succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Cecilia continues to depict my life

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Atlanta Symphony

is, apparently, full of drunk potheads. Or so the one bass player I met tonight makes it seem. Regardless, they're fucking awesome. Thanks to Delta, I scored two cheap tickets to tonight's show (Wagner: Prelude to Parsifal, Ligeti: Lontano, Rachmaninov: Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini, Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet) plus free drinks at the meet-the-orchestra mingle thing afterward, so Kathy and I had a hot date. The Prokofiev was great, and emotional, but the show stopper was the Rachmaninov. Students can also get cheap tickets, but only day-of, and only if the show hasn't sold out. I lamented about this to said bass player, who passed off his card and said to call if there's ever a show I really want to see. He was, frankly, a little on the creepy, obviously only 'mingling' with attractive women, side, but hey, potential free tickets to the symphony!


In other news, home was nice, but I think I'm officially (finally) making that transition to where this home (Atlanta) is Home and WV is 'home.' I know this is inevitable, and even healthy, but sad nonetheless. For all those years living in dorms and sleeping on small lofted beds, going back to WV meant sleeping in a more comfortable bed, eating better food, and generally being on vacation. The company is still nice, and the food will always be better, but in general the house just isn't as comfortable as it used to be, and doesn't really feel like a vacation anymore. It was, of course, really nice to see the parents, but it was also really nice to get back here and sink in to my nice big bed and watch tv. Back in WV I still sleep remarkably well, but my childhood bed is small and sort of rickety and the house just isn't mine anymore. I know, I know, I'm fixated on beds and sleep, but for me that's a) pretty damn important and b) sort of emblematic of everything else.

Slings and Arrows

Lastly, I've been netflixing this Canadian show, called Slings and Arrows, about a fictional small town Shakespearean theatre troupe, and it's really great. Even features Rachel McAdams in a smallish role. That's all; just a random plug.

I've also been reading and acquiring all sorts of excellent books, but I feel like chronologically any book post has to start with my long-promised HP re-cap (though I imagine few if any of you care) and that will take more time and effort than I have tonight. So, postponed again...

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Things about which I am not yet allowed to stress

Just back from a positive meeting with my advisor, during which we discussed two problems I'm working on as possible conference submissions for the end of Jan and beginning of Feb. These two problems could also, theoretically, make up the next chapter or chapter and a half of my dissertation. So the idea is that those, plus the paper I submitted earlier this month, would mean enough documented work to aim for meeting with my committee in Feb to start discussing when to propose. Which means that until then I am not allowed to freak out about anything past the proposal. Between now and Feb the things I have control over are these two conference submissions. Hopefully, after my committee meeting I'll have a much firmer idea of the structure of my dissertation and the schedule moving forward. So I need some positive peer pressure - when I inevitably spiral out and start worrying about when I'm going to defend and when I'm going to job search and what to do about my lease being up in July, please remind me that if it's not yet Feb, I do not yet get to stress out about those things, because I cannot possibly have enough information to make any sort of progress on those potential problems.

Monday, November 26, 2007

A Half-Baked Theory
(wherein Megan ceases to behave like a statistician and makes sweeping generalizations based on anecdotes)

During one of many long and enjoyable conversations with the parents this past week (I know, all the family-getting-along-ness is almost sickening) I latched on to two seemingly contradictory features of their generation (or perhaps more accurately, their parents' generation) that seem to be lacking in this generation.

Feature 1 - the personal responsibility side.
Dad and I were lamenting how frustrating many local emergency response plans are because a) they frequently overlook critical infrastructure problems (i.e., how will first responders communicate with each other when the phone lines and electricity are out?) and b) we seem to waste a lot of time and energy on very specific emergency response plans (a la the pandemic flu plan) instead of a few reasonable plans that might be applicable for a variety of crises (plan A for when we have to evacuate the city, plan B for when we have to keep everyone put, etc.). We eventually worked around to the sort of personal planning tools and knowledge that used to be around in the 50s and 60s, when we thought everyone might get nuked. Now, I'm not advocating paranoia-level preparation, but it sort of astounds me that the general population (at least, as screened through my parents' stories) in the 50s and 60s was quite prepared to hunker down for a bit without extensive assistance from the government. Households kept their pantries stocked, and local stores supplied things like protein biscuits and personal radiation detectors. Given the level of hysteria I've witnessed in local grocery stores when the weather forecast calls for snow, I'm not convinced many modern households are prepared for a few days of isolation, much less weeks. And yet crisis after crisis shows us that that's what's going to happen - we're going to be on our own, indefinitely. So the current state of government pairs its own horrible inadequacy with a total lack of empowerment of individuals to prepare for weathering crises on their own. Oh sure, there are people out there making valiant efforts to educate the public, but you have to dig pretty far into to find them. And too many press releases are botched so thoroughly that most advice from the government ends up sounding laughable.

Feature 2 - the socialism side
On the other end of the spectrum is how everyone pitched in financially during World War II, with rationing of goods and collecting supplies to send overseas with troops. It seems these days that unless you are or know a soldier, individuals aren't really sacrificing for this war, and no one seems ready to ask us to.

So there was this sort of odd marriage of personal and community responsibility, both of which seem to be lacking today. And both of which seem like pretty good responses to stressful times. I hate to sound cynical, but are we, as a society, really getting dumber? Because sometimes it feels that way.