Gye Greene's Thoughts

Gye Greene's Thoughts (w/ apologies to The Smithereens and their similarly-titled album!)

Saturday, May 31, 2008

It makes sense, in context

In the classified ads this weekend:

"Ark welder. Older style."

Well, yeah: It would be, wouldn't it? :)


(For those of you not into tools: It should have said "arc" welder -- it welds by electrical arcs.)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Gran's skills

A few weeks ago, my wife's mom came by during the day (while I was at work) to squirt some graphite powder into a sticking door lock.

In some ways, my wife's parents had a fairly "traditional" marriage: dad went to work, while mum stayed at home and raised the kids.

On the other hand, when the kids were in high school (and maybe before that), she worked as a lab assistant in a university (or high school?) chemistry lab. And in their household, it was always her -- not dad -- that was the "go-to" person for fixing stuff.

So, last night it rained a lot. And some branch must've knocked down a power line, because we had a power outage.

(Note: People sometimes kid me about having a beltload o' tools. But we were in the living room when the lights went out -- and within ten seconds I was shining my white L.E.D. flashlight about, lighting the way.)

The Girl's response to the power outage: "We need to call Gran. Gran will fix the lights." Not mommy; not daddy. Gran. :)

(An aside: When the lights were all out last night, The Lady told The Girl that Gran couldn't fix the lights -- that some man at the power station needed to fix the lights. [The Lady pointed out the gendered stereotypes in that statement. But, she pointed out, it probably was a man, not a woman.]

So, The Girl took her flashlight, went over to her toy telephone, picked up the receiver, and said, "Hel-lo, Man. You need to come and fix the lights so we can see. Thank you. Bye bye!")

And this morning, we discovered that one of the flashlights was no longer working -- probably due to one of us (maybe The Girl; maybe not) leaving it on all night and draining the batteries. The Girl wanted to take it to Gran, to fix it.

Heh! Reputations. :)


Thursday, May 29, 2008

Good soundtrack

Sometimes during the "midnight feeds" of our two baby boys, The Lady and I watch whatever happens to be on t.v. Lately, we've been watching the DVD (borrowed from her brother's family) of SkyHigh -- the one about the high school for super hero teens.

The soundtrack has a lot of 1980s songs -- although many of them are cover versions (to minimize the royalties that need to be paid?).

I felt proud of myself for recognizing (and singing along to!) a cover version of Devo's "Through Being Cool"* -- although they changed some of the lyrics to make it less subversive. When the rolled the end credits, I took a look at who performed the cover: They Might Be Giants!!!

So: One of my top-ten favorite bands covered one of the less-known songs of another of my top-ten favorite bands.

Gotta get the soundtrack.


*I'm pretty sure it's off Devo's Duty Now for the Future album. But I haven't bothered to verify this.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Kids and evolution

Was talking to a colleague today, who as a 14yo daughter. Apparently, teenagers can be... difficult.

My thought: maybe it's an evolutionary thing. Teenagers are a pain in the patootie, so that when it's time for them to leave home, you're more willing to let them go.

Could be. :)

(My children, of course, will be wonderful!) ;)


Statistics humor

Was e-mailed this link today.

(To the tune of "Baby Got Back", by Sir Mix-A-Lot)

Revised lyrics by Dorry Segev

(spoken by 2 epi grad students)
oh my god, Becky, look at his log file, it is so big,
he looks like one of those biostats grad students
but, you know, who understands biostats?
they only hired him because he looks like a total geek, ok?
i mean, his log file is like 200 pages.
i can't believe he even calculated, like, what's a Schoenfeld residual?
i mean -- gross. look! he's just so... smart!

i like good stats and i cannot lie,
you other brothers can't deny,
that when you get some data, and you put it in STATA,
and it spits out a beta of 10 you get sprung
and you're thinkin "no way -- gonna send that to JAMA today!"

couldn't be any fairer, cause i've got no residual error
oh data, i wanna get withya, regress and fit ya
my mentor tried to warn me, but those odds ratios get me so horny
ooh add a spline term, you say you wanna perfect fit?
just add a quadratic, with STATA it's automatic.

you seen my 2-tail, kickin' it on the log scale,
no leaf, no stem, got it going with GLM
i'm tired of magazines saying exact tests are the things,
take the average grad student, she will say, i like your logit way

so fellas, fellas, did you download the DTA,
well shake it, shake it, shake and regress today
baby got stats

i like my R-squared's big, the AUC i dig, i just can't help myself
analyzin' like an animal, now here's my scandal
i wanna sit at home and sum, double-up, sum-of-squares
i ain't talkin' exact test, large sample assumption is the best.

i want a high coefficient, so find a cohort study,
if the data's muddy, i'll clean it up with my buddy.
put a paper in Nature or Cell, takes 7 years to do it well,
you can tell everyone i'm a geek, but i'll write my grant in a week.

a word to you epi sistas, i wanna get withya, i won't overfit ya,
but it's gonna be great when we're playin with
Cox (Sir David, that is) til the break of dawn,
STATA got it goin' on,
a lot of people gonna be served,
they don't know their proportional hazards, but i got me a log log curve
and i shout, without a doubt, don't make me get my DO file out

so ladies, ladies, using methods from the 80's?
well don't resign, get STATA 9, and your thesis will be fine
baby got stats

yeah baby, when it comes to regression models,
epi ain't got nothing to do with my selection.
2x2 tables?
yeah, only if it's AJE

so my girlfriend likes my chevy, and thinks calculus is heavy,
but i got strict rules for "exploring" in the back of my chevy,
my final model don't want none unless your p is 0.01
you can do stepwise or subsets, or even AIC.

some brothers analyze survival, tell you censoring just dont count,
but i find them, and remind them, competing risks are behind them,
so they teach STATA in class, and the real world uses SAS,
but remember that STATA is nearly free,
and for SAS you pay a yearly fee.

scatterplots i do adore, but i can do much more,
you want prediction, i'll create it, bootstrap and validate it.
a 650 geek went too far, tried to do it all in R,
he had game but he didn't perfect it, and Annals had to reject it.

so ladies if your budget's tight, ask me to do your stats tonight,
you'll have a valid sample size, and get your nobel prize
baby got stats

(you don't get out but you got good stats)


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

More potty things

So, tonight, as we were doing the evening "putting The Girl to bed" routine, I thought I'd try the whole "giving the potty a drink" motivator.

Me: "Hey, is Mr. Toilet thirsty? Maybe you can give him a drink!"

The Girl: "No, the toi-let is-n't thir-sty! You go pee-pee or poo-poo and get a stic-ker!"

The Lady: "Well! That didn't last long."


Long day

Maybe it's the lateness in the semester (Week 11, out of 13 lecture weeks), but I'm getting tired, and the students are getting restless and dis- interested.

Meanwhile, my daughter this morning climbed into my arms and asked if she could come with me (not knowing where I was going). I told her that she'd be bored at Daddy's work -- but she wasn't fully convinced.

As of 2pm today -- after a fairly dull tutorial, plus a moderately engaged one -- what I wanted to do was just go home and play soccer in the front yard with my kid.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Shaping my daughter's tastes

Back when The Girl was just a baby, if we were having a hard time settling her (getting her to stop crying), I'd put on my DVD of "Weird Al" Yankovic music videos and dance around, while carrying The Girl.

Usually I'd play the same two or three music videos over and over: Usually "It's All About the Pentiums" and "Amish Paradise". Sometimes for twenty or thirty minutes at a time.

A few weeks ago I dug up that DVD again (although we moved into our current house about a year ago, a lot of things are still in boxes). I watched it; I liked it.

A few nights ago, I showed the DVD to The Girl. She seemed to like it.

Every night since then, she's asked to watch the "songs DVD" -- the one with "Hey baby" on it (she's referring to the line "It's all about the Pentiums, baby...").

With some coaching, she now calls it the "All about the Pentiums, baby, DVD". She's asked to watch it three nights in a row.

Phase one of my plan to raise my children to enjoy my style of music is almost complete... :)

(She already asks to listen to "Yes-ter-day GIRL" -- i.e. the song "Yesterday Girl" by The Smithereens: The chorus repeats the phrase "yesterday girl" a lot, which she sings along to. And we also hold hands and dance.)

(image is from the Weird Al hompage --


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Anthromophized toilet

We're in the prolonged process of potty- training The Girl. For some reason, sometimes The Girl is totally willing to sit on the potty -- and other times, it takes a lot of convincing.

Tonight, The Lady walked in on The Girl, who was in the process of tearing up little pieces of toilet paper and throwing it in the toilet. The Lady asked what she was doing.

"Feeding the toilet," says The Girl. "It was hungry."

The Lady suggested that perhaps the toilet was thirsty, as well.

Yep: as a motivator, that worked.

If I believed in reincarnation -- I would **not** want to come back as a toilet.


(Image swiped from

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Caught out

So, this morning -- as I sometimes do -- I went through the drive-through of the local branch of the multinational fast-food chain, to pick up my morning slushie.

I ordered at the speaker box, and then paid at the first window. For some reason, the guy who is usually at the pick-up window (and knows me as a semi-regular) was at the money-taking window today. "Should be working," he said.

"Oh, I just had a late start this morning," I said. "But I'm heading in to work right now."

Confused pause. "No," he said. "I mean, the frozen Coke machine should be working today: the last time you were here, it was broken."


Guilty conscience? :)


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The advantages of attending a HBCU

Over here at the "Raving Black Lunatic" blog is a post addressing the issue of the supposed advantages and disadvantages for African-American folks of attending a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), rather than a Traditionally White Institution (TWI).

A lot of good points (and hearsay) were raised in the "comments" section. But, being a social scientist of the Positivist persuasion, I like supporting my opinions with facts -- or at least, research findings. I mean -- surely there's been some research on whether attending a HBCU results in better (or worse) odds of completing your B.A., higher (or lower) income, and etc.

So, I did a search, and got some interesting findings. (A more condensed version of the findings -- minus the actual sources -- are in the "comments" section of the RBL blog entry, linked to above.) But basically: for academic performance, income, and involvement in school activities, it's better to attend a HBCU.

On average.

And net of high school g.p.a., parental income and education, and a bunch of other things.

My specific question was: For AfrAms, what are the advantages and disadvantages (future earnings, graduation rates, mental health…) on attending HBCU vs. TWI?

I searched the “Sociological Abstracts” database on May 14, 2008 (Aussie time), using the search terms “historically black AND (college OR university OR universities)” in the Abstract (the one-paragraph summary of the article)

The oldest citation (which wasn’t directly relevant to my question, as it turns out) was 1980. Newest was 2007 (IIRC).

Please note that one of the difficulties with social science research is that the nature of the process, the findings are almost always “yesterday’s news” (e.g. a 1998 study, based on 1991 data – is it still relevant in 2008?).

Also, all of the relevant studies focused on the educational or occupational outcomes; only one dealt with more of the subjective aspect of the college experience (e.g. alienation vs. inclusion; enjoyment of the college experience; mental health), and that one didn’t look at it as an outcome (i.e. didn’t compare the experience of HBCU vs. TWI attendance). So: nothing on mental health, etc., if you choose to attend a TWI versus a HBCU.

If you have access to a university computer system, or know someone who is currently enrolled (or works on-campus), they can get you the original journal articles (nearly all are available now-a-days online as *.pdf documents – but your university needs to be a subscriber).

So: Here's what I got. It's not formatted all pretty-like, or arranged academic-style, 'cause I've already spent more time on it than what I probably shoulda.


((students starting in 1980, 1982, 1995))
The Effect of Attending an HBCU on Persistence and Graduation Outcomes of African-American College Students
Author Wilson, Valerie Rawlston
Source The Review of Black Political Economy, vol. 34, no. 1-2, pp. 11-52, June 2007

1995 students – (p. 18-19) of AfrAms, avg. SAT scores higher for those who attended TWI than HBCU (813 vs. 741), and higher percentage reporting “A to A-“ typical grades in high school (24% who went to TWI; 12% who went to HBCU). But this info doesn’t say whether this means that AfrAms who attend TWIs tend to be “better students”, or just conform to the U.S. educational system; and whether the average AfrAm who attends HBCUs was just turned off by H.S., and thus wants to try something new.

(p. 49) Net of a zillion background factors (e.g. parental education, kid’s H.S. g.p.a., family income, university’s tuition fees, amount of financial aid available at that university), AfrAms are not any more or less likely to take a break in their college enrolment at a TWI versus a HBCU. However (p. 46), although there wasn’t an HBCU effect for “completing the degree within six years” in the 1995 data, there **was** for the 1980 data: net of everything else (e.g. parental income, parental education, H.S. g.p.a., family structure [comes from two vs. one-parent HH], attending a HBCU **increased** the odds of actually graduating.

((H.S. class of 1972; 1986 wages))
Title The Effect of Attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities on Future Wages of Black Students
Author Constantine, Jill M.
Source Industrial and Labor Relations Review, vol. 48, no. 3, pp. 531-546, Apr 1995

Abstract Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of the Class of 1972, are used to estimate the effect of attending historically black colleges & universities (HBCUs) on future wages of black students. Findings show that although the precollege characteristics of students who attented HBCUs predicted lower wages than did the precollege characteristics of students who attended mixed or historically white institutions, the value added in future wages for blacks from attending HBCUs was 38% higher than that from attending white/mixed institutions. This evidence that HBCUs played an important role in the labor market success of black students in the 1970s should be carefully weighed in decisions affecting the future of these institutions. 6 Tables, 1 Appendix, 24 References. Adapted from the source document.

(p. 542, Table 5) HBCU wages in 1986 – HBCU has a wage benefit over TWI: $9.10 hr. vs. $8.45/hr (about an 8% bonus); once factors related to what influences people to CHOOSE a HBCU vs. a TWI are included, though, the wage difference is $17.11/hour versus $12.38/hr) – a 38% bonus for attending a HBCU. But again, this is based on the H.S. class of 1972, and their 1986 wages.

(p. 543) The authors note that these differences may not reflect long-term wage differences (i.e. further into their career paths). But there’s a definite advantage, rather than DIS-advantage. On average.

((1988 data))
Title College in Black and White: Campus Environment and Academic Achievement of African American Males
Author Davis, James Earl
Source The Journal of Negro Education, vol. 63, no. 4, pp. 620-633, fall 1994

Predictors of academic success for AfrAms are similar for HBCUs and TWIs, although their relative influence differed at HBCUs vs. TWIs.

((1972-1982 data))
Title The Color of Success: African-American College Student Outcomes at Predominantly White and Historically Black Public Colleges and Universities
Author Allen, Walter R.
Source Harvard Educational Review, vol. 62, no. 1, pp. 26-44, spring 1992

(p. 38) AfrAm students attending a HBCU has stronger academic [college] achievement, involvement in [college] student activities, and occupational aspirations than comparable students attending TWI – net of H.S. g.p.a, gender, social class, whether they’d felt they’d made the right choice in attending their university, and their future educational aspirations (e.g. going on to graduate school).

Title Revisiting Racial Differences in College Attendance: The Role of Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Author Bennett, Pamela R.View Scholar Profile; Xie, Yu
Source American Sociological Review, vol. 68, no. 4, pp. 567-580, Aug 2003

"Prior research has shown that blacks are more likely than whites to attend college after high school graduation, net of socioeconomic background & academic performance."

Title The Historically Black College as Social Contract, Social Capital, and Social Equalizer
Author Brown, M. Christopher, II
Source Peabody Journal of Education, vol. 76, no. 1, pp. 31-49, 2001
Abstract The approximately 103 historically black colleges & universities (HBCUs) across the US share a historical responsibility as the "primary providers of postsecondary education for African Americans in a social environment of racial discrimination." Six primary goals of HBCUs as provided for by this special "social contract" are identified: (1) maintenance of the black historical & cultural tradition; (2) provision of key leadership for the black community; (3) service of an economic function for the black community; (4) provision of black role models; (5) creation of graduates with unique competencies to address minority-majority group relations; & (6) production of black agents for specialized research, institutional training, & information dissemination on dealing with life in minority communities. Ways that this social contract is realized through social capital &/or the distribution & reproduction of social networks & resources provided by HBCUs are described. It is concluded that HBCUs function as "social equalizers" in providing educational opportunities to those marginalized by a society unequally divided along racial lines. 1 Table, 52 References. K. Hyatt Stewart

Title Black Students, Black Colleges: An African American College Choice Model
Author McDonough, Patricia M.; Antonio, Anthony Lising; Trent, James W.
Source Journal for a Just and Caring Education, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 9-36, Jan 1997

Abstract In an examination of African Americans' college choice decision making, focus is on why students choose historically black colleges & universities. Independent of gender, family income, or educational aspiration, the most powerful predictor of such college attendance is geography, followed by the student's religion, the school's social reputation, & relatives' desires. The top three reasons why African Americans choose predominantly white institutions are because they are recruited by an athletic department, they wish to live near home, & they value the college's academic reputation. Personal affiliations (friends, parents, role models) are important influences for black college attendance, whereas school personnel are more influential for white institution attendance. 6 Tables, 1 Appendix, 40 References. Adapted from the source document.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Musical fun

Mondays and Tuesdays are my teaching days.

Today (Tuesday), I'd brought my acoustic guitar in to play a song for my 4pm lecture. It was only marginally related to the lecture topic (stopping lecture to play a song for the lecture hall = an example of "deviance"). But mostly, it was just an excuse to play in front of a captive audience.

And, since I had my guitar in my office, ANYHOW -- at the last minute I decided to play another song (that is more directly criminologically related) for my three tutorials (or "quiz sections", depending on what your university calls 'em).

Given my lack of practice (although I've been dabbling off and on over the last week, in preparation), I made relatively few mistakes. And the songs were well-received: folks laughed at all the right places.

And: in my third tutorial, they actually asked me to play it again. So, after some coaxing, I did.

For the record, the two songs (both written/composed by me) were "Pretty Little Sue" and "Only Women Should Own Guns".


Monday, May 12, 2008

Two bad parents

At the shopping mall over the weekend, I saw two examples of bad parenting.

1) A dad was carrying his whimpering son, about 8yo. The dad punched him in the upper arm, I suppose to get him to quit whimpering. Didn't look like a guy-thing, "buck up" sort of punch; looked like a hit.

Various child development studies have shown that physical punishment is NOT the most effective form of punishment, and actually has adverse effects: it's all about consistency, and follow-through -- NOT the size of the punishment (e.g. a sixty-second time-out vs. a spanking). Just enough to make the misbehavior not worth the punishment.

2) In one of the parents' rooms, there's a fenced-in play area. A dad asked his son (6yo?) to come out, it's time to go. The kid shook his head and moved further into the play area. Dad asked two more times; kid refused, kept playing. Dad finally had to go into the play area and physically carry the boy out.

And the adverse consequences for the kid? None. No stern talking-to; no "time out"; NUTHIN'!!!

Which means that, the next time the dad tells the kid to do something -- there's no reason for the kid to obey. Tons of advantages to continuing with his own thing -- and no disadvantages. These are the same kids that the parents will wonder why they're such difficult teenagers, never listen to what the parents say...

Good golly.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sad girl

Interesting: After coming home from the Mother's Day thing at my in-laws, I unbuckled the girl from her car seat, telling her that she'd be able to walk into the house on her own, rather than having to wait while I carried the two boys in.

So, she climbed out, and walked to the house -- bawling her eyes out the whole way. Couldn't figure out why (partly because she was crying so hard, it was hard to understand what she was saying).

Eventually, we figured it out: "Daddy didn't want to carry me."

Apparently, my carrying her in to the house when we arrive home after dark -- and pointing at the starts, commenting on the moon, etc. -- is a big deal to her. So, when I thought I was being helpful by not making her wait in the car while I took care of the the boys: oops. I guess not.

So, I carried her back outside, we "tagged" the car, and then we talked about the stars and such. And then we went back inside.


Sixteen geek books

Mother's day over at my wife's sister's house. Her husband is pursuing an I.T. degree part-time, even as he works for the Australian Tax Office as a database dude.

I mentioned to him that if he ever decides to get rid of his old textbooks, I'd buy them off him: I've looked at a few used networking books, plus other topics, at the university bookstore -- but they still wanted AU$60-AU$80 for them -- too much for curiousity/entertainment value.

He ended up sending me home with his entire stash -- except what he's using this semester -- for free!!! He said if he ever needs to refer to one, he'll just borrow it back.


Of particular interest to me:
  • Two on network things (TCP/IP), history of the internets, LAN things, etc.
  • Two on computer hardware
  • Three on C/C+/C++
  • Two on Java

I'm doing a good job of **not**diving right in to read them. :) Got other stuff higher up the priority list.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Kid language and cognitive

Today, while The Girl was getting ready for bed, she noticed that The Lady was a little sluggish.

The Girl asked if she was happy, or sad. The Lady replied that she was just a little sick.

Because she's going through a bit of a "me, too" phase, The Girl said "I'm sick, too." But after a pause, she then elaborated, "I'm sick, three."

Her first pun?


Friday, May 09, 2008

Crying student

Today I had my second crying female student of the semester: made an appointment, sat down, started talking, then lost her composure and began crying.

Every semester I've ever taught, it seems like I end up with a crying female student in my office: mom died; broke up with her fiance; got laid off from her job; or other stuff.

Afterwards the student left, I talked to a (male) colleague about it, and apparently I'm more comfortable with it than he is. Maybe it's being a dad; maybe it's just my general personality.

Regardless, I have a fully-stocked box of tissues on my desk.

I have a wipeboard in my office, where I list my various "To Do" tasks. I'm pretty sure that this is Crying Female Student #2 for the term -- but it might be #3. So I've started a tally in the bottom corner, labeled "CFS". Obscure enough to conceal the meaning to others -- but I'll know.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

More evil phishing

So, the university that I work at has been with another wave of phishing. Pretty good face credibility; the e-mail is reproduced below:

Dear GyeGreene' Email Account Owner,

This message is from GyeGreene' messaging center to all
GyeGreene' email account owners. We are currently upgrading our
data base and e-mail account center. We are deleting all unused
GyeGreene' accounts to create more space for new accounts.

To prevent your account from being closed, you will have to update it
below so that we will know that it's a present used account.


Email Username : .......... .....
EMAIL Password : ................
Date of Birth : .................
Country or Territory : ..........

Warning!!! Account owner that refuses to update his or her account within
Seven days of receiving this warning will lose his or her account

Thank you for using GyeGreene'
Warning Code:VX2G99AAJ

GyeGreene' Team

Of course, anyone with a decent sense of I.T.-ness would know that this whole this is silly, for any of a number of reasons. Is an I.T. employee **really** going to hand-enter all this information themselves? We were never asked for our nationality when we first got our accounts; why now?

More to the point: with server space so inexpensive these days -- why the heck would they delete everyone's account to make room for new accounts?

Biggest tip-off: They used the phrase "e-mail account center". This is Australia, folks: they say "centre".

Ayep! :)


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Arcane skills

I tend to keep a fair number of lists: "Songs to cover"; "places to visit"; "To Do -- When I Finish My Dissertation"; "Tools to buy for my woodshop"; "Movies to see (or rent)"; "Books to get"; "Albums to buy"...

I keep lists because I have a oddly wide range of interests, and I know I'd never remember all of the list items.

Today, I realized that I need to start another list -- one that I've been compiling in my head in a loose manner, but has become large enough that I ought to start writing it down. The list is of arcane skills that I'd like to know, "just in case." I'm not expecting to gain expertise, or even proficiency, in these. But I'd like to at least have a sense of the basics.

My reasoning is that you get your maximum payoff in terms of the amount of time invested in learning a skill, versus the increase in your knowledge and skill, at the beginning stages. When you go from "knowing absolutely nothing" to "knowing the basics", that's your biggest leap: everything else is just polishing and refining and extending -- for which you get diminishing returns on your time investment.

For example, I want to learn how to start a fire with flint and steel. You know, just because -- it may come in handy some day. Once I'm able to start a fire -- inefficiently, and with moderate fumbling -- that's all I need. Proof of concept achieved... and if I ever **do** need the skill (e.g. lost in the wilderness), I'll get better with practice.

Similarly, I'd like to know how to ride a motorcycle. Not well enough to get the "motorcycle" endorsement on my driver's licence -- but enough so that if I'm lost in the desert, and happen across a motorcycle that -- yeah -- actually runs and has fuel -- I'll know how to start it up, shift the gears, use the clutch, and all that. Just in case.

Conceptually, my interest in this list of skills is similar to the "Worst-Case Scenario" series of handbooks.

So, here's my list-in-progress of arcane skills I'd like to acquire. Again, not to the point of expertise, but just so I can perform them with at least low-level competency. Note that some are physical skills, some are cognitive or knowledge-based, and some are a combination. In no particular order.

  1. Riding a motorcycle
  2. Flying an airplane (esp. how to read the important parts of the instrument panel)
  3. Flying a helicopter (esp. the controls, which are totally different from those on an airplane)
  4. Rock climbing (just the basic techniques and tricks of the trade)
  5. Parachuting (I don't want to actually do it -- but how long do I wait until I pull the cord)
  6. Start a fire with flint and steel
  7. Start a fire with a bow drill
  8. Set a snare for small mammals
  9. Catch a fish, starting with just a hook and some fishing line
  10. One-armed chin-up
  11. Do a backflip (jump up, do the flip in the air)
  12. Do a back-handspring (arch your back, go backwards, hands touch the ground first)
  13. Learn Morse code (sadly, no longer required for a ham radio license)
  14. How to load, unload, and disassemble/assemble a gun (I've done this somewhat for a pistol; still need to do this for a rifle and a shotgun)
  15. CPR
  16. Basic first aid
  17. Kick at head height
  18. Competent swimming
  19. Basic life-saving
  20. Rappelling
  21. How to get on to a horizontal rope from underneath it (i.e. if hanging by your hands from a horizontal rope, there's a trick to actually getting up on top of it, horizontally, to traverse it)
  22. More knots (I know more than most people, but would like to know more)
  23. Basic DOS commands
  24. Basic command-line in Unix/Linux (bash shell)
  25. C+ programming
  26. Riding a unicycle
  27. Juggling
  28. Throwing with accuracy and power
  29. Welding (gas; arc)
  30. Australian sign language
  31. Unassisted hand stand
  32. Walking on my hands
  33. Fighting with a short staff
  34. Fighting with batons (e.g. kali/arnis/escrima)
  35. Breakdancing (just the basic stuff; I took a five-session course once, but the instructor wasn't very good with "tricks of the trade" -- i.e. explaining the key to getting it right)
  36. Rollerskating
  37. Rollerblading
  38. Tap dancing

The above list doesn't include stuff I already know, like
  1. Splicing rope
  2. American Sign Language (although I've forgotten a lot of it)
  3. Soldering (for electrical circuits)
  4. Writing scripts in Stata
  5. Basic statistical analysis techniques
  6. Competency(?) in a few musical instruments
  7. Basic music recording techniques
  8. Old-school video editing (with the shuttle wheel, defining edit points, etc.)
  9. Hanging a spoon from my nose
  10. A vague awareness of martial arts (although waaay out of practice)
I'm sure there's others... :)


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Kid quote

I was sitting on the sofa, with The Girl on my lap. I put my arms around her, gave her a hug, and asked, "Are you Daddy's girl?"

"You not a girl daddy - you a boy!"

I laughed. Loudly and heartily.

"Daddy, shhh... You're loud in every-body's ears."


Friday, May 02, 2008

My new do

Two snapshots of me and the two boys. (Dang, it's hard to get babies to smile for the camera!)

Partly showing off my new haircut, and lack of beardage.

And, my receding hairline, I suppose.

Photos courtesy of The Lady, who was supervising The Girl. The Girl was the one who actually held the camera and pushed the button.