Thursday, November 30, 2006

Black Ice and Stomach Flu: Good Times

Update 12:33 p.m.: The sun came out. It's still cold, but that Southwest sun is pounding the snow. The major road by our house is now just wet.

Update 3 a.m., Dec. 1: Round 2 of stomach flu arrives.

Update 6 p.m., Dec. 1: Round 3 of stomach flu arrives.

Winter arrived on the South Plains about 10 p.m. last night. Ice began to coat the roads, followed by snow.

The stomach flu arrived at my house about 2:30 a.m. last night. My 8-year-old is extremely sick.

Morning comes. Here are the numbers:

2 -- adults
2 -- jobs
1/2 -- inches of black ice
2 -- inches of snow on top of that
1,000,000 -- little viruses floating around the house
2 -- hours elementary school start is delayed
0.001 -- percent chance university is closed

So then the absurd planning begins. The only thing that would make sense is to stay home and get better. But that was not an option.

Universities do not close. I have been in higher education all but two years since 1991. I had one snow day. At K-State in 2000. The temperature dropped below freezing in the early morning, and a thick coat of ice coated the roads followed by snow that was still falling heavily at 5 a.m. There was no time to clear the roads. It was not safe to get to campus.

But Texas Tech is open today. And we both work there. However, my job is task-based, and my wife's is time-based. So she has to be there. So off she went. I am at home e-mailing and text messaging students (that last paragraph was interrupted three times). I'm getting most of the same work done I would in my office.

The problem is, the southwest is not prepared to handle this weather. In Kansas, Indiana, and Ohio, they would have been treating the roads for hours -- even before the ice began to accumulate. We have known that this weather was coming from Canada for a week. But there's no sand, so salt, and no plows. The roads are abysmal. The first snow came to Lubbock in March last winter, and it was minimal. There is no reason to invest a ton of money in snow removal equipment when it does not even snow every year.

A cell phone update tells me that it took a half hour for my wife to drive 3 miles. Luckily we bought a Jeep in Indiana.

"Sometimes your the bug, and sometimes your the windshield," I say. "They should change 'Murphy's Law' to 'Sam's Law,' " I also say.

Today, we're the bug.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Whatever It Is, Like Me Is Good

I was cleaning out the e-mail today, and I ran across something really cool that I meant to mention before.

Regular readers will recall my fascination as of late with brand identity (e.g., this post).

In particular, I find it fascinating that people think that the brands they prefer are like them. At the level of pure logical, this is absurd, of course. At the social level, it's really cool.

Well, some proprietary research from a colleague (hence why I am so vague here) provides more evidence for the strength of being like me. This research was testing new "concepts" with consumers. So consumers had no familiarity coming into the research.

Once again it turns out that the three highest rated concepts overall, were also the three most "like me."

We're weird eggs, but we sure like ourselves.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Panda Porn Produces Procreation

I was killing time the other day reading The Kansas City Star while waiting to see Borat (hilarious!). I came across perhaps my favorite news story of 2006.

Many people label my work as "media effects." Without being overly verbose, this is a misnomer. I care about the psychological processing of media. In order to get a gauge of this processing, we measure effects.

To give an analogy, radiologists don't give a damn about X-rays (physicists do). Radiologists care about bones and tendons and such. But in order to know about those things, radiologists measure X-rays.

Most people lose that nuance, and I am forever labeled a "media effects researcher."

Returning to the news story, the Star carried an Associated Press story about pandas. You probably know that:

1) Pandas are endangered
2) They do not like to breed in captivity

Given that, the AP reported that one person pondering pandas (I am out of control with the alliteration thing, I know) got the idea that perhaps the captive pandas were not acclimated to reproduction.

This sparked the idea: the would-be panda lovers needed to see reproduction in action. So, out came the camera, and they started shooting. They burned some DVDs, hooked the pandas up with a new plasma, put on a Barry White album, and (hopefully) dimmed the lights.

"It works," said Zhang Zhihe, director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.

Pandas are breeding like crazy!

In the realm of media effects research, pornography was a popular topic in the 1970s. Skin flicks generally produce anti-social effects.

Until now.

Score a big win for Larry Flint and Albert Bandura.

The AP reports, "The result, by [Zhang's] count: In the first 10 months of this year 31 cubs were born in captivity in China, of which 28 survived. That's up from 12 births in 2005 and just nine in 2000. Of this year's births, 14 came through natural breeding, while artificial insemination or a combination of the two produced the rest.

"Among the roughly 20 pandas outside China, no cubs were born this year through mating, Zhang told a conference here of 140 panda experts."

Panda porn. Who would have guessed that I wasted all this time studying the wrong species. Now we need to get those pandas a bobo doll!

I will spare you all of the cheesy panda porn titles that I keep thinking up.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Things for which I Am Thankful

I just got back from the student union. Today in November 21.

It is 72 degrees. The sky is almost indigo. There is not one discernible cloud. Not one.

Sure, you could live somewhere else. But why would you want to?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Strong Memory Helps You See Reality

During my first semester as a mass communications graduate student, I learned about George Gerbner's theory of cultivation.

In short, Gerbner argued that television cultivates a view of the social world that is different than the actual world. As an example of this, you can ask people to answer questions such as:

During any given week about how many people ______ out of 100 are involved in some kind of violence?

Then you can ask them how much television they watch. The somewhat surprising thing is that as people watch more television, their answers to these questions increase. The more TV, the meaner the world. Heavy television viewers also think that there are more lawyers, more rich people, and more infidelity.

There are many nuances and limitations to cultivation theory, and I will not review them here.

However, some of us have wondered how this happens in the brain. That is, how do real-world memories and television memories get mushed together to come up with a single number? It is an interesting area to study. Leading this cognitive approach has been University of Texas at San Antonio's L. J. Shrum.

Shrum has found many interesting things, including the fact that if you mention TV to people before they make the social reality estimates, then the effect of TV is removed.

This is especially interesting because it suggests that people can ignore TV memories if they try.

Shrum also found that if you tell people to try hard, they avoid the so-called cultivation effect.

Back in 2001 I had the idea that in order to ignore TV memories, you had to know that they were from television. That means that sometime in the past while you were watching television, you had to store both the memory and the fact that it was from television. Only if you stored that last bit could you use that fact to ignore the memory later.

This idea came to me when I ran across Larry Squire's remote TV memory test. In a nutshell, the test uses names of former television programs cancelled after one-season to test memory for time specific events.

My rather simple idea was that people who were good at this type of memory should be able to avoid the cultivation effect.

The first study supported the idea. Participants with good remote TV memory were less likely to exhibit the cultivation effect no matter how much TV they watched.

Then I wanted to combine this idea with Shrum's manipulation. My idea was that people with good remote TV memory would especially be able to avoid the cultivation effect.

So we dragged 224 people into the lab and tested them. Half were told (basically) to try hard, and half were told to go fast.

Unfortunately, we failed to replicate Shrum's finding. Heavy TV viewers exhibited the cultivation effect even when told to go fast.

However, there is some small shred of evidence for my idea. Here is a figure showing crime estimates as a function of both remote memory and instructions.

As you can see in the figure, there is something going on here, and it's exactly what I would have predicted. When told to "try hard," people with a high score on the remote TV memory test were able to give answers more like the real world. However, those with a low score on the remote TV memory test were unable to avoid this mistake.

The problem is that after controlling for variables known to affect social reality estimates, the statistical test behind this figure (i.e., the interaction) is not statistically significant. The same test is significant for estimates of affluence (below).

Sadly, hit-and-miss is not what I waited 5 years to discover. We're still working on it. It still makes sense to me. And the data suggest that something is going on.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Insult My Politician But Not My Frito Pie

Regular readers know that I spend a good deal of time thinking about how difficult it is to get people to care about politics on television (or any medium), but it's so easy to get them to watch sex and violence.

Today I read an interesting column in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal by editor Terry Greenberg.

Earlier this month, A-J reporter Henri Brickey wrote a story about the Frito Pie (a southwest delicacy). I remember seeing the story, and I even read a little bit.

Well, it seems that Brickey has received more mail about the Frito Pie story than any other he's written.

"Most people wanted to share what they considered to be the original Frito Pie recipe," Greenberg wrote.

It's funny. Normative theorists would argue that Frito Pies have no business on the front page. But -- like it or not -- people care about Frito Pies. They are passionate about their Frito Pies.

Fret all you want. But my money's on the Frito Pie platform in '08.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Basketball Address Brings Irony

Friday night Texas Tech held on to beat North Dakota State 85-81. I had a good time at the game with my middle daughter.

As we drove to United Spirit Arena to watch a Bob Knight coached team, I thought of the irony that I have to turn onto Indiana Avenue to get to the arena.

Moreover, the first team to take on Tech when the arena opened was a Knight coached Hoosier squad.

Life is just weird sometimes.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Tech Lab Up and Running

We got the Coulbourn working today, and we were able to measure skin conductance and heart rate.

It's more fun finding ways to scare your pre-test subject (and thereby visibly increase skin conductance) than it is to collect actual data.

In all, a great end to the week!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Taking Life in the Slow Lane

I spent the night watching the movie Cars with my wife and kids.

It's a cute movie, and it shares a common cinema theme: Life in the slow lane.

Up-and-coming race car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) gets stuck in a small town along Route 66. Unfortunately for town residents, I-40 now bypasses Radiator Springs. No one comes to town any more. Life is at a slower pace.

The movie Doc Hollywood comes to mind. Several more, too.

It's a romantic notion -- giving up the fast-paced dog-eat-dog world for something slower and more meaningful. Most of us would agree that life really should be about the journey and not the destination. Smelling roses and all that.

We agree. And then we go to sleep. And then we get up at the unholy hour of 6 a.m. and jump back into the rat race. Rinse and repeat.

I've found myself at that fork in the road many times. I usually give props to the slow lane but inevitably end up back in that left lane again. Something about hardwiring, I guess.

Given how often the slow-lane theme finds its way into popular culture, it seems I have good company.

I spend a lot of time thinking about how we spend our time now that we do not have to invest all day feeding ourselves. I wonder why we wear neckties and pantyhose. I wonder why we choose to work so much just to pay someone else to watch our kids.

It's always seemed foolish to me. Still does. But it's hard to go about bucking the system. I've never been a "system" guy -- just ask my parents. But as one Bloomington, Indiana, resident once said, "I fight authority, and authority always wins."

Nonetheless, it is a good time to be a dad. Nowadays, you get to watch movies with your kids that entertain you and them, and even encourage the occasional life introspection. Not too bad for an evening in the slow lane.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Congratulations to Kristen Coffaro

Today started off on a positive note. Ohio State University student Kristen Coffaro successfully defended her senior honors thesis, "Effects of Interactive Versus Non-Interactive Communication."

Kristen did an excellent job in the defense, and I am very proud of her performance.

The study used physiological and memory measures, and as one would hope, Kristen found better recognition, recall, and attention for interactive ads.

The defense was my last official duty as a faculty member at OSU. I miss the place this week with the big game with that team up north. That campus will be crazy by tomorrow, and Mirror Lake will be full on Friday night.

Go Bucks!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Why We Collect Snow Globes

Texas Tech Snow Globe
A Texas Tech Snow Globe, but not the much cooler one my friend James gave me.

Since I occasionally talk about snow globes here, I thought that I would fill you in on some of the Indiana snow globe lore.

Here is a piece I helped write for the spring 2003 Indiana University department of telecommunications alumni newsletter, Telecomment.

Telecom lab's formula for fun proves successful
Spring 2003

It's a Wednesday afternoon in early January, and classes don't begin for almost a week. Campus is quiet. However, at the Institute for Communication Research on the third floor of the Radio/TV Center, more than 20 people are gathered around the small conference table. Laughter spills out into the hallway as the assembled faculty and graduate students map out the upcoming semester.

Lab director and Telecom Professor Annie Lang sketches out each project in a notebook as the research assistants and other graduate students provide updates. But that's just part of the meeting. The other part is fun -- and lots of it. While the research planning goes on, visiting Assistant Professor T. Makana Chock passes around a box of chocolate macadamia nuts she brought back from Hawaii.

"I think that work should be fun," Lang said. "It's always my goal that we should do really good work in a really good atmosphere."

Perhaps the most revered presentation is when a new snow globe is unveiled. This lab tradition began several years ago when the current lab manager, Nancy Schwartz, was headed to London for spring break, and someone quipped, "Bring something back to decorate the lab."

Schwartz returned with a snow globe showing London's Big Ben and a double-decker bus, and the rest is lab history. Now every time a lab member presents a research paper at an academic conference, a new snow globe is purchased for the collection.

"Not only are they fun to look at and play with, it's a historical record of the lab members' ventures," Schwartz said.

Currently 43 snow globes sit atop the row of file cabinets in the lab. There would be more, but Lang put a moratorium on multiple snow globes from the same city.

Behind all of this fun -- indeed perhaps because of it -- is a lot of work. Various lab members submitted more than a dozen research papers for consideration at the upcoming ICA conference in San Diego, and that's just one of the three primary conferences at which the lab presents research each year. Faculty and students sent papers to a half-dozen other conferences during the past year.

Lang and her associates have always been productive, but the group was much smaller when she first came to IU.

"The lab used to run on love, on volunteers," Lang said. "Now a lot of students get financial support. But I'm trying to hire people who start out doing it because it's cool."

The number of lab members on the payroll has increased, but more and more volunteers pack into the lab for each new meeting. Johnny Sparks is in his first year of the Telecom PhD program. Sparks said he chose IU over other mass communications graduate programs because Telecom is a strong program, at a great university. But why was he attracted to the lab?

"The critical mass," Sparks replied.

In addition to Lang's growing reputation as an excellent mentor for talented young graduate students, the biggest change in the past few years has been the infusion of federal grant money. The lab is in the final year of a three-year, $375,000 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study the cognitive and emotional process ing of anti-drug public service announcements.

In October, the lab was awarded another $575,000 by NIDA to investigate the biological and psychological underpinnings of how people process these PSAs. The federal money has attracted international attention, too. Last fall, the lab was mentioned in Scientific American, and a French magazine sent a camera crew to photograph the lab in October.

As Lang is a strong mentor, so too are her proteges. She is continually recruiting students into the lab, and she says that she works to ensure that there are students from every level of graduate studies -- from doctoral students nearing completion of their dissertation to first-year master's students.

"I want everybody teaching each other. I don't want it to revolve around me. In the teaching you learn more," she said.

Second-year PhD student Byung-Ho Park said that he has benefited from both the teaching and learning functions of the lab:

"The senior students help new students to adapt to the environment and learn how to use the equipment and the underlying theories."

Former lab member and current Washington State University Assistant Professor Paul D. Bolls, Ph.D.,99, said the relationships formed in the lab didn't end when he received his Ph.D.

"The collaborative environment gave us the freedom to develop as researchers along with some friendships that will last the rest of our lives. We worked hard in the lab, but we also played hard!"

And, Bolls has carried the snow globe tradition to his own lab.

Speaking separately, former lab member and current University of Alabama Assistant Professor Rob Potter, Ph.D., 98, echoed the same sentiments.

"I'm sure at times the research seemed like work, but, looking back on it, I think more of the fun we had investigating stuff, learning about physiology, laughing and talking at weekly lab meetings and being productive," Potter said.

As the new semester begins, more than a half-dozen research projects are under way in the lab. And just to make sure the work doesn't get to be too much, there's often a party being planned.

The balance between work and play seems to be well calibrated for Telecom's Institute for Communication Research.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Snowy K-State Win Perhaps My Best Day Ever

Kansas State's Dyshod Carter celebrates the game sealing defensive play. Photograph by the Topeka Capital-Journal.

Emily and I had been standing in the 33 degree drizzle for more than three hours. We were a wet, frozen mess.

Nebraska's Dan Alexander had just scored on a 45-yard run, which put the Huskers up 28-23.

It looked as if Kansas State would choke away arguably the biggest win in school history.

Then Wildcat quarterback Jonathan Beasley took over. The temperature dipped south of 32 degrees. The drizzle became a light snow.

K-State was driving.

The Wildcats moved down the field, eating up the clock.

Finally Beasley found Quincy Morgan across the middle for a 12-yard touchdown pass that put the Cats up 29-28 with 2:52 remaining.

Just as Beasley cocked his arm to deliver that pass, it seems, the snow started falling with a fury.

You've probably never been to a K-State football game, so this next bit is hard to describe. After every K-State score, the mascot, Wildcat Willie, stands in front of the student section and twists his body into a "K," and "S," and a "U," followed by two fist pumps. The crowd chants along. The ritual is repeated three times.

Just after Morgan crossed the goal line, I heard the familiar "kaaaaaaaaaaaaaay," "esssssssssssss ..." But where was Willie?

Emily and I looked, and there was Willie across the field on top of the press box. The lights of Wagner Field illuminated Willie and the now heavy snow fall. I still get chills thinking about it.

Nebraska still ran the vaunted option in those days, and the snow was the best home field advantage imaginable. The mighty Huskers could do nothing on the slick turf.

Time expired.

For the first and only time in my life, I rushed the field. There Emily and I stood. Drenched. Frozen. And in the midst of chaos. There are few times in an entire lifetime when that much adrenaline runs through your veins.

It was awesome.

We took in the glory of the field and then got out of the way of the fools toppling the goalposts.

Emily and I walked all the way home. Across the entire K-State campus. Through a now rocking Aggieville. Down Moro Street to our house.

We tried to call people on the cell phone. To no avail. The circuits were overloaded with a record crowd of 53,811 trying to do the same.

It may have been the most exciting day of my life.

To be sure, my real best days were my wedding and the births of my children. But those are different kinds of emotional highs. They are poignant. You really would be a fool if after hearing, "it's a girl," you pumped your fists, ran around like a maniac, and tore down a big yellow pole.

Sports fans reading this know why I am writing this today. Last night, K-State took down No. 4 Texas, 45-42. Exactly six years to the day after Emily and I rushed the field.

Last night was magical. I never tire of watching Texas lose. The win might even be bigger than our defeat of the Huskers, as K-State tries to climb back to national importance. But it will never replace that snowy evening in 2000.

Nice win, Ron Prince. Welcome to Manhattan. I look forward to seeing you in a bowl game this year and in the AP poll next season.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Get Your Guns Up

Season tickets on the South Plains.

Emily and I just returned from a Texas Tech men's basketball game, where the Red Raiders defeated Sam Houston State, 79-64.

It was great -- as an Indiana alumnus -- to watch coach Bob Knight coach in person.

The United Spirit Arena is a great facility. It is far more modern and far nicer than IU's Assembly Hall. However, once inside, the Red Raiders have a lot to learn in terms of atmosphere. Hoosiers know how to rock an arena. We still need some work here in Lubbock.

At least both arenas proudly display NCAA national championship banners. Assembly Hall showcases 5 men's banners, and the United Spirit Arena displays the 1993 women's national title banner.

It was a good time, nonetheless, and I stopped myself twice before I yelled, "Come, on Hoosiers!" Oops. Wrong team.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Greatest Book Ever Written

Images taken from the book Celebrating Snow Globes. The cover is shown (at top) in addition to snow globes used as advertisements.
The text on page 55 reads, "Progressive Products created the chicken on the far left [middle above] to advertise its vaccine for chickens in the 1950s, while these Spam and Budweiser snow globes were homages more than advertising."

Today I was walking through the Texas Tech Barnes & Noble bookstore, and I ran across the best book ever made.

The full citation is:

Chertoff, N., & Kahn, S. (2006). Celebrating snow globes. New York: Sterling Publishing.

If you do not understand why this is the greatest book ever written, I suggest that you visit the Institute for Communication Research at Indiana University.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pop Culture 1, Politics 0

In case you wondered, far more college students knew of Britney Spears' pending divorce than the change of secretary of defense.

In other news, the new secretary of defense comes to us from Texas A&M. Prepare to be invaded. (Those of you from outside of Texas probably cannot appreciate Lubbock's sentiments toward the Aggies).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Shining Blue Skies

The west Lubbock sky on the evening of November 8, 2006.

I wish you could be here.

The sky is so blue this morning in West Texas. It's hard to describe if you've never been in the Southwest. I should have brought my camera to work.

A three-quarters moon hangs over the Western part of Lubbock.

Gorgeous. Simply gorgeous.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Dreaming about Dreams

I woke up at 3 a.m. almost unable to go back to sleep.

I had been dreaming.

No, it was not a nightmare. It was far better. I was dreaming about dreaming.

"Freud was an idiot," I often say. Sure it's an overgeneralization. Sure he helped advance the field a lot. But mostly, an idiot.

Along these lines, dream interpretation is more akin to "ESP" and "UFOs" than any legitimate science.

However, you do dream. And something is going on in your head when you see Abe Lincoln and that beaver (I am tired of that ad, too).

Here's what I think it is. I think dreaming has a lot to do with memory consolidation. You see, humans have the capability to do two pretty cool things: learn quickly and remember stuff for a long time.

When you attempt to build a simple artificial neural network, it can do one of those two things. But it cannot do both. If you learn fast, you forget old stuff. However, most of us still remember the name of our kindergarten teacher, and we can learn new stuff.

But how?

I subscribe to a theory of memory that conceives of the human brain as a two-step learner. The hippocampus and other structures in the medial temporal lobe are quick learners. Your isocortex (more often called neocortex or just cortex) is a slow learner that remembers for a long time.

Research done by neuroscientist Larry Squire and colleagues suggests that the hippocampus "plays back" your new experiences to your isocortex while you are asleep. And it does this in parallel, thus memories cross over.

It is quite possible that dreams are simply amalgamations of memory consolidation. And the super cool thing is that last night I had a dream about these theories of memory consolidation. So I was dreaming about how dreams occur.

Yes, I know I am a terrible nerd.

To learn more about this theory, please read:

McClelland, J. L., McNaughton, B. L., & O'Reilly, R. C. (1995). Why there are complementary learning systems in the hippocampus and neocortex: Insights from the successes and failures of connectionist models of learning and memory. Psychological Review, 102, 419-457.

To learn more about evidence of this playback, please read:

Skaggs, W. E., & McNaughton, B. L. (1996). Replay of neuronal firing sequences in rat hippocampus during sleep following spatial experience. Science, 271(5257), 1870-1873.

To learn more about interruption of consolidation, please read:

Squire, L. R., Chace, P. M., & Slater, P. C. (1976). Retrograde amnesia following electroconvulsive therapy. Nature, 260(5554), 775-777.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Administrators, Alumni Have Sun Shining

Ten years ago, I never would have believed that the season could play such a role in my life.

Lately, however, the autumnal equinox means difficult days. As the chlorophyll drains from the leaves, my zest for life seems to dull down. And I hate it.

This week started in full autumn swing, but it ended in great fashion. Thank goodness for small miracles, I suppose.

Friday was the "tenure academy" at Texas Tech. Now, I admit that this is not necessarily an exciting event. We spent much of the afternoon learning about the tenure process at Tech and how to complete our dossier (the conglomeration of documents that others use to judge whether a faculty member deserves tenure).

The good part of the event was a part of Tech culture. President Jon Whitmore spoke to the crowd. It's the second time I have seen Whitmore. Then, the opening session was led by provost William Marcy and vice provost Elizabeth Hall. Friday marked the fifth or sixth time I have seen them both.

Although I doubt that either could free recall my name, I am pretty sure they know who I am. I've been here only three months. It's a good culture that makes administrators accessible to faculty. And it is one of the reasons that I am glad that I am here.

Immediately after the tenure academy was a reception for our national advisory board and alumni. This was a great chance to talk with communications professionals.

In keeping with Tech culture, soon-to-be chancellor Kent Hance showed up at our reception. Hance spoke to the crowd, and his personality was immediately obvious. He should be a strong addition to the university.

Hance -- who is leaving a better paying job with fewer hours for Tech -- told a story that I had not heard.

Bear Bryant was the head football coach at Texas A&M in 1957. A&M was one game from the national championship. Most of his key players were returning. The future was bright.

Meanwhile, times were thought at the University of Alabama. The Crimson Tide were coming off of several losing seasons (4 wins and 24 losses from 1955 to 1957). But Bryant took the job at Alabama -- for less money.

When asked why he would make such a move, Bryant replied, "Mama called, and when Mama calls, you just have to come running."

I love that story.

The weekend continued with an early breakfast where the College of Mass Communications honored six former students with "outstanding alumni" awards. It was inspiring to hear each of their stories, and it was just the breath of fresh air I needed.

Following the breakfast, Tech beat Baylor 55-21.

Maybe autumn is not so bad after all.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Equipment Here, No Time to Play

Annie Lang's Coulbourn at Indiana University.

Why does my brand new Coulbourn LabLinc V Series physiology equipment show up when I am busy as all Hades and have no spare time to play?

I did take 30 minutes to put it together. This is my fourth one (of some degree of participation). I am getting pretty good at it.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dissertation for Sale, It Seems

When you submit your dissertation, you are required to process it through Dissertation Abstracts International, which is now either owned by or run by Proquest.

Today I Googled the title of my dissertation, Exploring the validity and reliability of the acoustic startle probe as a measure of attention and motivation to television programming.

In this one instance, it was not a case of vanity Googling. Instead, I was trying to see what keywords I could keep in a title and still have blind review (that is, if a reviewer Googles the title of a journal submission, will it directly point to me?).

Much to my surprise, up came the Proquest version of the dissertation at Amazon.

Amazing. It could be yours for $69.95.

Technically, they call Dissertation Abstracts publishing. In this case, it actually is!

Somehow, I do not expect to sell many. It's just weird to see it there.