Sunday, July 29, 2012

May the Tears Be With You

Let me sum up:
Military Dad Return + Star Wars = Whaaaaaa?

Let me splain:
Yeah, so this combines addictive homecoming videos, cosplay, and Star Wars.  Well done, sir!!!!  This made me cry more than the amazing fish tacos my husband just made me.

~Geek out

Monday, June 18, 2012

Ben's Awfully Big Adventure

Let me sum up:


Let me splain:
From BoingBoing, by Cory Doctorow

Walt Disney World's Snow White's Scary Adventure ride had its final run this weekend, a casualty of a renovation that will see the erection of a new Fantasyland with a much more thrill-ride-like Snow White attraction. SWSA's greatest fan is Ben, a young man with autism, who had ridden it 3,451 times when the final weekend was at hand. His family brought him to WDW for SWSA's swan song, and rode it with him, accompanied by Disney employees (including one in character as Snow White; also including Ben's grandfather, who works at the park), who understood how important it was to him. Ben's father, Ron Miles, documented the event in a beautiful, moving post.

And then it was the moment of truth. We all exited the cart. Ken stood off at a respectable distance, allowing us to have this moment as a family. Robert collected his camera and set up to film Ben's last ride. We led Ben over to the loading zone, gave him a big hug, and then told him to go ahead. He looked a little confused at first, and then smiled in disbelief. With his iPod in one hand, a single earbud in his left ear, and with his camera in the other hand he embarked on the very last ride. We waved and blew him kisses as he rounded the wishing well, and then he was through the doors and completely gone. 

I turned to Stacey and said, "There are cameras in there, right? There's somebody in a security room somewhere that can see everything that is happening?" "Nope!" she replied cheerfully, "but there are intrusion matts everywhere, and in any case the lap bar will keep him in the cart." 

I looked at my watch, and then looked at the exit doors. Empty cart after empty cart paraded by, and I had visions of those doors opening to a cart empty but for an iPod and a camera perched on the front seat. The headlines the next day would read "Autistic Boy Disappears from Disney Ride". I imagined a vigniette several decades in the future, a grizzled old maintenance worker saying in hushed tones to a new employee, "...and to this day you can hear his ghost moaning in this building, mourning the loss of his favorite ride..." 

Surely it had been three minutes by now, and still those doors steadfastly refused to open. I realized that I was holding my breath, as I noticed abstractly that Robert had set up his camera shot to get the perfect view of Ben's exit. Finally, after what seemed like hours, those doors swung open and there was my happy young man still clutching his iPod and his camera. We all let out a cheer as the mine cart rolled to a halt, and then Benjamin got big hugs all around.

 ~Geek out

Friday, June 8, 2012

Did You Ever Grow Anything In the Garden of Your Mind?

Let me sum up: Mister Rogers Remix (from The Daily What)
Let me splain: Remember the early days of the internets? Blender hamster flash videos, etc.? Around that time I found a naughty Mister Rogers audio remix--Jr. High me thought it was hilarious. I've since grown to deeply love and respect this man (whose show I am thankful my Mom made me watch on sick days). And now I feel a little guilty for laughing at the naughty audio.

Mister Rogers has often me cry. This video is also a great watch.  "Mindfulness"--intentional awareness of what's going on around you--is a big, hip focus of therapy these days. A few weeks ago I googled "Mister Rogers" and "mindfulness," because this dude had it in spades. A few days later I ran into a psychologist friend who also touted Mr. R. as a master of mindfulness. Fred Rogers encouraged joyful curiosity about the world. And encourages me to try to do good (in the grammatically correct sense).

~Geek out

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Blue Ear

Let me sum up:
Marvel creates a superhero for a little boy with a hearing impairment:

Let me splain:
Way to be, Marvel.  Sorry the cloying news patter kind of ruins the video....but the kid's quote at the end is great.  Also, I took my licensure exam, so I have even more time to scour the internets for tears.  Yaaaaaaay!

~Geek out

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Crayon Dragon

Let me sum up: Crayon Dragon

Let me splain: Ummm, Crayon Dragon.

~Geek out

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Boo Bass

Let me sum up:
Auditory mixologist Pogo makes more stuff...

Let me splain:
Oh, look, Pogo once again took something lovely and whimsical and made it EVEN MORE LOVELY AND WHIMSICAL!!! It's kinda what he does.

"Monsters Inc." is my favourite Pixar movie. Two reasons:
1) As a kid, I had recurring nightmares about a creature I dubbed "The Scary Kitty-Cat Monster." He tormented and tickle-tortured me through many a dream. Then, out of the blue, he turned nice. And rather Sulley-esque. And I loved him.
2) Laughter > Fear is a rockin' message.

"Toy Story 3" comes in a close second. As previously documented, I cried 11 times at my first viewing. (They held hands and were prepared to face death, people)! Incidentally, I'm getting to do lots of therapy with kiddos this year. And I've often talked with kids about Lotso. Yeah, Lotso was mean. But was he always mean? Or did he maybe act mean because someone he loved made him sad?

~Geek out

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Absurdity Everywhere

Let me sum up:
The latest video from Improv Everywhere

Let me splain:
I know, I've posted lots of Improv Everywhere videos. And I know, their name is confusing--it's addressed in the FAQ's on their page. (My husband is constantly pointing out that they don't actually do improv. He's also reading Hunger Games right now, and was happy when Rue died, so come on....don't be that guy). Also...TED talk! Which is some staple stuff white people like.

Unexpected absurdity. Seemingly spontaneous choreography. I dunno, man. The flash-mob thing continues to slay me pretty much every time. It's the mix of the surprise whimsy and the delightful group effort. I friggin love it. Stalin was supposedly a big fan of the early Disney silly symphony cartoons--steam boats, animals, trees, bugs, and tools all dancing and working together. There is something pretty nifty about people working together for a common purpose. And when that common purpose is silliness rather than mother Russia, it's gonna make me cry.

~Geek out

PS--Hooray for Cash Mobs, while I'm at it!

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Let me sum up:
From io9--a community and Make A Wish help a boy become R2D2.

Let me splain:
When I worked at Disneyland I heard a lot of amazing Make A Wish stories that brought tears to my eyes. This kid's unique pick is completely fantastic.

~Geek out

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Let me sum up:
Sci-fi acapella medley.

Let me splain:
Um, sci-fi acapella medley. Nuff said. Spillover achieved with first round of Doctor Who.
Oooh eee oooh.

~Geek out

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bad Science

Let me sum up:
Awesome infographic from @jenicarhee and crew detailing the murky underbelly of research...

Let me splain:
I love me some science. Human ingenuity at its best has been a source of happy tears for both myself and my husband. But "science" at its worst can produce some very nasty tears.

I'm not planning on pursuing a career in academia, and concern about the crazy/shady subjectivity of research is one of several reasons that path doesn't appeal to me. This will probably break my advisor's heart once he figures it out (the "research vs. practice" bias is another interesting dynamic in psychology). I've been very lucky because my advisor is a stand-up guy...when his students have gotten results that don't map onto models that he's published, he's been really cool about it. But I've heard about students coming up with results that conflict with their advisor's work getting run into the ground, and out of their programs.

One of the most disheartening experiences I had was a few years ago. I have one (third author) publication to my name. It had just gotten accepted for publication. I went to a conference on a young researcher grant which included a mentoring session. One professor there had a similar publication with seemingly contradictory results. There were differences in our methodology and the populations being examined that I thought might account for this, and have some interesting implications, but when I tried to engage her in a conversation her response was a brisque, defensive, "No, you guys must be wrong." That experience (and the time a well-meaning mentor made me take Sesame Street clip art out of a presentation) really soured me.

At my dissertation defense, the stats expert on my committee raised a lot of concerns that weren't specific criticisms of my thesis, but broader concerns about ways that psychologists routinely misuse statistics (violating assumptions of normality, etc.). I'm pretty stats-phobic, but I've learned enough about stats and the way my colleagues use stats to appreciate that there is a lot of gray area, and a lot of choice points that can drastically impact your results. Throw the tenure system and sketchy lab dynamics into the mix, and you've got a powder keg.

It's worth noting that the DSM, our diagnostic bible, is based on studies that are vulnerable to all these flaws. It's disheartening because so many people come to a psychology clinic hoping they'll find a magic diagnosis that will obliterate their distress. But our diagnostic system is deeply flawed and subjective. And I think psychology has done itself disservice by trying to cling to a medical model that is all about symptom obliteration. Trying to get people less focused on what labels best apply to them or how they can quickly numb their symptoms and more focused on changes they want to make in their lives can be very difficult.

Raw data submission is a good call (but can also be systematically faked). And I'd like to believe that some would be willing to publish anonymously for the sake of science, but people do seem to value career advancement over truth/knowledge. Which is a huge problem.

I might jump back into research if a really compelling opportunity to study intervention efficacy arises. But this might be more dangerous for me than anything, since I strongly believe in the benefits of therapy, and experimenter bias is a well documented catalyst for bad science. Of course, that's coming from studies conducted by people who believe in the dangers of experimenter bias. Confused yet? I always thought it would be cool to win the lottery and run my own research projects, Darwin style--no funders, no universities, just me and a healthy dose of science-love. Mmmmm. Empiricism.

~Geek out

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Let me sum up:
A wonderful, geektastic clerk at our local co-op grocery store passed away suddenly last weekend. Kevin, from Lane #1.

Let me splain:
From the article above: Kevin was a person with whom interacting required one to change their pace, and perhaps eventually, their outlook...It’s Kevin who, in the words of another’s remembrance, taught us to put relationships over transactions.

Kevin was a really cool, quirky dude, with an uncanny ability to remember people's names and co-op member numbers (a little unsettling at first, but a great boon when your brain was tired after a long day). He loved engaging people in conversations about virtually any subject, from astronomy to heavy metal to the silly t-shirts my husband and I often wear. One of my closest friends was booted from his first job as a grocery clerk because he didn’t move the line along quickly enough. I would often think fondly of this friend while interacting with Kevin. And my husband, who typically avoids conversations with strangers, has gradually taken to heading straight for Kevin's lane.

My husband and I are at the co-op together several times a week (last year, when I was living in Des Moines, I used to joke that I was worried Kevin would think we were divorced). I feel very lucky to have enjoyed frequent conversations with Kevin and I have often been touched by his passionate, offbeat, and genuinely kind nature.

I was at the store for the first time since getting the news tonight. The sight of Kevin's lane, temporarily closed down, was really hard. I am both saddened and moved as I think about the lives this guy has touched and how this loss will be felt. Kevin, with his unique and often enigmatic interpersonal style, truly embodied how one human being can reach out and connect with others. Countless others. In one very singular lifetime.

~Geek out

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Tears

Let me sum up:
Two tearful Christmas videos for your enjoyment....

John Lewis Christmas 2011

Star Wars Christmas

Let me splain:
The John Lewis ad now officially rivals the "O Holy Night" hallmark commercial in my heart. And, ya know, Star wars.

Merry, Teary, Christmas.

~Geek out

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Operation Dumbledore's Army Boots

Let me sum up: Me surprising my family with the news that I finished my PhD. In the geekiest way I could manage.

Let me splain: If you wanted proof of the genetic/behavioral modeling contributions to overactive lacrimal glands, here you go! My mom is adorable. She is crying in that last clip before we even hit Potterland because the Seuss section of the park had a store named after a character I played in "Seussical the Musical" a couple years ago. Such a fun weekend! The park is pretty awesome on its own, but if you ever get the chance to go with my fantastic family, I highly recommend it! Also, BIG thanks to my dad for what is clearly the best Geek Tears photo ever.

I also want to give an usual corporate shout out to Graduate Affairs. I knew I wasn't going to be walking at the graduation ceremony this December (because I'll be in CA with my family, and because what could top this Harry Potter celebration?) I contacted the makers of the official University of Iowa robes to see if there was any way to rent the UI gear a couple months early. After three weeks I got a response which essentially read "Did we ever respond to this? Yeah, we can't do that." I did a lot of searching and couldn't find anyone that offered affordable, customizable robes. I also got ripped-off on ebay (yay buyer protection) trying to by a velvet tam from a company that apparently went kaput. I'd pretty much reconciled myself to renting a set of all black robes. Then I found Graduate Affairs, which offers customized, souvenir-quality robes for the same price as the rentals I was planning to get. When I ordered, they got back to me immediately. Even classier, they noticed a silly mistake I'd made on the order form, which they promptly helped me fix. I received my customized, super-awesome robes IN THREE DAYS!!! I identify with Slytherin, Gryffindor, and Ravenclaw all in their own special way, but getting grief from park employees all day for being a Hawkeye/Hufflepuff was AMAZING. And probably the most school spirit I've shown in my life. It also got us a free trip through the fast line at "The Forbidden Journey." I will treasure these robes as a memory of one of the niftiest days of my life. Thanks, Graduate Affairs.

Dr. Geisel, at your service.

~Geek Out

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I'll Hurt You If You Stay...

Let me sum up:
Horror flick fun, with The Fly (1986)

Let me splain:

The tear photo is from the final scene, right when he puts his grubby mitt on the gun. The other big tearful scene for me is the insect politics/"I'll hurt you if you stay" monologue. Good stuffs. And of course, I'm happy to enjoy Jeff Goldblum's hotness along the way. I've been listening to a lot of the Nerdist podcast lately, and a while back they had a fun discussion about what made this remake a successful endeavor, unlike so much of the reboot fever today. Namely--Cronenberg took a good idea and actually did MORE with it.

If you're looking for sumpin to do on Halloween, grab this version of The Fly, or the Vincent Price version, or both. And have funs.

~Geek out