Rose Madder

What the heck, I thought I’d keep the Stephen King audiobook momentum going and go from Carrie straight to Rose Madder, since I’ve had this one sitting around for a while. I think I picked this one up ahead of time because it supposedly had links to the Dark Tower books, but I ended up reading the last of those long before now. I really don’t know anything else about this book, as I think it’s one of King’s lesser acclaimed or even mentioned books.

From Stephen King’s Website:

Rosie Daniels flees from her husband, Norman after fourteen years in an abusive marriage. During one bout of violence, Norman caused Rosie to miscarry their only child. Escaping to a distant city, Rosie establishes a new life and forges new relationships. Norman Daniels, a police officer with a reputation for cruelty, uses his law-enforcement connections to track his wayward wife.

After this I’m going to have to take a break from King and tackle something else. Probably some nonfiction or a classic (Catch 22 is beckoning to me, for example), just to keep me regular.

Cascading Style Sheets: The Definitive Guide

Coming off a HUGE brick of sci-fi fiction, I thought I’d break it up with something educational. As you can see by virtue of this site, I can build websites. I’ve built several. But I’ve never really harnessed the full power of cascading style sheets (CSS) for the web, and I thought it was high time I learned how. Or started to.

After a bit of research, I found that this book is one of the standards for the topic. From the publisher:

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is the HTML 4.0-approved method for controlling visual presentation on web pages. This comprehensive guide to CSS and CSS1 explores in detail each property, how individual properties interact, how to avoid common mistakes in interpretation. For both beginning and advanced web authors, this is the first major CSS title to address actual current browser support, rather than the way things work in theory.

This is also timely because I need to learn some new CSS/HTML skizzles for a numer of new websites I want to develop. One is for a friend, another for the San Diego I/O Psychology professional association I just helped form, and the third is for a private project I’ve been kicking around for a while. You see, now that I quit World of Warcraft I can actually do these kinds of things.

The ten dumbest things I did as a kid

I’m not normally a big fan of blog memes, but I saw one on The Zero Boss (by way of that I couldn’t resist: “What are ten stupid things you did as a kid?” I’m sure my family will gleefully supply additional stories, but here’s ten I actually remember doing:

#10 – Cannon Horse
My parents had bought me a plastic replica of Silver, the horse from The Lone Ranger. One day my mom came upon me sitting in my closet, where I had just cut off all of Silver’s legs with a hacksaw. When asked WHY I had done such a thing, my only, placid response was “Cannon Horse.”

#9 – Naughty Balloons
One day some of the older kids in my neighborhood were blowing up these oddly shaped, elongated balloons and laughing hysterically about it. I came over and they let me blow one up, too, which seemed to amuse them even more. Then, to their horror, I announced that I was going to go home to show my mom. When they all bolted after me, I assumed I was in for a random ass kicking (such things happened around these particular kids), so I ran for it and actually made it home with my new prize, which I showed to my mom. Yeah, except it turns out it wasn’t a balloon. They had been blowing up condoms.

#8 – Hyperventilated on purpose
A group of friends and I thought it was a riot to do this trick: Take quick, short breaths for like 60 seconds, then hold your breath while two other people push on your chest until you pass out. Wake up on the floor and then it’s the next guy’s turn.

#7 – Worst Mother’s Day gift EVER
One year I decided that I would get my mom flowers for Mother’s Day. Being a kid, I didn’t have money to buy flowers, so I set out to steal them from neighborhood flower beds. Except I couldn’t work up the guts to perform this larceny and my mother was perplexed when I presented her with a bucket of dirt sprinkled with a few fist fulls of grass from our lawn.

#6 – “Your name here”
In school one day we were learning how to make little kites from construction paper, glue, and string. The teacher made her own to illustrate each step of the process, ending by writing the words “YOUR NAME” where we were supposed to put our names. Except I was feeling particularly literal that day, and actually wrote “YOUR NAME” on my kite before handing it in. I got a “F” on that one.

#5 – Setting hermit crabs to guard my wallet
Fearing that my nefarious sister would get my new wallet (vinyl, with a velcro seal and “Def Leppard” on the front!), I put it in my cage full of hermit crabs. My child’s mind reasoned that nobody but their owner would be crazy enough to put their hand in a cage full of hermit crabs. My delusion skulked away an hour later when my sister found me in the den, waved my wallet at me, and wondered aloud what exactly it was doing in my hermit crab cage.

#4 – Discovering Oil
While exploring the grounds outside my aunt’s house in Sulphur, Oklahoma, my cousin and I were excited to discover oil in the bottom of a pond back behind the house. Every time we hurled a rock into the pond, a thick, black liquid would fountain up and ripple across the surface. Turns out it was the septic tank.

#3 – NOT getting in a fight
One day in school this kid turned around and popped me in the nose for no reason –no reason at all. The kids around me started shouting at me to hit him back (aren’t kids great?), and though I was never a big kid I probably could have given this particular guy a good beating. But I didn’t, because I wanted to avoid trouble. When the teacher came over to investigate, though, he latched onto the conclusion that we were fighting and wouldn’t let go, metting out ten days of detention for each of us. Thing is, the kid who had punched me moved out of town the next day, leaving me to serve my time alone. I should have at least gotten to bloody his nose.

#2 – You Can Call Me Flower
My young acting career pretty much started and ended with a grade-school enactment of Bambi. I was to play Flower, the skunk who befriends the titular deer. I had only ONE LINE: “My name is Flower.” That was it. ONE LINE. But the day before opening night I happened to read a Bambi picture book where Flower’s greeting to his new friend was “You can call me Flower if you like.” The next day I told the teacher/director about the discrepancy, and she firmly told me that “NO, Jamie, your line is ‘My name is Flower.’ Say THAT, not what you read in the book.

Of course, I screwed up when my big moment came, blurting out BOTH lines in a blinding panic before bursting into tears and running off the stage.

#1 – Trash can bomb
The following is the dumbest thing I’ve done to date, and I swear I’m not making it up. Somehow I got hold of instructions on how to build a “bomb” out of a 2-liter soda bottle, baking soda, and vinegar. Oh, and little aluminum foil balls for shrapnel. One night while my parents were out (having erroneously thought I could take care of myself), I follwed the directions by filling the bottle with a few inches of vinegar and putting a layer of foil balls on top of that. I then went out to the driveway where I added a bunch of baking soda, put on the cap, shook it up, threw it, and dove for cover.

Nothing happened.

Disappointed, I picked up the inert bottle and threw it in the kitchen trash before flopping down on the couch to watch television. Like an hour later I got up and went to the kitchen to get a snack. Hearing a curious hissing sound coming out of the garbage can, I bent over the container to investigate. As you might have guessed by now, just as I lowered my face my inquiry was sundered by an explosion that sprayed my face with vinegar, aluminum foil, and various garbage. Despite the initial shock, the explosion wasn’t that great, but it did freak me out and I had a hard time explaining the stains on the kitchen ceiling to my parents.

So, there you are. If you have a stupid kid story to share, please feel free to do so in the comments.


I’m still on a quest to read and collect (in hardback) every Stephen King novel. It’s like those people that climb Mount Everest or unlock every secret in a video game. Or something.

This is actually King’s first book. I decided that since he wasn’t putting out any more new ones (for now) I’d start from the beginning and work my way forward through the ones I haven’t read yet. All I know about Carrie is that it involves some high school loser and the movie had Sissy Spacek, who narrates this audiobook version, covered in buckets of blood.

From Amazon:

The story of misfit high-school girl, Carrie White, who gradually discovers that she has telekinetic powers. Repressed by a domineering, ultra-religious mother and tormented by her peers at school, her efforts to fit in lead to a dramatic confrontation during the senior prom.

It should be interesting to compare this book to King’s later stuff.

Sam’s Story: Week 65

A momentous, sad milestone has passed. The kitchen is closed. No more milk on tap. Sam has been weaned from nursing. No more boobie.

Unlike our breast feeding class instructor who was still nursing her oldest child at over forty months, it was always a question of “when” and not “if” to wean Sammy. She’s 15 months old today, and we thought that old enough, given that we had to return the pump ger had been using. Apparently if she starts missing feedings/pumpings, a mother’s body says “Okay, then, I’M SHUTTIN’ THEM DOWN!” so this was as good a time as any. Sam actually made the transition more easily than Geralyn, given that only one of them cried and for once it wasn’t Sam. In fact, at the last morning nursing of her life, Sam seemed to be holding her hand up as if to say “Nah, thanks, I’m done. Is there coffee?”

Funny thing is, while we had built up morning and bedtime routines for Sam’s comfort, the changes resulting from shutting off the taps highlighted how much we had come to value those routines, too. With the nursing thing gone, my evening routine of prepping the nursery and checking my e-mail while Ger put Sam down was obliterated. Instead, I had to give Sam a cup of milk and read her a couple of books. And after that it was supposed to be time alone with Ger. But my e-mail! It was unchecked! I stood quietly outside of the closed door to the nursery for half an hour, wondering what to do. (The answer: Checking my e-mail from my laptop while watching TV with Ger. Hooray technology!)

Not much to report on the developmental front. Sam continues to excel in walking, and has even moved up to moonwalking. I’m continuously amazed at how much language she’s picking up, even if it’s still lopsided on the understanding end more than the expressing end. But one-sided as the conversations are, you can really talk to her and have her understand you as long as you stay away from politics, religion, and bunnies. If you say “Sammy, are you stinky?” she’ll get up, walk over to the base of the stairs, and look up at where the changing table awaits in the nursery. Ask her if she’s tired and she’ll start picking up her toys and putting them away, the beginning of the bath/boobie/bed bedtime routine (now with one less “b”) we started long ago.

The only other noteworthy event this weekend was another attempt at getting Sam’s portrait taken. I’ve written a couple of times before about all the agonizingly bad experiences with the Wal-Mart picture studio we had to got through before realizing that we were trying to use the Wal-Mart picture studio and that this was the natural state of things, like a wild bear stabbing a trout to death with an ice pick. So while we weren’t ready to fork out the cash for a “real” portrait studio, we did dress Sam in her best dress and inch up the hierarchy a bit to the Sears picture studio.

Sam did better this time and didn’t cry, but she was apparently so dumbstruck by three gibbering adults waving toys around in the most idiotic fashion imaginable that she refused to smile. She just sat there like she was watching C-SPAN instead of Sesame Street, despite efforts that would have gotten us tossed in the loony bin in any other context. But we did get pictures, and they should be nice when they arrive.

Speaking of pictures,

I particularly like this shot, as she looks like a complete little hoodlum with the hoodie and the baggy pants. With flowers on them. Well, she looks like a girly hoodlum.

Soccer Hoodlum

Sam still enjoys her soccer ball, but she’s taken to wearing a hoodie and baggy pants. If she starts picking fist fights and setting trash cans on fire I may have grounds for getting concerned.

Still truckin’

Sam still enjoys her walker, though she hardly needs it to walk any more. At neast now if she runs into an obstacle she can lift the whole thing up and move it herself.

Sit and spin

One of Sam’s favorite new things is to sit in my office chair and have someone spin it around really fast. So far she has resisted efforts to teach her to say “centrifuge.”

Life of Pi

Popular literature is something that’s usually missing from my diet. I tend to oscillate between pulp like Stephen King or Raymond Feist and classics like Steinbeck or Rand, with the periodic nonfiction and/or technical book thrown in for good measure. To remedy that, I picked up Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. As far as I can tell it’s about a kid on a boat with animals, but it also won some kind of award. An award with a gold sticker! They don’t just let you put those on anything.

From Amazon:

Yann Martel’s imaginative and unforgettable Life of Pi is a magical reading experience, an endless blue expanse of storytelling about adventure, survival, and ultimately, faith. The precocious son of a zookeeper, 16-year-old Pi Patel is raised in Pondicherry, India, where he tries on various faiths for size, attracting “religions the way a dog attracts fleas.” Planning a move to Canada, his father packs up the family and their menagerie and they hitch a ride on an enormous freighter. After a harrowing shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean, trapped on a 26-foot lifeboat with a wounded zebra, a spotted hyena, a seasick orangutan, and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker (“His head was the size and color of the lifebuoy, with teeth”). It sounds like a colorful setup, but these wild beasts don’t burst into song as if co-starring in an anthropomorphized Disney feature. After much gore and infighting, Pi and Richard Parker remain the boat’s sole passengers, drifting for 227 days through shark-infested waters while fighting hunger, the elements, and an overactive imagination. In rich, hallucinatory passages, Pi recounts the harrowing journey as the days blur together, elegantly cataloging the endless passage of time and his struggles to survive: “It is pointless to say that this or that night was the worst of my life. I have so many bad nights to choose from that I’ve made none the champion.”

Hopefully he fights the tiger.

Sam’s Story: Week 64

Calamity! Sam has become what we’ve dreaded most: a finicky eater. I can’t really blame her, since cream of wheat and steamed vegetables would probably wear thin on me as well. But while I would have the cunning to pretend to pack a healthy lunch and then go out to eat at Chipotle (without Ger’s ever finding out, I might add), Sam simply shrieks “Doooh!” and sweeps her food to the carpet. Fruit, yogurt, cheese, and other sweets she’ll still gobble up, but most other stuff is out of the question. Thing is, she seems a lot more interested in what we’re eating, and will beg like the family pet until we give her little bites.

Brilliant tactician that she is, Geralyn decided to try fixing Sam a plate of whatever we’re having so that Sam doesn’t feel left out. This has worked moderately well, as Sam will gleefully shove the food around the plate with her spoon and occasionally pop some into her maw. However, I have a feeling it’s all going to fall apart on Thursday, which is salt water taffy night at our house.

Sam continues to enjoy the park, where she plays with her soccer ball and makes gang signs. There was one particular series of pictures that really cracked me up, though. In college the zenith of our alcoholic abusive ways was always Oktoberfest. We’d all go down to the Tulsa Fairgrounds, buy beer in big plastic pitchers, and drink ourselves stupid. Years later, we still keep one of those plastic Oktoberfest pitchers out on the front porch and use it to water the plants (with water, not beer). One day this week Ger happened to photograph Sam stumbling around with the pitcher. This cracked me up, because when arranged in a certain way the pictures pretty much chronicle a typical evening at Oktoberfest:

7:00 P.M.: “Wooo! Oktoberfest! I need a refill, but first I’m gonna do the Duck Dance! Na na na na na na na, na na na na na na na, na na na na na na na –Nah! Nah! Nah! Nah!”

9:46 P.M.: “Cudding meh off? Wha you mean cudding me off? Fine, wer goin home!”

10:14 P.M.: “Hang on, guys. I’m gonna ralph in these bushes.”

12:02 A.M.: “Hokay. Thats enuf guys. I’m goin home now. G’night. Na na na na na na…”

Someday, a therapist will be very interested in all this.

When she’s not drunk, Sam is an absolute blast to play with. She’s totally mobile now, and will bring you things that she wants you to play with –books, puppets, toys, fist fulls of cat hair, anything. She also seems to like a bit of the roughhousing, as I can pin her down and tickle her belly or give her zerberts under the arm, which makes her totally crack up and laugh until she gets the hiccups.

You look at pictures now, yes?

You may notice how in one picture Sam is pulling on her own shirt. She does this a lot, and in fact last night she grabbed one of her shirts from the laundry basket and clutched it for most of the night. Up until this point she hasn’t really developed a “security something” like a blanket or a stuffed animal, but I suspect she will soon. I just hope it’s not made of cashmere or anything.

Blogging SIOP, Day 3

“Wardrobe denegration” is phenomenon that every experienced SIOP-goer is familiar with. Here’s how the dress code usually goes:

DAY 1: Suit
DAY 2: Slacks/skirt and dress shirt
DAY 3: Burlap sack

Fortunately, the third day is only half a day, and most people don’t even stay that whole time. I’m only going to attend one session today myself before hitting the road. I’ve also got to swing by the vendor hall once more to see if there’s any other books i have to have. I’ve only bought three this year.

The first book is entitled “The Psychology of Online Consumerism” doesn’t have much, if anything, to do with I/O but it looked really interesting. It’s a collection of scientific studies about online behavior. So it covers, for example, what makes people click on ads or sign up for e-mail lists. This would have been a good book to have three years ago when I was doing that kind of stuff.

The second book is called “Intelligence: A Brief History” and seems to be exactly what I’ve been looking for: a summary of the development of the intelligence construct, how it’s conceptualized, and what it means. It seems a little thin for the topic, but hopefully it’ll strike the right balance.

Third book is the excitingly titled “Employment Discrimination Litigation”. It’s pretty expensive, but it’s a brick and will probably be one of those books that I keep handy for reference for the rest of my career. In fact, I bought the book because this symposium clued me in to how much I still have to learn:

8:00 – 9:50 A.M. Symposium – Cut Scores in Employment Discrimination Cases: Where We Are Today

Actually, not much to say about this one, other than I’m glad I stuck around for it instead of heading home. The thing that really stuck out to me was the discrpancy between what the Uniform Guidelines and SIOP Principles say about cut scores (do whatever you want if your test is valid) and what the courts have said (do these three things that are contradict each other). There’s been a lot going on that I hadn’t kept up with.

After that, though, I hit the road and headed home. Good conference, I just wish I didn’t have to go to work in the morning.

Blogging SIOP, Day 2

Hrm. Today didn’t start off quite as well, as I missed the 10-second window in the coffee break during which food is actually available. Get there late as I did and all the grad students leave you are crumbs and a few dozen apples.


8:00 – 9:50 A.M. Practitioner Forum – Applying Validity Generalization: A View from the Job-Analysis Trenches

Not much to say about this one, other than it has a lot of relevance to what I do at work. Good stuff. Only funny thing was that I sat next to Frank Schmidt, he of “general intelligence: It’s what’s for dinner and it’s all you’re going to eat, EVER” fame. Actually, sitting next to him wasn’t the funny part. The funny part was after someone asked about generalizing the validity from an intelligence test for plumbers to a similar test for accountants and hearing Schmidt mutter, “This has already been proven. Why would you waste time proving it again if it’s already been proven.”

10:30 – 11:50 A.M. Practitioner Forum – Experience-Based Prescreens: Suggestions for Improved Practice

Another good session. This one struck me several times with ideas that seem obvious once you hear them, but for some reason few people really think of. Some of the presenters talked about how they replaced those dubious pre-screening questions with items that are much more grounded in job analysis (shock! amazement!) and more likely to increase the overall validity of a selection process. So instead of “Do you have a college degree?” you ask questions about their knowledge of specific things they should have learned about in school or how many times they’ve done tasks necessary for the job. There was also a good talk about “when is an applicant an applicant,” which I actually touched on here once.

12:00 – 1:20 P.M. Panel Discussion – Validation Studies: Working with Difficult Clients or Data

This was a sequel to a similar presentation from last year. They’re both probably best described as “When Good Validation Studies Go Bad.” The idea was to present a few problematic scenarios common to test validation then describe what experts working in the realms of academics, internal consulting, external consulting, and government had to say about it. Some of it was pie in the sky unlimited resources textbook answers, but just as much was practical advice that made a lot of sense. And I’m glad that in many cases my own intuition and experiences were dead on with what was recommended by the experts.

1:20 – 2:50 P.M. Practitioner Forum – Maintaining Test Security in a “Cheating” Culture

I thought this session was largely about maintaining test security so that people couldn’t get ahold of copies. What surprised me was the number of sites, books, and sundry scams out there tailored towards giving you leaked copies of tests and/or the answers to go with them. The U.S. Postal Service took a unique stance against this by releasing, for free, all the information that these guys were trying to sell people. Another presenter discussed how they went to incredible lengths to ensure test security in what sounded more like a scene from a Tom Clancey novel: Guards carrying self-destructing packages full of tests and sending them on their way in armor-plated trucks. And i thought tests were secure if they were in a locked filing cabinet.

3:30 – 5:20 P.M. Theoretical Advancement – Evolutionary Psychology’s Relevance to I-O Psychology

Whew. This was kind of a weird one. Late as it was in the day, I kind of spaced out and only really remember four things:

  1. Men want to have sex with as many women as possible.
  2. Nepotism exists family-owned businesses.
  3. Sparrows like to take risks.
  4. Asians dig Confucius.
  5. I barely stifled a blast of laughter when one of the presenters put up a reference to “Wang & Johnson (2004).” I’m such a child sometimes.

This particular symposium was …eclectic.

Didn’t do much tonight. I grabbed some take-out from a restaurant near the hotel then came back to the room to take it easy. I had good intentions to go over and hit some of the receptions tonight, but I don’t think that’s in the cards at this point.

Blogging SIOP, Day 1

I have a long standing SIOP tradition: in the eleven conferences I’ve been to, I’ve never go to the presidential address that kicks things off on Friday morning. Not being ensconced in the organization’s inner echelon, it just never seemed like there was anything for me in it. This year, though, my boss was doing the slide show so he talked me into going. Here’s how it went:

8:30 – 9:15: Polite clapping for people I don’t know getting awards that I had no idea existed.
9:16 – 9:18: Someone on stage tells a funny story about SIOP and pornography (this is the highlight of the show so far).
9:19 – 9:30: A bunch of people show me some graphs.
9:30 – 9:32: Leatta Hough shows me old pictures of some German kid named “Fritz.”
9:33 – 10:00: Fritz Drasgow (possibly related to that German kid) refers to computerized testing as “a boondoggle.”
10:01: I make a note to myself to look up “boondoggle” in the dictionary.

So yeah. I won’t be going back next year. On to the sessions.

10:30 – 11:30 A.M. Panel Discussion – Personality Variables at Work

This was kind of supposed to be “Round 2” in a legendary panel discussion that started at last year’s conference. That discussion was supposed to be about faking in personality tests, but turned into a muck slinging contest over whether personality existed at all. Last year at one point someone in the audience got up and told several editors of top-tier scientific journals that they possessed a worse grasp of research methods than most of his undergraduate students. Hilarious! The only highlight this year, though, was that Barrick (of “Barrick and Mount” fame, you know you know them) actually used a slide with pictures of children and puppies. Point, set, and match to the pro-personality camp. But while this year’s board was better balanced in terms of pro- and anti-personality, it was nowhere near as cantankerous. Nobody got their nose smashed with a folding chair so I left early.

12:00 – 12:50 P.M. Practitioner Forum – Cutting Edge Tools for Traditional Job Analysis: How Technology Maximizes Efficiency

Not much to say here. It was basically a venue for a group of vendors to show off their products. Some neat stuff, but I’m kind of surprised how easy it is to get away with putting up a plain old online survey, giving it a few tweaks, and calling it a technology revolution. I do, however, really like the idea of putting job analysis tools online provided you do have experts involved at some point to give guidance.

1:00 – 2:50 P.M. Symposium – References and Recommendation Letters: Psychometric, Ethical, Legal, and Practical Issues

Shocker: Reference letters are uniformly glowing and don’t predict squat. I had hoped that this symposium would be more about references, but the bulk of it was on academic reference letters like you bug your professors to write when you apply to graduate school. One thing that I took away from this is that there’s more reliability between one letter writer’s letters across different students than there is between two letters by separate professors for one student. In other words, professors usually use form letters that, while they may be glowing, aren’t really all that specific to you. The other thing that struck me was the revelation that there are almost NO cases in which an employer has been sued for slander (or libel) after providing a negative reference check. In fact, there have been WAY more cases of employers being sued for negligent hiring because they failed to try and get a reference for someone who went on to do unspeakable things like molesting the snack machine.

3:30 – 4:50 P.M. Practitioner Forum – HR Technology Applications Now and Tomorrow

Hey, this was my presentation! I got to sit up in up in front behind the big table, overlooking the audience like a Lord and everything. Everything went fine and I was much less nervous than I expected to be. I honestly didn’t even listen to the other presentations, intent as I was on a last-minute review of my own. Only highlight was when my lapel mic fell off my jacket and I picked it up, saying “Uh oh, I’m having a wardrobe malfunction.” That got laughs, even if my assertion that good employment tests should not cause cancer did not.

That night I went to a little reception that the U. of Missouri – St. Louis alumni association put on. This was pretty cool, as there were a lot of people there that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Also, I got a free tee-shirt. After that I went reception hopping with a couple of the guys I used to work with at Anheuser-Busch. We didn’t necessarily have invitations to any of the receptions, but the only secret to getting in is to walk into the place like you belong there, grab a beer, and start talking loudly about that time that you did that thing with those people. At one point I went to the trouble of grabbing an invitee’s name tag out of the pile next to the door, choosing to impersonate my buddy David Morris, who had gotten an invitation. On my way out I ran in to David, who had been unable to find his purloined name tag and had chosen to go under the moniker “Ann-Marie Ryan.”

Wandered back to the hotel around 11:00 and was in bed by midnight. Pretty good for day 1.

Blogging SIOP, Day -1

If I may be allowed the indulgance of using a noun as a verb, I’ve decided to “blog” the SIOP (Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology) annual conference this year. No, seriously. Why not? Nobody else is doing it, and if anyone comes here looking to download my presentations and clicks on the “blog” link, I’d rather he not just see entries about cross-gender MMORPG gaming (though given the growth of the “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgernder” scene at SIOP, that might be of interest).

Good news: The conference is in Los Angeles this year, which means little travel. Other good news: I’m making two presentations at the conference this year –one on improving applicant reactions to selection tests by changing how the tests are administered and the other one on building an offline testing system that still benefits from information technology. Bad news: They double-booked me so that I have to make the two presentations at the same time in two different places. Better news: My boss from Sempra is stepping in to do one of them while I give the other.

I’m actually up in Los Angeles now, having driven up yesterday for semi-related business with work. The hotel I’m staying at is nice, thought the clerk didn’t seem to appreciate it when I told her that it didn’t make much sense to charge $12.99 per movie to see a a new release in your room while they only charged $9.99 for a whole day’s worth of high-speed internet access, the latter of which could –theoretically– be used to download and watch all the movies I want. It didn’t really matter much, as I just read a book anyway.

I took some time today to go through the SIOP program and pick out things I wanted to see. As usual, there are a TON of great programs, workshops, roundtables, and discussions going on. More than I can make it to even if I limit it mostly to selection/assessment topics that have the most relevance to my current job. Here’s what I highlighted as likely candidates:

  • The Usefulness of Personality Variables at Work
  • Cutting-Edge Tools for Traditional Job Analysis: How Technology Maximizes Efficiency
  • References and Recommendation Letters: Psychometric, Ethical, Legal, and Practical Issues
  • Applying Validity Generalization: A View form the Job Analysis Trenches
  • Fundamentals of Employment Law: Concepts and Applications
  • Performance Appraisal Isn’t performance Measurement: Why Poor Workers Receive Good Ratings
  • Experience-Based Prescreens: Suggestions for Improved Practice
  • Validation Studies: Working with Difficult Clients or Data
  • Maintaining Test Security in a “Cheating” Culture
  • Where Recruitment is @: Current Approaches to Web-Based Attraction Research
  • Evolutionary Psychology’s Relevance to I-O Psychology
  • Have You Ever Wondered? Research Ponderables from Employee Survey Experiences
  • Getting Started with Computer-Based Testing
  • Cut Scores in Employment Discrimination Cases: Where We Are Today
  • Emotional Intelligence and its Impact on Job Performance

Whew. That’s a lot of stuff, and I actually won’t be able to hit all of those given how some of them overlap. But that’s what jumped out at me as particularly interesting. No, seriously.

There were too other symposia titles that jumped out at me. Not because they looked particularly interesting (though they may be), but because they were funny. The first is “Online Assessment as a Valid Enhancement of the Selection Process.” This title struck me ass peculiar because it’s so broad despite sounding so specific. What “online assessment?” Wich “selection process?” Kind of a good example of writing a symposium proposal so vague yet so enticing that it gets accepted and you don’t have to actually worry about the contents. (Though for the record once you drill down and read the titles of the presentations therein, they DO sound pretty good.)

The second presentation struck me as funny because while other titles were making copious (and sometimes gramatically suspect) use of colons, semicolons, and other bastardisations of the English language, this one is simply entitled “A Master Tutorial by Sidney A. Fine.” No explanation, no details, just the man –excuse me, the MAN— who will be delivering it. It’s actually doubly amusing for those of us in the biz, though, because Sidney Fine’s name IS inextricably tied to the topic of “Functional Job Analysis” and thus doesn’t actually require any more explanation. It’s like seeing a playbill for “A Night of Shakespeare” or an ad for “SpongeBob on Ice.” You know you’re in for a night of gibberish-filled pandering to the lowest common demoninator and an an afternoon of fine theater (respectively). Such it is with “A Master Tutorial by Sidney A. Fine,” though Dr. Fine’s presentation doesn’t have regicide, incest, or a catchy theme song.


Swimsuit edition

Sam, sporting the swimsuit she wears to her “swim” class. One’s mind boggles at the shock treatment they (hopefully) give the pool after having a dozen not-potty trained infants floating around in it.


Samantha finally got to wear her robe –escuse me, I mean beach cover-up— as she got ready to go to her swim class. Tomorrow: The Swimsuit Edition!