15 November 2007

Redirect: Scatterplot

Miss me? I'm posting over at Scatterplot.

06 November 2007

I Need Workers' Comp on my Second Shift

Wouldn't it be nice if I was on a bender after finishing my book? A trip to a private island in the Caribbean, or a 2-day spa package in the mountains? No, I haven't done any of that, because my household sank like the Titanic when I took almost two weeks off for a flurry of last-minute book finishing. Though Husband was officially in charge, the system I built to keep the house going was totally abandoned for a "don't worry, we'll get to it later" approach.

Well, "later" was the minute I finished my book, and "we" turns out to be me. Into my lap fell 7 (!) loads of laundry, a house so dirty that it might be condemned, and every dish in the house needing washed. The Kid's glasses needed repair. The dog's ear infection had gotten so bad that it went systemic, and now she's on 4 medications, twice a day (oh, and they make her pee more often -- sometimes on the carpet!) The Kid's preschool tuition had not been paid. Of course, I immediately caught a cold, as did the Kid, and Husband left for a business trip. All the chaos makes the Kid freak out, and he's having temper tantrums. Right now, it's 6:30am and he has been out of bed three times so far this morning.

We tried to think of friends in the area to help: out of town. out of town. under a deadline for work. Another friend came over for Sunday afternoon, which really helped, but in general, the long and short of it turned out to be: suck it up! And suck I did.

I think I'm just climbing out of it now, and this weekend we're converting a workshop at Cornell into a family weekend trip. I haven't had a chance to make my plans with friends there yet, but hopefully by the end of the day.

01 November 2007

Send Off Book. Check!

I did it. I sent my book off to the publisher today. You know, the one I've been working on for years. On the project I started back in graduate school. I printed it out in a big stack, burned it onto a CD, burned it onto another CD (just in case), and sent it off.

I don't know what to do. It seems too soon to celebrate, as I suppose there is still one last opportunity for the press to turn me down. "Hey, you didn't tell us it was in Pig Latin. Forget it!" But it feels like I should do something to mark the occasion. Stranger still, I don't really know what to do to celebrate even if I decided it was okay. What do people do for fun these days?

It was quite satisfying to check off the box next to "send to publisher" in my iGTD. Acutally, I had to check off about 10 tasks at once, as I let the GTD slip to get the book done. But should I delete the project? I don't think I'm ready for that.

I think I'll just prep my class for tomorrow. I have to do it anyway, and maybe that will keep me from getting the emotional equivalent of the bends and soothe my suddenly depressurized psyche.

30 October 2007

Free Rice for your Brain

Holy applesauce! I went over to Freerice.com on Orbital Teapot's recommendation, and I have to say that it is so engrossing that I may not get my book done on time. Basically, they quiz you on vocabulary, and for every correct answer, the advertisers donate 10 grains of rice to the UN World Food Program.

Seems pretty straightforward. But, they've got some algorithm that measures how you're doing and then matches your level. This means that, at least for me, it was just the right ratio of challenging to easy that meant I couldn't look away until my eyeballs fell out of my skull. Plus, the little rice bowl is filling! How can you just leave when people are hungry? Okay, I'm going back. Book, schmook.

26 October 2007

What to be for Halloween?

A surprise visit from mom (not mine) reminded me that it is way past time to decide what to be for Halloween. I was pretty happy with the Kid's choice last year, a butterfly (big thanks to the Artistic Aunties for encouraging him to go with the homegrown art project).

I think this year he wants to be a firefighter, but we have a couple of handy backup costumes in the closet in case he changes his mind. If he wants to be like his mom, he can choose the Hockey Player:

And if he wants to be like his dad, he can be the Techno Hipster:

No matter what, it's going to be a fun time for everyone.

22 October 2007

Red Sox and Rockies in the World Series

Oh, no! What to do about this? The World Series has two teams that are sweet and inspiring, and no evil overlords to root against. It's just too tough to decide a favorite, so I'm afraid it's going to be one of those World Series where I can't pick a team ahead of time. I'll just have to wait to see who my insides are rooting for.

By the way, if baseball is America's Game, wouldn't it stand to reason that the World Series was also a national holiday, so that we could have a week or so of celebration? Okay, you got me, I'm in Canada now, but I've been ruminating on this one for a number of years. Plus, who knows? We might follow suit up here.

19 October 2007

Dept. of Not Posting

Sure, I have nothing to say here, but I did manage to dash one off over at Total Drek, where the real blogging action is.

16 October 2007

Doctor-Patient Ratios

This graphic presentation of doctor-patient ratios is from StrangeMaps. I'm going to use it in my Intro to Sociology class when we get to talking about health care. Click it to Big It Up!

13 October 2007

Fall is Here

Ah, the Fall. The leaves change color, the chill in the air, the letters of recommendations to write, the courses to prepare, the paper deadlines, the data collection process to organize, the book must be finished, the Kid's pants are too small, the Kid has a superhero pajama party but no superhero pajamas, the boiler needs to be turned on. Blogging suffers.

Not being able to post regularly is what made me close up shop on my last blog. Something about having that same last post just hang out there at the top of your blog for weeks on end is depressing. I knew this would happen, though, and I am not going to cancel the blog just because October is a tough month for me (note to readers: December also sucks, but in the summer, I kick ass).

RSS feeds will hopefully keep me connected to both of you who read this blog (hi Mom!), preventing you from the disappointing daily check of what's going on. If not, you're in for a lot of heartache from Prickers and Thorns.

In any case, I have been having some fun between the successive tidal waves of work that have hit me. On the weekends, family time has been extra special. Fall activities like swim lessons and music class have started, and now that the Kid is over 3, he has graduated from Parent-Tot status, which means that I'm kicked out of the pool and off the dance floor to the sidelines, from which I silently cheer him on. It's extra sweet to see your Kid being happy and successful without hanging onto your leg, and I am proud.

Also, the new neighborhood totally rocks. We are making friends and hanging out in the park down the street. Last weekend, one of the kids in the 'hood turned 3, and we had ponies to ride in the park, followed by pizza and cake. What beats that? You got me. We got some great photos, but I can't find the cable that connects the camera to the computer, so who knows when you'll ever see them.

21 September 2007

The Fall of the religious right? Keep dreaming, Kos.

Kos thinks that the evangelical Christian Right is imploding. He points to some schisms within, some stridency in their political claims (like that's new!), and some movement on the part of Republican politicians to distance themselves from the evangelicals.

I'll give Kos leeway for his political analysis. He knows way more about the strategies of political candidates than me, and if he says the Republican candidates are sucking up less to the evangelical Christians than before, I'll take his word for it. However, I know a thing or two about the religious right, and I would say that he's going way too far in saying that a little in-fighting, some crankiness, and some apocalyptic claims about the decline of politics adds up to an implosion.

From a scholarly perspective, there is some consensus around the quote by political scientist, Amy E. Black: “I’m sensing the emergence of an old guard and a new guard." This seems to be the case, where younger evangelicals are focused more on environmental issues and social issues like poverty.

What Kos implies, but is not the case, is that this generational split means that somehow people are becoming disillusioned with evangelicalism, or that evangelicals are becoming depoliticized in some way. You may even get a sense from reading his post that younger evangelicals are somehow pro-gay or pro-choice. None of this is true. Large numbers of people are joining evangelical churches, and there is no sign of decline. These next-generation churches are concerned with poverty and environment, but they are still very conservative on issues of sexuality and gender. And they intend to be political.

I don't know what this means for presidential elections, and I don't know whether this group will be a big factor in 2008. However, this is a very powerful network, with growing memberships, and as much political energy as ever. Just because there are new ideas in the mix doesn't mean they are going away.

19 September 2007

Ahoy, Mateys!

Shiver me timbers, it's Talk Like a Pirate Day! Hoist the mizzenmast and pour me a cup of grog.

Did I ever tell you about the time I took John Fox's introductory seminar on R? When a fellow student asked where the name came from, I said it was the Statistical Tool of Pirates, AaRRRRR! The room went as silent as Davey Jones' Locker - grimey land lubbers!

High School Kids Wear Pink

Oh, Canada. Some days I'm just so glad to be here.

At a time when some places are making men wear pink as a punishment for bad behavior, you Nova Scotia kids are standing up for a fellow student who got picked on because he wore a pink shirt on the first day of school. They bought dozens of pink tank tops, half the school wore them, and the bullies were shamed.

The Grade 9 student arrived for the first day of school last Wednesday and was set upon by a group of six to 10 older students who mocked him, called him a homosexual for wearing pink and threatened to beat him up.

The next day, Grade 12 students David Shepherd and Travis Price decided something had to be done about bullying...

They used the Internet to encourage people to wear pink and bought 75 pink tank tops for male students to wear. They handed out the shirts in the lobby before class last Friday — even the bullied student had one.

"I made sure there was a shirt for him," David said.

They also brought a pink basketball to school as well as pink material for headbands and arm bands. David and Travis figure about half the school’s 830 students wore pink.

It was hard to miss the mass of students in pink milling about in the lobby, especially for the group that had harassed the new Grade 9 student.

"The bullies got angry," said Travis. "One guy was throwing chairs (in the cafeteria). We’re glad we got the response we wanted."

Jeremy would be proud.

(ht, Eszter)

17 September 2007

Oy, we get our air from Ohio

Blech. More bad news about the air quality. It's talking about cities in the U.S., but up here in Ontario, we get over half of our air pollution imported from the States (the rest we make ourselves!). I better look into bubbles for next summer.

12 September 2007

Preschool rocks, preschool sucks

Well, preschool seems to be okay, but the extra hour of aftercare for the Kid--which brings his day away from home to 4:30pm, a half-hour shorter than his former daycare day--is a disaster. He was the last kid there one day, and he was just about last every other day. He is freaked out by the older kids, so having them around makes things worse, not better. When I scramble to pick him up at 3:30, when the other moms are there, he's so happy, but the other days he's a scared, worried, freaked out mess.

He may get over it. Other kids may start using the after care. Repeat 5 times, take a deep breath, and have a glass of wine, Mom.

06 September 2007

Big Boy Bike for Kid

As promised, here's a picture of the Kid on his big two-wheeler. He graduated from tricycles to the 16" bike, bypassing the 12" teensy weensy bike. This means it's just a smidge big for him at the moment, but hopefully will last him at couple seasons (Note to my California friends: up here, we put the bikes away all winter!)

He's doing great on it, but he did crash into a bench today, severely bending one of the training wheels. Who needs those anyway?

First Day of Preschool!

Well, it was yesterday, really, but who has time to post on the first day of preschool?

The Big Kid is now packing his lunchbox and backpack to the Montessori preschool, where he will soon learn differential calculus and iambic pentameter. We celebrated the first day by riding his brand new Big Boy Bike (photos to come) and whining about not going out to dinner for pizza. A momentous occasion.

03 September 2007

Happy Labor Day!

We're all worn out after a long weekend of nothing special. The neighbors' bake sale was a particular highlight. Who knew they had a trampoline and a zip cord in the back yard? Hours of fun.

Goodbye, summer. Hello, fall!

02 September 2007

Good Day

A good day for me these days is one where the sun is shining, and I can get the whole family to do some chores together out in the fresh air. Yesterday, we swept up the back yard, and this morning, we washed the cars. Guest bed built and made up - check. Toilet paper holder installed - check. Dishes, laundry - almost done. If I can get to the grocery store and tidy up the living room, it will be a good weekend all around.

Should I mention yesterday's visit to the neighbors who have a son the same age as Kid? Or the BBQ and margaritas planned for this evening? Nah. Should I worry that I haven't done any work for my paid job? Nope. Just going to enjoy the day.

31 August 2007

Internet Censorship

Via StrangeMaps, this poster from Reporters Without Borders on state censorship of information on the internet.

I get the point, but I am not sure that Nunavut, the Yukon, and for that matter, the north pole, are quite as densely networked as the map implies.

Free Gift!

In all the hullabaloo about the lead paint in Thomas the Frackin Tank Engine trains, the first of a string of recalls of Chinese-made toys and other products, the company responsible for the toys, RC2, told folks who send back trains that they would receive replacement products, plus a free gift - to say sorry.

They should be saying sorry - your kids' toys had lead paint in them. Further, their recall process was painful. You couldn't take the toys back to the local store; you had to send them in directly to RC2. Further, they said at first that they wouldn't pay your postage to do so, but they changed their tune on that rather quickly. They didn't have a Canadian site to return them at first, and so they just told us northern consumers to take a hike and send our trains to the U.S.

But, they sent me my check for $6.85 USD to cover my postage, and I just got my free gift. I opened the envelope to screen the gift before I let the Kid have it, and I was disappointed to see Salty, just another Frackin Train for the set. I don't know what I expected, but I guess I was hoping for something more special - a bit of twisty track or a tunnel or something. But no, just Salty. I don't think that really covers "sorry for lowering your kid's IQ with a toxic substance," but then again, I'm no expert on etiquette.

At least we didn't have Salty before, but seriously, who needs another train?

29 August 2007

Smog is bad

The air quality is bad again here this week. And don't make any mistake: when the reading on the Air Quality Index says "moderate," that means there is a visible brown haze across the city.

When the air quality gets this bad, you are supposed to stay indoors and close the windows, but when it's the 37th bad air day of the summer, it is starting to seem normal that you can see the air and that your eyes sting. Plus, it's a little tedious to stay indoors in the summer, especially when you can feel the cold, cold winter lurking around the seasonal corner.

So, yesterday I threw caution to the wind and played my Outdoor Athletic Activity regardless of the smog warning. Good thing for my team I did, as we would have had no subs if I hadn't shown up, what with it being prime cottage season. So, we played, we had fun, we didn't win the game, and we went home.

Today, I feel like someone put peanut butter in my lungs, my voice evokes Harvey Fierstein, and I have a headache.

27 August 2007

GTD Overlord

How much does it suck to work for someone who is a GTD follower? Although I am not fully organized à la GTD, I am trying to incrementally move in that direction. And as much as it is a huge help to me to get a handle on my near-unmanageable set of work and home responsibilities that comes with being an academic and a parent, it is no fun to be, for example, married to a GTD-fan. Always being judged for working inefficiently, never successful in passing off excuses of not having time for this or that chore, constantly finding David Allen's book packed in your carry-on bag on your business trips.

As tough as it is to be the spouse of a GTD follower, imagine what it is like to work for one. Now, amplify this by whatever factor to reflect my extended bossiness for being an academic. Unfortunately for my research assistants, it is my job to show them how to do their job. This means that my thus-far subtle encouragement to read one thing or another on organization, scheduling, and getting your work tools together is only the beginning.

Since that hasn't worked, and like any graduate students, mine are falling behind in their self-imposed targets, I am about to put the hammer down and require them to read some books and some blogs*, and then build a system for their work. I figure that paying them to spend a few hours understanding workplace efficiency will pay off with more work in the long run. It's worth a try, anyway.

I recognize that this might be considered invasive, and that people are quite attached to their routines, even (especially?) when they are not working. However, the more time I spend getting things done, the less patience I have for people not getting things done on time. I'm hoping that it will be the sort of thing they'll thank me for later. Or at least they bond with each other through griping about their common enemy.

*Is it just me, or do grad students give you a strange look when you tell them to read a blog?

23 August 2007


We've got bats. After a month in the new house, we've had 3 nights interrupted by bats flying around the bedroom. I think it's fair to say that there is a roost in the attic.

I love bats; they fascinate me. L, however, does not love bats. Still, I love sleeping even more than bats, so each of the three nights, he has been the one to get up and open up the doors so the bats get out. Rather than just going back to bed, he defends the house from the bat intruder until he knows it is gone. I think next time it's my turn.

Given that we're not the sort to exterminate our web-winged friends, I think our strategy will be to wait until they migrate in the Fall and call someone in to seal up the house (it's not only that I'm lazy; the house is tall!). This will be good preventative pest control for mice as well, so worth it in the end. Ah, the joys of home ownership!

21 August 2007

Salmon Dance

From the Chemical Brothers:

I dedicate this to my peeps in Whitehorse, Yukon...

16 August 2007

Home Again

Oh, it is so nice to be home. My Kid actually squealed when he saw me, then immediately launched into a discussion as if we'd been chatting about bagels and tricycles all along.

I'm going to try to hang onto the excitement and the inspiration of the meetings as long as I can, but I am already inundated with details for course preparation, advising, and menial things like dentist appointments and car repairs. I often wonder how other people in my discipline talk about how they work and it always seems absent of mundane responsibilities. Probably just a fiction they like to tell themselves, but I wonder if some people are really getting their domestic work done for them. Or maybe they simply refuse to cut their work day short to run to the store to find some faux costume that will make their kid feel like Diego on dress-up day (no, mom! rescue pack has one strap, not two..it's not Backpack!)

On the plus side, my teeth are clean, my inbox is back to zero, and my kid is happily drinking from a canteen at daycare. Now, on to my syllabus, hire an intern for some tech project, read a comp exam, make an appointment with the mechanic. Didn't I just tell my editor that I'd make the response to the final review of my book manuscript my top priority? I think I said it would be done by the end of the week. Okay, then, better stop blogging.

14 August 2007

Reflections from JetBlue JFK

On my way home from the ASA. What a conference. I can't even process all of the good times, great people I met, and old friends that it was great to spend some time with. The bloggerly get-together was a big success, with what, 20 or so people hanging out and having a cold beverage? As everyone currently reading this blog knows, Dan Myers has photos up.

Academia is a really strange world, especially time-wise. You spend years upon years toiling away in graduate school, going to conferences well-scrubbed in your best outfit, hoping to catch the notice of someone in your field. No one ever notices you, and you start to get used to that awkward feeling at section receptions, hanging out with a friend or two if you're lucky, firmly on the margins of the party.

Then, you keep toiling away, and what seems like all of a sudden, people that you meet start saying, "Oh, I've read your work" or "yes, my friend has told me about you." It's really weird and you wonder if maybe they have you confused with somebody else, and your first impulse is to say so. This was my year to be a part of the party, and frankly, I'm really quite old now to have just arrived. Nonetheless, I'm glad that some people whose work I'm reading are reading me back, and we are actually having the scholarly dialogue that you hope you're going to have when you do all that work researching and writing.

Not that I'm in the center of anything much, but you know, I'm in there somewhere now, and that's great. Well, actually, great is not how it feels. It feels weird. But I'm sure I'll get used to it soon, and my self-image as an outsider can make the appropriate adjustment. In the meanwhile, I'm going to bask in the memories of all the great conversations I've had this long, long weekend with scholars in social movements, sexualities, and gender. It was a fantastic meeting.

(All that said, it doesn't prevent me from being such a dumbass that I thought my flight arrival time was actually my flight departure time, and thus am hanging around until the next flight. Dork!)

11 August 2007

ASA Huzzah!

I spent the last couple of days at a workshop with a gazillion other sociologists who study social movements, and had a blast. It's so cool to meet the people whose work you read and find out they are really nice or interesting or have excellent potty mouths.

Now, I'm at the ASA in NYC. That's the big sociology conference. I haven't registered yet, and I haven't even been inside either of the conference hotels, but I had a great dinner with Jeremy and I hung out with another friend at a rock 'n roll show: the Tokyo Police Club. They are awesome, and you should buy their music immediately.

Better head off to sleep. Big day tomorrow.

07 August 2007

Kid Day

Today I get a whole day of hanging out with my kid before I pack up for a week-long set of conferences. It feels like a rare moment, ditching daycare to play, but I guess it's not much different from what we do every weekend. Maybe we'll hit the wading pool for a special treat, though. And the playground, and the soccer field.

Kid was with Dad all weekend, giving me some time to prepare for the conference. It really worked as the perfect de-stresser. I got a ton of work done, and I also managed to finish unpacking the rest of the boxes that were still lying around from our recent move. I can't believe how much time is in a work week if you can include evenings and weekends - oh, the time I wasted when I was in grad school--it's so precious now.

Still, as much as I got done, I missed the family and now I'm turning around and heading out myself. I better load some pictures on the phone to keep me company while I'm away.

06 August 2007

Cool or Dork? Dork.

Sometimes people think I'm cool. I like to think that myself sometimes. You know, I listen to cool music, I have some cool shoes, I'm usually not too awkward when talking with people, and I have some cool friends.

But sometimes, people who think I'm cool, make the mistake of thinking that Cool and Dork are mutual exclusives, and that if I'm cool, I am definitely not a dork. These people look disappointed in me when they learn that I loved Night at the Museum, that I really like magnets, or that I still remember that a 3-5 was a straight-up home run on Will Clark's Strat-O-Matic baseball card back in the late 80s. When they inevitably discover my dork side, they are disappointed.

This is why I think it's best to let everyone know from the beginning that I am a dork. Dorks are cool, and so am I. And no one is ever disappointed in a dork that has a fabulous outfit or who gets to go the Tokyo Police Club show on Friday.

So, there it is. I get things stuck between my teeth, I sometimes snort when I laugh, and I think that this blue whale graphic is super cool. If that's too dorky for you, you have the wrong blog.


My name is Tina. I am a sociologist, and I am engaged with the world around me. This gives me occasion to have things to say about this or that, every so often.