succumbing to peer pressure

Thursday, March 20, 2008

New Books!

While in DC (ok, technically Arlington) I went to one of the oldest bookstores in the area (Olsson's) and picked up The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana (who could turn down an illustrated novel by Umberto Ecco?).

Ms. Magazine

and this lovely quote: "Fertility is not a disease. It's not a medical necessity that you have [contraception]." Said by none other than Susan Orr, chief of U.S. family-planning programs. (emphasis mine)

The rest of DC

was excellent, so I guess all-in-all, marks in the positive column (I did, after all, survive the scary plane ride, so how many negative marks can it really count for?). I stayed with the always lovely Kate, who is, indeed, the hostess with the mostess. I literally only spent time at the conference hotel and Kate's apartment. In 4.5 days I did absolutely no sight-seeing and didn't even step foot into the district once. It was great. Don't get me wrong, DC is still one of my favorite places, but I was in some serious need of down time, and down time was provided.

In a happy coincidence, one friend from high school was also visiting the area, and another always lives there, so the three of us got together for dinner on Saturday night. I then slept for some 11 hours or so for the first time in months, and then slothed around the apartment, leaving only to pick up conference registration materials and Chipotle for lunch. That evening we watched John Adams, which I highly recommend, even though I won't get to see the rest until it's out on netflix (no HBO for me). Laura Linney makes an excellent Abigail Adams.

On St. Pat's I spent a full day at the conference, but still managed to limit myself to only three sessions, which I think was just the right amount of information to take in for one day. After a quick practice of my own upcoming presentation it was time for the drinking to commence, which featured a moderate amount of orange vodka and pomegranate juice (mmmm!) and quite a bit of Bushmills (for two small women, I have to say, Kate and I can really put that stuff away!). Plus there was No Country for Old Men* and bits of This Is Spinal Tap and Rounders and an excellent episode of Inside the Actors Studio with Hugh Laurie (love that man) and Wii tennis and bowling and baseball! Whee!

Tuesday I dragged myself out of bed in time for 'heavy breakfast' and the keynote speaker at the conference (I'm particularly glad of the latter, as Donald Berry is the kind of statistician I hope to grow up to be and really reminded me of why I love this profession).

Sadly, Wednesday meant waking up at dawn and packing up and saying goodbye, but happily it also meant giving my presentation, which went pretty damn well, if I do say so myself. I may even be able to hang on to this sensation of feeling like a real Statistician for a day or two.

The End.

*I had been sort of putting off No Country for Old Men, as I was sure it was excellent, but also exhausting, and just really wasn't in the mood. It is intense, but for any who've been hesitant, I say rush out and see it now! It's every bit as excellent as everyone says it is, the cinematography is brilliant, the storytelling aspects are wonderful, and it's even, at moments, very funny.

Crazy or terrorist? You decide!

So I'm back, safe and sound, from my trip to DC, but the flight back was terrifying. Now, I should confess here that I'm a bit of a nervous flyer as it is, but I'm really not afraid of terrorists. (rather, I'm afraid of things like airplane maintenance conducted in China and overworked air traffic controllers) Well, ok, I'm certain that were I confronted with one I would be afraid, but I'm not afraid of the abstract idea...or am I? Perhaps Bush and company have done a better job of brainwashing me than I thought. Here are the things that the gentleman in the seat behind me said that freaked me out:
  • Yahweh is with me.
  • 3-7-13. What's that make? 23. Just give me 23 seconds, just 23 seconds. (over and over again)
  • most of the people on this flight are going to hell
  • this plane will only take 26 seconds to land (in response to his seatmate's question about making connecting flights)
  • at 3:43, just wait 'til 3:43 (over and over again)
  • several mentions of his time spent in Cairo
  • he talked about his new name (Amine, or something along those lines) and how he'd decided to choose this new name because it was the real him
  • references to the brotherhood and the tribe of 12
  • America has two flags (and asked his seatmate which was his flag, and something that sounded like one of the flags was for mud or something along those lines)
  • kept asking his seatmate about his religion
He was also sitting in the wrong seat and fiddled with his cell phone in the middle of the flight. We landed just fine, so I guess he was more crazy than dangerous, and certainly most of the above is gibberish, but at 30-some-thousand feet it was fucking terrifying.