January 6, 2005

Connor says: Ashley's Survey

Conner declared that we should all take the survey Ashley gave him. So I did. I've copied the thing below, so I needn't rely on whoever runs enetation.co.uk to hang onto it.

1. What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before?
Exited North America.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I never seem to recall what I resolved the year before, so I'll (again) assume I did and not bother with more.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope. Baby drought in my circles.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Maternal grandmother.

5. What countries did you visit?
Spain, Israel. And spent a lot of time in Canadian airspace.

6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004?
A bit more time for my own projects outside the lab, and a bit more motivation to be productive inside.

7. What date from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
October 2; my first day in Europe, spent playing the backpacker in Madrid en route to Israel.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Individual: passing my qualifying exams. Collective: my collaboration got funding.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Question six nicely sums up the bit that, rationally, I'm responsible for. But I can't help feeling badly about my relative lack of political involvement in such an important year, especially given how things turned out.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Aside from the year-end sniffles, no. It's now been just over a year since my last bike-versus-car smackdown.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I'm not generally big on gadgetry, but the digital camera I bought before leaving has opened a new avenue of expressiveness that I hadn't expected to enjoy so much.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Anyone who had the courage to speak the truth in public. More proximately, three newly married couples come to mind.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
With a few important exceptions, nearly anyone who was allowed the opportunity to speak in public. Also, my students are often depressing.

14. Where did most of your money go?
That's a matter of some debate. Travel and rent are nearly tied, I think.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The Hunt. My one writing project that tangibly advanced. The cache of snowballs I preserved through the summer.

16. What song will always remind you of 2004?
Big Whatever, Dirty Knobs remix of Amy Abts

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a. happier or sadder?
By most measures, it's less stressful and more interesting. So happier seems like the sensible choice, but that's deliberately not a ringing endorsement.

b. thinner or fatter?
Thinner. More cycling, and now I'm on the hummous and falafel diet.

c. richer or poorer?
Between living cheaply and having a guaranteed stipend, I don't have to worry about money. Which makes me as rich as I feel like feeling.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Work, actually, of both the school and personal varieties. Probably should have gotten out more, too.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Yearn. Replay.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I suspect this poll was written pre-Yule, so this refers to the Christmas just past. But the answer's probably the same: with my family in Texas.

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
Collaborators in teleconferences. I didn't actually have a phone of my own for most of the year.

22. Did you fall in love in 2004?
Not as such. More trying to get out where I am in.

23. How many one-night stands?
A couple. But I'm prouder of the bookshelves.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Scrubs. Ah, the schadenfreude.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I tentatively assert that I have avoided the stain of hate this year. Which is not to say there aren't people I'd kill in an instant if I met them on the street. But that would be for the greater good.

26. What was the best book you read?
Always tricky, but easier than usual because of the embarassingly small number of actual books I've managed to read this year. I'm incluned to tap Robert Bonazzi's Fictive Music; this is partially because I'm probably too biased to faithfully judge, and don't actually recall on which side of last winter I first read, my father's epic poem Alms for Oblivion.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Minnesota indie music scene. And possibly Feedback.pl; we'll see where that goes.

28. What did you want and get?
A warmer winter. To not lose contact with my friends after moving away. NASA's money.

29. What did you want and not get?
A saner world. A little more human contact. Pecan pie.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
While my loyalty to the old philologist tempts me to blurt out The Return of the King, I found Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind more interesting. However, for ideal combination of thought-provoking and relavent, I'm picking Control Room.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Work, mostly. But the following weekend there were food and libations at the local pub with my department, in a combined 25th-birthday and going-away party.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Putting a genuine progressive in charge of this mess we call a country.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004?
I have to confess, after my students started calling me "Vader" in their evaluations, I kind of went with that for a while.

34. What kept you sane?
I think it's not yet entirely clear that anything did.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Honestly, nobody comes to mind. I obviously need to expose myself to more visual mass media, right away.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Good Lord, was this not the year that saw coined the phrase "outrage fatigue"? If it wasn't the hypocracy it was the randomly killing people; if it wasn't the lies it was the complacency.

37. Who did you miss?
My Chicago friends. Particularly Cate.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Miriam, or maybe Katherine. But I'm purposely excluding the whole city of new people I met towards the end of 2003.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004:
Even working in a field where I'm expected to hyperspecialize, it'll be okay and healthy to be a few different things. But I'm going to have to choose a few, and set several aside.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
"For who you were
and who you want to be."

Posted by mill1974 at 12:58 AM

January 4, 2005

Not quite bookmarks: software

Kieran Healy maintains an interesting weblog (one of the CT feeders). Still catching up on stuff I missed while traveling, ran across this today. Not unlike my own software recommendation rant, but more pointed, and of course somewhat specific to sociological (or at least statistics-heavy) academic work.

Led me to wonder if Unison mightn't solve some of my problems with having so many workstations and laptops in circulation.

Also got me back to thinking about general ways of integrating literate programming into my workflow. I don't actually originate enough code or text for it to be an issue yet, but it will. And in a different direction, reminded me why I avoid word processors. Which in turn reminded me just how awful the revision control is in most such software (generally some combination of painful and incomplete). So now I'm inspired to make a more general habit of developing documents under some degree of RCS/CVS style management. RCS is better, for stuff I'm writing, since it works in-place. CVS forces you to keep a repository lying around.

Getting farther afield, a usability expert holds forth on CMSs with some observations that could be handy to keep in mind on PageCaptain. And someday, I may do something like this with the navidation functions, if the app continues to grow.

Posted by mill1974 at 8:31 PM

January 1, 2005

Keeping an eye on

Comet Macholtz C/2004 Q2 will pass by the Pleiades on the 7th. With new moon on the 10th, I might even stand a chance of spotting it from here. But I'll probably need an optical aid. Note to self: look for cheap binoculars.

Things I want in my medicine cabinet: a WHO Emergency Health Kit. They don't do things halfway there. One kit is designed to meet the basic health needs of 10,000 people for 3 months. That's a link to UNICEF's catalog, so you can order them as needed. Well, probably not you. The NYTimes says the WHOs shipping in 15 to Sri Lanka.

Posted by mill1974 at 9:59 PM