Sunday, June 27, 2010

Statistically Yours

Let me sum up:
Email I'm sending to bid farewell to my grad school cohort...

"I wanted to send an email to ya'll before I head out to internship. I can Pollyanna-up lots of situations, but I can also imagine grad school experiences that would have been really miserable. I've loved my time here and a lot of my best memories involve you folks.

Life is full of uncertainty...sometimes it can be difficult to predict what the future holds. So as we continue heading off on different paths, I have this wish for all of you:

I hope that life treats you well. I hope that you keep pursuing the things you care about even when it doesn't, because a lot of people will be touched by the good, hard work you all are doing.

I also hope, on sunny days, that you guess it's going to be sunny and leave your umbrella at home (because no one likes to carry an umbrella when it's sunny out). But most of all, on rainy days, I truly hope that you guess it's going to rain and bring your umbrella with you. Because I think we all know what the awful alternative is."

Let me splain:

This is my first text-only post. Please take my word that tears were shed as I composed this missive. I think the email is pretty geeky because it's a build up to a statistics joke. Many of you geeks will recognize the punchline as a descriptions of type I and type II error, banes of science!

The email also hinges on an inside joke. The stats classes in our program are generally frustrating--they're taught outside the department and often don't apply to the kinds of studies most of us design (though this situation is gradually improving). The stats class we all took in our first semester of our first year was taught by a woman (we'll call her Sally) whose sunny demeanor and treacly tone might have been more at home in a kindergarten classroom. I'm pretty stats phobic, so I actually appreciated being a little patronized, but she rubbed most of my classmates the wrong way. After she did a lesson on probability that hinged on her distributing Salted Nut Rolls to the class, her command of our respect and attention flagged notably.

End game came during her lesson on type I/type II error. She drew the requisite hypothesis matrix on the board, filling it in with various scenarios involving weather prediction. When she wrote "Sally gets wet" in the type II error quadrant, it was pretty much all over.

~Geek out

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Ghost with the Most...Amazing Freakin Costume

Let me sum up:
1) Video of Beetlejuice costume from 2007 San Diego Comic Con
2) Costume photo
3) Aftermath photo

Let me splain:
Given that my trickle of page views is at this point entirely driven by traffic from my youtubes, it shouldn't surprise anyone that I'm a giant costume-geek. I've been making my own costumes since I was a kiddo. And as I've gradually become more and more entrenched in geeky pop-culture, I've found more inspiration and opportunities to make and wear geektastic costumes.

I've now done the San Diego Comic Con masquerade a couple times--this gig is ridiculously fun and full of geeky innovation. But most years we can't get to SDCC these days, and on those years I obsessively search for photos and videos of the entries.

This Beetlejuice costume is from the 2007 masquerade. I completely lost it the first time I saw the video that summer. There's actually another video created by the costumer with better detail of the costume. However, the video from the actual masquerade always kills me thanks to the pure audience joy. Geek on my brother.

~Geek out

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Potter. Harry Potter.

Let me sum up:
Photos from "Deathly Hallows" release.

Ready for reading.

Adorable HP.

Awesome Gilderoy reading to the kiddos.

Potter baby.

My Potter tattoo. That my husband skillfully applied. Without using water. Or hands.

Magical reading pile. With snacks.





Let me splain:
Dude, my first couple posts were a frickin' bummer. I swear my geek tears are usually happy tears. So here's a mix of happy/sad. Alright, it's still mostly sad. Next week, 100% happy, I promise.

So these are the Geek Tears banner photos in context. I won't blab in too much detail about them. If you're enough of a Potter fan that you have the book, you might have fun looking up the page numbers. If not, you probably don't care. I wasn't a huge Dobby fan, but that plot point came at such a quiet place in the book...unlike some other big tragedies that got lost in the action of the final battle, Dobby hit me really hard. And the descriptions of his tiny little man. I made the mistake of google-imaging something Dobby related the other day and ran into photos of them filming those scenes at the beach cottage. Ack.

These photos also testify to me being a villain-geek. Well, that's not quite fair. I love bad guys and I also love when characters shake up the line between good and evil. It's what made Trevor Goodchild so friggin fantastic in "Aeon Flux" (something that apparently totally escaped the makers of the horrendous movie version, where they decided to just chop Trevor into two separate people to simplify things. RAAAAAGE). Snape's motivations always seemed pretty clear to me and I LOVED how much back story we got to confirm this. His final words were wrenching. And Harry's words in the epilogue were tear-jerking awesome sauce.

~Geek out

Monday, June 7, 2010

Do Androids Dream of Dirty Martinis?

Let me sum up:
1) Sci-fi-tastic Broken Bells music video for the song "The Ghost Inside"
2) Photo of "Mad Men" vixen Christina Hendricks rocking the crap out of said music video
3) Footage of me watching the last 20 seconds of said music video
4) Photo taken after viewing

Let me splain:
Dang it, "Syfy" channel, my brain broke a little when I tried to type Sci-fi-tastic, and I blame YOU. But your Cafe Diem mock-up at San Diego Comic Con last summer made me cry happy tears, so I'll let it slide. (The best part is, someone stole Fargo!)

I had something else planned for this week, but then I saw this video on io9, and by the time she hit the asteroid field I realized the video was definitely Geek Tears fodder, so I paused to grab my camera. I should note that I'm NOT a camera geek...I'm still playing with the best way to document tears (especially when it's a few quiet tears and not a big, puffy, red tear-storm). But there is definitely a rhythmic teardrop on the last beat of the viewing video. And I liked the aftermath photo because the woobly corneal computer reflection seemed vaguely android appropriate.

I know Christina Hendricks from "Firefly" and know of her in "Man Men" (Season 1 has been sitting on our shelf since Christmas, waiting to be consumed along with some bourbon on the rocks). I've read several interviews where she's talked about feeling uncomfortable with all the attention her body has gotten. Having the role of "Curvy Lady Spokesperson" thrown at you is probably a ├╝ber-weird, especially when it pulls focus from the fact that you're also a very talented actor (and to the fact that curvy is still a wacky anomaly). Given this state of affairs, I think there's something really cool--in addition to an amazing performance and old Hollywood glamor--that Christina brings to this role that say...Carmen Electra wouldn't.

One of the comments for the music video on io9 was simply SYMBOLISM. Fair enough. But like all the sexiest symbolism, the body dismantling probably hits different folks very differently. My ears are horrible at deciphering lyrics so I looked them up after viewing. Actually, I looked up a wildly flawed version of the lyrics that made the song seem almost T.S. Elliot-esque ("Don't let the lady finger blow in your hat?"). But once I got a good version I was able to see Broken Bells story of pragmatic, violent romance more clearly.

The lyrics and the video mostly hit me as a psychology-geek (and a person-geek). The therapeutic style I've dug the most is called "Acceptance and Commitment Therapy" or ACT. Some basic tenants include the idea that suffering is more normative than we like to pretend it is--uncomfortable thoughts and feelings come along with being a conscious, verbal human being. Especially in situations where something you truly value is involved. And when you treat crap thoughts and feelings like things that have to be avoided at all costs, you usually start trying various strategies to control them and, oddly enough, these strategies usually lead to a whole new pile of suffering (can you tell the ACT folks are Buddism-loving hippies, yet?)

The craziest thing to me is how attempts to control crappy thoughts usually send us in the complete opposite direction of what we care about. And how easy it is to ignore this as long as those strategies help to shut up our minds...even for a minute. Another song I love that hits on this is "Late Night Test Subtext" by Riki Lindhome (sometimes she also sings awesome songs with Ted's adorable girlfriend from Scrubs, Kate Miccuci):

I never really liked you anyhow
I just don't want to be alone
So come on over, come on over
Cause you know make my mind...quiet

So yeah, one big reason for the tears was the fact that we all (myself verdy much included) do some really wacky--and often regrettable--things while trying to avoid/numb out/obliterate thoughts and emotions we don't want.

Feeling depressed? Sit on the couch and stare at the TV until you feel up to hanging out with friends.

Feeling anxious about a paper you want to do well on? Play on youtube for 5 hours!

Feeling full of existential android ennui because your life isn't getting anywhere? Convince yourself stardom will make you happy and sell everything you have to get there...including your means of getting anywhere.

~Geek out