Monday, August 7, 2017

Eat Sweet Potato Tacos

Humans don't deserve tacos.

But being blessed with tacos, we are in the fortunate position of deciding all the different ways to enjoy them. 

I usually eat tacos with beef, chicken, chorizo, or fish.

But I'm steering away from meat and fish lately and working in more vegetarian options. 

Tonight's dinner was sweet potato tacos--a delicious and budget-friendly meal.

If you already love sweet potatoes you surely don't need a recipe, but in case you need one check out this. I used mozzarella cheese because that's what I had in the fridge. I left out black beans for no particular reason. For the avocado sauce I substituted sour cream for yogurt because, once again, it was in the fridge. 

Life is hard and humans will disappoint but tacos help us press on. 

So make tacos not war and use sweet potatoes in your tacos. 

The end.

It Was the Summer of '17

All the not Trump takes you need to know...

David Brooks went to lunch with a friend from high school. She froze at the sight of obscure sandwiches. I would have had the ethnic advantage in the situation (being approximately 75% Italian-American) and would have ordered something with capicollo.

Someone believes there is a link between avocado toast and inability to buy homes. I've never purchased avocado toast but I like avocados and love toast so it's on my bucket list. I'm lucky to be a home owner but then again I belong to Generation X so to be honest I can't lend valuable insight to this story.

A guy finds his wife physically attractive first it was okay to say it then not. I'm not sure what the lesson is but it potentially serves as a reminder that THE INTERNET THRIVES ON HUMILIATION (a take from 2016 that I actually like a lot).

Participation trophies are horrible and, like delis that serve unusual cured meats, are ruining society. That's a take from 2010 until forever and I disagree because first of all not everybody gets participation trophies, second of all they are not ruining society, and third of all my 6-year-old got one for playing baseball this year and it's really not a big deal. My 9-year-old did not receive one at the end of his soccer season but no one bothers to report on all the youth athletes who don't get trophies so you can thank me for being on the vanguard of RESPONSIBLE TAKE BLOGGING (TM).

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Back to School Checklist for Professors

We're running out of time, fellow professors. Only one month left of summer. Once the semester begins, many of our research agendas will come to a crashing halt. Less time to research and write, and less time to do everything else. Some things to do while you can....

1. Clean your coffee maker. They say mold grows in that thing. If you have vinegar you can clean it. Just use your favorite search engine to see how to do it. This is listed first because obviously if there is no coffee there is no productivity. If you don't need coffee to be productive, you are a superhero.

2. Clean out your closet. In the last two days my clothes donation pile has grown into a heap of shirts that I stopped wearing or can no longer fit into. I cleared out a bunch of clothes yesterday and just did more of the same today. Now I can more easily find the stuff I actually wear and figure out a few new things to buy before the semester begins. Yes, I still do a little back to school shopping.

3. Are there any bills that you can reduce? Bills, bills, bills, a stubborn fact of life. Can you shave a few bucks from your mobile device bill? If you haven't cut the cord, can you get your cable provider to cut you some slack? How about your insurance? Call around and see if you can find a nice customer service rep to help you out. Or maybe it's time to change services? Or at least figure out a way to spend less on groceries and eating out? Do what you can to save some $$$$$.

4. What's your lunch plan for the upcoming school year? Eat on the fly? Skip meals? PB & J? Packaged salads? I can't go without lunch because I'll crash in the classroom. I usually go with leftovers from dinner or a turkey wrap or hummus wrap. or PB & J in a pinch. But I'm thinking of getting off PB & J because I read something about peanut butter a few years ago that disgusted me and I can't believe I'm still eating PB & J if it's true but in any case I think it's time to quit peanut butter. I also am close to dropping cold cuts and just going with veggie wraps and hummus wraps. I love the fall, it's my favorite season, I think the back to school vibe is part of the reason, and fall means soup season so I'll mix in some soups too. Shout out to Buzzfeed Tasty for meal ideas.

5. Are you happy (or content) with your routine? I mean, the entire morning to night semester routine. Do a quick inventory and reflect. Maybe you need to start or adjust your exercise routine. Maybe you need to change up what you do in the classroom. Maybe you need to avoid negative colleagues and spend more time with positive ones. Maybe YOU can be a better colleague (that includes me and I try and will try harder). Think through your routine (the routine is so comfortable, being that many of us are creatures of habit) but the routine can always be tweaked.

6. Plan. I'm not the best planner. I'd hesitate to even call myself a good planner. It's one of those "areas of growth," I guess you could say. But plan ahead if you can. Or check in with colleagues who are good planners, that's what I do. I'm lucky to have more experienced colleagues who always have their eye on the next step. I try to soak up their skills. I have 16 years in the game but there is still so, so much I don't know. Lifelong learning, as they say.

7. In the last point I typed the word 'eye' and 'know' so now I have De La Soul's "Eye Know" on the brain so listen to the song because it's lovely and has a reference to Lottos. So wipe your Lottos on the mat and get ready for the upcoming semester!

Thank You, YouTube

I should never take YouTube for granted. The ability to pull up almost any song I've ever liked and then listen to it 40 times in a row. That's something that makes me happy. So when a Commodores song pops into my head and I can't locate the mix CD I made 10 years ago that has it, I can immediately find it on YouTube.

Having been with the same person for 17 years, I haven't needed a breakup song in a long time. But I can still deeply appreciate a tremendous breakup song. Here we have it with Sail On. "I gave you my heart and I tried to make you happy, and you gave me nothin' in return." Ouch. But the best line is "I've thrown away the blues, I'm tired of bein' used." The public pronouncement of "I want everyone to know I'm lookin' for a good time" is also fantastic. The last minute of the song is triumphant.

1979, baby, sailing on to postmodernism.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Norm Violation: A Simple Example

I pulled into the grocery store parking lot yesterday. It was 7:00ish on a Sunday morning. No shortage of parking spaces, as you can see. I'm guessing the owner of this fabulous Dodge Challenger didn't want to take a chance on someone denting or scratching their car. We are taught to park between the lines, but some of our fellow drivers bend the social rules now and again. There is no punishment for this norm violation that I know of, unless silent judgement counts. Or being used as an example when I teach norms in Introduction to Sociology. A new semester begins soon. My file of examples is always growing.

Song of the Day - Moanin' by Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers


Friday, July 28, 2017

Two Ways to Be Prepared to Teach First-Year College Students

The fall semester is coming soon. I'm feeling the pressure. More work now is less work later, I like to tell myself. So after I write this I'm working on my syllabi. I'm thinking of new 18-year-olds in my classroom. Should I read the latest research on millennials so I know how to teach them? I suppose I could, but more likely I'll draw on two key things to remember:

1. Don't overgeneralize.

If I read a list of all the things that happened before the incoming first-year students were born, it serves as a useful reminder that students are young and professors like me are not. I was born in 1972. If I make an obscure reference to a baseball player that I loved when I was a kid (Oscar Gamble) there is no way in hell they will catch the reference. But that doesn't mean all 18-year-olds are the same. It's a mistake to paint all 18-year-olds with a broad brush and, for example, assume they're technology whiz kids. I find in conversations with students (and in simple observations) that youngsters are, in some ways, like oldsters. Some 18-year-olds have their phones in their faces while others don't. Amazing. People are different. Oldsters shouldn't assume all 18-year-olds can't function without iPhones and PowerPoint just as 18-year-olds shouldn't assume oldsters don't know anything that happened after 1986.

No, the students won't catch my Oscar Gamble reference, but some of them have watched The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles. Those specific movies come to mind because I can remember two of my students recently making references to them. So while I'll stay away from super obscure popular culture references, I won't avoid more obvious references. They know who Michael Jordan is and I can mention him if I talk about consumption and Nike or if I want to assert he's better than LeBron (although for the first time in my life I'm wavering on this point and close to shifting to LeBron being the better player. Stay tuned).

In conclusion, don't overgeneralize. People think and act differently. Don't broad brush. And if and when someone who is 18-years-old tells me Oscar Gamble was a clutch pinch hitter then you'll get a mea culpa from me for assuming he's too obscure a reference.

2. Treat students with respect.

The thing about 18-year-olds is that they're people and here's one thing I'm 100% confident about having lived on this warming planet for 44 years: people like to be treated with respect. You already know that, right? No one likes to be disrespected. It's true for 18-year-olds and 80-year-olds. If we do the best we can to treat students with respect, I think we'll usually find the student-professor relationship falls into place. Mistakes will be made, as they say, because we are human and thus imperfect, but we should aim to give respect to our students. They notice. They appreciate. [If you are thinking "Hey you said don't overgeneralize but you're overgeneralizing by saying all people like to be respected" then consider this an exception to my don't overgeneralize rule.]

So there you have it. Don't overgeneralize and be respectful. You're almost ready to crush it in the classroom when the new semester begins. So shape up your syllabi (sooner than later) and have fun when school is in session!