Archive for December, 2007

Door #11: Academic Hilarity

Today one of the research fellows at work regaled my boss and I with the following joke:

[A classicist] goes into a bar.

[At this point, both of us started laughing already since the jokester used the actual name of our resident classics fellow.]

He walks up to the counter and says “Give me a martinus.”

The bartender says, “Don’t you mean a martini?

The classicist bangs his fist on the bar, ” If I wanted a double I would have asked for it, dammit!”

How do you say ba-dum-chuck in Latin?


11 December 2007 at 1:15 1 comment

Door #10: Gone Dinin’

Yes, dear readers, I’ve taken the night off.

The fellowship program I work for at Fancypants University (F.U.) is having its annual holiday dinner. The food and drink are lavish and delicious: salmon mousse, lobster, two different champagnes, port, cheese, chocolate.

Two years ago, I learned that I prefer 1994 Dom Perignon to 1995. Who knows what lessons this year will bring?

10 December 2007 at 1:09 Leave a comment

Door #9: The Parasite Behind Crazy Cat Ladies?

Filled with reports of off-beat research (or off-beat implications of otherwise garden-variety research), the annual “Year in Ideas” issue of the New York Times Sunday Magazine has become a highlight of my December.

This year’s most amusing item:  Rebecca Skloot’s piece on a possible biological explanation for why “some humans develop an unhealthful attraction to cats and apparently become immune to the smell of their urine.”

Just the first paragraph had me and my housemate in stitches:

Here’s a little-known and slightly terrifying fact: According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 million people in the United States are infected with a parasite that may migrate into their brains and alter their behavior in a way that — among other things — may leave them more likely to be eaten by cats. New research into this common parasite — Toxoplasma gondii — may offer clues to the phenomenon known to the unscientifically-minded as “crazy cat lady” syndrome.

9 December 2007 at 0:56 Leave a comment

Door #8: I’m Just a Nutcracker Nerd

I went to see the Pennsylvania Ballet’s performance of The Nutcracker every year from the time I was four until I was in high school. And I spent hours with the Russian dance and the Waltz of the Flowers and the Sugar Plum Fairy playing on the phonograph in my bedroom while I improvised my own choreography to the entire Suite.

Nowadays, I’m more of a Hard Nut kinda gal, but I really am a sucker for all things Nutcracker. So it’s not surprising that I thrilled to this version of the Sugar Plum theme assembled entirely from samples of sounds produced by tweaking, banging and plucking various bicycle parts.

And yes, I know it’s an ad, but I still can’t resist. My only complaint: every Nutcracker nerd knows it’s a celesta, not a glockenspiel.

8 December 2007 at 22:21 1 comment

Door #7: Friday Fiddle Tune #5

This was the first fiddle tune I ever wrote. It started out life as “Busshållplatsvalsen” – “The Bus Stop Waltz” — because it popped into my head while I was waiting for the bus.  Later I dedicated it to my friend Betsy in honor of her fiftieth birthday.


7 December 2007 at 22:05 Leave a comment

Door #6: Uncommon Consent

Tonight’s session of my social science research methods class covered research ethics: Institutional Review Boards, vulnerable populations, confidentiality, risk/benefit ratios, etc. Although the lecture sparked some lively discussion, the most interesting part of the evening was my teacher’s use of consent as a transitive verb.

Midway through the discussion of informed consent, the professor started a sentence “Before you consent someone…,” meaning, I gather, before you get them to sign an informed consent form.

There was a time when I might have used this as an occasion to rail about the decline and fall of the English language. But now, after a couple of linguistics courses and a lot of time spent reading Language Log, I’m just thrilled that English can still grow and change and surprise me with new meanings and usages.

6 December 2007 at 22:31 Leave a comment

Door #5: Goatwatch 2007 — Looking for Love

When I got home tonight, I logged on to AIM for a few minutes and ended up talking to my friend Marilyn — another of the Gävlebock‘s fans. She wanted to know if I’d been checking the goat’s blog lately.

“No, not really. Has he been attacked yet?”

“He’s looking for a girlfriend.”

After the goat asked whether anyone knew any nice nanny goats, a helpful American, sent the him a link to Lucy, the Amazing Elephant Building in Margate, New Jersey.

I don’t want to stand in the way of true love, but after checking out Lucy, I really think she’d be a better match for Stoorn, the giant moose.

5 December 2007 at 23:44 Leave a comment

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