succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, April 23, 2005

My desk exists again! This is terribly exciting. For the past several weeks it's been buried under about a dozen articles about estimating coefficients when covariates are measured with error (wee!) for that stoopid presentation that my prof rescheduled at the last minute and finally happened yesterday. I was so inspired I even went through the growing piles to the right of my desk and on the corner of my coffee table. So I finally feel like I have a space in which to work and concentrate, which is perfect timing, since the next three weeks are going to be ridiculous. C'est la vie. If I get through this, I know I can get through anything.

Meanwhile, I've gotten myself on a cleaning kick, so I'm actually tempted to vacuum instead of working on (yet another) presentation. I guess that makes my life sound sort of sad. Or me sound like a freak. I guess the latter is more accurate.

And last night I spent hours just staring at the tiniest, tiniest kittens ever! April and Scott are adopting two out of the four that were abandoned when their mother was eaten by a dog. The woman who had been feeding the mother cat brought them to the clinic where Scott works. They only just opened their eyes and have to be fed from a warm bottle every few hours and are all wobbly on their legs and just quite possibly the cutest things I've ever seen. Reassuringly though I was happy to come home to Cleo, who, frankly, is just way cooler.

Ok, now that I've (yet again) made myself sound like the crazy cat lady, I leave you with this thought for the day - Meet the Barkers is the most entertaining new thing on television.

Friday, April 22, 2005

This is my new favorite toy. Kathy and I were still at school around 6 tonight (yay for being dorky enough to stay at school until 9 on a friday night!) and starving and didn't want to order pizza. I'd heard of these folks before but never tried 'em. Turns out here they deliver for Flying Biscuit, a tasty Atlanta institution. So one chicken and potato salad later and I have a happy tummy.

Also today I got drenched on my way to a non-trivial meeting with a potential boss/advisor. I knew it was supposed to storm this afternoon, and around 1 as the sky was darkening I decided I better head out for my 2:00 meeting a little early, try to beat the storm. So I hit the front door of the building just as it started to rain, but I had an umbrella, so no biggie. Then literally 30 seconds later, once I'd reached the street, the rain turned horizontal, my umbrella turned inside out, and I could lean significantly forward without tipping over or making much forward progress. So I abandoned ship and darted back in the direction of my building. Maybe another 60 seconds. And I may as well have stood under a showerhead. Figuring that I couldn't very well meet this guy looking like a drowned rat, I called and re-scheduled the meeting for next week, then headed upstairs to beg a ride home from Brian so I could change into dry clothes before my presentation this afternoon. Fortunately he's a good guy like that.

And speaking of potential bosses/advisors, this whole dissertation thing just sort of took off last week, which is actually rather exciting. During a meeting with my current advisor to figure out classes for next semester, she suggested I sign up for research hours with her, so we talked a little more seriously about what she's working on and what I'd be doing and she formally said she'd be happy to have me as a student. But feeling like I should probably do at least a tad more research before jumping on a good thing, I scheduled meetings with two other profs in the department (one was supposed to be today, the other Monday). So it's a little scary, but mostly exciting.

Now to decide whether I need some quality me time tonight (I'm thinking face mask, pedicure, dumb action flick featuring attractive people) or quality friend time...

Monday, April 18, 2005

Activism Goodness

Really, not much to report from the last day of the conference. Saturday was workshops (rather than presentations) and the one for which I was taking notes was a further discussion of how to measure the right to health, and more specifically, how to go about developing and using indicators for the right to health (and other human rights). I met tons of people whom I admire, and made one excellent contact with another statistician who is far more plugged into the stats side of the human rights world than I am, so she helped me out by supplying the names and contact info of about four others in the field whom she says I should definitely talk to and info for the human rights working group within the American Statistical Association.

I stopped by Dabney's office this afternoon and she said she thinks the main thing that's going to come out of this conference is a set of research goals, i.e. identifying areas where there are definite gaps in data collected, which result in our inability to say whether or not a rights based approach is working or how to implement a rights based approach. If we could help set the research agenda for human rights issues...well, that would be huge.

Also, we made the news! Well, sort of. Carter's speech at our conference made the news. And he really pissed off Rush. (I am so glad that I don't subject myself to this sort of stuff on a daily basis. I knew Rush was crazy, but I had no idea just how foaming-at-the-mouth he is at any given moment) Here's my favorite part (with a link to the speech itself if you want to give a listen): "Jimmy Carter (Watch the Malaise Speech) is one of the most embittered, ungrateful, got-to-be angry people in the world and I don't know why." Obviously, given how much my little heart goes pitter pat whenever I listen to Carter, I have a biased opinion here. But I just think that of all the possible criticisms to level at Carter, this has to be the most absurd. Embittered? Got-to-be angry? Did he listen to the speech? First, we're talking about an 80 year old man here, so it's sort of hard to imagine him being quite as vitriolic as Rush tries to paint him. And second, this is the man who was made fun of for saying "I have lusted in my heart." He's about as mild as they come. Yes, of course, he's angry about the state of things. But he's the sort who just quietly goes about trying to change things. Anyway, as Dabney said, if Rush is bothering to complain about us, I guess we're doing good work!

Also, tonight I got to listen to Paul
Rusesabagina tell his account of the story behind "Hotel Rwanda." Amazing. I'm so full from the number of inspirational talks I've gotten to hear over the past six days my brain is on overload.

Then, on the way home, while quietly discussing Rwanda and other international crises, I asked a friend about his work with the Red Cross in Sri Lanka, immediately following the tsunami. Turns out they were working in a section of the country to the north, completely controlled by rebels, so many people wouldn't go there, and for the first week or so they were practically on their own. Doing everything from cleaning up debris and distributing supplies to clearing out the bodies. He said this so matter of factly. Recovering bodies was just something he had to do, because it was work that had to be done.

As inspiring as the events of the past week have been, I'm also beginning to feel that I may never do enough to really feel like my presence here has mattered.

At least some people have more faith in me. Continuing the list of best compliments ever, I was telling Travers my story about meeting Paul Hunt and how it was hard to even remain standing I was so in awe, and without even hesitating he casually said, one day students will feel that way meeting you.

At least my paycheck and local tax refund arrived today, so even if I'm sitting comfortably at my desk in Atlanta, I can send some dollars to places where they can be better spent.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

I told the story of the inception of $25,000 pictionary tonight, to two separate people. And was met with nervous laughter. I keep forgetting that most people find it more disturbing than funny. But it really is funny! Maybe I was just too drunk to tell the story well...

Anyway, I'm too tired and tipsy to re-cap the last day of the conference, but hopefully I'll get to that soon...