Saturday, March 31, 2007

APA's So-Called Sense of Style

On my list of things to do today is to go back through my dissertation proposal and make sure all of the citations in the text match the 10 pages or so of references in the back and double-check each one in the APA Publication Manual to be sure that they are all formatted correctly. If you've never used APA style, consider yourself lucky because it takes a great deal of getting used to and even with 439 pages (most of it centered on information other than reference formatting), it's still difficult to decipher exactly what you're supposed to do most of the time because the answers are hard to find, inconsistent and rarely clear-cut.

What made the American Psychological Association think they had a fucking clue about writing style is beyond me other than to sell more books by forcing people who do research in the social sciences - and anybody else they can con into buying into their line of bullshit to use their "accepted" method. In my most humble and considerate opinion APA style is possibly the least effective way to communicate scholarly information ever devised.

Aside from being cumbersome and apparently minutiae-driven, the biggest thing that bothers me about it is the way it handles references. Instead of using footnotes so that the text flows in an uninterrupted fashion, APA style has the writer insert citations in the body of the text in parenthesis like this (drsharna, 2007) every single (HeresYourSign, 2002) time (Tally & Whacker, 2002) the writer (Pompous-OldGuy, 1947) references a piece (Hey-Vern, 1988) of research (Jimbob, et al, 1998) from another source (Somedeadguy, 2004). To say the least it's annoying as hell for the reader, although once you've read 80-gozillion articles the brain gets trained to skipping over anything in parenthesis, which is not necessarily a good thing. The full references to these parenthetical citations are then located at the very end of the document in their own special section, instead of using footnotes where, if the reader is interested in knowing more about a cited work, it's conveniently located at the bottom of the page so you don't have to go searching for the damn thing waythehell back in the references section. This isn't such a big issue if you're reading a journal article of just a few pages, but if you're tackling something larger like, say a dissertation or a larger book like Lezak's 1016-page tome, "Neuropsychological Assessment," (2004) where the reference section can be over a hundred pages (Lezak (2004) boasts a meaty 197 pages of references), you have to stop, find the references section and wade through them to find the right one. Granted they are listed in alphabetical order by the last name of the primary author, so that's a plus, but good gawdamighty, it's just such a pain in the ass to have to stop and go digging for what you're looking for, because you know if you don't do it right then while you're thinking about it you'll forget all about it by the time you get to the end of whateveritis you're trying to read. Which is really kind of irrelevant because by the time you do find it, you've forgotten where you were and what you were reading in the first place. Yepperz, that tangentialism - it's really conducive to logical flow and information processing.

Frankly, I think the APA is a racket, but that's a rant for another day. --Back to work.

Lezak, M. D., Howieson, D. B., Loring, D. W., Hannay, H. J. & Fischer, J. S. (2004). Neuropsychological Assessment (4th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

Friday, March 30, 2007

And We All Get It In The End

Okay y'all, for a truly, delectable, sensual treat, get thee to Netflix and obtain the John Cameron Mitchell movie "Shortbus." Tell 'em drsharna sent you ;o) The main characters are a sex therapist who's never had an orgasm, a gay couple and a dominatrix. Just one teensy caveat: put your homophobic, misanthropic, misogynistic and/or sex-negative hats away and open your narrow, shallow little minds just a little bit for an hour and 42 minutes. Reject every single one of your preconceived notions about sex and sexuality and just take it all in. The finale of the indoor marching band alone makes it worth the trip. This one's going in my top 10 movies of all time.

Big hugs, luvz, smooches & rainbow love for all - back to work.

Next on "Associate Dean Drama Theatre"

You know, all I want is to be finished with this goddamn thing. Really. Sadly however, in the last couple of weeks, the "AD Drama" plot has thickened to a heretofore unseen level of festering, moldy, curdled and reeking cesspool. Turns out the new AD-free structure for dissertation committees is still under consideration and hasn't been voted on yet, so it hasn't been announced, meaning there's no time to drop the offending committee member via that method if I'm to be finished in time to graduate in July. Then, due to situations beyond my control, the job of finding someone else to work was going to fall in my lap, and even though the issues really don't have anything to do with me, I was supposed to do it without telling anyone the reasons why yet another personnel change is necessary for my project.

-Wait. What? Back up.

In our previous installment, Much Beloved and Brilliant Reader #2 refused to work with Dr. New AD. When asked who he would work with, he suggested Dr. FunnyName, so I sent him an email asking him to play (careful not to reveal anyone's malice), but he turned me down because he's too busy with his own students. I can respect that. That left me with either Dr. Chest-Starer (who creeps out all of the busty students, not just me) or Dr. TooSickToBeAvailable-Ever. Now Dr. TooSick was my first AD. I fired her because she was never available. Something always took precedence over any meeting we scheduled: knee surgery, bad hair day, hip surgery, just plain forgot, stomach bug, toe surgery, allergies, head cold, another hysterectomy - the list was endless, so I found someone I could work with who was healthy and available and interested not only in my research but in getting me finished. As mentioned before, that guy took another job with more money and fewer hassles. Can't blame him, really. Nevertheless, it's left me vulnerable to any number of potential train wrecks. I picked Dr. New AD because since he was the new guy I didn't think he'd been there long enough to make any enemies but that day was clearly "opposite day." Apparently the guy is like a pet raccoon: what he doesn't fuck up he shits on. I need Reader #2 for his neuropsychological expertise, Dr. New AD is expendable. -But how to get him kicked off the island?

So here I am, stuck in the middle of a fucked up situation that has nothing to do with me but I'm paying for it in time, money, energy and frustration. Yay - higher cortisol levels for me! My favorite! Of the two remaining choices, my dissertation chair prefers Dr. TooSick because she'll roll over and do whatever the chair wants (a definite plus) and so far Reader #2 hasn't responded to my email about his preference. Madame chair's going out of town so she leaves it up to me to find out what the proper steps are to make the personnel switch and get a new AD by myself with only the 2 left to pick from, and I'm not allowed to say why. Yeah. Thanks for the nod to my level of competence, but this bullshit game of musical dissertation committee personnel gives the impression that I'm the problem, not them.

So whatever did you do, drsharna?

Well kiddos, lemme tell you. There's a little-known minion within the adminisphere at my school called a Dissertation Coordinator. Her job is to make sure all the steps are followed so that dissertations get completed smoothly, properly and on time. She's also a huge student advocate, which I learned when it was necessary for me to fire my first dissertation chair. After careful analysis of the situation, I decided that my committee executed the mortal sin of unsportsmanlike behavior by putting me in the position they did and that ultimately it would not be in my best interest to cover for them. I called the Dissertation Coordinator and without blaming anyone, I told her everything. Since she's the official go-to person for committee personnel change, she can't help me if she doesn't know the whole story.

She informed me that Dr. ChestStarer is going on a month-long vacation pretty soon (...wonder what that's like?), so he's out, leaving me only with Dr. TooSick - if she'll agree to participate, that is. She then rattled my chair's cage, informed her of our conversation and told her to contact Dr. TooSick and explain the situation. I received an email from Madame Chair late last night stating that Dr. TooSick agreed to play but that she is not considering her as part of the "core committee." This means that all she has to do is sign off on the final document once the others reach agreement, and they've already decided that they're going to reach agreement. While in the grand scheme of things this is really great news, my excitement is diminished because of the fucking hassle it's become.

The proposal is due Sunday and I'm on track to have that in for committee review - no sweat. The problem is that the committee then has 30 days to review it then they all have to get together to approve it. There are a few other glitches, too. Instead of the June 1 completion date suggested by Reader #2, the final document must be submitted by the first or second week in May. Which means, provided they want no further revisions to the proposal, I'll have to write up the results and discussion sections in just a few days. No pressure or anything. Now before you hyperventilating and breaking out in sympathy shingles on my behalf, be aware that I have done a lot of work on the front-end of this process. The hospital and school Institutional Review Boards have both already approved my research and the data are archival, so they've already been collected. All I have to do is crunch the numbers, interpret them and report the results. Properly motivated, and considering that I am really good at making things happen on really short notice, I might be able to get it done after all. Wish me luck.

I just wish it weren't such a goddamn cluster fuck to get there.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Why the Hell Don't They Just Say So?

Goddammit. Here's another example of statistical mumbo-jumbo that turns out to be so fucking simple the grandtwins could do it. I spent an hour on the phone - in tears - Monday with Statsguy trying to figure out what the statistical tests mean so that I can write about them in a semi-intelligent manner. Of course he's helped a zillion ABDs reach their PhDs and because he does it all the time, it's easy for him. It's not for me. He kept telling me, "Don't worry about the math part or what it means, just report it." He didn't seem to understand that my school is really, really into the "philosophy" part of the PhD. They like deep meaning and explanations so detailed you want to bash your own head in with a tire iron. I had to get off the phone with the guy because I was about ready to detonate. Trust me, nobody needs to be subjected to that.

So my busy schedule and I finally calmed down enough to tackle writing up the proposed data analysis today when I got home from teaching (would you believe those horny buggers wanted to talk about sex again, today?). At any rate I thought the best way to see how it's done (not the sex but the proposed data analysis) is to just look up a few pieces of research with statistical analyses similar to the one I'm planning and use them as models for what I need to get done.

Well I'll be go to hell if each of the half dozen or so articles I pulled up didn't have just a single paragraph of maybe four or five sentences dedicated to the statistical tests to be used. Not only that, but they were succinct and direct. There was no prattling on about it either, just, "We're going to use these couple of tests for parametric data and these couple of tests for nonparametric data." That's it. Here I was trying to imbue some kind of meaning like a good student in my program should and it's not necessary. Motherfucker. Why don't they just say this shit in the first place?

(cue gnashing of teeth)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

heeheehee *snort*

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Sex Talk Redux

Sometimes people surprise me. As the grand finale to two days of lecture about sex and sexuality, I had prepared a mashup of slides from the Centers for Disease Control that showed various and sundry body parts (mostly oozing and/or crusty) afflicted with an assortment of sexually transmitted diseases. Seriously, these were pictures that made one ask, "Why the hell did they wait so damn long to go to the doctor!?" while cringing and grasping at one's own genitalia.

Mind you, these were nasssssty stuff, my preciousss. So I forewarned them at the end of Thursday's lecture that we'd be looking at STD pictures Tuesday and that when the time came, anyone who was squeamish or didn't think they could handle it for whatever reason could leave. No question asked. Granted, I encouraged them to stay, particularly if they had little or no experience with sex so they'd know what to be on the lookout for, just in case. Still, it was their call.

To my astonishment, when the time came though, nobody chickened out and left. Not even the ones I was sure would take me up on my offer for a reprieve because of religious reasons or whatever. Will wonders never cease?

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Just When You Think They're Not Listening...

As I may have mentioned, The Girl and I have an open communication policy, particularly when it comes to issues about relationships and sexuality. There are no sacred cows and no subject is taboo. Ever. I tell it like it is and don't candy-coat anything. She knows all the lines that people will use to get in her pants and the appropriate shut-downs she can use if she doesn't want them there. She knows that men are like buses and that if one bails on her, she can wait 15 minutes and another one will come along, but the next bus will have more money, a bigger dick and know how to treat her right. She also knows that she doesn't have to marry the first one she sleeps with or the first one who asks. At least that's what I've told her, among many, many other things. Sometimes though, I've wondered how much of that wisdom, mostly gleaned from my history of really fucked up decisions, has actually gotten in.

Until yesterday, that is. We were sitting at Sonic in a neighboring town around lunchtime, sunroof open, jamming to some hot tunes and throwing down some fish sammitches while they're still around for the folks who "do" Lent (- damned ol' "limited time only" bullshit), with tater tots and cherry limeade when she informs me that The Boyfriend has been telling her how much he loves her and wants to be with her forever and how he wants her to be his wife. (Insert sound effect of car tires squealing on pavement then crashing into something, here.)

Donning my very best poker face, and with bated breath I asked, "So, what do you think about all that?"

She replied, "I told him, 'Hey dude - slow down! I mean, I love you and all but I don't even know what my favorite color is, much less who I'm going to spend the rest of my life with.' Because, jeez mom that's just effin' scary. I mean, he's going into the military after graduation and I might not ever see him again and I just don't want to have to deal with all that shit right now."

Whew - and I thought she wasn't listening.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

It's Officially "That Time"

Well, it's officially party season in drsharnaland. The first official summer-ish soiree is this evening, starting any minute now. The Man's daughter and her family are moving to a house just around the corner from us, so as a reward to all the friends and family who helped them pack, load, haul and unload, I've cooked a shitload of barbeque and all the fixins - complete with from-scratch margaritas and coldbeer (yes, coldbeer is all one word around here) iced down in a washtub - with salt. Mmmmmm yummygoodness.

I'm well-known for my culinary skills and if word gets out that there's going to be a feed around here, folks show up out of the woodwork. Seriously though, sometimes I'm not sure if it's the food or that the bar is always open (a former occupation of mine several lifetimes ago). Party crashers are never a problem because there's always more than enough to go around and I'd rather shove it into an appreciative face than have to look at it until trash day on Thursday.

Tonight's fare includes homemade fresh salsa and corn tortilla chips, barbeque brisket and chicken, potato salad, pasta salad, baked beans and The Cake. I'd give you the recipe for The Cake, but I'd have to kill you. The Cake is that wonderfully rich, dense, moist chocolate sheet cake (Sheath Cake if your granny was from Texas) that your grandma made but unfortunately she died before she gave you the recipe. Yeah, that cake. Beverages include iced tea, an assortment of Cokes (meaning Dr. Pepper, Welch's Strawberry, Sprite, A&W Cream Soda or Coca Cola), Shiner Bock or Coors Light beer, Sangria, Sangria/Margarita swirls or whatever other alcoholic concoction your little heart desires. Be aware though that nothing ever comes from a box or mix. We just don't do that shit around here. If I won't eat it, I damn sure ain't a' gonna serve it.

Our house is set up for entertaining and is the perfect place to come set a spell, take a load off and get spoiled goddamn rotten by yours truly. We're waaayyyy out in the country and can see only one house from ours so it's nice and quiet, and in case I haven't mentioned, the hospitality is impeccable. Got an Italian, Greek, Mexican or Southern grandma? You'd feel right at home around here. Gotta scoot - the first guests have just arrived so I have to go be the hostess with the mostest. Too bad the water's still a little chilly yet to get in the pool we worked so hard to get going.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

What I Really Wanted to Show Them

Today's lecture topic in my intro psych class was human sexuality. We had loads of fun and I posted a lot of videos on the other blog but these are the ones I REALLLLLY wanted to show them.
Puberty Pals:

...But we like hookers:

Live Long Enough to Find the Right One:

From the Misinformation Committee:

And it all sounds so lovely with a British accent:

The reality:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

666 Visitors Today!

As of 6am Central Hell Time today there have been 663 visitors to this dank little cobweb-infested corner of the internet. Wow. I'm stunned that many people are interested in my nattering. So, in keeping with the tongue-in-cheek spirit of the theme of this blog, (which is Hell, in case you haven't noticed), today should see our 666th site visitor. I'm moving the site meter up to the top this morning and if the lucky person happens to be you, pull up a piece of brimstone, spew forth your bile and tell the minions what brought you to Hell today. Hell, even if you aren't #666, leave a comment anyway. They always make my day.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, "Go to Heaven for the weather, Hell for the company."

PS -I've said something similar about Texas for years: You don't go to Texas for the weather. You go to Texas for the people and the food.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Oh Shit" Moments

If you ever lose your everloving mind and decide to pursue a PhD in (insert the now torturous subject that you used to be interested in of your choice here), the one thing that seems universal with every one of the several hundred doctoral students I know is that it is an emotional rollercoaster. One day, you're singing "Woohoo!" and dancing off into the sunset with a large glass of something lovely, and the next you're having an "Oh shit," moment, sitting around with your very best "WTF!?" look (0_o) on your face, as in "What the fuck just ran over me?" or "What the fuck is that?" or as is my case today, "What the fuck do I do now?" Yeah, good times.

As usual, out of the clear blindsided blue, my committee wants my dissertation proposal. Now. Right. Fucking. Now. One could rightly assume that I'm rather accustomed to this behavior after all this time. Ordinarily it would be okay because I'm really good at pulling things out of my ass on really short notice. As a matter of fact, I do some of my best work under that kind of pressure.

There's one problem this time though. I'm not sure how to write up the part about what statistics I plan to use - at least not in intelligible English and not without using the word "fuck" or any of its derivatives to excess, (which for the uninitiated are reallllly not appropriate for a piece of scholarly production). Part of the problem stems from the fact that I don't know what statistics I plan to use because although I kind of have an idea, I'm not sure exactly which ones are appropriate for the questions I want to ask. I'm probably making it too complicated (whooo meeee??), but I really have difficulty with the math part because the people who make up the math stuff seem to intentionally obfuscate the language so those of us who aren't math people are left screaming, crying and tearing our hair out by the fistful from the sheer frustration of it all.

Soooo, here's what I'm thinking and I'm asking for your input if you know anything at all about this shit. I'm thinking of just throwing some random and hopefully close to the mark proposed statistical analysis mumbo jumbo in there, then sending it off to my dissertation committee and wait to see if it sticks. Surely their feedback will offer some miniscule hint of guidance that I can run with and turn into something semi-meaningful. Whaddya think?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Back to Work

Now that Spring Break is over, it's back to work. Not that I didn't work in the last 9 days, most of it just wasn't related to the class I'm teaching or my dissertation, although I made some progress there, too. No, most of the week was spent getting the pool ready for summer. If you ever go completely insane and decide to put one in, be sure to do your homework first. If you or your neighbors have even one tree between you, have a winter cover made for it so every leaf from every fucking tree within 10 miles doesn't end up in it. Our property has a lot of trees. Big trees. Oaks. Big Oak Trees With Lots and Lots of Fucking Leaves That All Fall Within a Week. Straight Into The Pool.

Mind you, I do not do things halfassed and would have had a cover on the contractor's punch list had I been the one in charge of the pool installation project, but it predates my arrival in The Man's world by about 5 years. Nevertheless, every year The Girl and I earnestly try to keep up with The Leaves and keep them scooped out of the pool, but come fall, between marching band season, honor band auditions, 4-H shooting sports events, homework and the neverending parade of extracurricular activities, it doesn't take long for The Leaves to get the better of us. The Leaves always end up winning. Until Spring Break, when the weather starts warming up, things start turning green again and we get serious about getting the pool ready for summer.

Summer around here is a big damn deal. Aside from all the summertime entertaining pool owners do, The Girl and I spend every afternoon floating, listening to music, talking and engaging in what we call, "Solving All the World's Problems." She's got quite the head on her shoulders. Don't know where she comes by it. The other thing about summer around here is our legendary 4th of July bash, during which it will be full of kids (Of course, I won't get in it for at least a week afterwards for the same reason I won't go to a water park, especially after the "Caddyshack" moment at last year's bash - ew.). This year though, there are some new reasons to be jazzed about summer. This weekend, the Man's daughter and her family are moving to a house a couple of miles from here so The Grandtwins will be over a lot more. My best friend since age 3 has also moved about 70 miles closer and her new place doesn't have a pool so she'll be over a lot more, too. Tragic, really.

So, back to why you should invest in a pool cover in case you ever go crazy and put one in. The process of ramping up is long and nassssty, my precious. First, all of those leaves (and algae and worms and sometimes dead animals that we didn't catch when they were "floaters") have been steeping, making the most lovely black tea all winter. This fluid must be drained via submergible pump, taking about a day and a half. Then, the remaining organic matter must be shoveled out and hauled away. The smell is rather akin to what Texas lakes smell like - worms and dead leaves and algae and sometimes dead animals that we didn't catch when they were "floaters." Pretty disgusting, really. The scoopage takes about half a day. The next step is to clean the stains from the "tea" off of the sides of the pool. Most times this can be done with a pressure washer, but it really needs a new coat of pool paint but we're going to do it next year (another misadventure in and of itself that I'll elaborate on another time), and I was afraid to use pressure on it this time. Sooo, The Girl and I bought a shitload of Magic Erasers and washed the whole damn thing down by hand. That took another half day. I don't know what's in those things (probably can't be good for you), but they really did the trick. They just don't last long enough. We must have used 2 dozen of them.

Yesterday we started adding water and it usually takes about 30 hours to fill it, using 2 hoses. I had to turn the water off last night though so I can stick two tiles back on this morning. Once it's filled, it will take a good 2 weeks of fiddling to get the chemical balance just right then we'll be in business. Of course it will still be too chilly for me to get in it until June but dammit it will be ready and waiting, taunting us with its sparkling blueness until then.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Another WooHoo!! Moment

Exciting news dead ahead: I just got word from the IRB that my dissertation research has been approved! Most of the people I know who have had to deal with that particular committee end up going 'round and 'round with them, eating up months of precious time they could be working on getting finished. Fortunately (or possibly not), the data I plan to use are archival (already existing in a database at the hospital) so since the IRB deals with potential injury to human subjects and in this case there are no humans to be subjected, it's a go. Now if I can just get my proposal approved by my dissertation committee, I'll be able to get a move on and get finished already.

Gotta scoot - The Man sprung a last-minute dinner party on me so I have to go throw some dead things on the grill & be the hostess with the mostest. Oh what fun it is to ride.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

SPSS Does That?

One of the early steps in examining research data is to run a correlation matrix, which is a table that describes the direction and strength of relationships between research variables. Depending on how many variables you're looking at, the thing can be pretty large - not to mention confusing. Since I'm a highly visual person, one of the things I do with one of these is to color-code the cells that show a significant relationship between variables. It's one of the organizational tricks I use that keeps me from blankly staring at these huge sheets of rows upon rows of numbers, which are usually pretty meaningless to me. Since my first forays into research in my undergraduate program, I've used Sharpie markers or highlighters or whatever I can get my hands on to outline the "important" cells with different colors for each variable or specific groups of variables. This practice helps me a) develop a good visual representation of the relationships between the research variables and 2) zero in directly on the important stuff from across the room when I'm attempting to write about what it all means.

There have been a few problems with this procedure. SPSS prints out the variable row headers on every page, which isn't exactly conducive to my organizational style so before I can add color to the cells, this practice has always involved printing out the correlation matrix, then folding, cutting, aligning and taping the sheets together so they form a coherent whole while saving space by eliminating all those extra headers. That's one problem, and it isn't going to go away unless I can obtain one of those really huge printers that print off newsprint-size sheets. The other problem is that it looks pretty messy, what with all those outlines and marker marks all over it. Oh, and then there's the problem of not always having enough different colors and/or the necessity of driving nearly 20 miles to the nearest office supply store to get more, so I usually make do with what's on hand (see pic above). Hideous, but it works for me to begin organizing this kind of information in my head, since I am NOT a numbers person.

I've used Microsoft Excel since first returning to junior college about 10 years ago (Yikes! Has it really been that long!?), so I knew you could add color to cells in that program, but alas, for statistical analyses in the social sciences, we use SPSS when doing quantitative research, and as far as I knew, with the exception of pie charts, graphs, histograms, et cetera, color wasn't possible in SPSS. Grr.

Yesterday was my lucky day. I was futzing about with a random dataset to re-acclimate myself to SPSS and ran a correlation matrix so I could begin the process of taping, cutting, folding and coloring so the relationships between the variables will all make sense to me. Then I accidentally double-clicked on the table and a second window titled "SPSS PIvot Table" opened, with the table in it - only in this second window the cells were editable INCLUDING COLOR! Not only could I color in the cells containing statistically significant information, I could also vary the amount of color dependent upon the strength of the relationship! I just about peed myself. All that was necessary was to click & highlight the cell I wanted to edit, then go to the "format" dropdown menu. It was intuitive from there. The final product ended up looking like this (OooOOoooh, pretty!):

For the uninitiated, in case you're wondering about the black cells, those are the ones that indicate a variable's relationship with itself, which is always going to be perfect, so we don't even consider that information when designing the study. The reasons I only color in the bottom half are 1) because the information in the top half is essentially a mirror image of the bottom half, so I'm not going do twice the work for the same information and b) I'm short, so since I usually tack these up on the wall so I can back up and really look at them, it's easier for me to get to the bottom half ;o)

Granted, it was still necessary to cut, fold, align and tape the sheets after printing, but it just looks so much cleaner. Yeah, good times. (Gawd I'm a nerd...)

Friday, March 9, 2007

This Just In...

Woo Fuckin' HOO! Guess what? Guess WHAT!? GUESS WHAT!!?? Much Beloved Reader #2 was able to talk Dr. Big Name into serving as external reader for my dissertation! Yippee Ki Yay, Motherfucker! I might get this chingaderra (translation from Spanish: fucking thingy) done after all. Dr. Big Name must have owed Beloved Reader #2 one Helluva favor. Lucky me.

....Dancing off into the sunset with a very large glass of something lovely...woo hoo....woo hoo...woo hoo...woo hoo...

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Look Out, Evian, Jesus Is in the Designer Water Biz

You know, if you spell Evian backwards, it spells Naive. Looks like a Linden, California priest has caught on to that concept and is selling 1/2 liters of so-called "Holy Drinking Water" that has been blessed by clergy. Of course, he cautions, it's no substitute for church attendance, or "any other establishment of worship."

The stuff even carries a warning label that reads," If you are a sinner or evil in nature, this product may cause burning, intense heat, sweating, skin irritations, rashes, itchiness, vomiting, bloodshot and watery eyes, pale skin color and oral irritations." Correct me if I'm wrong, but according to the Christian paradigm, we're all sinners and all fall short of the glory et cetera, so that puts everyone on the planet at risk. Of course I'm sure it's not but wouldn't it be interesting though if the water were tainted with, oh, I dunno, e. coli or something? That would sure cause some internal distress and the cool thing is you could blame it on Satan instead of taking responsibility for your own actions.

You can read more here.

Ned Flanders would be downright proud. Wonder if they're hiding some Holy Tequila somewhere...I might have to sign up for summa that.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Fascism in America?

But It's Not Fascism When WE Do it?

Sunday, March 4, 2007

My Mom the Blogger

I am so proud of my mom! This afternoon she entered the blogosphere and started her own blog right here in Blogger. She's an award-winning writer of poetry and short stories and will be sharing some of them there along with her own thoughts about stuff in general. Go check her out at Times Reflected Through Clouded Eyes. Be sure to leave her a comment. She'll get a kick out of it.

Before you say a word, yeah, it's genetic. My daughter is also similarly afflicted. There's just something about Texas wimmin.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Safe for Use in China?

My inner radical is disappointed. I was warming up the ol' noodle to prepare for working on my dissertation proposal revisions by reading a fellow headshrinker's blog this morning and apparently he is banned in China. For what, I am completely without clue. The content and language in his pages are pretty tame in the grand scheme of things and I don't think he bandies about "The F Word" at all, unlike (ahem) "some" hellians we know, whom shall remain nameless. Wipe that grin off your face. You know who you are.

I thought it would be fun to see if my dank little cobweb-infested corner of Internet hell is available for viewing in the Land of Mao, so I navigated over to, typed in my URL, and guess what? I'm not banned over there - at least not right this minute. I can hardly believe it.

Apparently there's no real rhyme or reason why they block certain sites other than, not unlike the neocons and fundies over here, they don't want information to be freely available to just any old body. People might start having "ideas," or those pesky "opinion" thingies, or (horror of horrors!) actually thinking for themselves.

Just goes to show ya', no matter where in the world they are, uber-conservatives of all stripes don't want people to have opinions that are not in complete agreement with their own. Life begins when you agree with them, you know. Free thinking is contagious, and might actually foster change, and we'll be having none of that, in China or here in Hell, thankyouverymuch.

Friday, March 2, 2007

From the Galway Masterclass in Dallas

These videos offer up a tiny tasty morsel of the Galway Masterclass The Girl and I attended Saturday. We're still basking in the glow of the awesomeness of it all.

Man, I dig YouTube.

Kinda' Knew That...

drsharna is poisonous! Induce vomitting if ingested.



Thursday, March 1, 2007

Flying By The Seat of My Pants

This whole thing would all be so much easier and more readily comprehensible if I'd ever actually written a dissertation before. Nevertheless, I consider myself fortunate to be highly skilled at flying by the seat of my pants. The last couple of days have been crazy (and believe me, I know crazy - in the Biblical sense). I had a phone conference with Her Majesty My Dissertation Chair (HMMDC) yesterday to iron out a few details before I submit my next revision. A lot has happened since the last time we spoke, including the holidays, my teaching an undergraduate psychology course, a major national session for my school (which I didn't attend, but she did) and the death of my mother in law, but despite all of those things I've still gotten a lot done. HMMDC was a little peeved that I haven't kept her abreast of what I've been up to, but if neither of us is available, up-to-the-minute communication is difficult at best. All that aside, she was pleased with what I've gotten accomplished and she appreciates that I am as self-directed as I am.

During our conversation, HMMDC brought up a couple of issues. First, she thinks my new associate dean (the old one got a much better offer elsewhere - can't blame him for taking it) is a twit who tries to make things overly complicated for his dissertating students just for the sake of complicating things. This is a ginormous problem for both the amazingly smart, fabulous and wonderful HMMDC and myself because that type of thinking runs completely counter to ours and is part of why I picked her. Given that situation, she suggested that since Dr. New AD likes to "make his mark" on the dissertations he works on (read: piss all over everything), that now would be the time for me to seek his assistance on something trivial that I don't really care if he changes. He's already made it rather clear that he doesn't like the title, the table of contents or the order of presentation of the content without specifying what exacly he wanted to see, so there are promising areas there. HMMDC suggested that maybe if I seek his guidance in one of those areas, it would placate him before we get too deep into the process. I made preparations to do that, namely, "What would you like the title to be?" and "In what order would you prefer the presentation?" but haven't executed the request - more on that in a bit (film at 11).

The other issue brought up by HMMDC is that my exposure to the very small neuropsychology community is limited, consisting of my supervisor from the hospital, my second faculty reader (much beloved and brilliant Reader #2), and the other neuropsych faculty guy at my school, so I have not clue one whom to ask to be my external reader, since it's supposed to be someone affiliated with neither the school nor myself so none of those guys qualify. HMMDC advised me to consult Reader #2, who is a prominent (and have I mentioned brilliant?) neuropsychologist, and in the meantime she'd check with the geriatric psych folks she knows and we'd probably have somebody in a couple of weeks. Love love, kiss kiss, talk to you in 2 weeks, we were done.

That is, until about two hours later. HMMDC called me in a bit of a lather to inform me that she and Reader #2 had just been on the phone and this is what they had decided in the interest of getting me graduated: First, since graduation this summer will be in the same major city where my 80-something grandparents and many other extended family members live and I would like to walk at that time, they are putting a cattle prod to my ass to get me there in time and I should just buckle my seatbelt, hang on and shut the fuck up because it's going to be a bumpy ride - but we'll get there. I love a good challenge and am thrilled to be a blip on someone's radar at this point so I'm okay with that. Done is good. Done. Is. Very. Fucking. Good.

First things first, Reader #2 (whom I adore and have only the best, most wonderful glowing and gushy nice things to say about not only because of his brilliance as a clinician but his unwavering comitment to student advocacy) absolutely, under no circumstances, will ever Ever EVER work on a dissertation committee with Dr. New AD again. Period. Not really a problem because interestingly enough, ADs will be rendered unnecessary for dissertation committees as of the end of this month so HMMDC is going to ask for a special dispensation from the grand poobah of the school to ask if we can just go ahead and drop him now and either put someone else in that position or leave it empty, depending upon how many people the school wants on the committee. My vote is for leaving it vacant, because trying to get 2 academics to agree is easier than trying to get 3 to agree, and HMMDC and Reader #2 are already in agreement. Realistically though, I won't hold my breath because it's guaranteed that nooooobody from the adminisphere is going to ask for my input on the subject. In the interest of minimizing complications though, either way is still good news. Surely we can find someone to play nice and get me out.

The next thing, from which I am still reeling, is that HMMDC and Reader #2 agreed that since I will be using an archival dataset and already have approval from the hospital Institutional Review Board (IRB) to use it for my study, that I should go ahead and fill out the IRB exemption paperwork for our school. As in RIGHT FUCKING NOW, do not pass go, do not collect $200, and get it to HMMDC by 10am Pacific time this morning because they meet today. No pressure or anything. --Don't even ask. Anybody who knows me for more than 2 minutes knows damn well I got it in. I ended class early this morning because my lecture notes weren't fully prepared after being up all night doing that, but by Gawd, I got that IRB bullshit turned in, and with time to spare. I even watched American Idol first (you knew I would).

It probably goes without saying that I was pretty much a zombie this morning in class but the kids were excited to be released from my dungeon a little early and I got to come home and take a much needed and well-deserved nap, so that's a big ol' bonus.

Naptime over, I was just settling down into some good juicy revisions when my cell phone rang. Guess who? You guessed it: My NeuroNerd Hero, Reader #2. He wanted to be sure I was aware of his refusal to work with Dr. New AD (whom I've only met once when I read his tarot cards last summer). I told much beloved Reader #2 that as far as I am concerned Dr. New AD is expendable, but that his expertise as "Dr. Uber NeuroGuy" is not and assured him that we'd figure something out one way or another. I'm flexible, especially if it is to my benefit. As of the end of this month it will be a moot point anyway.

Next things next, Reader #2 proceeded to tell me that I should hire a statistics consultant asap to help me figure out the math part. Not to DO it for me, mind you, but to tutor me through the process, since I'm not a math nerd and all (although I play one on TV). I told him about the recent policy change I'd been emailed from the adminisphere about not receiving ANY outside help in the dissertation process. He got downright pissed and told me to send him the link and he'd get it changed. After all, an external reader is outside, right? So where do we draw the line? He said that not allowing a statistics consultant was tantamount to leaving the dissertating student floundering on the beach. I told him that although I've flourished and made a name for myself, the feeling of being left floundering on the beach pretty much sums up the bulk of my experience with the program for the last 6 and a half years, so what else is new? Of course now I can't find the link to the information but I know that's what it said among listing the punishments for such offenses, including but not limited to the rack, shoving glass shards under the fingernails or being forced to slide down a 20-foot razor blade into a pool of rubbing alcohol. We agreed that we didn't have that conversation, but he advised me to do it anyway after consulting with HMMDC and thank the stats consultant for the tutorials in the "thanks" page of the final document.

He then asked me about the revisions the school-based research person wanted to see in the next iteration of my proposal. He agreed with her suggestions but wants me to send everything to him before I send it anywhere else, a decision supported heartily by HMMDC. I can do that but it's going to take a couple of days since I've kind of butchered (read: really fucked up) the original document in trying to get to the revisions the research person wants to see. It takes time to unfuckup stuff, you know?

Okay, all that said...the coolest part besides hopefully getting out this summer is that Reader #2 knows a lot of the "Big Names" in neuropsychology and is having dinner with one of the biggest next week. Turns out Dr. Big Name owes much beloved Reader #2 a huge favor for saving his ass recently. Guess who's dissertation Reader #2 is going to ask him to serve as external reader? You know it baby - that would be mine - the Dissertation from Hell.

Yeah baby, I got it like that - by the seat of my pants. Good thing that's how I roll.

What the...

Wrong end, brain trust. I just ran across this over at, brought to us by the same folks who gave us Sudoku toilet paper (why?). Will someone please explain to me why a person would find it necessary to perform a Stroop test while relieving the pressure in their bowels? WTF just doesn't even begin to convey the cognitive dissonance I'm experiencing here.