Wednesday, June 8, 2016

"The Internet Thrives on Humiliation"

I don't want to lose track of my favorite sentence in a recent New York Times article about the Crying Jordan meme: "The internet thrives on humiliation." The follow-up sentence is good too: "Twitter is always raring for a public shaming."  It's a good analysis of a popular meme that I might share with my Intro to Sociology classes in the fall. Students liked a class session last year when we talked about Drake's Hotline Bling meme.

Friday, June 3, 2016

(Dis)Trust of Fellow Man

Walking through the supermarket parking lot today, a young man seemed to be walking toward me. I tensed up a bit, wondering why he was coming close to me. He said "Gotta love it when you can't find your car," or something like that. He pivoted away from me and walked on. I watched him until he in fact stepped into his car. Hmmm. Nothing more than a guy walking to his car.

I have documented a beating I received, long ago, at the hands of a stranger. Since then, I've been on edge in public space. Also, recall I recently witnessed an angry man shouting obscenities in a crowded store. You just wonder when someone is going to snap.

And yet, my brief parking lot interaction was only about twenty minutes after a pleasant interaction with a stranger who sold me chairs. I responded to a Craigslist ad for these chairs.

$35 for the pair. A pretty good find, I'd say.

I was only a little nervous going to meet the seller, who turned out to be friendly and easy to deal with. I wonder how one's position in society (race, gender, class, etc.) influences their anxiety level prior to a Craigslist transaction. The man I dealt with actually made a remark about Craigslist. I already forgot how he put it, but the point he was making was that there are dangerous people in the world and you never know who you might encounter. Maybe we were both relieved at the ease of our transaction.

On a lighter note, the reason I went to the grocery store was to buy a sweet potato, so I could make sweet potato pancakes for lunch. Can you have sweet potato pancakes for lunch? It's an important food question, much like the question of whether a hot dog is a sandwich (of course it is not). I don't know what the rule book says about sweet potato pancakes for lunch, I just know I need to eat something other than deli meat and salads for lunch on occasion.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Time and Music

Time is such a precious resource. Pressed for time. Stretched for time. No time. Time out. Time on my hands. It's something just to have time. What are you doing with your time? Who does your time belong to? I'm happy to have time with the academic year being over. People ask me what I'm doing this summer. I hear myself saying, often, "I usually teach summer classes. Not this summer." It gave me more time. I hear myself saying "The summer courses were good for home improvement projects." That means I didn't have to teach summer courses to pay the normal bills. I'm fortunate to be in a position to not have to rely on summer courses in order to pay the regular expenses.

Time means different things on different days. Time to write. Time to think. Remember the life of the mind? Time to actually think through something. Time to wait for inspiration. Time for an idea to come together. Time to read. Time to let your mind wander. Time to observe. Time to talk with people.

Today was time to have a pleasant morning. A calm morning. Fold the laundry. Go for a jog. Get an oil change. Go to the grocery store. Make lunch. Write this blog post. Listen to music. Listen to a song enough times that it grows on me, like Radiohead's Burn the Witch. Time to listen to music that makes me feel--this is the summer of listening to the Tragically Hip, a band that I listened to a lot in the 1990s. I'm getting reacquainted with their music. I always feel something listening to their songs. Their music takes on new meaning in light of news that lead singer Gord Downie has terminal brain cancer.

Time to think about life and death.

Time: a luxury, a necessity.

Fortunate to have more time.