March madness

March 12, 2014

I have no idea why, but for as long as I can remember, the middle of March has been insanely busy.

I think it started with junior-high science fair, continued into high-school musical rehearsals, grew into magazine design projects of epic proportions, and snowballed from there.

This year, after the Oklahoma Route 66 Association president earned my undying loyalty and affection by constructing a beautiful, shimmering Somebody Else’s Problem shield around the Trip Guide for the first time in nine years, I assumed I’d get to find out what March looks like to normal people.

Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking, either. I know better than that.

With a reporter out on maternity leave and staffing issues reaching critical levels, I volunteered to cover for a designer who’s out on vacation this week … right before my editor decided to move up the deadline on a largely hypothetical project that of course began spinning wildly out of control the second it became real … and just when I thought I might be able to reel that all in and keep things from getting too complicated, I remembered I had a murder trial to cover this week.

The upshot of all this is that by 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, I had already worked nearly 40 hours this week, and I’ve got another 40 or so ahead of me before the week is out.

After all these years, I’m not even pretending to worry about it, because an 80-hour week full of utter madness is as much a sign of spring as the crocus blooming next to the front porch, the flat of tomato plants growing in the dining room and the ballplayers warming up in Arizona and Florida. I don’t know why or how it happens, but I’d probably freak out if it didn’t.

As soon as I get through this week, I’m going to treat myself to some new lawn ornaments. I’ve got an utterly hilarious idea for a little garden tableau involving a handful of concrete angels and a lawn gnome in pinstripes and Chucks….

Emily


Mathematical misconceptions

January 12, 2014

As an old math teacher, I was more than a little concerned by some of the comments I saw on a stats-driven story we ran in the paper today. Because the misconceptions I saw in the comments are fairly common — and because some of my former students read this blog — I thought it might be worthwhile to address a couple of the more egregious examples here, for the benefit of anyone who has slept since freshman algebra.

Misconception 1: If you don’t have data for the full year, any conclusions you draw based on that data are statistically invalid.

Reality: Full-year stats are nice to have, but as long as you’re comparing apples to apples, you can draw meaningful conclusions without them. If I compared an 11-month period in one year to full-year data for another year, my conclusions would be invalid. But if I compare an 11-month period in one year to the same 11-month period for several preceding years, I can make valid comparisons even if I don’t have that twelfth month.

Misconception 2: If numbers look bigger, they are.

Reality: Not necessarily. Remember fractions? Ratios? Decimals? Let’s look at some examples:

1/2 is bigger than 1/3, and 1/3 is bigger than 1/4.

If your odds of something happening are 1 in 14 (which can also be expressed as 1:14 or 1/14), then that thing is more likely to occur than if your odds of it happening are 1 in 18 (1:18 or 1/18).

At least one reader didn’t understand that. He was convinced that even though the number of crimes in a given jurisdiction had gone down from one year to the next, the crime rate – expressed in the article and accompanying chart as a ratio of crimes to population, reduced to lowest terms — had gone up. I assume he drew this conclusion by looking at the second number in each ratio. Since that second number got bigger, he thought that meant the crime rate was going up.

These folks aren’t alone in their confusion. A lot of people don’t understand how stats work — which makes them easy targets for unscrupulous people who do.

You shouldn’t trust stats blindly, because they can be manipulated, and people can make mathematical errors. But you don’t have to be afraid of them, either. Statistical data can be incredibly useful, but it’s hard to use a tool if you don’t know how it works.

Emily


More dust

August 1, 2013

I really thought I’d have time to finish tinkering with the decorations and swapping out the wallpaper here by now, but I’ve been up to my teeth in homicides and kidnappings and insurance scams and cops and lawyers and unfortunate accidents and conspiracy theories and cold cases and bad coffee and editors and accident reports and fast-food wrappers and probable-cause statements and all of the ten thousand other details that make the life of a crime reporter unlike any other (and one I wouldn’t trade for anything).

Every now and then, I get a minute to catch my breath. I usually spend it listening to vinyl or sneaking up to Makanda for cappuccino on the Boardwalk. But I had a hand free tonight, so I sat down and worked up the photos I shot Sunday and put together what I think is a little more accurate representation of my world at the moment.

The background is a picture of downtown Cape. We have an awesome downtown full of historic buildings and interesting businesses. I love it. The new header is the Bill Emerson Bridge across the Mississippi River, which replaced an old through-truss gem that was demolished 10 years ago. I would like the record to show that I shot the photo in the header at 1/4 of a second without a tripod. Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

I’m going to pull another vanishing act for a few days, but I hope to be back with a bitchin’ new project to unveil and some photos to share soon. Stay tuned.

Emily


Decision

January 27, 2013

Sensory Overload (Interacting with Autism Project) from Miguel Jiron on Vimeo.

I worked with several kids with Asperger syndrome or other autism spectrum disorders during the course of my four years at Webster.

I adored those kids.

They don’t know it, but just by being part of my class, they gave Riggy a better mommy. That seems fair, since Scout gave them a better teacher. “The gift goes on,” as Sandi Patty says.

This video made me cry.

I am applying to grad school this week. For reasons.

Emily


Costume

October 24, 2012

So we’re throwing a Halloween party at work for all the local kids, and my boss informed me that I would be expected to wear a costume.

I hate wearing costumes.

Ron suggested I just show up in my bee suit, but I’m in charge of the popcorn, and I am pretty sure the health department would shut us down if an inspector walked in and saw me scooping popcorn in my pollen-and-propolis-stained gloves and honey-smeared suit.

This was what I came up with instead:

Janis Joplin costume

Janis Joplin. Or, as I like to call it, “Casual Friday.”

Emily

 

 


The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Women

August 26, 2012

NOTE: This entry was inspired by my increasing frustration with the tendency of many young women to embrace and pander to the kinds of stereotypes that ensure they will never be taken as seriously, paid as much, or treated as well as their male colleagues. Many of my former students will be starting their careers in the next few years, and I don’t want to see them fail. This riff is for them. I hope they will find it useful.

The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Women

 

Habit 1: Baby-talking around men. I realize we can’t all sound like Lauren Bacall, but when you deliberately talk from your soft palate instead of your larynx, you are sending the message that you are small, immature, and vulnerable. This could attract a knight in shining armor, but it’s more likely to attract a predator looking for a weak-willed woman he can control easily. If a guy finds your fake baby voice sexy, RUN, because you do NOT want him living under your roof when the FBI raids his computer.

Habit 2: Playing stupid around men. Every time I need a man to take me seriously, I have to start by proving I am not the idiot you pretend to be. Stop it. Real men are not intimidated by bright women. Behaving like an intelligent, responsible adult will not keep you from finding Mr. Right — but it might keep you from wasting time on Mr. Condescending, Mr. Insecure, and Mr. Insufferable.

Habit 3: Inappropriate attire. I started to write a long riff about this, but the bottom line is: Quit dressing like a hooker, and quit doing stupid crap like wearing stiletto heels to the ballpark. It doesn’t make you look hot. It makes you look like Snooki.

Habit 4: Duck face. JUST STOP IT. If you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to know that you look like a conceited bimbo when you purse your lips and leer into the camera. Your future employer is going to Google you. Do you really want this to be the hiring manager’s first impression of you?

Habit 5: Passive-aggressive behavior. If you have a problem with somebody, confront that person directly. If the problem isn’t important enough to merit a confrontation, it isn’t important. Period. There is no situation in which passive-aggressive behavior is acceptable. It is always immature, self-serving, dishonest, and cowardly — which is precisely how you will be perceived if you do it. Don’t.

Habit 6: Gossip and backstabbing. Ownership of a uterus does not obligate you to make up crap about your enemies, complain about your colleagues, or revel in other people’s misfortunes behind their back. You can damage an enemy’s reputation with gossip — but in the process, you reveal something about yourself, and it’s probably not something you want people to know.

Habit 7: Whining. If you are being asked to do something immoral or illegal, report it. If you are being asked to do something unpleasant or inconvenient, either suck it up or look for a new job. Either way, don’t whine. Whining doesn’t help. It just irritates potential allies and makes you look unprofessional.

– Emily


Where I’ve been

June 27, 2012

I know, I know, I suck at keeping up with this blog. Cut me a break; I’ve been blogging (and tweeting and Facebooking and pinning and Instagramming) my butt off at work, so I don’t have much left by the time I get home.

If you miss your daily dose of hippie wisdom brilliance cleverness smartassery … well, you won’t find much of that on my work blog, because I have to play nice and act like a grownup, but I am writing a lot and posting a lot of pictures and doing a lot of cheering for Tulsa and Route 66.

Work blog is here.

Work Twitter account is here.

Work Facebook page is here. I’m still figuring out how to use Facebook as a promotional tool without totally overlapping the Twitter account. Right now, it’s kind of lame, but I’m hoping to get off my duff and come up with something better in the near future.

Work Pinterest is here. I’m not really into the whole Pinterest thing, mainly because I am too arrogant to get excited about photos that I did not personally shoot, but I’ve put up a few pins this week and have gotten a couple of repins, so I guess I’m getting the hang of it. I pin a lot more stuff for work than I do for home.

I think you have to download the Instagram app to follow my work pictures, but if you have it, my work account is listed as thecampbellhotel. I assume it will come as a surprise to exactly no one to learn that Instagram is my favorite of the social media I’m using at work.

I’ll try to post the rest of my vacation photos here in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, go entertain yourself with my work blog. I think it’s pretty good.

Go follow my work stuff and make me look good at the office, and maybe I’ll reward your loyalty and patience with a giveaway and some actual effort in the near future. XD

Emily


Sunday Lit Meme: Nonfiction

March 11, 2012

Sorry I haven’t kept up the blog very well this week. Don’t expect much for the next couple of weeks, either. Baseball season started last week; we’ve got an accreditation audit on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I’ve put in about 18 hours on school-related projects this weekend; parent-teacher conferences are this Tuesday and Thursday; and I’m scrambling to plan our NHS induction, which is right after spring break.

If you think I’ll be relaxing when spring break starts Friday, you’ve obviously forgotten what I do over spring break … and I’ve got to finish the Trip Guide as quickly as possible so I can head east for a visit with family that will double as a preliminary research trip for my next big project, which I’ll announce after I work out the logistics and feel more certain that it’s actually going to get off the ground.

In the interest of preserving my sanity, I traded in my piece o’ crap cell phone for an iPhone 4S the other night. Internet service on the iPhone is $30 a month, which is twice as much as the AT&T plan on my iPad cost, but Verizon also gives me eight times as much bandwidth as I was getting from AT&T, and I basically upgraded the phone to get Siri, which means I’ve basically just hired a personal secretary who’ll work 24/7 for $15 a month.

Now … on to your lit meme:

What’s the most interesting nonfiction book you’ve read lately?

Mine would have to be Bloody Williamson, which more or less helped clinch my decision to blow off New Mexico in favor of a trip back home if I can clear my plate in time to enjoy my spring break. Being a Southern Illinois girl, I should have read it a long time ago, but I just never got around to it. I finally got a hand free last weekend and read it cover-to-cover in about a day. Fascinating stuff. Go buy a copy and read it while I’m too busy to blog … and if I don’t get a chance to get back online before then, enjoy your spring break.

Emily


Latest creation

February 15, 2012

I’m holding a drawing tomorrow in class for another fabulous (read: ridiculous) handmade prize. Here it is:

I was going to do something different this time, but the last sock monkey went over so well that I decided to put together another one. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but its arms are “tattooed” with images of flying pigs that look vaguely like something Matt Groening would come up with.

I think the weirdness coefficient is high enough to endear this little character to most of my students….

Emily


Great day.

February 10, 2012

Today was awesome. Here are all the things I did:

1. Started organizing my classroom closet. My room is going to look soooo much better when I get this done.

2. Had a hilarious moment this morning involving a very nice professor and a student with a rather macabre sense of humor. The professor, who was a retired elementary teacher, tried to say something friendly to the student. Seconds later, the student turned to a classmate who was annoying her and said — in a tone of absolute seriousness — “If you don’t stop that, I am going to take an axe and cut your head off. Then I am going to cut up your body and hang it from the ceiling in a sack,” to which I replied: “Not in here on my carpet, you’re not.” It was like an episode of The Addams Family….

3. Watched a group of students in seventh hour teach an in-depth lesson on literal equations. Best moment: One of my irrepressible freshmen started the hour laughing and enjoying the opportunity to boss her friends around. She informed me that she was enjoying herself so much that becoming a teacher was her “new dream.” Thirty minutes later, she apologized for all the times she’d disrupted class and told me she would never want to do my job, because it was awful. I asked her what had happened to her new dream. “It’s shattered, Ms. Priddy,” she replied.

4. Got all my progress reports done and turned in three days early.

5. Had Spaghetti-O’s on toast for dinner. (Don’t judge me. This is better than it sounds, and just about perfect on a Friday afternoon.)

6. Placed one geocache on Route 66 and scouted an appropriate location for a second.

Hope your Friday was as good as mine.

Emily


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