Tuesday, December 25, 2012

An Israeli on Hanukah and Christmas

"As for Hanukah, well basically Christmas ruin it forever, since it is like Christmas only much much less fun, so it is all good until you are expose to that filthy old Santa and you realize there is a world out there..."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Academic: Noun or Adjective?

All industries have lingo and titles that shortcut where you exist in your organization.  There's certainly some value in this.

So, schools.  To me the term "academic" refers to someone who is in school, seeking a degree or professor position.  I am none of these things.

Still, I feel dopey when asked "Are you an academic?" and I say no.  

Ask and answer the question yourself out loud "Are you an academic?  No"

See what I mean?

I have this sinking feeling there might be an egregious error in this post and I'm not sure if that undermines whatever I meant to say in this post or supports it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I live in a house

And there was a family in it.

And Thanksgiving meal.

We created a Facebook and Skype account for my dad.

I had a loaner kitty for Emily.

And we weeded the driveway.  Where's Teri?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Delighted and Dumbfounded

It's my one year anniversary at Duke.
On Day One I wrote that I felt delighted and dumbfounded.
It's Day Three Hundred and Sixty- Six (today) and I feel the same way.

I think that's pretty cool.

Monday, November 12, 2012

It's official. I'm official.

Lab coat with my name on it. 

This post is not as exciting as it looks

This picture is not as exciting as it looks.
I'm not taking a hit from a bong and lab-mate S is not having an alcoholic beverage.

Well, then what are we doing?  S is just having some juice in a wine glass.

I'm spitting.

Why?  Our boss meets and partners with all sorts of random groups (I feel like collaborators are just as likely to come from someone from the supermarket as someone from a conference).  The latest company of interest - a genetic testing company.

You spit in a tube, register online, send it in and they tell you stuff.

I gave my enzymes a workout and spit in the tube.

And the kit has been sitting on my shelf for a few days.
I just threw it out.

I'm not sure if I'm being paranoid or smart.  But between insurance considerations and Henrietta lacks, I'm keeping my spit to myself.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Not in my backyard

I do a lot of Behavioral Finance work and think about how to get people to save for retirement.
I discovered a roadblock in my own backyard.
I wrote a letter.


I’m writing you regarding EMPLOYER Faculty and Staff Retirement Plan and exclusion of employees who are classified as house staff, post doctoral associates & scholars, associates in research /research associate and chaplain with Job Code 1671 (herein “ineligible employees”).

I have two concerns

#1 Lack of accessibility of the information about the exclusion
#2 The reasoning behind the exclusion

I’m an Associate in Research at the Center for Advanced Hindsight.  I’ve been at EMPLOYER for almost a year studying Behavioral Finance and thinking about how to encourage people to save for retirement.   Yes, I’m disappointed that I’m ineligible (as well as everyone in my lab) but I’m also deeply concerned about the policy as it relates to the larger problem of saving for retirement.

Concern #1 –Availability of Information About the Exclusion

There was no explicit mention of the exclusion in the information that was provided to me upon being hired.  I re-reviewed those materials including “My benefits.  My life” packet and the only mention of eligibility (Page 32, fine print) appeared to be connected to tenure and being paid on a monthly basis.

Upon reviewing benefits information my perception was that after one year salaried by month I was eligible.  On November 15th, 2011, I put a note in my calendar for November 15, 2012 to remind me to sign up for the retirement plan.

I’m not in this job for the benefits or salary but when the possibility of working at EMPLOYER was presented to me I took a close look at my finances to understand the implications of the job change.  The job represented a huge increase in satisfaction and happiness but the tradeoff was a significant decrease in salary.  I had to rethink my budget, investments and retirement plan.  I worked with my financial advisor and we revamped my plan.

Not getting the contribution probably isn’t going to shatter my retirement plans.  That said, the implications could have been significant for someone in a different financial situation. 

It’s a struggle to get people to even think about retirement.  EMPLOYER has a reputation for having a “great retirement plan.”  Information about eligibility should be make much more explicit, especially to those who are ineligible.  If not at the time of hire, there are other channels (e.g. plan website) where this could be explicitly communicated.  I took me 11.5 months and some digging to figure it out and I'm paying attention.

Concern #2 – The reasoning behind the exclusion

Defined contribution plans are meant to encourage saving and can also increase tenure (vesting %’s based on years of service).  Employers are incentivized to contribute to defined contribution plans.

Upon discovering that there was a class of employees who were not eligible got the EMPLOYER contribution I spoke with [HR] to better understand the reason for this.

My understanding is as follows:
A non-discrimination test of the EMPLOYER retirement plan indicated that Research Associates and other positions did not contribute to the plan or stay at EMPLOYER very long. 

My concerns/confusion are as follows:

The EMPLOYER Retirement Plan was recently updated and now requires 3 years of service (instead of 1) before an employee is eligible for the contribution.  If having people in the plan only stay a short time is a concern, this takes care of that.  An employee can control how long they stay at EMPLOYER.  The employee cannot control what other people with their title do.

The EMPLOYER Plan provides an outright employer contribution regardless of employee contributions (this is my understanding at least).  This is probably one of the reasons that it has such a great reputation.  Many companies will match employee contributions in order to encourage saving.  Both approaches (outright contribution/matched contributions) have their merit.

If encouraging employee contributions is important to EMPLOYER perhaps a matching program could be create an incentive to match for classes of employees who don’t contribute on top of what EMPLOYER does.

I also have to wonder if the EMPLOYER program as currently structured is a good way to get people started and familiar with the idea (and benefits) of retirement planning. I imagine many of the ineligible employees are younger with small salaries.  At that age and income it’s very difficult to think about the future and understand how a small contribution can grow over time.  Perhaps EMPLOYER can give a head start of leg-up to who can benefit greatly from saving but don’t feel they can.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

A good lay

Jamie to guy from class at rock climbing gym (says):  
Thanks.  You're a good be-lay.

Jamie (thinks):
Hang on, what did I just say?  So inappropriate!

I took a test.  I got a tag.   I'm certifiably belayed.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


If you asked me to name all 50 states I might forget Kentucky.

And when I think about Kentucky, well, I don't really think anything (except maybe the Derby).

Until mid-October.  Apparently there is excellent rock-climbing in the Red River Gorge in Kentucky.  I joined up with my sister and some of her pals and we climbed some rocks.

Have you ever heard the expression "Give me a leg up?"
Well, here's a new one
"Give me a cheek up"

Orange is my favorite color.  I loved that my harness was orange.  

One of my favorite parts of the trip was visiting a Wal*Mart on Saturday night in somewhere Kentucky.  It was a sociological thrill.

Apparently, most pictures rock climbers take of each other are butts or cleavage.  I'm more of a boobs girl but here you have the other half.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

No, I don't have any vegan options, but would you like a side of eyeballs?

You must remember growing up the awesome house that gave out full size candy bars on Halloween (you also probably remember the house that gave you fruit, or a toothbrush).

Well, this year that was me.

At least I thought full size candy bars were awesome until one kid asked me if I had any vegan treats.
Wow.  I wanted so much to give him coal.  Wait.  Wrong holiday.

I made a Trick O Treating Drive Thru.

Kiddies could order candy bars by number - using the marquee below.

We also offered a side of eyeballs.

Here it is in action

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I finally discovered a downside to my job

When people ask me how I lost weight my answer was simple:  Math.
(eat less + exercise more = less calories = less pounds)

I understand it's not that simple.  Lack of self-control can make getting in shape really difficult.

Self-Control is a research interest at the lab.  Many people lack self control and make choices based on the short term at the expense of the long term (earth-shattering).

I've been slacking off about working out lately.
Why?  Because sometimes I just don't feel like it - even when I know I'll be happy I went.  And, I also tell myself  "This is a very human way to feel and a very human way to act.  I think I'm not like everybody else, but I am."

This is bullshit, excusing myself like this.   I know better.  I must do better.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Working The Fair

The NC State Fair isn't really important to me.  I find it crowded, smelly, expensive, and the parking is impossible.  Yes, good people watching but I see enough of that elsewhere.  I've also been to other state  fairs (MN, NH) and I don't find them to be all that different.

I've lived here 6+ years and never made it to the fair.  I tried the first two years and was thwarted by weather and parking.  Then I was like "I don't do the State Fair."

Until our lab has an opportunity to bring out research mobile to the fair.  It's basically a lab on wheels.  The outside reminds me of Xanadu.  I made the remark when I first saw it and I think it was lost on everyone due to age and growing up in another country.

And here's my "worker badge."  This game with a parking pass too.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

I live in a house

In a community where there's a neighborhood watch.

And we watch.

Beware kids.  If you sit in an unfamiliar car with an unfamiliar boy "talking" - you will get watched.

And I will laugh.  Because I am not that teenager or that mom.
And I will feel a little sad.  Because I am not that teenager or that mom.

Blood, sweat, tears and hair.

I still haven't forgiven the neighborhood deers for the massacre on my front yard.  I briefly considered learning archery and sleeping outside in the front yard.

Instead, I got my hair cut.
And kept it.

Human hair is a deer repellant.  There is a plastic Target bag in my mud room with my hair in it that's making it's way to the garden.

I'm not sure if that's awesome or gross.  I'm not sure I care.  Billy Jean and the Jackson Five (it's much easier to name plants instead of remember what they're called) are making a comeback.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Shabbat Shalom

I have a house guest.   She hosted a Shabbat dinner at my house.  I set the table.  Pretty table.

I also picked the "mint" for the tea.  What I thought was a mint leaf was actually a leaf from a tomato plant.  This was quickly discovered when the first sip of tea was taken.  Tomato Tea - not so tasty.



Day trip to Wrightsville Beach for a few hours of surfing. 

I liken the experience to skiing in New England and then skiing out West and then coming back to New-England.

The Pacific spoiled me.

Still, I am happy for the day, the not freezing cold water, the occasional waves, and my bimbo-like ponytail.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Don't call me dude

I got up

I fell down (I just call this mobile diving)

I didn't even think about sharks or cold.

This is a good work travel perk.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Things probably not to do on 9/11

#1 Watch a line of planes land in a busy airport.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012


This isn't procrastination.  This is work.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

I live in a house

And sometimes I just stare out the window.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Billie Jean is not my lover

Billie Jean is a plant.   See the blue arrow pointing to the green thing?
That's her.

I spend a lot of time in the yard killing things (weeding).
I bought Billie Jean because I wanted to grow something.
And grow and flourish she did.  

Until a deer ate her.  I feel really sad.  Like for real sad.  

Bambi is my new favorite movie.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Today is the day after my birthday

Today is the day after my birthday.

I have poison ivy.

I guess it's better to have an ailment that's the result of being outside versus an ailment that's the result of just being old.

And, it's not an atomic bomb.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Today is my birthday

Today is my birthday.

I share this day with bombing of Nagasaki, in 1945.

It's not fun when your brain or life explodes around birthday time.

An atomic bombing helps keep it all in perspective.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Remembering What Happened

I was sad to hear that a colleague of my boss recently resigned his job at The New Yorker.  His name is Jonah Lehrer.  He's written a number of pieces but is best known for his two books "How We Decide" and "Imagine."

Actually, it's likely that now he'll best be known for his resignation from the New Yorker as the act stemmed from an admission that Bob Dylan quotes used in his book didn't have a source.

I met this guy.  I also handed him a condom that had a hand written note from my boss on the packaging - (my boss could not attend Jonah's book event but I was going so boss made me the messenger).

It's sad.  Really really sad.  And you also have to wonder how something like this could happen.  My boss just published a book on Dishonesty and some the thoughts he put forth in his book help me better understand what might have gone on.

I'm in the midst of reading a book called "The Night of the Gun" by David Carr.  Carr is now at the New York Times but spent a good chunk of his life on crack, cocaine, in jail, etc.  In an attempt to write a memoir Carr has to do some investigating and reporting on his own life because he was too fucked up to remember most of it.

At the suggestion of a friend I started another memoir called "Let's Pretend This Never Happened."

Both memoirs included prefaces about being as close to the truth as possible.  They pointed to the fallibility of our own memories and interpretations.  There is no intent to not tell the truth but that might happen anyway.

Perhaps this standard operating procedure in a post James Fry world?

I think how one remembers something is just as important as what actually happened.  A lot of my friends use online chat and they're able to dig into chat history and reference something that was "said" by another.  I'm not sure if that's better or worse than trying to piece together or replay a conversation.

Perhaps I need a disclaimer on my blog.

Sunday, August 05, 2012


I entered a competitive story-telling competition put together by The Monti.
The theme was roommates.  Too many good stories not to share.
The took place at Motorco.  It was sold out.  

I got on stage and talked to a room full of strangers about masturbation.  Or thinking my roommate was masturbating when she was actually just using an electric toothbrush.

I was very happy with how it went.  I didn't win or anything (but I wasn't dead last).  All the judges were female.  I don't think that helped.

Doing this sort of thing is the Jamie I know.

Friday, July 27, 2012

If she doesn't scare you no evil thing will

There were a lot of things in the Olympic Opening Ceremony I did not expect.

The woman who brought terror to my nightmares for years was one of those things.

I am legitimately scared of this woman.  I'm hiding under the bed shaking.

I live in a house

And when it rains I collect it

Using any and all containers I can find

I feel like a hippie

Second Languages

One is not a translation of the other.
Crossfitglish and swimglish

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm changing up my fitness plan. More swimming. Some tradeoffs.

Cross Fit = Alway bruised

Swimming = Always smell a little like chlorine

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I live in a house

And I wonder what the neighbors think

Monday, July 23, 2012

I live in a house

And I weed at night

Friday, July 20, 2012

I live in a house

And I made dinner in it without burning it down


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Skiing in June

I'm in Colorado for an academic conference.  I have no idea what to expect.  There's a pre-conference hike I decide to join.  I'm a total unknown in this world but my boss is not so I decided to wear my uniform.  

I'm not so good at the small talk with this crowd.  I'm trying to figure out the industry pick up lines.  I talk to a few people about their research.  As they explain I'm doing everything I can do track it and figure how to best put it in colloquial terms.

Any articulation of those colloquial terms doesn't seem to go over very well during these conversations.  I'm not trying to oversimplify, overgeneralize or drop nuances.  I am thinking about how to make this accessible.

I remind myself that in any industry people sometimes don't realized they're only talking to themselves.

The hike was lovely.  I saw snow and pretended I was skiing on it.

My first academic conference. Might want to think about blending next time I'm in Hudson News buying some reading material

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Good swim, despite the clumsy finish.

Yay it's black and white.
I love my fans.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Green Machine

I thought about going on the juice diet for a few hours.
Then I decided to just eat more fruits and vegetables.
Then I decided to try this just to fully convince myself that the juice diet was not for me.

Much to my surprise it wasn't nasty.  It was actually OK.  Maybe that's just a function of my expectations.

I'm still not going on the juice diet though.

SUV Family Outing

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Edges of 15-501

Burning Question

And here's my answer

Saturday, May 26, 2012