Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav: How to Help

Elle's got some links on how to help people evacuating Gustav. Please please please check it out and help if you can. I have fled a hurricane. And it freakin' sucks. I evacuated for Hurricane Rita in 2005. 3 weeks after Katrina, we were taking no chances. It was a horrible experience. Even if you have money, and family support, and a car, and a job that has allowed you to go. It still sucks.

And it's scary. Just not knowing what you will come to. So when I take a moment and think about all those people facing such a scary, difficult, even deadly undertaking without the sorts of privilege and resources that I had, I'm floored. So once again, give if you can.

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To Miss M, the in-laws, and all the rest on the gulf coast, stay safe. We're thinking of you.


Friday, August 29, 2008

It's never too late to say, "Sorry, we were misogynist assholes"

This story talks about the exoneration of one of the last witches executed in Europe. I take issue with the article's specifics ("several thousand"? Try tens of thousands... probably 40,000 to 100,000 at best scholarly estimate, but hey, what's a few thousand troublemaking women more or less? And "mostly women" should be "overwhelmingly women"), but I do appreciate their recognition that there was something wrong. Go Switzerland.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Four Long Years

Four long years ago, I was sitting in a dorm room at the University of Minnesota. I was on a research trip, financed on a shoestring grant, for my dissertation. I spent 5 days at their Social Welfare collections, and five nights all alone (well, with WB in utero to keep me company), listening to my walkman with AM/FM radio. I found the local NPR station and followed the speeches at the Democratic Convention.

Four long years ago, knowing nothing about him and never having seen his face, I heard Barack Obama speak and thought, "That's the guy who should be president!"

We're close. Here's hoping.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

What Quinn's reading

What I should be reading:
  • The second half of Global Rift, which is amazing and mind-blowing, but is also daunting and huge. I did about 200 pages before I needed a break.
  • Silk and Religion. One of my big projects for the summer was learning more about China. Academically, it is a big weak spot of mine.
  • The Camel and the Wheel. I'm almost halfway through, I swear!

    What I actually read:
  • Charity Girl. A fictionalization of female detention centers during World War I. Right up my professional alley. But not so captivating as a novel.
  • The Other Boleyn Girl. Ok, I'm weak. I like trashy historical fiction. And this is primo trashy historical fiction!
  • Llama Llama Mad at Mama! A great story of grocery store tantrums. Which is ironic, since we read it at the grocery store to appease my tantruming pre-schooler. (WB did not want to get rainboots, but really wanted to get a dinosaur.)

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  • Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    Happy Days Are Here Again

    Anybody got the summertime blues? Anybody need a little pick me up? I give you the solution to the world's ills: Neil Patrick Harris.

    And while they don't allow embedding, check out his appearance as the shoe fairy on Sesame Street.

    I mean, seriously, how can you be sad when this man exists? Even when he's not riding a unicorn, he is awesome. Despite his lack of interest in me or my kind, he's fast making his way toward the laminated list. He has definitely earned himself a "lusty wench" tag.

    h/t APL for the Sesame Street link

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    Sunday, August 17, 2008

    Random Bullets of Olympic Dreams

  • I'm in love. Not with Tunisian distance swimmer Oussama Mellouli as I briefly considered, but with a member of the women's US indoor volleyball team: Ogonna Nnamani. Stanford Grad in bio and chemistry, taking some time off before med school to spike it down your throat!!! She's wicked awesome.

  • My son wants to be Michael Phelps, but doesn't want to stick his face in the water.

  • On Friday night, chatting with the always intriguing Sco4tt (the 4 is silent), he told me his favorite sport was Modern Pentathlon. Invented by Coubertin (father of the modern games and topic of a previous post, who was most concerned in the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War with France's, um, military shortcomings) this sport was to combine elements essential to a Frenchman's military success: pistol shooting, epee fencing, swimming, riding (equestrian show jumping) and cross-country running. I suggested adding in "faking a German accent."

  • Also from Friday night's convo, plus an email from the Divine Miss M: Ian Thorpe, Michael Phelps, or Matt Biondi?

  • We've found the ultimate sport my kids enjoy: Steelpechase. Run, jump over hurdle into puddle. Repeat.

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  • Saturday, August 16, 2008

    Strange beverage commercials

    Ok, so as I obsessively watch the Olympics, I see commercials. Coca Cola and Budweiser, in particular. And these two are hi-larious! First up, Bud is totally kissing up to Americans and begging them to forgive them for being bought out by the Belgians.

    But this Coke ad is even better.

    What was the secret formula? Caffeine and cocaine. The drink originally sold as a headache remedy. Considered not appropriate for children. History is a funny thing. (Oh, and read A History of the World in Six Glasses for more on your favorite drinks. Fun read, and fun for interesting lecture factoids.)

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    This Just In

    The Wild Boy is playing trains as we speak and singing a medley of his own design: "Yellow Submarine" transitioning to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and straight into the Alphabet Song.


    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    What the hell is wrong with NBC's gymnastics coverage?

    Well, I'll tell you:

    1. Tim Daggett is being an ass. Not that I want someone who doesn't recognize the errors in a routine, but the man is just mean-spirited. It would help if he actually explained the differences between various difficulties of routines, instead of saying stuff like, "Well, that's not going to be good enough."

    2. He needs a spoiler alert. Last night during the women's team competition, they cut away for some swimming, which is totally fine. When we came back, the guy says something like, "When we left China was up by a point. But at the balance beam, it all started going horribly wrong. Let's see what happened." Um, I think I can guess that someone fell off. Probably would have been more exciting if they had just showed the routine rather than giving it away.

    3. I don't see why the US women should be so horrified with getting silver. The Chinese were a formidable team on their home turf with the home crowd. The US was injured. So why are the commentators acting like a building just fell on them? (This gets to the heart of what is wrong with the Olympics: jingoism and entitlement. The idea that America should win EVERYTHING. I much prefer Morgan Freeman's VISA commercial which states that we cheer for people not because of the country they come from, but because we are human and they are human. Damn right, Morgan!)

    4. Do we really not need to see anything from the other teams? Was there no other performance that was particularly gripping and worthy of our attention? Instead, we get to see the Chinese and US warm up, get to see them chalk their hands, get to see them stand around and wait for scores. Get to see them march from apparatus to apparatus. C'mon: a vault takes 12 seconds. Show us a couple of those while we're waiting. Romania won the bronze. We saw a grand total of 1 of their performances.

    On the other side: what is right?

    Raj Bhavsar. I loves me some Indian Americans!


    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    Tales of TA-ships

    My first semester in graduate school, I was thrown in the deep end. Working at a large commuter state school, receiving funding, I was put to work for Awesome Professor as a TA in the US survey class. There were 570 students and 3 TAs: me, Smelly Guy, and Creepy John. One thing that made Awesome Professor so Awesome is that he worked individually with me whenever I ran into trouble... and he required the three TAs to spread their office hours out over the week for maximum availability. Consequently, I didn't have to spend too much time with Smelly Guy or with Creepy John. In fact, it took me almost the entire term to learn why Creepy John was particularly creepy.

    During the final exam, we were proctoring and collecting students' blue books, and Creepy John started to make small talk. It was common knowledge that I was traveling to India over the winter break for my first trip there. CJ asked where I was to travel, what I would be doing. As a young student with a pierced nose turned in her test, CJ asked me if I'd ever considered piercing my nose, suggesting I could get it done in India pretty easily. "No," I replied. When a tattooed student turned one in, he asked if I planned to get a tattoo while in India. "No."

    "What about a toe ring?" Now, I had considered that. I had a fake one which I wore occasionally, and the thought of getting a permanent one was intriguing. At this admission, CJ perked up considerably.

    Come to find out later on that CJ was notorious around the TA office for his interest in the feet, hair, and other extremities of the female TAs. He had offered to paint toe nails, to give foot massages, to brush hair (he repeatedly told me how lustrous my hair looked during the two semesters I spent preggers) for any of us.

    Looking back, I wouldn't quite consider this a hostile work environment issue, mostly 'cuz we all openly laughed at him and his various fixations and he never had any real power over anyone.

    But this gets at a very real situation in grad school: the women's protection grapevine. I was on both sides of it during my time at the University: being warned which professors to avoid ("He's a boob starer," "He's a butt pincher") and telling the newbies the same information. Most were harmless, although one woman did tell me never to meet with a particular prof with the door shut. Nor to wear skirts when I went to class with him. One young woman, when going over her schedule with two more senior grad students, was informed that she'd signed up for three classes in one term from known department pervs. "You've hit the dirty old man trifecta!" one woman told her.

    I know this was not unique to my institution. And that's just sad.

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    On this day in history...

    1974: V was born.

    2008: Quinn remembers it.


    Monday, August 11, 2008

    Foot Fetishes, TAs, and Animaniacs

    There are whole websites out there dedicated to the wisdom of Colin, aka, the Randy Beaman Kid. And this particular bit of storytelling is out of the 1993 Time Capsule and back in my life, because DQ and WB are watching "Animaniacs" on DVD. That is teh Awesome!

    What's this got to do with TAs? I'll get to that next time. For now, I'm just living in the past and loving it. Goddess Bless Netflix!

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    Sunday, August 10, 2008

    Things my three year old shouts at restaurants

    "Mommy! Mommy! I went tee-tee standing up!"


    Friday, August 08, 2008

    Yes, please!

    DQ is registered to begin soccer in the fall. As such, I'm on the mailing list for the local youth soccer organization. And they sent me a very interesting email recently. The gist: they're hosting a soccer camp and tournament with their sister club in the UK. And they're looking for volunteers to host visiting soccer players and coaches from across the pond.

    Do I have any space available?

    ETA: for my loyal readers who fancy the ladies:


    Wednesday, August 06, 2008

    Bumper Sticker Watch

    In the parking lot of the post office: "Barack My World '08"


    Tuesday, August 05, 2008

    Uganda's Circumcision Song

    Flyboy sent me this, which is tremendous. A song to encourage men in Uganda to get circumcized to help deter the spread of HIV. It's got a good beat and you can dance to it.

    Thanks, Flyboy!

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    Friday, August 01, 2008

    Know Your Limits

    "Beethoven couldn't play clarinet for butt!" -- professional musician/skinny-legged Indian pre-med kid Nodden.

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    Stupid Historical Analysis Bullshit

    If you want your head to explode, read this article on fitness and the presidency:

    I mean, really. BMI of presidents and candidates? I also love it how they picture Clinton and Obama in workout clothes (really? Pictured with a basketball?) but Bush is in his presnit suit. Where's the big-ass belt buckle and his brush-clearin' jeans?

    Personally, I wouldn't trust someone who is only 5'7" to run the free world. Would you???

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