June 11, 2005
One of those main rules of business meetings and interviews, so fundamental that it probably makes less than half the lists, is that one should shower before the meeting. A corollary, so understood that it is never written in these lists, is that the proper answer to
We'd like to see you again tomorrow. When can you make it?is not
Well, let's see. I've got to take down a tent, pack up camp, drive to a town thirty minutes in the opposite direction to get a shower and change clothes, and then come back.Depending on the company one keeps, a look of shock might erupt on the faces of those with whom one is meeting, followed by the offer
Do you need a motel voucher?You see, I'd been meeting with someone who works in homelessness prevention and spends his days trying to get people into shelters with four walls and hot running water. Women sleeping outside are one of his particular concerns. I explained to him that I was camping with a friend who lives in the area, and willingly avoiding a house. The look of "are you daft?" dissipated a bit, but not entirely.
I admit, though, that I do almost like triggering such reactions, even if I'd been surprised by his. Homelessness aside, he seemed like a camper.
Along a similar line, I remember one meeting when I was working for a professor. It was the middle of a Tuesday morning, and I was talking to him about the research. I was dead tired and having trouble following what he was saying. Finally, I just said "I'm sorry. I was up late and hardly got any sleep at all last night." He replied, with some concern, "You weren't up late finishing this for me, were you?" "Oh no," I assured him, "I was out dancing." I think he'd been leaning back in his chair, but at that, he popped forward with a "What!" He'd just gotten back from overseas, and might have been jetlagged. "Dancing," I repeated. Clearly, of all responses, this was not one he'd expected. I explained that I'd gone to a club with a friend and that the Monday night dance scene in Chicago was, as best as I could tell, dismal. That still didn't really tamp down the look of "I don't believe it" on his face.
Yes, that's me. . . mild-mannered blogger by day, camper and club-going dancer by night.
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I am, I've realized over the past ten years or so, a horrible glutton. But a glutton of a most peculiar type. If food is in front of me, cooked, readily available, and free, I'll finish it no matter how much it happens to be. Two pieces of pizza? Four? Six? Two pies? I'll eat them all. Nor do opened bags of nuts or potato chips last very long in my presence, and those pints of premium ice cream are quickly consumed, whatever my much repeated intentions. What makes my gluttony a little strange is that I won't seek out any of those things if someone doesn't give them to me - I like nuts, but would never seek them out, nor most of the other things that spark culinary disasters. And equally oddly, I feel just as satisfied drinking an 8 ounce drink as I do finishing the entire two liters - and yet I'll consume the latter quite happily if it's been opened.
I don't particularly believe I can change this singular gluttony. I've certainly tried. And failed over years and years. Rather, I now exert control largely by making sure that opportunities for excess don't exist, and writing off the occasional slip-up with extra grunting in the gym or on the court, and a promise to do better next time. So I don't keep bags of food at home. Snacks, if ever bought, are found in portion size containers rather than in gross. And I even prefer oatmeal to cereal for the same reason - entire boxes of the latter can be eaten with little effort, while overindulging in oatmeal requires me to incur the costs of cooking and stirring.
So what does this have to do with the 50 book challenge? Well, a while ago Heidi mentioned Lois McMaster Bujold as a likely science fiction author. I had never read any of her stuff, but found that the Harvard Library was stuffed with it. I made the mistake of taking most of what was available home, so it all sat there, tempting - begging to be read. The usual gluttony took over, And so, over about four days of mad page flipping, I read 1) Brothers in Arms 2) Cordelia's Honor 3) Cetaganda 4) Memory 5) Komarr 6) A Civil Campaign. 7) Barrayar 8) The Curse of Chalion 9) Diplomatic Immunity 10) Young Miles (a compilation of 3 stories). and 11) Miles, Mystery, and Mayhem (which includes Cetaganda, counted above, but also Ethan of Athos and Labyrinth, both shorter novellas).
It is undoubtedly an odd experience to read so much of the same person's writing in such a short time. It is even more odd to do so when much of the writing consists of different points along the same story arc, written in much the same style. You get to know what characters are likely to say very quickly, and repetitions that would not be troublesome when the books are read over a more normal period become increasingly troublesome when you just read the story referenced by two pages of flashback fifteen minutes rather than a year ago. Still, I enjoyed the whole range of these books - though as ever, I always prefer the first in the series, the one in which the character discovers his power or talents, much more than later iterations of adventure, loss, and victory. But what surprised me is the remarkable durability of Miles Vorkorsigan as a character - my sense is that I would have been tired much sooner of most standard science fiction heroes, and yet like Dr. House of the current television show on Fox, Vorkorsigan's infirmities make him a more compelling character than the usual space opera denizen. He does get stale - but slower than most.
In any case, many thanks to Heidi. She has good taste in books.
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I cannot, for the life of me, figure out what is so evocative of a winsome two-year-old when I take out my baggie-full of Cheerios.
I've been the butt of many jokes precisely because of this more than I care to count, but I doggedly maintain that I just don't get it.
Other foods, probably: mashed peas and chicken, boiled mashed carrots, pureed bananas, even formula milk. Definitely formula milk. These are all kiddie foods. Foods for those made for those without well-formed teeth, or foods for people whose mothers choose not to breast-feed. And there are even kiddier foods: fruit rollups, juice boxes, Cocoa Puffs, gummie bears, M&M's, many sodas--saccharine edibles that are able to turn people diabetic on thought, but somehow seem to pass through the digestive systems of our bright-eyed youth with little to no difficulty. These are kiddie foods, and it has not been an insignificant number of times that a colleague (or even worse, and elder) has poked fun of my Cheerios while licking the evidence of a well-eaten candy bar, or belching the remnants of an erstwhile soda.
At any rate, I'm confused, and comments are open, should anyone be willing to explain.
Until then, of course, I'll be munching my baggie-full of cheerios in lecture.Comments (4)
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A better-informed reader (cough, my brother and avid racing fan, cough) informs me that Ms. Patrick is more than beauty and talent. She's also real skinny. Therefore, so claims said fan, she
does, to some extent, have an unfair advantage in race car driving.... This is that she, as do most women, weighs considerably less than the average, fit, male. Weight naturally (in most cases) slows a car down in both acceleration and other various characteristics of a good performing car. Racing series don't have a weight requirement for a car with driver inside because it has been assumed that most drivers will be male. Males will, of course, have variance in their weight, but it has been something of a punishment for overweight drivers. This forces drivers to stay in shape and thus most racecar drivers weigh about the same. By including a fit female in the mix, her weight is naturally lower than that of the men's and thus does lend her something of an unfair advantage that rules haven't taken into account.
The same thing applies to height; you simply do not see tall race car drivers as they are not aerodynamically efficient in open wheel racing (Indy racing and Formula 1).
Apparently the racing world was abuzz with this whining. AP claims Robby Gordon [another driver?] "meant no disrespect" by pointing out the same issue. The Times offers a counter-explanation from the league's president, Brian Barnhart. He notes that Ms. Patrick's weight made "had a virtually minimal effect on the competition" because of the structure of the race. [caveat: I know little about the physics of car racing. At the same time, it doesn't matter to this post; so don't bug me about it.]
In order to argue that a performance advantage based on body type is “unfair,” these drivers and their buddies seem to claim that some physical advantages are legitimate while others--weight, in this case--aren’t. What’s curious here is that, contra Martin, Ms. Patrick’s advantage makes her a better driver in terms of performance.
To my (granted, limited) understanding of gender and sports, the entire justification for the existence of all male professional sports is that the best men are better than the best women at these sports. The men are simply better athletes in terms of pushing the sport on its own to a higher level. I find it curious that the moment a woman can present the same argument for her participation in a sport, the difference is now “unfair.” I somehow doubt the NBA would exclude Shaquille O’Neill because of his “unfair” size advantage.
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I have just yesterday turned in the second (final) part of the YLJ write-on competition, so now I'm really done with my first year of law school. I hardly know what to do with myself. Maybe I'll actually try to pick up the shambles of my efforts in the 50 Book Challenge. (I don't think I've had a year where I failed to read 50 books since I started keeping track and discovered real books, but I am decidedly behind). I was foolish enough to enter another wager Amy last week on who would end up reading the most books this year. Pride before the fall and all that.
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We don't do a ton of celebrity watching around here, unless stalking Jacob Levy 'round the internet counts, but I thought I would mention today Prince William's impending graduation from St. Andrews. A (to me) astonishing four years ago, I was in that same town pacing anxiously up and down the cliff face over the north sea waiting for the history examiners to post our degree results on the bulletin board in the lobby of St. Katherine's Lodge, the home of our history department. Prince William will apparently discover his own online.
Not only is that a distinct improvement, but I hope he gets the 2:1 result (the second tranche of honours - the British system goes 1st, 2:1, 2:2, 3rd) he's hoping for - ever since William declined to pull the necessary strings for his Cambridge or Oxford admission, and instead went to the lesser place dictated by his high school grades, I've had a bit of respect for him. He probably deserves this, for British royalty, unprecedented laurel. *
* The rumours at Cambridge when I was there were that even Prince Charles's desultory "Desmond" (that is, 2:2, or Tutu, if you see what I mean) had been nudged up from a truly embarassing 3rd through some discrete pressure. Of course, the rumour also was that Prince Harry wasn't, um, an heir of Charles's body. But that's a different issue.
UPDATE: There's a striking picture of the cliff face along which I was pacing on this page - it's the seventh picture down. I'm not sure why I imagine anyone cares, but pretty pictures are pretty pictures.
UPDATE 2: Reuters reports that William has indeed secured his 2:1. Congrats!
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