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.


Do you ever get way too excited about something that may not actually be happening, and you keep telling yourself not to get way too excited, but you do it anyway because you can’t help yourself, and you’re at once bracing yourself for extreme disappointment and enjoying the ride?

For instance, my roommate might be buying a house. It’s apparently a great deal. He’s trying not to be all stoked about it but I can tell he is.

There is another Skywalker for instance (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) but I don’t feel about talking about it right now. :)

Transcribing, part deux

IMG_20130507_224755So on the last interview I was transcribing, there were only three voices; one was mine and the other two were easily distinguishable (although the one dude didn’t articulate very well and began to piss me off by the end). Today I finished cleaning up the recordings of the other interviews (I decided to straight-up remove all the terrible putting-the-recorder-down noises this time, instead of passing them through a hard limiter, and I like the outcome a lot better) and started transcribing the next one.

This time there are five voices: me, a guy sitting on the left, and three girls who are all sitting to the right. This makes my job much more annoying, because it turns out I’m really bad at telling women’s voices apart. I resorted to making a sticky note with timestamps where I know each person is speaking, so that I can jump back and compare. (Also note my rad pseudonyms; I got the idea of using superheroes or cartoon characters from my advisor, who does this when he does focus groups.)