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Archive for August, 2011

and it’s official

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

I just want you all to know that I started school today.

I am on campus.

I am teaching. I am learning.

I am sofaking excited.

No, really.


Probability and Statistics (assistant teaching, to be clear)


Linear Vector Spaces
Statistical Methods I
Mathematical Statistics I
Introduction to Statistical Computing


Graduate thesis credits (3)

Looking at this list is the only time this semester that I will feel smart.

It’s a good thing I had two margaritas last night.

Nothing like a current headache to distract you from an impending one.



I am taking this very seriously

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

I apologize for the potential length of this post – it’s a semi-live blog of my sexual harassment training today.

I am sitting in a sexual harassment training session that is required of all graduate level TAs and research assistants before they’re allowed to interact with undergraduate students. I have no idea how useful this will be at a school that has 3 -4 men for every woman. The people I see around me appear to be (based on the five years of experience I have on this campus) the kind who run when faced with girls, rather than vice versa. However, education on appropriate conduct is never a bad thing.

It’s possible that the organizers have a sense of humor. I know this because while we arrange ourselves in the auditorium, we’re listening to what sounds very much like the soundtrack to an 80s jazzercise class. I’m not sure that’s the best call, as everyone already seems to think this is a joke.

Let’s get started, shall we?

8:32 am: “Everyone please move to the front of the room.” It can only go downhill from here.

8:36 am: “Please come up front to collect these handouts.” There are like 200 people in here. This was poorly planned.

8:39 am: “We want you to know what to do if someone comes to you complaining about sexual harassment, what to do if you observe sexually harassing behavior, and what to do if you’re harassed.” All awesome topics – but how about ‘how not to harass’?

8:44 am: “The key is to establish the difference between welcome and unwelcome sexual advances.” Um… yes?

8:48 am: Grad students and teachers are totally allowed to date students as long as the student isn’t in the instructors course. I am seriously shocked. A professor can date an undergrad? TV has taught me that that is unacceptable.

8:49 am: “How many of you think consensual relationships go on for ever  and ever?” Ha, VP of Human Resources, your humor knows no bounds.

8:59: A graph!

It seems that this here is that line that people cross. Did you know that there is harassment that’s low enough in pervasiveness and severity that it’s a totally ok level?

9:02 am: Sue and Bob are friends. Sue tells Bob a dirty joke and he laughs. Harassment? Survey of the room says… no.

9:05 am: Bob tells Sue after the fifth joke that it makes him uncomfortable. Now it’s harassment. “This is one of those cases where ‘no means no'”. Wait, there are cases where no doesn’t mean no?

9:10 am: New example of harassment – nudie calendar. Again, the harasser is a woman. It’s not always  man on woman, but this room is 90% male. More evenly distributed examples please.

9:16 am: The formal complaint procedure requires that the complainer suggest a punishment when he or she submits the complaint. I can’t help but feel that might make it even harder for people who are nervous about complaining in the first place – that women especially might minimize punishment, regardless of the level of harassment.

9:21 am: Bob is the harasser now! He “tends to harass” women by repeatedly asking them out and not respecting ‘no’. This, again, seems to be “one of those times when no means no”. Sigh.

9:34 am: How to get someone to stop harassing you, according to HR. 1) Tell your harasser what they’re doing wrong (calling you dear, touching your ass, etc). 2) Tell your harasser how what they’re doing makes you feel (embarrassed, angry, demeaned, etc). 3) Tell your harasser why you want to stop being harassed (I want to be respected, etc). 4) Request the behavior from your harasser that you’d like to see in the future (don’t touch my ass).

9:40 am: Thank you and have a great day.

I’m mostly pleasantly surprised by the content here. No one in the room did a hardee-har-women-only-think-asking-them-out-is-harassment-if-you’re-an-ugly-dude bit (unless that’s what those guys in the back were giggling about, but I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt).

I do have two concerns. First, not once but twice the VP of HR implied that there are times when no doesn’t mean no.

Second, that whole ‘how to stop a harasser’ thing?

If you are being harassed, your harasser doesn’t have to know why it makes you uncomfortable. He or she doesn’t deserve to have you lay out what would be more appropriate behavior, either. All someone who is harassing you needs to know is that he or she is harassing you, that you are aware of it, and that it needs to stop. Your feelings are nothing but your business.



say it with me now – the wreck of the…

Friday, August 19th, 2011

Do all parents have goofy things they say?

My mother, when I was growing up, regularly told me that I looked like a ragamuffin. If ragamuffin wasn’t strong enough a word, she told me I looked like the wreck of the Hesperus.

The Wreck of the Hesperus is a poem by Longfellow. It’s about a sea captain and his daughter who both die in a storm. However, my mom totally meant that I looked like a mess, not like a drowned sea captain’s daughter – as far as I know.

(Writing this down, I realize it may sound like my mom was mean regarding my appearance. On the contrary, I am just an extremely ragamuffiny person, and always have been. I don’t even know where my hairbrush is right now.)

I asked Star what her parents said that she never heard anywhere else, and she gave me this:

Little Miss Muffet sat on her stool
Eating her cottage cheese
Along came an arachnid and sat down beside her
And said
Whatcha got in the bowl, toots?

I don’t know what the best part is. That cottage cheese totally is curds and whey? That arachnid is a way funnier word that spider?

I think it might be the ‘toots’.

Another friend’s mom was famous for ‘uno mas cerveza por favor!’. (They are not a Spanish speaking family.)

Anyway, what kinds of things did your parents say, that you haven’t heard anywhere else? I put out a general call for examples to my IM friends, too, so I’ll add any that come up.

In the meantime, I’m sure you don’t look like the wreck of anything, you cutie you.

come visit!

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Did you hear that my town is the best small town in America, according to CNN Money, for the FOURTH year in a row?

I’m sure you did.

I mean, why wouldn’t you all regularly read CNN for news of the place that I live?

Anyway, here at home it feels like both a victory and sort of a joke. It was fantastic the first year, cool the second, awesome the third, and now sort of feels like it’s rigged. We are a good town, but better than every other place? Really?

Last night some of Crockett’s old friends came up to hang out, and we went to down to Main Street.

We were greeted by name in both restaurants we visited, despite having been MIA for nearly six weeks. One of the owners at our second stop called me out for not ordering my favorite dish (calamari salad for the win). The drink special was a cocktail named after the mayor’s wife. There were folks sitting on the street sipping local beers. There was a line of families and couples standing outside the ice cream shop.

I grew up in Boulder County. You know those things you say all the time to people who have never heard you say them before? The things that your friends and lovers get tired of and roll their eyes at? One of my things is ‘I’ve never lived more than 20 miles from where I live now’. (I think Crockett wants to mime gagging himself with a spoon when he hears me say it, and we’ve only been together two and a half years. I take pride in being a local, y’all.) So yeah, I grew up here. I love it here, but I don’t have a lot of experience with other places.

Maybe this is the best place in America. I can’t say for sure.

I can say it’s a pretty good place.

That’s probably all I can ask for.

not good enough

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

Do you ever wonder if you’d be a good contestant on a reality television show?

What am I saying – of course you do.

It’s 2011, people.

We all think about reality tv, all the time.



Anyway, I would be quite lame as a contestant on any show that involved a skill of any kind.

  • So You Think You Can Dance? – No, I can’t dance. Not even in my head. I have one move, and it’s best performed when sitting down, and when Crockett and I were driving across country he referred to it as the Emma-dance, and now I’m not going to do it anymore.
  • Project Runway – There’s a contestant this season who taught herself to sew 4 months ago, and she’s awesome. Crockett’s mom showed me how to sew a year ago and I’ve made a few purses with varying level of success, and hemmed some stuff. I’m pretty sure Heidi wouldn’t approve.

I could continue, but it would be a variation of those two things. I can’t actually do anything better than anyone else… except make smoothies.

Is there a smoothie making reality show?

Being talentless doesn’t exclude me from the second category of reality shows, of course. You know, the kind where they follow you around and watch what you do.

That, obviously, is because I don’t do anything. Ever, really.

  • This fall on Fox: 30 Year Old Grad Students and the Laptops that Love Them.

Finally, it goes without saying that I would get my ass kicked in any competition based show. I’m not eating anything disgusting, thank you very much. I’m surely not swimming for my supper, either. Obstacle course? Sure, as long as I had some help reaching the high parts, or it was a special course for short people.

Basically I believe I am destined to go to my grave un-televised.

How very 1980s of me.