Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Flying the coop

Another day, another two interviews scheduled, leading to a neat bracketing of the Super Bowl. The big downside is that the interviews mean five more classes down the drain. It’s not a huge problem yet, since my schedules generally plenty of slack time in them, but I’d better get a job soon or some students may start demanding tuition refunds—and, to be honest, I really wouldn’t blame them.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Back in the STL

The roadtrip is over. I wish I could now go to sleep for about two days, but I’m afraid I have a few things to take care of (laundry, syllabi, lecture notes) instead.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

If you build it, people still won't come

Today’s USA Today reports on metropolitan St. Louis’ two biggest white elephants: Runway 11 at Lambert and the whole of MidAmerica. I’d find them more tolerable if the excess capacity translated into low airfares, but the discounters in St. Louis either have limited (Southwest, Midwest) or virtually nonexistent (Allegiant) networks—so unless the destination is Vegas or Orlando, most travelers would be better off at a real hub like Detroit or Memphis, instead of paying hub prices while living at the wrong end of a spoke.

Monday, 8 January 2007

The home stretch

I am finally on the return leg of the grand roadtrip—I have one more day in Memphis before I finally get back home to butt-numbingly cold St. Louis. I enjoyed my visit to New Orleans. Both of my SPSA panels went well, although they were, alas, lightly attended; I am certainly more confident about the publication prospects for the paper, although now it needs a blog nickname—perhaps “the damn measurement paper” will suffice.

I also enjoyed catching up with Steven, Dieter (the rock upon whom ICPSR is built), Andrew (all too briefly), and Kelly.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

A tale of two Katrina-ravaged cities

Since I only had a two-hour drive today from Mobile to New Orleans, I decided to take a detour via what used to be known as the scenic route along the coast. Not that today was likely to be good for sightseeing in any event—it was foggy all day.

Driving along US 90 from Gulfport to Pass Christian was probably the most surreal experience of my life, an experience heightened by the fog on all sides that kept the merely damaged buildings out of sight. Every half-mile or so you could see some effort at rebuilding along the highway, with living quarters usually (but not always) elevated above ground-level garages, but the gaps in between were completely desolate save for “for sale” signs, as if the Hand of God came down and just scooped everything within sight off the planet, leaving a few scrawny trees and eerily empty streets behind. Here are the two photos I took, which if anything understate the devastation.

Driving through eastern New Orleans on I-10 was an altogether different experience, like what one imagines Beirut or Mogadishu would currently look like if either city had previously been American suburbia. On my previous visit, I’d left and arrived via the closer-to-normal western suburbs; the contrast is quite stark.

To the left, to the left

I’m now about to embark on the home stretch of the grand holiday road trip, which should be a leisurely drive from Mobile to New Orleans. I’m not exactly looking forward to arriving this afternoon in a city full of hung-over fans of the Bayou Bengals and Fighting Irish, although maybe if I hide in my hotel room they’ll all lose interest and leave town.

Sunday, 31 December 2006

Saddamed if you do

So, I made it safe and sound to dad’s place in Ocala… anything exciting happen while I was offline?

Thursday, 28 December 2006

More traveling

I made it safe and sound today to Marianna, Florida, the beyond-halfway point on the way to dad’s in Ocala, aka Stop Two on the grand holiday roadtrip. The drive from Memphis was about as boring and uneventful as always, save the semi-typical traffic backups south of Birmingham on I-65 and taking Alabama 271 from I-85 to US 231 instead of that slow-ass US 82/231 loop in Montgomery.

Thursday, 21 December 2006


After a last-minute grading emergency, I finally escaped St. Louis and got to Memphis, a.k.a. stop one on the grand road trip.

Now, hopefully stop three won’t sink into the Gulf of Mexico between now and SPSA… (þ: BigJim).

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Break from a break

I’m back in St. Louis for about four days before embarking on the 3rd Annual Underemployed Academic Grand Holiday Roadtrip featuring stops in Memphis, Ocala, and the site of SPSA (in 2005 and 2007, New Orleans; in 2006, Atlanta). The song, as they say, remains the same.

In the meantime, I have two phone interviews to take care of, along with about 100 items to grade (between tests, papers, and extra credit assignments), five job applications, and probably a couple items to get as part of my last-minute Christmas shopping. Oh, and laundry. There’s always laundry.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Come fly away

After the misery of the last two weeks (to recap: four days without power and limbo-turned-rejection at the hands of my current colleagues) I am happy to be in the relatively temperate climes of Memphis for a few days courtesy of the good folks at Northwest Airlines, who didn’t manage to lose my bags this time, even if I remain somewhat worried that my car will be stripped to the bare frame and/or encased in a block of ice when I get back to St. Louis.

In other good news, I have another phone interview, a sit-down with a department at SPSA, and another chat with a department chair scheduled for the upcoming weeks, with hopefully more on the horizon. I guess I continue to live in interesting times.

Saturday, 11 November 2006

Blessings upon blessings

All but one of my discussant assignments at SPSA have apparently disappeared without any notice to me—which is just as well, since that allows me to postpone my arrival in downtown New Orleans until January 4th… garnering about a 50% reduction in hotel rates, since now I can stay at the Hilton Garden Inn I stayed at a couple of weeks ago for $99/night and get free breakfast due to my HHonors perks, instead of the conference hotel at the significantly above-market $155/night rate; one fewer night to pay for; and avoiding the crush of the Nokia Allstate Sugar Bowl to boot.

Thursday, 26 October 2006


After a brief respite at home, it’s back on the road again tomorrow; I’m going to Memphis for the weekend to watch Ole Miss get trounced by play Auburn down in Oxford with my mom and my step-dad.

But never fear, posting won’t be going away… for reasons that deeply annoy me (largely the intersection of Charter’s unreliable cable modem service and AT&T’s nonexistent DSL in my little corner of Clayton), my mother’s house actually has better high-speed Internet access than mine.

Monday, 23 October 2006

That's not my bag

I’m back safe and sound in St. Louis, but my suitcase will be spending the night at Memphis International Airport. Good thing there isn’t anything important in there like my electric shaver and toothbrush. Oh, wait… there is.


My visit to New Orleans culminated in more dining and dancing yesterday, along with some DVD viewing and dog-walking. Alas, today I have to go home, and all I have to look forward to is spending Tuesday grading papers and exams so I can submit midterm grades by the end of tomorrow afternoon. But the good news is that I’ll be back in the Crescent City in about ten weeks for SPSA, or possibly sooner if one or more of the local universities are seriously interested in my job applications.

Sunday, 22 October 2006

Dance, dance

Kelly and I went to a ballroom/salsa dance thing tonight with some of her friends after an excellent dinner at Juan’s Flying Burrito. I am immensely surprised to find that I don’t completely suck at at least the rudiments of ballroom-style dancing, but salsa was a bit more of a challenge.

Saturday, 21 October 2006

The Big Not-So-Easy

I’m enjoying my visit to New Orleans thus far—except for a bit of rain this afternoon, the weather has been quite pleasant. I certainly got my exercise in today—I walked from my hotel two blocks south of Canal St to the Old Mint and back, at least 3 miles total—compensating somewhat for the beignets and hot chocolate Kelly and I had at Café du Monde last night, although I did have lunch at the Crescent City Brewhouse, probably making the effort less effective.

Friday, 20 October 2006

The arrival

My vacation is now officially underway; here’s the view from my hotel room window:

View from my hotel room (Oct 2006)

As correctly guessed by Frequent Commenters Scott and Alfie, I am in New Orleans (although my flights are in and out of Baton Rouge). They share the rights to the official Signifying Nothing no-prize of the week, which is a free copy of the 2007 edition of the Spreadsheet of Death™ upon request.

Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Vacation, gotta get away

I have decided to take a real vacation this weekend, courtesy of the good folks at Northwest Airlines, who graciously bumped me from a flight last Thanksgiving. I leave Friday morning and will be back Monday evening. My hotel will have free high-speed Internet access, so I’ll be able to blog from away from home. And, since I have a cell phone, I can basically keep where I’m going a secret from everybody (except the TSA) until I am there… so you can play “Where’s Chris Lawrence” in the comments. One rule: Alfie is not allowed to guess.

Your first free hint: I am going somewhere I can see the Ole Miss-Arkansas game on broadcast television. That isn’t why I picked the destination, but it is a bonus.

Your second free hint: it’s not Memphis, since I’m going there next weekend to see the Ole Miss-Auburn game with my mom and stepdad. But I will be connecting in Memphis (this is Northwest).

Saturday, 19 August 2006

Rapid transit geekery

Via Stephen Karlson, I found a site that will let you display all the urban rapid transit systems you have used in the world:

Got at b3co.com!

With a little source hacking, I added the Munich U logo (which is the same as the Berlin U logo anyway).

Tuesday, 8 August 2006

Life has too many secret decoder rings

In this day and age, with increased personal mobility, relying on people to know the local rules and mores is getting a bit outmoded. The most recent case in point is encapsulated in Steven Taylor’s last run-in with the good people protecting the skies from toenail clippers at the Transportation Security Agency:

[I]f they want everyone to remove their shoes, there should be a sign.


Tuesday, 25 July 2006

Google Maps for Mobile adds real time traffic

There’s only one response to this news: cool! (þ: Ars Technica)

Friday, 7 July 2006

Back home(?) at last

After spending way too much time on the road today (courtesy of the fine folks at the Georgia Department of Transportation), I am finally back in Durham from my second Mississippi Valley swing of the summer.

The good news is that I definitely have an apartment (the lease arrived while I was gone) and I’m just three short weeks from D-Day. The bad news is that I have to start packing and get on to hiring people to load and unload the truck.

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

As promised

All the photos from Fort Collins are now up at Flickr; here are two of my favorites:

Our table at the AP Reading
Our table gathered at the end of the reading.

Stoner Construction
After Mark took this photo, some dude on a bike rode by and called us druggies.

Monday, 19 June 2006

Back and sweaty

My $30 gamble on getting to the Denver airport early paid off by getting me home two hours earlier and giving me a little breathing room on the Denver-Dallas leg; Dallas-RDU was packed to the gills, as always, including two Edmonton Oilers fans who carried on a replica Stanley Cup. Plus I got to eat lunch in Dallas in a faux Irish pub watching Ukraine beat down Saudi Arabia (in stretch-o-vision, alas) with German commentary.

Basically all I’ve done since getting back in Durham is sweat profusely. On the upside, at least I’m more confident there’s sufficient oxygen content in the air I’m breathing.

I should have a few more photos up in the next day or two.