probably the worst part about the whole thing. :(

27Sep/03Off

Pregnancy Update: Week 22

Another week, another pregnancy update: Geralyn is 22 weeks along now, and is starting to show (see pic below). What was really bad ass was that I felt the baby move for the first time this week! I actually put my hand on her belly and felt a little poke, poke. That, I'll tell you, is a life-changing event. With two little pokes, the baby has crossed over the line from academic to the realm of oh-my-god-there's-another-person-inside-you! It really feels real now.
Too bad we still don't know if it's a boy or girl. We have the ultrasound appointment Tuesday morning, though, so I'll post news here once we find out.

26Sep/03Off

Ghost

Quick note: My StarCraft: Ghost fansite has been updated with some new screenshots, art, and miscellaneous information that has come to light on account of the Tokyo Games Show.
As I had hoped, StarCraft: Ghost is turning out to be the perfect game to run a fan site for at this point. The game is highly anticipated, yet simple enough that I can create a 100% complete fan site for it and not feel like I'm doing a half-ass job. It's the perfect scope.

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25Sep/03Off

Debate

I watched the California gubernatorial debates last night, and let me tell you: There has yet to be an hour and a half of better comedy than this. If featured the comedy troupe Schwarzenegger, McClintock, Camejo, Huffington, and Bustamante. Here's how a typical question went:

Ordinary Citizen: Hi, my name is Bob. Can you tell me how you'll protect the interests of municipalities and local governments if you're elected Govenor?
Schwarzenegger: Children are good. I want to help ze children.
Huffington: That is an excellent question. What we need to realize is that George W. Bush is the devil. Also, Arnold, you are a poo-poo head.
Schwarzenegger (shouting over Huffington): I will crush you! Crush you and make you lament before me at my feet, lamenting!
Bustamante: You're all idiots.
Huffington: Excuse me, I was answering Bob's question about George W. Bush here. Excuse me!
Moderator [taking a slug off a hip flask]: Candidates. Candidates. Please. Please? [cries]
McClintock [staring off into space]: Well, I think we should melt down illegal immigrants and use them to feed the children.
Schwarzenegger: I agree with Tom. We must do it for the children and ze puppies. Kindergarden Cop II opens Friday.
Bustamante: Moron.
Camejo: We must tax the rich and build our glorious worker society atop a foundation of thier bones. Vote for me, comra... ah, friends.
And so on.

I exaggerate for the sake of comedy, but that's not really too far off the mark. Schwarzenegger and Huffington made complete dolts out of themselves. Huffington was combative and just plain mean. Schwarzenegger was rude and smug. Neither really gave answers of any substance to any of the questions. Bustamante started off composed and gave informative answers, but eventually spiraled down into being smarmy and condescending (mostly on account of trolling from Arnold and Ariana).
The only two who really retained much dignity were Camejo and McClintock. But the former was really a space cadet in terms of his ideals, and the latter was ...well, he was a mainstream Republican and not all that engaging.
Going in to the debate, I knew that Arnold was unqualified, but I didn't realize he was such an ass. I was actually giving serious thought to voting for Huffington, but her behavior in the debate proved that she's a total lunatic who's unlikely to establish any kind of working relationships with others in government or business. If you take away her spite, there's just not much left.
So I'm left with Bustamante, McClintock, or Camejo. I won't vote Republican, so McClintock is probably out. I don't want to re-elect the Davis administration, so Bustamante isn't that attractive a candidate. I actually find myself agreeing with Green Party candidate Pete Camejo --he was smart, articulate, polite, on-message, and passionate. However, I don't think he has much chance of winning, and I'm afraid that if he got too many votes he'd split things so that Arnold wins (ow, ow, brain hemorages starting just at the thought...).
So I don't know. I want to vote for Camejo, but I'm just not sure how things will turn out. Oh, and in the interest of equal access, the GameShow Network is sponsoring a "debate" with the dregs of the recall ballot. I'll bet you, though, that it won't be nearly as funny as the antics of the legitimate candidates.

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23Sep/03Off

Pics + crazy pigeon lady

For your compulsive clicking needs, we now have some photos of the new house with all our stuff unpacked and neatly stacked about the place.
Also, I drove to downtown Los Angeles yesterday, as I ocassionally do for work. I forgot to pick up a parking pass for the Gas Tower building, so I had to park down the street at a pay lot. On my way back from the car, I encountered Crazy Pigeon Lady. This whithered old crone was throwing down fistfulls of feed to a fluttering flock of pigeons, yet screaming at them at the top of her lungs. In Spanish.
The birds didn't seem to mind, even though she would ocassionally bend down, sieze one of them in mid-peck, and then stuff it in a canvas bag hanging from a nearby fence. She even held one of them in her other hand and would gesture wildly with it to add some mysterious punctuation to her mad tyrade.
Passing her, I was seized by this fear that if I made eye contact she'd turn her wrath on me and start flinging overfed pigeons at me, going back to her bag of feathered amunition until I ran out into traffic in a deadly attempt at escape. My epitaph would read "Harold James Madigan, Ph.D. Killed by pigeon-wielding madwoman".
Nothing of the sort happened, though, and I crossed the street into the Gas Tower building. All was well and the line at Starbucks was short. I bought a $3 cup of coffee and counted my blessings, so you can make of this what you will.

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21Sep/03Off

Underworld

Saw Underworld yesterday. For those of you in a rush, here's a few phrases that I think describe it: Ultra-violent, stylish, exciting, inconsistent, twisty, and goth.
For those of you still reading, I thought it was worth seeing, even through I almost didn't go after seeing the litany of bad reviewsand some initial lackluster word of mouth. Still, these kinds of movies intrigue me, so I went to a matine. The film excells at what it appears to aim at: Violence featuring a bunch of pretty people dressed up in leather, latex, and fur. It's very stylish and has a look that makes you want to ...well, look. The costume work is great. The plot is also suprisingly interesting, with almost everyone in the movie avoiding typical stereotypes, except for the main villain, who is one giant shambling cliche.
The movie fails, however, to be very compelling as an action flick by being inconsistent. Sometimes the vampires are badass killing machines (when the director want to say "Hey, these guys are badass killing machines"), and sometimes they're just downright frail (when the director wnats to say "OOhh. They're in danger at this time!"). The vampires also seem ...odd. They don't follow "traditional" vampire conventions --they don't feed, they have reflections, they aren't particularly fast or mesmirizing, etc. Don't get me wrong, the writers of Underworld could have their vampires dance and sing showtunes under a big banner that says "Creative License" and that would be fine. Just not very interesting. Likewise, the vampires in this movie don't do anything too impressive or vampire-like except make long-distance jumps. Sure, they shoot guns --lots of guns-- but c'mon. What action hero doesn't shoot guns?
Overall, it was a stylish flick with a halfway interesting plot and a couple of nice action sequences. Not the "Matrix with Vampires" that it was billed as, but not too bad either.

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19Sep/03Off

Pregnancy Update: Week 21

Pregnancy update: Geralyn is now at 21 weeks --over halfway done! She claims to feel like herself, except that she has to pee a lot (no morning sickness, cravings, etc.). Amazingly, though, she claims to have felt the baby move inside her. I think she had gas, which she doesn't find very amusing. She put my hand on her belly last night, but I didn't feel anything.

While I'm at it, here's a news roundup for this week:
Spencer and Nancy Stang (UMSL) had their first baby --a boy! According to Spence, "Carson John Stang was born Sunday August 31st at 6:00am. He was 7 lbs, 12 oz & 21 inches long."
Also on the baby front, Paul and Amy Lindgren (Jenks High, TU) say their ultrasound technician tells them they're going to have a girl. Oddly enough, Ailis Gabrielle (as they're going to name her) is due on January 31, the EXACT same day Geralyn is due. Also, you may remember Amy Lindgren as "Amy Picarella".
Gary Hunt (UMSL) is engaged to a very nice girl, as we all knew he would be. They're getting married in June of 2004 in St. Louis, and guess what? I'm going to be the Best Man. Phaaat!
Okay, one more baby bit: Kevin "Earl" Evans (TU) and his wife Mariana are going to have a baby in late February. They're living in England, so the kid will probably end up with some weird Oklahoman/British accent. It'll be cool.

18Sep/03Off

Books

I just read a pretty good chapter on training program design. Not something I'm normally interested in, but this was a good chapter by M. Anthony Machin called "Planning, Managing, and Optimizing Transfer of Training." It's in a book called Creating, Implementing, and Managing Effective Training and Development. What I liked was that they did a fine job of straddling the line between scientific discourse (using a model, citing research, posing hypotheses, etc.) and real practical advice ("to accomplish this, do these things").
Machin divides the discussion up into thirds, and talks about viable goals for each phase. During pretraining, he discusses how to improve trainee motivation to learn, improve self-efficacy, and build support for training. During training, it's about improving the quality of the training, building intentions to use the training down the line, and improving people's reactions to the training. Finally, during post-training it's about further improving the climate for supporting training transfer and improving overall group performance via training application.
Also, to even things out, I just finished The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King. It's either the 3rd or 4th time I've read it. Can't remember which.

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17Sep/03Off

Links + SIOP

Got the links pageup. If you've been wanting to click on something but you just don't know what, check it out. It's got links to friends' webpages, all my other online sites/projects, and a smattering of some of my favorite articles I did for GameSpy.
Also, today was the deadline for submissions for the 2004 SIOP convention. For the first time ever, I submitted something! Lamely, it was my (finely aged) dissertation. Therese Macan (my advisor from grad school) hacked my 121 page prove-you-know-it-through-volume dissertation down to a 21 page I-don't-have-time-for-this poster submission.
The title is "Improving Applicant Reactions by Altering Test Administration" and here's the abstract:

Research on applicant reactions traditionally focused on a limited set of test characteristics. Using an organizational justice framework, we examined six characteristics of test administration and their role on outcomes like company attractiveness and intentions to remain in the selection process. Two hundred eight job applicants in nine different locations provided their reactions before the test and after. Results show that six rules (participation, consistency of administration, uncertainty reduction, interpersonal treatment, transparency, and quality of two-way communication) are all related to overall perceptions of fairness, and that these perceptions are related to the outcomes examined.

In other words, here's how to reduce the chances that you're going to piss an applicant off by making him think your selection processes are unfair: let them ask questions, let them make decisions that they think affect the outcome of the situation, don't be a dick, treat everyone the same, and tell them what to expect.
I'd love to expand this research, and am on the lookout for opportunities to do so. There may be chances here at Sempra Energy for me to do some applicant reactions research using computer-based selection tests. That would be fantastic, but we'll have to impliment it in a high-volume job. We'll see.
Therese wants me to submit this to a journal for full publication, which I may do. Regardless of whether it gets published or not, I'd like to at least check that off my "Life's To-Do List".
Oh, I'm also involved with a Practitioner Forum submission on survey methodology. Here's the abstract from that:

This practitioner forum will address important real-world issues relevant to survey practitioners and their clients. Through the use of actual survey studies, the papers will answer common survey questions and offer practical recommendations to assist the survey specialist in delivering higher quality results.

And then here's the relevant bit from the body of the proposal:

Lastly, in the fourth paper, Morris, Madigan, and Ashworth answer a very important methodological question: Do results differ between a survey that is administered annually and one that is administered on a more frequent basis? The authors serve as internal consultants for an Energy Service Company and manage several internal customer satisfaction programs. They were advised that customer surveys should be administered on a more frequent basis (via a web-seminar by Better Management), the rationale being that more frequent feedback allows for quicker response time to address and fix what is not going well and to acknowledge and reward what is going well. However, from a psychometric perspective, the authors were interested in how the measurement frequency would impact results.
To investigate their question, they compared item results between an annual survey and a point-of-service survey. The point-of-service survey was much shorter, but contained identical items pulled from the larger annual survey. Differences in mean ratings and response patterns were found. After finding differences quantitatively, they also investigated qualitative differences on the open-ended responses.

Wish us luck!

16Sep/03Off

Temple of Elemental Evil (PC) review

My review of Greyhawk Adventures: Temple of Elemental Evil is up at GameSpy.com today. You can read the review for the details, but in general I thought it was a worthwhile romp. I'd recommend it to you since I know you enjoy romps of the good varieity. Just a few problems with storytelling (there wasn't much), interface (it sucked more often than not), and bugs (broken AI). All of that was made up for by the facts that it's a deep, complex, and fun game.
There's also this ForumPlanet thread discussing the review, though it seems most people are interested in discussing GameSpy.com's new review system.
While we're on the topic, I prefer the 5-star system to the 100% system. It's easier to understand and you don't have to mess with small gradations in scores. The only problem is that most games are going to end up in the 4-star range. MARK MY WORDS.
The thing I actually dislike about GameSpy's new system has nothing to do with the scores. I don't like the new page layout. Sorry to any Spyguys (or gals) that may be reading, but the new review and preview pages are too cluttered with stuff I'm not interested in. I want the game basics, teh score, and the review. With ads enabled, you have to scroll a whole page length before you get a complete sentence of the actual review. What ever happened to simplicity of design?
Ah well.

Filed under: Gaming 1 Comment
15Sep/03Off

Hey! It’s a blog!

I've been meaning to do this for a while, and finally sat down and did it today. Actually, I kind of suprised myself --it was easier than I thought. Guess all that time doing HTML paid off. :)
Anyway, welcome to Blog a la Madigan. I'll be posting news, pictures, and random thoughts here for your entertainment and education. I'm fairly bad about writing e-mails or letters, but I do enjoy updating websites for some strange reason. This will make writing e-mails easier, as I'll just have to type in "Go read my blog". Better living through technology.
And yeah, I know that the links don't work. I'm going to fix that. I also plan to link the "Now reading", etc. links on the right to pages that give a mini-review and assorted random thoughts on the subject at hand. Gimme a couple of days, eh?
Geralyn says "Hi", by the way. She likes the blog, but doesn't seem to want to learn how to update. And for the record, the official Pregnancy O'Meter is at 20 weeks as of last Friday. No, we don't know if it's a boy or girl. Thanks to our HMO's asstastic scheduling practices, we won't know until September 30th. Rest assured that the news will be posted here first.