Monday, March 27, 2006

I heart Adam Felber

Today he describes how he won the war on terror. That's all, kids. You can go home now.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

decadent urban recreation

This weekend was packed. There were several high points, including...

... hearing blues at the Checkerboard with amazing guitar players and a fabulous rendition of "Dirty Old Woman".
... wandering by the comic store on the way to the el to pick up V for Vendetta and more Strangers in Paradise (to give C some free time to re-read V, a strategy which has so far been wildly unsuccessful as I'm ripping through it)
... eating alligator, bison, and ostrich. In the same meal.
... wandering around Ravenswood Manor and Albany Park, intending to go to an open house. We actually got distracted by some fresh lime soda and didn't get there in time.
... hours to read and knit.
... an unexpected reading of "Miss Rumphius" at church, which made me cry like a little kid. I was a little kid, last time I read it. (It's the story of the woman who plants the lupines to make the world more beautiful.)
... sunny weather and some fluffy little birds.
... 2 days, 2 gym trips, 2 naps.
... baking banana bread and muffins and lasagna (the oven has been on for several hours straight now. Watch out for our gas bill.)
... watching a woman ride her bicycle through State and Madison in high heels. Talented.
... finding a coworker who offhandedly replaced most of the difficult-to-recover items in the stolen presentation kit, and then referred me to a highly useful website or two.
... MY HOUSE IS CLEAN. Seriously, this makes me so happy, knowing that if I get up in the middle of the night I will not trip on any clothes. Conversely, I have also deleted ALL the emails from that little housecleaning fairy, who is cluttering up my inbox this week. Both these things make me feel better.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

human clock

The three great American vices seem to be efficiency, punctuality, and the desire for achievement and success. They are the things that make the Americans so unhappy and so nervous. They steal from their inalienable right to loafing and cheat them of many a good, idle, and beautiful afternoon. The tempo of modern industrial life forbids this kind of glorious and magnificent idling. But worse than that, it imposes upon us a different conception of time as measured by the clock and eventually turns the human being into a clock himself.

-- Lin Yu-tang, quoted by J.C. Cooper in Taoism: The Way of the Mystic

(reposted from the Happy Feminist)

All this week I've been at a high school tempo, dividing my time in blocks of four and forty-six minutes. One of my fellow teachers was nice enough to take me out to lunch at a fabulous Cuban restaurant, and though she walks fast I didn't think anything of it. Just as I was beginning to think, "I wonder when her next class is?" she picked up the pace. Five minutes later our coats were on, our cups lidded, and she had to run from the school parking lot into the building as the next bell rang eight minutes later. Today I joined her briefly in this breakneck schedule before arriving again at the government office, where all. time. stops. This afternoon, it's back to the high school and the dog bell. Sometimes I feel like this on days when I do Flylady's "fifteen minutes"--where is the travel time? What about switching gears, taking my coat off, getting water breaks? (The water breaks are scheduled in, on Flylady. It's a tough system.)

I do well on the iron clock schedule, and I get a lot of stuff done. But it saps my soul, and I find myself doing stupid things like staying up until midnight playing Place the State. Laugh if you will, but I'm down to 47/50, 8 miles off (average), in 199 seconds. And my brain feels more human, less mechanical. It's just something I need to budget time for.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

when you assume

Before the new week begins, I must let you know about the fantastic finish to the old work week. I had about an hour left and needed to do work on the small and little-blessed research project that I've been nursing along. I felt like going home early, so I figured I'd just get the report form set up so that I could slot in all the correct numbers on Monday afternoon. I looked at my tables and printed out my summaries, and little by little I noticed... the numbers all lined up.

It was beautiful. In short, we are trying to discover where our clients come from and whether that might be influenced by where I (and others) spend time. And lo, this month the numbers seem to suggest that where we go, they go. Impressive numbers, for a small sample. In many areas where we spend our time, clients seem to be arriving. YAY! It's such a buzz. It was absolutely beautiful, that logical beauty of difficult math and pieces which find the places they were born to fill. It was better than a jigsaw puzzle or a sudoku or a proof or even a musical chord. It was so seductive.

As it happened, I stayed late to finish the report. As I thought about how to preface it, I started remembering all the cautions that good statisticians have tried to teach me. Here's a sample:
1) It's only one month out of a (so far) six-month project. The other outcomes have been (cough) fuzzy.
2) The sample size is tiny.
3) These numbers are really glorified frequency counts, having no statistical validity.
5) Some areas are being surveyed more heavily than others, and not every eligible participant is getting the survey. It's entirely possible that something about our prior contact is "priming" participants to respond.
6) The participants don't always seem to "get" the questions, meaning the survey is written poorly. For instance: the people who we probably had prior contact with report not ever getting a contact like that. Many who didn't say that they did. The only positive aspect of this possible outcome is that it negates #5, somewhat.
7) Did I mention NO CONTROL GROUP? Tiny sample size? Temporary effect?

I thought about mentioning all these caveats in my preface, then remembered that several times I have been cautioned that this is a work project and not a research project. I left the bad stuff out and hit "send".

Then I read over the numbers again, and listened to what they seemed to tell me, and drove home with another buzz.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

I think I'll just double-post for a while. This blog is for my non-Ho presence, if y'all are tracking back my blogger name to the Tally Ho. I'm resurrecting the stringy bits of my other blog, and promise 10% more knitting content! Also please accept real-life posts and those political rantings that are just too shrill for other forums.