Observer Bias

Right, my week.

We received the word on Sunday, that Josie’s Grampa Santa had died in the night. Indeed his funeral is today. Wayne Putz was his name, and he’s a hero, in really a lot of ways. To just touch on the high points, he was one of the earliest frogmen in the navy in WWII. He was also a father and grand father to a lot of good and kind people, so what if my mother-in-law is bat-shit-crazy, other than her his success ratio was pretty high there. In Boulder City Nevada, he was Santa Claus. He could walk into a convenience store to buy a six-pack of beer in shorts sandals and a t-shirt in July and all the kids would still marvel at him and tell their mommies to “look it’s Santa!” He pretty much brought joy with him every where he went. Though I never loved him like my wife and her family does, I will always hold him in very high esteem.

I ended up canceling my hotel and preregistration for the Great Falls Gaming Rendezvous that was unfortunate, I was really looking forward to going and witnessing the birth of a new convention.

School has been a little rough this week, mostly because of the death in the family. I’ve been trying to catch up on my school work as well as be there to comfort my wife and daughter who are taking this particularly hard. My son doesn’t really seem to understand, but perhaps he will understand better when he and Josie come home from the funeral in Nevada. He’s had to endure this without the benefit of having had a pet die, I’ve been thankful that my daughter did have that experience to put this death into context.

Tuesday is pretty much lab day for me, I have my Biology Lab from 0800-1200 and then my Geology Lab (formerly known as rocks for jocks) from 1500-1700. We went outside (in Biology) and attempted some science, which was pretty frustrating for me largely due to the way my group was running around like crazy and not approaching anything in a logical quantifiable way.

I rather thought that when our instructor handed out our syllabus that he was expecting too much from a 100 level class, but I have always done well under pressure so I was basically OK with it. As time goes on we are expected to think like scientists without a frame of reference for what that means, and I find it increasingly frustrating. It’s not that I don’t understand what’s expected, I do, it’s that we work almost exclusively in groups and the others in the group often don’t, and would just rather half ass things than find out or listen when they are told what is expected.

My lecture classes are going pretty much as well as one could expect I think. I did last night have a chance to talk to Psych Girl and I admit that it’s possible that last weeks flirtation incident, the one I recall as “unmistakable” could have been nerves of another sort. We had a chance to chat before class, and I’m glad we did.

Which brings me to the title of this post, Observer Bias, it is possible that I cast the nervous gestures I saw in the light of flirtation, because that’s how I wanted to see them? Going back and looking at the gestures objectively in the context in which they were presented I see a girl who…

  • Is looking at me almost every time I look over at her.
  • She leaned over to ask me a question regarding the test, despite the presence of somebody else as close or closer on her other side.
  • She blinked more than I would consider normal as she did it

The environmental elements that must also be considered are…

  • It was a test day.
  • She had missed the preceding week and therefore two of the three chapters covered on the exam.
  • This years fire season has been not quite as smoky as seasons in the past, but it has been very long, and the air is filled with irritants, the cumulative effects of which are becoming quite harsh and harder to deal with.

In this light I’m forced to ask is this flirtation or not? Our conversation could not necessarily eliminate it as a possibility, but it did certainly open up the possibility that it could have been more to do with the context of the incident than the incident itself.

My goal for our conversation, if I could be said to have one, was to kind of “freind-zone” each-other. I think that can be said to have gone swimmingly, and I am now much less distressed by her presence.

Now I must clean house before people come over for Pathfinder tonight.

Leave a Reply