I think perhaps statistics has taken over my brain.  While reading this fabulous post over at Annie’s place,  I noticed an automatically generated link at the bottom for a blog story entitled “Is divorce in my future?**” and I immediately thought the author was trying to tell me that indeed, divorce was probable and significant at the p<.01 level.



I always set unattainable goals. Even the little ones. Today’s to-do list was unrealistic to be sure. I knew that when I wrote it up this morning. Still, I’m angry that it’s 10 pm and I’m not done. I took a break to cook dinner and watch a little TV. I needed that time then. I need that time now.

I entered what I ate today into an online calorie tracker. It wasn’t so bad, but not so good either. It tells me I’m not getting enough vitamin D.  Could my lap-top tan have anything to do with that?

I’d like to have a drink. That would be more calories though.  I don’t know what I want more right now, the drink, or to not fall victim to grad-school-gut. I once thought the gut was only limited to theses and dissertations, but I was mistaken. They take years of crafting at library carols and behind computer screens.  It’s one souvenir I’d like to leave without.

forget it. I’m having the drink.

It happens all the time: strange and indecipherable abbreviations for variables in statistical packages. Trying to create a label for a complex construct that is only 4 or 5 characters can be a challenge, no doubt. It can also provide those of us who download these data sets with plenty of amusement. Take for instance this variable name: BTCH. I’ll bet you can guess what I thought when I first read that.  So I checked the code book. Apparently BTCH is the abbreviation for… btch. Helpful, right?

(from the kitchen)

Mr. Errata: Do I use this whole can of frosting?

Alotta Errata: (laughing) Yes.

Mr. Errata:  What do I spread it with?

Alotta Errata: A knife… or a spatula…

Mr. Errata: There’s no special frosting tool?

Alotta Errata: mmmm… no.

Mr. Errata:  Well I don’t know, I’ve never frosted a cake before

Alotta Errata: (incredulous) You’ve  never frosted a cake?

Mr. Errata: I’m a man!

Ode to STATA

I’m currently going through the process of learning STATA. I’ve been told that I’ll come to love it with time and practice, but for now I find that many missteps to be frustrating (and not very environmentally friendly when it comes to printing out the results of the lab)

In order to air my frustrations more eloquently, I wrote this haiku:

My lab results in

wasted paper wasted time

STATA loves me not.

Hot Wheels

I’ve been getting around by bicycle mostly these last few weeks and while I’m glad that I can get to most of what I need (which is really only campus and the grocery store) by bike, it has definitely changed how I plan my days.

To start with, the weather is still quite warm, and riding a bike with a heavy bag strapped to your back creates certain, ahem, hygeine issues that must be dealt with. Now it would be great if our society was OK with a little bit of sweat now and then, but it seems that we are not, especially not when it comes to being female. I’ve found two solutions to this problem. The first is to go to the gym before class; this means waking up very very early (booo) but also means much less car traffic on the roads (yaaaay). The second is to simply bring a fresh shirt with me, and to freshen up in the ladies’ room after my ride in. This saves time (yaaay) but creates an excess in laundry (booo).

I would like to get some panniers or maybe some folding baskets to attach to the sides of my bike rack, but they just aren’t in the budget right now. The bike rack works well enough for gym trips. A few bungee cords and I’m off, but I’m not about to bungee cord my back pack on there; not with my laptop in it.

Weather is also a much bigger consideration than it used to be.  I have to ask myself if I think it’s going to rain today despite what the weather man says, and if it IS going to rain, how bad will it be? Light enough to ride in? If not, can I leave campus early enough to beat it home? The same goes for daylight. While I do have lights and reflectors and I am well equipped for night riding, I still prefer not to whenever possible. This means I must budget my time carefully. Technically, I should be studying right now instead of writing this blog entry, because I’ve only got about 6 more hours of daylight before I have to leave campus. Oh well. Marx will have to wait his turn.

Biking also limits the amount of things I can buy at the grocery store, which I guess is good considering I’m on a very tight budget these days.  I have to consider the fragility of items, and their temperature sensitivity. It’s a new way of shopping for me. I’m used to buying in bulk to save money- now I have to carry it all on my back.  It doesn’t matter that I’ll save 20 cents if I buy the bigger size, If I can’t carry it, I can’t buy it.

Despite the limitations I’ve been enjoying the experience. I only wish more people would give it a try.

Crickets. That’s what I’m listening to right now. They’re so loud here that when I called Mr. Errata for our evening chat (which has become quite short now that we’ve realized what it is costing us) he asked if I was sitting outside.  I might as well sit outside; these walls don’t seem to keep out the noise, or the critters themselves for that matter. My morning routine now includes a visual sweep of the bathroom for crickets, spiders, and the like.  I should be focusing on my theory reading but I’m distracted. It isn’t the crickets really; it’s this overwhelming sense of displacement. I don’t feel at home. I suppose that is to be expected. I’m not home. I made my first stab at cooking a meal this evening.  The owner of the home wasn’t here, so I felt a little bit better about poking through all of the cabinets trying to find a can opener and a strainer. The large skillet I found was a bit… unclean. I decided a quick wash before using it couldn’t hurt, but the sponge looked like a health hazard as did the rag draped over the faucet. Frustrated, I cut up one of my new face clothes into small swatches so that I can have a few bits of cloth to wash my dishes with. Of course, I have to bring them back into my room and place them on the edge of my mini laundry basket to dry; I don’t want the homeowner (what should I call her?) to know that I find her kitchen habits less than satisfactory.  Despite the awkwardness of cooking in a kitchen that is not my own, it was nice to have a hot dish for dinner.  It would be nicer not to eat it alone on my bed. I have to remind myself that this is just temporary.

Classes start tomorrow.  To be honest, I’m nervous. I know that they wouldn’t have let me in if they didn’t think I could handle it; I know that they truly want me to succeed here. My success is in their best interest. Still, I’m afraid. I’m afraid that somehow it was all a mistake, that I’m not really ready. What if I make a fool of myself?  What if my research interests are not significant enough? What if this choice is just another line on a long list of errors? I suppose we’ll find out in about 15 weeks time. Wish me luck.