About Don

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Quasi-formal Introduction:

Howdy! I'm Don Matteson, and I'm a third-year Ph.D. student (fifth year overall) in the Department of Sociology here at UB. I come here by way of Oberlin College, where I received my B.A. with majors in sociology and psychology.

Stunningly Un-interesting Background Information:

I was born on May 17, 1971 at Smithtown General Hospital on Long Island. (Yes, I'm yet another of the Long Islanders who have invaded Buffalo.) When I was three years old (or so), my parents packed up and made the long trek to Port Jefferson (a few towns away).

I spent my grade school career at Scraggy Hill Elementary School, moving on to Port Jefferson Junior High School (creative name, no?), and finishing up at Earl L. Vandermeulen High School (ELVHS -- pronounced "Elvis"). After a rather uninspired high school showing, I somehow wangled my way into a halfway decent college (see above).

Somewhere throughout those 18 years, I managed to visit various foreign lands, including Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Thailand, and California (that counts as foreign, doesn't it?). I visited Japan with my mother when I was 6 (I think), and the last several when I was on tour with a youth orchestra (Long Island Youth Orchestra) just before I left for Oberlin.

At Oberlin, I knew for a fact that I would be a psychology major. That lasted for a couple of years, but I found that it wasn't helping to answer the questions about the world that I had been asking. More accurately, it only gave me a part of the picture. That's when I stumbled onto sociology (or more accurately, the woman I was dating at the time pointed me in that direction). I found that sociology had a broader scope that, in conjunction with psychology, helped me to understand better what was happening around me. I picked up a sociology major almost right away, and graduated with both. Somehow, I also managed to complete my sociology major with honors (this involved taking a couple of pesky comprehensive-type exams and writing an honors paper).

As graduation approached, I realized that I was going to have to leave that comfy little nest that Oberlin had become. Faced with the rather grim prospect of finding a job (shudder), I pursued the obvious course of action: graduate school. I applied to several sociology programs: UNC Chapel Hill, Indiana University, UT Austin, Ohio State, and UB. I was accepted to the last three, with assistantships at Ohio State and UB. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where I ended up going.

I hit the ground running when I got to Buffalo. I arrived a month before the semester started to do some work for one of the faculty members, Jeff Burr, who was ultimately to become my advisor. When the department learned of my aptitude for computers, they asked me to run a semester-long lab session that would prepare students to use SAS statistical software and the IBM mainframe for the first statistics course in the spring. I'd never used SAS or the IBM mainframe, so naturally I agreed. While preparing for that, I began to gear up for my great career in social psychology. After all, that's what I knew I was going to do in graduate school. Now I'm a demographer (though I still like social psychology quite a bit).

Somehow, I got interested in demography (between the work I was doing for Jeff and being the TA for his undergraduate population course, I was bound to get interested, I think), and I've made that my primary focus. I'm a social demographer, meaning that I am interested in the interplay between population processes (particularly fertility and mortality in my case) and society. Lately, my primary focus has been on infant mortality, though I also have interests in fertility, family demography, and status attainment. Throughout all of this, I've been running about getting myself involved with local not-for-profit groups (Effective Parenting Information for Children and the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy) and working with students from various disciplines to help them complete their academic and personal research projects.

Now I'm in my seventh and (hopefully) final year of graduate work. I'm on the job market next fall (2000), and my perfect job would probably be at a mid-size university where there's a good balance of emphasis between research and teaching, since I very much enjoy both.

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Non-Academic Interests:

Aside from being something of a self-proclaimed computer nerd, I seem to have become a hockey fan (d'oh -- Sabres!), and I play for what used to be the Political Science department's intramural softball team during the summer. Last season, I found some offensive capability, batting somewhere around .700! Never mind that my defensive play was something less than stellar.... This year, we're making the jump to the Amherst Recreation League, where I expect we'll be thrashed soundly. Rumor has it that I'll be spending most of my time in right field (a mistake if you ask me, given my poor throwing arm), with a few pitching appearances (hopefully just relief; I don't care to start).

I also enjoy playing racquetball, tennis, volleyball, Wallyball, and inline skating. Unfortunately, I'm not very good at any of them.... I also play the violin (occasionally), and I aspire to play guitar someday.

I have two pet rabbits (Bunny and Clyde -- I wasn't thinking of that when I named them, honest!). I used to have another rabbit (Winnie), but she passed away on 9 September 1998; I also just recently (23 April 2000) lost my pet guinea pig, Buster.



Computer Stuff:

While I don't really have any formal training in the area, I do find computers to be useful and a great deal of fun. Most of my time is spent fiddling about with hardware. A couple of years ago, I got my start when I assembled a Pentium-120 system and a Cyrix 6x86 P166+ system scavanging parts from two computers that my dad and I already owned. It wasn't all that tough, and I sure learned a lot! Since then, I've put together another computer for myself and helped several of my friends put their computers together. Again, it's not tough and it's a lot of fun! Because my dissertation involves the manipulation of a very large data set, I broke down and got a new computer, but I didn't have the time to put it together myself. I now have a Gateway G6-450 (450 MHz Pentium II processor, 128 MB DIMM, 10 GB hard drive, internal Zip, and so on), which has handled my data processing needs very well to this point.

On the software front, I dabble with HTML, but I find that Macromedia's Dreamweaver software makes web page creation quite a bit easier. I'm hoping to get into Javascript fairly soon, but I'm prevented from doing so by all this academic stuff that I have to do (especially now that I have to write my dissertation!).

Over the past year or so, I've become more heavily involved in web page design. To date, my "portfolio" includes the UB Canadian-American Studies Committee site and the most recent incarnation of the UB Sociology Graduate Student Association homepage. I also tend to put together extensive web pages for the courses in which I'm involved as an instructor or as a TA.

Here are a few computer related sites that I find fun/useful:

> TeX Users Group:
The place to go to find information about the TeX/LaTeX document processing system.
> The Winsite Shareware/Freeware Collection:
Looking for some free/inexpensive software? This site has a lot of stuff, most of it really good.

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Hockey Stuff:

When I arrived in Buffalo, I didn't know a thing about hockey. Didn't really care, either. After being here for a little while, though, I don't think I could help but become trapped. Since then, I've become quite a hockey fan, spending most of my time rooting for the local Sabres.

Twins? What do you think?


Jason Woolley, Sabres Defenseman

Sam Neill, Actor-of-note

Hockey Sites:

>National Hockey League Web Site:
The NHL's official Internet presence.
> ESPN Sportszone:
ESPN's NHL hockey page. Scores, stats, rosters, and more.
> Buffalo Sabres Web Site:
Buffalo Sabres news and information; buy tickets on-line.
> NHL 96/97 Web Site:
Also known as the Disco Puck (?!). This site is the best place to go if you're looking for information/hints on the Electronic Arts NHL 96/97 games. I don't know about NHL 98,99, or 2000 though.
>Go Sabres! Web Site:
An unofficial, but excellent, site dedicated to the Buffalo Sabres.

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Music Stuff:

I started playing violin when I was in the third grade. My first lessons were through my elementary school, but they suggested that I go off and get private instruction. I ended up in the Suzuki program beginning in fifth grade. My first festival appearance was in eighth grade, at the Suffolk County Music Educators Association (SCMEA) festival. I returned to this festival every year until I graduated high school. I also made appearances at Long Island String Festival Association (LISFA) and the New York All-State String Orchestra. A brief flirtation with the idea of pursuing a music-related major came to a rather screeching halt with the realization that I couldn't sight-read as well as I should, and that I didn't know my scales nearly well enough. Oh, well. It's still great fun!

In terms of what I listen to, it's a pretty mixed bag. I'm still fond of the classical music I played growing up (I buy recordings of pieces I've played so I can hear what they were supposed to sound like), but I'm also into progressive rock, jazz, blues, and pretty much everything but country music and any rap music that condones violence, drugs, or other such nastiness. The one possible exception to the country music thing is the Austin Lounge Lizards, who are so much fun that you don't notice the country music so much.

Music Sites:

> Austin Lounge Lizards Home Page:
How can you not like a band that does a twangy cover of Pink Floyd's "Brain Damage"?
> Elephant Talk:
King Crimson web page. Good stuff!
> Violin Making:
A very informative tour of the violin's innards.
> VioLink:
A site that links to a nearly ridiculous number of violin related sites.

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Rabbit Stuff:

Rabbits aren't just for dinner anymore! A number of people have realized that rabbits make wonderful indoor pets. After you get used to taking a few simple precautions, rabbits are fairly low maintenance animals, and have far more character than most people would believe! The single best source for information on keeping rabbits as pets is the House Rabbit Society. If you're considering getting a rabbit as a pet, you should purchase a copy of the House Rabbit Handbook, which I believe is in its third edition. Check out the House Rabbit Society web page (follow the link below).

> House Rabbit Society:
Rabbits make great house pets! Learn more about keeping rabbits as your friends, rather than your food, from the House Rabbit Society.

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Obligatory Links to Other Personal Home Pages

A few of my friends have seen fit to put links to my stuff on their home pages, so I guess I should do the same....

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Public Service Annoucements

Y-to-K Project Status

Our staff has completed the 18 months of work on time and on budget. We have gone through every line of code in every program in every system. We have analyzed all databases, all data files, including backups and historic archives, and modified all data to reflect the change. We are proud to report that we have completed the "Y-to-K" change mission, and have now implemented all changes to all programs and all data to reflect your new date standards as follows:

Januark, Februark, March, April, Mak, June, Julk, August, September, October, November, and December

As well as:
Sundak, Mondak, Tuesdak, Wednesdak, Thursdak, Fridak, and Saturdak

I trust that this is satisfactory, because to be honest, none of this Y-to-K problem has made any sense to us. But I understand it is a global problem, and our entire team including our French immersion teachers are standing by and are glad to help in any way possible.

By the way, we never did understand what the year 2000 have to do with Y-to-K. Speaking of which, what do you think we ought to do next year when the two-digit year rolls over from 99 to 00?

I can't remember where I got this -- probably from some list-serv or another, but I can't take credit for writing it.

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Copyright © 1997 Don Matteson. All rights reserved.