Monday, April 20, 2015

How to Speak to a Grad Student

Hopefully no one reads this and assumes I'm wrote this article because you personally asked me one of these questions. On the contrary, take these ideas as gifts to you. If I were going to take a tour of Google or Microsoft, and if there were certain questions that I shouldn't ask computer programmers because they are annoying or would cause them to make fun of me after I'd left, I'd certainly want to know that before going in. Wouldn't you??

Therefore, please enjoy this public service announcement. You're welcome. 

Three Questions to Never Ask a Grad Student

     1.   What is your dissertation on?

This is by far the most common question graduate students receive. We understand that you mean well. Maybe you're even halfway interested in the answer (though I doubt you're as interested as you think you are—more on that later). Still, keep this one to yourself. It's annoying. Ever get a splint or boot after an injury and have countless hoards ask you what happened? Yeah, it's like that.

Another thought: you really don't care what the dissertation topic is; you're just "making polite conversation." If we answered truthfully, we'd smile and say something like, "Oh! I'm studying Child Self-Regulation in the Context of Poverty-Related Environmental Risk: Neighborhood Crime and Family Instability as Predictors of Cognitive, Behavioral, and Emotional Control!" Halfway through this response you will have looked at your watch, remembered another appointment you had, and wondered if you left the oven on.

Some of you reading this might be thinking, "No, I really am interested!" That's nice for you. We're not. :)

The other side of the coin is: we often don't know the answer and asking us just rubs it in. Coming up with a dissertation topic, let alone researching and writing one, is an insane amount of work. It causes great stress in our lives. Please don't add more stress by reminding us that we aren't even close to graduating yet.

     2.   How's your PhD program going?

When you're sick and you go to the doctor's office, did you know your doctor doesn't have a PhD? (S)he has an MD (or another type of medical degree). If the one profession we actually call "doctor" doesn't even have a PhD, why is it that everyone automatically assumes that all people getting doctorates are getting PhDs!?

The "Ph" in PhD stands for "philosophy." Trust me, not everyone is getting a degree in philosophy. Let me paint an example. Here are some of the many doctorate degrees offered by the nation's universities:

DSocSci (Doctor of Social Science)

DBA (Doctor of Business Administration)
ThD (Doctor of Theology)
MD (Doctor of Medicine)
Pharm.D (Doctor of Pharmacy)
PsyD (Doctor of Psychology)
DMA (Doctor of Musical Arts)
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Ed.D (Doctor of Education)
DDS (Doctor of Dental Science)

...and the list goes on. There are hundreds more. Sure, many areas of study include the study of philosophy (philosophy of education, philosophy of social behavior, etc.) but, statistically speaking, there's a good chance that someone you know getting a doctorate is actually not getting a PhD.

Look, I get it; you mean well. It was an innocent mistake. Remember, however, I'm not here to ridicule you but to help you! We are working very hard to earn these degrees and not all of us are interested in philosophy.

     3.   When do you finish your degree?

When we're having a conversation with you, it's very likely the first moment all week long that we haven't been immersed in research, study, and stress. We're not terribly interested in discussing the degree right now, let alone the aggravating thought that we're never going to finish. Even if we know how much time we have left, it feels so far away. It's so far away it makes us cry. Don't remind us of that.

So what SHOULD you say to a grad student?

Lest this article come across as all negative, here is a list of things you should definitely say to a grad student:
  • Hey, sit down. Let me do that for you. You work hard enough as it is. 
  • Oh I've got the check; it's on me! I know the grad student life isn't cheap. 
  • Can I babysit your kids for free? I'm sure you could use the break. 
  • I admire your hard work. I know earning a doctorate is no walk in the park. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help. 
  • Here's $20. Just because.

And there you have it. You can now confidently speak with someone in graduate school, armed with knowledge. You're welcome.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Facebook has CIRCLES! Learn How to Use Them!

If you're like me, you find it very annoying when people post things on Facebook like, "Anyone wanna hang out tonight?" as their Facebook status when you live three states away from them! Or, "Can anyone help me move this weekend?" Or, "Does anyone know if the Wal-Mart on 9th still has those lunch boxes on sale?" I don't live anywhere near you... why would I be interested in reading any of those posts?

Did you know you can make your Facebook statuses visible only to specific people of your choosing???

The below description tells you how. It may seem a bit daunting. It probably looks like more steps than it really is, but I've provided screenshots for every step of the way (which is why it seems like a long process. I assure you it is not). Once you do this, it's nothing but a SINGLE click every time you want to post to a list of your choice.

(click on any image to see it larger -- sometimes there are details on the images that you'll want to see)

STEP ONE: Organize your Facebook friends into LISTS (same thing as a Google+ circles). This, admittedly, will be the longest and most tedious step. I know some people won't ever use this amazing Facebook feature simply because they're too lazy to organize their friends into lists. So suck it up, and do this now!

Notice on your Status/News Feed page, on the left, you have "Friends" (pointed out by the arrows in the picture below). When you hover over "friends" a "More" will appear to the right of it (as shown below). Click "MORE" (note: do not confuse this with the "Groups" and the "more" that appears when you hover over "groups." Groups are very different than "Lists")

STEP TWO: On this page you'll see a bunch of already-created "smart lists" created by Facebook. Just ignore those for right now. You can edit/explore/delete them later. Right now, click on "Create List" at the top right, as seen here:

STEP THREE: Title your list and begin adding people to it. What should you title it? What sorts of things would you want to post to only specific groups? If you're a big hockey fan, create a hockey list and only add people to it that would be interested in your posts about hockey. Or what about a "Church Friends" list, or a "Local Friends" list? 

For this example, I titled my list, "Test Group" but I shouldn't have done that. It's misleading. This is not a "group" it is a "list." Moving on: Once you click "create" then you'll see the page below (read my red notes on the image). Here, you can add anyone to this list (or circle or whatever you want to call it) that you choose. You can add them manually here (shown by the arrow) but there are a couple of other easy ways to add people to the list. Keep reading.

STEP FOUR: Once you've added at least a couple of people manually into your new list, Facebook will start providing suggestions to add to this list. Look at the graphic below and discover a few things that are easy to use and understand:

STEP FIVE: Another way to add people to your custom lists is to hover over their name in any part of your news feed. A box will appear and you'll see a button that should look something like this:

Click on the "friends" button for that person. This will bring up an additional window that shows you what "lists" (or circles) this person is a part of. You can add them to a list or remove them from a list by clicking on the list name. If you have lots of lists (like I do) then just click "show all lists" if you don't see the one you're looking for. See here:

STEP SIX: Boom! The "hard" part is done. Now it's all easy and downhill! When you post a status, look under your typing window and you'll see that your post is already geared up to post to a specific list. NOTE: Facebook WILL remember the last list you posted to, so be sure to double check who you're posting to.

Simply change which list you want to post to by clicking the drop-down arrow:

Once there, you can select a "list" that you want your new post to be visible to. Maybe you want this post only visible to your old high school friends, or your old home town friends, or your church friends. Or maybe it's a picture of your kids and you don't really want all 500 of your friends seeing it (400 of which you hardly know). Just create a "Close Friends and Family" list and make it visible only to them!

NOTE: These lists work on the iPhone FB app too!

STEP SEVEN: Honestly, that's the bulk of it. But what if you want a post to be visible to multiple lists? When you click that drop-down arrow to select a list, click on "custom" if you want to post to multiple lists.

That will bring up this window. Choose option: "Specific People or Lists"

Your window will now look like this (below). Read my notes in red on the image below for ideas and further understanding. And note that you can also hide posts from people!

 There you have it, Feeps. PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD! Let's clean up Facebook! Stop posting to the whole world things that are only meant for a specific few!

Put a link to this blog post on your Facebook wall!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Time Travelers Never Die (book)

This blog was meant for my fiction blog at I posted it here on accident and decided to leave it up. :)

Yesterday I finished the book, Time Travelers Never Die, by Jack McDevitt. If you know me, you know I love stories about Time Travel. This novel, by an author I'd never read before, was extremely fun and enjoyable.

I'm not going to pretend that it was a masterpiece of literary genius, but it was a story I couldn't put down once it began. As always, no spoilers, so read on.

The book read, at times, like a travelogue that didn't advance the plot. Even so, I found those sequences interesting due to the nature of where (or when?) they were traveling.

The time travel theory was pretty solid and stayed consistent throughout the book--something difficult to find in fiction. The author found a creative, if not trivial, way around paradoxes that I had never thought of before. Perhaps it was a plot device, but it worked.

If I had to point out one main flaw in the book, I would say that it was extraordinarily predictable. Throughout about 60 percent of the book, I already knew what would happen next, or down the road. Some things were plainly (and painfully) obvious. The main characters didn't seem to be able to figure out how to solve problems they were encountered with until chapters (or even half the book) after I had already figured it out.

Don't get me wrong. It may sound like I'm being nothing but negative about this novel. In spite of the predictability I found it extremely enjoyable to read. It was, as I said, a very fun story. It was not overly nail-biting or suspenseful but it was an adventure that I didn't want to end.

The final few pages were a bit confusing, and there's one major point that was so confusing that I actually went back to re-read the chapter. It didn't help. Still, it wasn't enough to ruin the book for me. It left me wondering a bit, but did not affect the overall story.

One thing that struck me about the book after I had finished it was how clean it was. Hardly any bad language (if any), and no sexual content. Just an overall fun adventure through time with a few small mysteries mixed in. I enjoyed this book, and the author, enough that as soon as I put it down, I went to the computer and bought another book by the same author.

As it turns out, the author is 81 years old and has written many novels (and won many awards). His newest book (which sounded very interesting) turned out to be book 6 in a series. So I went and ordered book 1 of the series: A Talent for War (Time Travelers Never Die is a stand-alone novel and not related to this 6 book series). I'm excited to find a new author to read and hope this next book of his will be just as good.

My Rating: 4.2/5

My Recommendation: Read this book if you enjoy time travel stories. It was well thought-out and well executed. I didn't give it a 5 only because, while I loved this book, I can't say it's on my top list of best books ever. I just can't bring myself to categorize it with other great books that I've given a 5 to. This is likely due to some sections that seemed a bit slow in travelogue style. But don't let that sway you. It is fun and WORTH READING! :) Enjoy.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Comparison of Duo Seraphim Treatments

The text has been composed into late renaissance and early baroque pieces many times. Each composer treats it differently. This is a brief analysis if their differences.
Original TextEnglish Translation
Duo seraphim clamabant,
alter ad alterum:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Plena est omnis terra gloria ejus.
Tres sunt qui testimonium dant
in coelo.
Pater, Verbum, et Spiritus Sanctus
et hic tres unum sunt.
Laus et perennis gloria
Deo Patri cum Filio,
sancto simul Paraclito in sempiterna secula.
The two Seraphim proclaimed,
one to the other:
Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord God of Hosts.
The whole earth is full of his glory.
There are three who give testimony
in heaven:
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit;
and these three are one.
Praise and continuing glory
be to God the Father and the Son
and the Holy Spirit now and forevermore

The text clearly explains that there are two angels proclaiming that God has all glory and the earth is full of His glory forever. Is it enough to simply set the words to music? Or is it preferable to compose the music in such a way that it reflects the text.

Claudio Monteverdi (1567 - 1643) starts with a duet, representing the two seraph angels. When the text "Three bear witness in heaven," comes in, a third voice sings to represent the holy trinity. It remains a trio the rest of the piece.

Hans Leo Hassler (1562 - 1612) starts out with a duet but goes to full double chorus by the words “Sanctus”

Jacobus (Jacob) Gallus/Handl (1550 - 1591) wrote a double chorus in the antiphonal style but did not start out with two voices.

Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599) writes a duet to start but brings in the rest of the chorus by “Sanctus” (as Hasller did). Interestingly enough, he maintains a tri-choral piece instead of a double chorus. This is reminiscent of Monteverdi’s trio, probably referencing the holy trinity, but not painting the text (the fact that there are only two angles singing). He brings the three choirs in on "Sanctus" rather than on "three bear witness" as Monteverdi did.

Richard Dehring (1580 – 1630) writes a Duet throughout.

Tomas Luis De Victoria (1548 - 1611) also starts out with a duet but, like Hassler, brings the full chorus in by “Sanctus.” He does, however, use only three parts (like Monteverdi and Scheidt) when describing that there are “three” that bear witness in heaven. Victoria also writes the score for SSAA or TTBB (however you choose to interpret his score). This makes sense as the song is about angels proclaiming about the greatness of God. It takes gender out of the equation and makes it easier to envision that these are angels singing, and not “men and women.”

Samuel Scheidt (1587 - 1654) creates a lot of text painting, choosing to start the piece with two “angels” singing. Not until “the world is full” does the full double chorus come in. This makes lyrical sense. Even when the full chorus is in, he keeps the polychoral piece in the antiphonal style, not letting us forget that there are in fact only two angels crying out the name of the lord at this time.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to College Life

So much going on in life right now, I thought it'd be appropriate to blog about my adventures in Colorado. Whether or not anyone cares enough to actually read my upcoming blog posts matters not. If nothing else, this will serve as a good journal for me.

In the past two weeks:
  • I attended Harmony University for my first time
  • My Grandma died and I attended her funeral
  • My wife and daughters were in a bad car accident
  • I moved to Colorado from Nevada
  • I am starting back into school after seven years
Needless to say, I am busy.

Today was my first day on campus (University of Colorado, Boulder). School doesn't actually start until next week but I will be taking exams this week. Today I got my "BuffOne Card", met a few of the graduate students, etc. I also attended my first meeting, an informational meeting about a Graduate Teaching Program, and promptly fell asleep. ...and I was in the front row. Ugh. I need more sleep. Will someone please get that memo to my children?
Boulder is gorgeous! The campus is beautiful and the surrounding mountains are breathtaking. The weather here is wonderful as well (though that's not hard compared to Vegas). Ask me again in the winter and I'll let you know if I still hold this opinion.

Today I started my preliminary exams in Aural Theory, Written Theory, and Tonal Analysis. This afternoon I take Post-Tonal Analysis, and Counterpoint. Sound fun? Yeah, I'm pretty worried about some of these. I felt okay about this morning's exams but they are hard! I've spoken to some other graduate students and they have put my mind at ease a bit. They assure me it's not all that big a deal to fail the exams. Some of the material is hard because I was never taught the information in my undergraduate work. Other stuff is hard because I simply don't remember.

I can already feel that I will be extremely busy. My class schedule is a bit up in the air but from the looks of things, I'll be on campus from morning until night, working hard. I'm ready, though. Let's do this.

In other news, I'm extremely excited to be joining the Sound of the Rockies Chorus. They are a 3rd place international level chorus with the Barbershop Harmony Society. One of the biggest reasons I'm pursuing my advanced degrees is so that I have more education to bring to the society, so being a part of this chorus is a great thing on my barbershop journey. I am excited to see how I can contribute to this ensemble. Last Thursday (their rehearsal night) I was moving so I missed out on my weekly dose of harmony. I'm craving some locked chords right now.

So that's my introduction to my new life out here in Colorado. New house, new school, new scenery, and even soon to be a new car (because of the aforementioned totaling of our van -- everyone was okay by the way).