Sunday, December 12, 2010

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Fall in Princeton

Incredible colors. Incredible weather.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Friday Night

A lot of statistics homework.
A jar of applesauce.
A bag of pretzels.
An episode of 30 Rock and The Office.

Nearly perfect start to the weekend. Or not.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I should work for the CIA

The wireless internet here in my apartment is often sketchy. So today I was having trouble connecting at all. I looked at the list of other available wireless networks and noticed that my neighbor has taken the proactive step of getting her own wireless router and plugging it into the wall so that she doesn't have to rely on the university provided wireless network that is so bad. I on the other hand am too cheap to go and buy my own router and therefore have been plagued with patch internet service. Of course, I would like to connect to my neighbor's and take advantage of her responsible nature. However, the network is password protected.

Here's where the title of this post comes in. I successfully guessed her password on the first attempt! Admittedly, "princeton" is not a very creative password when the network requires the password to be 8 characters or more. But you've got to hand it to me for either incredible luck or incredible deftness as cracking passwords. I'm going to assume the latter.

I think I'll try my luck at for the rest of the afternoon.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Version 2.0

The blog is back! My 3-4 semi-regular readers inquired over the summer as to why my blog was lying dormant on the internet. My response was that posting on this blog is correlated with how exciting my life is. Definitely correlated, but negatively so.

Well it's been several months since I last put something up here. I figured it was time to give the entire page a new look as it is the start of a new year. Note that (although slowly), the countdown in the title is getting closer to zero.

School is starting up. The summer was wonderful. I am officially a second year. My new apartment is fantastic and a huge upgrade from my dorm. I proudly display my microwave without any fear of repercussions. And I have a new job at church. I am in charge of the 11 year old scouts. Sadly, I threw away my scout uniform several years ago, along with my manual, so I'm starting fresh. My mother was quick to point me to a video that I think I have posted here before. However, this time as I watched it I laughed even harder as it's become even more apropos. Enjoy!

:58 takes on a whole new meaning.

Twilight Years from Tom on Vimeo.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Break and Karma

Well, I'm back from another wonderful break. This week in Utah was better than ever. I had a fantastic time visiting good friends, seeing my family, running a half marathon, and generally not thinking about school. So I'm back now, and there are only 6 weeks left in the semester, but who's counting...

Anyway, the trip back to NJ was in my mind an act of Karma. As my loyal reader knows, I've not always had the best luck flying back and forth across the country. Late flights, late trains, trees falling on top of my train, drunk people sitting next to me on the trains, and an especially difficult time with Southwest's voucher program have significantly jaded my opinion of traveling in general. Well this most recent flight has definitely helped improve my outlook. I was supposed to fly out Sunday evening from SLC to Newark. While waiting for my flight the gate agent announced that the flight was overbooked. Like Pavlov's dog, I am trained to immediately go to the gate when I hear these type of announcements even before I know what exactly they are offering. Better to be at the desk and then find out if the deal is worth taking. Well this one was too good to pass up. I volunteered to give up my seat and fly Monday morning into JFK instead of Newark. This meant I would have to miss one of my classes. But in return I was upgraded to first class and given a $600 voucher to use on any Delta flight. This time I will make sure not to lose the paper they printed the voucher on.

Finally, I should note that this was the first time I had ever flown first class. This is how flying was meant to be. I don't think I'll ever be able to fly coach again. Knowing what goes on in front of that curtain and knowing that I am not being given such treatment will be too much to bear.

Monday, March 08, 2010


My brother and his wife just found out they are having a baby boy! Here are my recommendations for choosing a name.

1. No names that end in "-er" "-or" "-ar". Just think about having to say Trevor Barber, Parker Barber, Connor Barber. Too many "er"s.

2. Before thinking that spelling a name "creatively" is a good thing, consider that your son will have to correct every school teacher he will have for the rest of his life. Spare him that trouble.

3. Before deciding for sure, tell several middle school children the name. See how many ways they can make fun of that name. Any more than 3 and you should reassess.

4. No names that could possibly be considered a girl's name. Think of the young boy's self esteem...and those middle schoolers.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


This comes from an article I am reading for my American political institutions seminar. "Anyone able to visualize a ten-dimensional matrix can readily see that each player's dominant strategy is not to pay..."

Of course, I had a bit of trouble visualizing a ten-dimensional matrix, and thus I did not readily see the author's conclusion.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


None of these events/thoughts deserves its own post, but together they are worthy.

  • Countdown to spring break. Two weeks until the break. It has been so snowy, cold, wet, and busy. I'm definitely ready to leave for a week. Granted I'm going to Utah, which will likely also be cold, snowy and wet, but when you add the Wasatch Mountains to that equation what was a negative becomes an extreme positive. I can't wait to get in some backcountry skiing.
  • Half marathon fast approaches. During the break I will be running a half marathon with my sister and uncle in Moab, UT. I've been training, but these next two weeks will be critical to success. Unfortunately this is also midterm season, so balancing the two will be interesting.
  • If you look back a few posts, you'll notice that I've upgraded my desk by adding a big new monitor. One of my favorite distractions from school work is to search for pictures of places I've been that would also make good desktop backgrounds. Below are some of the pictures I've found. I didn't take any of them (the only camera I own is attached to my phone), but I enjoy them nonetheless as they invoke memories of fun times hiking, camping, skiing, rappelling, climbing, etc.

view all pictures of this slideshow

(I don't know why it appears to be snowing in all of these pictures.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010


One of the many reasons to love Princeton University is the parking policies. My only other experience with university parking is at BYU. Let me create a hypothetical situation that perfectly describes BYU and their parking. A young man drives onto campus in a hurry to pick up his wife who has just gone into labor. He stops at the gate and relates the story to the parking guard who protects the most sacred of roads in Utah, Campus Drive, which loops the inner campus. You cannot drive on this road unless you have a faculty parking pass or are driving a university vehicle. To keep this road free of the riffraff, there are two parking guard stations with gates at either end of campus. As the man hurriedly asks the guard to lift the gate so that he can pick up his wife and rush her to the hospital, the guard stoically tells the man that without a pass he cannot let him past. But if he would like he can park in a student parking stall approximately 2 miles away behind the Marriott Center in the next county over. The man pleads with the guard, but he refuses to relent, so the man quickly pulls into the nearest spot, a 15 minute temporary spot, and rushes to get his wife. They come back to the car 16 minutes later to find that the car has been ticketed by one of what seems to be thousands of turncoat students who are employed by the parking office to constantly patrol the lots surrounding campus. The husband accepts the ticket knowing that appealing the ticket is as fruitless as trying to get past the guard at the gate.

Compare this to my recent experience parking at Princeton. I had just dropped a friend off at the train station and it was 3pm. The lot next to my building is open to students at the incredibly early hour of 5pm. I didn't want to have to drive home and park at the dorms and walk 20 minutes across campus to work for an hour to turn around and walk another 20 minutes, so I parked in the lot 2 hours early with the expectation that I would likely get a ticket. When I got to my office I related the situation to several students who responded that I would not get a ticket because Princeton issues a warning the first time you violate campus parking policies. This was great news to me. Furthermore, I was informed that if you simply call the parking office, they will frequently let you park in the faculty spots if you have a semi-decent reason. And they're pretty liberal with their reasons; "I didn't want to have to walk back across campus" worked for one of my friends. Anyway, I parked, I worked, I returned to my car to find it free and clear. Having a place to park is such a small thing, but at the same time it feels oh so great to pull up right next to the building on a freezing cold afternoon in mid February.

Friday, February 19, 2010


You know you are a true nerd when the highlight of the week is your double monitor setup at work. I ordered a new monitor for my desk so that I could have more statistics programs open at the same time. When it came it was like Christmas Day. I went in that night to set it up and then gazed in complete satisfaction at my multimedia masterpiece.

This is pretty much where I live all day and night. Occasionally I go back to my dorm room to sleep.

Friday, February 12, 2010


This is one of the strangest political ads I've ever seen. It's for a race in California, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, given the way the government works there. Anyway, have a look.

Friday, January 15, 2010


I get a lot of e-mails from the university. Many of them advertise conferences that are going on in the region. Often they are asking people to submit papers for presenting at the conference. This one made me laugh:

Annual Graduate Student Conference April 9-10, 2010

*Call for Papers*

'Uselessness' explores conceptions of utility and value as they have been theorized and deployed within the domains of art, science, and the everyday. What is the useless? .... Encompassing topics from a wide range of disciplines, ‘uselessness’ presents a broad problematic of life, work, meaning, and value. We invite proposals for 15-20 minute presentations that address these issues through any medium

My first thought was to submit a paper or dramatic reading about the uselessness of the 'uselessness' conference.


Forgive me, loyal reader. I've been absent from the blog for some time now. This is because excitement in my life and level of blogging are inversely related. And the last month has been simply wonderful. Classes wrapped up on December 19th and I quickly left town and flew to Spokane. Quite a journey to get there (a tree landed on my train causing me to miss my flight at the airport), but it was worth the effort. Aside: I seem to have the worst luck with the NJ Transit system. I mean, how often do trees fall on moving trains? Not often I would guess. Anyway, the day after I arrived in Spokane my sister Christie married her fiance Ryan. The wedding, reception, and fellow company were all wonderful. We had a great time partying at the Davenport Hotel into the late night (about 10pm).

Christmas was great and soon after I went to Utah to celebrate New Years. I had so much fun seeing old roommates and friends. Skiing was a must, and the snow was excellent.

After a week in Utah I came back to NJ to take finals. Princeton is the only university that I know of that maintains high school style semesters. So I spent a good portion of the break writing papers, doing a take-home final, and studying for two other finals, but it was nice to have all that time to prepare. Anyway, I've just finished my last final and now I'm free of responsibilities for 2 weeks. As you've probably inferred from previous posting, my first order of business is to get out of town. So today I'm heading into NYC for a great weekend with friends and Monday I fly back to Utah for more time in the mountains. Anyway, that's what's going on here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


If you look 4 posts ago, you will see that US Senator from Utah Orrin Hatch, a Mormon, recently wrote a Hanukkah song as a holiday gift to the Jewish community. Max Weinberg of the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, a Jew, has returned the favor to the Mormons. Speaking as one of many Mormons, thanks Max.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Somewhere in the fine print of AT&T contracts is the following statement:

For every 10 minutes of talking there will be at least 1 time when you will lose service and drop the call for no apparent reason.

AT&T has exceeded expectations in this part of their contract. Rumor has it that the iPhone will be available on Verizon next summer. I will be the first in line.

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Two posts in one day? What's going on? I have a paper to write, and so of course posting on this blog is an easy way to procrastinate and kill a few minutes. But, I am happy to report that the paper is moving along. I have 20 pages of paper to fill with information regarding voter turnout. I've written papers of this length before, but they are usually filled with research designs, experimental findings, and lots of tables and graphs. (Even academics have an affinity for pictures in their books and articles). However, this paper will contain none of those things. Thus, 20 pages seems particularly daunting this time around. So I am going to keep you (my 3 faithful readers) updated as to my progress. I'm going to update my google chat status with a completed pages/total pages as I go along as well as future posts on my blog. I have until January 12th to finish this behemoth, but I am hoping to get most of it done before the end of the month.



I'm sure you've all seen one of those Sprint Mobile ads that considers the possibility of some rough and tough group managing the world. You know, "What if truckers ran the world." etc etc. Here's an amusing example:

I had a good laugh at this spoof.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


You wouldn't think it, but the Mormon senior senator from Utah, Orrin Hatch, is also an avid song writer. He writes and perfoms mostly patriotic and Mormon themed music and has actually produced a CD of original music. Click HERE to listen to "Heal our Land" which was performed at the innauguration of President George H. W. Bush.

Being 75 years old, one might think that Senator Hatch's vibrant music career is coming to a close. On the contrary. He's recently produced this sure-fire hit: "Eight Days of Hanukkah". Who knew that this elderly Mormon from Utah had such an affinity for Jews. The NY Times quotes him today saying, "I feel sorry I'm not Jewish sometimes." Well, have a look at the video and tell me this man doesn't deserve an honorary barmitzfa.

Eight Days of Hanukkah from Tablet Magazine on Vimeo.

Oh, and I also loved this line from the Times article. Referring to Hatch's love of Barbara Streisand, one of America's most famous Jews, the Times writes:

"He said his ultimate goal would be for his idol, Ms. Streisand, to perform one of his songs. “It would be good for her and good for me,” Mr. Hatch said, while acknowledging that given her outspoken liberalism, that union might require another miracle."

Now that would be bipartisanship at its best.