Monday, October 31, 2005

And You Can Be My Cowgirl


I was reading a section from Minnesota Monthly to BioMom the other day when the FYO overheard (I didn't know she was listening).

Me: Hey [BioMom], listen to this! '[S-E-X] is like pizza. When it's good, it's really good. When it's bad, it's still pretty good. Unless anchovies are involved.'

The FYO from some distant room: That's not true!

Me: How do YOU know?

FYO: I've TRIED it!

Me: You BETTER NOT have!

Sunday, October 30, 2005


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

All Roads Lead to Dick

From the Washington Post:

Fitzgerald has looked closely not only at the possible crimes, but also the context in which they would have been committed. This search, say lawyers in the case, has provided him a rare, glimpse into the White House effort to justify the Iraq war and rebut its critics.

The trail has often led to Cheney's office, which officials describe as ground zero in the effort to promote, execute and defend the Iraq war and the campaign to convince Americans and the world that Saddam Hussein had amassed a stockpile of the most dangerous kinds of weapons. According to the report in yesterday's Times, the investigation also led to Cheney himself.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Blink and Teaching

We recently had to go through our annual process of assigning "merit" to the faculty members of our department.

In the category of teaching, I got second to last in our department.

This should, really, be interpreted as last as one guy refuses to even fill out the form.

So, last it is.

This is a tedious process in which we all fill out a form that details all of our research, teaching, and service activities for the previous year. The research and service parts are simple for different reasons. For research, you get a high score if you've published an article (preferably after having gone through a double-blind peer-reviewed process toward publication in a high-ranking journal in the field as opposed to a book chapter). For service, we all basically do too much, so the default is usually the maximum score. For unusual service (meaning something that we don't see regularly), one needs to document what they have done and how it has benefited the department, college, university, community or profession.

Documenting our teaching efforts is an altogether different ballgame. How, for example, does one demonstrate effective teaching? There is no analogous peer-reviewed process that one goes through to demonstrate techniques, efforts, attempts, new ideas, effectiveness, etc. At our university, each professor has students fill out student evaluation forms that differ across departments. While such information can be informative at identifying trends, on its own, it is highly problematic and a quite extensive literature has grown out of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of using such a measure to evaluate teaching effectiveness.

Our department, thanks to two colleagues' efforts in particular, has evolved into using a tripartite system of teaching evaluation: student reviews, peer reviews and self-review.

This is great in theory.

The biggest positive consequence of this method is that it gets us away from relying on one single method of evaluation which is usually gets boiled down to some relatively capricious and one-dimensional number gathered from the student evaluations.

The problem is that the relatively small committee that assigns merit (which, by the way translates into salary increases that literally cannot even justify the amount of time that four Ph.D.s spend reviewing the files each year, let alone the effort required to fill out the paperwork) assigns different weights on each of the three teaching categories. So, for example, one individual might wholly believe in the ability of students to correctly evaluate their professor's effectiveness and, therefore, place 80% of his/her weight on that measure.

At the other extreme, one's assessment of oneself can be overly weighted by a member of the committee. An individual could spend an inordinate amount of time and effort gathering and interpreting data on assessing his/her teaching and its effect on students. This is, mind you, on top of regular assignments and exams that are meant to evaluate student learning. Furthermore, the merit process not only encourages professors to do this during the year, it also encourages extensive documentation during the merit process.

I have always been suspicious of this sort of activity. It reeks of Shakespearean protesting a bit too much. But now, after reading the book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcom Gladwell, I have evidence that not only is such documentation is over-the-top, it also may not necessarily contribute to teaching effectiveness.

According to Gladwell, [a]llowing people to operate without having to explain themselves constantly . . . enables rapid cognition.

And paraphrasing from Blink:

Here is a simple example of this. Picture in your mind the face of the waitress or waiter who served you the last time you ate at a restaurant. Or the person who sat next to you on the bus today. Any stranger whom you've seen recently will do.

Now, could you recognize this person in a police lineup? I suspect you could. Recognizing someone's face is a classic example of unconscious cognition. We don't have to think about it. Faces just pop into our minds.

But suppose I were to ask you to take a pen and paper and write down in as much detail as you can what your person looks like. Describe her face. What color was her hair? What was she wearing? Was she wearing any jewelry? You won't believe this, but after attempting to describe the face, you'll have difficulty doing the same task you did before: recognizing that person in a police lineup.

This is because the act of describing the face has the effect of impairing your otherwise effortless ability to subsequently recognize that face.

The psychologist Jonathan W. Schooler who pioneered research on this effect calls it "verbal overshadowing." (See also, this paper). Your brain has a part, the left hemisphere, that thinks in words and a part, the right hemisphere, that thinks in pictures. And what happened when you described the face in words, was that your actual visual memory was displaced.

Thinking bumped your memory from the right to the left hemisphere. When it comes to describing the face, you relied on the memory of what you said you saw, not what you remember you saw.

The problem is that with faces, we're better at visual than verbal description.

If I showed you a picture of Marylyn Monroe or Albert Einstein you'd recognize it instantly. But could you accurately describe the picture? If you wrote a paragraph describing how Marilyn Monroe or Albert Einstein looked, would I even know what you were talking about?

We all have an instinctive memory for faces but by forcing you to verbalize that memory, to explain yourself, I separate you from those instincts.

Schooler has shown that the implications of verbal overshadowing carry over to how we solve broader problems. For example, look at the following "insight puzzle": A giant inverted steel pyramid is perfectly balanced on its point. Any movement of the pyramid will topple it over. Under the pyramid's tip is a $1000 bill. How do you remove the bill without disturbing the pyramid?

This is an example of an insight puzzle. The only way to get answer is if it comes to you suddenly, like in the blink of an eye.

One study found that people who were asked to explain themselves in the process of finding solutions to other insight puzzled solved 30% fewer problems than people who were not asked to explain themselves.

In short, when you right down your thoughts, your chances of having the flashes of insight you need, in order to come up with a solution, are significantly impaired. Just like the act describing the face of the waitress made you unable to pick her out of a police lineup.

In the cases of logic problems, explaining yourself will not have the same effect. Explaining yourself may even help solve the problem or others like it.

Problems that require a flash of insight operate by different rules. "It's the same kind of paralysis through analysis you find in sports contexts," Schooler said. When you start becoming reflective about the process, it undermines the ability. You lose the flow. There are certain kinds of fluid, intuitive, nonverbal kinds of experience that are vulnerable to this process. As human beings, we are capable of extraordinary leaps of insight and instinct. We can hold a face in memory, we can solve a puzzle in the blink of an eye. All these abilities are incredibly fragile. Insight is not a light bulb that goes off in our heads. It's a flickering candle that can easily be snuffed out.

For me, teaching is an activity that requires this "flash of insight." Last year I was involved in a project on campus called the "Lesson Study Project" or LSP for short. In the project a group of us chose one particular idea that seemed to be problematic for our introductory students. We then attempted to dissect the lesson to find out what, exactly, we wanted students to glean from it and then we, as a group, created a pedagogical strategy to get at this problem in the lesson. The LSP requirements included assessment, so we collected pre and post tests from the students in treatment and control groups to see if our unique intervention had any real learning consequences.

Last year we chose a lesson on international trade. A recent article (See William Poole's speech here) claimed that the notion of free trade was problematic because it simultaneously garnered nearly full acceptance on the behalf of professional economists (a rarity among followers of the dismal science) and less than a majority of support among the general public. We suspected that students, while appreciative of the increased consumption benefits associated with trade, were nonplussed about the subject when it comes to production efficiency aspects, and even anti-trade when they realize that their dad may have lost his job due to outsourcing.

Using a combination of a class experiment and case studies, our goal was to get students to see the grey areas. To recognize that such a policy could generate winners and losers and that there were short-run and long-run effects to be discerned.

Part of the process is to have yourself videotaped and to have another LSP member come to your class and take notes on the pedagogical strategy. After having seen my course, in addition to many very helpful constructive comments, all three of the other LSP members were very impressed by the questions that I posed to the class and the instinctive changes I made to augment the trade experiment.

Their first suggestion along these lines? Write it down! Document it! Be more formal about it!

In all honesty, I believe that were I to actually write some of those comments down, and attempt to replicate the same situation in next semester's class, that the spark will have died a slow death. With a script, I'd be lost in the classroom and I'm sure the students would be bored to tears. It would be like Taylorism for teachers.

It is one thing to encourage professors to try new things and to try to see if the new things worked. Its another to sit down and write about it. Document it. One of the main problems we had in last year's LSP is that the instruments we used to measure the effects of the technique were relatively anachronistic. How can you measure the learning consequences of a new technique using old questions? Now we're down a road that I am simply unqualified to drive; developing not only new pedagogical techniques, but also corresponding assessment tools. And let's just say that I refuse to grade interpretive dance.

That is not to say that all documentation is bad documentation. I have journaled after classes and found it to be helpful. But the most successful classroom experiences I have had are when I trust myself, my knowledge, my experience, and my intuition.

Of course, this is scary for a university. There are some teachers that can't be trusted, I suppose. And one way to get at them is to have them document their classroom like an obsessed archivist. To document each and every change and measure their effects.

The problem, identified I think correctly by Gadwell, is twofold. First, just because you measure something, doesn't mean its accurate or even that it was correctly measured for that matter. Second, the act of measuring and documenting itself squashes out the flashes of instinct, which would be the last thing you want to happen in the classroom.

So, when it comes to taking the time to fill out the merit form next year and document all of the tweaks I made to my classes this year, I will hopefully have the guts to do what I believe would better serve my students: read the newspaper instead.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Gunflint Patterns

Big Sister Class

Tonight we took the FYO to a little class at the hospital where she could see where BioMom will be, and where she could learn a little about how to care for a baby. There were about 15 other families there, mainly with two-year-olds. The pregnant women were all about as far along as BioMom and it felt like I was in a room full of Weeble-Wobbles.

I'd Give Up a Seat For You Anytime, Rosa

Rosa Parks Dies At 92.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Making Itsy

I just heard about the film "Making Grace" about a lesbian couple in their attempts at fertilization. Think it'll come to the Lagoon?

Is Judy Miller a First Amendment Martyr or an Administration Stooge?

I've been reading the Times' interepretation of the events leading up to the release of Judith Miller from her Alexandia jail cell lately. They were late in discussing the issue of her confidencial source (Scooter Libby, as it turns out) because they claim they were standing behind their reporter. Its hard to know if they, and Judith in particular, were really standing up for the first amendment or standing behind the administration. Their argument, as expected, is that if reporters are required by Grand Juries to reveal their confidencial sources, that higher-up administration officials will no longer talk to them, and their credibility as reporters will be lost. On the other hand, without this information, the Roves and Libby's of the world can continue to claim that they didn't leak any information about Wilson's CIA-wife. As discussed by Frank Rich in his Sunday column titled "It's Bush-Cheney, Not Rove-Libby",

[w]hen Mr. Rove was aksed on camera by ABC News in September of 2003 if he had any knowledge of the Valerie Wilson leak and said no, it was only hours before the Justice Department would open its first leak investigation. When Scott McClellan later declared that he had been personally assured by Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby that hey were 'not involved' with the leak, the case was still in the safe hands of the attorney general then, John Ashcroft, himself a three-time Rove client in past political campaigns.

I recommend the entire article as it does a great job outlining the timeline of the White House's creation of the White House Iraq Group (August 2002) developed to create an "uber-narrative" / marketing campaign about the Iraq war, to the Downing Street memo "that the Bush administration was ensuring that 'the intelligence and the facts' about Iraq's W.M.D.'s 'were being fixed around the policy' of going to war", to the famous 16 words about "uranium from Africa" in Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address, to the current depositions of Carl Rove and the attack on Mr. Whistle-Blower-Wilson through the leak about his wife, Valerie Plume.

Of course, most Americans have no clue who Valerie Plume (to be confused with Valerie Wilson) is, what Carl Rove has to do with it, who Scooter Libby is, and what all of this has to do with Iraq. Not to mention the fact that most of us have forgotten about WMD's and that the reason for going to war in the first place never panned out. Fox News (!) even points out that crucial evidence like the Downing St. Memo was basically ignored in the US. Even if it is all spelled out for us on first-grader lined pages, [like it was in the 9-11 report], most couldn't care less. And why should they, there's a new, smaller i-pod out.


Monday, October 17, 2005

32 Weeks And Counting

BioMom is starting to get sick of it. Literally.

Today at the doctor's visit (we're headed there every two weeks now which actually isn't too bad. We love the doctor and we get to have lunch together afterwards, which is a great bonus) we explained that last week BioMom was waking up at 4:30, 5:00 and 5:30 a.m. with excruciating back pain. So excruciating that she was regurgitating in response. Not good. Let me just say that. The doctor explained that she might just be one of those pregnant women who has to wake up for an hour in the middle of the night. Yeah. You know. Get up, get some cereal, watch some television. Whatever. Just get up and move around. At 4:30 a.m. The sweet woman that she is, she expressed concern about my sleep. The doctor offered the solution of sleeping apart.

Now I'm getting sick of this too.

I'd be sick of it if a) she weren't such a cute pregnant woman and b) I weren't so terrified of the baby.

I think we're ready though. We did the Target run. Got the baby shampoo. Well, basically we got everything with the word "baby" on it, or so it seemed. Or so my Visa thought, I should say.

But yeah. I think we're ready. The only thing left, I can't buy until the night before. . . These cheezy books we read include a little "Dad Tip!" for the expecting father. They are normally so basic, they are laughable, but this final one is fantastic. Buy a birthday cake!

Definitely a Dad Tip I'll take! Flourless chocolate anyone?

Closer To Fine

Bedtime Conversation

So, what will happen if you lose the tooth while we're up north this weekend?

The Tooth Fairy will come?

How do you know? We won't be at home. . .

She'll know where we are. She knows everything.

How do you know it's a she?

All fairies are girls.

Oh, no, honey. I'll introduce you to a boy who is a fairy.

Friday, October 14, 2005

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

39%: A number representing the President's approval rate.

2%: A number representing the President's approval rate among African Amercian Voters. Which, by the way, is an all time low among any President.

Jonathan Odell's commentary on All Things Considered yesterday titled "How the Races Don't Relate."


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Family Bed Continued. . .

So, last week, out of sheer exhaustion, BioMom gave in to a particular situation regarding the rules around the FYO's entrance into our bed during the night, thereby opening up a loophole heretofore unexpected.

The FYO wet the bed.

She wet the bed and came in to BioMom requesting asylum. BioMom, in a sleep-induced coma, didn't get up and change the sheets (I was out of town), thereby avoiding any potential future loopholes.

And so that night went. FYO snuggled up in our bed.

Last weekend, some friends were over for the night with their three-year-old girl. They started out in the same room, but, as those things go, that devolved quickly for the sake of having fairly rested kids the next day. So, the three year old slept with her moms, and our FYO, alone in her bedroom.

That night at approximately 4:30 a.m., I hear the familiar opening of the FYO's door and the careful creaking down the hall, followed by the soft, Mom?. . . Mama?

I, feeling like I was never, in fact, asleep at all, responded: What, [FYO]?

Someone peed in my bed.

My less-than-generous response: That's okay, you can go sleep in the upper-bunk.

She had, clearly, not expected this obvious answer.

But. . . But. . . [our friend's three-year-old] peed in BOTH beds!

This was, literally impossible, given that the three-year-old spent less than five minutes in the FYO's room that night, but I'll give her some kudos for creativity. I walked her back to her room to find that the beds were, in fact, dry. Tucked her in and high-tailed it back to my own, snuggly, bed.

Happy National Coming Out Day, Y'all!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Unauthorized Reproduction Bill

Check out this, which was tipped off to me by Taggert over at A Random Walk.

Let's just say I'm glad we're 31 weeks along. . .

Republican lawmakers are drafting new legislation that will make
marriage a requirement for motherhood in the state of Indiana,
including specific criminal penalties for unmarried women who do
become pregnant "by means other than sexual intercourse."

According to a draft of the recommended change in state law, every woman in Indiana seeking to become a mother throu gh assisted reproduction therapy such as in vitro fertilization, sperm donation, and egg donation, must first file for a "petition for parentage" in their local county probate court.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Saturday, October 08, 2005

HFRM#1 Guest Blogs About FFFN

Career Options

6:00 p.m. - FFFN begins.

it started off like any other normal FFFN ... the FYO's standard question, "did you bring me a gift?" followed by a quick dig in my coat pocket for a little girlie bubble bath. great dinner made lovingly by BlogAuthor. big bottle of wine for me and BlogAuthor to share. a special non-alcoholic drink for Biomom and Itsy. sharing highs & lows with the FYO pointing her little finger to instruct us as to who's turn it is to share next. and a rousing game of Moose in the Haus. good times.

8:00 p.m. - the bed-time routine begins.

as per usual, we all staked out our usual spots on the massive bed and then BlogAuthor read a book of FYO's choice. there were the typical moments ... FYO's legs kicking here and there and her finger poking at her lip, wiggling and jiggling from sheer exhaustion from her long week as a kindergartner. BlogAuthor carefully reading every. single. word. as to avoid any demand from the FYO to start over from the beginning, while at the same time repeatedly asking FYO to sit still and pay attention. the threat of an ultimatum feeling thick in the air. Biomom cuddling with FYO and exhibiting the utmost calm and patience. Itsy giving a little kick just to say, "hey! i'm here too!" and me, HFRM#1, holding onto FYO's little foot ... watching the whole scene. loving all of these people who love me right back.

with the reading done, we played a quick game of hide-n-seek followed by "jumping toura loura" with FYO jumping on her bed while we sang.

8:15 p.m. - eenie meanie minie moe.

again, as per usual, the time-tested eenie meanie minie moe method was employed skillfully by the FYO to select one of us to spend 5 mintues with before saying final good-nights. and, i was selected. as much as i feel honored by being selected and LOVE these quiet moments when i'm alone with the FYO and her thoughts ... it is also terrifying. i am ALWAYS worried about saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, and screwing up the FYO for life. i swear she senses this fear in me and goes for the soft spot. every. time.

our 5 minutes of q&a time started off easy enough.

FYO - "why do you like working at [the museum]?"

HFRM#1- "well, i love the art and i work with fun people!"

FYO - "you're lucky, you get to see the art anytime you like!"

HFRM#1 - "yes, i am lucky!"

FYO - "i like [the museum] because it has all this great art and they let EVERYONE see it for free!"

HFRM#1 - "yeah! can i quote you on that?"

i grabbed a pillow and settled in. and just as i started to think this was going to be a relatively easy q&a session with FYO, she struck.

FYO - "when i grow up, i want to work at [the museum] like you do. or be an attorney. or be a professor. or be a bride."

my stomach flipped and i heard my heart beat loudly in my ears as if to say, "don't.screw.this.up.don't.screw.this.up.tha-thump.tha.thump." my mind raced, "what do i say? what's the right thing? i have to say something! she's waiting for me to say SOMETHING!"

FYO just sat on the bed wiggling and staring at me, playing with the heart necklace around her neck that i gave her earlier in the night.

HFRM#1 - "well, that's a good list of career options ... um, so ... why do you want to be a bride?"

FYO - "because you get cake."

sweet relief flooded over me. OF COURSE! this was about CAKE! ever since the first time i ever met this girl, she has been ALL about the CAKE! the first word i heard come out of her mouth was when she was just over a year old and strapped into a highchair, eyes glued to this big beautiful cake on the table, fork in hand, patiently waiting for someone, anyone, to GIVE. HER. A. PIECE. ALREADY. out of peer frustration she looked around the room at the adults chatting away and then let out a very loud plea for "CAAAAKKKKEEEE!" priceless.

HFRM#1 - with a bit of a chuckle - "oh honey, you can have cake anytime! in fact, i'd be happy to make you a big ol' cake tomorrow!"

FYO - "yeah, but when you're a BRIDE you get TWO pieces." she held her two little fingers up to my face to emphasize the importance of this point.

HFRM#1 - "seriously, i'll make you a cake tomorrow and you can have as MUCH as you like. really."

FYO - "yeah, but i want to be like you and be a bride ..."

the relief that had craddled me in its arms just a few seconds ago just slammed me into a brick wall. another stomach flip. claustrophobia coming on strong.

HFRM#1 - "um, yeah ... only, i've never been a bride, sweetie."

Suddenly FYO stands for "fourteen year old" rather than "five year old":

FYO - "SERIOUSLY?!?!?!" hands on hips and eyes bugged out in amazement.

HFRM#1 - "seriously."

FYO - "not even with [HFRM#1's ex]."

HFRM#1 - "no, no, nope ... no, i was never a bride. not even with [ex]. thank goodness ..."


HFRM#1 - "seriously."

FYO - "but why not?"

HFRM#1 - "um ... well, sometimes adults just don't see eye-to-eye. sometimes, they don't agree on really important stuff."

FYO - "but, why couldn't you just come together?"

blood rushes to my face and i feel HOT. that is THEE question, right? how does she know at the age of five that this is THEE question? the question that inevitably follows the end of any relationship. . .

HFRM#1 - "um, well ... it's just complicated. do you know what that means?"

FYO - "yeah, messy."

HFRM#1 - "yeah, messy is right."

FYO - "well, i still want to be a bride someday."

HFRM#1 - "and maybe you WILL be a bride someday. and that will be a great day. but, you know, it's just ONE day. and you can be a bride AND a lot of other things all at the same time."

From the bottom of the staircase we suddenly hear ...

BlogAuthor - "5 minutes are up FYO! HFRM#1 needs to say good-night now!"

sweet relief returns, along with a little fear. did i say the right thing? did i screw her up for life??? it may take years to know how much damage i just caused in this 5 minute q&a.

i give FYO a big hug and kiss, then tuck her in. we exchange our "good-nights!" and "i love yous" and i make my way downstairs to BlogAuthor and Biomom, feeling a little dizzy and anxious. i grab my glass of wine and hold in both hands as i walk into the family room. i want to tell them everything and have them reassure me. i want them to say things like, "you did great! of course you didn't screw her up." but, i don't know anything ABOUT kids. what if i tell them what i said and it turns out to be ALL WRONG? what if they say, "omigod. you said WHAT to our child? how stupid are you??? that's it. you're paying for her therapy."

it's a gamble. but, i tell them. and they validate me and reassure me in that way that only your oldest and dearest friends can do. and suddenly we're laughing and BlogAuthor is telling me about something she said to FYO earlier in the day that is MUCH more likely to cause permanent damage.

i breathe deeply and relax into the sofa, take a sip of wine, and feel so grateful to have FYO and her moms in my life. i look at Biomom's belly and think about Itsy. one more kid in my life to love and spoil ... and try hard, hard, hard not to screw up.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Christopher Street

That Guy Who's Always There

Cousin can attest that I actually emailed the Today Show about this guy wondering why he was ALWAYS in the audience. Duh.

Itsy at Washington Sq. Park

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Big Apple Patterns

Tip o' the Nib to HS Friend

Love the description, HS Friend!

My old next-door-neighbor, I discovered when covering all of our celeb sightings, has seen Willard!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Say Something Nice About Al Roker!

So, BioMom and I saw Al Roker yesterday in Rockefeller Center.

Yes. We were the nerds that got up before 7 a.m. and drug our sorry arses over to Rockefeller Center to see if we could catch a glimpse of Katie Couric.

I rushed her out before we could see Katie though as we were late for breakfast with some friends in Tribeca and the President was yawning on and on about Supreme Court Nominations bullshit("I'm sure her mother and father would be proud of her today." WTF? Did he say that about Roberts?) we just ran out of time before Katie stepped out to the crowd. But even with having only seen Al, my Celebrity Sightings Quota increased by over 200% this weekend!

Before this weekend, by only celeb sighting was one Newt Gingrich in what was basically a strip mall in Fairfax Virginia. On the suggestion of a friend from BioMom's work, however, we happened upon a hoppin' brunch spot in the lower east side, Prune which, apparently attracts the up-and-coming!

There, we saw Maggie Gyllenhaal (and, only in retrospect did we realize she was with her boyfriend, Peter Sarsgaard), and Maya Rudolph who, to BioMom's delight was very pregnant! (BioMom was watching the tail-end of SNL the night before in our hotel and was certain that it wasn't a pillow!).

We were literally, all leaning against this van waiting for a seat. Together. Not five feet apart. Of course, I had no clue what a superstar Maggie is, and so I mumbled some inane compliment to her: I'm sure, you've heard this, but we thought you were brilliant in Happy Endings after which she promptly turned away.

Later that night on the way back to our hotel, a crowd had gathered outside of Chicago, and we waited to see Brooke Shields come out, looking exhausted after two shows that day.

My brother and I once had a huge fight over Al Roker.

Of course, it wasn't about Al Roker. I'm sure it had to do with childhood or some other perceived loss, but Al Roker was our easiest fishhook at the time. After arguing the night before, we woke up in our little Bed and Breakfast off of Dupont Circle in DC where we were staying and he flipped on the Today show. I mumbled something about hating Al Roker and he flew off the handle: SAY SOMETHING NICE ABOUT AL ROKER!! And wouldn't let it go.

Oh, the things we remember.

Oh, and don't worry, my infatuation with Wikipedia will wane.