You’re my very best friend, Anonymous Stranger

So the other day someone convinced me to check out, which is one of them new-fangled “social network” services. The idea is pretty simple: Fill out a profile that includes your name, a photo or two, and a laundry list of hobbies/interests.

Here’s a picture of my profile (as usual, click for a larger version):

Once you have a profile, you invite your friends to join, which lets you view their profiles. What’s more, you can look at their friends’ profiles, and so on. You can leave testimonials about the person (I copied and pasted a recipe for split-pea soup as a testimonial for one guy), send messages, et cetera. You can also set flags on your profile to let people know that you’re single (or in an open relationship) and lookin’ for a little lovin’.

In other words, it’s all pretty friggin’ banal and underscores how pointless the whole universe generally is.

Why? Because there’s really nothing to do on Friendster or its ilk. I spent a few minutes clicking through pictures of people connected to my vast social web, finding that I could pretty accurately categorize every member of this service, including myself, as either “Goofball” or “Cute Asian Girl”. Once that little exercise had run its course, there was nothing else to do besides send insipid text messages to complete strangers, and I can do that out on the street corner or through message boards. Do I really need to sign up for a new service and fill out tons of personal information again just to ask HongKongKitty243 is she likes the new Justin Timberlake album?

Speaking of insipid text messages, it seems to me that this kind of social networking should really take more advantage of the blogging phenomenon. Because blogs are something I’m addicted to reading. They’re generally more interesting than a list of strangers whose interests include “just chillin’ out with friends” because they provide insight into their authors’ lives, personalities, and interests. What would be cool, in other words, is a system like Friendster that links you to other friends’ blogs (and I use that term generically) and includes the ability to leave reviews, ratings, and so forth.

(I would not, by the way, be surprised at all to learn that such a system exists. Please tell me if it does. I also know that LiveJournal does this, but I’m thinking of something more open and that could include all personal websites and some additional social networking tools.)

Until then, I’ll sit in the corner and mutter my list of favorite T.V. shows to myself.

Applicants need not apply

Like lots of people with gifts for noticing the blatantly obvious, I knew a long time ago that the Internet would transform recruiting and selection practices. Nowadays there are millions of job seekers online and they can easily spam the heck out of you if you post a job opening. But for better or worse, job banks, online application systems, and e-mail have dramatically expanded the practice of recruiting. Duh.

With that expansion, though, new questions arise, like “What is an applicant?” Sounds easy at first, yeah? But there are a lot of laws that prevent employers from discriminating in recruitment/selection and dictate what kinds of standards they have to meet in order to stay legit. And since these standards involve applicants and their associated demographics, questions like “Who applied for this job?” are very important.

Problem is, they’ve been hard to answer when you start factoring in online applications. Consider the following:

  • A man e-mails a resume into Company X’s HR department, asking to be considered for anything they think is a match
  • A woman submits her credentials to, which whom Company X has a subscription allowing them to view her online resume (along with millions of others).
  • A man creates a profile in the “Career Opportunities” section of Company X’s website and says he’s interested in anything in the Marketing department.
  • A job opening content aggregator like Flipdog sends an automated job posting to a woman based on her keyword searches.

Are any of these people job applicants? Should Company X worry about including data from these people the next time they look at applicant flow data or adverse impact for those jobs?

Until recently those weren’t easy questions. The other day, though, I got an e-mail newsletter from EASIConsult. Unlike most company newsletters, this one actually contained a link to an interesting article (written by one of my graduate school professors, whoo!) about this whole question of defining applicants when it comes to users of Internet technology. Turns out that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released some recommendations on how to answer that question.

I turned the quote monkey loose on their provisions. It returned with a fist full of hair and this:

In order for an individual to be an applicant in the context of the
Internet and related electronic data processing technologies, the
following must have occurred:

  1. The employer has acted to fill a particular position;
  2. The individual has followed the employer’s standard procedures
    for submitting applications; and

  3. The individual has indicated an interest in the particular

That helps, at least for me. So some nimrod that generically spams every recruiter e-mail address he can get ahold of can safely be ignored, while someone who e-mails one recruiter applying for a specific job must be counted. And thank God we don’t have to worry about those millions of resumes on unless they’re following our procedures and applying for specific jobs.

The “following the employer’s standard procedures for submitting applications” bit is interesting, though. Given this guideline, I suspect that a lot of employers will ask applicants to jump through specific hoops before considering their applications complete. So even if your Uncle Bob is the V.P. of Marketing, the Human Resources department may make you fill out a thousand pages of information on their website before giving you the job.


A while back I mentioned that I was thinking of posting, in small pieces, the novel I wrote late last year. It’s still tentatively called “Sewing Oats.” Several visitors said they’d read it, and I haven’t forgotten about it. My unexpected trip to Tulsa just pushed the timeline back a bit. In the project management game, that’s what we call “renegotiating our deliverable dates”.

In fact, just last night I completed the second draft of the novel. This pass mainly consisted of cleaning up typos and clumsy language (to the extent of my ability) and making lots of notes to myself about structural issues and plot changes. I also have a handful of completely new scenes to write. The plan is create a new “Writings” section on this site and publish the third draft of the novel here. In its current Microsoft Word format Sewing Oats is just over 200 pages and 55,000 words, but I’ll post it in easily digestible chunks of around 1,000 words each –nothing you couldn’t read in a few minutes while you pretend to work or study. I will also greatly desire feedback on the story, stopping just short of actually begging for it. So, look for this grand experiment to start in the next few days.

And speaking of writing and experiments, I also recently finished a short story called “Good Deeds” as part of The Great PlanetCrap Writing Experiment, Round 2. I’m not a regular on the PlanetCrap boards (those people scare me), but the event was organized by two people I know from GameSpy (Hellchick and chris) and the concept is great. Each month a vague theme is generated. Last month it was “A man sees a woman every day on the bus for several years. One day, she’s not there.” This month, the month I’m first participating, the theme is “Two people are talking, when one turns to the other and reveals something that they have never told anyone else.”

Once they have the theme in hand, participants just take it and run with it, interpreting it in any way they like and ending up with a short story. They post the stories, everyone reads them, and we offer feedback. I’m a bit hesitant about putting serious work out there for a bunch of strangers to dissect, but what the heck. Once the stories are posted on Hellchick’s site I’ll post a copy of mine here, as well.

So, I hope you all are still interested, because I’ve written my fingers to bloody little stubs for you.

Sam’s Story: Week 13

Sam is three months old this very day. Ta-da!

It’s been a week of milestones here, too. If I had been thinking ahead, I would have sent out “Baby Bingo” game boards with the birth announcement, along with the URL for this site. The grid cells would have included milestones like “first smile”, “rolls over on own” and “first explosive bowel movement while we were changing her that gets on everything within five feet”. Kind of like this, except I couldn’t fit that last one on (click on it for a larger version):

Those of you playing from home this week would have gotten to put tokens over “grasps and shakes rattle for the first time” and “first laugh”. I’m particularly happy about that first laugh, doubly so since I had to work so hard at it. If I set my mind to it, I can produce a one-way, stream of consciousness conversation that rambles from inane topic to inane topic. It kind of freaks Ger out, but Sam loves it. The laugh happened while discussing the merits of a movie where Sylvester Stallone plays famous scientist Erwin Schrodinger and performs variations on his famous cat experiment, some of which would involve beer. There were impersonations involved. Sam took a deep breath, gave me a huge grin, and let out an explosive “Ha ha he!” It wasn’t just a coo caught on her tongue, it was a genuine laugh. In perfectly dignified parent fashion, I shrieked and called Ger in from the other room to witness. Of course, Sam wouldn’t do it again …until Ger left the room. I’m still not sure she believes me or if she’s just (pardon the pun) humoring me.

And now, as an intermission, this week’s pictures:

Anyway, at three months I think Sam has officially graduated from “newborn” to “baby”. Yay. She’s generally alert and starting to grab and pull at things. We’re preparing her for her next stage, though, which includes weaning her off nursing and getting her ready to take a bottle. As part of this grand experiment, I’ve started giving her a bottle for her mid-evening meal. This took some getting used to, as Sam did not agree with this plan.

The first night I tried, she started off okay, sucking along at the bottle and gazing around the room. Eventually, though, she turned her head and looked at me. Realizing that I was in fact not Geralyn, she gave me this kind of “What the hell are you doing here?” look and started shrieking her head off in protest. And she would not STOP. To imagine what this is like, try the following exercise. First, you’ll need the following materials:

  • A sharp, #2 pencil
  • Several pieces of brightly colored construction paper
  • Some Elmer’s Glue
  • Glitter

Now, take the #2 pencil and jam it in your ear repeatedly, hard as you can. Burp it every few minutes and that’s about it.

Fortunately, Sam warmed up to the whole bottle feeding thing in subsequent nights and we’ve just about got it down. In fact, I’m kind of looking forward to them now. I’m glad my nipples aren’t involved, and it’s still a nice quiet time with her.

Apparently I am a professional web designer

If I get paid to design a web site, that makes me a professional, right? Maybe not necessarily good at it, but that’s not really part of the definition is it?

One of the side projects I’ve been fiddling with at work is the redesign of my department’s Intranet page. I really, really disliked our old one, as it had frames (bleh!) and looked like a design from 1998. So I endeavored to redesign and recode it myself in between other projects. I’m nowhere near as good as the real pros out there, but I have managed to cobble together some ability in HTML and CSS through online tutorials plus lots and lots of trial and error. For example, this site,, was coded entirely by me with only a text editor and a fair amount of cursing. And fist shaking. And weeping.

The new Intranet site is pretty much the most ambitious site I’ve created. Since it’s on my company’s private intranet you can’t see it, but here’s a screenshot:

It makes extensive use of cascading style sheets (CSS) and even some JavaScript that I hacked apart from online tutorials and other sites. The three features in the right-hand side randomly changes every time the page is refreshed, which is a good way to provide dynamic content at low labor cost. I’ve been a big fan of that kind of stuff ever since I started at GameSpy.

All in all, I learned quite a few lessons that I’ll apply the next time I redesign I’ve already started to kick a few ideas around, as there are some things about this site that I’m already finding limiting. It’s just finding the time to do it that’s the problem.

Speaking of site redesigns, Todd’s has gotten a very nice new design that looks pretty impressive from both a technical and aesthetic viewpoint. Check it out.

Metaphores as bad as really bad turns of speech

I try not to just link and run, but this list of really awful metaphores supposedly taken from actual writing exams still has me chuckling.

Some of my favorites:

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the centre.

He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.

Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left York at 6:36 p.m. travelling at 55mph, the other from Peterborough at 4:19 a speed of 35mph.

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck either, but real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

It came down the stairs looking very much like something no one had ever seen before.

She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.

There are others, too.


Observe: someone has scanned and posted Action Comics #1. For you philistines out there, this is the first appearance of Superman circa 1938. I normally wouldn’t link to this kind of thing (copyright violation and all) but I figure this is pretty close to being in the public domain and won’t be eating into DC’s profits much.

Plus it’s just so interesting to see what comics looked like 66 years ago. While Supe’s debut waffles between quaint an inane, it’s fun to see what kind of language they used, what kinds of predicaments they considered exciting, and what kind of behavior they deemed villainous. Look at this bit:

Oooh. It’s a bully! Look out, Last Son of Krypton! He may use harsh language and serve you stale biscuits at tea time!

I can’t help comparing Butch with a typical villain from the last era of comics I’m familiar with: the Zinc Age from the early 1990s. The bad guys in those times more typically flesh-eating, hellspawn demons or psychopathic mutants that would rip out your eyeballs and eat them like candies. They might cut in on you at a fancy-shmancy dance, but they would be with an atomic axe the size of the Empire State Building and your date would have a 44-DD bust barely covered by a dress made out of a chainmail bikini.

(On an ironic side note, this is essentially why I gave up on comics in disgust. Most became poorly written, poorly drawn vehicles for too much sex and pointless violence. Think about that. I was a normal, young, American man who thought something contained too much sex and violence to be tolerated. That’s quite an accomplishment, comic book industry.)

Reading Action Comics #1 did finally clear up one thing that always bugged me, though. Many people may have at least seen the cover to this book:

I always wondered what was going on with that terrified fellow in the lower left-hand corner. Here was this guy, minding his own business, when some flying fruit in his underwear shows up and starts totally wrecking cars left and right. I’d grab my head and run screaming, too.

Well, once you read the story within, you find out that the guy in the lower left is actually Butch The Bully from the clip above and that green car is his. He cut in on Superman’s dance, so of course he totally deserves to have his ride smashed against a rock until he pees his pants.

And now I know the rest of the story. Superman is a jerk.

News flash: Baptist cop has to do his damn job

Finally, a story that combines my intimate knowledge of Southern Baptist religious hangups and employment law. It’s about Benjamin Endres, a Indiana State Police officer who refused to take an assignment enforcing gambling laws because working in a casino violates his religious (Baptist, to be specific) convictions. His boss told him to shut his prayer hole and get to work. He sued. He lost.

To quote:

Endres sued the State Police under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The act makes it unlawful for covered employers to discharge any individual “because of such individual’s religion.” He won in the District Court, but last summer the 7th U.S. Circuit reversed and entered final judgment for the State Police. Three judges dissented.

…[Said the judge:] “Baptists oppose liquor as well as gambling, Roman Catholics oppose abortion, Jews and Muslims oppose the consumption of pork. … If Endres is right, all of these faiths, and more, must be accommodated by assigning believers to duties compatible with their principles. Does the act require the State Police to assign Unitarians to guard the abortion clinic, Catholics to prevent thefts from liquor stores, and Baptists to investigate claims that supermarkets mis-weigh bacon and shellfish? Must prostitutes be left exposed to slavery or murder at the hands of pimps because protecting them from crime would encourage them to ply their trade and thus offend almost every religious faith?”

I’m with Judge Whitey on this one. Nobody was asking the cop to actually gamble. In fact, his job would have been to make sure that the casinos were not ripping people off. …Well, not more so than they’re allowed to by law. Endres shouldn’t be any more concerned about working in a casino than he would be about working in other unwholesome, sinful environments like the red light district investigating homocides or the corporate boardroom investigating white collar crime.

What’s even more interesting to me, though, is that he sued under the supposition that he was entitled to a “reasonable accomodation” under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I didn’t know that Title VII provided such protection, but after doing some research I see that it does. It’s very similar to how the Americans with Disabilities Act works, in fact.

Sam’s Story: Week 12

I’ve taught Sammy a new game. Actually, it’s more like her first game ever. For the last couple of weeks she’s been really alert, more so I think than most other babies her age (she is, after all, a friggin’ genius). She looks at things around her, follows them with her eyes and head, and reacts to people when they talk to her. And there were a lot of people who wanted to talk to her during her week-long visit to Oklahoma. The game I taught her is “make the face that Daddy’s making”, and the title pretty much tells it all. If I stick out my tongue a few times, she mimics me after a few tries and we both break out into smiles. Same thing if I purse my lips. And if I blink my eyes. Heck, I even got her to wink at me once, which was a riot. Sam loves this game, as evidenced by her face-splitting grins between rounds. I’m not sure, but I think she even laughed at me once. Join the crowd, Sammy.

Here’s the pictures from this week:

Also, if you missed the pictures from last week, I’ve added them. See them here.

As you can see in the first picture above, Sammy was pretty darn popular during our visit to Oklahoma. Wild horses couldn’t have kept my mom away from her, and she practically shoved me aside to get at Sam when we first arrived. Every neigbor who came by to visit and ask after my dad had to see Sam and spend time cooing and telling her what a cutie she is. My mother even insisted that I dress her up and bring her by the University of Tulsa library so she could show her off to all her coworkers. Sam is already more popular than I’ll ever be.

I should also draw your attention to the pictures of Sam where she’s wearing her spiffy Easter dress, which Aunt Shawn gave her. This was the first time I saw Sam looking so girly. She wasn’t exactly feminine (though I’m sure that will come with midrifts and short skirts soon enough), but she was completely adorable in a new way that really called attention to her gender. It was kind of a contrast next to the mostly unisex jumpers and pajamas she had been wearing.

Finally, I love this picture, which shows Sam in the yellow and white jacket set that Todd and Marla Northcutt sent us.

The only other thing that I have to report is that Sammy has started to learn how to control her arms, hands, and legs. She will now grab stuff and pull it towards her, and she’s getting the hang of bringing her fingers up to her mouth so she can suck on them if we haven’t already crammed a pacifier in there.

Finally, this week’s recommended Baby Product is the book Einstein Never Used Flash Cards. My friend Spencer recommended this book to me, and I’m glad I took his advice. It’s great. It’s far from the usual parenting books, which tend to be either light on facts (“Babies learn to talk by listening. Have them listen!”) or too prescriptive (“Your baby should poop 8-12 times a day”). Einstein Never Used Flash Cards is written by child psychologists who describe in detail the scientific evidence on how babies learn. The chapter on how babies learn about mathematics, for example, doesn’t speak in platitudes and generalities. Instead, it describes, in very readable fashion, the research that has been done on the topic, and the five principles children must grasp in order to understand mathematics:

  • The one-to-one principle (each item gets only one number tag)
  • The stable-order principle (numbers occur in a fixed order)
  • The cardinal principle (the number of items in a set is the same as the last number tag)
  • The abstraction principle (you can count anything!)
  • The order-irrelevance principle (it doesn’t matter where you start counting)

They even give little exercises that you can do with your child to teach and reinforce each of these principles. The chapters on speaking, reading, social interactions, and self-awareness are similar, but the book’s central theme is that children learn all these things naturally through play. The authors do some weird conceptualization with the concept of intelligence and make a few statements that are patently false (e.g., “Intelligence has no bearing on one’s success in life.”) but overall it’s an excellent book. I highly recommend it for any expecting or new parents.

Culture shows up in the weirdest places

Rather strict California licensing requirements prevent me from actually calling myself a psychologist, but if they didn’t, I would. One of the things that led me into Industrial/Organizational Psychology was an interest in finding out why people behave as they do when put into organizations or even loosely structured situations. How do people learn what’s appropriate? How does what’s appropriate become what’s appropriate? Through what mechanisms is information disseminated to people in an organization or other group? What causes people to leave organizations or other social groups?

Thanks to 7 years of overeducation and mountains of crippling debt, I had an idea of how to answer those questions this week when I observed the behavior of people in St. Francis Hospital’s Intensive Care Waiting Room. This was the room where family and friends of patients in the ICU were able to pass the time between visiting hours (the only kind of hours I know of that only lasted 30 minutes each). At only a few hundred square feet, the room was small and its perimeter was lined with nearly soft couches, which were colored with nearly calming hues of lavender and seafoam green. A small television perched near the ceiling in one corner, but all I remember about it was that it seemed perpetually tuned to History Channel movies about WWII submarine crews. Behind the reception desk hung a white board divided into a sloppy grid, each square of which contained the phone number and status (“here” or “home”, etc.) of each patient’s family.

But it wasn’t the things in the waiting room that really interested me. The people did. When a new visitor, such as myself, first arrived, we quickly learned the system of rules and mores that had, at some point, developed. I learned, for example, that if the volunteer staffing the reception desk is out, the next nearest person should answer a ringing phone with “ICU waiting room,” find out what family the caller is trying to reach, and announce that family’s name in a LOUD, clear voice and wait for someone to answer. If no one answers, reply to the caller with “Sorry, nobody is answering,” and end the call. If someone does answer, you transferred the call to one of the other stations scattered throughout the room and told the family where to pick it up. It was amazing to see people pick all of this up and jump into the role after watching someone else do it a couple of times.

I also learned that one’s place on a particular couch could be held by almost any item, such as a pillow, a book, or a coat. I saw a few people encroach on others’ territory a few times, and they were quickly but silently put straight when the spot’s prior owner returned from the restroom or a visit to the ICU unit. It’s amazing how strong a message you can send by simply sitting right next to someone, even though there are other seats available.

Besides roles and turf wars, through, the people in the ICU Waiting Room were interested in each other. It was considered rude to ask about someone’s misfortune directly, but you could gather intelligence through intermediaries and share it with anyone else who asked. I learned which family had an 18-year old badly hurt in a car crash, which one had a father with clogged heart valves, and which fiance had been living in the waiting room for twelve weeks and surviving on nothing but Hershey’s chocolate bars and cheese puffs. And I suppose that a few people circuitously learned about my dad’s condition as well.

The really, really cool thing, though, was how this little waiting room society reacted when someone abandoned it. We were happy and we cheered. A couple of times when I happened to be there people got phone calls saying that their loved one had improved to the point that the ministrations of the ICU staff were no longer necessary and they could “move up” to a normal hospital room. That was good news that everyone was glad to overhear. We even clapped a few times.

You know, people are all right. Even the ones who glare at you for sitting too close to the newspaper that marks the edge of their seafoam green and lavender territory.

Sam’s Story: Week 11

I’m posting this update retroactively, as things have not been conducive to blogging. It’s also pretty far from my mind. But I have a bit of downtime at the moment so I’m posting this update for those Sam fans out there. I have photos, but I’ll have to add them sometime in the future, since I have no means of editing them and uploading them to the site. Update: I’ve added the pictures below.

It’s a bad week. Last Thursday my father was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. Things looked extremely grim, so Ger, Sam, and I rushed to fly from California to Oklahoma where the rest of my family was congregating. Ger wanted to come to support me, so that meant Sam was going to take her first trip by airplane at just under 11 weeks.

Traveling by air these days is complicated enough. Doing it with an infant makes it exponentially more so. We had to check the car seat base and the travel system, lest we arrive and have no way to safely move Sam around. We had to unpack and break down the stroller to cram it through the x-ray machine and walk through the metal detector holding our baby like she was some kind of security risk. I think they suspected us of having AK-47s wedged between the diaper rash cream and the bottle of expressed breast milk.

But actually getting on the plane and flying was the worst. Ger noted that when you walk down the aisle of a plane holding an infant, you basically get one of two looks from everyone who sees you. You either get the fawning “oooh, what a sweet baby” look, which we’re happy to say we’re getting used to, else you get the “Oh, God, please don’t let her sit down next to me with that thing” look.

We ended up sitting in the back of the plane, an arrangement that afforded us the opportunity to get one of the above looks from almost everyone on board as we marched to our seats. I think the airline has adopted a policy of containment when it comes to kids, as we were sequestered there with two toddlers, another infant, and an extremely sedated jack russle terrier.

Thankfully, Sam turned out to be better behaved than any of them, even the puppy. She slept almost the whole trip, waking only to stare at us and grin before drifting off again. In retrospect, I guess the humming of the engines and the gentle bumping from air turbulance was soothing to her, as nerve wracking and annoying as it was for the rest of us. I just hope she behaves so well on the way home.

As bad as things are here, I’m so glad that Geralyn and Samantha came with me. Sam has turned out to be a beacon in the mist of depreason that has settled across all of us waiting anxiously on my father’s every development. Everyone, especially my mother, has been able to greet Sam by turning their thoughts from ventilators, doctors, and blood oxygen levels to baby smiles, baby hair (lots of it!), and the innocent joy that only infants can lay claim to. We have to turn back to the rest of the world eventually, but Samantha is doing more for everyone here than she will ever know.

Here are the pictures for this week. Among them are Sam at the airport, Sam in the plane, and my favorite, Sam taking a bath in my mom’s kitchen sink.

Looking at these pictures, I also notice that Sam got to see both of her grandmothers in the same week. Lucky girl.

Sam’s Story Delayed

Samantha’s weekly update will be delayed, maybe for a few hours, maybe for days. We all three had to rush to Oklahoma for a family emergency. Sam’s grandfather, my father, is very ill and I can’t quite muster the spirit or the time to update right now.

Crazy zoo type …thing

Wow. Somebody is good with Photoshop. There’s this whole page full of bizzare animal/animal and animal/human amalgams, like this one:

There’s tons more. Some of it is pretty trippy, but it’s guaranteed to entertain.

Update: Looks like a lot of those pictures came from Photoshop contests at a place called Man, that site is a time suck –tons of amazing work.

33 things I remember about SIOP in Chicago

  1. That the auto checkin kiosks at the airport hate me with a personal intensity.
  2. Enjoying the 4-hour plane ride because it gave me a chance to read for 4 hours straight.
  3. The shuttle service at the airport being run by the most incompetent, scatterbrained, and socially retarded unprofessionals I’ve ever seen.
  4. $32 for chicken picata? Are you kidding me?
  5. Briefly considering walking to the AMC movie theater across from the hotel, just for a chance for this new parent to see a movie on the big screen.
  6. Realizing that I had forgotten to pack my toothbrush, that the gift shop was already closed, and that I’d have to just smear toothpaste across my teeth with my finger until the morning.
  7. Seeing Navy Pier from my hotel window and remembering that I still have the beer glasses from the time SO long ago that I got drunk there with college friends.
  8. Being gently mocked by some Indian guy for not including effect sizes in our practitioner forum presentation.
  9. Being deathly afraid that I was going to drop the overhead slides for said presentation, sending them to the four corners of the room and, in the process, spontaneously creating spelling errors on every other slide.
  10. $14.50 for two beers? Are you kidding me?
  11. That I don’t remember anything about Item Response Theory.
  12. But at the same time, being able to completely follow a pretty sophisticated factor analysis research report.
  13. Being wined and dined –literally– Friday night by one of our vendors, complete with a stretch limo, awesome Italian food at a trendy joint, and lots of wine.
  14. That the moderately attractive woman sitting next to me at that dinner became totally hot when she said “creme brule” in a thick Australian accent.
  15. Realizing, with some indignation, that not everyone wanted to see pictures of my new baby.
  16. $5 for a diet coke? Are you kidding me?
  17. Realizing that there are a lot of people who are smarter than me and who have done a lot more with their lives.
  18. And realizing that there are a lot of people who aren’t and who haven’t.
  19. Some guy standing up in a crowd and telling the editors of the most prestigious scientific journals in I/O Psychology that they had a worse grasp on research methods than his undergraduate students.
  20. This quote: “When it comes to modesty, Americans are NUMBER ONE. Always have been, always will be.”
  21. Getting a call from my sister during a symposium and learning that my dad had to be taken to the hospital (he’s doing fine, by the way).
  22. Geralyn’s putting the phone up to Sam’s butt so i could hear my daughter fart from half a continent away.
  23. Noting that venerable, distinguished I/O psychologists who are being honored for a lifetime of achievement get boogers, too.
  24. No longer having to explain that “No, I don’t make video games.”
  25. Being introduced to one UMSL grad student by another as “Someone who actually finished the program.”
  26. A distinguished, elderly I/O psychologists mocking the Emotional Intelligence fad: “They describe Emotional Intelligence as the intelligent use of emotions at work. Where has this guy been for 35 years? What has he been learning? Where has he been taught? I don’t know…”
  27. Seeing my brother-in-law’s new book for sale in the exhibitor hall and quipping “Finally, someone else in the family has written a book.”
  28. Buying two new books (this one and this one), despite still not having read the two I bought at last year’s conference.
  29. Sitting through a presentation and thinking with moderate annoyance that my rejected paper was better than this.
  30. $18 just to park our rental car? Are you kidding me?
  31. Eating tapas and drinking sangria at a Spanish restaurant with the Sempra folks and a couple of Penn-Staters
  32. How the lady in front of me on the plane ride home leaned her chair all the way back so I could barely open my laptop to write this.
  33. How glad I was to see Samantha and Geralyn when I got home.

Sam’s Story: Week 10

Short update this week, as I’ve just gotten back from SIOP. It was my first trip away from Sam since she was born, I was haunted by worries that she would be walking and solving quadratic equations by the time I got back. She wasn’t, though I swear she looks bigger than she was when I left on Thursday. Fortunately, grandma Sommer came in town to help Geralyn out with the baby care agenda.

Really the only thing to report is that Sam is starting to fit into her 3-6 month old clothes. This basically means that she’s like a brand new, very expensive dress up doll to us once again. Unfortunately, it pisses Sam off when we whip clothes on and off her just to see what they look like. Don’t know why, but it does.

There were many congratulations from people I ran into at SIOP, though ODDLY ENOUGH, not everyone was really interested in looking at the pictures I brought along. Still, enough were. Here’s the screenshots of Sam’s life for this week:

This week’s featured baby product isn’t really a featured baby product. It’s a website called. It’s a blog by a very talented and funny writer who also recently had a kid. Not all the posts are about the baby, and you should be warned that the language can sometimes be rough (she sometimes carpet f-bombs her posts), but it’s really great stuff. I’m constantly surprised by how similar her experiences have been to ours, and how close in time they come (their kid is only a few weeks younger than Sam, I think). It’s like the author is IN MY HEAD. Check out the archives and just start reading if you’re a parent. Or even if you’re not.

Off to Chicago

I’m headed for Chicago SIOP, where I’ll stay until Sunday. I fully expect to not only enjoy myself, but also learn a thing or two. That’s the general idea. However, my ‘net access will be nil, so no updates until then, though I should have fun writing about it when I get back. I may even be late posting Samantha’s update this weekend since I’m traveling Sunday.

As I mentioned before, this is the first year that I’m actually involved with presenting research I conducted. If you’re curious, I’ve put the PowerPoint presentation online for you to read (use Internet Explorer for best results).

(Re)Sewing Oats

Earlier this week I finally started a second draft of the novel I wrote for National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a. NaNoWriMo). I had really intended to start on this a couple of months ago, but you know …baby and all. It’s still called “Sewing Oats”, but only because I haven’t come up with anything better.

I think that I’m going to borrow a page from Chris Buecheler and publish the second draft in small, frequent updates. Maybe start off with updates on Monday, Wendesday and Friday to see how it goes. Chris is currently doing this with one of his projects (well worth the read, by the way) and it seems to be going well.

But before I put too much time into this, let me ask: Would anyone out there even be interested in this? I know that sticking with it would have a lot to do with the quality of the novel, but I’m curious as to whether or not you’re curious enough to at least try the first chapter or so.