Friday, February 20, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009


In graduate school, the initials "ABD" commonly stand for "All But Dissertation." This informal title is bestowed upon graduate students who have finished all of their coursework, have successfully completed their qualifying examinations in their chosen sub-fields, and successfully pass a comprehensive examination, which consists of orally defending one's dissertation proposal (called a "prospectus") to his or her dissertation committee. Such individuals are pleased to know that the only thing standing between them and a Ph.D. is writing a dissertation and defending it to their committee one final time. These individuals also get to trade in their title of "Ph.D. student" for the more prestigious title of "Ph.D. candidate."

Incidentally, on February 16, 2009 (President's Day) at approximately 6:00 PM Central time, I also offically became "ABD". Whoo-hoo!

I was successfully able to defend my dissertation proposal to my committee earlier today. It wasn't a pretty affair and I was glad when it was over, but it got the job done. The project is entitled "Understanding the 'New Nativism': Causes and Consequences for Immigration Policy Attitudes in the United States." I know that no one is really interested in the gory details, but the bottom line is that the project is trying to create a more comprehensive quantitative model for anti-immigrant attitudes in the mass American public. (I can email a copy of my 58-page prospectus to anyone if they're really interested in more detail... Alternatively, a more concise summary is available on my website:

Thus, my primary academic objective from this point forward is to spit out a 200-or-so-page manuscript over the next fourteen months so I can then graduate in May 2010. Of course, it may be only a symbolic accomplishment at this point, as the current economic situation is going to severely restrict the number of academic faculty openings for the Fall 2010 semester, and thus also my chances for getting a job after I'm done. Oh, well!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Abigail does the Can-Can...

For your enjoyment and edification, here's a clip of Abigail enjoying a rousing rendition of Offenbach's "galop infernal" from Orpheus in the Underworld.

Ta Da!

Above is the picture that inspired me to make a Valentine’s cake for Ben. Everything is edible except the doilies. It was made by Bakerella and you can find step-by-step instructions at . I really enjoyed working with fondant for the first time and I was pretty proud of how well they turned out. I originally planned on just making one, but I got so excited that I ended up making four. They were yummy. I really recommend the cake balls. The first picture shows the cakes as I am taking them out of their pans and leveling them. Next is a picture of the fondant, rolled out and ready to cut. The next picture shows the cake balls after they chilled for several hours. Then you see some photos of the final products. Then there's Abigail. Here she is in the cute V-day dress that Nana sent. Thanks!
Ben thought the cake was cool and he was impressed I worked so hard and long on them. He did, however, fall asleep early last night and I had to wake him up in order to be able to eat our treat on Valentine's day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine Baking

I am so proud of the heart shaped cake pans that I made. Thanks mommy for teaching me how.

I also colored this fondant red and added almond flavoring to help the taste.

Keep posted for pictures of the finished product.

I Love Abigail

I love how she learns something new every day. She is so fun and entertaining. We often just sit and stare, no need for television any more. . .well maybe not as much.

She now knows how to bring her hands to her mouth and suck vigorously. She also can bat at toys on the mobile and then laugh as they move around. She holds her head up well and even tries to stand on her legs. She seems amazingly proficient at filling a diaper as soon as a new one has been securely fastened on her little self. I hope she'll be easy to potty train later on. She has even learned to be crabby, mostly because the "mean" nurses stuck her with three needles on Monday. I don't think that she has forgiven them, or us, yet.


I had a great time at the outlets with my good friend Rachel yesterday. I loved C.arter's and was tempted to buy the whole store. I broke down and bought a few outfits for Abigail (I haven't previously bought anything for her because of the generosity of my friends, family, and a few kind classmates). Keep watching for pictures in the new outfits. Rachel found a great deal on kids shoes at the G.AP, the shoes were $.97/each, and I couldn't help myself. I don't know exactly when Abigail will be wearing a 6, 7, or 8, but I will be prepared. :) I also bought a new pair of jeans and two sweaters for me and walked out of G.AP having only spent $18. Kim, are you so proud?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Month Two Baby Statistics

Abigail had her second month doctor check-up yesterday. She's now weighing in at 11 lbs. and is 22.25 inches long. She's put on 4 lbs. and 2.25 inches since she was born. Those are both right at the 50th percentile, so she's perfectly average on those two counts. (That's also pretty impressive considering she has two shorter-than-average parents...) Incidentally, it also means that she's increased her body mass by 57% since birth!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Need a good laugh?

I just spent more than an hour (while I should have been sleeping) on the following website: Make sure to read the witty commentary. I haven't laughed this hard in a long time.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Blessing Day

Abigail Elisabeth was blessed on Sunday by her father. She was a perfect angel for the blessing and we are so excited for her and her future. She was blessed to follow the examples of those around her, including her parents and especially to follow the example of the Savior. She was also blessed to make righteous decisions and to choose to make covenants with our Heavenly Father that will help her return to live with Him. I am grateful for the power of the Priesthood and the blessing that it is in our lives. Her dress was made by her grandmother Lora especially for this occasion. Thanks to our friends and family who supported her on her special day.

The Case for Popular Baby Names

I thought this may be of interest to our friends who are expecting children in the near future as they contemplate possible baby names...

A study published in next month's Social Science Quarterly entitled "First Names and Crime: Does Unpopularity Spell Trouble?" (Kalist and Lee 2009, 90(1): 39-49), written by two economists at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, finds a positive correlation between having an unpopular first name likelihood of juvenile delinquency. Apparently, giving your kid a "unique" name may eventually end up sending them to the clink. The statistical effects? "A 10 percent increase in the popularity of a name is associated with a 3.7 percent decrease in the number of juvenile delinquents who have that name."

The "unpopular" names in their dataset included: Alec, Ernest, Ivan, Kareem, Malcolm, Preston, Garland, and Tyrell.

Of course, the authors do not go so far as to suggest that there is a causal relationship (i.e. giving the child the unpopular name causes them to seek a life of crime), but they suggest (and show evidence) that unpopular names are more likely to be found in "households with less parental supervision" and also with "a lack of parental resources (e.g., income, wealth, childcare, and healthcare)."

The authors also suggest that unpopular names for children may increase the likelihood of "negative peer effects", i.e. kids getting beat up in the playground for having a dorky name which leads to more insecurity and emotional instability which leads to a greater disposition for criminal activity later on.

The bottom line? Maybe think twice about "unique" names and stick with something popular. Scientific research says so.

Back to School

Ben and I both started grad school again on the 20th. We are busy with readings, projects, etc. I am glad that Benjamin gets to watch Abigail while I am in class. He has taken lots of cute pictures of her. Here are a few of my favorites.

How to Dry a Rose

Several weeks ago we had an awesome Sunday School lesson about the Savior Jesus Christ. As an object lesson (and a ploy to get people to participate) the teacher gave out roses to people willing to share their testimony and then later share a scripture. I was excited to get a rose and quickly raised my hand. The lesson was great and I learned a lot. I took the rose home and put it in a vase on the counter with the tape still attached. I never touched it again, yet somehow it dried perfectly. There must be something magical about the tape or maybe it was the scripture:

Doctrine & Covenants 6
20 Behold, thou art Oliver, and I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.
21 Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I am the same that came unto mine own, and mine own received me not. I am the light which shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not.