Saturday, October 30, 2004
Friday, October 29, 2004
The fun life of an untenured anthropologist.
I am bummed that we switch the time on Sunday. It is already getting dark at 6:00 pm, next week it will be 5:00. I need to move closer to the equator. I need my daily dose of sunlight, ten hours at the very least.
I also started using the fireplace in the living room. It is cool having a fireplace that works. The dog likes it too. Curling up in front of it is his favorite evening activity.
My brain is done for the day. I have been looking at my CV too long, writing too many cover letters, fussing excessively over research proposals. I will probably go let my brain decompose in front of the television for a while before I finally let it fade into sleep.
And for your information, the hotel in question was the Hilton. I for one will not stay at a Hilton again. I already had problems with knowing that my money (or the college's, since they are usually who pay for these conferences) was going to support the lavish lifestyles of two spoiled girls.
I also have problems with the leadership of our professional association. They really did not respond to the situation correctly. Unfortunately, at this stage of my career I need to remain a member, but I have thought of giving that up as well.
Sara and I now have two tickets for San Francisco that are not refundable (and will cost an arm and a leg to change). So we will just take a romantic vacation to someplace nearby: Napa, Mendocino, Santa Cruz? Any suggestions?
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
I have been out of town for a conference and then I have been playing catch-up with all the issues that piled up on my desk while I was gone. I still should be doing other things rather than writing here.
The conference went well and the weather in upstate New York was cooperative. It was nice to see the autumn colors and even nicer to spend time with Sara. Getting there and back was a long journey, though. Now I am tired and jet-lagged.
There is a big crisis in the field of American Anthropology. We were to have our meetings in San Francisco next month. Unfortunately there has been an ongoing labor dispute at the hotel we were the meetings were to be held. First the workers had a strike and now they are locked out. Anthropologists, being the progressive bunch that we are, were not about to cross the picket line. Moving the meetings is a complicated matter because we are talking about 5000 people here. The pressures were that the association has a contract with the hotel for a butt-load of money; the union, however, were inflexible in their demand that the meetings be cancelled. The association sent out an email survey to figure out what to do: keep the meetings, cancel the meetings, or try to move the meetings to San Jose. The decision? Move the meetings to Atlanta in December. Huh? That was not one of the options on the survey.
This new option is problematic on many fronts including: 1. The week proposed is finals week for most of us. 2. Most of us have already made our travel plans, including non-refundable airline tickets.
The mayor of SF stepped in to ask for a cooling-off period by both sides. So there was hope that we might be back in SF. The union agreed, the hotel didn't. So we are back to square one.
What makes this more stressful is that Sara and I made visiting plans around this stupid meeting.
Ok. Venting over.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
This time I am heading to Clinton, NY for a conference. I will also get to see Sara because she is meeting me there. Yay. For her troubles, she gets a spa day while I attend the conference. I wonder if she will trade...probably not.
I have not gotten around to write about the fieldtrip I took my class on last Friday. The way things are going, I probably won't do it at all. So I will let you have a look on your own. I took them on the Pendleton Underground Tour. We are addressing issues of place, space, and culture, and how these are often politicized. It was good way to make these issues real and tangible. It was fun, even though I was not feeling well.
In other news, there are two more job applications thrown out into the wind.
Tonight I am roasting a chicken I picked up at a butcher that has free-range poultry and pasture fed meats. I brined it overnight and I stuffed it with lemon, garlic, and rosemary. We'll see how it turns out.
After that I have a fun-filled night of grading waiting for me. Woohoo!
As you may have noticed, I have not said much about the election. At this point I have nothing more to add. Saying anything here would just be preaching to the choir. I don't think I have any undecided or Bush-supporter readers. Unless there is a particular reason to warrant it, I will remain mum on the issue for here on out.
I am off to baste my bird!
Monday, October 18, 2004
I am in the congested with copious amounts of mucus stage. Lovely, isn't it? I am just being forthright - it isn't a pretty picture here.
And I think this is only the preview. I think we are going to have a nasty flu going around this winter. Woohoo, I just can't wait...
There is much to tell, but I am just not in the mood. Plus there is a ton of work that is awaiting me. It has been neglected for quite a while now.
I hope you are all are healthier than me.
Friday, October 15, 2004
I have been gulping down tea, juice, water, and any other liquid that happens to cross my path. I also have been ingesting massive doses of vitamin C and a steady stream of zinc. Yesterday I chomped on a Thai chile with the hope that it would scare away the germs. That sucker was deceptive: the bottom half was very mild and the top half was firey hot! It was a good way to clear out my sinuses. Maybe I will eat another one with lunch today.
I have so much to do, yet I seem to be in a fog. Today I am taking my class on another fieldtrip. More on that later.
I think I am going to try a power nap.
Thursday, October 14, 2004
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Both were fantastic. They are definitely going on my wishlist. The first one really brought back memories of my childhood in Mexico. Little rhymes such as "Sana, sana, colita de rana" and torturing saint figurines when things are not going your way (a little more incentive for the saint to help you out).
I think I can use these two films in classes I teach, although now I think it would be interesting to put together a course based on films. Not necessarily a film class, but where films are the means for illustrating ideas and fostering discussion.
I just need to get a job - a permanent one. I sent out four applications today. Several more are in the works. I hate writing cover letters and printing them out is a pain. I don't have a printer in my office, so I need to use the collective one for the floor. The problem is that it is on the other side of the building. The cover letters need to go on letterhead, so I need to walk all the way over to the printer, put the letterhead in, run back to my office to send the document, all the while hoping no one else on the floor sends a print job, and then go back to pick up the printed letter. Try that a couple of times in addition to walking over to pick up writing samples, CVs, and other documents and you would be kvetching too. Especially if you still had two huge blisters on your heels from your strenous hike the previous weekend. I ended up taking my shoes off and running back and forth in my socks. I am sure I will now be known as that weird prof that runs around the department in his socks. At least the socks I was wearing today did not have holes in them.
One last comment before I head off. In an email today, I offered to help a student brainstorm for ideas for a fundraiser he is organizing. In his reply he wrote:
"I defiantly want to brainstorm ideas with you..."
I am alamred on how rebelious the youth of today is. Ha ha!
Ok, so it is not that funny. Give me a break...I had a long day. And tomorrow is going to be longer...but then I get to run away to Boston. [SMILES]
It was ugly. It did not make me want to vote (although I still will).
The moderator, Gwen Ifill, was horrible and her questions were poor.
The best and most insightful analysis came from Jessi Klein on cnn.com:
Posted 9:00 p.m. ET
Even though they haven't spoken, just looking at them, I have finally realized who they are...Garfield and Nermal. Cheney is Garfield, the grumpy old fat cat who hates Mondays, and Edwards is the lesser known "Nermal," the obnoxiously too-cute, little kitten with long eyelashes that Garfield hates.
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
You are Fish 'Tacos.' You might think you're
exotic and worldly-wise, but in reality you're
just a bunch of crap on toast. Repeat after
me: 'just because you put something in
quotation marks doesn't make it so.' And
'taco' isn't Spanish for 'toast.'
What Weight Watchers recipe card from 1974 are you?
brought to you by Quizilla
The result probably has something to do with my mixed cultural background.
Hmmm...I could go for some real fish tacos.
Sunday, October 03, 2004
Yesterday the dog and I went for a rather intense hike. We hiked from 2300 feet upt to 5800, in a fairly short distance. That is quite a steep grade. The weather was great - maybe a little too hazy for the views from the top.
After the hike we drove around some dirt roads in the mountains and kind of got lost. It was fun except for when we stopped for a bathroom brake (behind a tree, of course) and we were both startled by gunshots (luckily we just had emptied our bladders - so no mishaps). Yep, it is hunting season. I just don't get it. Let's go commune with nature by killing some wildlife. Needless to say, we were quickly back in the car and we got the heck out of there.
Today we are dealing with the fallout: the dog is pretty tired and I have two blisters, one on each heel. Can anyone tell me why blisters hurt so darn much?
Tonight I will have to limp over to campus for a lecture. One not to be missed: Yolanda King, daughter of MLK. I wonder if the power of oratory is genetic. I hope so.
Friday, October 01, 2004
If you want something to truly engage your mind and imagination, grab a a good beer or glass of wine, head over to Oso's and read his belated September 11 post. I suggest putting on some good ambient music - I had on my just-purchased California Guitar Trio album, which was the perfect accompaniment. The post is less about the WTC tragedy and more about the web of human interaction that we are all part of. It is an introspection on how events and people can concurrently be ever so close and so distant. It is long, but indulgingly fascinating.
Of course, you can ignore my suggestion and continue to roam around cyberspace aimlessly...but I still recommend the beer/wine (unless you are a recovering alcoholic or need to drive somewhere in which case drink some lemonade or coffee)...
What do those words bring to your mind? Troubled and trouble-making youth probably. Today I took my class on a tour of the local JJC (Juvenile Justice Center) as they call it here. It is a small place, but striking nonetheless. It is a place where every little action and activity is controlled and monitored. It is a place where there is a a constant paranoia of the adolescents committing suicide (and it is not a misplaced one). It is a place that simultaneously dishes out discipline and safety. It is a sad place. It is one of the two worlds these children live in. The other world, the world out here is one that has no structure and no rules...or at least not rules that they understand. The world out here is one of drug-addict parents, missing parents, abusive parents, and alcoholic parents. It is a world that would rather forget these children.
So back and forth they swing from this world to the one in there...until they grow old enough to be put away somewhere else, somewhere more permanent.
Some of these children spoke to us. One fourteen year-old, who has been a meth addict and in and out of this institution told us, "I hate this place, but it is a safe place. I don't like being in here, but things are okay when I am here." I asked her if she would like to have the safety she feels in there on the outside. "That would be ideal," she replied. "But there isn't." Why? Because when she gets out, she does not receive the support she needs to keep her clean, to keep her out of trouble, to heal the mental illness she undoubtedly has; she does not get it from her parents, from her family, from the community, nor from society. Why? She should not be our responsibility. She should take responsibility for her own actions. A fourteen year-old going on thirty five.
Another girl was only twelve...twelve! And she already has been in and out a few times. She was first put in for threatening her teacher. "I did not know I could be put in here for that. But they did!" The children are in upto 30 days. When they get out, they are on probation. Any violation and back in they go. So once they get put in, their lives more often than not become a revolving door. As once girl put it, "Once you're in the hole, you might as well keep digging."
I must say, the staff were all great. They provide discipline, but also encouragement. There is a school teacher who engages the students without alienating them by pushing them to the point of frustration. Reading is encouraged and it is pursued as it is one of the few activities and vehichles of escape. The staff also recognize the artificiality of creating an evironment that is totally controlled. It is necessary, unfortunately.
The solution? As the staff told us, by the children make it there, the damage has been done. They are a bandaid on the bigger problem. More action needs to start at earlier ages. More Head Start, more early Head Start, more parent education and counseling. This is not happening, and in fact the way the political pendulum is moving right now, these things are getting cut.
Poor children - victims and criminals, all wrapped into one.