Tuesday, October 31, 2006

super dork

Why, when I no longer attend UTD, do I watch the website to see what courses are being offered in the spring? Why do I get excited and then dismayed to see that there is a graduate social movements course? Excited, because it's probably super cool, and dismayed because I won't be able to take it. Plus--there's a political sociology class being offered (never was when I was there!) as well as a soc of religion class (for real, not one that focuses on religion and immigration).

Why is it especially dorky that I am dismayed about not being able to take these classes? Well, next semester, I am going to be taking a graduate social movements class of my own. And, this semester I'm TAing for an undergrad soc of religion class.

Dude, there are only 2 classes listed for Gender Studies. One, psych of gender, is horrible. The other, Gender Society and Politics, is in the top 3 classes I've ever taken.

What is this "Women, Work, and Family" class? It's listed as soc, I've never heard of it, and it's not listed as gender studies. It's taught by Dr. S, who I had for Gender and Education as well as American Popular Culture. She's not a sociologist. But I'm sure it'll be a great class. I wonder how it's different from the other Dr. S's (a sociologist) Gender and Work class.

Ahh, that idiotic Women in Management class is being offered. That class was so stupid I wanted to cry every Tuesday and Thursday for a whole semester.

Come to think of it, UTD offers a whole lot of classes about gender and work issues. And I've had them all except this Women, Work and Family one. Did they really need another?

All in all, lots of cool classes, graduate and undergrad. I really miss UTD. Despite the wonderfulness of Arizona.

But, I am excited. Next semester I'm going to take an out-of-the-department class, Contemporary Feminist Theories, from the Women's Studies Department. It should be good. Other classes are: stats, methods, social movements.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

november surprise

Interesting, isn't it, that Saddam Hussein's verdict is scheduled to come out just a few days before the midterm elections? Thank goodness the liberal media hasn't started asking questions about this.

"Here's what you can do: vote."

So, I've been sitting here (not working on my theory essay) watching a documentary on video google about the myriad problems with electronic voting machines. It presents the problems reasonably well (okay, not well at all, but I do realize that there is a problem), but what really got me was the ending. There was no real call to arms, no opportunity for action. You've given me this information, what am I supposed to do with it?

The last words of the short film are: "here's what you can do: vote." Are you kidding me? You've just spent 40 minutes telling me why that doesn't work.

The screen then faded to black to the presumably-not-intended-to-be-ironic strains of "People have the power..."

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Sociology of Knowledge

  • Why have I not been formally introduced to this (ever)?
  • It's amazingly exciting.
  • In a few of my undergrad courses, a soc of knowledge type of analysis seems to have been the basis of the class, the whole point, really.
  • These were my favorite, favorite classes.
  • I just read Berger and Luckmann and am giddy and excited.
  • But, I kind of always assumed that "good sociology" was a form of sociology of knowledge (even though I didn't know the term for it), that it considers the origins of ideas, the construction of concepts, questions taken-for-granted assumptions, looks at the definition of the "problem" and examines how that definition leads to certain answers and solutions. How does social structure influence the very categories we use to think and construct ideas? This is what originally excited me about sociology.
  • I'm learning that what's considered to be good sociology does not always do this.

Friday, October 27, 2006

I think I've come to an important realization.

Work doesn't have to be good ('cause no one cares). But it does have to be done. That's the important part. People don't care enough to notice if it's less than perfect, but they sure will notice if you wait so long for perfection that it doesn't get finished in time. This, I think, is generalizable to most situations in life.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

sorry for the snarkiness

I have a fascinating with scary right-wingers, so I happened to be on the website for the Campaign for California's Children, where I saw this:

CCF President Randy Thomasson explains how a liberal Republican "will hurt the church and culture more in the long term because he will dumb down the Church, dumb down the Republican Party, dumb down conservative and Christian talk radio stations."

I'm not sure this is possible.

Update!! LOL! I'm watching that same guy speak on video google and he totally just said that the California vote for their DOMA "was a vote from the gut. Now those on the liberal left like to say 'don't vote from your gut." This reminds me of my good friend Stephen Colbert. "That's where the truth comes from, ladies and gentlement. The gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your stomach than in your head? Now, somebody's gonna say, 'I did look that up and it's wrong.' Well, mister, that's 'cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, try looking it up in your gut. I did. And my gut tells me that's how our nervous system works. Now I know some of you may not trust your gut. Yet. But with my help, you will. The truthiness is, anyone can read the news to you. I promise to feel the news at you."

Here's the video:


Along with a new name (which I'm not thrilled about), the School of Social Sciences--err, the School of Economic, Political, and Policy Sciences--at UTD has gotten a webpage makeover. About time. Their webpage was even worse than the sociology website here at Arizona. And that's saying something.

Well, gee whiz, turns out I understand stats after all.

I don't pay attention in statistics. Because the class is in a computer lab, I believe I have even blogged from that class more than once. It's not that the professor isn't great, and it's certainly not that I just understand all the material so there's no need to take notes and follow along. I am just not an auditory learner. I can hear a lecture, but unless I write it down, it's gone soon thereafter*. I can read a book, but without a highlighter or pen in my hand, marking important passages and taking notes, none of it sinks in. So, I'm not really a visual learner. I must be a tactile learner. I have to write things down, work out the problems, before they finally sink in. When trying to think, I have to physically draw a map "x-->y," etc.

All this semester in statistics, I've done the homework by carefully following the steps laid out in the book. I didn't understand what I was doing, I was just following instructions, plugging things into the proper equations. But in prepping for the midterm, I actually sat down and did the problems in the book; I drew the areas under the normal curve, felt it and visualized what it meant; I thought about the equations and broke them down into their parts to figure out why the equations are what they are. This may sound simple, but to me, statistics has always been a plug-and-chug kind of event. You memorize some rules and get an answer.

I now feel like I understand why I'm getting the answer, the logic behind statistics. In undergrad stats, we could have a notecard with all the formulas we'd need for the exams. And we could use our textbooks (yes, it was that pathetic). I could continue just blindly following the formulas laid out for me. But, this semester, this stats class, we have to memorize all of the formulas. Obviously, the easiest way to memorize formulas is not to memorize them at all but to understand them. So, that's what I'm doing.

And I'm surprising myself that it is, for the first time, actually making sense.

But I won't get too prematurely excited. The midterm is on Tuesday.

*I realize the response to this is, "well, write down lectures during class." My response to that response is that I can't. Not with stats, anyway. It takes me time to sort through and figure out things. I can write down what the instructor is saying, but I'm just writing down numbers, letters, and phrases that mean little to me, and soon I mentally check out and either become really drowsy or start doodling on my notes. I suspect this is why I had a tendency to skip stats classes in undergrad (still got A's, though, so it speaks to the degree to which 1)these classes were ridiculously easy and 2) my learning in math-y things depends entirely on my own study time, classtime is useless). I don't skip in grad school, you will be relieved to hear.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I realize there is a danger in this blog just becoming the space in which I post videos that I find funny.

But I choose to ignore that possibility and post this anyway. It's reporter David Gregory on Jay Leno, recounting some of his moments with President Bush. It's funny. Ignore the weird guy at the beginning of the video who appears to need to set up the story for us.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I was having kind of a crappy day...

But this video makes me inordinately happy. It combines two of my obsessions, Harry Potter and RENT. It's "La Vie Boheme" set to a sequence of scenes in the HP movies. It's, objectively, not all that great, but it made me happy and I needed that. It's funny because these two things, while both favorites of mine, are a very unlikely pair. So the choices made of what lyrics to match what scenes are funny. Obviously, some of lyrics are difficult to fit into a HP film plot (e.g., the line "bisexuals, trisexuals, homo sapiens, carcinogens, hallucinogens, men, Pee Wee Herman" doesn't fit neatly into Rowling's stories).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Professorial quotes

Statistics: The midterm exam "is both dense and not unlengthy."

Theory: "It would be nice to have theory with connections to, you know, actual cases."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Just to offer an excuse

I haven't really blogged recently because I have a whole lot of stuff to do, some of which I am behind on. Plus, to top it all off, I'm sick. I have a cold or something. I think it's because of all the weather changing all of a sudden. It was in the 80s and now it's like in the 50s and something weird is going on with my sinuses, my head, and my eyes. And I'm not drinking enough water or getting enough sleep. I need to work on this.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday, October 08, 2006

After weeks of search,

I have finally found the place that combines free wifi, great coffee, non-expensive food, and a lovely atmosphere. That place, ladies and gentlemen, is Bentley's House of Coffee and Tea. I've been sitting here for about an hour so far, am posting on the internet, have had some hot chai, and am contemplating a caesar salad. And--the good but not too loud music has allowed me to get quite of a lot reading done. Yay!

Update, 4:39pm: Okay, so the salad wasn't great. I'm not going to judge the rest of the food by this, but, in my experience, the quality of the caesar salad is indicative of the quality of everything else.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ahh, that liberal media...

I noticed this this morning, and so did crooksandliars.com (from whom I took the image).

What's even more interesting than this is how this Foley thing is being spun as a "gay" issue, e.g., we have to expect this sort of thing in a society where we value "diversity" and "tolerance." Plus, my favorite, actually, the Republicans who knew about this thing didn't want to talk about it or call Foley on it because they "might have been accused of gay baiting." Really? There's no difference between gay-baiting and calling out someone who's sexually harassing minors? It is really clever spin, though. I talked to someone today who bought it hook, line, and sinker. "What should they have done? If they made him quit, they would be accused of firing based on sexual orientation." *Sigh*

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Just to clarify:

Everything is totally okay. Thanks for the calls and emails. I didn't mean to sound so sad and pathetic, though. Honestly, it was all just sleep deprivation. Caffeine (temporarily) helped. Statistics was fine, and so was the other reading. And now I'm going to sleep. You all rock, by the way.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Just so you're not feeling sorry for me,

I did just finish the stats homework, and I feel like it makes a little more sense. As addicted as I am to caffeine as a normal part of life (i.e., I get headaches without it), I am always pleasantly surprised by its actual stimulant effect whenever I need to wake up or de-fuzzy my head. Now to read for theory!

It had to happen sometime.

I cried over schoolwork in graduate school for the first time today. Statistics, plus only having slept for three hours the night before, plus feeling sick, plus the need to read quite a lot tonight before I can finally go to bed, led to the first of (no doubt) many grad school related breakdowns. I just want to curl up and go to sleep. But by the time I finish stats and theory tonight, I'll have just enough time to get a few hours of sleep and then it's off to class.

What's particularly frustrating is that I feel that this statistics homework would actually make a lot of sense if I could actually think about it. But my mind is too fuzzy at the moment.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

No updates.

I'm not going to tell you how much I've gotten done so far. I'm ashamed. I will say, though, the feeling of being overwhelmed with work that cannot possibly get done, the feeling that used to be reserved for the ends of semesters in undergrad, has now become a permanent fixture of life. Reading ahead, working on papers well before they're due... the motivation/ability to do those sorts of things is completely gone.

Why am I having a hard time motivating myself to do anything?

Yesterday I kind of slept in. But then I got up and started to get some work done. But, by that point, after I had moved slowly in taking a shower, reading the news, and reading a few articles, it was time to leave for hiking/party. So, I told myself, Sunday would be the day of productivity. I slept till 9 this morning, did not go to church as planned, and instead moved very slowly so that by 11:30 I was ready to get work done. But, my apartment was too messy, so I decided to go set at Beyond Bread and work. I get there, and they are crazy busy. So I go to Borders to start work on stats. Well, turns out I forgot the homework. So I read some of the Simmel reading for Tuesday. Then I drove out of my way to the other Beyond Bread to try and get some of the lit review I've promised Dr. G. out of the way. Well, it's too crowded to, and by that point I'm a little hungry, so I opt against sitting at the Starbucks across the street from Beyond Bread in favor of Quiznos. I get in there and decide to read some more Simmel rather than actually work on things that I need to do by tomorrow.

So, I finally come home, decide to disregard the mess, and start work on either the lit review or the stats homework. I think the stats will require more thinking than I'm prepared to do at the moment. So, I decide to watch some Daily Show clips before settling into lit reviewing. Some turns into a lot. And the Daily Show becomes the Colbert Report as well. And then I start posting on my blog. And here we are.

Things I need to do this weekend (i.e., tonight):
--read Simmel, post on theory discussion boards
--write/get a good start on lit review for Dr. G
--read lots of stuff for social psych and think of insightful (or at least non-idiotic) things to say during class
--do stats homework
--get all reading summaries recorded for TAing
--work on stuff for K. that I have not been devoting enough time to
--do something with NSF proposal or decide that it's not worth the effort

I will update this later and tell you how far I've gotten. Don't get your hopes up.