Sunday, April 30, 2006

What dogs do when you are gone...

Some dogs bark when you are gone,
Others get into the trash.
A few might steal food off the counter,
and a few more probably get on the furniture.

There is even a rumor out there that some get together and play poker.

Mine uses my computer,
downloads pictures from the internet.
I come home; he looks guilty.
I look around wondering what he did.

Then I find this as the wallpaper on my desktop:

Sneaky dog... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 29, 2006

What are you doing on Monday?

Posted by Picasa

I am conflicted.

Ironically, Monday is the last day of my immigration seminar. For this meeting they are supposed to discuss the projects they have been working on over the semester. They also need to fill out evaluation forms regarding the course and my teaching. These evaluations are an important part of any application and I think they will be very positive for this course.

I have been thinking that I could attend the class as someone interested in their research and not as part of my job. That seems like a cop out, though.

I could cancel class, but that would mean that I would not get my evaluations and they would be missing a part of their grade.

Changing the meeting day would be difficult because exams start on Tuesday.

I sent them all an email requesting suggestions or ideas, but only one has replied without having any good suggestions.

It seems like this immigrant will be around on Monday. I will not buy anything and I will probably attend the rally again, but my commitment to teaching is greater than my immigrant solidarity.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Is Solitude Melancholy?

There he was, sitting at a table alone. Before him a large plate of pasta, a glass of what I could only assume was water and a Newsweek magazine. He seemed content, yet the sight brought out a sense of melancholy from within me.

I saw him as I stopped to pick up a pizza on my way home from work on Tuesday. The pizza chain is inside a mall, but it has “patio” seating that is out in the corridor of the mall. That is where he was, alone among the seven or eight tables in the “outdoor” section.

He was in his sixties, or perhaps a little older, and he possessed an amicable demeanor. His tan jacket and his red suspenders were those I would picture at the mention of a grandfather.

After I ordered the pizza, I went into the bookstore next door to kill some time. When I made my way back, I passed him again. The bowl was empty and he reached to pick up the leather case that contained the bill. In my mind, the picture of me stopping and offering to pick up his tab flirted with me. I carried on and picked up the pizza.

I know nothing about this man except that on a Tuesday evening he was eating a bowl of pasta on his own while reading a news magazine. Nor am I sure why it had such an impact on me. It may have been the memories of the many meals I had alone while traveling around Europe during my college days, wishing I had someone to share the experience with. Or perhaps those I had in Italy while I was searching for field site for my dissertation research dreaming of being with Sara. Perhaps it was a vision of a personal future where I will be old and alone.

For all I know, he was spending an evening on his own, away from his bickering family, enjoying the peace and tranquility of the empty “courtyard”. There are times I enjoy being alone. And I often do find myself eating on my own, but I know I have someone who shares my life and that I am not confined to solitude. It is also quite possible that he is a nasty, racist grump that has brought his solitude onto himself. I will never know.

What I do know is that there are more and more people living isolated from others, even when there are people all around them. This is not a good thing. Perhaps I should have stopped and said hello to him; perhaps a hello would have been better than picking up his tab. However, my guess is that even if he wanted company, he would have thought I was nuts had I made any contact with him.

Such is the world, unfortunately.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Price of Gas

Posted by Picasa

I just applied for a job in New York that required me to send in descriptions of three courses I could teach. Since the position is calls for a scholar that addresses urban issues, I came up with a course that would use the subway as a way to cover urban anthropology. Here is the description:

The New York Subway: A Case Study in Urban Anthropology
The subways in New York are the arteries that keep the city alive; people rely on them to live, work, and play. Consequently, not only does the subway system become a window into the cultural, social, and economic issues of the city, it also juxtaposes people of all walks of life. It is one of a few places where a successful banker can stand next to a crack-dealer for an extended period of time. Using the New York subway system as a case study, this course will present an anthropological perspective on life in cities. It will also provide students the necessary tools to think critically about the meaning of “urban life” and how this meaning is mapped out onto social space. Drawing on social histories, ethnographies, social theory, short stories, and films, we will question the social and cultural categories that exist within the urban environment. Specific issues will include, but will not be limited to, the spatial component of race and ethnicity; socioeconomic class and time; the marginalization and social invisibility of certain groups of people; and aesthetics and arts. Moreover, students will be required to undertake fieldwork on the subway during the semester to determine the relevance of the theoretical concepts of the course. As a result, students will reconcile the stereotypical images of the city and public transportation with the realities of million of urban lives that use the subways of New York. The course will conclude with comparison with other urban areas, both those with abundant public transportation and those that developed without it.

Given the recent spike in the prices of gas, there has been more discussion about the use of public transportation. Maybe that may create more interest in the course.

In any case, it is a class that I think would be a blast to teach. Yet another reason to hope I get that job.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


I have figured out how to lose the few readers that use to pass through:

* Post weird and doctored pictures
* Try to teach civics
* Be preachy about it
* Wrap it all in a cloud of gloom

Yes, that seems to have worked very well.

 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Constitution and You... (or having fun with Civics).

I covered the concept of citizenship in one of my classes last week. During the discussion, I was surprised to find out that many of them did not know the content of the amendments to the US Constitution.

These are good students at a fairly reputable university, yet they only had vague ideas of what rights and responsibilities are outlined in this document. I admit, so of the amendments are excellent cures for insomnia, but so many of our freedoms are guaranteed by this document (and how it is read and interpreted by the courts). I feel we, as citizens (and I use that term broadly to include all who live in this country), need to be aware of what the document says and how it can be interpreted (and misinterpreted).

So I will post some of the ones I feel are important over the next days. I will spread them out so you have the oportunity to:


Then think about them, what rights and responsibilities are outlines, and how the language can be used/misused to deny you those rights.

So here we go, 1 and 2:

*First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

*Second Amendment:
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

People tend to know these two. The ambiguity of the language is what causes problems with these two. It is easy to read them in multiple ways. In any case, I am not here to tell you my reading of them. I just want you to think about what your interpretations are.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Per Sara's Request

A more "realistic" version:

You can ask her what that means. Posted by Picasa

My mind is too scattered and in too many places to write anything interesting, so I am just posting an interesting picture from Vancouver.

I guess it is salient.

I played with the picture and I came up with one that fits in better with my state of mind/reality. Maybe you will like it better or perhaps you will prefer the original.

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

We the People...

This is the new face of the United States.

If you don't like it, you can leave.

I took my immigration course to the immigration rally in Boston Common. First hand learning beats anything that can be taught in the classroom.

I hope that the enthusiasm and civic participation that is emerging can be carried through to the ballot box. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, April 09, 2006

  • Job in New York City
  • An apartment that will accept dogs in said city
  • Suggestions as to neighborhoods to live in, explore, and avoid there
  • Friends to hang out with and show me the ropes
  • Did I mention a job? Yes, I did
  • Money with no strings attached (hey, it doesn't hurt to ask, does it?)
So the news is - Sara got an offer for a position in NYC. It is a great opportunity for her: it will move her career down a more lucrative path, she is very interested in the issues she will be studying, and she will be working with interesting and well-respected people. Yay for Sara!

As much as I would like to be a home-husband, NYC's cost of living does not allow it. Hence the need for a job. I am both excited and terrified about moving to NY. I am sure those feelings will be creeping into my writing here.

That's it for now - but, again, if you know of any opportunities in New York City for an unemployed anthropologists who really doesn't know how to do much, please do let me know.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Vancouver Zen

This is my new Canadian friend.

He was meditating in the Chinese gardens.

I like him - he is very laid back. I could learn a lot from him... Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 03, 2006



Wishing I had run off into the Canadian landscape...

I might have too if I did not have the dogs to come back to. Yes, they are great dogs.