Category Archives: Personal

Christmas stories

I’m sure every family has a collection of stories they share around Christmas. One of the favorites in my mom’s family is about the time, when my mom was in elementary school, her dad told her they weren’t having Christmas so that she would stop bugging them about her presents. He told her they couldn’t afford Christmas that year.

My mom told her teacher that they weren’t having Christmas because they didn’t have any money. So, my mom was allowed to drag the classroom tree home, and apparently it was a sad, pitiful thing. Grandma and Grandpa didn’t understand why the teacher gave the tree to my mom.

They didn’t understand later, either, when various church and charity groups from around Flint brought baskets of food and gifts to their house. And, despite my Grandma’s protestations that they didn’t need charity, everyone insisted they accept the goods because everyone deserves to have Christmas.

Eventually, they figured out what had happened.

Installing and learning LaTeX

Long on my to-do list has been to use LaTeX, mainly for its BibTeX features. I’ve avoided it for so long because I’m pretty adept at MSWord. However, with Office2010 and that blasted ribbon, they broke all my keyboard shortcuts for menu items (imagine grumpy old professor shaking hand at the gods and yelling).

As a first step, I emailed Chris (not to be confused with this CL) to ask for suggestions, which he graciously provided. Then, having narrowed things to Emacs+AUCTex (Chris’s strategy) and WinEdt, I turned to FB, which yielded additional suggestions including Sublime Text and LyX. The latter is apparently a good GUI tool, but the exported raw .tex can be clunky according to those who have used it. (I imagine it’s not unlike creating a webpage in Word, which you can do, but I wouldn’t recommend.)

I decided to install Emacs, LyX, and WinEdt, but I think I’m going to start with Emacs and try LyX and WinEdt when I inevitably get stuck.

Figuring out which version and how to install Emacs also took a bit of effort, particularly because a lot of the how-tos, which may include links to packages, aren’t necessarily always linking to the latest stable version. I found these instructions to be the clearest. However, I went to the original source for the install files. It seems that AUCTeX isn’t compatible with the most recent version of Emacs, so I had to go back and re-install Emacs. Typical (for me at least).

Here are the (abbreviated) steps I went through:
.5. Read several introductions to LaTeX, including some recommended by Chris.
1. Install MiKTeX.
2. Install WinEdt.
3. Install LyX. Since I already installed MiKTeX, I had to navigate to the tex.exe file in the miktex\bin\x64 folder during LyX install. It seemed to find and get all the missing packages and automatically install them in the correct MiKTeX directory (thank goodness).
4. Install latest version of Emacs.
5. Set HOME property.
6. Install version of Emacs that works with AUCTeX.

Next step(s): Check on spellchecking features, setup preferences, etc.

Edited to add: Here’s my first document. 😉

If you want to invite me for a guest lecture or talk

I’m thinking that someday, I would like to have an info packet like Richard Stallman. For instance, consider:

If you can find a host for me that has a friendly parrot, I will be very very glad. If you can find someone who has a friendly parrot I can visit with, that will be nice too.

or perhaps….

It is nice of you to want to be kind to me, but please don’t offer help all the time. In general I am used to managing life on my own; when I need help, I am not shy about asking. So there is no need to offer to help me. Moreover, being constantly offered help is actually quite distracting and tiresome.

So please, unless I am in grave immediate danger, please don’t offer help….

…One situation where I do not need help, let alone supervision, is in crossing streets. I grew up in the middle of the world’s biggest city, full of cars, and I have crossed streets without assistance even in the chaotic traffic of Bangalore and Delhi. Please just leave me alone when I cross streets.

In some places, my hosts act as if my every wish were their command. By catering to my every whim, in effect they make me a tyrant over them, which is not a role I like. I start to worry that I might subject them to great burdens without even realizing….

…and best of all…

Please don’t be surprised if I pull out my computer at dinner and begin handling some of my email. I have difficulty hearing when there is noise; at dinner, when people are speaking to each other, I usually cannot hear their words. Rather than feel bored, or impose on everyone by asking them to speak slowly at me, I do some work.

It has been 540 days since my last blog post

Once upon a time, I had a blog. The last post was a subdued celebration of the election of Barack Obama. A lot has happened in the world since then. A lot has changed in my life, too. Consider this both my last post on Profesora Abstraida and my first post here. I can’t promise regular updates, and I won’t promise the same level of scrutiny of Mexican politics as before, but I will try to do more than short Tweets. In the meantime, here’s an abbreviated update of what I’ve been doing for the last 540 days.

In November 2008, I interviewed for a faculty position in the Political Science Department at McMaster University. Everyone was very welcoming and nice, and I enjoyed my visit. Neither Brian nor I had never really been to Canada before, so he flew up after the interview for a weekend in Toronto. Though it was abnormally cold (according to my hosts), we enjoyed the Annex, the AGO, and Queen Street West.

January 2009 was a busy month. I heard that my tenure file had passed through the Institute-level committee, so things were looking pretty solid for promotion and tenure at Tech. I was also invited to interview at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. I was also offered the position at McMaster. Though I enjoyed my campus visit at Texas State, I had to respond to McMaster before their interviews were going to be concluded. McMaster, though far from ‘home’ in Austin, seemed like a better fit for me, and Toronto seemed like a better fit for Brian. So, we decided to make the move. I accepted the position (though we didn’t tell anyone for several weeks).

In February, I received the official letter confirming that I had been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure at Tech.

In March, we used spring break to move several things to a storage unit in Austin and to tell Brian’s family in person that we were moving to Toronto during the summer.

In April, we packed up the house and said goodbye, though things were so rushed that we didn’t get to say goodbye to everyone personally. That made me a little sad. I also started a new website to chronicle all the great things Brian says.

In May and part of June, we stayed with my mom in Austin and visited Toronto to sign a lease.

In late June, we packed up the Jetta with our 3 cats and 80lb dog for the drive to Toronto. Most of July was spent Craigslisting and unpacking. August, more of the same. Brian’s parents came to visit for 5 days in mid-August. Brian helped my grandparents move from Corpus Christi, TX to Flint, MI.

Classes started at McMaster in September. For the first time, I was teaching a graduate class in my area of research interest. So far, so good.

Over the holidays, I visited in Flint, while Brian went to Austin.

Spring semester, I taught intro graduate statistics and an undergraduate senior seminar in the politics of public policy.

In late January, my grandma passed away in her home in Flint. She left me a voicemail singing me happy birthday the night before.

In February, my book was published, and we went to Austin during reading week to visit and help my grandpa get everything settled.

In April, I received notice that my SSHRC Standard Research Grant was funded for the next three years.

…which brings me to now. I am happy in my new Department and University. We are happy in our new city.

And, I am looking forward to my second summer since graduate school in which I have not either:

a) moved our household internationally;
b) ran or participated in a summer study abroad program for at least 6 weeks; or
c) taught two courses during summer school.

I have lots of old projects to wrap up and new ones to begin. In the meantime, I’ll try to post here periodically.