Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Presentation of Breakfast and Lunch in Everyday Life

Started the day on a good note. Scrambled eggs with spinach and feta. Feta makes everything betta.

Lunch was naan with cheddar cheese. Out of the oven I added avocado. Good stuff.

I was still hungry after lunch so I ate some pistachios. Now it's tea time. This is a day of working and eating at home, also known as a good day. Class prep, eat, class prep, eat, class prep and tea. And laundry.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Children, Social Class and College

I was talking with my students yesterday in our Social Stratification course about children and college. I said something about how my kids (ages 7 and 10) talk about college as something they will definitely do. Even when I, a college professor, do not go out of my way to tell them that college is something they have to, or should, do.

My wife is a first-generation college graduate. Her parents are high school graduates and never attended college.

My dad is a community college graduate (and Air Force veteran) and my mom is a high school graduate who never attended college. They made a lot of sacrifices and strongly encouraged my brother and I to go to college.

My first memory of a college campus is visiting my older brother when he was a student at SUNY Cortland. When it came time for me to apply to college, I applied to three schools. I got accepted by two and went to one (SUNY Fredonia) largely based on a recommendation from a friend and on one visit to the campus. There was almost nothing to my application and search process. No science, no system, severe lack of knowledge.

The point I was making about my kids is they have a huge advantage in being able to come to my campus. It's not often that I do bring them to campus, but occasionally I do. They see my office filled with books. They've come to classrooms. They've met students and my colleagues. To them that's all normal. And our home has books stacked to the ceiling.

If our kids do want to attend college someday, they'll know 5000% more than my wife and I ever did about the college search process (my wife's college application process was similar to mine). A lot of students in my class could relate to the point, considering many of them are first-generation college students. This was all part of a lesson about social class being an ascribed or achieved status. I kept saying how the general public likes to focus on the work that people put in, but overlook or underestimate the significance of the social class position people are born into. And when people from relatively privileged backgrounds talk about themselves, they tend to emphasize their work and accomplishments rather than acknowledge their unearned advantages, power and privilege. Eddie Vedder says it well in the Pearl Jam song Bu$hleaguer: "Born on third, thinks he got a triple."

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Song of the Day - De La Soul "Me Myself And I"

I need a pick me up. I've already taught back to back 80 minute classes today. In less than an hour I've got one more 80 minute class to go. I usually would drink a Coke right now but I have mostly stopped drinking it. I have a lifelong love of soda but it's time to make it a treat, not a daily drink. Thankfully there is music. From the soul here we go:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Song of the Day - You Really Got Me (Van Halen version)

I've lived long enough for You Really Got Me to become a supermarket song. The Van Halen version (a cover of the original by The Kinks) played as I walked out of a Wegmans where I'm immersed in suburbia.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Song of the Day - "No Matter What" by Badfinger

One of the things I like about the show Divorce is its classic rock soundtrack. Despite being a Classic Rock Sociologist, I've not been consulted by the show creators, but I sign off on their music choices. Here's the song from the end of the most recent episode (season 2, episode 2):

Monday, January 22, 2018

Film Recommendation: I Am Not Your Negro

The film I Am Not Your Negro is available at PBS for full length viewing until the end of the month.

I'm watching it this morning and paused at the 30 minute, 50 second mark to type these words from James Baldwin: "And there are days, this is one of them, when you wonder what your role is in this country and what your future is in it. How precisely you're going to reconcile yourself to your situation here, and how you're going to communicate to the vast, heedless, unthinking, cruel white majority that you are here? I'm terrified at the moral apathy the death of the heart which is happening in my country. These people have deluded themselves for so long, they really don't think I'm human. I base this on their conduct, not on what they say, and this means that they have become in themselves, moral monsters."

Here's the trailer:

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Patrick Sharkey on the Urban Crime Decline

Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at New York University, has a new book out called Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence.

His recent op-ed in The New York Times is a good read. Entitled "Two Lessons of the Urban Crime Decline," he mentions benefits that have accompanied the decline in violence. Three examples:

1. Lives saved because of a lower homicide rate (and a increase in life expectancy for black men).
2. Safer public schools resulting in a better learning environment and improvements in academic achievement.
3. A reduction in concentrated poverty ("The drop in violent crime has led better-off families to move into poorer city neighborhoods").

He touches on some of the same points in an interview with NPR. And, at the end of the interview, he describes a major change in the experience of urban poverty this way: "So across the country, for several decades, living in poverty used to mean living with the constant threat of violence. That hasn't gone away. There are certain cities that are still intensively violent, but it's no longer true in most of the country."

Sign of the Times

Took this picture today while driving in my suburban town: "Shoot Your Local Heroin Dealer"

Monday, January 15, 2018

Avocado Toast > Crinkle Cut Jicama

The Millennials get a bad rap. If I were to rank generations, I'd slot them at #2, only behind Generation X. I just enjoyed avocado toast for breakfast so that's my homage to Millennials. I didn't really need to pay my mortgage this month anyway.

Truth be told, if you have an avocado in the house ($2) and a loaf of bread on hand, you don't *actually* have to choose between avocado toast and paying your bills. This is not something I'd pay a lot for at a restaurant, but it's a reasonable option for me at home.

At the grocery store this morning I noticed new items. Like, damn, $7-$8 for crinkle cut jicama, beets, carrots, or butternut squash. How many ways can you say hell no? Not to disrespect these fine ingredients (especially beets, which are underrated) but to say THAT'S not in the food budget. Now, same as the avocado toast, one can do a homemade version of these, or, as I like to do, just buy a 99 cent bag of baby carrots and move on with life. But we all have our food budgets and preferences.

Though, I have to say, it's amazing to me that these items cost as much as a package of chicken breasts. Cost me $8.02 to buy 1.5 lbs of chicken breasts. I know I could save money if I bought chicken in larger size packages so I'm not exactly religious about the food budget. It does say something about my social class position that I can spend $8 on chicken without worrying too much about slimming down that part of my food budget. I have all this on the brain because my Social Stratification course begins tomorrow and I'm very interested in food and social class. We like to make pop sociology observations about generations but often when we do so we *actually* obscure social class analysis.

Finally, here's what I bought at the store this morning. A pretty typical shopping trip: yogurt, pasta, potato chips, bread, deli turkey, chicken, carrots, broccoli, hummus, cheese, etc. And also blew $1.95 on coffee when I already made some at home before going to the store. Almost $67 for what amounts to household staples and parts of lunches and dinners for a few days. I'm at the store a few times a week -- one reason being it means I don't buy too much produce on any one trip that ends up spoiling. Again, it speaks to my social class position that I can make multiple trips to the grocery store each week (reliable transportation and a job as a college professor that allows me a flexible schedule).

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Song of the Day - Holding On by The War on Drugs

I love this song.

Great in its own right, but it reminds me in a pleasant way of "Touch of Grey" by The Grateful Dead.

I just watched the video for the first time. It made me cry.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Presentation of Snack in Everyday Life (Syllabus Break Edition)

Straight from the cutting board, no plate required.

Better believe I'll eat the leaves on celery piece #2. Been doing it since Grandma Schoepflin gave me celery for snack when I was a kid.

Now let me pretend these are Doritos and get back to syllabus making.

Syllabus Procrastination Syndrome

There is only one know cure for treating Syllabus Procrastination Syndrome.

It is, quite simply, To Put In The Work.

*closes e-mail*

*stops pretending to deep clean the house*

*stops eating*

*stops guzzling coffee*

*stops annoying spouse with texts*

*stops walking from room to room finding anything else but syllabus construction to do*

*wraps up this blog post*

*turns on pleasant music*



Monday, January 8, 2018

Public Speaking Goals (Inspired by Oprah)

I still kick myself for a weak speech I gave several years ago. My time slot was 3-4 minutes. I was addressing the incoming first-year class of students at orientation. It was a big deal for me, truly honored. I had my Say Anything reference ready to go. But it took at least one full minute for my voice to warm up. I hit that mic colder than a Buffalo winter. By the time I found my voice, the speech was nearly over. I still managed to describe college as a "dare to be great situation," but I wasn't happy with how it turned out. Any speech since then, I've coached myself to hit that mic sounding as strong as possible. No seconds to spare. I public speak all the time in the classroom -- but I've got 55 or 80 minutes depending on class time, so I have a few minutes to warm up and stretch out. Not the case when your time is so limited.

All this to say Oprah was excellent from the get go at the 2018 Golden Globes. The part that especially stood out to me is when she got a standing ovation after landing the powerful phrase "their time is up" -- at the 6:43 mark. Less than 7 minutes to get a roaring ovation!! Note how effective she was in saying "time is up" in 3 different ways. Brilliant. 99.9% of us will never be as talented as Oprah and will never be able to deliver a speech like this, but still we can try to learn from her. When it comes to a short speech, there is no time to waste in trying to hook an audience and no time to rev up your voice. Go hard from jump street and do what you came to do. Channel Oprah!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Presentation of Snack in Everyday Life (Glorious Radishes Edition)

So delicious.

No dressing or dip required.

If you have a friend who works for the Radish Advertising Council, should such a thing exist, please let your friend know it's my dream to endorse radishes. Any payment would be used to pay down my student loans.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Tweet of the Day (Bumper Sticker Edition)

Lately, I'm seeing the bumper sticker Proud to Stand for Our National Anthem

Here, immersed in suburbia, I doubt I'll see one that says Proud to Take a Knee Because I'm Concerned about Inequality

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Presentation of Lunch in Everyday Life (Tuna Wrap Version)

I strive to capture mundane moments in life. 

Is there anything more mundane than a tuna wrap with potato chips for lunch?

Wish I had bought radishes when I was at the store. This plate needs bright color.