Free-Floating Hostility

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Beer Review

On Thursday night, several of the Epi/Bio kids gathered for a Happy Hour. We used to have these a lot during the school year, but the group has dispersed for the summer. The person who picked the venue on Thursday never showed, leaving us among a collection of regular alcoholics and homeless alcoholics. I don't know exactly what they made of us, sitting around in office clothes and trying not to touch the excessively sticky tables as we gabbled on about longitudinal data and meta-analyses. At one point, we were discussing which programs we were all using at our summer jobs, and a girl named Beckie said "I'm using Excel!" sending the whole table into peals of laughter. At such moments I always feel privileged to be in on the joke; not many people find such a phrase amusing.

Everyone is doing interesting things with their summers. One person is at a local hospital working on control of hospital-acquired infection. Her duties include hiding in the bathroom and pretending to check vents while watching to see if hospital staff wash their hands. Another person is examining the relationship (if any) between certain psychological features and the likelihood of developing AIDS among the HIV-positive. Margaret the auto-racing fan has been working for the Marin County health department. The population of Marin is unusually wealthy and old, both of which contribute to late births and a lot of fertility treatment. As a result, twins have become so common that the county now averages 1.4 children per pregnancy. Since twins are more likely to be born premature and underweight, it's driving down the average birthweight, which would normally be high in a wealthy community. Margaret solved the mystery.

Throughout our discussions, 80's music was blasting out of a jukebox in the background. In this company there's a certain machismo surrounding the question of who has taken off the most time in between college and grad school, so the topic of 80's music is not unloaded. John was trying to recall the chorus of a song that was playing. "You put a something on me" he had teased out (my suggestion was "hex," but he later remembered it was "you dropped the bomb on me").

"I can't help you," Margaret shrugged, "I missed the first half of the 80's cause I didn't have a radio."

"I missed it too," said Beckie. "I was an egg."

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at August 07, 2006 5:09 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • What's so funny about excel?


  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at August 08, 2006 9:46 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Excel was never actually intended to be database software; it doesn't protect the integrity of your data. Hit the wrong button while sorting and you can irretrievably misclassify your whole dataset with repsect to some variable. And it's not much good for analysis. So, basically we laughed because it's software lite. She has a year's worth of training and wound up using Excel. Ha ha, aren't we cultivated.

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