Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Wrong number

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and
over again and expecting different results."
attributed to Albert Einstein

So you know how I ranted about people who just can't accept that they've dialed the wrong number?

Today, around 3 in the afternoon, I happened to look at my cell phone. It showed not one, not two, but three missed calls from a number I didn't recognize. It also showed that I had voicemail. So I called my voicemail. I had one lonely little message. And it was from my wife. And she'd called me from her cell phone.

I did a reverse look-up on this mysterious number. It is either someone's cell phone or someone's unlisted number, and it's registered in Hercules, which isn't all that far from our humble abode.

I don't know what a Schmart Board is, but this is a cute graphic.

It seems to me that one of two things happened here:

1) Mystery Caller dialed my cell phone number by mistake. My voicemail picked up. MC figured out that it was the wrong number and hung up. MC dialed my cell phone number by mistake again. My voicemail picked up. MC figured out that it was the wrong number again and hung up. MC decided to try one more time, got my voicemail, and hung up. MC then tracked down the person who gave out this number and bitched him/her out.

2) Mystery Caller dialed my cell phone number by mistake. My voicemail picked up. MC figured out that it was the wrong number and hung up. MC then hit redial (send-send, or whatever). My voicemail picked up. MC figured out that it was the wrong number again and hung up. MC then hit redial (send-send, or whatever) again, got my voicemail, and hung up. MC then called his/her phone company and bitched the representative out about the defective automatic redial on his/her phone.

My money's on #2.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I'm a hazard to myself

I am updating my blog right now because my printer is taking a break from producing three copies of my dissertation.


Let me tell you about my dissertation. My dissertation was about the classification of deliberate self-injury. But really it was an excuse for me to do a ton of esoteric multivariate statistics. Multivariate statistics are HOT, baby. They are even hotter when very few people (occasionally including me) understand them.

My topic is near and dear to my heart, but it's not one that most people like to discuss over tea and crumpets. This is fine with me. I have no shame in talking about many things. I could go on and on about methods of self-injury, how this type of self-injury is distinct from the fairly bizarre injuries that people with psychosis may inflict upon themselves, and so forth, without batting an eyelash. (This helps me at work, too, because I can talk about everything ranging from specific intimate acts to ablatio penis without batting an eyelash. What is ablatio penis, you ask? Look it up! Then practice defining it out loud until you no longer giggle.) And I know that, in reply, some people will make jokes; because that is how they deal with difficult topics of conversation.

But sometimes I myself am the joke.

My wife and I have a lot of books. When we moved into our current apartment, we found that we had a lot of space to put books, but we had more books than this space could accommodate. So I put many of my textbooks and assessment materials in boxes, for storage in the back of one of our many built-in bookshelves. This particular shelf is about three feet deep, three and a half feet tall, and five and a half feet long. And (this is the important part) the top is a little less than 64 inches above the floor.

The top of my head is also a little less than 64 inches off the floor.

Three days after we moved in, I was attempting to shove one of these godawful heavy boxes of textbooks into the back corner of this shelf. I leaned in to push it agasint the wall, and when I straightened up, there was this incredible pain in the top of my skull. I shouted a couple of four-letter words, then started crying uncontrollably. And the only thing I could think to do was to go to bed.

So that is what I did. I climbed into bed. My wife came along and asked what I was doing in bed. I told her to take me to the ER if I fell asleep. She read me some silly stories. Then I started nodding off. So we called my mom, who is a physical therapist. After a brief conversation (which I began by asking, "Mommy, should I go to the emergency room?"), we set off for the emergency room, where I continued falling asleep while waiting to be seen for my head injury.

The physician assistant who saw me was in his first day on the job. He asked why we'd just moved to California. I told him I was working on my dissertation.

"What's it about?" he said.

"You're going to laugh," I said.

"No, really," he said, "what's it about?"

"Deliberate self-injury," I said.

"Are you your own case study?" he asked, with a big silly grin on his face.

Honestly, I am not now, nor have I ever been, my own case study. I am just a klutz. But let me tell you a representative sample of the purely accidental unpleasantries I have inflicted upon myself, just today, the day I finally printed out my dissertation:

  1. Whacked my right hand against a table at work.
  2. Scratched an itch on my leg a little too hard.
  3. Burned the back of my throat on dinner.
  4. Picked up a bag of groceries the wrong way and got a twinge in my back.
  5. Slammed my hand into a grocery cart, in the process of slamming the cart into the side of the store exit.
  6. Stepped in what I thought was a pile of wet mulch, but was actually an ankle-deep rain puddle with some mulch floating on it.
You know, I'll probably still be a klutz once my dissertation's in.


Monday, March 27, 2006

Random hookups

When I was in high school, I had a long-distance boyfriend.

(Yes, I have had boyfriends.)

We met at geek camp. We were together for about a year, during which time we were in the same place (i.e., geek camp) for a grand total of six weeks--three at the beginning, and three toward the end. We wrote each other lots of letters, talked on the phone a few times a week, and chatted online. My pediatrician (of all people) found this all very sweet, because she and her husband met at a geek camp.

Obviously, things did not go the same for me.

My mom thought this was all very sweet as well. But she wanted to know: How could I be going out with this boy when we never actually, you know, went anywhere? Eventually one of us realized that "going out" was exactly the same as "going steady." By that point our conversations about the definition of "going out" became more about teasing than semantics. (Now I hear kids say they are "talking to" someone. It took me a while to figure out that this is the same concept too.)

Then off I went to The Fairest College. I learned pretty quickly that there was this elusive thing called the Hookup, which no one could really define but everyone knew was An Essential Part of the Amherst Experience. Contrary to what my friends elsewhere had heard, "hookup" was not synonymous with "sex." The set of hookups included sex, but it also included many things that were not sex. The only criteria seemed to be that hookups had to be intimate and had to occur in private. "In private," however, could mean "my roommate is a very sound sleeper and besides is quite drunk."

I don't like loose definitions, and I certainly don't like having to explain some ill-defined meme like the Hookup to someone else. So I decided to do something about it:

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of College Disorders

312.34 Intermittent Hook-Up Disorder

A disorder characterized by several discrete episodes of failure to resist hormonal impulses in which the degree of physical intimacy attained is largely proportionate to the amount of alcohol consumed. May only be diagnosed in college students but is not limited to either males or females.

Diagnostic criteria for 312.34 Intermittent Hookup Disorder:

* At least one "hookup" per month, for a period of at least two semesters. "Hookup" is defined as consisting of kissing ("first base," "tonsil hockey") and at least one of the following:
-- groping;
-- oral gratification;
-- intercourse;
* Embarrassment upon seeing one's hookup of the previous night at the dining hall.
* If one partner in the dyad stays overnight, this person must participate in the “Walk of Shame.” The “Walk of Shame” is characterized by a trek across campus in EITHER the same clothing worn the previous night or clothing owned by the other party. Clothing MUST be rumpled. Also necessary for the “Walk of Shame” in diagnosis of 312.34 Intermittent Hookup Disorder is an embarrassed, downcast glance for at least 60% of the trip. Three episodes of the "Walk of Shame" per month UNACCOMPANIED by embarrassment is sufficient for diagnosis of 296.30 Major Hookup Disorder, Recurrent.

296.30 Major Hookup Disorder, Recurrent
See 312.34 Intermittent Hookup Disorder for general description.

Diagnostic criteria for 296.30 Major Hookup Disorder, Recurrent:
* At least one “hookup” per week, for a period of at least two months. See criteria for 312.34 Intermittent Hookup Disorder for criteria for identification of the “hookup.”
* If hookups occur with the same person more than twice a month, NO embarrassment upon seeing the other party in the dining hall. If hookups are “random” (occurring not more than once per semester with the same person), parties MUST be embarrassed in the dining hall.
* Three episodes of the "Walk of Shame" per month UNACCOMPANIED by embarrassment constitute sufficient criteria for diagnosis of 296.30 Major Hookup Disorder, Recurrent. See criteria for 312.34 Intermittent Hook-Up Disorder for description of the “Walk of Shame.” If the first two criteria for 296.30 Major Hookup Disorder, Recurrent, are met, the “Walk of Shame” is required for diagnosis but does not necessarily have to be accompanied by embarrassment.

Then again, maybe this is just all very silly.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Is this the party to whom I am speaking?

I hate cell phones.

Mind you, I have a cell phone. My cell phone is kind of a necessary evil these days. At first I got a cell phone because I was supposed to see clients in the psychology department clinic, and I needed a phone number that wasn't my home number and wasn't either of the numbers I shared with about eight other students. So I got a cell phone.

Even though I ended up not seeing anyone in the department clinic, my phone was still useful. My minutes were free after 9pm and on weekends, and, owing to my long-distance relationship, I tended to make a lot of long-distance calls. My cell phone turned into a cost-saving measure. Then my mom got a cell phone, on the same plan as I had, and so we could talk to each other for free whenever we wanted. It was still a cost-saving measure, I swear.

But here's the thing I hate about cell phones. Cell phones feed right into our collective quest for instant gratification. They promise to make you constantly accessible. But they accomplish this by interrupting whatever it was you were just doing. Call waiting (which I've never had on my regular phone, and which I turned off on my cell phone) lets your phone interrupt you while you're already using it. How arrogant can a little piece of circuitry get?

According to a collection of polls, 15 percent of US respondents have answered their cell phones during sex, 38 percent said it was okay to use a cell phone in the bathroom, and 87 percent said the most frequent forms of bad behavior they observe involve... the cell phone.

There's an interesting corollary of this instant gratification business, which is that people get phenomenally stupid when their gratification is delayed. My cell phone number is made up of 4 different digits. Anecdotal evidence (i.e., my own observations) suggests that the potential for misdialing is inversely related to the number of unique digits in a phone number. Less variety, more misdialing. I, of course, get a lot of wrong numbers. Most of these calls start out like this:

me: Hello?
other person: Hello?
me: Yes, hello?
other person: HelLO?
me: Yes?
other person: helLOOOOO?!?!

And very often they proceed like this:

me: Who are you trying to reach?
other person: helLOOO?!?!
me: I'm sorry, you have the wrong number.

One call went like this:

me: Hello?
guy: Hey, Jeff!
me: I'm sorry, you have the wrong number.
guy: Jeff! How's it going?
me: I'm sorry, I'm not Jeff. You really do have the wrong number.
guy: Is Jeff there, then?
me: No, this is my personal phone, and I don't know Jeff.

And this one is my favorite:

Pay phone in Muir Woods, CAme: Hello?
crazed-sounding woman: Hello?
me: Yes?
CSW: helLOOO?!?!
me: Yes? Hello?
CSW: Is this the pharmacy?
me: No, I'm sorry, you have the wrong number.
CSW: But I called the pharmacy. This is the number for the pharmacy!
me: I'm sorry, you have the wrong number.
CSW: Why isn't this the pharmacy?
me: Because you've called my personal phone.
CSW: What's the number for the pharmacy, then?
me: What pharmacy are you trying to reach?
me: I'm sorry, I really can't help you, except that this isn't your pharmacy.

I am not making this up. And I don't think she was trying to reach Walgreens, if you know what I mean.

I don't know why it is so hard for people to say "is so-and-so there?" as soon as I pick up the phone. And if one is trying to call Joe's Pharmacy, and the person on the other end doesn't say "Hello, Joe's Pharmacy," the proper thing to do is to ask, "Is this Joe's Pharmacy?"

But at the same time, that "hello" dance cracks me up every time.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


I am seriously thinking about chopping off all my hair. I've been coveting a cute little pixie cut. Or a cute little dyke cut. Or a cute little pixie dyke cut. I don't know. Something that will make me look more than 15.

This is getting OLD--no pun intended.

On Thursday morning I was supposed to have a meeting with my supervisor, the principal, and the counseling coordinator at the high school where I work. The principal and my supervisor was running late, so the counseling coordinator and I just stood around in the main office to wait for them. My supervisor often runs late, but she was really late this time; and so I decided to give her a ring to find out where she was.

It's for you!No sooner did I pull out my phone and dial her than one of the secretaries barked, "YOUNG LADY!"

Now, there were several potentially misbehaving young ladies in the office. And I've met this particular secretary before. So I figured she couldn't possibly be talking to me.


Oh, but she was.

Still waiting for my supervisor to pick up, I looked over at the secretary.

"YOUNG LADY! You are on your cell phone!"

"Yes, I am," I replied. I mean, what else could I say?

She glared at me evilly.

"I'm staff," I said simply.

Still the glare.

"She's one of our therapists," said the counseling coordinator.

The glare quickly became a look of panic.

Just then my supervisor picked up. "I'm parking my car," she said. "I'll be right in."

"I'm SO sorry!" said the secretary. "I didn't mean to offend you! I hope I didn't offend you! Did I offend you?"

"I'm used to it," I replied.

"But you--I'm sorry, you look like you're 15!"

"Wanna guess when I graduated from high school?" I said. (Okay, it was kind of cruel.)

"No!" the secretary said. "I mean, no, I don't want to guess, because I'm just going to offend you more."

"I'm so not offended!" I said. "But anyway, I was in the class of 1997."

My supervisor had walked in by this point. "Oh," she said to me, "did she think you're in high school?"

"You know, it's going to be even worse after I get my degree in May," I said. "When I went back to defend my dissertation in the fall, the guy next to me on the plane got all nervous and accused me of being some kind of genius kid when I told him the purpose of my trip. Then I told him I was 25, and he softened up a bit."

But here's the thing. If I chop off my hair, I probably wouldn't be mistaken for a 15-year-old girl anymore.

But I might start being mistaken for a 15-year-old boy.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

One foot in front of the other

I got a little note in the mail from my doctor the other day, with the results of my bloodwork. She had ordered all these various tests because I have been gifted with a family history of such things as high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

Happily, I am still just fine. In fact, I am a little embarrassed to report that I am so fine as to be, well, pretty much off the charts, in the good direction.

Well, except for HDL cholesterol, a.k.a. "the good cholesterol." That was a little low, but not so low as to be dangerous, nor as to make the ratio of total cholesterol to HDL fall anywhere near the charts.

My doctor's advice was to increase my exercise.

Now, I'm pretty sure she was not looking at my chart when she wrote this. I haven't been to her all that often--after all, we haven't even lived here a year!--but I have seen her enough that I know she knows kind of what I look like, or at least how I am built. By which I mean her first thought was most likely not that I need to lose weight.

The reason I doubt she was looking at my chart was that it has a little survey in there about my health habits. And on this survey I indicated that my primary form of exercise is walking several miles per week.

I indeed walk several miles per week. I walk 5 or 6 miles a day, three days per week; and up to 3 miles on any of the other days. That is a lot of exercise, right there. But also I walk fast. And I'm usually carrying a lot more than I really should.

Increase my exercise? Honestly, Doctor, I don't think I have room in my schedule.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Gerbil Jumble #2

I am very proud of this one, from 3/7/06.

Why am I so proud of it?

Because "EARRTH" is an anagram of "TERRAH," but still wrong!

I rule!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Roy G. Biv

This morning I had to have some bloodwork done. I had to fast for 12 hours beforehand, and I get really icky when I don't eat, so I wanted to get to the lab right when it opened. Plus, in the past, I have actually passed out after this particular panel. I have a very distinct memory from about age seven of coming to on the sidewalk outside St. Mary's Hospital, with this enormous nun standing over me with a cup of orange juice in her hand and a big ol' halo around her head. I was really confused by the halo, but when my brain started back up again, I realized it was the sun behind her.

So I was not happy when the lab did not open on time. By the time the phlebotomist got there, half an hour late, there were three of us waiting for tests, plus two, well, chauffeurs. One of the other people waiting for a test was this guy who wanted to know whether my chauffeur wife and I were students. I said we were. He asked what we were studying. I said I was studying psychology. My wife did not answer, which I guess was okay because then the guy launched into this whole thing about photography, children, and color psychology. Also about his swim trunks and taking pictures of kids up at some pool where a lot of people learn to take pictures of kids.

Anyway, color psychology is not really the most scientific thing out there. It's all about meanings that are associated with colors, which sounds great except these meanings are not inherent properties of the colors themselves, but rather are assigned by cultures. For example, in the US, white is associated with weddings; but in China, white is associated with funerals. In the US, red is associated with anger and Republicans; but in India, red is associated with purity and weddings. There are lots of internet quizzes one can take about color psychology (aka Colorgenics). I took one of them and "learned" the following about myself:

Your Existing Situation
Working to improve her image in the eyes of others in order to obtain their compliance and agreement with her needs and wishes.

Your Stress Sources
Wants to overcome a feeling of emptiness and to bridge the gap which she feels separates herself from others.
Anxious to experience life in all its aspects, to explore all its possibilities, and to live it to the fullest.
...Too vague for judgment!
She therefore resents any restriction or limitation being imposed on her and insists on being free and unhampered.

Your Restrained Characteristics
Very exacting in the standards she applies to her choice of a partner and seeking a rather unrealistic perfection in her sex life.
Willing to become emotionally involved and able to achieve satisfaction through sexual activity, but tries to avoid conflict.
...Mostly true.

Your Desired Objective
Seeks affectionate, satisfying and harmonious relationships.
Desires an intimate union, in which there is a love, self-sacrifice and mutual trust.

Your Actual Problem
Does not wish to be involved in differences of opinion, contention or argument, preferring to be left in peace.

Your Actual Problem #2
Needs to achieve a stable and peaceful condition, enabling her to free herself of the worry that she may be prevented from achieving all the things she wants.
...I don't understand what this means, so... Bullshit!

Score: Bullshit 5, True Enough 4, WTF 1.

I have a feeling all this conflict avoidance stuff is because I picked the black square last. Black is supposedly all about aggression. But the quiz asked me to pick the colors that make me feel good. I don't like black because I look jaundiced in too much of it. Ditto for green, orange, yellow, and brown. It has nothing to do with conflict avoidance--and everything to do with, well, vanity.

So this guy at the lab told me that my purple fleece jacket symbolized passion, and my green corduroys symbolized abundance.

"So I'm all about abundant passion?" I asked. My wife snickered.

"Yes," he said. "Come to think of it, I had a pair of green and purple swim trunks once."


Guess who else is all about abundant passion, then?

I love you, you love me, I rest my case.