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.