Archive for March, 2007

Final reeling

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

I don’t recall the details exactly (I’m sure I could cite Booth 1996 if I really needed), but the symptoms of opium poisoning and/or the withdrawal symptoms for habituated opium users can include nausea, vomitting, gastrointenstinal pain, joint aches, dizziness and periods of unrestful unconsciousness.

Oh, so that’s what it would feel like. 


It was oh-so-lovely to see Allicia again, who’s in town on break until tomorrow.  And I do remember Lena quite well from somewhere unplaceable, probably Allicia’s room.  I hope she sends me some of those pictures.  Cafe Algiers = *heart*.  Great food, wonderful beverages, excellent prices, convivial atmosphere (we sat on the terrace, bare arms and exposed necks celebrating the respite from winter).  What’s not to love?

It was great to feel like I was in a different time, place and community for a couple of hours, especially today.  Getting to chat briefly with Rich on Allicia’s phone was also a treat.  Shades of a time and place distantly remembered and still being written.  I hope I manage to visit before April!

The meeting was a new feat in plumbing, beyond what I had thought possible.  I’m pretty sure I never even imagined anything like this before, say, last week.  Now I could almost have precisely predicted the details.  I think I’m almost done talking the whole experience dry.  Maybe I’ll write about it someplace else.  But for what purpose?  Second-guessing is such a boundless excercise.



Monday, March 12th, 2007

Ok, so maybe I didn’t only work on my thesis during the last three days.  I may possibly perhaps potentially have seen a clip or two on YouTube.

Anyway, I know I’m very late to the tech game, but I really enjoyed the “wow” factor and high irony of watching this music video for Beyoncé’s Irreplaceable made with The Sims2.  Compare with the original music video for yourself and see if Beyoncé is herself replaceable by a computer animation 🙂

And the reason I saw the Sims2-created music video is because Beyoncé has recorded a Spanish version of Irreplaceable, further confirming her intention to broaden her fan base (ie make more money) and maybe win a Latin Grammy.  Remember of course the recently released remix track and video for Beyoncé’s collaboration with Shakira.

Why am I awake at 8.30am??  Bedtime.

Thank God.

Monday, March 12th, 2007

Thank You, God.

I can barely believe it – I’ve actually completed a passable full draft, with just 10 days left to the submission deadline.  For those of you who don’t understand how late this is for a first full thesis draft: enjoy your blessings.  In the last 72 hours I have done almost nothing except work on this.  On Saturday I woke up, started work at my desk and then simply went to bed 11 hours later, having never left my suite once, not even for the dining hall.  And still there’re endless numbers of loose ends and abandoned sections that have been glossed over in the draft I sent out for various kind souls to review.  There’s no bibliography, or glossary of acronyms used, or any explanation of how I derived a certain key variable.  Nevertheless it’s passably done, and it only took over three hours of formatting and deleting notes-to-self and fixing all the cross-referenced numbers and footnotes to get it ready to send out. 

And I have a table of contents!  Ah, the joy of small accomplishments 🙂

Again, thank You, God.

Oh, and I even have a title for my thesis now! 

(At this point, every person who’s ever written a thesis should feel shocked since people are usually expected to declare their thesis titles months in advance.)

Where /are/ we?

Saturday, March 10th, 2007

Despite everything, it’s hard to work when it feels like the sky is falling, and your world might be falling along with it.

Andrew’s parents were here for a weekend junket, and over a lovely dinner at Legal I had the occassion to fomulate this thought:

What will I immediately miss most about leaving Harvard behind?  I’m starting to think it’s going to be things like the seemingly unlimited academic resources (the supercharged Google-scholar-and-HOLLIS system, the free Naxos access, the turbo wireless and broadband web access, the expectation that professors and administrators are there for you), the ability to give admission tours (still sincerely selling the Harvard dream, after all these years), and the crazy perks (the espresso at HUCE, the OFA and UC grants, the free travel).  I don’t know how I’m going to deal with having to move this blog (do I have to?), change my email address and no longer depending on HUDS.

At least what I might have expected to be the hardest parts of the process have been essentially preemptively done for me.

Back to the crunch.

Protected: Funny, nary a cloud in the sky

Thursday, March 8th, 2007

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Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

God bless the people of Sumatra.  What awful news.

It’s also sobering to hear that even my mother felt the tremors at home.

Scrappy day

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Oh, scrappy day.

I was distracted enough to miss my 1pm.  And that’s the least of it.

I’m going back to bed.  Wake me in the morning.

I want to see a full, high-quality video of the Viktor & Rolf show.  Pretty unbelievable – I want to see these clothes on some covers and editorials (like that Dolce and Gabbana dress that’s everywhere right now).

One step forward, two steps back

Sunday, March 4th, 2007

Today I spent about 9 hours working hard… so that I can now be 18 hours behind where I was when I started.  I spent the whole afternoon trying to fix an anomaly in my dataset – I did all kinds of fancy analysis, read a bunch of related papers, hunted for corroborating or better datasets.  Then at about dinner time I found the problem and it was frustratingly simple: I had switched “Thailand” and “Tanzania” by mistake. 


But after correcting that substantial error I then discovered that all my previous analyses and empirical results (for/from which I had produced all kinds of fancy figures, tables and discursive text) were completely wrong.  Which was horrifying, to say the least.  So in an attempt to save this key quantitative section, I went back through the literature and reconstructed a new independent variable measure to correct for the other systematic error I knew was in the dataset. 

By midnight this new, improved dataset revealed….  exactly the same results I had from before, virtually.  Except now I have to completely re-write the accompanying substantive sections as well as make new tables and figures.

Which is how I’m now 18 hours behind where I was when I started, 9 hours ago.

Haha, from the Chicago Manual of Style online:

“16.36  Avoiding overlong footnotes:  Lengthy, discursive notes should be reduced or integrated into the text.”


Testing, testing…

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

Taking a little break to have some dinner at my desk.  I’m really just stalling on thesis work because I just spent all afternoon completing my dataset (for what I hope will be the last time, dear God) and I’m a little scared that the couple dozen new or revised observations will throw all my results off.  Eek.

Here‘s a slightly bizarre track: Avril Lavigne singing the Mandarin version of “Girlfriend”.  At least her accent’s pretty good, I think.

Beyoncé looks to be setting some kind of record by releasing a music video for every one of the tracks on her album B’day.  She spoke briefly about a bunch of them on TRL.  Newly released out of this bunch is the video for “Beautiful Liar”, featuring Shakira.  I mention the video only because it’s pretty cool how they made Beyoncé and Shakira look like twins.


Friday, March 2nd, 2007

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but when it’s cold my hands somehow become more prone to scrapes.  Today I managed to accumulate something like six or eight papercuts in four or five different incidents… by the end of the day I realised that my left hand was tingling from the cumulative effect.  In fact, I just washed my hands and each little cut is still smarting!

As a postscript to what I wrote about Ellen Degeneres yesterday, I forgot to mention that it made me happy to find that Ellen’s myspace page actually showed the pictures she had taken of her and Clint Eastwood during the Oscars – the ones she had Steven Spielberg take for her, which was a hilarious gag to watch 🙂

Also, Ellen’s on the March 2007 cover of W magazine, in a glowing portrait by Michael Thompson.  I mention this more to note the scary/beautiful series of black-and-white portraits, also by Thompson, that accompany the feature.  I don’t know if it was intentional, but Ellen looks completely transformed in each of them, even though all the pictures feature the same hair and makeup.  When I first saw the magazine, I was struck by this effect: in the first she looks uncannily like Glenn Close, in the second she perfectly channels Princess Diana, and in the final poster-sized portrait she reminds me of Sharon Stone.  See the pictures here and see what you think.

PS: Since I mentioned Princess Diana, and in one of seminars today we participated in a fascinating, real-time negotiation role-play about the expansion of Camp Babylon in Iraq (which in reality has come under mounting criticism since 2004 for the damage that US military operations have done to that priceless archaelogical site), this piece of trivia seems relevant.  In a nutshell: later this year, Prince Harry is being deployed to Iraq on a tour of duty. 

The possibility for tragedy is really too horrible to contemplate.