Archive for November, 2005

Flickrite meet-ups

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

John in downtown Chicago     Jeremy in his office

I have started a Flickr set dedicated to pictures I have taken of Flickr contacts (I’ll restrict it to post-Flickring meet-ups). Of course, a good chunk of my Flickr contacts are people I knew pre-Flickr so this is not meant to suggest a grand expansion in my social circles. I just thought it would be fun to dedicate a set to it. Plus I really did need to join the group of people who have pictures of Jeremy even though with just one image in his photostream he’s still a Flickr toddler himself.

Wanna bet?

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

Winnings     Burdick chocolate     Moonstruck chocolates

I didn’t expect to have two posts in a row about chocolate, but such is life around here. There is something extra sweet (not that these truffles need any additional sweetening) about having others buy you quality chocolate. I had just that kind of luck today. I made a bet about something with two colleagues and I won. Lucky for me, they took it more seriously than I did in terms of delivering on the goods. One of them got me some chocolate from Burdick in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The other brought me some truffles from Moonstruck in Champaign, Illinois. As you can see, we are serious about chocolate around here. (Any readers familiar with the make-up of my department may be able to guess from this information the identities of the above-mentioned colleagues.)

I have a pretty good track record in this realm. That’s mostly because I tend to suggest bets only in cases where I am quite certain of the outcome. This often happens in the realm of art. I am no art expert, but my knowledge is not too bad for a non-expert. For example, it didn’t take me long the other day to start wondering about the supposed artist behind this sculpture depicted on a Flickr photo. The Flickrite suggested it’s a Dali, but I was quite sure it was a Brancusi. The little evidence I could find backs up my hunch. But in this case there was no one around for a bet.

The curious part of today’s chocolate story is that the bet I made was more of a fluke. I must admit that I was not at all sure I would win. In fact, I thought taking my position was not very reasonable. But somehow I took it and stuck with it. Hurray for me! (I know this is very cryptic, but I will not discuss the specifics of this bet here.)

Please note that I have posted the chocolate photos in very high resolution versions on Flickr so you can appreciate the details in their larger-than-life glory. For masochists, the Moonstruck chocolate photo may make an interesting computer wallpaper.

Chocolate and some more chocolate

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

Chocolate deposit required

I got to meet a fellow blogger in person finally yesterday. We met up at Ethel’s Chocolate Lounge in Evanston, a place with enough chocolate to keep you coming back for a while. I hope Ethel’s is not considering providing free wifi. That would lead me to spending way too much time there.

I’m going to be having people over for my upcoming birthday and want to make chocolate fondue. Does anyone have any tried and true recipes? Thanks to some gifts from birthdays past, I am well equipped with the necessary pot and accessories. I just need a super recipe now. (Yes, I know how to search for this stuff, I’m looking for recommendations of things that you know work.:) Thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 24th, 2005

Thanksgiving meal

For the first time in a few years I will not be hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Although I love to play host, this worked out well since I was teaching all day yesterday up until 5pm, which does not leave much room for preparation.

That does not mean I will not be cooking. I will be contributing three dishes to today’s feast: rosemary mashed potatoes and yams, roasted squash with potatoes and garlic (you have to log on to to access that recipe), and a pecan pie. These are just a part of my usual Thanksgiving meal.

Here are the pictures from last year’s dinner that had worked out really well. (I’m afraid I can’t take credit for the absolutely amazing turkey though.)


Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005

originally uploaded by eszter.

I exited my building unusually early this morning at 6:30am. The first sight: snow-covered cars. Oy. There isn’t much of it so it may not be around by late morning. And to be sure, it’s actually quite warm. But it was still a reality check. Welcome to winter. It is definitely time that I get my car situation in order. Waiting for the bus is looking less and less appealing.

Any suggestions for negotiating car prices from a dealer?:)

New Flickr favorite

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005

Ceiling of Hungarian Parliament, Budapest

I have uploaded 387 photos to Flickr so far, about 220 of which are not of my nephew (sorry, those photos are only available for viewing to people specified as family and friends on Flickr).

Of these approximately 220 photos I have on the site, 32 have inspired people to press the “Add to Faves” button in the upper left corner of the photo. The majority of those are favorited by just one person, half a dozen by two and a handful by more. In just a few days, this picture of the Hungarian Parliament’s ceiling quickly rose to the top by landing on five people’s favorites page. I thought it merited a special mention here.

And don’t be shy, I really enjoy receiving comments on my photos so feel free to add impressions.

Blog tune-up

Monday, November 21st, 2005

Finally the title graphic on the top of this blog links to the main blog page. Thanks to my good friend David for helping me figure this out!


Sunday, November 20th, 2005

I took two surveys on Blogthings:

1. What Advanced Degree Should You Get?
2. What’s Your Ideal Career?

Of course, one shouldn’t take these too seriously, but I still thought the results were interesting (although not hugely surprising). And hey, monkeys used to be my favorite animals so I like the illustration on the first one.:)

You Should Get a MFA (Masters of Fine Arts)

You’re a blooming artistic talent, even if you aren’t quite convinced.
You’d make an incredible artist, photographer, or film maker.
What Advanced Degree Should You Get?

Your Career Type: Artistic

You are expressive, original, and independent.
Your talents lie in your artistic abilities: creative writing, drama, crafts, music, or art.

You would make an excellent:

Actor – Art Teacher – Book Editor
Clothes Designer – Comedian – Composer
Dancer – DJ – Graphic Designer
Illustrator – Musician – Sculptor

The worst career options for your are conventional careers, like bank teller or secretary.

What’s Your Ideal Career?

Creative food drive

Sunday, November 20th, 2005

Browsing people’s Flickr accounts I came across pictures from CANstruction.

Canstruction® combines the competitive spirit of a design/build competition with a unique way to help feed hungry people. Competing teams, lead by architects and engineers, showcase their talents by designing giant sculptures made entirely out of canned foods. At the close of the exhibitions all of the food used in the structures is donated to local food banks for distribution to pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, elderly and day care centers.

The official Web site has pictures of this year’s winners, but I think it’s much more fun just to browse the Flickr photos tagged with “canstruction”. Check out the list of participating cities to see whether you can still catch the show somewhere.

Paper to the rescue

Friday, November 18th, 2005

Following up on the last post regarding dissertation completion, I thought I would acknowledge the role of paper that came up as a theme in the panel this morning. There were two of us recent PhDs on the panel and it turns out both of us turned to playing with paper as a way to take breaks from our dissertation writing. I picked up papier mache the Spring of 2003. Given the results, it is not surprising that I gave it up after the dissertation was complete. The other recent graduate on the panel said he was doing lots of origami at the time. Go figure.

All of this relates to keeping healthy during the process. It is important to take breaks. In fact, I do not believe it is possible to do good work without taking breaks. So what is your preferred break activity? I am especially interested in responses other than “blogging”.;)

Support the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Friday, November 18th, 2005

Support Bloggers' Rights!
Support Bloggers’ Rights!

In addition to fighting for bloggers’ rights they work on lots of other very important projects.

Strategies for successful dissertation completion

Friday, November 18th, 2005

[Also posted on Crooked Timber.]

If you are or were at some point in a doctoral program then you have probably heard the following before: The best dissertation is a done dissertation. But how to get it done?

I am at the annual meetings of the National Communication Association where I have been asked to present on a panel about “Strategies for Successful Dissertation Completion”. It is hard to say whether I have any more expertise in this area than anyone else with a PhD, but I did sit down to come up with a list that I thought may be worth sharing here. I want to acknowledge the contributions of my grad school friend Erica Field who kindly entertained this question over dinner last night and offered several helpful additions to the list. Since we had spent countless dinners during grad school discussing our dissertations her contributions to all this have been more significant than simply talking about it over one meal.

I welcome additions to the list. I plan to share this with students in the future so the more helpful pointers the better.

It is probably fair to note that I did not follow all of these points, but if I had to do it all over again, I likely would. The list is presented in no particular order.

Also, several of the items are likely helpful for people who are at more advanced stages of their academic careers so you may get something out of this even if you already have a PhD.

Read the rest of this entry »

All your base really are belong to Google

Wednesday, November 16th, 2005

[Also posted on Crooked Timber.]

(If you don’t get the title of this post, you can read up on the reference here. )

A few months ago I posted an entry called Google World in which I talked about the amount of information Google and other companies such as Yahoo!, MSN and AOL are amassing about their users.

This week’s launch of Google Base is another step in the direction of building elaborate profiles of users. Moreover, it is an interesting move by the company to get users to fill up Google’s own Web property with lots of valuable material for free.

Google Base is a collection of content submitted by users hosted on Google’s site. Let’s say you have some recipes (I mention these as that part of my own Web site seems to be one of its most popular sections and Google Base already in this early stage has a section on that), instead of simply hosting the recipes on your own site and having Google (and other search engines) drive traffic to it, the recipe can now live on Google’s own Web property. Other types of content range from classifieds about housing and jobs to course syllabi. Some have suggested it is like a gigantic expanded version of the popular Craig’s List, which I mention in case that is a service with which you are familiar. Google Base will be a collection of information that users provide for free, but for which Google gets credit when people find it.

It is hard not to wonder how much more prominent Google Base content will be in Google’s search results compared to other content on the Web.

Read the rest of this entry »

Pumpkins galore

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

Wow, there is some serious pumpkin-carving talent out there.

Photos, then and now

Tuesday, November 1st, 2005

New York Changing has a collection of photos comparing various New York City locations to what they looked like 70 years ago. It is actually surprising how many of the locations haven’t changed that much at all.

The site reminds me of the page I put together after 9/11 about Web site changes.