Sunday, November 14, 2010

Twitter Answers from Celebrities

The only bona fide celebrity that I tweet is Judge Alex. Russ Carney may be well known among screen writers for all I know, but among the general public I don't think he has celebrity status. I communicate via responses to blogs with Matt, who may very well be famous in the UK, but I don't know that for a fact. For that matter, neither do I care. I like people for who they are and not because of absence or presence of celebrity status. Still, the dynamic of celebities communicating with fans is interesting. It's something that wasn't practical before the Internet, and especially before the arrival of Twitter.

My mother would greatly prefer that I not pester Judge Alex with my trivial questions and comments. If she paid more attention and realized that I occasionally correspond via tweet or blog responses to Russ Carney and Matt, she'd probably tell me to quit pestering them as well. She finds my tweets to Judge Alex a major source of embarrassment. I don't tweet under my actual name, so unless she tells others about it, no one who knows me except my closest friends and the relatives who spy on me through this blog and Twitter will ever know that the tweeter in question is her daughter. Beyond that, it's not as though I'm discussing sex or anything of such a delicate nature with Judge Alex or anyone else online. I have mentioned certain cyclical matters in correspondence with my online friend Rebecca, but she's in my age bracket and female, so it shouldn't be an issue where my mom and her embarrassment are concerned.

Anyway, I'm not sure if my mom thinks she is going to run into the judge on one of her infrequent trips to Southern California or even less frequent trips to Florida, and he's going to take one look at her and exclaim, "Oh my God! You're the mother of that awful Alexis who keeps pestering me with her inane tweets! How could you give birth to and raise such a pitiful creature?!?!?" or if she has some other scenario in mind in which she is outed as the guardian of The Pesky Tweeter. She knows I'm not breaking any laws or, other than one question that may have been a bit out of line, even violating Internet etiquette, so she doesn't forbid me from tweeting Judge Alex or anyone else. I rarely mention any Twitter interactions with Judge Alex or any other adult to my parents (I don't really have to because every keystroke on my computer goes to my parents' computers as well, so if they check, they can see everything I type), but often when she sees me typing she'll ask, "You're not bothering that Judge Alex again, are you?" Fewer than two times out of one thousand do I have to answer affirmatively. Still she persists in worrying.

Judge Alex sometimes responds to my tweets. His schedule for responding is something that eludes me. Because my mom is a psychologist, I've been exposed to learning theory, including the work of B. F. Skinner and his schedules of reinforcement. His idea was that there are four basic patterns of reinforcing behaviors: fixed interval, variable interval, fixed ratio, and variable ratio. I won't explain the terms because my more intelligent readers either already know about them from Psych 101, or they'll figure it out because the terms are reasonably self-descriptive. My less astute readers, who are probably limited to my relatives on a certain side of the family, wouldn't understand even if I explained in language a four-year-old would typically comprehend.

Anyway, my project for my Statistics class is to identify and produce evidence supporting my theory of what determines when Judge Alex does and does not respond to my tweets. My instructor has said that I cannot tweet him more frequently than I have in the past for the purpose of producing data because to do so would skew the results. Furthermore, I wouldn't do that anyway, because I value Judge Alex's time enough that I would not fill up his "@judgealexferrer" page with needless tweets. I, therefore, must determine, based on over a year's worth of tweets posing questions to him (tweets merely commenting to him won't be used in study) whether the judge's pattern for answering me is entirely random or if it fits a reinforcement schedule. Does he answer one out of eight of my tweeted questions, or does he respond to me once every twenty days, or do his responses vary more? He's walking a tightrope in dealing with mildly annoying people such as myself. He surely doesn't want to respond with such frequency that he encourages me to become his daily pen pal, but he's in the entertainment industry and uses his Twitter page as a tool for connecting with fans and increasing the number of viewers of his television program. For that reason, he probably doesn't wish to alienate tweeters and lose viewers in the process even if said tweeters and viewers annoy him slightly.

A major variable for which I may not be able to control is the judge's schedule and just how busy he is at any given time, although it's possible I can look at his other FB and Twitter activity during specific intervals of the time period examined and factor that in as well. My instructor says he is willing to read all the tweets and provide an objective adult opinion as to whether any given tweeted question was too silly to be taken seriously by an adult, and that I should probably have one other adult do the same. I certainly won't involve either of my parents. I'll probably politely ask a staff member at my treatment facility to take on the job. God knows my parents' insurance carriers or the school district or my attackers' parents or whoever is paying for my treatment is forking over a truckload of money. It's the least these people can do for me. If the reading material is all printed out and highlighted, it shouldn't be a terribly cumbersome task, and if it were a member of the psychological staff performing it, reading the questions I asked would perhaps give the person some insight into my state of psychosis (or preferably my lack of a state of psychosis) before the incident triggered my sleep difficulties and general state of paranoia (except it's not necessarily paranoia when the fears are based on something that everyone except the perpetrators and their parents agrees really happened).

My grades in four of my classes will be based primarily upon project grades. I've already completed my literature class composition, which deals primarily with comparing poetry of Shakespeare, Housman, and Frost with work of mid-to-late nineteenth century lyricists, since poetry has all but disappeared from the modern culture except in the form of rap music, which is really poetry and not music. Comparing the works of the masters with rap "lyrics" (it's a stretch to call rap "music," and lyrics are words set to music, so the words to rap "songs," while sometimes profound in their own unique way, are not technically lyrics in my opinion) but I couldn't have stood to read, listen to, or write about rap to the extent that would be required for my project. I'm not putting down those who do enjoy rap, which is a population extending from the majority of people in my age bracket all the way to individuals over thirty, and even older with some demographic groups. Since hearing much of it gives me a headache, I'll leave the analysis of it to my brother and others who enjoy it more than I.

I still need projects for Independent Study Government and APAIS (Advanced Placement Advanced Independent Studies). The research will probably be the same, or partly the same, for both courses, but the papers submitted will be different. I feel lazy for not having even started the projects for these two classes, but realistically, once I nail down the topics and collect the data, writing the papers will take very little time. I'd like to be finished with at least one of the two projects before winter vacation. Actually I'd like to be finished with both before winter vacation, but my teachers will be less than thrilled if I reappear at school at some point near the beginning of February with all of my work for the entire year already completed. Idle hands perform the Devil's work, or something like that. On the other hand, I don't have to show the completed projects to the teachers, so maybe I'll get as much finished as I can before going back to school full-time. I've already decided that the topics will somehow focus on "Judge Alex." The quotation marks indicate that the research and topics will focus on the "Judge Alex" courtroom television program as opposed to Alex Ferrer, the person. For Government, it's an easy tie-in, as small claims courts are a not insignificant part of the judicial branch of government. APAIS is so loosely defined that almost no project would be rejected if it involved sufficient research and writing.

If I so desire, I'll get extra credit in the APAIS course by assisting two students who are writing a musical, but I don't want to rely on that project as my sole criteria for a grade in the course because I'm concerned about the direction the other two students are headed with it. I don't mind helping them; I just don't want a substandard grade on my transcript if the others can't be convinced to make a few revisions. (Certain parts of what I've read are less than cohesive and don't entirely make sense.)

I'm here until early Monday morning, at which time Daddy and I will take a flight back to an airport near my treatment facility. It's after 4:00 a.m. and I'm still wide awake, so it seems apparent that my sleep difficulties are still with me. I'm not particularly stressed out about it, though. Instead of worrying, I try to use the extra waking hours productively. Then when feel like sleeping, I will have lots of time for it.

Móra na maidine dhuit!

P.S. My friend Matt has posted a very thought-provoking story on his blog. Read it if you have time.

P.P.S. Great job again, Matt!

P.P.P.S. Rebecca, I hope you are getting better!


  1. Am I a celebrity in the UK? No. Well, the truth is that I am fairly well-known under my IRL name, in the field of journalism. Not as famous as my cousin who is a household name. (He is called Brobat. No, just kidding! That's NOT his name! ;o)) )

    Mothers worry. It's part of their job, apparently.

    Judge Alex is probably intrigued and a little flattered that a potential lawyer is interested in his opinions. After all, somewhere in his psyche might be the idea that stopping being a real judge was a sell-out.

    Tweets from people like you could well make his day!

    Incidentally, the idea from your tutor would, and it was back in the early 1980s when I studied statistics, be a little problematic.

    How does he know it is Judge Alex replying to the tweets? And without knowing how Judge Alex thinks, how can your tutor judge your work? Judge Alex may have a random process for selecting tweets to be answered, or he may answer tweets that appeal to him, personally.

    I am very pleased about your kind comment on my story.

    Next time, well, how about a techno ghost story? Or a horror story where nothing causes a problem and nothing happens?

    By the way, did you think the glossary of Birmingham words was a good idea?

  2. Tsukamurella was living in my PICC line. I am the 21st noted person in the world to grow it. Yay me. Please note the heavy sarcasm on the "yay me." And of course all the doctors are excited about it... the thoughts of possible notoriety visible in their eyes. They think they're medical titans or something.

    Tomorrow, after much debate and deliberation I am getting my muscle biopsy, G tube, and new central line. The doctors here were driving me crazy batting back and forth between doing it or not. Dr. Hunter lied to my mother again and so I’m pretty sure her behind is on the line now. She said that my geneticist (Dr. Faulk) said not to get the biopsy, but when my mom talked to Dr. F she said it would be fine. The attending on call here, Dr. Mamula, also said that Dr. Faulk said that it should be fine getting the biopsy, so I’m doing it.

    We’ve also been having problems with Dr. Mamula. My mom hasn’t been able to come to the hospital lately, so she wants Dr. Mamula to call her when he comes to see me. My mom called all weekend to try and talk with him, but he never called her back. He mentioned to me yesterday that he heard that my mom wanted to speak with him. I asked if he was going to call her, and he said no. I told my mom this, which precipitated her to call the ward. She ended up getting a hold of him after castrating the poor intern. I guess Dr. Mamula was a real @$$ when he spoke with her. He even went as far as telling her to be quiet… although not in those words I guess. My mom was really upset, obviously.

    This morning he came in while my step dad was here and said that they were going to do the biopsy and new central line but not the G tube because the risk of infecting the new line was huge. So, I e- mailed Carlo and acted like Dr. Mamula’s decision about the G tube was my concern. Carlo e- mailed me back this afternoon saying that infection shouldn’t be a problem because I’m going to be on antibiotics after the surgery.

    10 minutes after Carlo responded, Dr. Boyle, the Anesthesiologist, and Dr. Mamula came to visit me over the course of 2 hours. I don’t know if Carlo called here or what… even though I’m guessing he probably did. Yay Carlo!

    Of course, I had to pick probably one of the worst days to e- mail him. Did you hear about the bomb scare at OSU? Carlo is a professor there when he’s not at the hospital. I’m pretty sure that today was his day there, too because he got back to me six minutes after I wrote him.

    So tomorrow I’m having all three procedures done. Central line, G tube, and biopsy. It’s been a really crazy week needless to say. Hopefully this all makes sense to you... it's sort of hard to tell with me because the nurse just gave me some Benadryl and I'm starting to get sleepy.

    I hope your having a good week! : )


  3. Rebecca,
    Here is hoping you have an extremely speedy rexovery. please keep us posted.

  4. Matt,
    After all is said and done with regard to my project, and even after the statistical analysis is complete, part of the project will be to consider the very points you have introduced. I can go through all the statistical analysis of everything and find that the results are null and void becuase of the points you have brought up. My psychological intern has offered to give his input on the connection between the interest level or relevance of the questions I have asked, both those answered and those ignored.

    Regarding whether or not the person answering is Judge Alex, he has gone on record in interviews as saying that only he or his administrator posts, and that his administrator's posts are clearly marked aDMIN. could he be stretching the truth? Conceivably. he wouldn't be the firt celebrity to have cleimed that some piece of writing was his or her work. The wording in his tweets amd FB posts (I can read his FN posts but I can't post because I'm not allowed to have an account) sound similar to the wording he uses when he speaks on his show, but anything is possible. I'll have to post evidence that it is he to post and persuade my instructor to stipulate that the Tweeter is Judge Alex.

    Part of the research will be to determine if his answers to me are totally random, based primarily on the interest level of my questions, or loosely bsed on a fixed or variable reintorcement shecdule. The tie to a reinforcement schedule would be loose in any case, because he surely does not keep tabs on exactly what the interval has been since he has last responded to me or on how many times I've tweeted him with questions since he has last responded. Most likely it would be a genaral sort of, "She's tweeted me quite a few times since I've answered" or "It's been a couple of weeks since I responded to her." My suspicion is that there's a loose tie-in to one or the other. I will also look at other non-acquaintances who tweet him, and to how frequently or with what ratio he responds to them to see if there is a pattern.

    Bottom line: even though it's an advanced placement course, it's still high school. If the statistical formuli are calculated corretly and if the written report of the study is written reasonably well, I'll probably get maximum credit even if there are flaws to the study's design, as it's a statistics class and not a research class. To obtain college credits for the course, I need to pass the state AP test for the subject. The instructor doesn't have to be worried about giving college credit for a high-school-calibre project.

    I'm glad for your input, as those are all areas that will need to be addressed.

    Regarding techno-ghost story vs. horror story, either would be fantastic. I'd probably slightly lean toward the horror story, but both are great genres.


  5. OK, it'll be up in a short while. At present I am sat in my study entertaining our African Grey Parrot, who is a great fan of the music of Michael Jackson. To the extent we must listen to a Michael Jackson only Internet radio station.

    She does a wicked Michael Jackson impersonation. Her favourite song is Man in the Mirror.

  6. You're very kind to utter my name in a blog post that talks about celebrity, but I agree with you that nobody in screenwriting knows me, not even my boss. I'm completely invisible. Also, I don't consider you a pest in any way. When you begin to get weird, and I hope you don't, then we'll re-evaluate this conversation. :)