23 February 2008

Blood and Rubber

I went to the dentist today for my regular bi-annual cleaning. I had originally scheduled it for next week Friday, but then it turned out that next Friday is Open House, and add to that there is my weekly lab meeting, and I am “it” for the lab, meaning, I am the one doing the talking, so I decided to re-schedule. I was given two options, either I wait until April (which is not feasible), or I do it today. So I decided to go today, but that meant not attending one of my classes.

It turned out to be fine, nothing major was missed.

I had an appointment at 2:00 PM, and so I set off from my office at around 1:15 PM. My dentist is just about 15 minutes walking distance from campus, and so it wasn’t a big deal. Good thing the snow stopped by noon, and so the weather was cooperative.

I got there around 1:35 PM, and there were a number of people in the waiting room. There was a toddler, and later on I found out that the parents of that toddler were the two teen-agers in the room. The father was 19. And the one I originally thought was the mother was actually the grandmother. Wow. Generations move faster these days.

Then in comes an old lady. She looks like she is in deep pain. Apparently, it was an emergency, and so she was rushed in the clinic. I overheard phone conversations with people, because the staff were trying to reschedule some people to accommodate the emergency patient. It seemed that she wouldn’t last over the weekend if they didn’t treat her now. That also delayed my appointment, but not so much.

So, I was settled into the dentist’s chair. Somehow, I felt that the procedure that they did to me was rather fast, but then, it could also be a good thing. That may mean that I am taking good care of my teeth and so there aren’t any complications and therefore they don’t need to work on me for a long time. After all, I don’t want to end like that old woman who was in deep pain.

So, after less than an hour, I was out of there. I went back to my office, in time for the colloquium that afternoon.

This afternoon, a Korean linguist was talking about stress and prosody in Korean. It was an experimental work, but I believed she was burned by the faculty. The faculty had questions that she wasn’t able to address adequately. And I had questions too, but then I didn’t decide to duplicate the faculty and add to the misery of the speaker.

My main objection to her was her experimental design. She apparently designed a 4-factor factorial experiment. I was taught in my statistics class to avoid going over three factors, since four factors are hard to comprehend. But this person had a four-factor factorial experiment, and that meant that there would be four simple effects tests, six two-way interactions, four three-way interactions, and one four-way interaction. However, when she was asked whether she found any interaction among her four factors, she gave a reply that obviously revealed her inability to understand the question. It meant that she didn’t do the experiment properly. She may have totally ignored the interaction effects of the experiment that she designed.

I guess this is also one of those times in which I cannot turn off my head. I enjoy taking that statistics class, and now I see why my adviser told me to take it. If I hadn’t taken that class, then I would just be agreeing to that linguist, and taking her data for granted. But now, I can scrutinize people, see whether what they say their experiment is doing is actually doing it or not.

Of course, the faculty and the rest of the audience weren’t impolite to point out to her bluntly the faults; that is reserved for after-hours discussion.

Anyway, so today being a Friday, I just went home after the colloquium, and now, I just finished vacuuming the house. After publishing this entry, I would be ironing my clothes.

The only thing I hate about going to the dentist is that I have this aftertaste of blood and rubber in my mouth.

(Bull's ass, from my Wall Street Series)

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