blog

First day on the job as an aunt

My brother and sister-in-law (but let’s be honest, mostly my sister-in-law) had twins almost three weeks ago. Twins! So exciting. So now I am an aunt twice over. They are Lucas and Sophia. And they are adorable.

Here is Sophia:

And here is Lucas:

See, aren’t they are adorable? They are my two favorite babies ever, hands down. This week I took off from work and came down to LA to help out with them. I’d seen lots of picture and video chatted with them a few times, but today I finally met them in person and got to hold them. I fell in love with them immediately. And they seemed to know me (or at least trust me), even though we hadn’t met before. With other babies in the past, I have always felt kind of apprehensive and worried that I would do something wrong, but with Sophia and Lucas, I feel more confident and less anxious about screwing things up. I have no idea why that is; it seems strange that that is the case, but it is undeniable that that is how I felt today.

Sophia was generally an angel all day and mostly slept. Lucas, on the other hand, is a bit fussy (within the normal newborn parameters probably) and was fairly demanding of our attention. Luckily we didn’t have many instances of them both being needy at the same time. I’m not sure how Kristina is going to do it all by herself once she doesn’t have any help. Until then, we will take it one day at a time and just try to get through juggling all of the binkies and bottles and diapers and blankets and burps. I think it’s going to be a long (but happy) week.

Once again it’s time for NaBloPoMo

So it’s November 1st again and I have once again decided to participate in #NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, because I like to challenge myself and I still don’t feel like writing a novel in a month (this is an offspring of the popular #NaNoWriMo movement). Last year I did this challenge and I think it went pretty well. Astute observers of this blog will notice that I haven’t posted on my blog since the final post of last year’s #NaBloPoMo and yeah, well yeah. That’s kind of why I have to do this. Otherwise my blog will never get updated.

In the meantime, I have written many drafts of posts. Sometimes the article is almost finished but I just can’t hit publish. Other times it is a title and the first sentence or just an idea for a post. But, rest assured that I do think about my blog a lot and want to publish interesting stuff on it. I just don’t. Because I like things to be “ready” and good. Which is why #NaBloPoMo is perfect for me, because things can’t be perfect because I need to post something every day for a month. Things will just have to be ok. And I need to be ok with that.

So, here goes another month of blog posts. I hope you find at least some of them interesting. Post topics I have planned for you (no promises on any of these):
– my trip to Alaska this past summer (mostly Denali National Park)
– my trip to Sweden in June
– how much I love the musical Hamilton
– some tutorials about R (the statistics programming language)
– my thoughts on fictionalized time travel
– my favorite pens
– thoughts on being an aunt to two newborn twins

So I hope you stick around for the whole month. Let me know if there are any topics you really want me to talk about. I have 30 days to fill (only 29 now!) and I would love to hear from you.

NaBloPoMo: Wrapping Things Up

Well, I made it through the month of blog posts. NaBloPoMo was an interesting little experiment. I only skipped one day (the day I went to Disneyland), which was intentional that day since I knew I wouldn’t have time to do it. I’m actually kind of surprised that I made it. There were many days when I didn’t feel like doing a post, but setting this goal and having a daily externally visible benchmark for goal success was a good motivator.
Continue reading “NaBloPoMo: Wrapping Things Up”

Effect size

There are a lot of different ways to think about comparing two things, or more appropriately perhaps, two sets of things. If they are things we can count, we can easily see which there are more of. If they are more like a score, we can easily see which set has a higher score. We can also fairly easily see what the distribution of the things in each set are, although comparing the distributions is a bit more tricky.

Using some basic statistics measures, we can tell whether or not the two sets of things are different from each other using significance testing. This is typically done with a t-test or an analysis of variance (ANOVA) or a similar measure. These types of measures, based on the mean and variance of a set of data points, are simple and easy to calculate (especially with a basic stats program) and have therefore become commonplace in the research literature. But unfortunately, their simplicity ends up hiding a lot of information and potentially interesting nuance.
Continue reading “Effect size”

Two movies and a trailer

Movies are a big deal in LA. So, today, my last full day in LA for a little while, was spent watching a couple movies. And also a trailer for a movie that was even a bigger deal than either movie. The two movie-going experiences really represented how much movie-watching has changed just in the last few years.

So, you might have heard that they released a teaser trailer for the new Star Wars movie today. You can watch it online here OR you could go to one of only 30 or so movie theatres that were showing it today to see it on a big screen. Guess which option we chose?

Continue reading “Two movies and a trailer”

I am thankful for the public funding of science

Today I am thankful for my friends and family and being born into a middle class family in a first world country and all of that normal Thanksgiving stuff. But there is something else that I am thankful for that I want to call attention to. I am thankful for the public funding of science.
Continue reading “I am thankful for the public funding of science”

Driving to LA

I grew up in LA. My family still lives there, with my immediate family in the San Fernando Valley and the extended part of my mom’s side of the family mostly lives nearby-ish. So, I drive to LA (and back) a few times a year to see them. I’ve gotten really good at the drive and have seemingly mastered the 5-6 hour snooze fest that is typical of driving through California’s central valley (and before that, the big desert between Arizona and California).

Driving on the 5 is pretty easy. It’s pretty straight, simple two lanes each direction, with occasional rest stops, gas stations, and even an In-n-Out halfway between LA and the Bay Area. It’s boring. There’s not a lot to see except for agriculture and cows1. So, doing the drive for 5-6 hours, especially by yourself like I normally do, requires a certain amount of preparation, Zen-like patience (for when there is traffic), and an ability to amuse yourself when needed.
Continue reading “Driving to LA”

Vector Graph Racer

I love vectors. I mean, they’re pretty awesome. They have a magnitude and a direction. Two for the price of one. They are also quite helpful when doing physics. [Full disclosure: my dissertation had a big focus on vectors, so I’m a little biased.] I also really like graph paper. So you can imagine how excited I was when I stumbled upon a paper-and-pencil game that used vectors as the main mechanic.

The game goes by many names and has been around for a long time. I first saw it as Graph Racer, but I like Vector Racer too. There’s a whole article on the rules and variants on Wikipedia. The game is always different because you draw the board each time you play. So how does it work?
Continue reading “Vector Graph Racer”

Trying to process Ferguson

Ferguson is happening again. And by that I mean: once again our country (or at least the people in it that are paying attention) are seeing how much we do not live in a post-racial society and how much injustice still exists in everyday institutions. I almost didn’t want to write anything about this today, but in the end I felt like pretending it wasn’t happening wasn’t a good idea either.
Continue reading “Trying to process Ferguson”

Becoming a PI

There are three important letters that you add to your name when you finish your Ph.D. But there are two other letters that are also important to researchers as they begin their careers: P.I. The Principal Investigator is the person in charge of a research project and it signifies the next step in your career, where a funding agency has selected your research proposal, using a panel of your peers in most cases, as worthy of gaining a substantial amount of external support. It is basically a sign that other people (you know, people who aren’t trying to help you graduate) think that your work is important and interesting. It’s a really good thing and the first time you become a P.I. is an important career milestone.
Continue reading “Becoming a PI”