March 31, 2012

I Don't Know Who Milton Plesur Was

The post title is already obsolete; after typing it in, I realized that I was sitting at a device that can provide me a staggering quantity of information. Turns out, Milton Plesur was an influential professor.

Today was an annual conference named in his honor. It's a grad student conference; just about every university has one. The idea is that it's a practice conference, where grad students can present papers with low pressure, giving us practice for presenting at more serious professional conferences.

Plesur talks are only 15 minutes long, with three or four students in a panel. Two panels meet simultaneously, so you have to pick which talks you want to attend. The majority of papers were just summaries of the presenter's thesis work, but I joined with about 30% of people in doing something that was kind of peripheral to the main project.

I was a little under-rehearsed, and was about to go over on time, so I cut off the last two minutes, which was unfortunate, as those two minutes contains a song totally chock-full of innuendos. So it goes. I was first on my panel (of four), which is the second-best slot, in my opinion. (Last is best, but the middle slots are the worst.) I got some very intelligent questions, which is always nice, and some compliments as well.

Right after lunch, there is an hour talk by an invited guest speaker, invariably a professor from some other university. It's also invariably a friend of a professor at our school, as that means we can often skip the hotel, and even if not, we can usually get away with offering a smaller honorarium because they are partly just traveling out to Buffalo to visit their friend.

Our guest speaker presented a paper on changing displays of masculine beauty in Britain, 1950-1980. One of my friends that is somewhat of a shrinking violet slipped out of the room as soon as she saw the first slide. I am amused but can't blame her, because about half the talk was about British pornography marketed for gay men. There were lots of oiled-up torsos, and a couple of erect penises too. When I mentioned this to my girlfriend, she was surprised, but it didn't shock me– historians have been looking at pornography (academically, that is) for several decades now. It's an excellent source of "revealed preference" about standards of attractiveness.

In prior years, some attendees just leave after their presentations, depriving their fellow students of an audience. To discourage that, this year there was a free dinner at a local pizzeria after the last panels had concluded. I went, but I was going to stay for the whole thing anyway. I had to- my computer was the designated PowerPoint machine in one of the rooms. That wasn't part of the original plan, but I hadn't put my presentation on a thumb-drive, because I was playing a bunch of short video clips, and that can be iffy to play on another computer, because if the other computer doesn't have the correct video codecs installed, the videos won't play. So I plugged my machine in, and at the end they asked me to leave it there for the day, because my laptop came with a cool little remote control to advance slides and whatnot. It's much more convenient if you can present without being tied to the computer, especially as that room didn't have a real podium.

Anyway, good times, but I'm really tired now, because I was up later than was wise, fiddling with the exact timing of my clips. But all's well that ends well.

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March 27, 2012

First Salute

One of my cadre of MA students is in ROTC, she's getting commissioned in March. And she asked me to give her first salute! I'm unreasonably flattered.

The downside is, I need to take my dress blues to an alterations shop. Somehow the trousers have shrunk a little while on a hanger. It's the strangest thing.

(For the curious: It's a tradition that when a person gets commissioned as an officer and becomes entitled to receive salutes from the enlisted, they have an enlisted person that they respect be the first one to salute them.)

She asked me because she really doesn't know many enlisted people personally. Her brother is also a ROTC cadet and thus could do it, but she said she'd rather have one from an actual veteran.

Posted by: Boviate at 01:24 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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March 21, 2012

Light Saber Technique Discussion

It's easy to pick on stage fighting. But this is a well-done example of the kind of sarcasm necessary.

Posted by: Boviate at 12:40 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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March 20, 2012

Searching for Ore in the Word Mines

This is what I've been doing for the last couple of months:
(Plus a few hundred pages of PDFs, and a dozen or so books that I've already returned.)

Posted by: Boviate at 10:09 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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March 17, 2012

St. Paddy's

Some people spend today drinking beer that has been colored green for stupid reasons. Me, I was on campus for twelve hours, drinking nothing but water. I'm living the dream!

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March 03, 2012

Corning Makes With the Sexy Video

Posted by: Boviate at 11:44 AM | Comments (1) | Add Comment
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