Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Preparing for Obama's SOTU Address

I might tune into the SOTU (State Of The Union) address tonight. Unfortunately, I have to watch the Unknown Kids (unknown Wife has a girls night out). If I weren't, I might be willing to try one of the following SOTU drinking games:
But, since I have to watch the kids (and I want to have a liver once I'm 60), I guess I'll just have to content myself with SOTU Bingo.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

R.I.P. Mark Bertus (12/21/1971 - 1/26/2010)

A serious and sad note today - Mark Bertus (a finance prof at Auburn University) passed away early this morning at the age of 38 after a long battle with cancer. He leaves behind a wife and three children, and is now pain free and in the presense of Joy Himself

Those of you who knew him can read the story of his last couple of years as chronicled by his wife Rhonda at their blog.

I was fortunate to have known Mark these last few years. He was fun to hang around with at conferences, always quick with a laugh and a wisecrack (upon hearing that the Unknown Wife was pregnant, he immediately said "Congratulations - who's the father?"), and absolutely in love with his wife and kids. He was also an amazing teacher - just read a few of the comments at their blog, and you'll quickly get a sense as to how much his students loved him.

For those who knew him, here's some info from the blog:
The funeral will be held 10 a.m. this Friday morning at St. Michaels Catholic Church at North College St. in Auburn. Visitation hours will be at Jeffcoat Trant funeral Thursday night from 6-8pm.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Mark Bertus Scholarship Fund at any Auburn Bank location or mail to PO Drawer 3110 Auburn, AL 36831-3110.
Fare well, my friend, if only for a while. You'll be reunited with family and friends some day (and if there's beer in heaven, we'll share a few). When you run into him, say hi to the Unknown Son for me - he'll be the one with the Wimpy Kid books. He was never all that physical because of his illness, and he'll need someone to teach him how to throw a curve-ball, if you know what I'm saying.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I don't discuss it much on the blog, but those of you who know me know that I'm a bit of a political junkie. So, I've been watching the goings on in the Massachusetts Senate race the last few weeks. I grew up in a neighboring state, and was fed a regular serving of Kennedy media in my younger years.

So, to see a Republican senator elected to Ted Kennedy's old seat is nothing short of amazing. By all accounts, Brown did as masterful a job of campaigning as Coakley did a horrendous one.

It should make for interesting times the next few weeks as the Democrats decide what to do as far as the Health Care plan is concerned. This may be the death knell for it.

Time will tell.

Fun With Faculty Parking

I was watching the Unknown Baby Boy today while the Unknown Wife went to physical therapy (she recently threw her back out - luckily, it's gotten better). So, I got to my office later than expected. When I did, it was raining a bit, and the faculty lot behind my building was full.

Then I saw one car (a bright red Mustang convertible without a faculty sticker) that took up two spaces. That's right - it's raining, he/she didn't have a sticker, and had taken up two spaces in a lot that they didn't even belong in - thereby ensuring that at least two people who belonged there could use the lot. So, I wrote them this little note (suitably wrapped so it wouldn't get soaked):
Sorry about denting your car. I tried several times to park in the next space to your left, but it was very tight. I think I hit your rear bumper on the corner, and I might have scratched the paint a bit (but it was hard to tell, since it was raining a bit). Then i tried in the space to your right, and might have done the same. Unfortunately, with your car taking up two spaces, it didn't leave me much room. If you have any questions, please call me - the scratch didn't look too bad, and I have insurance, so I'd be happy to take care of it.
Then I left an illegible number.

It's not an original idea, but I hope the person involved has to spend a fair bit of time looking for the nonexistent damage.

In the rain.

Hey - I had to walk in it, so karma is that way.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Great Video of The Unknown Baby Boy (And Some FMA Stuff)

I'm grateful that the Unknown Baby Boy has a good disposition. He laughs easily and often, and is generally a happy kid most of the time.

Here's a short clip (luckily, he gets his looks from his mother). The quality is pretty poor because I took it with my cell phone, but it give you an idea. The other kid you hear is the Unknown Daughter. Enjoy.

On a work related note, looks like one paper's already been submitted to FMA (it helps having good coauthors who do most of the work). I'm still working on the second one, and hope to be done by early evening.

Of course, that means I'll probably still be in my office at 11 pm like I was last night - Groan!

Updated 8:00 p.m.: The second paper is done and submitted. Of course, at the very end, Acrobat refused to print it (there was something wrong with the version of Acrobat on my system). Luckily a colleague of mine also didn't have a life and was working late also, and it worked on his computer.

Murphy never rests. Never.

But luckily, neithr does my colleague.

Now it's time to feed the little bugger. and tomorrow night I go on a well-deserved date with the Unknown Wife.

Since coauthors on both papers are out of pocket for a while (one just had classes start up and the other is at -I kid you not- Disney), I guess then I'll just have to work on another project that needs a revision (I'm also "data monkey" on that one).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


The deadline for submissions to the FMA (Financial Management Association, our national association) national conference is this Friday. I'm trying to get two papers done - one in which I do the data analysis and hand it off to my coauthor for the writeup and another where the reverse happens (she analyzes and hands off to me). Last week I thought I was in good shape.

Uh oh - I spoke too soon.

First, this weekend when no one is around, my office computer gets cut off from the Internet by the University IT department - they said I had a virus. So, for the weekend I used my laptop for interned access (some citations and work on WRDS), and kept running analysis on my desktop - it has two screens and a lot more power.

Come Monday morning my college's IT guy (who is fantastic, BTW) said he'd look at it. So, I backed up all the relevant stuff for the two papers to a portable hard drive and started working on my notebook. I figure he'd scan the hard drives and give it back to me in a day or so.

Next thing you know, my IT guy tells me that my boot drive has gone Tango Uniform (I have two hard drives in the system - one is the boot drive and the other has all my data on it). Luckily I'd backed up everything from the data drive before giving the machine to him.

It's a 4 year old system, so, it looks like I'll be getting a new system with more memory and a bigger hard drive. But in the meantime, I'm working on a laptop with a 12 inch screen.

Ah well, I'm just about done with my part of the first paper, and I just got a load of stuff from my coauthor on the second one. So it'll be a busy week until Saturday.

One of these days I'll run across this Murphy guy, and we're gonna have some words.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Yale Students Are Sissies

British theologian and satirist Malcolm Muggeridge once remarked that it's difficult being a satirist. You work so hard to put someone into a ridiculous situation, and then they go ahead and do something far stranger and dumber than anything you could have come up with.

Yale undergrads provided the latest illustration of Muggeridge's point. Here's the article from the Yale Daily News (The Game refers to the annual Yale/Harvard football game, which is their biggest rivalry):
The Freshman Class Council has run into controversy with its T-shirts for The Game.

The FCC has decided to change the design of its shirts after the original design, which was submitted by students and voted on by the freshman class, sparked outcry from members within the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community. But after the LGBT Cooperative and other students raised concerns about the design — which contained the word “sissies” — administrators asked the FCC to reconsider. FCC representatives decided Tuesday to scrap the old T-shirts, which had not yet been printed, and make a new design.

The original design, which won out over five other entries, displayed an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote in the front — “I think of all Harvard men as sissies” — in bold white letters. The back of the long-sleeved, navy blue T-shirt said “WE AGREE” in capital letters, with “The Game 2009” scrawled in script underneath it.

But the term ‘sissies’ is considered offensive and demeaning, and as well as a “thinly-veiled gay slur,” said Julio Perez-Torres ’12, a member of the LGBT Co-op.

After the winning design was announced, FCC President Brandon Levin ’13 said, several students raised concerns about the design to their respective FCC representatives, which they in turn brought to the attention of the FCC Executive Board and Dean of Freshman Affairs Raymond Ou.

Read the whole thing here.

The quote originates from an F. Scott Fitgerald piece:

“I want to go to Princeton,” said Amory. “I don’t know why, but I think of all Harvard men as sissies, like I used to be, and all Yale men as wearing big blue sweaters and smoking pipes.”

Monsignor chuckled.

“I’m one, you know.”

“Oh, you’re different — I think of Princeton as being lazy and good-looking and aristocratic — you know, like a spring day. Harvard seems sort of indoors — ”

“And Yale is November, crisp and energetic,” finished Monsignor.

“That’s it.”

They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.

— F. Scott Fitzgerald, Princeton X ‘17, This Side of Paradise

After all - we can't have taunting at a football game that might offend anyone, can we?

Two thoughts - first, what a bunch of sissies, and second, "Harvard men are sissies" is the best smack talk you can come up with for a football game? The Unknown Daughter is nine, and she could do better.

I remember back in the dark ages when I was an undergrad at UCONN. We played Brown every year in soccer (usually kicked their hineys - we were contenders for the national championship most years back then). Our traditional cheer was "What's the color of SH+T? Brown!" Now THAT's smack.

I think they call us sissies in return...

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Gotta Love That Global Warming

I just shoveled another 6 inches of global warming off my driveway.

I blame Al Gore.

On a more serious note, here's wishing you a Happy New Year to one and all. May the best that you saw in 2009 be the worst that you'll see in 2010.