Monday, December 17, 2007

Soooo graduate school is hard. The statistics exam on Saturday was awful, and I studied my brains out (seriously, they fell out all over the library desk at 1 am, and I had to pick them up and put them back in - gross, I know) for days and days and days just so I could fail the exam and feel all the more miserable about it. It'll be at the hand of God if I'm in stats 2 next semester. So now I'm working on those papers I put on the back burner, which now seems like it was a mistake to do, since I would have failed stats anyway. It was such an unfair test. I know that's a little juvenile to say, but it really was. Okay, so 50% of the questions were fair (hard, but fair), but expecting us to fill in an entire anova table from a multiple regression model when we'd only done one class lecture on multiple regression? PLUS having like 10 questions on multiple regression. Cheap, cheap, cheap. At least it's over. We should be able to see our grades tomorrow, so I'll let you know, but don't hold your breath. In the meantime, I'm finishing up a couple of papers, which is a ride down the lazy river compared to last week. And if you compare me to Chad, it's like he's in the ocean during a tsunami and I'm in a bath tub. I really have no room to complain when you put the amount of work I do next to the amount of work Chad does, but you know what, I like complaining anyway. Whine, whine, whine. Grump, grump, grump. That's what I do. But come Christmas vacation, it's going to be all smiles, sleeping, and delicious food! I'm not going to touch a grain of rice or a single noodle. No way. Gimme meat, cheese, veggies, and giant trays of fruit. No coffee, though. Ugh, I've had so much coffee that my stomach lining is disintegrating. Three cheers for Christmas!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

We bought a Christmas tree!! A real one!! But we got the wrong lights on accident, so once I return those, get the right ones, and we put them up, I'll post our pretty Christmas tree pictures. He doesn't have a name yet. Possibly Herbert? Or maybe something more seasonal/festive would be appropriate.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hello there - Since you're obviously looking for something to read, and I don't have time to post much, I'll post a link to some interesting reads by Christians concerning the growing boycott of the Golden Compass movie.

Don't pull a Darcy and stop reading because of the explanation marks. He actually links four good articles. I liked the second one the best, but it's also the longest.

And now for a word on my life: Flabbergasted.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

or Smart-ish?

So I went and showed my Stats TA my accomplishments, and it turns out that I was using the wrong test because I'm not looking at just one country, I'm looking at like 7. We haven't learned the technique that would be best for 7 different samples, but she showed me some other ones that would still give me good stuff, and it should give me results pretty similar to what I already. Lol, man! At least I showed my TA before I showed my prof. After I run the tests she showed me to do, I can go to my prof's office, show him my stuff and totally be like, "Oh yeah, I definitely knew not to do a t-test! I have 7 countries, not just one!" Statistics is lame.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Maybe I'm Smart!

Beware, this post contains statistics.

So, for the past few weeks, after getting a 63% on my stats midterm, I've been a bit of a downer on stats. I mean, can you blame me? But I've decided maybe I'm catching on to things after all! For my deviance class, I'm doing my term paper on comparing high school students' use of alcohol and marijuana across the US, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Turkey, and the UK. I decided to be brave and include statistical analysis, not using an easy, pansy-pants, point-and-click statistics program, but the hardcore program we use in our stats class. After way too many hours, a few tears, some help from Chad, and lots of Skittles to boost my brain power, I came up with something cool! And I'll show you using my nifty graphs. =) Lol, humor me please.

Okay, look at this graph:
So, we're looking at the total percent of students who said they've consumed 3 or more alcoholic beverages in their lives. I didn't include the kids who said 1-2 because I don't think having one drink doesn't mean you drink. The European kids are ages 15-16, and the Americans are 17-18, so they're all underage. Turkey's definitely the lowest, but the US is pretty low too. Now, let's pull out the fancies.
I ran a t-test, and it spat this out:
One Sample t-test

data: res
t = 12.2813, df = 6, p-value = 1.776e-05
alternative hypothesis: true mean is not equal to 0
95 percent confidence interval:
67.0581 100.4276
sample estimates:
mean of x

Basically, anything outside the values 67 and 100 is significant. Turkey's at 46%, so it's significantly lower, which is good, that's what we want. But the US doesn't make the cut-off with its 77%. Well, then, let's just throw out Turkey to see if it's messing up the curve. Besides, Turkey has a whole different culture than all the others.

When we ditch Turkey we get this:
One Sample t-test

data: res
t = 28.9162, df = 5, p-value = 9.27e-07
alternative hypothesis: true mean is not equal to 0
95 percent confidence interval:
82.02959 98.03707
sample estimates:
mean of x

Yay! The confidence interval is 82-98, so the US at 77 is significantly lower than the others! That means it's low enough that it's actually worth investigating and explaining. The difference isn't just because of a goof in what students they sampled, there's some major difference in the countries and their cultures.

Alright, just one quick look at marijuana use because I found some surprising things!Yikes, the US is way up there on the marijuana scale! We'll skip the analysis with Turkey, and just go to the good stuff:
One Sample t-test

data: res
t = 5.9831, df = 5, p-value = 0.001870
alternative hypothesis: true mean is not equal to 0
95 percent confidence interval:
17.89975 44.86691
sample estimates:
mean of x

The US, with 48% of its students having smoked marijuana is significantly higher than the other countries. That means the high percentage is so much higher than the others that it's not due to sampling error or random chance or fluke. There's something going on here, that's what the crazy t-test means. US is also significantly higher than other countries for having smoked marijuana in the last 12 months AND the last 30 days. Weird!!

So that's my project, investigating these differences. Plus, I'm trying to get prepped for my stats final at the same time. Fingers crossed that both aren't complete failures, lol.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nap Time

Well, I hit a new low. Our graduate studies director, Karen, offered to take our cohort out for drinks at the local pizza joint (called "The Mellow Mushroom" and decorated with little 'shrooms playing instruments. Yes, it was established in the 70's). I was back in my lonely, quiet office by 5:30 pm, and I convinced myself that I was going to do Statistics homework while I was waiting for Chad to finish up at the law school at 7:00. I had my computer open, my music going, and my stats book in hand. At 6:30, I woke up with a major back cramp, marks on my face, and a little creek of drool flowing out of my mouth. I guess a couple beers really did me in, lol... (and my family just laughs...) Well, my office desk is fully christened now. I think I'll call it Adams, for my buddy Sam Adams. I won't lie, the nap was pretty refreshing (all things considered), and I guess it had to happen sometime this semester.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ohhh Durkheim

Just a quote I want to share with you all that I found when reading for my classical theory class:

"Thus the scholar who dies from excessive devotion to study is currently and not wholly unreasonably said to have killed himself by his labor."
-Emile Durkheim, Suicide, p. 46

What? Lol!
That's all I have to say.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Steven Colbert taking presidential mockery to new level

Steven Colbert is running for president in 2008. No, seriously. Even USA Today and the Associated Press are even documenting it.

The second video shows him announcing his candidacy.

He says he'll enter the primary of South Carolina, his home state. Okay, I have to admit, it is kind of hilarious. I mean, Colbert in a debate with other presidential candidates would be pretty darn entertaining. But it totally undermines the seriousness of the presidential race. If he's in a debate that all of the other candidates are taking seriously, and he's just cracking jokes, it will be all the more difficult for voters to keep in mind the gravity of electing a president.

But if he does actually run, enter the debates, and hold out through the end of the primaries, I hope he at least takes some good jabs at Hilary.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monkeys and Super Computers

I thought I'd begun to get along with statistics. Things were going rosy. Two weeks ago, my statistical understanding took a nose-dive, and since then, I've come up with the perfect analogy to describe my statistical woes:

Let's say there a group of brilliant scientists who want to teach a monkey to use the NASA space station's super computer (and let's also say the monkey is potentially capable, completely ignoring all creation vs. evolution debates). So, the scientists put the monkey down in front of this super computer, and the monkey just stares at it. The scientists show the monkey how to run some programs and encourage the monkey to do the same. The monkey just sits there and picks lice off himself. They scientists are all like, "Hey, monkey, we know you can do this, just watch us and repeat what we do!" And the scientists keep showing the monkey crazy complicated NASA-like software.

In the meantime, one of the scientist's kid is sitting in the corner (because it is bring your kid to work day at NASA), and the kid is playing on a leapfrog-type-kids-computer toy. And the computer toy is making all sorts of cool noises, and it's colorful, and the monkey really wants to go play with the kid's computer. He tries to leave his seat, but the scientists are like, "No, monkey! Stay here, we know you can figure out our NASA super computer! In fact, even though you haven't done anything buy pick your own lice, we're going to make you take a midterm and you have to get a B or better or you flunk out of grad school! Besides, you don't want to learn how to use that silly toy, this computer is so much more powerful!"

Right, so, even though the monkey could probably learn the basic of using a computer from the scientist's kid's computer toy, the scientist are being stupid and making him sit in front of their NASA super computer and pick his own lice.

So, yes, I'm the monkey. Every week in class, I watch my prof run sophisticated statistical software and talk about how powerful it is. I drink my Starbucks pumpkin spice latte (come on, I don't have lice, you weirdos), and wish that I could go play with pretty picture statistical software with colorful graphs and point-and-click cross-tabulations and at least figure out the basics. But my prof says, "No, no, little grad student! You don't want to go play with kids' software! This software is so much more powerful! In fact, even though you've just been sitting here every week drinking your Starbucks pumpkin spice latte, I'm going to make you take a midterm, and you have to get a B or better or you flunk out of grad school!"

And so, I'm a monkey sitting in front of a powerful NASA computer when all I really want to do is go play on the fun computer toy. And the midterm's on Thursday.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

School Routines and a 1L Break at the Grand Ole Opry

Since my last post, I've been getting adjusted to life as a grad student, life as a married person, and life in Nashville, and I think things are coming along pretty well. Statistics and I have begun to make our peace. That, and I started doing the homework earlier than the day before its due, which I always knew was a bad idea, but it's really hard to shake undergraduate habits. Theory's going fine. We don't have to read as much as I thought we would, so it gives me time to actually take notes and be somewhat organized before class, which is always nice. Deviance is also fine, although it's a silly, silly class sometimes. Gary does enjoy talking about his own articles, books, projects to make a point, which isn't too bad, but he's written a LOT of articles, books, etc. so a good chunk of the class is devoted to him. I guess that's what happens when you're a famous sociologist, chair of the department, and 65 years old. I suppose he's earned the right to talk about himself, having done such cool work on deviant and criminal type people.

Chad and I are working out our schedules, especially now that Chad's vandy card doesn't work for the bus. (It was never supposed to, but it took the bus system a couple weeks before it found that law students and med students were getting free rides on the bus. Mine still works, but Chad's is on the 'bad list.') So, we drive to school together in the mornings, I swipe some little half and half containers from the law school for my morning coffee, and he heads to the law library while I head over to my office. I share an office with Ebony and Tammy, our Taiwanese student, so there's one long desk with dividers for us to share, and we all have shelf space and filing cabinet space, so it works out pretty well. I'm in the office pretty much all day Monday-Thursday, so it's pretty fun to be the kid who is always around. I've been getting to know the other cohorts better since I'm there so often. All of the grad student offices are sort of on the outside of a bigger room in the middle, and the bigger room in the middle has a big table and a coffee/tea/snack station and a copy machine. So, it's actually a pretty nice set up for socializing. And if there are several students sitting at the table, it's pretty common for a faculty member walking by to come in and say hi. I think they're still getting used to the fact that there are actual students around since 7 in one cohort is the biggest they've ever had. We pretty much take over the entire department with our loud rambunctiousness.

This weekend was Chad's "1L Break," a break for the first year law students, basically so they don't go crazy a third of the way through the semester. I was definitely ready for Chad to have a break, and I know Chad was too. I came home on Friday, and Chad was just sittin' on the couch, watching TV like he didn't have a care in the world. After seeing that kid at his desk every single waking moment for the last 6 weeks, I just about fell over. But he was watching the news, so I knew it was real Chad (he's been doing that lately, weird, I know! But I guess in law school, if you don't know who's on the Supreme Justice court and who's up for election, all the other kids throw rocks at you and beat you with lemons. Ick.) That night Mom and Dad came flew into Nashville and took us out for a delicious steak dinner, and the next morning the drove on to Memphis to visit Darcy. This could turn out to be a very nice arrangement, if you ask my tummy. Plus, it's nice to know that family isn't so far away. And then, yesterday we went to a nearby state park yesterday afternoon and walked around for a while, and last night we had my birthday dinner and night out (sponsored by Chad's mom) at an aquarium restaraunt and the Grand Ole Opry. It was definitely a Tennesseean day.

The Grand Ole Opry was pretty darn hilarious too. It was just like that movie "Walking the Line," where you have a whole bunch of acts in one night, just one after another. And the announcers were off to the side, and in between acts, they would recite a corny advertisement for Cracker Barrel or a bread company while the stagehand were wandering around and hooking up equipment. And then then, a really, really old singer, who's last best-selling hit was in the 60's would come out in a purple sequin suit, or a white rhinestone suit, or a brown sequin and rhinestone suit and sing his favorite song from back in the day. Then, they might have the local father at the piano and daughters singing group or the square dancing group. In the third 30 minute slot, they had the Grand Ole Opry's newest member come out and do a couple songs. Now, he's pretty young, but you keep an ear out for him, because someday this whippersnapper will hit it big: Josh Turner. And of course, the old guys made it sound like Josh Turner didn't already have 3 albums out with a handful of top 10 songs. And all the girls came up to get pictures, and he pretended they (okay, fine, WE) weren't there. But he did a great show, singing his new "Firecracker" song and his remake of "Me and God," and then he was off the stage. It was a funny, funny production, but we definitely enjoyed seeing some historic Nashville country stars and the Grand Ole Opry.

Okay, I've been going on and on enough. Maybe I should just post more frequently rather and super long posts every few weeks. Okay, I'll shot for that. I also have some pictures I might post. Hope everyone's doing great!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


WHY? Why why why why why why whyyyyy!!!! Why why why????? Why WHY!!!!

That short rendition of "WHYYYYYY?!?!?" was composed for the perpetually anonymous Mr. Cutler. The musical score is soon to follow.

In the meantime, I hate statistics.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

10 days in

Classes have been in session (for me) for the last 10 days, and things are still going good! Ok, here's my schedule:

Tuesdays from 1:10-3:25 Deviance with Gary, 9 students. Since classes started on a Wednesday, we've only had one class with him. We talked about witch hunts - his project for the last 15 years, which came out in book form recently, I know because I had to buy the (expensive) book for this class. Seems like it'll be good. We have to answer an assigned question in essay form once every three weeks and present our answer in class. And then there's a term paper at the end. So, it doesn't sound like it'll be too bad. The worst part about the class so far as that the book we're reading actually makes witch hunts sounds boring. I think we should spice things up by watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Wednesdays from 1:10-3:25 Classical Theory with George, 15 students. George is great, and he's also my faculty mentor for this year, which is very cool. He's from Germany, and even though he's lived here since he was 17, he has a massively thick accent, especially when he's saying "Durkheim." (who is a really big sociology guy from 19th century France, wrote about suicide, and came up with a bunch of basic sociological theory that we still use today.) Fun class, and George's big thing is that grad students don't socialize as much as they used to, so we have weekly social hour over at the pub on campus on Friday afternoons. Fantastic idea, so you can see why I like having him as my mentor.

Thursdays from 2:10-4:25 Statistics with Tony, 18 students. Tony is freaking hilarious and very cool, but not the best stats teacher ever. It's a good thing Chad practically majored in statistics. We've been to two classes, and all we've talked about is how to use the stats program. Nothing about mean, median, mode, variation, regression, etc. All of the typical intro stats things. I kind of feel like he doesn't know how to go ALL the way back to the basics. Could be tricky. Luckily, the software we're using reminds me very much of C++, so that's kind of fun. Sucks for the other kids in the class, though, because he's not great at explaining the software either. Really fun prof, though.

Fridays from 1-2, Statistics lab, also with Tony. This is where we sit in the computer lab, mess around with the stats software, maybe do some homework, and ask Tony questions.

Fridays from 3-4-ish, Social Hour with the theory kids and George. Already a favorite time of the week.

So, those are my classes. I usually have a good amount of reading for each one, so that keeps me busy. Chad and I both do a lot of our work up at school. He's staking out a space in the law library, and I have a cubicle type desk in an office in the sociology department - very nice though, I like it. I share the office with two other 1st year girls, and there's a main common area for all of the offices where students often hang out, each lunch, or pretend to work.

Yeah, so, Chad and I usually catch the 7:36 am bus together, we go to the law school, where they have free juice and coffee, and then we split ways for the day. Chad's had opportunities for free lunch every day, so we generally don't see each other until dinner. By that point, after being in the office all day, I'm usually fed up with work, so I watch Scrubs and other hilarious programs while Chad goes back up to the law library until they kick him out at midnight. Then, he comes home, I'm asleep, and he stays up doing more work. And then we get up for the 7:36 again. I think you can tell who's more loaded down with work. That may change, though, since my classes are just now starting to pick up on the work load.

And in the meantime, we still have to write thank you notes. Arg. But overall, life in Nashville is good! It's rainy today, so yay for coffee and reading!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Defrostin' the Freezer

When Karen (the director of graduate studies) asked if someone wouldn't mind defrosting the department freezer, who was the first flunky who volunteered? Yep, that'd be me. So, I brought all my pans and my hairdryer on the bus so I could come up to the department, unplug the freezer, and watch the ice melt. Well, it does pay 40 bucks, and it did get me out of bed before 10, so I guess there are good things. I've also been around to meet people who are coming in (profs and other studetns) to start classes tomorrow. So, I guess there are a bunch of good things about being a flunky, except that I am watching water drip, drip, drip, and this giant yetti block of ice doesn't seem to be getting much smaller.

So, classes start tomorrow. I have Classical Theory from 1:10 to 3:25, and then Thursday I have Statistics from 2:10 to 4:25. And starting next week, I'll have Deviance on Tuesdays from 1:10 to 3:25. Three classes, seems manageable, but I guess we'll see just how manageable they feel this time next week. I'm excited to start, but after watching Chad get like an average of 2 hours of sleep the past few nights, I'm a little more nervous than I was. At least I'm not reading about contracts. Ugh.

The Nashville heat wave broke, so now we're clearing 90 instead of 100, so that's definitely been nice. I can't wait until fall. With all of the massive trees around campus, it's going to be beautiful for sure. Okay, I have to attend to the ice again. I think one of my pans is filling up. I'll let you know how classes go.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Math Camp and Orientation

So, math camp might actually sound more exciting than it actually is. There's something about the word "camp" that makes you think of tents, marshmallows, and all around good times. There were none of those things, of course, so I feel like they shouldn't be allowed to use the word "camp" in the title of something so insanely boring. Four hours of linear algebra, vectors, matrices, logarithms, and such. I can't really tell how this is going to apply to statistics, and neither can anyone else. At least we got to do our homework as a group, so it was kind of fun working on something with the other incoming soci students.

And we got to skip today, and we will again tomorrow because we have teaching orientation. Even though teaching orientation sounds like it could be equally lame, it actually wasn't. We were in a small group with all of the Sociology and Anthropology students and a lone Poli Sci guy. It was cool meeting the Anthro kids, even though they're kinda like Soci wannabes. It's okay, they're pretty harmless. Not nearly as argumentative as the Poli Sci punks. (I kid, I kid. =) So, yeah, I have to prepare a 5 minute shpeel on something interesting and Sociology related so I can try out my teaching skills on the other kids in the group. I'm not too worried since we all know I can talk about something with seeming confidence even when I have no clue. And really, I think that's a pretty good asset to have. Well, maybe I'll do a little research before tomorrow morning. All around, it should be pretty fun.

Chad and I are pretty much settled in. Mom and Dad are in town for a couple of days. They delivered some furniture, lamps, etc from Midland and are hanging around for a bit to feed us delicious steakhouse meals, which we appreciate much more than mac 'n cheese (not that there's anything wrong with mac 'n cheese.) So that's been very nice. And now Chad is giving me a hard time for blogging instead of figuring out what I'm going to teach, so I guess I'll go do that.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Last Saturday Before Classwork

Hi there family and friends!
I know I've started blogs before and been bad about keeping them up to date, but I thought I'd give this another shot anyway. So, what's going on in Nashville, you ask? Chad and I are pretty much settled into our two-bedrom apartment. We went for a jog tonight - which ended up being a walk - and we explored the park near our place. It's a massive ciy park with a replica of the Parthenon, yes, like the Greek Parthenon, smack in the middle of everyhing. Apparently, in the early 20th century, Tennessee just up and decided to build temporary replicas of the seven wonders of the world, and the people of Nashville liked their Parthenon so much that they took down the temporary one and put up a permanent one. Tonight, it looked like there was a wedding reception there. In another part of the park, there was a free play - a Shakespeare play of some sort - and in another part there was a town big band dance. I always thought scenes in movies like Sweet Home Alabama where the whole town is out on a wooden dance floor and everyone's dancing like they've been dancing their whole lives was a crock. I though scenes like that couldn't exist! Well, let me tell you, there were over a hundred couple out there dancing like pros. All in all, it seems like these Nashville people sure like their free city stuff! Pretty exciting, and it's all down the street, too.

And on Monday, I start math camp, a week-long intensive math review class with all seven of us incoming Sociology stuents, plus some political science students. So, that should be fun. Yep, and that's Nashville for the moment. Chad and I are both sititng on the couch with our laptops, watching Forrest Gump on TV, so I'm going to put my little computer to sleep, relax, and finish the movie. Heck, maybe I'll even make another post in a few days.
- Morgan