Scott's MD-PhD Adventure

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

The L'Amandas were working today, so we brought them some Gingerbread Cake with Pumpkin Sauce.

V&R: Hey chef!
Me (with M and S): Here is some gingerbread cake and pumpkin sauce for you.

As I was walking away...
V: Girl this pumpkin sauce is delicious! Mmm!

I come home an hour later, and run into R on the street, walking back from CVS.
R: Hey Scott! That was so good thank you so much!
Me: You're welcome!
R: I was saying to V, if you had checked out the camera, you would have seen us eatin' it and really liking it.
Me: Haha. Excellent.

*15 seconds of silence*

R: That pumpkin sauce was really off the hook!
Me: Thank you.
R: Were you at work?
Me: I had to go into school.
R: What you study?
Me: Science
R: You should be in cooking school!

*Turn down the alley*
R: Oh, you should walk over on this side of the street. People be jumping out from that side. They hide behind the garbage and try to rob you.
Me: Um, that's good to know. Thank you.

Me: So, do you both live around here or have far to travel?
R: I stay out in Oak Park, and V stays on the south side somewhere.
Me: Ah, very nice. When do you finish today?
R: 3. Every day.
Me: That's not so bad.
R: No, we can still go home and pig out!
Me: Excellent. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, July 20, 2009


I brought my parents a jar of Speculoos via Mike-Paris. My mother tried some and offered mini-spoonfuls to her friends on Saturday night. My dad had decided it was too late for him to eat when she did this.

Tonight, my phone rings during our dinner, but I didn't get to it in time so I called back right away...

Mom: Scott?
Me: Yes
Mom: Why are you calling me?
Me: You called me.
Mom: I know! But you didn't answer.
Me: Right, so I'm calling you back.
Mom: But I'm leaving you voicemail
Me: Ok, so, what?
Mom: I had to tell you, that thing you brought, I had some tonight on my ice cream. Boy was it good!
Me: Good
Mom: I had some non-fat chocolate ice cream, and I put some of the stuff on it. It was delicious. But you didn't tell me it has nuts in it.
Me: It doesn't
Mom: Really?! Are you sure?
Me: Yes, are you sure it wasn't a cookie chunk?
Mom: No! It was an almond
Me: Ok
Mom: Oh! Shit! I bet I had your dad's ice cream! Yes! He has chocolate almond fudge!
Me: Ok
Mom: Well, it was really good!
Me: I'm glad you enjoyed it
Mom: And, get this. Are you sitting down? Your father tried some at 6!
Me: Haha.
Mom: I said, Jer, you have to try this, it's so good!
Me: He hadn't had any?
Mom: Well, we kept opening it too late. But I told him to just taste a little bit. He said he will definitely have some on his ice cream tomorrow!
Me: Ok
Mom: That's it!
Me: I'm glad you both enjoyed it.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fashion Advice

Yesterday, I was wearing a striped polo shirt and plaid shorts. My mother asked why I was mixing patterns.

Today, I put on a navy polo shirt with light blue horizontal stripes, and solid unpatterned chocolate brown paper,denim&cloth shorts.

Dad: Is that what you're wearing tonight?
Me: Huh?
Dad: You're wearing that?
Me: Would you prefer I wore an oversized softball shirt and athletic shorts? Like you wore to a restaurant yesterday?
Dad: I'm not wearing that tonight!
Mom: Scott, I already told him what to wear tonight.

*A few minutes later*

Grandma: Scott, are you changing before tonight?!
Me: Jesus, what is wrong with this outfit? Am I missing something?
Grandma: Well, you clash more than you should. Blue and brown aren't my favorite color combination.
Me: Um, they're fine.
Grandma: Would it kill you to have a light colored shirt with those shorts, maybe something like a yellow if you have it?
Me: I think I'm good thanks.


It's getting hot in here

Back in AZ, visiting parents, so have some blogworthy stuff.

Dad: *shouting over ESPN guy shouting* You can sit out here!
Me: (in the bedroom, with the ceiling fan on) It's loud. And hot.
Dad: It's not hot out here!
*30 seconds later*
Dad: Val, it's cool.
*40 seconds later*
Dad: Val, why does he think it's hot? It's not hot!
Mom: Cause he does Jer.
Dad: Is it hot? Do you think it's hot?
Mom: Well, I don't feel hot, but he does.
*1 minute later*
Dad: Scott, you can sit out here! It's not hot!


Wednesday, March 18, 2009


My parents visited last July. They had a good time, and didn't complain that it was too cold.

My parents want to visit again this summer. They want to buy their plane tickets now. It's barely March. The plane tickets are expensive, and they don't want to spend a lot of money to come for a short trip. I don't want them to come for a long trip, for my sanity, which I told them somewhat nicely.

I told them in January that I thought I had a conference in Tucson, AZ in the summer, and that I could see them on that trip if I ended up going. They repeatedly ask me for details.

I found out the details yesterday: It's in mid-July, and a bit outside of Scotsdale. I sent them an email with a link to the hotel's googlemap location, the dates of the conference, and the sentence "I'm most likely going."

They wrote me back:

Thanks for the info. We thought it was in Tucson. Why did you include a map quest to Cave Creek? (from dad only, are you considering coming, so we don't go to Chicago to drive you crazy? LOL). Not to be a pest, but let us know when you have a definite answer.
Love ya,


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Dem Cookies!

Been a while since last post. Oops.

So, while my residential building has no door person, in winter I walk through the long main floor to exit closer to the L, and there's a security desk at the front. Mon-Fri mornings, there are two super nice and friendly black women, who always say hello and how are you and have a good day. They're way nicer than everyone else who works there. I don't know their names.

(There was an episode of Ugly Betty when Mo'nique played the night person at the desk normally occupied by Amanda. Her name on the show was L'Amanda.)

During winter break, I was leaving to go to lab on the 24th, and asked the L'Amandas if they would be working tomorrow. "Of course!" they replied, so I said I'd bring them some cookies. Mike had made these chocolate chile cookies, and Roberta had given me some homemade rugulach, which were ok but the texture was off, imo. So I made a little plate and brought them some of each, and was greeted with "that's so nice" and "you are so sweet."

The next day I got a "who made dem cookies!" and I said "uh...uh...I made the chocolate ones and my...uh...grandmother made the others" They really liked the rugulach.
Every day for a couple weeks, I would get a "Hey chef!" or "Tell yo' granmomma I'm still thinking bout dem cookies!"

Mike and I brought them some Obama logo cookies which we made for the inauguration. They were very excited. This inspired many more morning greetings of "How you doin' Mr. chef?" and the like after the initial post-cookie day comments on how good they were.

Last monday, I brought even more cookies, cause I had made way too many butterscotch chip cookies to use them up. Tuesday I got a "Those cookies was off the CHAIN! Keep on doin' what you do!" Wednesday was "Hey chef! How dem cookies doin?" Thursday, she instructed the vacuuming man to "Move out the way and let the chef through!"

Dem cookies make me happy on so many levels. :)

Sunday, December 07, 2008


From: Cathy
Date: November 18, 2008 5:11:21 PM CST
To: Susie

This is a beautiful photo of a giant American flag in Arizona. The photo is authentic, UN-touched and was taken on regular Kodak 35mm film. The person who took the picture couldn't believe the image created by the suns rays.
Nice of them to share it with the world!
Read what is says under the picture....

For those that prefer to think that God is not watching over us...go ahead and delete this.
For the rest of us...pass this on.



From: "Maren"
Date: November 24, 2008 8:01:07 PM CST
To: "Shelly"
Subject: cake

Well, I have learned not to throw out Nate's favorite cake again! He was PISSED that I threw all but 1 piece away. :( I told him to call you. haha! Anyway, I guess next time, I will just have to learn to control myself. I feel pretty bad right now.

Stupid men!!


a blast from the past

From: "Cindy (PEI)"
Date: November 30, 2008 11:30:28 AM CST
To: address>
Subject: a blast from the past

Steve lastname !

Hey! How are you? I couldn’t believe when Mary Carol said she was talking with you. Congrats on the job, it will be great working with you again. So, lets see, it’s been 16 years. What have you been doing with yourself? Things her are good. We still live in the condo, Chip still works at VT Yankee, Kori is now 16 and drives. Here’s a picture of us this summer. Yes, I’m plump and no, I’m not heading out to pick rice in the fields! Kori is gorgeous as you can see, and a really good kid. We are lucky, we got a good one. She is very involved in field hockey. She plays year round in a program for girls that want to play in college. She was in Palm Springs all week for a national college recruiting tournament, we pick her up in Hartford tonight. She’s goalie and the best in VT, she’s only a junior. She’s been all over the place playing. We will all be going to Disney in Feb. for another tournament. We’ve met a lot of great people and Kori is well known in NE. We are very proud parents. When ever we go anywhere when people find out who we are they always rave about Kori and how good she is. She has a very big reputation. It’s very cool. She is very driven and works hard. She’s had knee surgery twice on her meniscus and needs another one. It’s hard because she is always playing, she has no down time and she plays lacrosse in the spring too. She may have to sacrifice lacrosse and take some time off in the spring. Even though she’s a junior she has many division one schools recruiting her already, as much as they can though contact has to be limited. At this point we all like UConn best, but we will see when it gets down to the nitty gritty fall of 09. Okay, enough bragging about Kori. I’ve been working for Presence since it’s beginning here on the East coast. Love this company. I’m very happy and enjoy being on the road. I don’t know if I’d be able to sit behind a desk again. I’ve got my routine and it’s great. I see John every now and then. It’s always fun to bump into him. He never changes.

How are your parents and brother? Fill me in, I can’t wait to catch up!

Take care Steve!



To Shelly

From: Maren
Date: December 7, 2008 1:20:13 PM CST
To: Missy, Shelly

Hey girls...
Just had to tell you that Nate & I saw a great horned owl in our backyard last night! We were about to let the dogs out, and it flew from our yard over to the house behind ours. (the ones with the annoying little girl who loves Sydney- haha) It was SO cool to see. I'm totally like a little kid and get so excited about stuff like that. :) I don't think I've ever seen an owl in the wild before, so I was so happy.

Hope you're all having a good day, and are enjoying the pretty snow-globe weather outside! (even if it is chilly!)

Looking forward to Thursday night! :)


Merry Christmas From My Mother

Oy Holy Night.
She sent me this.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Parental Ignorance/Racism

1. My mother early voted, and refused to tell either me or my dad whom she voted for.

2. My dad is a secret Muslim, and perhaps a terrorist. He told me that he couldn't prove he is not, and that he would get back to me on how someone could prove they are not. So until then, he is.

3. My dad allegedly saw on CNN that 95% of black people are voting for Obama just because he's black. He refuses to admit he may have misremembered this polling result.

4. My dad thinks 500 black people voting for Obama because he is black shows that they are ignorant. My dad thinks 500 white people voting for McCain because he is white isn't the same thing. "They must have other reasons."

5. My dad thinks McCain will be better for the national security, Colin Powell is weak, and he must be correct because the military supports McCain. He heard some poll that said so. In this poll, most of the military personnel support McCain, but the African-American personnel support Obama, and therefore "they're ignorant and only doing so because he's black." I asked him about the black military vote for Kerry in 2004, and he had no comment. I asked if he would admit he was wrong if I proved to him that Obama was getting the black military vote because they were Democrats, not because they're black. He seemed to agree he would admit this if I could prove it.

6. I used google. I emailed my parents.

Your poll data is from here:

Here's an explanation of the methodology, which you have to consider when you say "The military supports McCain" I've bolded the important stuff for you.

Basically, it can be extrapolated from what's discussed below that there was not a shift in votes from Bush to Obama among African-Americans. This means the African-Americans supported Kerry in 2004, and are not jumping from Bush 2004 vote to Obama 2008 vote because of race.

You might also note that the African-American subset that was polled ranked "the economy" as the most important issue to them. Not "the character of the candidate" or "other/none of the above." So, the black people who are deciding how they vote are thinking Obama is going to be better for the economy, and thus their wallets. Is that the same as voting for him because he is black?

I await Dad admitting that he was wrong. :)

The Army Vote & The Military Times Surveys

Today's Guest Pollster contribution comes from Jason Dempsey, who is an infantry officer assigned to the Army's 10th Mountain Division and the author of the forthcoming book, Our Army: Soldiers, Politics, and American Civil-Military Relations. He also has an article on the political attitudes of military personnel in the most recent issue of the The New Republic. The views presented here are his own and do not reflect the views of the U.S. Army or the Department of Defense.
While the veteran vote is not attracting as much attention as it did in 2004 it is still a salient election issue, and we could use more discussion of available data. For the most part, the most current available data is provided by the Military Times family of newspapers. [Note--does anyone know if NAES is attempting to do a focused military survey again this year?] However, the Military Times surveys have to be used for what they are: Surveys of subscribers to the Military Times papers (Army Times, Air Force Times, etc.) As such they are not representative of the entire military population. And we should note that they don't claim to be, although that is often lost in interpretations and use of the data.
Briefly, I'd like to address the methodology of the surveys and the ways in which these surveys can be useful, some trends revealed in these surveys since 2004, and some thoughts on the results of their 2008 election survey.
First off, I think the Military Times do a good job of explaining that these surveys are not representative (see here), even if the headlines and commentary resulting from these surveys often imply otherwise. As the crowd at is the type that likes the fine print I think this is a great venue for discussing the potential as well as the limitations of these surveys.
The survey in the news last week was this year's election-specific survey. In September the Military Times sent e-mails to about 69,000 subscribers. (They sent original messages to about 80,000, but many came back as undeliverable. Some of this should be expected, and appropriately discounted, given the high mobility of the active-duty military community, but it is not clear how many with invalid addresses were active as opposed to being retirees or in the Guard/Reserve). From this they collected responses from 4,515 retirees, 1,515 members of the National Guard and Reserves, and 2,982 active-duty members of the military (although of these 316 were left out of analysis because they were not registered or did not intend to vote). Of the active-duty respondents, 1,543 were in the Army. I limit analysis in my research, and here, to the active Army population within the surveys as I can appropriately compare this subgroup with the overall Army population. However, I think the discussion of the representativeness of the Army subsample probably applies equally to the other active-duty groups.
As with previous Military Times surveys the respondents in 2008 were disproportionately white, male and officers. The actual Army population is about 85% male, 14% regular commissioned officers (not including Warrant Officers), and 60% white. The active-duty members of the Army who responded to the Military Times poll were 90% male, 45% regular commissioned officers, and 71% white. Furthermore, the Army's junior enlisted ranks are dramatically underrepresented in the Military Times surveys. About 47% of the Army serves in the ranks of E-1 through E-4. These ranks comprise only 6% of the active Army population included in the 2008 Military Times survey. (The samples of each of the previous Military Times surveys are nearly identical in the degree to which they represent the active military population). Bottom Line: these surveys should in no way be used to assess aggregate attitudes across the force.
However, this does not mean that the Military Times surveys aren't valuable (that is far from the case). Rather, it highlights that interpretations of the Military Times survey results have often been inappropriately extrapolated to the entire military population.
These surveys can be useful in two ways. First, they can be useful as a gauge of opinion trends. While the results of these surveys might not present an accurate estimate of overall military attitudes in a given year, over time they reflect how the opinions of a portion of the military are shifting. By extension we might assume that the rest of the military is shifting to a similar degree, even if the starting point is not the same. (See the discussion of Robert Shapiro and Ben Page on 'parallel publics' in The Rational Public).
Secondly, if we limit analysis of the survey data to senior officers then the 'subscriber bias' is likely to be minimal, in that the attitudes of senior officers in the Military Times subscriber database are likely to be similar to the attitudes of senior officers generally. Whereas a junior soldier or officer who subscribes to the Army Times is likely to have a more careerist outlook than his or her peers, in that subscribing can be interpreted as an act of dedicated interest in the profession as a whole, the difference between subscribers and non-subscribers is likely to be more muted in the senior officer ranks.
Trends: 2003 to 2007
If one assumes these surveys can be useful as a gauge of opinion trends, if not a comprehensive view of aggregate attitudes, then the Military Times surveys do tell us something about military attitudes over time. I believe we can also view them as fairly accurate portrayals of the opinions of the subset of senior Army officers. Below are the results of what I found when parsing out the opinions of active-duty Army officers in the ranks of major and above (typically 10 to 20+ years of service) from the 2003 through 2007 Military Times annual surveys.
The single datapoints reflect the results from the Citizenship & Service: 2004 Survey of Military Personnel (Completed with Bob Shapiro and support from the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University. See here). The C&S Survey included a higher number of women and minorities and the resulting data was weighted to reflect the general Army population on the dimensions of rank, race/ethnicity, and gender. Notably, the results from comparing senior officer attitudes from the C&S Survey with the attitudes of senior officers in the Military Times survey show a pretty close match.
These Military Times survey results show that support for the Republican Party among senior members of the Army, the group most likely to identify as Republican, declined significantly between 2004 and 2006 before leveling off at about 49% in 2007. Also interesting is that the data show no corresponding change in support for the Democratic Party.

Because the Military Times did not conduct these surveys before 2003 we can't assess what this means historically, but we do have data from Ole Holsti's and James Rosenau's Foreign Policy Leadership Project surveys that were conducted every four years between 1976 and 1996. Looking at this data, the military is experiencing a shift comparable to what occurred between 1976 and 1980. During that period military leaders shifted decidedly toward the Republican Party. By the end of Carter's presidency the proportion of senior military leaders who identified with the Republican Party had increased by 13%. This data show a shift of comparable magnitude--only during this administration the military has begun to shift away from the Republican Party. Over the last three years the Military Times surveys have shown a decline in Republican Party identification of 14% among active-duty Army respondents and an overall decline of 13% among senior Army officers.
Notes on 2008
Unfortunately the 2008 Military Times Election survey did not ask party affiliation. They did, however, ask respondents both who they planned to vote for during this election and who they voted for in 2004. Not exactly panel data, but this again offers an opportunity to assess shifts in attitude among survey respondents.
The primary headline to come out of the Military Times surveys was that 68% of respondents backed the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain. However, lost in the analysis was a significant shift in support for the Democratic nominee. Looking at just the subset of active-duty members of the Army in the Military Times poll, 64% of these respondents reported voting for George Bush in 2004 and 15% reported voting for John Kerry. As for the 2008 election, 66% planned to vote for McCain while 25% reported planning to vote for Barack Obama.
There are two significant points to draw from these results. The first is the 10-point uptick in support for the Democratic candidate. While not indicative of a reversal of military preferences among officers, this increase in support for the Democratic candidate signals a significant shift in military opinion and indicates that military aversion to the Democratic Party may be on the wane.
A key discussion point from initial reports on the survey was that black members of the military overwhelmingly indicated support for Barack Obama, but looking at the demographics of those who reported shifting their preference to Barack Obama in 2008 reveals that this dynamic was not driven solely by minority respondents. Of those who shifted from Bush to Obama, 95% were male and 55% were white (n=79, again, I am only looking at active-duty Army respondents). Among those who voted for neither the Republican nor Democratic candidate in 2004 but were planning to vote for Obama in 2008, 77% were male and 39% were white (n=121). This indicates that the increased support for the Democratic presidential candidate among members of the Army is due to both a shift of the Army's traditional voting block away from the Republican Party as well as an infusion of new, predominantly minority voters into the Democratic column.
The second significant point to draw from these results is that McCain has been able to hold onto military votes at a time when the Republican brand is hurting nationally. He is holding a slightly higher portion of the senior officer vote than Bush did in 2004. This is probably not indicative of a shift back to 60% Republican Party identification among senior officers, but is probably due more to his own veteran status. Among active-duty Army respondents, 73% felt that the veteran status of the candidates was important in making the decision about who to vote for (32% felt it was 'very important'. Another 41% felt it was somewhat important.) I suspect that this explains a good portion of McCain's military support and that post-election assessments of the party identification of senior officers will be closer to the 2007 figures.
Finally, however, it must also be noted that comparisons with 2004 are problematic. As outlined by Jeremy Tiegen in his analysis of the veteran vote in 2004, the Swiftboat attack ads were successful in getting otherwise Democratic voters to vote for George Bush, so 2008 may be the 'norm' although, again, McCain's strong identification as a veteran further muddles analysis. Hopefully someone will attack the data and give us an answer after the election.
For those interested enough in military attitudes and polling to have read this far there will be more analysis of the attitudes of the active-duty Army (to include the enlisted ranks) in my forthcoming book Our Army: Soldiers, Politics, and American Civil-Military Relations due from Princeton University Press in 2009.