Some days feel more grad-schooly than others; it’s not the difficulty of the work as much as the spine-crushing density. Today was a full-to-bursting 12-hour school day type: two classes, clinics, a parent meeting and a failed attempt at running an experiment. I waited in the cold on the 40th parallel for the bus. To keep warm I paced and reminded myself that it’s probably colder in Madison, in New York, probably anywhere. By the time I unlocked my front door it was half past time for ramen and the remnants of that bottle of ruby port.
I suppose none of that has anything to do with this song. But this song sure is good. You’re welcome.
If you wouldn't mind a quick stop at Nashville, I'd love to have you! There should be plenty of kitsch to keep you entertained for literally minutes on end.
Eush is officially on my roadtrip map. You can be, too, if you want a visitor come January. Interested parties can leave invitations and pertinent information here.
I’m really excited to see the middle of the country. The non-coastal areas of the US are largely unknown to me. I do know that when I was about five my dad went on a trip to Nashville and he came back with bolo ties and cowgirl boots for me and my sister. Man did I love those cowgirl boots to death. I wouldn’t take them off for anything, including gym class. This act of rebellion prompted Ms. Lafarge (an ancient spinster and vicious hag of a gym teacher) to send me home for being a stubborn little twerp who threatened to scuff up the laquered floor of the gym with my boots.
But no worries, Eush. My days of mutiny and anarchy are behind me. I promise to be a compliant and pleasant houseguest. And I’m super psyched to meet you!
On Long Island (that hub of culture!) we can drink on the train. In practical terms, this means I can park my car at Port Washington, drink a beer and be tipsy by the time the first pitch is thrown at Citi Field. If this is not the pinnacle of convenience and class, I do not know what is.
Why don’t open container laws hold on the LIRR? I don’t know. You can’t drink openly on the NYC subway (I still do). But it’s perfectly ok to drink on the LIRR; they even sell alcohol on the track at Penn.
According to this article commuters on the Long Island Rail Road drink three times as much hard liquor as commuters headed upstate and to Connecticut. I’ll have to mull that over, over a whiskey ginger, as I head home on the train.
This time tomorrow I will be waking up on the East Coast (or anywhere that is not Colorado for that matter) for the first time in six months. I will get down on my hands and knees and kiss the banks of the Schuylkill River. There will not be a single mountain between me and where I want to go.
(via brerfly whose mornings I hope are getting better: via snuh)
I woke up smack in the middle of a dream, which I maintain is the worst way possible to wake up. It leaves me groggier and stupider than on a typical morning. From the work I’ve done at the Integrative Physiology Sleep Lab, I’ve learned that the early-morning fog we experience has a name: sleep inertia. I like that word but I don’t like the feeling.
I don’t remember much of the dream I woke up from. I only caught the last bit, in which I was trying to differentially diagnose some mysterious disorder. My notes told me, “Rule out hangovers”.
Senior year at Olde Reed everyone wrote a thesis whether they wanted to or not. (My thesis was on lexical access of phonological neighbors in Spanish-English bilinguals during auditory comprehension. If you want to know more about it, you’re probably a nerd). Since the whole senior class goes through the thesis experience together, the year is collectively known to the cohort as “Thesis Hell”.
My Master’s thesis has been hellish, too, in its own special and unique ways. If it weren’t happening to me, I might be more appreciative of the myriad ways in which a project can spontaneously combust: renegade committee members; lethargic IRBs; massive hardware failures, etc.
Today, I added “the thermostat” to the list of scavengers gnawing on the mangled carcass of my thesis.
After a two month hiatus today was my first day running participants in my new and improved thesis. At 9 am I unlocked the lab door and was almost bowled over by a gust of hot air; I believe Jesse would refer to this flow as a gradient. The gradient swirled around me and mingled into the much cooler air of the hallway but my lab remained stifling. Inexplicably, the building’s heat system is blowing 90-degree air into my extensively insulated and heavily sound proof-padded speech lab. This is bearable for a few minutes, especially if you leave the door open, but it’s pretty much unacceptable for my participants who will be sitting for a hot hour and half.
I talked to the department secretary, the department head and my thesis advisor. There is nothing anyone can do; the heat is freaking out in several rooms of our ancient building. It seems that there is an especially fiery ring of thesis hell reserved for me and now my participants, too. Please don’t tell the IRB.
“I ran into your father at the supermarket last week. He didn’t even know who I was. When I told him, ‘I dated your daughter for a couple of years’ his response was, ‘Which one?’”—Chris V., my first real boyfriend from back in high school, recounting a shockingly typical encounter with Papa Pete. My father either has dementia or prosopagnosia, a touch of both, or a gnarly case of the apathy.
“This sentence is made out of lead (and a sentence of lead gives a reader an entirely different sensation than one made from magnesium). This sentence is made of yak wool. This sentence is made of sunlight and plums. This sentence is made of ice. This sentence is made from the blood of the poet. This sentence was made in Japan. This sentence glows in the dark. This sentence was born with a caul. This sentence has a crush on Norman Mailer. This sentence is a wino and doesn’t care who knows it. Like many italic sentences, this one has Mafia connections. This sentence is a double Cancer with Pisces rising. This sentence refuses to be diagrammed. This sentence ran off with an adverb clause. This sentence is 100 percent organic: it will not retain a facsimile of freshness like those sentences of Homer, Shakespeare, Goethe et al., which are loaded with preservatives. This sentence leaks. This sentence doesn’t look Jewish … This sentence has accepted Jesus Christ as its personal savior. This sentence once spit in a book reviewer’s eye. This sentence can do the funky chicken. This sentence has seen too much and forgotten too little. This sentence is called “Speedoo” but its real name is Mr. Earl. This sentence may be pregnant, it missed its period This sentence suffered a split infinitive - and survived. If this sentence had been a snake you’d have bitten it. This sentence went to jail with Clifford Irving. This sentence went to Woodstock. And this little sentence went wee wee wee all the way home.”—
Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues
Is it possible for me to fall harder in love with words? When I read Tom Robbins, yes.
Very often when I'm reading Greek I don't know what the words mean, and sometimes when I'm writing a scholarly article or an anonymous love-letter, for instance, I can't think of the right word to use. I'm starting to suspect that I suffer from logagnosia. Can you fix this?
Can’t remember a Greek word? Of course Greeks had a word for that: ὂνομα, name + μανία, madness, rendered in English as onomatomania. Really, though, in speech-language pathology we just call it word-finding difficulty, which is pretty bland. In severe cases it’s called anomia- a much lovelier word but lacking in the power to convey the struggle of the person experiencing it.
Research into the phenomenon of word-finding is ongoing; in technical circles it’s known as “tip of the tongue”, or TOT for short. Researchers have found that TOT is a universal phenomenon. I like this description, from wikipedia:
Inaccessibility and the sense of imminence are two key features of an operational definition of TOTs
People experiencing TOT are often able to access the first letter of the target fairly accurately. Interestingly, I’ve also had occasions where I picked the first phoneme incorrectly, but still within the correct manner or place of articulation (e.g., I thought the first sound was /p/ when it was really /b/). It’s almost like my brain was sending down a closely related motor pattern … Other times the number of syllables or the relative length can be accessed. People may also bring up words that are semantically related to the target.
This sheds light on how the brain accesses words: words must be connected to one another in a dense and vast cortical network. Words that are closely connected, either in sound or meaning, are called “neighbors”; neighbors prime one another. For my undergrad thesis I provided some evidence that words in one language prime phonological neighbor words in a person’s second language during auditory comprehension (cf. the work of Michael K. Tenenhaus, who has done tons of research into the mapping the time course of auditory word comprehension). The process of comprehension could be different than that of production; my instinct is that- at the level of lexical access - it’s not.
TOTs and general word-finding mishaps occur a few times a week in normal adults; their frequency increases with age. People with brain damage have much more trouble. Difficulty with naming is the hallmark characteristic of aphasia.
What can we do for people with word-finding difficulty? That depends. Some people, like those with Wernicke’s aphasia, talk literal nonsense but have no awareness. We can’t do much for them since they don’t seem to know that they don’t know the words they want to use. On the other end of the spectrum are people with Broca’s aphasia who are very aware of their word-finding difficulties. For them, we can work on naming. There’s evidence about targeting lexical neighbors, or targeting complex stimuli to train easier words (e.g., training the word “leopard” will prime the more common word “cat”). On a functional, everyday level, we often to try get people with word-finding difficulty to use any modality available to them to try to jar the word. We encourage writing, even sky-writing (writing in the air with a whole-arm movement, which seems to prompt the motor patterns for speech). Hell, tap out the syllables and the stress pattern if you can. Since words do seem to be connected with nodes at different linguistic levels, using some other modality is probably the most likely way to access the target.
Wikipedia also tells me that TOTs are briefly mentioned by Aristotle in “On Memory and Reminscence”, though of course he had some fancy Greek word for it.
tl;dr: In your case, Nick. I recommend intensive one-on-one therapy. Call me and we’ll set something up.
I did not grow up with traditional Jewish comfort food. Almost anything remotely Jew-y was simply too freaky to eat (schav is too bitter and green, lox is too smelly and gefilte fish has so many foul properties I wouldn’t even know where to start). It wasn’t until I met Beth at Olde Reed that I learned of the secret deliciousness hiding in the Kosher aisle: Manischewitz brand matzo ball and soup mix.
The package includes:
1 packet of crumbled matzo meal
1 packet of dehydrated msg-loaded soup condensate
I mostly follow the instruction on the back of the box, just a little fancier. In a bowl mix the matzo meal with 2 eggs and oil. I add in tons of spices: pepper, paprika, thyme and parsley because the matzo is unnervingly monochrome. I sauté some garlic before I add in the boiling water. After the matzo balls have boiled about 15 minutes I toss in some skinny egg noodles. Last, as in the custom in my family, I douse the whole pot with a healthy squeeze of lemon juice.
A box will set you back about $3. Making a batch takes about 30 minutes and leaves you with about a gallon of soup. This may be the best deal a grad student can get. Added bonus: it’s so simply good. Proof, I made some for the first ever Scheiner-Family Seder and no one had any inkling it wasn’t homemade. Perhaps the guests were distracted by the shenanigans and drunken Hebrew incantations taking place but I take empty bowls as a good sign.