Hablo Ingles Solamente :-/

Posted in Education, Lazy Linguist, Philosophy with tags , , on May 1, 2012 by consortiumoffools

As you may or may not realize, that in addition to automobiles I enjoy studying linguistics and more recently speech-language pathology (essentially linguistics applied to communication disorders).   In a recent multicultural considerations class, we discussed the need for bilingual speech therapists.  If a client speaks a language other than English, the best way to assess him is in his native tongue (in order to subvert a diagnosis of a disorder).  But will clinicians take it upon themselves to learn new languages?

The language of dominance and prestige in the United States is undoubtedly English: the schools, the courtrooms, the media, the road signs… are all written in English.  I believe that tri-generational shift is occurring in the US because of this overwhelming pressure to use English.  The 1st generation immigrant speaks only his native tongue, which he uses with his offspring.  His children find out in school that English must be learned to be accepted by greater American society and culture.  Once this 2nd generation has children, they are so immersed in US culture that there is little motivation to learn their parents’ language.  In fact, there is widespread pressure to abandon it: school is all English, popular songs and books, peers, parents purposefully refraining from L1 use with their kids, etc.  There are active forces keeping native languages buried, but the most important being the 3rd generation’s motivation factor. I believe that popular American culture is more intriguing to youth than their native tongue.   Jay-Z doesn’t sing in Diné.   Madonna, despite her Spanish name, never sings en Español.

"Ya-ta-hey, bitches."

To answer the question I posited earlier: the necessity to learn any language other than English does not exist.  We don’t NEED to learn another language to succeed in this country, so we won’t.  Biologists call this economical: following the path of least resistance.  I think we’re just being lazy.  I mean, I’m being lazy.  I know that my future clients will be much better off if I can assess them in their own language, and it’s a tragedy that I won’t, but I’m a victim of the US circumstances.  I never need to use Spanish daily, not even in this state!   But I will certainly include a translator or cultural mediator during assessment and intervention, in order to provide as best service as I possibly can.


What Am I Driving and Why: The Volkswagen Jetturd

Posted in Uncategorized on April 7, 2012 by consortiumoffools

So I own 5 cars.  But my childhood neighbor is gonna sell one of them for scrap metal so he can pay his way to Phoenix into an auto mechanic school.  So, 4 cars.  Two of them are Subarus: 1993 Legacy Turbo & 1998 Forester.  One Subbie transmission is in my garage.  One sits engine-less like a statue of a woman with no arms, the other perched atop jack stands ready to be sacrificed to the car gods.  The other is my highschool car I’ve owned for a decade: a 2002 Ford Focus.  It’s got a differential problem, probably because I used to race it.

So recently I’ve been driving my brother’s 2002 Jetta TDI.  It gets great mileage (55/gallon) and even with $4.15 diesel prices, it’s still better than its gas-powered counterpart.  It starts using glow plugs that heat up the combustion chamber prior to startup, then the high compression motor runs itself without the need for spark.

It makes sense for a truck: lots of torque to tow a boat, but is it such a good idea in an auto?  The Europeans think so based on the plethora of available diesel cars in the EU.  They actually emit less harmful ozone-killing gases than gasoline-fueled cars.  But they do emit soot that coat buildings and lungs, plus they’re loud and slow.  I’m actually pretty sick of it.  It’s got 90 horsepower at the crank according to VW, thus the good mileage.   F this car, I’m getting a new one…


…stay tuned!

Slogging Away Why?

Posted in Education, General News, Philosophy with tags , , , , on March 16, 2012 by consortiumoffools

“Look at all of us getting blindly ripped off,” I said, waiving my hand over a sea of undergrads who were swiftly trekking to classes. “Suckers.” Since the last time I attended this university, the number of students has risen significantly. Schools across the nation have seen an increase in students and the nation itself has seen a notable increase in new universities that all promise the same thing: attain this degree of higher learning and your quality of life will undoubtedly improve. I have two degrees and I’m back taking prerequisite classes for yet another degree with this dream in mind.


Documentaries such as America’s Crappy Schools or whatever it was called, claim that there are plenty of high-end jobs in the US that are filled by geniuses from other countries because Americans lack the education required for these careers. These careers include mechanical engineers, surgeons, and college professors. So flashback to me standing on campus peering out at the masses. We are all buying in: if only we go back to school, take out some loans, we will get those jobs and make the money. But we won’t make the cut. School and departmental funding is incrementally decreasing, federal loan aid is constantly in jeopardy, and all of us flooding the system decreases the individual odds of even getting into school. For instance, I applied to 6 grad schools across the nation. In one of my many letters of denial, an administrator delineated the data of the average scores for this year’s admitted applicants for me via a chart:



GRE %iles







My GPA was 3.7 and my GRE was 65th,44th,48th respectively. My first semester back in 3 years, I took 15 credit hours, which is five classes, and earned 4 As and a single B. There were 403 applicants for 35 available positions. This boils down to an overflow of applicants and the university’s policy to take the top 35 who earn the straightest of As and score well on a $160 standardized test. The admissions committee does not get the chance to analyze any other student credentials because of this cut-off. There is an obvious disconnect between academia and the career market. The schools must somehow rank students as numbers based on standardized tests. These test scores and ability to succeed in the job market are two different things. Tests: memorizing, studying, and submergence in white American culture. Job market: integrity, consistency, reliability, and determination are keys to success. The skills imparted on us in college do not mirror the skills required by employers. Several professionals told me that what they learned in school they hardly use in practice. Job proficiency begins to appear after 5 years of work in the field, not from abstract theories presented to us in school.

Americans need to earn that education to keep our US jobs. Yeah, right. The institutions are overwhelmed by applicants and their small programs cannot accommodate the demand. Yet, these institutions are willing to take our cash, no questions asked. My undergraduate prerequisite classes cost me the exact same as graduate degree classes. Per UNM policy, because I already have an undergraduate degree from them, any additional classes I take are billed as graduate classes: (about $1,000 more a semester) even undergraduate classes. I will not be awarded another degree, even though the classes I’m taking essentially add up to another major (27 department credit hours so far).

When I pointed out my fellow university companions as suckers, I smugly felt I was not a sucker as well. “I’m going into speech-language pathology, I’m guaranteed a job.” That is if I get into a school. I’m currently on the UNM grad program waiting list. I’m going to keep taking classes to inch my GPA up. I’m going to retake the GRE to earn a higher score. I’ll apply to the 6 schools again next year. I realize that this education is just a step in the journey toward gainful employment. I won’t give up, but I certainly am disheartened as I’m churned by the higher education machine.

Processing Prefabs

Posted in Lazy Linguist on February 2, 2012 by consortiumoffools

This is a paper my linguistics group and I wrote describing our study of prefabricated utterances stored as a single lexical unit.

Apparently it was supposed to be bilingual, but I’m pretty sure we only had L1 English speakers.


Processing prefabs:

An experiment involving differences between L1 and L2 English speakers

Proposal # 522


In this experiment, we aim to find out if lexical units can be stored as prefabricated collocations (prefabs). If we find these prefabs are stored as specialized entities within the lexicon, then we will attempt to explain the differences between native speakers and second language speakers of English with regard to prefab retention and recognition. This study emulates others in the field, yet we will collect a broader range of data as means to the end of real-world predictability and generalizability.


Our experiment follows the path set forth by Vogel Sosa and MacFarlane in 2002, among others. Vogel Sosa and MacFarlane found that their test subjects had a lower chance of detecting their target word, ‘of,’ when it was within a known collocation such as ‘kind of.’ The researchers determined that L1 English speakers do not perceive the ‘of’ in a frequent collocation as readily as they perceive an infrequent variant. This study concludes that native English speakers holistically store frequent prefabs, but it does not tackle the issue of English as a second language speakers.

The study conducted by Leśniewska and Witalisz, however, does address the issue of L1 versus L2 speakers. The researchers tested both native Polish speakers and native English speakers on both Polish and English frequent collocations. By testing each participant with a series of common and uncommon prefabs, the researchers found that there were sociolinguistic factors in play. Frequent prefabs exist in many languages, and many of them do not overlap into other languages. A prefab in Polish, with its own grammatical qualities, does not translate into English in an understandable way. In a similar fashion, some English prefabs are not acceptable in Polish. This study shows that selecting appropriate prefabs is key in creating meaningful data.

Britt Erman (2007) wrote a study that addresses the importance of prefab collocations. In this study, the researcher looks at pauses and their duration as well as their proximity within known collocations. The study concludes that speakers have less dead air in between individual frequent collocations during normal discourse.

An experiment conducted at the University of Colorado, as seen in Oliver, Healy, and Mross (2005) looked at letter detection and comprehension. The only aspect of this study we chose to address is the small sample size. Their sample was composed of 32 CU undergrads working for class credit. We feel that to gain a more accurate data set, we need to expand our limitations beyond college students.

By taking the other studies into account, we can create a logical methodical experiment. We will use similar methods as they have, yet try to weed out the unknown variables and come upon more precise data. We will follow in the footsteps of Vogel Sosa and MacFarlane by testing for English prefabs, but we will test L2 English speakers as well as L1 speakers. In our study we will only use English prefabs, in order to skirt issues that Leśniewska and Witalisz encountered when they studied prefabs from both languages. We will not test for pauses, yet we will keep in mind the conclusions found by Erman (2007). We will also broaden the sample size, as opposed to the small sample size used by Oliver, Healy, and Mross (2005).

We want to determine if there is a clear difference between L1 and L2 speaker reception of prefabbed collocations, and to what degree each group differs. We hypothesize that all speakers (both L1 and L2) will provide faster and more accurate responses to the infrequent collocations than the frequent collocations, but that the differential in accuracy and response time to the two types of collocations will be greater for the native speakers than the non-native speakers. Our study will add to the field of Linguistics by explaining correlations between prefab collocation recognition by L1 and L2 English speakers as well as connecting ideas generated by others before us.


Participants: 25 native English speakers and 25 non-English speakers ranging in ages from 19 to 56 with varying backgrounds. 30 participants are female, the other 20 are male. The non-native English speakers are originally from Mexico, Russia, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Germany, the Philippines, China, and a few from the US. The speakers that originate from the US grew up learning Spanish in the Southwest.

Materials: Each subject will take a computer test in the same room a roughly the same time during the day. The computer program is a sound file document that includes the target word many times. Participants need only to be able to hear the speech and press the space bar when they recognize the target word.

Procedure: Each subject, native and non-native, will be preliminarily tested in order to find out the exact level of fluency. They will be graded on a 1-5 scale, 1 being the least fluent in English and 5 being the most. The test involves the participant reading a paragraph out loud. We then determine the reading time and the number of intraphrasal pauses and rate the speaker accordingly.

Participants will then listen to 50 sentences and are asked to hit the space bar when they hear the target word, ‘of’. The target word occurs in high frequency (e.g. ‘kind of’) and low frequency (e.g. point of) collocations. Accuracy and reaction time will be measured by a computer program and the researchers will evaluate and analyze the data collected.

Predicted Results:

We predict that both English L1 speakers and their L2 counterpersons will be faster at identifying the target word located in infrequent collocations. The major difference between the L1 and L2 speakers will be that the L2 English speakers will take longer to identify any of the collocations with much accuracy. We also predict that their response time will be delayed due to the fact that they do not posses the language knowledge and experience that the L1 English speakers have. Further, we predict that measures on the English fluency task will be negatively correlated with the reaction time on the experimental task within each participant group.


Erman, Britt. (2007). Cognitive processes as evidence of the idiom principle. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, Vol. 12 (1), 25-53.

Leśniewska, Justyna & Witalisz, Ewa. (2007). Cross-linguistic influence and acceptability judgments of L2 and L1 collocations: A study of advanced Polish learners of English. EUROSLA Yearbook, Vol. 7, 27-48.

Oliver, William L., Healy, Alice F., Mross, Ernest F. (2005). Trade-offs in Detecting Letters and Comprehending Text. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, Vol 59 (3), 159-167.

Sosa Vogel, Anna & MacFarlane, James. (2002). Evidence for frequency-based constituents in the mental lexicon: collocations involving the word of. Brain and Language, Vol. 83. 227-236

Chain of events in order from ABQ craigslist

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on May 6, 2011 by consortiumoffools

Project Car: Phase I, Part 3, step 1.5

Posted in Auto Articles on January 26, 2011 by consortiumoffools

There’s just 3,451 steps to go, in three more phases! Ok, of course not, but it sure feels that way. This project has become a haunting relic mocking me from my front yard. But I’m still pushing on. I’ll share it all with you now. I put about 12 hours into porting and polishing the heads

This is where it gets dicey. Up until now procedure has consisted of obvious choices such as buying an OEM master gasket set for the EJ22T and sourcing the 5-speed & friends. Now the project gets theoretical. I am about to attach heads from a 2005 non-turbo Subaru Forester to a 1993 turbo Legacy block. For some perspective on how wildly different these years of engine components are: the newer heads have updated electronics, require updated injectors, have 2 wires to the cam sensor instead of 3, have different intake manifold attachment bolt patterns, different intake manifold inlet ports, are non-turbo so they are not drilled for the required oil and coolant, have slightly different coolant passages, and are larger than the original heads. The newer heads are considered Phase II by Subaru, and thus require different wiring than mine (Phase I). Also, the car that carried the newer heads had to meet OBD II requirements, so that just adds to the electronic complications.

These differences are not marked on the side of the head. After months of research and exploring the differences in person, I set out to find a manifold. The stock one won’t fit, so I checked the junk yard. I found a 1998 Legacy GT and an Outback from 2000. Both manifolds way off. I found a 2002 Impreza WRX complete and considered using the 2.0 liter heads from that car, but I had already set out on this scheme: super stout 2.2L turbo block paired with larger 2.5L heads. I wanted to keep it SOHC for weight savings as well as the fact that DOHCs are really only useful if you have variable valve cam timing or the time/money to physically tune the cams on a DOHC on a dyno. My ECU can’t handle VVCT and I’ve got hardly any time/money currently anyway (for more on both of those tragic subjects, stay tuned).

So I finally found a manifold that fits perfectly. Found a list of junkyards online. I discovered a place in Utah that had a manifold from a 2005 Forrester SOHC 2.5L and it included the fuel rails! All for $120 shipped.

I started port matching the intake manifold to the heads. But looking at the heads, they seemed pretty huge. So I popped them and the new IM on the block for a test fit. It all fit perfectly. I also installed a brand new water pump and oil pump on the block, so it’s looking more and more complete. But I still have a lot of tough decisions to make and some money to earn. My next step is gonna be to focus on the exhaust manifold, turbo, and fuel system.

I have a IHI VF48 from a 2009 STi. Sick right? Except the fact that someone dropped a bolt into it while it was spooling and it destroyed all the intake side’s fins. There were companies like Deadbolt Enterprises out of Phoenix that would rebuild turbos. Deadbolt is out of business, but I found some other custom turbo shops, but they all seemed hesitant about working on brand new IHI turbos. One said that you can’t buy parts from Suabru for the IHI turbos, and IHI won’t sell parts either. But there has to be a shop that can put an aftermarket wheel in a turbo right? I’ll continue to look.

I found an equal length coated header that I really want, but it costs $850. So I really need to find one that isn’t so expensive and beautiful   There are some on ebay that go for $300-400 so I’ll probably end up with one of those.

The fuel system is a major component that has to be addressed. I need enough fuel delivery for my turbo. The stock injectors are 270cc with the small IHI VF11 turbo, the junk yard WRX motor I saw had 330cc injectors with the TD04 Mitsu trubo. The Sti came with 560cc with the IHI VF48. So the new turbo is a big dawg and will more than likely have modified fins and a coated housing, so I’m gonna have to get some big injectors for sure. I’ve heard that you can purchase injectors too big for your application and the ECU will only allow them to squirt a specified amount for a specific amount of time. So I’ll be getting 660cc injectors unless I heard otherwise. But my ECU won’t even be able to send a usable signal to the injectors anyway. To alleviate that problem, and a bunch of others associated with the ODBI stock ECU, I’m running a stand-alone engine management system, more than likely Megasquirt. Megasquirt is a car computer that can be plugged into a lap top and reads its own sensors (GM sensors like TPS and IAC), so I won’t have to try to get the existing cam/crank sensors to understand each other via the old ECU.

Do you kinda see what I mean by theoretical? This project is daunting, but the pay off will be so great! It’s easy to loose sight of the goal, but it’ll get done. And it’ll be awesome! Subaru Lego

Phase I, part two: The rest of the transmission

Posted in Auto Articles with tags , , , , on March 29, 2010 by consortiumoffools

The next portion of the 5-speed conversion  involves buying and installing pedals, master cylinder, slave cyl, hard lines, clutch, pressure plate, throw-out bearing and fork.

Luckily I found all of these parts in the junkyard, except for the slave cyl which I bought on ebay for $20.   This covers the mechanical aspect of the conversion.  I still need to account for the neutral safety switch and the speedometer sensor, and I’m hoping they will be compatible with my car.   I’ll update with more info and pictures.  Here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come:  porting and polishing my 2.5l SOHC heads.