Sheltons Organic Turkey

if I empty out all the unimportant stuff here, maybe there'll be more room in my head for important things

name: shelton brett
location: western u.s.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Delara's thoughts on Crash

So, this isn't really a new post, but a friend recently saw Crash for the first time and so I revisited what Delara posted about it. There was a lot of interesting responses to her post, the most boring of which was mine:

You know, I've actually thought about this a bit based on what Don Cheadle's character said, and this is a regional thing (cultural influences interlaced throughout, for sure) as much as anything else. I grew up in the western U.S., and the attitude here is most definitely, "I need my personal space," which may or may not have something to do with originating from that whole pioneer cowboy thing. But space is something that is important to me, and when other people invade that space it goes beyond uncomfortable, it's assaulting. It makes me mad. And I consider myself a friendly people-person, this is something different. People have different personal boundaries in verbal exchanges that I associate with different regions too, and since I travel a bit (as do you, D :) ) this manifests itself all over the place. When I lived in the midwest, I often felt affronted the way people approached me. NY? Forgeddaboutit. In an informal unscientific poll, the other westerners who work with me also perceive this difference. So I was thinking the opposite of what Don Cheadle's character was, that this invasion of space was the root of the problem, rather than the lack of shared space. I know this wasn't the point of your post, btw, but thanks for getting me thinking anyway.

Curious if anyone else has had similar experiences to mine, or if they agree with the thought that Don's character expresses: avoiding each other leads to confrontation.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

February 14, nada fiction

February 14, 1996

A lone candle flickered on the glass dining table. Shadows of the chairs danced on the mauve walls in the corner of the room. The candle provided the only light on this evening, it completely overpowered anything external, or internal, as his heart was as dark as tar. Not evil, just without any hope. He stared at the candle, its luminescence zigging and zagging around the wick, smoke making chaotic patterns into invisible space and beyond. He breathed deeply. Strawberry, and just a little bit of wax. Not like real strawberries , more like those fake strawberries that you recognize from card shops and trailer homes. He could hear the candle burning, actually hear it. A slight sizzle, sort of an airy wisp like a faint wind outside of a car window.

She called our relationship the essence of blissfulness, the core of ignorance.

The salisbury steak was history, and so were the potato buds and carrots that were crunchy (but were supposed to be soft). Beef gravy swirled the empty plate, cradling a fork, and a knife was perched on the edge. A tablecloth and a wadded paper napkin next to the lone brass candleholder completed the arrangement. He squinted beyond the candle into what is usually the family room, but the darkness enveloped everything but his dinner-setting. For all he knew, the other rooms had evaporated into nothingness like the smoke from the flame.

We ate calamari and drank two bottles of expensive wine, last year.

He pushed his plate back, toward the scented candle, and laid his forehead in his hands. He rubbed his scalp with his fingertips, massaged his temples, and unconsciously uncrossed his legs beneath the table to relieve the mounting pressure on his tingling thigh. What the hell? It's just another day, just another dinner. If there was one thing that he simply hated, just couldn't allow for himself, it was pity. Pity is for losers, for the weak-minded, for the people who were unlike him. There was no way that anyone could have the power to have that kind of effect on him.

Could they?

He was the one in control of the situation. He called the shots. He was the one who made others wonder what they did wrong, limp in their own sorrow. He created the unhappiness and dispensed it upon others. He was the doer, not the doee. It had always been that way. He did his own thing, made the decisions, and it was the others that would have to deal with them.

He had never been as uncomfortable as he was right then. He had the look and feel of bewildered freshness, like a baby recognizing his mother for the first time. Is that what this was? Is this the way he made countless others feel, when he let them know they were nothing to him? Meaningless? Meaningless.

He spasmed into a state of alertness. Looking around, he saw the familiar surroundings of his bedroom. He had jerked upright with a start, slowly succumbing to the reality of his environment. But before his mind pushed the brutal thoughts, memories, out of existence, he gazed to the other side of the mattress, toward where the love of his life slept. It was empty. Vacant, just like the past two months, three weeks, and four days. Happy Valentine's Day.

Chapeau Sonata

madness to heart words
of things we hate in themselves
a verse about hats

Thanks, Katy! (You rock.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Good reviews

Well, there's good reviews and bad reviews. The folks in my business normally get some of both. We are charged often with having to write our own reviews, and I find it's always much easier to find things I don't like in a proposal than things that I do like. The important thing for me to remember is that for every negative comment I make, to partner it with constructive suggestions on how to improve it. Even if I don't necessarily agree with the idea behind the proposal, I try to help the author with suggestions.

So, we in this business need to have thick skins. I personally like to keep a record of some of the more horrible rejections I get, something suggested to me at an early stage of my studies. I recently received reviews from 2 people that were deciding whether or not my research idea was worth funding or not. The idea behind the proposal:
To gather data about computer security and Internet safety in the public schools of this state (i.e., determine "what's going on" in terms of policy, practice, and responsibility) and to create an action plan for developing education, if needed, based on the analysis.
Here are some excerpts from Reviewer 1:
Determining the potential for attracting additional funding relies on the quality of the proposal and a clear description of why additional funding would be needed. Indeed all four evaluation criteria rely on proposal quality.

This proposal is poorly written.

What is the difference between a data synthesis and findings?

The literature review provides no convincing evidence that the proposed project is needed. No literature is cited. Referencing web addresses give the reader very little information about the reference.

Aren't computer security issues part of a computer specialists training? I surely hope so.

On page 5 quantitative and qualitative analysis of the data is proposed. However, data analysis is never described in the proposal.

The writing on page 4, is particularly vague, e.g., do you collect a "data analysis?"
In general the proposal seriously needs editing.

There probably is a need for including computer security issues in teacher education, but that need is not convincingly established in this proposal. And, I wonder why it isn't included in the (sic) class for preservice teachers?
And some excerpts from Reviewer 2:
This proposal is so poorly prepared that there is little reason for optimism about future extramural funding.

Now, with the unverified assumption that needs do exist (see, e.g., pp. 7, 8), there is no provision for the contingency that the survey data would indicate that there is no need or a more limited need than envisioned in the proposal.

The list of procedures on page 4 is full of vagueness. In short, the description of methodology is wholly inadequate.

Even if the research element of the proposal were adequate, it is doubtful that NSF would fund a request for funding to build a course for teacher education (the reference to a curriculum in the proposal is never elaborated on, but a place for a new curriculum in teacher education seems unlikely) and for the training of school
administrators in computer safety. The reach of the project would be too narrow, both in terms of technological impact on education and the scope of any research.

Given the condition of the proposal noted above, it is difficult to anticipate any benefit to (sic) this state's citizens from such a… grant. There is a brief discussion of potential impact on page 10, but it is at such a general level that it adds no credibility to the likelihood of benefit.

So, you don't get to choose who reviews your proposal. If I could, I would choose someone who knows the difference between "data synthesis" and "findings." I would choose someone who would not complain about not seeing the "need" for this funding yet at the same time will assume that it's important enough that it's already being taught. (It isn't.) And I would choose someone who wouldn't complain of vagueness and at the same time, write a sentence like:
Now, with the unverified assumption that needs do exist (see, e.g., pp. 7, 8), there is no provision for the contingency that the survey data would indicate that there is no need or a more limited need than envisioned in the proposal.
Clear as a bell, right?

The bottom line, stated clearly in the proposal, is that computer security in our state's schools isn't being taught in a uniform, successful fashion. It is important to research what is going on. And that's why you're reading the grant proposal.

I really could react to each and every comment of the two reviewers and make this really long and drawn-out, but why? It almost speaks louder if I don't react at all. I'll just file these reviews with my other rejection letters, always good for a laugh as well as a little sip of humility.

that which is not supposed to be

PHOENIX (AP) -- In the NBA, one man's blocked shot can be another man's goaltending.

Such was the case when Kevin Garnett blocked Shawn Marion's short jumper at the buzzer to preserve the Minnesota Timberwolves' 103-101 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night.

"That was a good block," Garnett told reporters. "I mean, you all saw what you saw, but as soon as it left his hand I got it, you know. I'm sitting right here in front of you all with a win."

The Suns complained vehemently that it was goaltending, but to no avail, and Minnesota had its first victory in five tries against Phoenix.

"I feel like the Seattle Seahawks," said Steve Nash, referring to what the Seahawks felt were bad calls by officials in Sunday's Super Bowl. "It's remarkable. There's like five games this year where we've not gotten a call in the last 30 seconds. After awhile, you realize you don't get those games back, and it's tough to take."


I could have, of course, pulled any number of comments from reports how Ben says he didn't get into the end zone, how the "experts" believe the officiating of SuperBowl XL was terribly one-sided, and how the Seahawks were robbed of any chance of competing in the game due to the officiating of the game. But the Nash quote brings to mind how the vernacular of unfortunate events can get ingrained into common speech. "Don't leave me Monsoned out here all alone," or "I got really Mollered last night," or "I was really sick but I never Miltoned, so it wasn't that bad." Unfortunately, we can now add getting "Seahawked" to the list.

I haven't read one full article about the game, haven't watched one post-game show, opened one sports page of a newspaper, or one wrap-up or any Sportcenters since the game. And I won't, either. (The Nash article was sent to me, and Google desktop keeps flashing headlines, which is how I know what the talk has been about.) If I even think about the game I just get upset, feel like punching something in the face (what stage of grief is that?), and frankly I don't have time to spend the mental energy worrying about it. As far as I'm concerned, the final score of that game was Pittsburgh 0, Seattle 0, NFL -35. And no one will be able to convince me otherwise.