the not-empty nest

There is no milk for my cereal this morning.  Two days ago, when there was no milk in the morning, my husband got his car stuck in the snowplow-created snow dam trying to get milk for me before I got up.  (Yes, he is a sweetheart.  But I’m OK, too.  After we got him unstuck, I shoveled out the snow dam while he shopped.)  Today there’s no snow dam in the driveway but he’s puttering in the basement and either did not notice the problem or thought I would not be up yet since I was working until 3 or decided I could live without my cereal this time.  Why do we have a problem with such a simple thing as keeping milk in the frig, you say?  The emptiness or fullness of our nest oscillates.  Our adult children may or may not be in the house and, when around, may invite over a number of other people which, itself, is a random variate.   The younger people often arrive and eat in the wee hours.  We joke that we can’t go downstairs in our underwear at midnight because we might have unexpected company.  It could be amusing to try to model the fluctuations.  But first I’ll fix peanut butter toast.

Just thought those of you with little children might want to know what you can look forward to.   (For the record, yes it is much less work and yes we are glad our offspring feel comfortable about inviting their friends to hang out here.  Peanut butter toast is a small price to pay, although I’d still rather have my cereal.)

graphs on web: technical question

I want to post information that consists of ~200  graphs on my web site in a format that will be accessible to the most people.  I don’t want to spend a ton of time doing this and would prefer to have the files as small as possible.  I am generating the graphs in Stata, which can produce files in these formats: wmf, pdf, png, tif; I can also have software that can translate into these formats: jpg, gif, bmp.   The .wmf graphs I produced are mostly 8-10 kb each, but there is another set that are 70-100kb each.  What format do you suggest I put them into?  If you want to give feedback about legibility etc issues based on more detailed knowledge of what is in them, please let me know and we can communicate privately.

why do we interview?

Having sat through a series of interviews with job candidates (and been on some myself) I have begun to wonder why we take the interview so seriously as part of the job process. I understand that if you’re hiring someone you want to see what they’re like – but I’m curious about how and why the interview is weighted. My concerns about this are multiple. Continue reading “why do we interview?”

home, sweet home

I am back from my holiday visit to my parents and sister, glad to be home. I was a little helpful here and there, and my sister and I had some chances to talk about the plan. I think my biggest accomplishment was convincing both of my parents to finally get hearing aids. I hope they weren’t just pulling my leg while I was there, but you never know.

I think I mentioned before that it was weird to me, after my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, to find that things back home weren’t that much different than before. I guess that mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s looks much like old age a lot of the time, with some more troubling episodes in between, which we were spared on this visit. Other than that, they are the same old parents they ever were.

Also on the up-side: I got to catch up a little bit on my stack of sociology journals on the flights there and back. Maybe I’ll be caught up with 2007 in time for the Best of 2008 contest next year. (By the way, is it a bad sign that for our “top 10 sociological insights of 2007,” we were only able to come up with four?

randomness hits close to home.

A few weeks ago, jeremy posted about the intricacies of randomness:

People have asked and, yes, the graphic is an actual scatterplot generated using Stata, although the data are random (and uniformly distributed on both the abscissa and ordinate.) Note the relatively large spaces of white adjacent to places where the points are densely bunched on top of one another. That’s what true randomness really looks like, and the reason people are bad when they try to fake random numbers (or coin flips, or financial transactions, or scatterplot points) is that they think randomness should be more evenly spread.

Unfortunately, this is particularly poignant today. My neighbor, who I only knew as she passed by and would wave, lost her life while riding as a passenger in a small plane with her husband. Although I know my other neighbors quite well, these two kept to themselves. This was expected, as they were grieving. For it was just last year, right before we moved into the neighborhood, that her daughter lost her life while piloting another small plane.

The intricacies of randomness, and the randomness of tragedy. Heartbreaking.