Observations on moving

(WordPress just said “Beep beep boop” while it prepared this page for me. That made me happy. I always need more deliberate whimsy in my life.)

On Sunday I jumped in the car and drove to my new home for the next year at least. I’ve been collecting some thoughts, observations, and stories over the last week or so about the move, with the aim of compiling them in a blog post. So here goes!

  • I drove I-80 through Cheyenne and then down I-25. I was originally going to go US-40 through Vernal and then to US-34 through Rocky Mountain National Park, but I ended up getting a later start than I wanted, so I took the quicker route.
  • It’s been a while since I’ve driven I-80 through Evanston, so I had forgotten how pretty the stretch just past Echo Reservoir is. The highway follows a cut through red rocks and pine trees, which is a lovely combination — especially because I’m more used to the drive through southern Utah, where it’s just plain red rocks (and maybe some sagebrush if you’re lucky).
  • The drive through Wyoming is a whole lot of boring flatlands punctuated by sudden moments of ridiculous beauty. As soon as you get past Evanston, there’s a solid hour of nothing interesting, but then suddenly at Green River there’s this ridiculous bluff that pops up out of nowhere and a cool tunnel through a mountain, and then there’s nothing again for two hours, and suddenly there’s this really interesting mountain that just stands out all by itself, and then an hour of boring, and then you climb out of Laramie through this gorgeous red rock pass, and on top of the pass there’s this plateau with these neat rock outcroppings all over. 
  • I’m always amused by flipping through radio stations out in the middle of nowhere, just to see what’s on the dial. Usually, at any given point in Wyoming, there is a Jesus station, an NPR station, and some country music. 
  • On that subject: I think that in order to understand country music, you really have to drive through some flatlands under that clear blue sky you only get in the summer. I don’t particularly like country music (with the exception of Johnny Cash and sometimes Garth Brooks), but I do appreciate how it captures the feeling of expanse that’s found in these places.
  • When I got my uhaul box I found that my spice box had fallen over and disgorged its contents all over everything else. Not a big deal, except for the fact that my cumin is in a bottle whose lid has been broken for quite a long time. So now a bunch of my stuff smells like cumin. I wish it had been basil or something because damn but cumin is pungent.
  • My landlord is basically the coolest.
  • I now own a kitchen table and six chairs. SIX! That means I can invite five people over and have chairs for all of them! There is not room in my kitchen for six chairs so I’m going to have to scatter a few throughout my house. 
  • I also now own a coffee table and it makes me feel like an adult at least a little bit.
  • Have been feeling a little insecure lately because my new town is a little smaller, a little countrier, and maybe a little less tolerant than San Diego.
  • Have also been feeling really lucky and really happy lately, for other reasons that I don’t particularly feel like disclosing.

Running out of steam. Maybe more later.

A darn shame: On l’affaire Kelly et al.

(That’s right, I’m mixing several languages in my post title. flex)

About a year and a half ago, By Common Consent published an interesting post entitled “A darn shame“. The gist of the post is that the author firmly believes that the church is the way to God, and the instrument to build the kingdom of God on the earth, but:

I cannot, in good conscience, recommend that my gay friends investigate the church. This sickens me. As far as I can tell (a very limited distance), to join the church as a member of the LGBT community is to consign yourself to misery.  Since we are, that we might have joy, I cannot suggest it.

This seems to be the seed around which my thoughts on the excommunication of Kate Kelly have crystallized. Even if I were a believing Mormon once more (I’m not, for a variety of reasons, but I don’t count myself among the bitter exmo crowd), I would be unable, in good conscience, to recommend the church to many of the friends I’ve made in graduate school. They ask questions and want good answers that have good reasons besides “because I said so,” and recent events indicate that the church climate is once more growing colder for questioners.

Recently, it looked like the church was taking steps to distance itself from the Proposition 8 fiasco (though contra this narrative, see here for an example of local leaders involving themselves in the fray in their official capacities), grapple with its views on gay people, extend a welcoming hand toward those who doubt, and frankly address sensitive issues in church history. I and others saw these developments as steps toward greater glasnost and willingness to engage with the murky business of life in a pluralistic, evidence-based society. I was hopeful.

To see why this looked like a pivot toward glasnost, it’s useful to look a little further back in the church’s recent history. Starting in, say, the early 1980’s (or maybe earlier, perhaps as a result of the correlation program beginning in earnest in 1972), there seemed to be a trend toward anti-intellectualism, and in my reading, Boyd Packer was at the center of this movement. In 1981, he gave an address to church educators entitled “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater than the Intellect“, in which he said that “some things that are true are not very useful.” Many have read this as a shot across the bow of Mormon historians who feel it is important to develop the most factual accounts of church history possible. Another address, given by Boyd Packer in May of 1993, is even more direct:

There are three areas where members of the Church, influenced by social and political unrest, are being caught up and led away. … The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement… and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals.

(Speaking as someone who’s all three of those things, back when I was struggling with how much I wanted to be involved with the church, it wounded me more than a little to hear that I was considered a danger to the church.) This period of strong anti-intellectualism culminated in September 1993 with formal church discipline of six intellectuals who had spoken publicly to express their doubts about the status quo. With this history in mind, it’s more evident why the recent actions of the church looked like an opening up to hard questions on thorny issues, and why I was hopeful.

Imagine my surprise (and dismay), then, when news came that disciplinary proceedings had been initiated against Kate Kelly, John Dehlin, and Rock Waterman. (And if you think that the timing is a coincidence and that local leaders didn’t have marching orders from Salt Lake, then would you like to buy this neat bridge?) I had hoped that the church was more willing to substantively address questions, even difficult ones. I had hoped that well-meaning doubt, backed by the spirit of inquiry, would no longer be stigmatized. I had hoped that we had left 1993 behind us. It looks, though, like I was wrong. And that’s a darn shame.

Let’s talk about Led Zeppelin IV for a moment

First of all, rank the tracks on Led Zeppelin IV from best to least best (I avoid the word “worst” on purpose here). Now, do the same for any other rock album, and start comparing head-to-head: the top track to the top track, the second to the second, and so forth. Now obviously the four best tracks on IV are Levee, Stairway, Black Dog, and Rock and Roll, in some order, and I think it’s clear that these four will win each one of those head-to-head matchups. (Indeed, one could persuasively argue that the fourth-best song on IV is better than the second-best, or even the best, song on many other albums.) But what’s incredible about this album is that the fifth- through eighth-best tracks will blow any other album’s deep tracks out of the water.

Let’s see this principle in action. My ranking of IV’s tracks goes something like Levee – Stairway – Black Dog – Rock and Roll – Misty Mountain Hop – Going to California – Evermore – Four Sticks. (You could talk me into interchanging Stairway and Levee or Black Dog and Rock and Roll or California and Evermore. And really, the “least-best” track on the album is Four Sticks?? Any other album is going to compete with that?)

Now let’s compare head-to-head with another iconic album: Van Halen’s debut. The ranking of this album’s tracks is going to be something like Runnin’ – Jamie’s Crying – You Really Got Me – Ain’t Talkin’ – Ice Cream Man – I’m the One – Eruption – Feel Your Love – Little Dreamer – On Fire – Atomic Punk. The first time I’m seriously persuaded to take the Van Halen track over the Led Zeppelin track comes clear down at track 7, where I like Eruption slightly more than Evermore. And I like Feel Your Love better than Four Sticks, but I’ll take Four Sticks over anything in slots 9-11 on the Van Halen album.

The brilliance of individual tracks aside, another place where IV shines is sequencing. Is there a better four-track sequence than Black Dog – Rock and Roll – Evermore – Stairway? Is there a better closing track than Levee? I submit that the answer to both questions is a “no” as resounding and emphatic as the crisp snap of John Bonham’s drums (although VH’s opening four is competitive).

Come at me bro. Tell me I’m wrong.

Quant analysis

So I’m meeting with my advisor on Friday and have to have something productive to show for myself but I can’t brain enough right now to do the qualitative analysis I was planning on, so I’m doing some quant stuff instead. The problem is there’s so much quant stuff to do that I keep starting to do one thing but distracting myself with something else. So I’m going to make a list here so that I can be more focused.

  • ANOVA test/homework fairness questions (DONE)
  • Import and link Calc 2 roster data (DONE)
    • Clean data so that it doesn’t have a bunch of RedIDs for which I have nothing other than an indicator of their Spring 13 enrollment status (DONE – More annoying than I’d thought)
    • Recalculate persistence
  • How do various sub-populations compare in various outcomes across the four treatments? This is a big question that uses a lot of two-way between-groups ANOVA.
    • Sub-populations: people who’ve never had calculus before; gender; race/ethnicity; quartiles on CCR; quartiles on ACT/SAT…
      • Made a variable for the kind of calculus people have had before.
    • Outcomes: beliefs items; final grade; score on final exam; CCI score; CCI normalized gain; persistence…
  • Link focus group protocol items to post-term survey items (DONE-ish. No analyses conducted yet but I know which FG items correspond to which survey items.)
  • Learn R and the IRT packages for R; conduct IRT analysis of CCI items

I’m sure I’ll think of more things but this is a good list for right now.

Here is a thing that happened today

I was leaving the UCSD campus and decided to print off several articles I need to read before Wednesday. I walked into the APM mailroom/printer room, and there were two other people, one of whom left just as I was walking in. I got my computer open and was starting to find the pdfs I needed to print, when the second guy opened the door to walk out, reached for the light switch, and turned off the light. With, y’know, me still standing there in the room.

As the door slowly closed and the light from the hall grew gradually dimmer, I made some noises like “Uh – I – were you – um -” and he rushed back in and was like “Oh I’m so sorry, I forgot about you!”

#unforgettable #thatswhatIam #itsbeenagooddaytoday

I am becoming a soccer junkie


  • I have tickets to a Gold Cup double-header in Utah on July 13 (USA vs. Cuba and Belize vs. Costa Rica)
  • I’m planning my summer trip to Utah around this match and fully intend to plan it in such a way that I can go to an RSL game on either 7/3 or 7/20
  • The USMNT is (rumored to be) playing a friendly against Guatemala at Qualcomm on July 5 and if tickets ever go on sale I’d probably buy tickets to that (and alter my Utah plans accordingly)
  • Xolos and Club América are playing at Petco Park on July 6 and I’m totally thinking about buying tickets (Castillo! Corona! López Ojeda!)
  • A bunch of us are going to watch the local semi-pro team play up in Black Mountain/PQ next Saturday
  • I missed the Champions League final on Saturday so I avoided sports websites until I could find a replay online
  • And then today I spent a bunch of time talking about it with my soccer friend at school
  • Also today I spent like an hour watching RSL play against some minor-league team in the US Open Cup which is a domestic competition that nobody really cares about that much but it was soccer anyway
  • I’ve been frequenting a sports bar/restaurant in PB specifically because they subscribed to the MLS TV packages, even though I think their food is overpriced
  • The World Cup is coming up next year in Brazil and I’ll basically be graduated and my friend was telling me how he’s going to take out some student loan money so he and his family can go down and watch a match or two and this sounds like a kind of awesome idea

I regret nothing.


So tomorrow I’m taking my car in to have it looked at. It’s coming up on 100,000 miles, I know it needs a brake job, the air conditioning is probably leaking, and it probably needs its transmission fluid flushed. I know it doesn’t need a new timing belt because it doesn’t have one; it has a timing chain instead.

I’ve only had it for three years but I feel like this car and I have gone through a lot together and I kind of like it. This is why I’m perfectly willing (although not particularly excited, in all honesty) to potentially be spending a bunch of money on things that are relatively invisible. Nothing that happens is likely to dramatically improve the performance of my car (A/C notwithstanding), but I’m pretty okay with that.

Here’s to the next 100,000.

Untold stories

[I don't poetry much.]

Maybe they are like the ember

that hurts when held tight

but when released kindles flame that the heart leaps to see.

Maybe they are like the grain of sand

that is covered by smooth hard layers

slowly, one by one, year by year

until the pearl is found, shining and lustrous

hiding the sharp edges deep inside.

Maybe they are like small stones

light but dense

when multiplied heavy as the world.

Maybe they are like the shoe

that rubs and chafes and galls

and makes callous what once felt the soft grass.

This is true: they are holding the breath

and stopping the tongue

and damning the self

that by nature must flow, must be free.


So for no particular reason, my sleep schedule has been a little messed up lately. I won’t really be able to sleep until 2 or 2:30am, and then I’ll get up around 10. So I mean I’m getting normal amounts of sleep, it’s just not at the usual time. This is something of self-perpetuating cycle – if you get up at 10am, you’re not going to be particularly tired at 11pm or whenever normal people go to sleep, so you stay up later, which causes you to sleep in longer, and the cycle repeats itself the next day.

There’s a couple of ways to sort of reset a sleep schedule. One way is to stay up as long as feasible, like until 6 or 7 am, and then sleep for maybe 3 hours and get up at 9 or 10. Then, because you didn’t get enough sleep the “night” before, you’ll be tired enough to go to bed at a normal time, and then you’ll wake up at a normalish time as well. I’ve employed this method with some success. The trick is to find something moderately interesting to do during the hours between 3 and 6, which are normally pretty terrible times to be awake. One time I did this by watching several games of Australian rules football, which is kind of bemusing at the best of times, but even more so when you’re really tired. It was entertaining enough to keep me awake, but confusing enough to keep me from being all excited, so that when 6am rolled around, I felt plenty sleepy. The problem with this method is that you tend to be a little discombobulated the next day; if you’re going to do it, I would recommend doing this on like a Friday night when you aren’t doing anything in particular on Saturday.

The slightly saner way to reset your sleep schedule is to just go to bed early one night, preferably after a good amount of physical exertion. For instance, I got back from playing ultimate about 90 minutes ago, and I’m feeling plenty tired to go to sleep nowish. (The problem tonight is that I have to wake up early to take a friend to the airport, so we’ll see if I actually manage to fix my sleep schedule.) The more general problem with this method is that



especially when one is conscious of trying to fall asleep and reset one’s sleep schedule. But anyway, that’s the method I’m choosing tonight – wish me luck!


pizzaToday I had pizza with a friend who I haven’t seen for a long time. A lot of things have happened to this friend, and we sat and talked about them over our pizza for a long time. Then my friend’s friend happened to come to the same pizza restaurant, and then this other friend ate some pizza while we all talked together. I don’t know why but I feel like the pizza was somehow integral to this experience. I don’t know that this experience is replicable if the food item under consumption is something other than pizza.

I have some other thoughts about pizza that are not related to my conversation with my friend. One of these is that whenever I eat pizza, or indeed any dish that is topped with melted cheese, my moustache smells like melted cheese until I have a chance to wash it with soap. I don’t know why this is. My moustache is not really long enough to dangle in my food (you’re welcome for that mental image), but I didn’t ever notice this effect before I had facial hair. I wonder why the smell of melted cheese clings to hair (and particularly facial hair) when it doesn’t cling to skin (e.g., on my fingers, or my lips).

I have a great recipe for sourdough pizza dough that I haven’t made for far too long. I intend to make more pizza dough in the near future, because I have a great deal of arugula in my garden that is going to need to be eaten, hopefully in creative and delicious ways. I’m thinking that arugula, pears, balsamic vinegar, and sautéed onions would be good friends on top of a pizza, with just a little olive oil and a little cheese underneath. Maybe sprinkle some feta on top, or maybe add a little prosciutto.


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