Friday, March 31, 2006


I started this in an attempt to write. I am not in a writing-intensive discipline, and I need all the help I can get. So if I can't think of any deep thoughts, I'm turning to shallow things.
I may even have to get a little tangential.
Here's a list of shallow topics:
How Bryers screwed up
Grading essays by machine
Let's start with House.
I love House. I imagine most to all of you know that House is a TV show on Tuesday nights on Fox, and that the title refers to the main character, one Dr. House.
The first odd thing about my love for this show is that I watched it from the beginning. I don't tend to watch shows that are trumpeted as being the next great thing. I don't watch Lost, because I didn't start. I didn't watch Gilmore Girls from the beginning, I haven't tried Veronica Mars, I came late to Grey's Anatomy. Why, I even came late to Buffy, which is one of my all-time favorites (except after they went to UPN.) But I saw the first episode of House. It might be because Dr. House was advertised as brillliant, and there aren't enough smart people on TV.
The second odd thing, of course, is how much I love the character. He's an abrasive personality, not trying to be liked at all; often, he's trying to be disliked. He's lazy, in a way, always trying to get out of work. He likes monster trucks. He likes soap operas. He's a genius diagnostician. He limps. He's brilliantly portrayed by Hugh Laurie.
So why is it odd I like him? Because in real life, I am terrified of caustic people, of abrasive personalities, of people who have no interest in being liked. "Terrified" is too strong a word; but I don't enjoy interacting with them. I like to be liked (I know, we all do). I don't know how to deal with people who don't want to try and like me because they don't want to try and like anyone. And yet I find Dr. House incredibly attractive.
Then there's the actual show. I don't know why it's so popular. It's the same thing every single week. Someone comes in with a bizarre illness. House sends his minions (students? employees?) to run tests on the patient to see if this hypothesis or that hypothesis is right. House avoids talking to the patient. House takes pain pills. House reiterates how patients lie. House rags on his minions or his friend for trying to be a good person. The fact that House never makes mistakes comes up. House tries to get out of doing clinic duty, but can't; so, he sees an absurd patient who inevitably and unknowingly gives him the key to the true diagnosis of the main patient. The main patient is healed (except once, maybe twice, where she or he died.)
Did anyone notice anything about that list?
That's right; not only is the show cookie-cutter, it contradicts itself. Almost every show (I think it's every show, but I could be wrong so I'll say almost), someone says how House is so afraid to make his first mistake, how he's so brilliant, he always makes the correct diagnosis. But... Every show (this really is every show), he makes the wrong diagnosis at least twice, mostly because a correct diagnosis wouldn't last a whole 44 minutes.
And yet I still love House.
McDreamy has nothing on him.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Changing the Pattern

A week or two ago, I was driving from yon to hither in the muddle that is suburbia. I witnessed the following.
Four boys were walking down the sidewalk in the same direction I was creeping. They were probably from the middle school nearby, so they were probably late middle school age. Something happened, and one of them ran off the sidewalk onto a lawn, trying to avoid another boy; usual wimp running away from the "bigger" kid in the group.
Let's unpack that statement before I go on to what really bothered me. There seems to often be a dynamic in groups. There is a leader or two: the people who make most of the decisions about what the group will do, in all senses of the word "do." Rachel McAdams' character from "Mean Girls," and the first Heather to die from "Heathers" are two examples of the power-hungry, popular, high-school-aged female stereotype of this person, but there are other versions. Then, there are often some middle-level types, people who are basically fit in, but aren't really paid attention to. I can't think of the character in mean girls, but the other blond Heather in "Heathers" qualifies: she wasn't the leader, but she wasn't at the bottom of the pack either, in the sense that the lead Heather never really gave her a hard time. Finally, there are some followers: people who don't quite fit in, who aren't quite adept at the social conventions particular to that group, but are tolerated for some reason or another. Shannon Dougherty's Heather was one of those to start, and the character who tried to get "Fetch!" to catch on in "Mean Girls" is another.
I'm not claiming this social structure is inherent to all groups. I'm not a socialogist, or any other -ist that studies groups, so I don't know. I'm also not claiming that the structure is always mean. That is, "Mean Girls" and "Heathers" are about very cruel groups, where the social structure is preserved through hostility and psychological warfare. While I can't think of any media examples, I would not find it at all surprising that basically positive social groups have a similar structure: the doers, the people who like the ideas that the doers have and therefore follow, and the subset of followers who sometimes just don't quite get the mores, but who aren't the group's punching bags because of it. (Maybe "The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants" has one of those structures; I didn't see it.)
And this group structure is not isolated to girls. This group of boys I saw definitely presented this structure in the two minutes I was watching them. And (to return to the actual story), the boy who was running away was the one at the bottom.
It wasn't anything that bad; the boy ran because he knew that, even though what he had done was not taken the way it would've been taken had someone else done it, what he had done wasn't worth the other boy's effort to really chase him down & give him (the runner) a noogie or something.
So the chaser gave up, as expected, and the runner returned to the group as they were walking.
Something else happened. I really can't remember what it was. I don't know if the light changed and I had to watch traffic while I moved 25 feet, or if I've just forgotten, but I didn't see what happened. What I do remember is that all of a sudden, the other three boys had ganged up on the runner and were beating him up. Actually punching him. They knocked him to the ground. One (two?) of them started kicking him in the stomach.
And I honestly couldn't believe I was seeing this.
I thought that I must be overdramatizing what I was seeing; that the three weren't really hurting the one that badly.
And then I thought "I have to do something, but how can I get out of this traffic to do it?" Because even if bruises weren't intended, some could happen. And anyway, how could boys think that beating a "friend," even mock-beating, was appropriate behavior?
And I thought "What if I did pull over and they turned on me? They're middle school kids, but I'm an out-of-shape 30-something." And I hated myself for putting my own safety over the safety of this kid. And then I hated myself for hating myself because I have good reasons to keep myself safe that have nothing to do with me directly, and I know that.
And I didn't know what to do.
So I got home that night and I told my husband about it. He said "Did you call the police?"
The police.
I should have called the police.
I have the non-emergency number programmed into my cell phone.
It never once crossed my mind to call the police.
And I think that's what disturbs me most about the whole situation. I tied myself up in knots and did nothing to help someone who may or may not have needed help because I didn't think to tell the appropriate authorities.
And I should have. One of the things I don't like about the Harry Potter (and other children's) books is that HP never tells any adults about what's going on, and therefore never gets any help. I don't understand that. Okay, maybe there's nothing Dumbledore can/will do about Malfoy, but if there's an evil spirit chasing HP, I think that Dumbledore could probably help out.
How can I change my thought patterns so that I remember to call the police?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

How Blogging Has Changed How I Read

I'm reading The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A.J. Jacobs. I read about it on someone else's blog* and it sounded fun. Gotta love the local library, because I own too many books**.
It's a very enjoyable book, in all sorts of ways. I like the little factoids Jacobs includes: the trivia benefit without the time-sink detriment. I like the way he ties the entry titles to things happening in his life. I like the chatty way he writes.
In fact, the book reminds me a lot of a blog. And I keep wanting to leave comments: ask him how his wife now feels about her favorite movie star, now that he's jumped on Oprah's couch a little, for example. Other, small stuff that isn't really worth an actual letter, but would be fun to know. It's odd*** how I've changed to someone more willing to engage strangers in personal conversation, because of the commenting factor of blogging. Of course, this isn't always a good thing. If I did write a letter to Jacobs asking him my little questions, he might be concerned I was a stalker.
Another not-so-good aspect of this increased willingness to engage people on minutae is exemplified by the article in the New York Times a few weeks ago. It was about how e-mail has changed the interaction between students and professors. (I'm not linking to it because it's long been locked behind the wall of the Pay To Read Me!!! section. A number of bloggers discussed it, though; I think Pharyngula may have been one of them) I'm thinking in particular of the student who was quoted as saying e-mail has really helped him because now, instead of having to go all the way to the professor's office to ask questions, he can just e-mail them; this means he doesn't have to do a cost-analysis*** on whether the question is really worth it.
A third way my reading has changed has to do with my post about looks a few days ago. It received an extremely negative, anonymous comment. But reading the comment showed clearly that the commenter hadn't actually read my entry. Yes, my entry was fuzzy, and there were ways in which I could have been clearer, but if the commenter had read instead of skimming, she would have realized I didn't say most of the substantive issues she thought she was responding to. The best example is that I wasn't attacking Miss Scarlett. Not at all. I'm envious of her, that she has this confidence and balance I spoke of, but I don't want to drag her (or anyone else) down because of that confidence.
So I'm more careful about reading articles, blogs, books that I want to comment on; I make sure that I understand, as best I can, what the other person is saying before I comment -- in essence, before I engage her or him in a conversation about it.
And since sometimes I will discuss here ideas prompted by someone else's blog entry, I'd like to emphasize something. If I'm discussing it here, I make no claims about the precise points of the original entry. The reason I discuss it here, and not on the original blog, is because the ideas probably are not the original blogger's. The reference to the original entry may help provide some background to my thought process; it's never there as an attack on the original blogger.

Administrative Stuff: Does anyone know which blogger it is whose rules for commenting on her blog use the metaphor (simile? no, metaphor, right?) of her living room and visitors should show appropriate politeness? I'd like to use those rules, accurately, and with appropriate credit (because -- well, if nothing else, I'm practicing at being an academic. (No, there are all kinds of other, better reasons.)).
Also, I'm not quite used to commenting on my own blog, so I want to say "Thank you!" publicly to all (three or five) commenters and I'm really glad you stopped by. I hope you stop by again!

* I have the memory of an anti-elephant, so I will often say things like "I don't remember where/who/what exactly." It's not an attempt to weasel out of give credit where credit is due, it's a genuine failing of memory. Thus, I will be ecstatic if someone can tell me where/who/what I'm talking about.
** Yeah, I know what you're thinking.
*** These aren't quite the right words, but if I stop to think of the right ones, I'll never get this posted.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Comments are Fun!

Hey, look at that! I have some comments. All hidden away in the moderating folder.

So, apologies all around for not knowing about the comments. And therefore not responding to them.

(Um, I feel like a doofus now...)


How nice that this post happened to go up. Just when I'm failing my plan to write daily on a blog.
But I guess it's nice confirmation I'm on the right track.
As I mentioned, I planned to take Wednesday off, rather than just skipping it (like I did with Thursday). I needed to go shopping for "official" clothes. I've mentioned before that I'm sartorially challenged; an un-lettered t-shirt and non-sneakers are about the extent of my dressing up. Thus, I'm trying to learn to be comfortable in grownup clothes before I have to wear them; I know all about projecting how uncomfortable one is in one's chosen finery.
It's very hard finding good clothes. What do I mean by good clothes? To start, I don't mean "dressy" ("Put on your good clothes to go to church, kids.") What I mean is clothes that are comfortable enough; that fit decently; that don't make me look too different from my age (either older or younger; I'm old enough that dressing young is going to look ridiculous); and clothes that don't require too much effort to take care of. The biggest problem with the last one is that I don't like artificial fibers, but natural fibers are a massive pain in the ass, which means I'll probably have to rethink my prejudice (especially since artificial fibers are maturing into more wearable fabrics).
However, my problem on Wednesday is that clothing manufacturers have taken to putting tags somewhere else. Only pants still have fiber content/care tags at the back of the waistband; skirts have it buried somewhere down one seam; ditto for shirts. This means that you have to wrestle with the garment trying to figure out what it's made of, how careful one has to be when washing, and how much ironing it will probably need. (I also don't like the new tag placement on shirts because it's usually right at the waist: prime tickling location.)
Another complaint about shopping: nothing fits me properly. I am "curvy," to put it kindly, and do not take to hip-huggers. Oxford-style shirts either gap across the bust or swaddle me in acres of fabric. (Why are shirts sized 0,2,4... like skirts & pants?) And then there's the problem with sizing. I can range anywhere from an 8 to a 14 depending on the store, sometimes even depending on the items of clothing within a store. Seeing as most dressing rooms have a limit on the number of items one can try on at one time, this range means that I am basically trying on only one style at a time, looking for the size that this particular store, designer, and style fits me closest. What a waste of time when the item doesn't look good on me.
On the plus side, I got lots of personal attention from the store employees (I can't remember what the general title is). I'm not sure if it was because I was there on a weekday, and therefore they were less busy, or if it was because I was going to generally higher-end stores than I usually go to, but it was very nice to ask someone to get me another size, instead of having to put on my own clothes, collect all my stuff, wander around the store, and then try to get into a dressing room again.
I also took the plunge and bought some foundation. Extraordinarily expensive foundation, but two things excuse the purchase. First, it is almost exactly my skin tone, so when I do rub some off by accident, it's pretty much not noticeable; I'm not sure I'll ever remember to not lean my cheek on my hand, or not pick at the hairs that blow across my cheeks, but at least there won't be massive patches of makeup/not-makeup. Second, it doesn't feel like a mask on my skin. I'm still aware of it, but it's only the third day I'm wearing it, and I'm much less aware than I thought I would be. Once I'm used to it, I'll probably try something cheaper (i.e. purchaseable at a drug store), but I think it's worth using something Very Good to practice with.
Not very coherent, and the lack of topics is still bothering me; why is it I can't think of something to write a decent-sized post on a daily basis? Here's a topic for the future: the boys on the street the day I went shopping. I'm not sure I want to write about that, but it is something to think about.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

What I Wish

I wish I'd been told that teaching wasn't primary in grad school; I would've worked harder to make room for it.
I wish I'd listened to people who said that undergrad was a time to experiment; I might have a better idea of what I want to do with my life.
I wish I wouldn't listen so much to "them." They say I'm too fat, they say I'm too old, they say I'm too lazy, they say I'm doing everything wrong.
I wish I didn't care so much about what real people think of me; I wouldn't feel such a pressing need to explain all the time.
I wish I had more confidence; I wouldn't drag my feet so much if I thought I could do it.
I wish I had a thicker shell; I wouldn't drag my feet so much if I wasn't so afraid of failure.
I wish I had more creativity; I wouldn't write such a boring whiny post.


A framework for another entry: unpacking. Now if I'd had a thesis sentence to unpack, this might've been a more interesting post....

Monday, March 13, 2006

More anti-sexism

I know anti-sexism day was last week, but this entry got me thinking.
My first year in graduate school, I applied for a very prestigious national pre-dissertation fellowship. While this fellowship is awarded to a large number of applicants, it is still very competitive. Most applicants for this fellowship are college seniors, planning their graduate school career. First-year graduate students are allowed to apply, but there is the general impression that they are much less likely to get the award. There were two women in my department's subfield, who had matriculated into the program the year before I did, who were awarded the fellowship. My fellow advisees -- both men -- were not awarded the fellowship.
I won the fellowship. I was the only one be awarded it at my graduate institution -- the entire institution, not just my department -- that year. (In a side note, my undergraduate college, despite being a "mere" teaching school, had three awardees that year.)
When people who know about this fellowship hear that I received it, they are usually impressed.
I usually dismiss the accomplishment as due to my gender.
Part of it is that I'm trying to not appear stuck-up. I don't know how to be proud of my accomplishments politely. But part of it is that I really don't understand why I received the fellowship. I don't think that I had any more accomplishments than either of my fellow advisees; in fact, I probably had fewer. I'm fairly sure my advisor thinks that one of them is a much better scholar/academic than I am. Maybe this advisee wasn't at the time, but I don't think that he grew and I failed so greatly in the few intervening years. I don't think my work is that unusual -- interesting, eye-catching, original. I definitely feel like I have failed to live up to whatever potential the awarding committee saw.
And yet... I shouldn't dismiss it as gender. All the awardees in my institution's subfield are women (a fourth woman, who matriculated the year after me, was also awarded the fellowship). They are better, more experienced researchers than I, with at least as many accomplishments (if not more) as my fellow advisees. It seems safe to say that they all received the fellowship because of their abilities.
So why do I feel like I didn't?
-- I noticed when someone (politely; Emily Post would have been proud) cut off one of my extensive forays into details & tangents. This blog is already paying off!
-- If I need a topic, I could discuss teaching vs. research again, or perhaps write a response to this post. I should think of some better mini-essay topics.
-- I am taking off one day this week. I think it will be Wednesday. At least I'm giving notice instead of just letting the work drop by the wayside. Unfortunately, I may miss Friday also. So much for every weekday.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Miss Scarlett* has a post about the worst parts of graduate school. When I read this, I felt
in not-quite that order.

I am from the generation of women who, if we weren't cute, and we weren't popular, and we weren't usual girly-girls, we could "make up for" these failings by being smart. And most -- almost all, in fact -- smart girls in my cohort were, in fact, not cute, not usual girly-girls, and not at all involved in fashion.

I accepted this role. No, I embraced this role with utter relief. I am not fashionably-figured. I have no idea how to wear "nice clothes" because the only nice clothes I see are those worn by toothpicks of alarming height. I tried to wear makeup when I was in high school, but I have clogged tear ducts: my eyes constantly water, and I would've looked like a racoon after about 30 minutes.** I hate having makeup on my face because I'm not used to having anything there. I have poor posture from hiding away from people, trying to not be noticed.

Miss Scarlett is representative of a new generation of smart women. They are fashionable; they are comfortable with being feminine; they are pretty; they are popular. I am glad for them; they know how to combine being feminine with being smart. They can be people instead of just brains.

Nonetheless. I hate and resent the fact that I now have to unlearn a lifetime of habits in order to fairly compete with them for the few jobs that are out there.***

*Look! I figured out how to link to people, without the button-crutch!
**My mom was very sympathetic and even took me to a doctor to see how this could be fixed, but I chickened out of the procedure.
***When I learned today was blog-against-sexism, I thought this might fit. But I can't figure out how. Am I suffering from the repercussions of the sexist attitude that women can't be smart? Or are we all suffering from the sexist attitude that women have to be pretty? and if so, how does that fit in with the fact that most male academics are taking better care of their looks also? So maybe it doesn't.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


One of the things that astonished me upon my introduction to academic blogs was the fact that teaching is considered second class. This is not necessary true for bloggers; as far as I can tell, the bloggers I read like teaching despite the endless rounds of repeated mistakes. But. There is nonetheless the feeling, the aroma, the aura that they are alone in their interest in teaching; I know there are stories out there of feeling the need to defend oneself for not wanting to work at an R1.
(Side note: this is another thing I learned from blogs, the whole Carnegie ranking, and now that I finally don't have to go look it up anymore, they've changed it. And to go further down this tangent, I don't get the new rankings. Time to pull myself back.)
I don't understand this scorn of teaching. It's the whole reason I came to grad school. I went to a small liberal arts college, and I adored my professors. They were enthusiastic about their subject, and "acted" like they wanted nothing more than to inculcate (yes? sometimes I use the wrong big word) that love into their students. Again, reading blogs has introduced me to the idea that it *was* an act, in the sense that a professor (and perhaps a school teacher) has a classroom persona. However, it's nonetheless clear that such an act is no more than a mask, like the exaggerated makeup a ballerina wears to make her features more visible to the back of the house. There still has to be real enthusiasm for the subject.
I loved that. That's what I want to be; I want to be someone who loves what they do, and wants to share it with everyone they can.
And then I get to grad school and discover, in my fifth year of a supposedly five year program, that I'm not supposed to want to do that. That these professors who loved what they did/do are somehow less than the professors that I work with now. That what I should have been wanting, when I came to grad school, was to find teaching the least interesting part of my job, and to want to struggle to publish the biggest paper, win the biggest grant, etc.
I don't want that.
But how do I get from where I am back to where I want to be?
(Ugh. Only slightly more coherent than yesterday. But I have to let it go. I don't know how else to learn to cohere quickly; and so long as I can't, I can't make comments in passing.)

Monday, March 06, 2006


I'm trying to think of non-whiny things to talk about, since I'm aiming to post every weekday morning. Some of my thoughts:

--Another "trying" is the attempt to not correct misinformation in previous entries. After all, that's one of my learning processes. It's really hard.
--I loved George Clooney's Oscar speech last night, especially since he seems to have made it up on (at? I'm confusing my prepositions) the spur of the moment, what with the reference to J. Stewart's opening monologue. Or does that circulate beforehand?
--I did a lot this weekend. I did about 5-7 loads of laundry, and I finally dusted my chest of drawers. I also made cookies. I know that doesn't sound like much, because it's not. It's just an enormous jump in productivity for *me*.
--I have no idea how women do it. My partner does all the housework (which mostly is cooking & dishes; time constraints don't allow for much actual cleaning), because he (a) is very good at it & fast, and (b) he gets home earlier than I do. Seriously. No clue.
--I thought about not admitting to my partner's gender, but then I realized that doesn't give him the credit he deserves.
--I have to go see the department super-secretary and see if there's any funding for me for next year. I am so very much not looking forward to it, because the answer is almost assuredly no.
--If a university doesn't have money to pay for adjuncts/TAs to teach classes, who teaches them? because surely they don't acutally recruit the professors.

Okay. Enough sitting around trying to think of coherent things to say. Back tomorrow.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Being Brave

My new best friend (hi, K8! Oh, you didn't sign on for that? Okay, my bad.) has a good post from last night (still no html experience, so that would be 3/2/06, last-ish entry) about what a nice day she had doing work.
I wish I could say the same.
For approximately two years, I've been stalled. It took me forever to get my masters paper cranked out, so now I've stuck myself in the unenviable position of trying to finish quals and dissertation in one year. The quals are three papers; they should be easy-ish, but I'm scared to death of them. I'm not an easy writer. Even in undergraduate, which was years & years before I came to graduate school, I avoided all the "paper" classes. Of course there were requirements; I took those my first year & got terrible grades in them, which lead to the avoidence. Now I have to write things, and I don't know how. My fellow students talk about knocking out a 10-page paper, which to me is still the enormous paper that it was my freshman year in _high school_. Yes, I get too worked up about things.
And then there's the actual work. The programming and collecting data and talking to people and...
You might ask what I'm doing here if I don't like it. Well, I thought I wanted to be a professor -- the teaching kind, because I didn't know that they were second-class citizens in the academic hierarchy. I loved my professors in undergrad, which is a liberal arts college. They were fully involved in imparting their love of their work to students. I wanted to be one of them, having a great job where you had a good time. Even at the time, I didn't think they had an easy job; it never would have occurred to me to assume they had summers off, because I knew they also did their own research. But they enjoyed themselves, which is something my parents never seemed to do.
And now I'm here, and I don't know what I'm doing. Why am I avoiding this? I could get it done. The biggest hold up would be the data collection, but if I put my mind to it, I could knock out those quals in two or three months, while getting the program up and running. Then I'd just have to wait for the subjects. Meanwhile, I'd could write up the masters for publication, and... It'd be hard, but it wouldn't be impossible, even given my time constraints. And I do like the feeling of success.
So what's my problem?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Jo(e)'s meme

I can't seem to get the button-click features, like linking and fonts. Since I don't know the html codes, this will be a very boring, and very un-referenced, entry. I will make clear which parts are not mine, but you'll have to go find the sources on your own.

"Writing as Jo(e)" wrote a meme about pseudonymous academic bloggers, the answers to which I've found thought-provoking. (Many are collected at "a k8, a cat, a mission.") So I'm using it as my second introduction.

Is your blogging persona more serious than your real life persona?
Well, we'll see. I'm trying to make it more dedicated, but I'm not sure that either persona is particularly playful or funny.

Do you think the only safe way an academic can write publicly is to write anonymously?
No. I think there are many areas in which it is safer for the academic's job, but I don't think this is isolated to academia. The world is very image-oriented, and the teachers (professors, adjucts, grad students, researchers etc.) of a university are what it considers to be its public face. The university -- as any large organization -- has a vested interest in presenting its best face to the public. I think it's just as... awkward? dangerous? for a VP of Chase to write a blog in which she acknowledges her failings, her political leanings, her personal life, her spats with collegues and with people up and down the ladder.... -- that is, all that pseudonymous academics blog about. It's just a VP of Chase is much less likely to have leanings towards expressing herself in words than an academic is, so the issue doesn't come up.
Additionally, I think the only reason people like PZ Myers (sp?) and M. Berube can blog under their own names is because of tenure; This job guarentee is unique. That is, many unions do their best guarentee jobs for their members despite poor behavior, however that is defined. However most to-be-unionized workers are at the bottom of the institutional structure; as I said above, academics are the public face of the institution, and this gives their comments the impression of more weight and power.

Do you think that your blog could ruin your career?
Well, I don't have a career yet. But, going back to that "best face forward" idea, I do think that a blog is a liability. One doesn't go into a job interview (as an academic or otherwise) and tell the interviewer one's worst points. Even when asked for them, one is supposed to put a positive spin on them: "Well, I think my worst fault is that I'm stubborn; once I start doing something, I can't stop until it's done, no matter what sorts of obstacles are in my way."

What would happen if an administrator at the university discovered your blog?
I don't think an administrator would care; I'm a student. However, I think my advisor would be... disappointed that I wasn't spending more time on research.

Do you use a pseudonym out of fear?
No, and yes. The no is that I use it out of caution: I am trying to preserve that "best face." The fear would be due to what I am trying to accomplish (see first post). The goals are something I don't have the courage to learn in real life.

What is the biggest drawback to writing pseydonymously?
Spelling the damn word. No, actually, it's that I'm not very good at remembering to use my not-name.

Has anyone stumbled on your blog?
Well, it's two days old, so I doubt it. I am hoping to keep it general enough so that it wouldn't be found by a google search, but we'll see how well that goes. I'm not very good at the deliberate omissions (see above).

Have you outed yourself to other bloggers?
Yes, by accident.

Has your blog allowed you to experiment with writing?
I hope it wil!

Why do you use a pseudonym?
The "best face" idea from above, to keep it from being googled, and to protect my family.

Productivity update: I didn't go right to work, but I did manage to get something done before the end of the day. However, something really wonderful happened last night. I have a recurring dream in which I'm driving and I can't stop the car in time; instead, I crash into other cars, veer into fields, overshoot the turn, etc. I know, feel out of control much? Last night, I had a driving dream again, and even though the road was icy (usually the weather is fine), I stopped the car in time. I'm very excited.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Hi, My Name is...

Well, I'm not going to tell you that. I'll explain why in a future post.

This first post is more about why I'm doing this. ("So, what brings you to this bloghost?") I'm a graduate student, which means that I'm apprenticed to academia. However, I am missing some skills. I'm hoping this blog will help me practice them.

(1) I lack fluency. Speaking and writing do not come easily to me. While this blog won't help me with the speaking part, I'm hoping that it will help with the writing.

(2) I can't let go. I'm one of those annoying nerdy types who always needs to explicate everything, no matter how unimportant. I'm going to try to use this to let go of that. Two examples (because this is a learning process, and I'm not going to be perfect right off the bat): A, I'm going to want to come back and edit this entry. I know there's going to be something I'll think I should have written better. While I will have a chance to do that in regular writing, I don't have that chance when speaking; hopefully this process will harden me to it. B. I left a comment on someone's blog the other day. It wasn't detailed enough, and the blogger misunderstood, but in a way that was not pertinent to the discussion. That's the important part. If it was pertinent, I'd try to fix the impression I left, but since it's not, I shouldn't. It's all about learning to let go.

(3) I need to be braver. I need to open myself to not being perfect. I know -- really, I so know -- that no one is perfect, but I don't behave like I know that. I'm afraid of failure, and I need to stop that. Which brings me to...

(4) I can't handle constructive criticism. If I am in fact braver on this blog than in real life, it will hopefully lead to some discussions where not everyone agrees with me, and will have reasons why I might want to change my mind. Seeing as most of my readers (invited or directed, anyway; I don't know about people who just "find" this) are academics, y'all will understand why this is so important.

(5) Time management. And having said that, I'm going to try to go do some work.