"So, I see this bright red suit, white cowboy boots and...

inside, there's a Yeti*."

-- Neil Gaiman's description of his first-ever meeting with Alan Moore

PTSD folks, I know E and I have written fairly long posts in the past 24 hours. I know yous probably need a break from us. But, I can't resist this. Please be warned though that academia of any shape or form (apart from a few snipes at yesterday's gig) does not make an appearance.

So, what do I want to write about? I think I'm going to be a stalker. Specifically, Neil Gaiman's stalker. And, Mr. Gaiman, on the infinitesimal chance you run into this post, I took your advice about to heart--you did say to do it and put in on Livejournal. I'm blogging. Not much difference, I hope.

The church, oh the church: It was disturbing and yet the best place for a NG reading. Especially as the two readings he chose (he read for over an hour) were perfectly suited (a poem about mixing the fantastic with the everyday and the first story from his new book) to the setting.

Getting back to the church--it was rather odd (for me anyway) to have a church where the Christ-figures were not half-naked and being staked to a wooden cross but were fully-clothed (in some sort of robe-like thing) and had open arms. It was a bit more disturbing than the (usual) staked bearded guy. I want him back. The audience was seated in the pews (the church was full but I'd gotten there fairly early so had a seat halfway down the aisle) with NG talking from where the priest would talk. I shall leave imaginings of how utterly appropriate it was to yous, dear readers.

The people: As I had to wait nearly an hour for my turn to come up, there was plenty of time to become mates with the (sign-language interpreter) girl next to me, the chatty (jewelry designer and "voice trainee") couple on the other side and the (flanel-shirted) boy who told a surely blasphemous story (not fit to be written down on PTSD). All I could think of was how much more fun yesterday's Syrian monastery story would have been if it had been allied with this tale, of a naked Jesus, arising from his grave (coffin? I'm not sure) and doing things unmentionable here.

The usual stuff: My being nervous and babbling when my turn came to have my book signed. NG said the name [The Bit's since it was a bit weird to have a book dedicated to myself] was "very pretty". I explained that, in Sanskrit, it meant a puzzle or a riddle and added a bit about the Bit, wanting to be a vet. Oh, and so the dedication in the book I had taken with me? "Believe" and signed by the man himself. Fantastic.

Not as cool as my new mate having her copy of the Sandman having had the Sandman drawn on it, though. Yes, NG drew on the title page. I really really wish I'd nicked one of E's comics before heading there myself.

Other stuff: There's quite a few movies coming out, based on NG's books, in the next year or so. Terry Gilliam might direct Good Omens. One can only hope.

By the way, before I forget, the man looks exactly like his picture. Exactly. Quite possibly even more fanciable in person.

Did I mention the entire thing (the long reading, the witty anecdotes, the conversation with the man and the signing) was free? Oh, yes, free. Since E abandoned me, I was forced to make friends. I couldn't sit for hours and not say anything to the neighbours. We're all mates now and are going to have bi-monthly pub sessions to discuss books we like. I shall subject PTSD readers to my views of those events so be warned. Just like the terrorism thing earlier on in the summer, a place full of people I'd otherwise never meet (i.e. comic book folks who go to various comic book conventions or terrorism studies people who do quant analysis) was actually far more inclusive than I think we ("we" being the poststructural/discourse/identity folks) would be. Quantitative folks just seem to run away from us. Though that may not be a bad thing, I'm in a bit of a conversion mode at the moment and it'd be nice to have more quant-types at events like yesterday. I still say FTMD should get his own cult (though they too would not be quant folks, I guess). We could even have a Battle of the Cults.

But, I digress.

Yet another thing: the 5 hours spent in the church were the most I've ever spent in a place of worship. It's a wonder I was not struck down or turned into some odd creature. But, perhaps, United Methodists don't do such things? I should really have paid more attention to the empirics of FTMD's talk instead of thinking of what I would eat for dinner and where I could scam free food off from (answer: the new Thai place in Dupont).

The Bohemian connection: Once more, Bohemia made an appearance. This time, in the form of Prince Franz Drago of Bohemia, who was the murdered man in the story NG picked to read out loud.

I still think a combination of yesterday's and today's talks would have made an eerie sort of sense and greatly livened up yesterday's proceedings. Actually, NG just standing there, in his black leather jacket and talking in his oh-so-proper English accent, would probably have made it all better. He was just a nice and funny bloke. The sort you could run into on a street somewhere and have a few beers with (while discussing the intricate plottings of the Sandman). He even mentioned blogging (and thanked people for reading his blog). There really should be more writers like that. Why aren't there?

* As PTSD readers are sure to know, the Yeti is indigenous to Nepal (and Tibet. As regular PTSD readers know, Tibet is almost Nepal anyway so that doesn't change my point). No one else has (or quite possibly wants) a Yeti. We have loads and even lend a few out to be Doctor Who villains. Yetis are known to drink, get humans drunk, and lure them into staying with them. They are not much different to the average Australian, in other words.


lately in my life I've been taking my chances

How long's it been since we posted an IM conversation? Too long, that's what we think. So here you go: a bit about yesterday's stuff, a bit more about the origins of FTMD, and some randomness regarding DC concerts. All completely lacking in proper punctuation or rhetorical style.

PTSD. Now with less useful content!

P: oy--fancy meeting up some time soon to talk network/systems blog paper?
E: ok. next week?
P: yes, am at uni monday, tuesday, thursday
» or can meet anywhere else anytime
E: k, will check and see. probably tuesday.
P: NOT going to wp thing again
E: why?
P: but am blogging about it
» and really, i'm (kind of) writing
E: well, yes. that's true
P: so don't need a thing that i can hear anytime
» am checking what the next one is on
E: good idea.
P: checking
» emailing you about doctor who though you are right here
E: ok. that's fine.
P: any news of your dad? is he ok?
E: no news. I'm assuming that someone would have called if there was a problem.
P: good point. it's still weird no one called though
» though you're right
» did you call them?
E: no, s's been on the phone. and they'd be asleep now.
P: Oh i see
» well, as you said, they'd have called if stuff was up
» I did nothing
» all evening
» bought a skirt
E: thought you were going to dupont to hang out?
P: thought about buying shoes (since i only have that flip flop now and Random Prof thinks it's horrifying I’m teaching in those)
» I hung out in dupont
» with myself though
» I just didin't want to go home/uni
E: hmm. I ended up at TUWSNBN (bc pouring rain) and then home. but you missed the car discussion about illegal downloading and fanvids.
P: Oh thank goodness
E: bc I should clearly not be allowed to converse w/o someone to tell me to shut up
P: well, I"m well pleased I missed that discussion
» Still checking
» for next week's gig
E: where's the website again?
P: i'm reading the PhD seminars
E: oh
P: nothing useful
» though might go to be the DIRE WARNING
» for one of them
» btw, did you know danish guy is actually 31 years old? Random Student asked me again so me, being rude, asked him
E: hm. you should get a nametag that says that
P: i thnk i will
» dire warning
» nothing on web site
E: 31? seriously?
P: yes
» told him he looked younger than my undergrads
E: well, there you go then.
P: and told Random Student (because i'm mean that way) he was 23
» [Title of Next Event]
E: he should know better, and so he's fair game for her.
P: but i lied!
E: really? I want to critique that.
P: do you?
» go for it
E: sounds like fun.
P: it's german cinema though i think
» and you can critique and be totally pretentious
» and i can laugh at you
E: so? modern or classic?
» should find out.
P: prob modern
E: that could be fun.
P: i'm out
» just let me know if yous go out afterwards
E: what's the html for the thing? (before you go)
P: since it'd be nice to go out afterwards
» for the website
» it's not on the website
» it was on the email [FTMD] sent
E: didn't get the email.
P: (he's [FTMD’s first name] now because he was rather funny today)
E: bastard.
» fwd it me?
P: k
E: thanks
P: go it?
E: he's [FTMD’s first name], but it's still Prof WeberMan?
P: got it, i mean?
» yes
» totally
E: hang on.
P: because [FTMD’s first name] is now cute and cuddly
» are you laughing?
» i feel as though you're laughing
E: not laughing
» snickering maybe.
no, s says it's laughing.
» so there you go.
P: hey s
E: he says hi
P: i am going to visit yous--it's been ages since i watched tv at yours
E: ok. we can watch twitch city.
P: bleh
E: it's about a guy who watches tv
P: let's watch this slings and arrows now
E: and also cats
P: watches cats?
» weird
E: cats who rule the world
» it's a plot
P: i'm off to blog about the thing today
» btw, mill went down v well
» after my 3 hour prep
E: can't watch S&A, bc K has the dvds. glad Mill was popular
P: oh i see
» bleh
» i feel we should do a joint blog post on what happened
» though i have things to say about this whole bloody ideal types crap
E: well, I have the avi files, but not the official dvds
P: and disciplinary boundaries
E: no, let's do dueling posts.
P: ah fantastic
» do i get to be [FTMD]?
» small and balding?
» are you laughing again?
E: bc I want to talk about language and the ideal typical fictional work (and why they were both talking total crap about literary analysis)
P: stop laughing!
» oh yes
E: s says it's more of a giggle this time.
P: that was my disciplinary boundary thing
» people who've never DONE the "humanities" think it's all wishy washy
» and all that
» stop giggling too!
» imagine me as [FTMD]
» and you as WeberMan
E: will stop. hey, this [Next Week’s Event] person sounds v cool.
P: i thought it was the chick who was there
E: was it? her work looks cool, I mean.
» all about women and media and queer studies and stuff
» but german, mostly.
P: oh i see
» bleh
» totally uninterested in all of those
» can't afford to waste more time
E: no, it should be good. the germans do some fucked up stuff.
P: and besides it was basically WeberMan’s cult there
» doesn't [FTMD] have his own cult?
E: and then they say "it's okay, we're german"
P: it'll be a WeberMan/TheoryGuy who
» show i mean
E: you can be in his cult. bc you think he's cuddly
P: (sheesh)
» true--i want to be in his cult now but i'm already in WeberMan’s
» and those are exclusive cults
» i feel
E: nah. defect.
» defect!
P: too late
E: it'd be like the sharks and the jets
P: no idea what you're on about
E: we could all sing a complicated musical number
» and then fight.
» like in West Side Story
P: we should just pick an argument and fight next time
» i see
E: (shakespeare again)
P: though i'm not going next week
E: bah. you should go. Random Student’s no fun to write notes to.
» he's got no sense of the absurd.
P: he has!
» well, write to your new mate TheoryGuy
E: shut up.
» can [FTMD]’s blog nickname be fluffy?
» The Fluffmeister?
P: why fluffy?
E: he needs a name.
» bc he's not.
P: but he's cute
» and cuddly
» and so into his boring empirics
E: you want to call him Cuddles?
P: when he could have shut them up with a mere read tilly
E: Existential Fluff?
P: nah
» what's bald and cuddly?
E: Fluff the reformer?
P: nah
E: I don't know anything bald and cuddly.
» is this the start to a joke?
P: just the reformer
» though that sounds like a WWE name
E: no. too bleh.
P: arthur
E: that's not a nickname.
» we can't just call him arthur.
P: big rabbit
E: that makes no sense!
P: ok
E: what was the name of the rabbit?
» the one that Jimmy Stewart saw?
P: smurf
E: it was not.
» Harvey!
» or something like that.
P: oh frank
» sorry that was donnie darko
E: yes. wrong rabbit.
» how about Oliver?
P: yes harvey
» why oliver?
E: (S&A weird gay ghost dude)
P: i think we should name him something from doctor who
E: very snarky, short and bald.
had incomprehensible convos with the lead character
P: nah
» no one would get it
» has to be something they'd get
E: why?
P: just because
» it'd be funnier
» don't want to call him oliver
E: let's be exclusionist
P: like fluffy better
» nah
» we're not exclusionist
E: El Fluffo
P: le fluffy
E: Fluff the Reformist Professor?
P: or, rather le flufee
E: Fluffernut?
P: fluffereen
E: Flufferini
P: hehe
E: The Great Flufferini!!
» no, Flufferini the Great.
» like a German imperial something or other
P: true
» but that'd be WeberMan
» did you know my knowledge of reformation was all based on blackadder up till today?
E: true.
» no, but I'm not surprised by that.
» you had one up on some of the people in the room, at least.
P: riiighttt--edmund and baldrick
» fluff
E: we could call him Baldrick.
P: fluff the magic dalek
» we could!!! baldrick
P: that'd SO piss him off
E: no, no--fluff the magic dalek
P: baldrick?
E: wait, it's kind of long.
P: true
» but prob needs to be explicated once
» are you sure?
E: well, yes. no, not sure.
» just want to call someone that.
P: let's call him that
» better than baldrick
E: yes.
P: baldrick shows no imagination
E: he'll be pissed, probably.
P: he won't read our blog
E: true.
P: or maybe not fluff then
» because he'll like the magic dalek part
E: something else the magic dalek?
P: though i like the fluff part
» and we already have no jobs
» or won't
E: hmm.
P: what could it be?
» fluff
E: am really interested in being discussant for next week.
P: tell him that
E: (am also thinking about fluff)
P: then you can do a WeberMan
» i mean, TheoryGuy
E: words that mean fluff...
» I don't want to do either of them, thanks.
P: i have to admit TheoryGuy bugs the hell out of me
» more and more
» another reason not to go to these things
E: the thing about Fluff is that it has all the porn stuff too
P: lol
» true
E: I find him entertaining, mostly.
P: piffle
E: like having a cat that pees on someone else's rug.
P: piffle
» the magic dalek
E: Piffle?
P: but it's not piffle
» it's good stuff
E: is that even a word?
P: goof
» yes!
» of course it is
E: pfft. I like Fluff better than that.
P: seriously, where do they get this from?
» read this
» Light down or fuzz, as on a young bird or on a dandelion or milkweed seed.
» definition of fluff
» wtf
E: a milkweed seed?
» that sucks.
P: what IS that
E: well, fluff, presumably.
P: To make fluffy: a squirrel fluffing out its tail.
E: *snerk*
P: v [FTMD's first name]-ish
E: Fluff the Magic Dalek is sounding better and better.
P: hehe
» though wait
» let's think of a diff word
E: soft and fuzzy, yet with the overarching goal of killing you all
P: and i'll go blog/do some writing
» true
» but it's just too fluffy
» magic dalek reformer
» nah
E: Fluff the Magic Dalek is really growing on me.
» what with being both terrifying and mostly imaginary.
P: but no relevance to what he does
E: also, with a built in plunger.
» so?
P: true
» btw, beautiful south is at the 9/30 club in november
E: what he does is boring.
P: if yous want to go
» hey
» shut it
E: really? what day?
P: he does useful stuff
» early nov
» before bnl
» (are yous going to bnl?)
E: probably at the same time my mom's supposed to be in town
P: i see
E: so I might take her.
P: would be great
E: she loves bnl
P: bnl? or bs?
» oh
» would be fun
» i kind of want to go but don't know their songs
» and am skint after v fest
E: I have all of their songs, if you want to hear them.
P: though v fest was worth every penny
E: haven't checked ticket prices yet.
P: i am planning on getting west wing early seasons off you
» now i have a dvd player
E: ok
P: (see? i have time for tv)
» while i'm waiting for new life on mars
» and still game
» anyway
» fluff?
» it's nearly 11--i want to go back ot reading tilly by midnight
E: Sure, why not. Fluff the Magic Dalek.
» there's always time for tv
P: heh
» not for me
» though i enjoyed musharraf on jon stewart
E: sure there is. yeah, it was a good one.
P: saw k earlier that day so was funny
» i still say ideal types are evaluative
» that's the whole purpose of them
» sheesh--am turning into FTMD
» i've got the short part down
E: maybe. maybe not. I don't see why they need to be so, though.
» why can't they just be?
» or not be?
P: they don't NEED to be anything
» sheesh--you're turning into me
E: like Hamlet.
P: (i reread my old comps)
E: why?
P: why what?
» be just be
E: why reread them?
P: for fun
» to see if i've evolved
E: um. okay.
P: and all that
» i thnk i've progressed backwards
» whatever the term for that is
» regressed
E: that's not good.
P: wait
» who's sibelius?
» my new thing
» [whomix site]
» i'm trying to decide between "if cybermen had rhythm"
E: dunno. I know it's a file type.
P: ah
» i thought it was a musician
E: could be that, too.
P: ah
» doctor who conducts an orchestra
» that's a better one
» though i would need something on daleks
» hmm
» diaboakelam
E: seriously?
» I think you need another fandom
P: lol
» why? i have football
» i can't spend time on this
E: that's not a fandom. it's like hockey.
P: this is just for the post title
» oh it's totally a fandom
» this tv thing is just weird
E: there's no creative aspect for it.
P: that's fine
» i'm not creative
E: call it Tastier Salvador's Closing.
P: so not diaboledalekam
» eh?
E: farther down the page.
P: i see it
» k
» off now
» to write
E: down towards Jesus built my TARDIS
P: found it !
E: which is the best title ever
P: hope it's not p0rn
» “I've gone back to that scary, rubbish bassline in my smelly bum bum theme, and I've tarted it up a bit. It's now a bit dirtier and powerful- I hope. I haven't gone for a 'full-length' version this time (Alas, my laziness reaches horrific levels), but instead I've got the opening and closing versions.”
» seriously
E: sounds kind of sketchy
P: i think i'll stick to jesus built my tardis instead
» how about that?
E: should work.
» guess I'll go find a title and write something up
P: yes
» we can both post
» yay
E: am going to try being productive tomorrow.
P: i work ALL day tomorrow
E: something new and different
P: i mean, work for cash
» not uni work
» hence need to de-stress by ogling neil gaiman
E: ah. have fun with that. personally, I think Neil Gaiman in a church is probably a recipe for disaster.

Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed & the Way to Suck Eggs*

This evening, Neil Gaiman's signing his new book here in town. In a church**, no less.

Apparently that's not all he signs. From his blog:

"Signed a little over 500 copies of FRAGILE THINGS, two boxes of ANANSI BOYS paperbacks and sundry other things (books, comics, a pair of breasts [female] and a bottletop [initials only])."

That was yesterday in New York city. For more (and you know you want to read what Mr. Gaiman gets up to), go to his journal.

* Since the title of my previous post, off this, was a remix of a song from this album. Also, it fits quite well, doesn't it (and I think Mr. Gaiman would approve)?

** It's at Wesley United Methodist Church, not too far from the National Zoo. I presume one or more of these (people? denominations?) were mentioned during FTMD's talk yesterday but I can't quite remember.

I know the struggle that happiness is haunted

More on today's workshoppy thing later. First, go read this. It'll make you laugh. Unless you're dissertating, in which case it will make you paranoid and delusional and possibly suicidal, because clearly Kaufman has been reading your thoughts.


Jesus built my Tardis*

Highlights from today's Culture and What We Do Workshop at a place that's not TUWSNBN:

- Was I the only one who found "Huguenot Transnational Movements" funny? Did they not remind you of the anti-globalisation protesters who congregrate on the Mall every so often in DC?

- The best story (since there was a lot of talk about judging stories. I still say the interesting question is how is a story claimed and recognised as a story anyway rather than what constitutes a good/better/best story) was the one by the old Jesuit bloke about his stay in a monastery in Syria and about his work in the "world of theology" where they apparently "do history" (but not in the you know not very pleasant meaning of the term "do"). There was also a lot of talk about the "same God, one God" and about fleeing Christians.

- The finger rules: Apparently it's fairly common these days to raise one finger to say you have a question and two fingers to say you want to add on to the topic currently being discussed. Two fingers are quite possibly also useful for doing this. I'm just saying it's a distinct possibility.

- It's rather fun to watch the ways in which people read a text. Where I saw Tilly (and oh why didn't Fluff the Magic Dalek talk more about causation?), one critic saw "jargon". Where I read factors, another wanted a hub-and-spoke dependent variable. The more I attend these things (workshops, not finger-raising sessions), the more I realise how different the languages which we approach our subject matter with are. E is possibly going to write more about that. Possibly.

- As with much of English (I'm a bit better on the Irish-English aspects) and European history, Blackadder had provided me with my in-depth knowledge of the subject so far. Today, thanks to FTMD, I added a bit more to my store of knowledge about the topic.

- "Caught up in Bohemian politcs": I guess he didn't mean down in Freak street**.

- In the wood-panelled room, sitting around a large wooden table, I kept expecting Professor Dumbledore to walk in at any time during our discussions. Or, offer me some trifle to help me think about whether research should be generalisable and where do you stop (short answers: Yes, but and you stop when you run out of money).

- I didn't get why FTMD focused exclusively on Protestantism when asked about why his research mattered. Didn't it also matter because the research was describing a (relatively) new way of talking about causation in world politics? Didn't it also matter because it's using insights from sociology to help us understand world politics problems?

- Why is everyone so vehement about disciplinary boundaries? E is going to (hopefully) slag off the anti-humanities/literature folks but, hey, I have a degree in the humanities and it's not any better (or worse) than my PhD-ing will be. Except PhD is from an American university so that makes me more employable in the non-American world (hopefully). Content-wise, community-building wise, epistemic-community wise, disciplinary boundaries are a bloody pain in the a*(^ and should be transgressed or ignored as much as possible. So there.

- The knock-down fight on ideal types at the end of the session. It made everything worthwhile. One would hardly think of ideal types as something worth fighting over but they were. And, it was a fun fight (My view: ideal types are evaluative since they are built for comparative purposes. Some folks just seem to see "evaluative" differently).

- E and another not TUWSNBN PhD-er both had AnotherBigNameConference pens.

- Passing notes across the big table is really obvious. And, I think we're getting too old to pass notes.

- A brief shoutout to my part of the world by FTMD. (East) Asia is apparently putting out a lot of research on the similarities between the current situation in world politics and events in European history.

- Of the fifteen people present, half were TUWSNBN folks. Don't other DC unis have people of their own? Do we have to make up the numbers at all these events? Eh?

- Being introduced (along with E) as a "Doctor Who nut". I prefer "someone interested in the sociocultural implications of television as exemplified by that venerable show, Doctor Who" myself. Or, a Who-ee for short.

I'm headed off to check up on Syrian monasteries and residences in said structures but will leave yous in the capable hands of E, who will hopefully be writing up a more substantial and AngryYoungPerson post on what went on. Hopefully. One of us has to be angry. I hear it sells blogs.

* Thanks to E for the title inspiration. Maybe that's my paper topic for this gig: the impact of Doctor Who on Images of Empire.

** PTSD would like to make a disclaimer (one of many) that, despite this street being fairly close to school, this half of PTSD didn't actually spend time there. Oh, and it's not always that smoky as in the picture. Really it's not.

Learn the proper languages before you go to bed*

Language for tomorrow: How to talk (of) Mill when I don't quite know what to make of him myself? Yes, doing research is like learning a new language (another of my trite metaphors which I've repeated in class) but so is teaching the bloody skills to a group ranging from second to fourth years. I have started feeling as though I'm in one of those Nepali village schools where they just let a teacher loose on students of varying ages and experiences. Not much different in my class at TUWSNBN this semester I find. So, not only am I teaching research skills but I'm having to bloody well tailor it to people of different experiences.

After this, I should be able to teach anyone anything, really. I am dreaming of subjecting kids to a "Terrorism studies" course, one on "IRA and Al-Qaeda"** or even a "South-east Asian History" one***.

* This is just to point out I have spent the past 3 hours trying to make sense of Mill and his methods. Yes, I'm well aware people spend their lifetimes trying to do this same thing. I can only pity them. On a related note, I've not spent the entire time trying to figure Mill's methods out. Some of it has been spent listening to this John Stuart Mill, one of whose songs provided the title to this post.

** Assignments could include having to analyse Gerry Adams and OBL's speeches, comparing good old Maggie T with good ole George W and comparing exotic training locations (Colombia and Libya for the Irish, not too sure about AQ).

*** TUWSNBN is not big on South-east Asia so the likelihood of my ever being able to teach the latter course is about the same as that of Jamie Carragher scoring a goal.


comfortably numb (while wearing flip flops)

Further thoughts on teaching (or, more talk of a revolution)

Lesson of the day: tempting fate = bad idea.

Last Thursday: the (dress) shoes I was wearing gave me blisters. I chucked them in the rubbish and wore flip flops to class. Had a TUWSNBN professor go "OMG! You taught in those? The faux pas of teaching while wearing footwear more acceptable to the beach rather than to a classroom was apparently a big one.

Today: my sandals, which I'd had since I was in Bangkok four years ago, broke while I was walking to the Metro. While mourning the loss of the best (being the only) pair of sandals I owned, the bigger issue was the recurrence of the flip flop faux pas. If a fairly easy-going professor had been appalled, then how bad was this footwear misstep?

A quick stop at a shoe store on the way to TUWSNBN didn't help--nothing that didn't look and feel like my feet were in the footwear version of a strait-jacket. Options were down to: fix sandals or wear flip-flops again.

Obviously, I tried the first route: I ran around our department (ran being a metaphor for frantically hurried) trying to find means of fixing my sandals. After trying stapling (staples are not strong enough), gluing (need super glue, not regular glue) and taping (shoes fell apart once more when walking from office to door), it was time for option no. 2: wear the flip-flops.*

So, I did. And, in class, I asked the students how many of them had paid attention to my footwear last week** and today and what their view of instructors wearing flip flops to class was (social roles and categories). I ended with introducing the "Research tip of the week" section **. Today's "flip flop tip" was to be observant and to be aware of assumptions about social roles (what instructors wear).

I'm still not sure about this class. It's pretty intense--a lot of research styles and a lot of research jargon in a very short period of time (one semester). I keep telling them we will slow down and discuss things but, seriously, there's just no time to slow down. Today's qualitative/quantitative divide AND overview of the research designs were all materials which could easily have filled a month (or more) of classes. I told them that they will just learn to recognise different styles and to communicate research in these styles but I think there's still confusion about what research styles even are or even what a research plan is. Thursday's class is about comparisons and we're reading J.S. Mill. I am not quite sure about Mill's position in the syllabus (right after the big Qual/Quant class but before the actual "Scientific" research style section) but I wanted them to have a break in-between today's class and discussing the "scientific" research tradition. So, let's see how that goes. At least there's been no coup (yet).

* It was a good thing I still had them with me in my rucksack (leftover from Saturday's Festival experience) or else I'd be teaching in bare feet.

** I have no idea what the research tips for the next few weeks will be. Any help would be great, lovely PTSD readers!

Tommy, can you hear me?

Well, that was quite possibly the best time I've had all summer. Of course, it had little competition (review of summer: Fellowship application rejected , being fired, uncertainty about where to live, Liverpool playing as though they're still on holiday, slogging away at soul-destroying job because the rent has to be paid and, oh yes, writing commitments being unmet) but it was still perfectly marvellous.

The day was full of sunshine, no one threw up near me, I didn't get into any fights and it was all outdoors.

The highlights? Well, the Who, of course and their songs from Tommy as well as My Generation and I can See for Miles... and, the closing act.

A longer post, with information of how it all went follows. Oh, yes, right after the AnotherBigNameConferenceWhichEveryone'sForgottenbyNow's ethnographic panel post.

Back to teaching tomorrow--it's all about the Quant/Qual divide.


it is what it invents

Hmm. I'm hopped up on cold meds and not completely coherent. My powers of blogging entertainment are woozy and even less inclined to linear processing than the usual heights of non sequiter.

I'm afraid you'll be getting rather a lot of lists and useless asides this weekend, but hey, you can always go read something else if you feel the need for enlightenment.

God knows you'll never find anything enlightening around here.

Friday Not-Entirely-Random Eleven: The Multimedia Edition

A selection of files opened on my laptop in the past week:

1. “The Planet of the Cats,” Twitch City S2 (Robot humans controlled by cats, and the secret underground movement to overthrow them. What’s not to like?)
2. “Paris,” Gross and Keeley (Why was there no video for this? Oh, right, because there was a video for Voodoo, and now we have \o/. Fair enough.)
3. “Running Out of Ink,” Barenaked Ladies (They’re coming to town the week before Regional Conference. So is my mother. Maybe she’d like to go to a concert with me?)
4. Hard Core Logo, the Canadian commentary version (Could Hugh Dillon be any drunker? Maybe. But he’d probably pass out, and that would make the commentary track less fun.)
5. Third draft of the story which is due today but still stuck at 8,000 words and not really ready at all.
5a. A paragraph on feminisms, written out at the end of the story draft and then copied into an email.
6. “Out Here,” here’s luck (Peter Mulvey + dS angst = one of the best known vids in the fandom)
7. “Anchorless,” The Weakerthans (See? Life isn’t all about the Headstones. It's also about other Canadian bands, and Canadian television, and Canadian films, and Canadian theater festivals. And Canadian actors.)
8. For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down (Sad, but with gratuitous violence.)
9. “Every Inch a King,” Slings & Arrows S3 (This is why Priya’s snarking about my love for all things PG will never amount to anything. This right here.)
10. “The Last Saskatchewan Pirates,” The Arrogant Worms (Part of Tuesday’s “All Pirates, All the Time” playlist, with almost three hours of swashbuckling goodness.)
11. Blogging model #5, AKA “The one that very nearly works.” Because I have, in fact, been working.

Also on the list for today? Grading and editing and a selection of music files for sharing in a later post. Three guesses as to which of these I work on next.


I was it and didn't know it

Yes, yes, I'm supposed to be gone. But, bear with me. I just found out (very late in reading other folks' blogs, that's me) that I'd been tagged by Bionic-Woman. She wants me (and E, you too) to "Go to www.quotationspage.com and look through random quotes until you find 5 that you think reflect who you are or what you believe".

B-W, being more of a stickler for instructions than I seem to be, found 7 that fit her after clicking through random quotes. I'm much lazier so I'm going to cheat and pick the first five I got (with additional comments):

1. Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for - in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.
Ellen Goodman
American journalist (1941 - )

Well, and I guess that's why I'm not normal. Where's my car and house and job, eh? Where? At this rate, I'll never be normal.

2. He may be mad, but there's method in his madness. There nearly always is method in madness. It's what drives men mad, being methodical.
G. K. Chesterton, The Fad of the Fisherman (1922)
English author & mystery novelist (1874 - 1936)

I have always rather liked GKC with Father Brown being a particular favourite. Does this mean I may not be normal but I'm not (yet) mad, either. Phew.

3. In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.
Aaron Rose

Umm...right on. Light: dim and bleary; time: after a couple of shots of whiskey, I'd say.

4. Exercise ferments the humors, casts them into their proper channels, throws off redundancies, and helps nature in those secret distributions, without which the body cannot subsist in its vigor, nor the soul act with cheerfulness.
Joseph Addison, The Spectator, July 12, 1711
English essayist, poet, & politician (1672 - 1719)

Since exercise is as foreign to me as Greek, I reckon that's why my soul has always been such a misery.

5. When you meet your antagonist, do everything in a mild and agreeable manner. Let your courage be as keen, but at the same time as polished, as your sword.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Irish dramatist & politician (1751 - 1816)

Another fave, RBS. I even took a copy of his plays to the Outback (of Denmark) with me last year. And, sage advice here. Not that I ever seem to follow it.

There, that's done.

(this is) my generation

or, rather, my parents'. Sadly enough, I grew up knowing lyrics to (some) The Who songs (Tommy playing "mean pinball" anyone?) so am fairly excited about my plans for this weekend. Yes, PTSD reader, this is momentous--it's going to see a band that my entire family knows of. It's almost like going to see the Beatles. You know, if they weren't half dead.

This talk of the Who is to inform you that E will (hopefully) keep yous company in the next few days as I give up on obsessing over my class* and start getting excited for the only bit of fun (not counting footy matches) I'm likely to have in the next year or so: this. There's a great lineup, including the Who (of course) and loads more. Tickets are now on sale for half of what they originally were so if any PTSD reader fancies joining the crowd, they should.

It's on Saturday. I'm headed there with a great bunch of folks (including some who are driving me there). I did sell my soul to the devil for the ticket but I'm assuming the devil is more like the Terry Pratchett version**and, hence, quite willing to appreciate an exchange of soul for good music and company.

I shall post on how the Festival went (and also write up the long-awaited ethnographic post) when I get back.

E, entertain the masses, please!

* Today's highlights: teaching students while wearing flip-flops after having thrown away my proper shoes for causing blisters. Oh, and telling the couple of kids who wanted to go home (instead of doing the in-class Q&A) that they could go home but that would count as an absent class and their class participation grade would suffer (thus ensuring they stayed).

** Yes, well, TP was talking of death, not the devil but don't quibble. One can only do so much on an off-the-cuff post.


from safety to where

A post on random things, saying farewell and, of course, the coup.

- From today: It's far funnier to look upon a conversation from the outside rather than to participate in it. The three words, "oh, you too?" have never been as amusing as they were on Tuesday night (yes, E, I'm talking about you and you know who).

- From Saturday: "What's the best way to eat brains?" is not a line I often hear. Especially, if it's followed up by comments about whether fried brains or brains-with-egg is best. The conversation about how to eat brains formed a large part of the (farewell) gig on Saturday.

- While driving to farewell gig on Saturday: The anomie-laded policy on child-rearing: let it loose in your backyard, without any pants on, and let go. Eventually, when the child's able to stand, you can hose it down with the garden pipe before bringing it indoors. A good method of making sure your garden is better fertilised than any other gardens in the 'hood.

- Over the weekend: "Marriage isn't all that it's cracked up to be" and "if someone tells you they are happily married, then there's surely something wrong there". In my family, people are told marriages are bloody hard work and often seem worthless and depressing but then you have kids and it's all downhill from there* but eventually you die and (possibly) go to Heaven**. Not many people "crack up" marriage since that would automatically lead to more folks trooping down to the closest watering-hole as if there's not enough of that already.

-On Saturday: "I try to tell him to exercise and lose weight but he just thinks that just happens."

- On Tuesday: Getting emails from various family members who now insist in (re)living the (good old) days of Army dictatorship (Grandpa, who moved to Thailand in the early 1960s, the heyday of military dictatorship and the start of the alliance with the United States) or the glory days of student protests (Dad, who was there during the 1973 protests. As is the norm with student protests in general, these were summarily crushed by the Army) with both agreeing on how they predicted this would happen.

- On Tuesday night: realising one's palm is a repository for heaps of blood when said palm was cut open by a glass piece broken off from a vase which fell off a shelf which itself misbalanced because one of the (tuna) cans holding it up was jolted out of position as I tried to do multiple tasks at once. If any of my students write something along the lines of that previous sentence, I'll not be happy.

- In the wee hours of Wednesday morning: Obsessing about my next class (which is the final one before we divide up the rest of the semester into chunks of "research traditions") on "Literature Review". How to do one and what's the point of it. I'll report on it to yous when it's all over.

* Though my parents have always made the excellent point that kids provide free labour around the house. Not that PTSD advocates child labour in any way but you know those little rugrats can be helpful, especially when they grow up a bit and can carry things around and go shopping.

** Yes, for most of my family. Not so for a PTSD-reading one who shall remain anonymous.


and by the way, when I talked to you that day

Well, at least Priya was amused by our latest excursion into PhD conversation.

I, on the other hand, might possibly need to go drown myself. At the very least, I need to rethink my conversational style, because a discussion that I thought (and that the other person involved presumably saw as) perfectly normal was in fact very strange. Depressingly strange, and from what P said we may have been having two entirely different conversations. Three, if you count the one that everyone else at the table heard. Four, if you include P, who was very meta about the whole thing, as she already knew my part of the conversation and was busy snickering about the whole situation.*

Not that she elbowed me to shut up or anything. Because that would make things too easy. And she wasn't even there for the earlier Happy Hour discussion with the Dean.

I think I'm going to cry.

On a more positive note, S isn't annoyed with me. Or at least he isn't admitting it. And I've got some shiny new Slings & Arrows to comfort me as I bemoan the fact that my mouth doesn't always have a functioning feedback loop with my brain.

*Yes, it's cryptic. I don't need to have any *more* conversations about this tonight. Two is enough for today, thanks. Even if one was Sorkinesque, it still counts, and I'm just too tired to get into the whole issue of who knows what about whom and how they know it.

There's a coup in every corner

just not in mine (yet)

And I thought the coup would be in my classroom. Instead, it's going on in the land of my birth.

Though the Beeb doesn't seem to believe it's actually happening (notice the quotation marks around its lead headline).

ETA: Well, it appears as though there was a coup after all. Later headlines seem to confirm this, and also point out the rather nifty information that both the Thaksin government (supposedly ousted) and the military coup leaders are claiming they are the legitimate head of state. I propose a WWE-style battle royale to determine the winner, who then gets wear a lyotard to future United Nations General Assembly meetings.

a good day for me is when the bottom don't fall out

Random bits of stuff:

1. Go read Effect Measure. It's about H5N1 and virulence. No, really, you should read it.

2. Talk Like a Pirate Day has rolled around once again. *insert something funny here*

3. 14K words of a poli sci / academia AU at 1am on a Tuesday? Sure, why not. I've got nothing better to read, right??

4. I need to know when Bravo is re-airing S60, because I suck at life. And at VCR usage.

5. What the hell is up with my email? Where is it going? Is it ever coming back? [ETA: Well, fuck. Found them. I think.]

6. I think I could pitch my nightstand and just keep my glasses on the giant piles of books waiting to be read. Since they seem to be there for all eternity.

7. At the moment, I can't remember why I wanted to schedule a meeting for this afternoon. I'm sure it will come to me before then. Well, reasonably sure, anyway.


all told it's a personal bias

Um, yes. GS, I put up a post liveblogging the Studio 60 premiere on my livejournal. Go read it, because I was about two seconds away from calling you and whimpering into the phone when Bradley Whitford put those glasses on.

Don't they know I have no free time and my internets are unpredictably broken?

You were going to push back those chapter deadlines anyway, right? So that you can watch every episode of this show at least 14 times? Please tell me you're on board for this. If I have to talk to just Priya about it, I'm going to strangle her.*

*No offense, P, but we both know you're a bit skeptical of the tv fan experience. And this is squee of biblical proportions. You'd just be bored.

where's the enemy?

Someone far more creative than this half of PTSD, has designed a board game called "War on Terror". It seems fantastic and makes me rue the fact that I don't teach World Politics. Imagine how much fun I could have?

As my source of information (no laughing now) tells me, "players can collect suicide bomber cards bearing the slogan: 'Like a boomerang, but more dangerous. And he doesn’t come back.'"

Well, neither do most boomerangs but I suppose that's another point entirely.

Oh oh oh--and the game comes with not only an Axis of Evil spinner but also includes an "evil balaclava".

The makers claim: "Playing it will bring out the nastiest, greediest, darkest, most paranoid aspects of your character."

And, I thought the dissertating process was supposed to do that.


I don’t like the way that it coaxes me to explain

Go. Read. Laugh. Cry. Change professions.


whatever people say I am, that's what I'm not

E, if she takes it, will probably break the scale* so I can console myself with that. And people wonder why I don't have a social life.

I am nerdier than 90% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

* Though I have to admit that a basic knowledge of (Nepali) high school chemistry and math seems to get a 90% score, making me think whether the (American) "nerd test" is completely flawed. Back home, I'd just be a regular girl, quite possibly even slightly absent-minded rather than a (cool?) "nerd".


I like it here, no accounting for taste

My ipod is cheerier than the laptop, but either way the music selection seems to indicate that I just don't give a damn.

In keeping with my recent posts of little consequence, I present a pair of Friday Random Tens. (For your continuing edification, Loyal Reader, I've included the reason that I originally stumbled upon the band, or the album if it's from a collection. Enjoy the little glimpse of my psyche that gives you.)

From iTunes:

“Meanwhile” No Motiv (Vagrant Records has never steered me wrong when it comes to songs both loud and angry.)
“I Don’t Care” Flipp (Chasing Amy isn't my favorite Kevin Smith film, but it's better than Jersey Girl.)
“Leather” Tori Amos (Neil Gaiman's Sandman series has an intro by Tori Amos, and she got a lot of airtime on 89X out of Windsor when I was in high school.)
“Lover Lies” The Atomic Fireballs (Warped Tour, Detroit, late 90s. Detroit clubs after that.)
“Drunken Sailor” Captain Tractor (due South)
“Alive” Gravity Kills (They opened for Kid Rock at Asylum in 1994, maybe? Might have been 1993, or 1996. It's all a bit blurred, but he was still playing little dive clubs at the time.)
“Mass Romantic” The New Pornographers (Men With Brooms, I think. Although I saw them in concert before that, probably in Detroit.)
“Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll” The Killers (Honestly? No idea. Probably means the album came from my brother, and therefore he heard them on 89X.)
“Downtown” Headstones (89X, junior year of high school. And many, many places after that."Cemetery" is the first song of theirs that I remember listening to and wanting to own.)
“Make This Go On Forever” Snow Patrol (BBC and Doctor Who)

From the iPod:

“Hell Yes” Alkaline Trio (Vagrant again.)
“Nothing Wrong With You” The Finn Brothers (Crowded House, of course.)
“Rosie” Jill Jack (89X, and the Red Wings)
“Everybody’s Gonna Be Happy” The Kinks (Grosse Point Blank? Dunno, because I can't remember not listening to them.)
“This Is How It Goes” Billy Talent (89X picked them up recently, but they've been around for a while. The band's name comes from Hard Core Logo, which is how I found them. Turns out I can't spell.)
“Mystery To Me” Headstones (Did you know that Hugh Dillon shaved his head? I just found that out yesterday. There's your useful fact for the day. No, I don't know what it's useful for.)
"Earleen" Patrick Lewandowski (Frankie's, late 90s. His family owns an HVAC company down the street from my parents, which is odd but irrelevant.)
"Take the Skinheads Bowling" Camper van Beethoven (Fuck if I know. I think I've always known this band, and this song. No, wait, it was part of a mix tape from David, back in the dark ages of vinyl.)
“Lullabye” Concrete Blonde (Yikes. Um, middle school, first. I had a cassette of Bloodletting for my very first Walkman. And then Amy and I listened to them far, far too often in college.)
“26 Miles By Car” Jim Bryson (Maple Music, which is a fantastic source for Canadian artists and projects. I'd link to them, but Blogger and Safari are not the best of friends. Go buy stuff from them. I think they've got the new BNL for sale, and possibly some newish Tragically Hip.)

always look on the bright side of life

Moving on from labour (and labourers), here's a handy list of Top Ten Reasons to Visit (and stay!) at Guantanamo Bay Health and Recreation Facility from the Department of Defense (with additional PTSD comments in italics).

1. The detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility include bin Laden’s bodyguards, bomb makers, terrorist trainers and facilitators, and other suspected terrorists.

I like the "and other suspected terrorists" at the end. The rest of them being real terrorists already, I suppose (and they call it a detention centre)

2. More money is spent on meals for detainees than on the U.S. troops stationed there. Detainees are offered up to 4,200 calories a day. The average weight gain per detainee is 20 pounds.

But...but...but...how many of each are there? and what do the meals consist of?

3. The Muslim call to prayer sounds five times a day. Arrows point detainees toward the holy city of Mecca.

Do the Catholics get a Sunday mass? Oh, and do Buddhists get opportunities to meditate? and how about the atheists? What happens to them?

4. Detainees receive medical, dental, psychiatric, and optometric care at U.S. taxpayers’ expense. In 2005, there were 35 teeth cleanings, 91 cavities filled, and 174 pairs of glasses issued.

Obviously not the same health insurance offered to TUWSNBN students then

5. The International Committee of the Red Cross visits detainees at the facility every few months. More than 20,000 messages between detainees and their families have been exchanged.

6. Recreation activities include basketball, volleyball, soccer, pingpong, and board games. High-top sneakers are provided.

I can imagine a group of detainees sitting around and playing LOTR Risk. Or Diplomacy

7. Departing detainees receive a Koran, a jean jacket, a white T-shirt, a pair of blue jeans, high-top sneakers, a gym bag of toiletries, and a pillow and blanket for the flight home.

and how many have departed as of today?

8. Entertainment includes Arabic language TV shows, including World Cup soccer games. The library has 3,500 volumes available in 13 languages — the most requested book is “Harry Potter.”

Good taste--footy and magic

9. Guantanamo is the most transparent detention facility in the history of warfare. The Joint Task Force has hosted more than 1,000 journalists from more than 40 countries.

Seriously, no comment

10. In 2005, Amnesty International stated that “the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has become the gulag of our times.”

From the Department of Defense
Office of Public Affairs

I'm still not quite sure the list's not a joke perpetuated by a canny blogger, especially no.10.

I see you smiling you're smiling for the camera

Over at the University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog, Randy Picker is doing a series of posts reviewing Convergence Culture, a book that's at the top of my "stuff to read as soon as I get a free moment" list. Go take a look, even if you're a Priya-type fan and not a FAN. Academics and pop culture is always a good mix. And it's Friday afternoon, so you weren't doing anything useful, right?

Part One
(On audience participation and canon in general. For the record, I don't understand the appeal of Survivor, and the idea of Survivor fic baffles me. Isn't it all just RPF?)

Part Two (On fanfic as a concept--this post could turn out to be a one-page primer on those wacky fen, as in the book Jenkins takes on both the terrifying mob* that is HP fandom and the equally disconcerting Star Wars universe)

Part Three (Not yet posted, but apparently going to tackle the impossible task of calmly discussing fanfic and copyright / fair use) Well, it was an attempt. I'm not sure if the uncertainty was a result of the original text, or the post, so draw your own conclusions about whether it succeeded.

I'm going to have to go read Convergence Culture eventually--if only to find out if Jenkins takes on the issue of fan-generated series renewals as part of his discussion of audience influence on canon. (What? Sunglasses? Sent in the mail? I don't know what you're talking about, Loyal Reader.)

One last thing: describing Survivor spoiling using hotel visits as "extreme fan participation"? Somebody's never been to a Con.

* I was going to use the more accurate term "clusterfuck" but I don't want to be burned in effigy. So, mob it is.


there is power in a union*

For those of PTSD's readers who live in our vicinity in RL, here's a shoutout to the working class. The DC Labor Filmfest is on for the next week, 14-19 September, to be precise.

More information, including nifty summaries of films, is available here.

Not that either of us are working class, which is why PTSD can and does give them a shoutout every once in a while, just to nip any potential rebellion in the bud by ensuring they know we care. After all, as has been documented, life without a (working class) Mexican would not be pleasant at all.

* or so the song goes. Do they even have unions here? I used to belong to one, once, in my younger days.


this is my truth tell me yours

So, while E's been sorting out the great red one (no, not the blasted Liverpool team but her car), I've been musing upon syllabi as an attempt to stave off those pangs of "why am I not working" and replace them with "but thinking about work is working".

A quick chat with a couple of other newly-minted academics aka PhD-ers revealed pretty much everyone is using a quotation from someone or the other on their syllabi. SuperN was on one, as was James Joyce and Karl Popper (imagine a dinner party with those three, eh?).

As for me, I didn't have the cheek to put this on my syllabus but I did throw it at the kids during the "Theory" portion of my class.

Here yous go:

"There is a theory which states that if ever anybody discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. There is another theory which states that this has already happened."

-- Douglas Adams (who also had great stuff to say about Feng Shui and Dragons, it seems).

you had it all in the back of your Ford

Sorry, Loyal Reader, meant to be back by now but the car kind of decided that everything should go wrong at once. So I'm out the cost of:

Serpentine belt
Oil filter (Seriously, for as much as these cost, they ought to be gold plated or something)
Oil (5 quarts, and I was *not* going to pay $35 for Mobil synthetic, which is the only Mobil they had at Meijer on a Sunday night, so Pennzoil it is.)
Water pump (Yeah, the second driveway stain was antifreeze. Insert heartfelt profanity here.)
Antifreeze (See above.)
Various hoses (Some of which I've never heard of, but whatever.)
Two windshield wiper arms and blades (Um, yeah. There was a sale, so what the hell. Replaced them both.)
Two evenings (Mostly my dad's time, but still, it sucks.)
Two gallons of gas (One while I drove the car to heat up the transmission, and one while it ran in the barn to check the radiator.)
One coffee crisp bar (it's the least I could do, after my dad spent his first days back from vacation under my car and covered in grease. Thankfully, he wore his uniform, so at least my mother doesn't have to try to clean his clothes afterward.)
No whining about the loss of my lovely new Northwest Ontario off-road guide (Oh, but it was such a *nice* mapbook. And I really, really liked the handy "bears will not eat you at this lake" hints. Too bad for me that my dad liked it, too. He did insist on paying me for it.)

No luck with the transmission--when it goes, it goes. There's no sense in replacing it in a car that's as old as mine is, and as long as I'm careful it could last for years still. Or not. Right now, it only hesitates shifting into second, and that only just after it starts, so it's not dangerous or anything.

More about vacation (including photos of the Genius Nephew almost entirely managing not to fall in the lake) later. Right now, I'm off to catch up on 10 days of emails and listen to the new BNL album. In that order, I promise.


who's calling whom and for what, exactly?*

A short one this time--a few thoughts on the President of the Galaxy's** recent speech.

So, when he said this war is "the calling of our generation", do yous reckon he meant his generation aka a bunch of old men pretty ready to retire off into the nearest tropical island and chortle over their activities or did he mean the generations after him? In other words, is it my calling too? Or, should I get my dad and mum some armoured gear and tell them to go off to the nearest recruiting post and sign up for the crusades?

And, what about this being a "struggle for civilisation"? I thought we had all become civilised already? Isn't that what being able to use knives and forks makes us? The last time I checked, we could do that and carry on a conversation at the same time. I'd say that's enough civilisation but now he's telling us to struggle? It's almost as though being civilised actually requires more effort than I'm willing to put in. After all, I'm already teaching and writing (neverending) articles and hanging out with friends and dissertating. And now to be told I'm part of the "decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century" and should actually do something? I'm confused.

* My dictionary defines "calling" as "an inner urge or a strong impulse, especially one believed to be divinely inspired to accept the Gospels as truth and Jesus as one's personal saviour". By this definition, I think I'm officially excluded from this calling business as I don't think Jesus is my saviour. Though, Jesus, mate, if you're listening, I'm open to offers.

** The President of the Galaxy requires, as our esteemed source of information Wikipedia puts it, "the incumbent to attract attention so no one wonders who's really in charge".

My name is Priya

Time: Monday morning, bright and early.

Site: new classroom.

Programme: divide students into groups of 4-8 people and get them to discuss today's readings.

What to look for?: Research question(s); concepts used; evidence; and end with some other research questions that could be asked about that subject.

Procedure: I tried "real time" writing up--having my computer up and writing down what they said about the articles while they were discussing them. A computer version of writing it on the board, I thought. I thought this would work better since then they couldn't keep on looking at me and expecting me to tell them what the article is/was about but would discuss things on their own.

How it went?: Well, since not all of the students had read all of the articles, there seemed to be a lack of interest on the part of those who hadn't read that specific article when their mates were talking about it. Also, I get the feeling (and a couple of kids told me) that they expect to hear me talking about how research should be done and my way of explaining that research is ultimately messy, chaotic, and a hands-on affair is not going down too well.

I reckon it went all right though--my guinea pigs are still not sure about speaking up in the class and, as they are seniors, seem to think they already know most of these things? But, almost all of them did a good job of critically reading the articles I'd assigned.

One issue I have noted so far is that there is not enough time for in-depth discussion, even when I give over the whole class to "workshopping" (like today). As the class sessions are only just over an hour long, it is difficult to get the students to engage and critique as time runs out fairly quickly. By the time we did an overview of each of the (four) readings, it was almost time to head out.

Interestingly enough, most of the kids remind me of myself--silent and waiting for the class to end OR making smartarse remarks every once in a while to ensure the Professor knows they're there. I've never been convinced that karma exists but, if it did, this would be my version of it, I'm sure.

The next class is when they finally discuss their own research interests. I've asked them to come in to class with a list of questions on one or two topics they are interested in researching. I'll let yous know how that goes but, in the meantime, wait for the ethnographic post. I'll get to that someday, for sure.


over the moon

Back to the States, but not in DC--so while I'm at my parents' house (laundry and grading and repacking, oh joy.) here's a quick note from last week that demonstrates that I'm doomed: the most addictive candy bar ever made is no longer something to be smuggled through customs.

Of course, the Rodman's in White Flint has been selling them for years, along with mint Aero bars and Dairy Milks. If they start importing the Caramel ones, I'm really in trouble.


another brick in the wall

That sound yous hear? My kids plotting revolution and attempting to sing "Do you hear the people singing..." as they are cruelly shot down by the evil oppressor (me, in this case) and the seats of the classroom are adorned with their (figurative) blood.

Yesterday's class involved my finding out the classroom had been changed* and having to walk around uni in confusion before finally finding where the new room was. Of course it was at the other end of the uni from where the class originally met. Of course it was the one hot day in the past week. Of course I was wearing trousers and a (full-sleeved) shirt. Sweaty and irritable is not the way to start talking to students.

Then, the technology (projector and screen combo) didn't work properly so I had to wait for the tech bloke to come over, my kids were restless (and so was I) and the way I had expected (planned in my head) the class to go was all shot to pieces.

The actual class itself, once we got going, seemed okay. I still need to find ways to get them to talk more and also figure out how to deal with some of the more rumbunctious (is that a word?) students (those who say their "interests" are "$2 beer specials at Clyde's"** but it's difficult (for me anyway) to get into stride once my (imagined) way has been disrupted. I'm sure, with practice, I'll be taking these little hitches in stride but, hey, that takes time. And, these students are my guinea pigs.

One difficulty so far is the students seem to expect me to give them notes and points to write down. Their pencils are poised over paper, as soon as I put up my slides, though I have mentioned repeatedly that the slides will be on Blackboard (hence, no need to take down notes). During discussions, each student talks to me rather than to each other. Considering this was only class no. 3, I do have time to work with them on making them more comfortable and discuss things with each other but it's interesting to see patterns I've noticed in class, while I was (am!) a student, being repeated here when I'm at a different position with relation to the rest of the class.

Yous will have to wait and read how things go as the semester progressses. But, not if the rumblings of revolution become an earth-shattering roar and this scenario comes about:

Any class now I expect one of them to say "Oh, Professor, eh. Lovely. And, how did you get that, eh? How? By hanging on to outdated academic dogma which perpetuates class and power differences in our society"***.

And, I'll be going: "But, I'm your professor"

Them: "I didn't vote for you!"...."Strange men handing out contracts are not a basis for a system of teaching. Supreme teaching power derives from a mandate from the classes, not from some farcical contractual appointment!"

I'll probably have nothing to say to that. Read about it in upcoming posts.

* Oh, I was informed after the class. Yes, yous read that right--after.

** As is usual in these cases, I realised afterwards I could have turned this moment into an example of a research question. E.g. hypothesis: country with large number of beer drinkers, low birth rate and democratic = high GDP per capita. During that time, I just said "Right. Useful information, I'm sure but that's hardly going to help us right now, is it?"

*** Nicked off, who else, Monty Python.


My moral universe

According to this "Morality-based political test", I'm part of 1.1% of the survey population who falls under this category:

The following items best match your score:

System: Socialism
Variation: Moderate Socialism
Ideologies: Social Democratism
US Parties: No match.
Presidents: Jimmy Carter (93.01%)
2004 Election Candidates: Ralph Nader (88.73%), John Kerry (84.38%), George W. Bush (52.71%)

Notice the "no match" for "US parties". I guess it's a good thing I don't vote here. Though, since I left home before I turned 18 (legal age for voting), I've actually never voted anywhere. A bit sad, that.

As with most polls, the choices were a bit silly but I guess one can't ask for nuances in something that's called a "morality-based" test.


Sites of the Month: (Sometimes we all need) a Stairway to the Stars

That is why this month's site is the Beeb's guide to Life on Mars* and a couple of fan sites and forums discussing the goodness that is Gene and the verbal (and physical) slangings among the "coppers". There's even a reference to the (more famous) time traveller in Episode Five.

Go and watch the original (British) version**, make a soundtrack CD of the songs used in the episodes and jump about. Go on, you'll love it***!

* How could I not like a show where one of the lead characters says something along the lines of "We can't change this world...but only learn how to survive in it"? Take that, Karl!

** Each U.S. episode has loads of fun stuff cut off--the originals, on the other hand, have heaps of fun Gene quotes.

*** I should probably mention that I've (practically) sold my soul to the, Devil to go watch '70s relics, The Who and Co., later on this month. PTSD readers will have to wait and read to see how that goes. My Dad warns against standing too close to the Who because of their tendency to destroy the musical equipment during concerts. Flying drumsticks are not my idea of fun.


not walking alone

Family weekend for the Priya household* included hanging out with LilSis who'd arrived after a 22-hour trip from Down Under. Since the upcoming AnotherBigNameConference-related post is on ethnography, I thought of getting a bit above myself, and trying to kill two birds with one stone (though, in practice, I think the actual killing of two birds with one stone would require a really big stone, quite possibly a boulder. Anyway...). So, linking family outings and work commitments, here are some ethnographic vignettes to prepare you for the actual ethnographic panel post:

Friday: the poster-that-never-was involved my going into a Kinko's, which was filled with loads of ABNC attendees, and in true "Third World" fashion, pushing my way in front of a line of about eight people, all frantically trying to get the Kinko's employees to do their thing. Apologising profusely and acting dithering helps, as academics (especially foreign academics, as these folks were) seemed to be quite sympathetic to a harrassed-looking and potentially-lost colleague trying to get last-minute things done. Or so I found as no one complained or even made sarcastic side-remarks (which would have been the least of what I'd have done) when I made my way to the front of the line in order to get E and mine files printed. Then came the frantic dash back in the rain to the Conference Centre, a place I later realised was connected to the Hotel where Kinko's was located by a (covered, of course) walkway.

Saturday: LilSis and I did the usual thing my family does when they get together--We went off to watch football (soccer). Trying to decide between Ireland-Germany (both of us being fond of Ireland and me trying to justify watching that match would count as research into how the Irish are described in the international arena) and Wales-Czech Republic was tough but we went with Wales since, ever since I can remember, we've been trying to get Wales into a major championship. It was also rather amusing to find that place that went all out for England during the World Cup (with people singing English footy songs and such), the Lucky Bar in Washington, was showing the Wales match. After all, Wales is hardly a glamourous or a "sexy" team like England with Beckham is (or, now, was, since Beckham's not in the team anymore). But, by the time we got there (about ten minutes after the match started), the match was up on the big screen, all the tables and chairs were taken (except one booth at the front, which we took) and people were already shouting. After a bit of confusion (the Czechs were in a red and white kit, which are Wales' usual colours), it was the usual story--Wales played all right, had a couple of great chances, and then lost to a rather easily-given goal at the end.

One thing about this experience was that LilSis and I were the only girls at this place, apart from one of the servers. At some point during the match, the owner came up to ask us (probably because we were making a fair amount of noise. After all, the whole point of watching football is to cheer/jeer teams) if we were Welsh. At that time, both of us replied "no". Later, when I was paying our bill, I ran into him again and had a discussion about why precisely we were there (see note on Wales above). I pointed out that we're (well, LilSis more than me) part of the "Ryan Giggs fan club" (and I did say this with a straight face) and that we'd really like him to play in a major championship before he retired. After that, the conversation got technical with the bloke pointing out "Gigg's not been here today, had he?" and me replying with the (many) times Giggs had carried the team. He issued an invite to "why don't you come watch Man Utd here then?". As we were on good terms by then, I didn't answer that I wouldn't spend time watching Man Utd unless they were getting thrashed by Liverpool! Once our credentials for watching Wales were established, we were invited to watch future matches and shown the little "Ryan Giggs alcove", where an autographed picture of Giggs resided.

Sunday: Afternoon visit to the Catholic University Theatre to catch an excellent production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Tom Stoppard's existential play is a favourite in our household and, of course, we had to go see it. The audience this time was composed of mainly older folks, the theatre was small and intimate and the actors worked well together. One of the highlights was a clearly improvised moment in which one of the actors roared about like a lion and the other one started laughing. The actors did a good job of delivering Stoppard's words on probability, life and death. Oh, and we stood out once more--this time, not as the only girls about but as the only non-white people there. In an audience of fifty or so people, that was quite a feat.

After the play, we went to explore the National Shrine, also located within the Uni's grounds. Despite my four years in this city, I'd never been there before. The crypt church, populated with people praying and with tourists walking around, had images of Jesus and his Mum. The good part in all this was that it was a working church (we--well, I actually--disturbed a bloke praying in the Filipino section) with duplicates of well-known Catholic shrines and images from all over the world. It was like taking a tour of famous Catholic places, ranging from India and the Philippines to Poland and Greece. The benefits of travel without leaving DC, yous might say.

Both the Kinko's, the pub and the shrine were different, to my usual places of visit, because they seemed like they weren't supposed to be in DC (or Philly) and yet the audience were there for something familiar. The Kinko's was full of ABNC people and I acted completely out of character and got away with it. The pub was full of Wales supporters--both Americans (the boys in the booth right behind us were American, one of whom was fairly clueless about soccer and the other one was explaining the game to him) and from overseas. The question of belonging, of being there was dependent on having an attachment to Wales (or, to a Welshman--Ryan Giggs in our case). In the case of the Shrine, the location was in the middle of DC and yet the place itself had images and idols from all over the world--Jesus and his Mum in different guises--and, for some of the attendees, there was probably a sense of home in the middle of DC as they prayed at their "local" areas. So, yes, there was no walking alone today.

* Does a grand total of 2 count as a household?

** Yes, I remain an idealist in this. It was just nice to see all the different versions of the same event--the Immaculate Conception and Jesus and Mary--spread around a common space.


she's disconnected she can't connect

So, I'm off for the week. Priya will keep you entertained, I'm sure. And if I get access to email, I'll probably send something in.

But before I go, a quick list of things that were surprising (and not so surprising) yesterday, in chronological but otherwise random order:

1. Car + downpour + wet oil + sudden grassy stop = late arrival at Conference.

2. This conference is much more formal than what I'm quickly (despite Priya's recent evil empire plans) beginning to think of as our home conference.

3. Weird conversation with guy who claimed to have a program that could model a constantly expanding system. I'm tempted to call the number on the card he left, just because I'm curious.

4. Cheese curds. Still the second best thing ever.

5. "Don't you think that Vagina has fallen behind the curve of queer politics" was not the most unexpected thing I heard in a panel. Not even in that panel.

6. The lighthearted joking of a group of people who study health policy research is quite terrifying.

7. TUWSNBN receptions can be fun. I'm not sure if jokes about transgendered GM cows being denied EU membership are necessary for the fun, but it's possible.

8. It's always raining in Philadelphia. And my umbrella is always in the car when I need it to walk to the car.

9. And the streets all run the wrong way.

10. And they hate street signs.


time's running out...

I'm blogging from Another Big Name Conference where E and I presented our poster-made-for-people-who-wear-magnifying-glasses, discussed hush-hush security issues with someone who wanted us (well, E, actually) to do the "model on steroids" and (for me) discovered (all by my own self) the pleasure that is Reading Market.

I have a post related to a panel on ethnography I went to that I want to write up for yous but that'll have to wait as my ten minutes on this computer (complimentary 'net access) are nearly up.

Did I mention we nearly didn't make it up here? Details will be shared in RL but involved a transportation issue and me (as usual) trying to pike out.