Friday, July 28, 2017

Two Ways to Be Prepared to Teach First-Year College Students

The fall semester is coming soon. I'm feeling the pressure. More work now is less work later, I like to tell myself. So after I write this I'm working on my syllabi. I'm thinking of new 18-year-olds in my classroom. Should I read the latest research on millennials so I know how to teach them? I suppose I could, but more likely I'll draw on two key things to remember:

1. Don't overgeneralize.

If I read a list of all the things that happened before the incoming first-year students were born, it serves as a useful reminder that students are young and professors like me are not. I was born in 1972. If I make an obscure reference to a baseball player that I loved when I was a kid (Oscar Gamble) there is no way in hell they will catch the reference. But that doesn't mean all 18-year-olds are the same. It's a mistake to paint all 18-year-olds with a broad brush and, for example, assume they're technology whiz kids. I find in conversations with students (and in simple observations) that youngsters are, in some ways, like oldsters. Some 18-year-olds have their phones in their faces while others don't. Amazing. People are different. Oldsters shouldn't assume all 18-year-olds can't function without iPhones and PowerPoint just as 18-year-olds shouldn't assume oldsters don't know anything that happened after 1986.

No, the students won't catch my Oscar Gamble reference, but some of them have watched The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles. Those specific movies come to mind because I can remember two of my students recently making references to them. So while I'll stay away from super obscure popular culture references, I won't avoid more obvious references. They know who Michael Jordan is and I can mention him if I talk about consumption and Nike or if I want to assert he's better than LeBron (although for the first time in my life I'm wavering on this point and close to shifting to LeBron being the better player. Stay tuned).

In conclusion, don't overgeneralize. People think and act differently. Don't broad brush. And if and when someone who is 18-years-old tells me Oscar Gamble was a clutch pinch hitter then you'll get a mea culpa from me for assuming he's too obscure a reference.

2. Treat students with respect.

The thing about 18-year-olds is that they're people and here's one thing I'm 100% confident about having lived on this warming planet for 44 years: people like to be treated with respect. You already know that, right? No one likes to be disrespected. It's true for 18-year-olds and 80-year-olds. If we do the best we can to treat students with respect, I think we'll usually find the student-professor relationship falls into place. Mistakes will be made, as they say, because we are human and thus imperfect, but we should aim to give respect to our students. They notice. They appreciate. [If you are thinking "Hey you said don't overgeneralize but you're overgeneralizing by saying all people like to be respected" then consider this an exception to my don't overgeneralize rule.]

So there you have it. Don't overgeneralize and be respectful. You're almost ready to crush it in the classroom when the new semester begins. So shape up your syllabi (sooner than later) and have fun when school is in session!


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Song of the Day - "New York" by St. Vincent

This morning on Sirius XMU, Julia Cunningham described St. Vincent's "New York" as a beautiful song.

I agree.

The opening line is a good one: "New York isn't New York without you, love".

A song about a place that isn't as good without one person in it. A song about a lover, a friend, who makes a place what you need it to be.

A place where "you're the only motherfucker in the city who can stand me".

Do you have a person in your life who can deal with your shit and handle your weirdness? Or handle your strength? And maybe even forgive you once in a while? Millions of people in New York, billions of people in the world, but you're lucky if you can find just one.

It's a beautiful song about yearning. A special person in a special place fills the void.


Monday, July 17, 2017

What I Would Have Posted on Social Media Yesterday, Probably

I have no presence on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, the place where many of my friends and relatives reside, posting memes and pictures of daily activities. I take pictures almost every day but for the most part they sit on my phone, seen by no one. They are not liked, except by me. I don't have any high-minded reason for not being in those social media spaces. I used to be on Twitter and enjoyed it for a while. I think I'd join Instagram but who cares about the 24 ounce can of beer I drank at the Buffalo Bisons game yesterday? And that's probably what I would have posted. It was a hot one at the ballgame. I usually buy a $6 craft beer in the first inning, and then one more later in the game. Yesterday was one stop shopping, an $8.25 big can of Labatt Blue. I liked my big can of cold beer on a hot summer day. I probably would have shown it to my social world, and tried to add a clever caption. That's a good enough reason to be on social media, or not to be. Either you want to show people what you're up to, or you don't. You want to express something publicly, or not. That I write on this blog is evidence that I care to share in some way, or at least keep a public diary of sorts.

Tell me, why are you in the social media spaces you prefer, and how do you operate?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Inspired by Springsteen's Storytelling Genius

For a long time, I've been writing sociological stories. I keep trying to merge my loves of creative writing and sociology. Stories and poetry are some of the vehicles I've used for conveying sociological ideas. I'm enamored by those who tell good stories. I'm also a classic rock fanatic. So it's no surprise that I'm a Bruce Springsteen fan. Put on "Born to Run" or "Rosalita" and I'll run through a brick wall. The early Springsteen is so amazing. You hear the hunger in his voice. He's had an tremendous career but I'm especially drawn to 1970s Bruce. This week I'm inspired by a lesser known Springsteen tune, "Meeting Across the River". Loan me some money, Eddie, stay cool Eddie, don't blow it, "word's been passed, this is our last chance". The piano, the horn, the story, all outstanding. Around the 2:05 mark, it feels like the song is fading out, but there's still a minute to go. He rhymes "hocked it" with "pocket". The caper will work out, he's determined to keep his word, he's going to throw money on the bed so Cherry knows he isn't a bullshitter. Enjoy...


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Leftover Observations and Experiences

On Saturday, my 9-year-old went to a birthday party in our neighborhood. That left 6-year-old pissed that he couldn't go, so my wife and I took him to a carnival for fun. In a surprising act of kindness, a stranger insisted we not pay for a $20 wristband because he had a voucher for a kid's wristband. We were both hesitant because people are so often terrible and we both possess the minimum level of street smarts, but this guy seemed legit and turned out he was. We had a nice time and felt better about wasting $20 on games and fried dough we had saved on the wristband. My dad makes better fried dough in his kitchen than what you can find at any carnival or county fair, by the way.

The main detail in the above paragraph is that once in while you encounter a kind stranger. My wife tried to give him some money but he declined. I asserted that our built up karma had boomeranged to good effect, and suggested we pay it forward soon.

Saturday night we partied. I'm never the life of the party and I'd rather be at a public library than a party, and I'd rather read than party. But every once in a while I shed my boring self and join in the fun. My wife happens to be Director of Fun in our relationship so occasionally I step my game up so she doesn't dump me for someone taller and more fun. That's like 88% of the population so it wouldn't be a difficult task. Anyhow, we met a bunch a couples out and tore through downtown Buffalo as if we weren't in our late 30s and early 40s. Once in a while I could see a younger side-eyeing us for our conduct but I couldn't care less. One of the benefits of growing old is caring less.

Fast forward to today. My wife is at a training for work so it's just me and the boys. It rained hard this morning so I took them to Sky Zone which is a fun indoor trampoline place. I didn't see a single kid in the place get hurt or cry which is a welcome relief from the usual crying and injuries you see whenever you go outside and find yourself in proximity to children.

I'm always up for a trip to Sky Zone. I find myself very relaxed there and like to observe people. Observing public space for a sociologist is like water for normal human beings. Observations keep me running. I found myself looking at my phone a lot because you can only observe so much without losing attention and plus the phone has information and I'm an information junkie so I can't go very long without looking at my phone. Suddenly I realized that contrary to what Sherry Turkle says not everybody is on their phones all the time. People are totally capable of social interaction and all the kids and adults (except for me) seemed to me getting along in life just fine without their devices. Granted, we were only in Sky Zone for an hour and it's a small sample of people I observed, but I'm not kidding you I was the only one looking into a phone. And good for me, because information. And good for them, because they were content.

So there you have it faithful readers, my leftover observations and experiences. Publishers, get at me if you want me to assemble an accessible book for the public called Leftover Observations and Experiences that should be priced right at $4.99.




Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Song of the Day - "Road Head" by Japanese Breakfast

Here at Creative Sociology we like artists who push boundaries and breach norms. This song caught our attention during an early afternoon drive. It's a perfect 79 degree day, nothing but sun, traffic flowing on the highway, head in the clouds, eyes on the road, and, wait a second, is the opening line "You gave road head on a turnpike exit"? Yes it is.

For analysis, see Kevin Lozano's review in Pitchfork. Here's a glimpse: "On "Road Head," [Michelle] Zauner does a great job of sifting through mortal concerns—specifically desire, shitty romances, and hooking up in cars."

A subject that interests me--and one I've written about--is that we live in a social world in which people usually avoid references to sex. Maybe it's a taboo topic, or it could be a polite omission of information. Whatever the case, this song stands out for the way it acknowledges desire and sexual activity. Also, the video is....well, you can watch and describe it yourself.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

U2, Hailee Steinfeld, and Desire

Pumped up for the U2 concert in suburban Buffalo in September, I've been listening to The Joshua Tree quite a bit lately. The album has held up so well over the decades. I'd also say it's a great summer album. 70 degrees with a slight wind, chilling in the backyard, daydreaming, listening to "Trip Through Your Wires." Ooh, here's a steamy lyric: "I was thirsty, and you wet my lips." Granted, what I consider steamy is like PG 13 to the youngsters and in fact many oldsters, but I'm here to keep it honest. Well, this tremendous song doesn't leave much open to interpretation, it is fundamentally about desire, as we can see here: "You, I'm waiting for you...You, you set my desire, I trip through your wires." Here's the track in all it's seductiveness if you need it:

In listening to the song today, the maybe-steamy lyrics brought to mind the popular hit "Starving" by Hailee Steinfeld. This song has been on heavy rotation on Sirius Hits 1 for a long time. I'm more of a Sirius XMU guy, but the fam prefers Hits 1, so we listen to the station a lot in the car. I've taken a liking to this "Starving" tune. Anyhow, the lyric "I didn't know that I was starving till I tasted you" is rather close in effect to U2's "I was thirsty, and you wet my lips," if you ask me. Hailee (I dig that second E in her name, I must say) takes the desire up a notch in her song, though, especially with the lyric "you do things to my body." This is desire plus, I guess we could say.

One of the highlights of my recent semester teaching a Sexualities class for the first time was playing this song to see what students thought of it. I can't exactly remember the context. I like to mix popular culture into my courses. Maybe I was comparing then and now songs, and played Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing" video and then Steinfeld's "Starving" video. They were like, "Yeah, professor, that's super mild, like 3 on a scale of 1-10" or something like that. Getting old works for me but stay young, everybody!!!


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Articles and Videos for Teaching Race and Ethnicity

Links are in the titles.

Old Questions But No New Answers in the Philando Castile Verdict - Jelani Cobb

The Fight for Decent Pay and Racial Justice - Jesse Jackson

Munira Ahmed on Being the Face of the Women's March: 'It's about inclusion' - Edward Helmore

The Deplorable Basket: Declaiming Who Is and Isn't Racist Is a Parlor Game We Don't Have Time For - Ezekiel Kweku

The five things no one will tell you about why colleges don’t hire more faculty of color - Marybeth Gasman

Black in Middle America - Roxane Gay

Insulting Colin Kaepernick Says More about Our Patriotism Than His - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Dear Fellow White People - Kevin Van Valkenburg

Why Is Colored Person Hurtful and Person of Color OK? A Theory of Racial Euphemisms. - John McWhorter

Racial Politics After Obama - Brandon M. Terry

The Fine Line Between Safe Space and Segregation - Emily Deruy

Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever? - Adia Harvey Wingfield

Tamir Rice and the Color of Fear - Brit Bennett

All Hollowed Out: The Lonely Poverty of America’s White Working Class - Victor Tan Chen

The Seduction of Safety, on Campus and Beyond - Roxane Gay

South Carolina Sheriff's Deputy on Leave after Dragging Student from Her Desk - The Guardian

Blame the Police (Sandra Bland's Arrest and Death are a National Scandal. The Police are Responsible.) - Jamelle Bouie

Dylann Roof And The Stubborn Myth Of The Colorblind Millennial - Gene Demby

Shooters of Color are Called ‘Terrorists’ and ‘Thugs.’ Why are White Shooters Called ‘Mentally Ill’? - Anthea Butler

Black Like Who? Rachel Dolezal’s Harmful Masquerade - Tamara Winfrey Harris

A Few Thoughts on Rachel Dolezal - Andrew Lindner

McKinney Pool Party Incident Has Everything to Do with Race - Dorothy Brown

Watch Texas Cop Point Gun at Unarmed Black Teens, Push 14-Year-Old to the Ground - Daniel Politi

In These Times of Racial Strife, A White Professor Explores The Prevalence of ‘White Fragility’ - Nick Chiles

Chapel Hill Shooting Victims Were 'Radiant,' Teacher Says - NPR

At Yale, the Police Detained My Son - Charles Blow

Why We Still Have to Say #BlackLivesMatter - Jenifer Bratter

Ferguson Must Force Us to Face Anti-Blackness - Michael P. Jeffries

Telling My Son About Ferguson - Michelle Alexander

Mike Brown's Shooting and Jim Crow Lynchings Have Too Much in Common. It's Time For America to Own Up - Isabel Wilkerson

Ferguson: The Fire This Time - Bob Herbert

The Death of Michael Brown and the Search for Justice in Black America - Mychal Denzel Smith

Chronicle of a Riot Foretold - Jelani Cobb

The Anger in Ferguson - Jelani Cobb

No, Your Ancestors Didn't Come Here Legally - Ben Railton

Why We Have So Many Terms for 'People of Color' - Gene Demby

The Real Problem When It Comes to Diversity and Asian-Americans - Jack Linshi

We Interviewed the Filmmaker Behind 'The Whiteness Project' - Jordan Sowunmi
(Click here for direct link to The Whiteness Project.)

Kamau Bell interviews Henry Louis Gates (13 minutes)

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva -- in a 10 minute interview on Book TV, Bonilla-Silva talks about this book Racism without Racists.

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Mark Anthony Neal: a thirty minute conversation.

Why Integrating America’s Neighborhoods and Cities is Harder Than We Think - Jamelle Bouie

Why I Am Optimistic About the Future of Race Relations in America - Jamelle Bouie

"Talking White" (Black people's disdain for "proper English" and academic achievement is a myth) - Jamelle Bouie

What Michael Sam's Kiss Means For The Most Invisible: Black AND Gay - Marcus Anthony Hunter

Whose Deviance Do We Notice? - Gwen Sharp

The Collateral Consequences of Mass Deportation - Tanya Golash-Boza

Scientific Racism Rears Its Ugly Head Once Again - Tanya Golash-Boza

The Problems with White Allies and White Privilege - Tanya Golash-Boza

Symbols of Control - Avi Goldberg

#DeChiefing Is the Anti-Racist Protest That Pro Sports Badly Needs - Zak Cheney-Rice

Donald Sterling: Slumlord Billionaire - Dave Zirin

Donald Sterling's Willing Enablers - Dave Zirin

Video: Ta-Nehisi Coates Talks White Supremacy and Reparations (Interview with Bill Moyers)

My President Was Black - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Color-Blind Policy, Color-Conscious Morality - Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Myth of Police Reform - Ta-Nehisi Coates

Other People's Pathologies - Ta-Nehisi Coates

In Defense of a Loaded Word - Ta-Nehisi Coates

The N-Word On The Fourth of July - Brittney Cooper

This three minute video can be shown to accompany the readings by Coates and Cooper.

The Politics of Being Friends with White People - Brittney Cooper

Who're You Going To Believe on Immigration? Mark Krikorian or Your Lying Eyes? - Ezra Klein

Fix The Census' Archaic Racial Categories - Kenneth Prewitt

Hopes Frustrated, Many Latinos Reject the Ballot Box Altogether - Jackie Calmes

Racism With No Racists: The President Trump Conundrum - Tressie McMillan Cottom

When Your (Brown) Body is a (White) Wonderland - Tressie McMillan Cottom

Whistling Vivaldi Won't Save You - Tressie McMillan Cottom

The Logic of Stupid Poor People - Tressie McMillan Cottom

The Truth about Asian Americans' Success (It's Not What You Think) - Jennifer Lee

From Unassimilable to Exceptional - Jennifer Lee

The "Asian F": Perils of a Model Minority - Jennifer Lee

The Real Problem When It Comes to Diversity and Asian-Americans - Jack Linshi

I Am Not a Model Minority - Bernadette Lim

Desegregation and the Public Schools - Michael Winerip

Will a 'Black' Name Brand My Son With Mug Shots Before He's Even Born? - Nikisia Drayton

Affirmative Inaction - various authors

Sonia Sotomayor Is a National Treasure - David Fontana

Alabama Counties: No Marriage Licenses for Undocumented Residents - Ashley Cleek

'Young Lakota': Reproductive Justice and Coming of Age on the Rez - Aura Bogado

In a Small Missouri Town, Immigrants Turn to Schools for Help - Abbie Fentress Swanson

Suey Park: Asian American Women are #NotYourAsianSidekick - Casey Capachi

Who's Afraid of Suey Park? - Julia Carrie Wong

Dear White People: Film Tackles Racial Stereotypes on Campus & Being a "Black Face in a White Space" - Video includes interview with film's director and one of the actors -- very interesting discussion.

Racism on College Campuses - Peter Kaufman

The Black Bruins (Spoken Word) - five minute video - a powerful speech by a UCLA student.

Why Whites Support Capital Punishment - Jamelle Bouie

America’s racial double standard: White celebs are excused, but black stars are “thugs” - Beanie Barnes

Stop Saying These Things To Asians (3 minute video)

Colorblind (3 minute video about the lack of Asian-Americans in media)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Spit On A Stranger is Pavement's Second Best Song

"Honey I'm a prize and you're a catch and we're a perfect match" The best Pavement song, of course, is Cut Your Hair. To say otherwise is trying too hard.

Immersed in Suburbia (Part 2)

As I've written before, this is the quietest place I have ever known.

The kids have finished the school year. They still haven't learned the art of sleeping in. They're both up in the 6:00 hour. It makes for long days. There are screens in the house and they're content to stare into screens as long as you let them. We do morning bike rides in the neighborhood to get outside early in the day and to fight against screen time. It's for me as much as it is for them. I need to put down the damn phone and ease off my reading of 1,000 hot takes and opinions. There are some good opinions out there, though.

To bike around the neighborhood is to have the sidewalks to yourself. It's amazing. Yes, there is a dog walker here and a person getting into their car there, but for the most part there is no action. It's houses not people. We've lived here 5 years and I still can't believe the attention to detail when it comes to lawn care and other property maintenance.

Yesterday and today we did two loops around the neighborhood. Yesterday a woman sitting in her car (coming or going, I'm not sure) noticed us and said "Two times" to us in a tone of encouragement. It's nice to be recognized in a positive way. I'm remembering now there were two old timers shooting the breeze in a driveway and during the second loop I caught their eyes and said "Good morning, gentlemen." One thing I've found in life is that most men don't mind being called gentlemen.

Today I caught the eye of someone doing work on a house, but just as I went into a head nod he turned away.

And soon we were back home. The kids played catch in our front yard for about 5 minutes before getting into an argument. They file many grievances a day and I assume it's that way for a lot of children. "I don't want to hear any complaining" I said, or something like that, and sent them off to their rooms to cool down.

There are a lot of kids in the neighborhood. Friendly kids that play well with my kids. If memory serves, it takes a few weeks for all of us to get into our summer routines, and eventually all the kids start buzzing around, playing together, and the grownups socialize too. Lately, one of my neighbors and I have taken to talking about Wilco and he's kind enough to always offer me a beer. He thought I'd like Sky Blue Sky more than Yankee Hotel Foxtrot but I definitely prefer Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. I'm glad to have a neighbor that shares a love of music and beer.

The end, for now.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

momentary freakout

friday night i'm at 6-year-old's baseball game. my wife is at 9-year-old's soccer game. it's no fun to be apart, or at least it's more fun to be together. maybe that's why we text back and forth or maybe it's just habit or something else, who the hell knows. anyway i'm texting updates about baseball game and she's texting updates about soccer game. i'm chatting with people to my left and right so it's not like i'm laser focused on my phone it's just a matter of ongoing communication and planning for later. you see, it's friday night and so maybe if the games end at the same time we'll meet up for ice cream. LIVING THE DREAM. suddenly my phone screen goes blank. what the f just happened? did my 3+ year-old precious iphone just shit the bed? i don't panic but i'm trying to get the thing back on and i'm half worried about having to spend too much $$$$ on a new phone and more worried about the lapse in communication. the lines of communication have been closed oh shit. i tell 6-year-old i'm going to the car for a minute. i plug phone in thinking maybe it needs a charge but that's not it. i grab 50 cents kinda pumped up about the prospect of using a pay phone for the first time in can't remember when but ain't no pay phone on the premises.

i sit back down in my folding chair about to be reduced to borrowing phone from person next to me to text or call wife to say "hey boo phone went dead meet you at home after game". then i'm fast forwarding in my head to saturday thinking gotta dip into savings account for new phone that's how these things go OR just maybe i can go without the phone. yeah, i can go without the phone. except that's how pictures are shared and that's primary means of communication with my brother and parents and full cast of characters in my life and one of my favorite means of communication with my wife. my lifeline. my wifeline. oh yes i did just write wifeline.

PLOT TWIST the phone comes back on what's up with that don't know don't care i'm back in business "hey boo phone went dead suddenly weird but working now game about to end where u wanna meet for ice cream"?

the end.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Arrogance and Silence

Bill Maher, pleased with himself as he delivers what he thinks is a joke. Arrogance and smugness all over his face.

And five seconds of silence, smiling, and nodding from the Senator. Looks like he gulps at the end of the clip. The Senator tweeted today to say he wished he had said something.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Quote of the Day from Roxane Gay

In writing about feminism, Roxane Gay, on p. 309 of Bad Feminist, says:
"Working has little to do with having it all and much more to do with having food on the table."





















I like what she says about "have it all" feminism.

Ivanka Trump feminism is a form of have it all feminism.

LeBron James: Being Black in America is Tough

The Los Angeles home of LeBron James was spray painted with racist graffiti. Here is James talking about racism in America.
Here's much of what James had to say: "It just goes to show that racism will always be a part of the world, a part of America. You know, hate in America, especially for African Americans, is living every day. Even though that it's concealed most of the time, people hide they faces, will say things about you, when they see you they smile in your face, it's alive every single day...No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, you know, being black in America is tough. We got a long way to go, for us as a society and for us as African Americans, until we feel equal in America.”

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Soccer Dad Chronicles

At what point does one officially become a soccer dad? Does soccer dad have to be the person's primary identity? Spending Friday nights at soccer parks watching my 9-year-old's team compete seems like a pretty good indication that I am, in fact, a soccer dad. And the only thing more exciting than watching a close contest is knowing you'll surprise him with a trip to Dairy Queen afterward. Whatever unhealthy stew is responsible for the cherry dip they put on their cones, I don't care. It's the only artificial flavor that makes me swoon.

So last night, it was raining fairly hard and the mid-50s temperature helped produce a rain-fog combination that made it hard for me to see through my glasses. My 9-year-old has inherited my nearsightedness and poor little fella had a hard time seeing during the game. I almost sat in my car to watch the game but I figured if 9-year-olds can deal with shitty weather then so can I.

The other team banged in three quick goals and it looked like a blowout was in store. It was 4-0 at the end of the first half. Our team played well but couldn't manage much offense. Much to their credit, they weren't discouraged, and came out kicking in the second half. A talented kid on my son's team scored two goals quickly, and suddenly it was 4-3 after a player on the other team kicked the ball in his own net by mistake. I think the term for this is "own goal," but I'm not sure. I grew up playing baseball and street hockey and football. Soccer wasn't on my radar and I'm just learning about what constitutes offsides.

Anyway, the talented kid on my son's team was feeling it and scored another goal to tie it 4-4. The last few minutes of the game were high anxiety. You see your kid out there in a close game and of course you hope he makes a good play but more than that you hope he doesn't get worked. I am not some Malcolm Gladwell follower who thinks with 10,000 hours my kid will be on the Olympic team. I just want my kid to have fun, make friends, develop skill and confidence. True, as I like to say, that winning feels better than losing but it's not all about the W. Time expired, the game ended in a 4-4 tie, and I hollered "A tie, we'll take it!" but not having much charisma I don't think anyone heard or cared, and that's fine.

I congratulated my kid on a good game, and off to Dairy Queen we went. Those cones tasted damn delicious.

This morning, like a true soccer dad, I treated his filthy soccer jersey with the best detergent products made available by runaway capitalism, and I'm pleased to report it's 98% free of stains and dirt.

A tie never felt so good, a clean enough jersey looks good to me, and this soccer dad is already looking forward to next Friday night.


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Short Story about Writing

A blank screen greets me at 8:20 in the morning. My kids and wife have left for school and work, so I have quiet. There are no excuses for not writing today. My wife calls me on the way to work to tell me a story. You might think it odd that she would call me just after leaving the house, but it's one of our favorite ways to communicate. The kids constantly compete for our attention, so one of the ways we get to talk is by phone to and from work. She tells the story but I'm not fully listening. "I thought you'd find this story funny," she says. Not long after we hang up, I send a text that says "Sorry I was out of it when we were on the phone. I'm trying to write and my mind is clogged." She's heard this before. I'm always carrying on about writing. I walk around with half-formed thoughts and sentences in my head. What is it that I want to say and how exactly do I want to say it? Write it down before you forget it!

I plug away, putting some words on the screen, word process them a bit, write some more, try to turn a clever phrase, listen to Courtney Barnett's newly released song for inspiration and distraction. I listen to it five times in a row and daydream about seeing her in concert. I write a little more and figure "hey if I write 300 words 10 days in a row that's 3000 words not bad." The words add up quick but the trick is to make them good words. I am always in pursuit of a good sentence. Words get deleted and pasted and rearranged and they're things I type between gulps of coffee. I read because reading and writing are a happy couple. So it's read a little bit, write a little bit, and 200 decent words have happened. Must be time for another break! I go to an Oreck vacuum store (don't ask) and I think I spent a few extra minutes there on purpose to avoid getting back to writing. I love writing but writing is a process and sometimes the process is painful. Then it's off to the grocery store because the grocery store is my second home and it's chicken on the grill tonight and it's time to get the marinade going.

Back home and back to writing. New example here. Deleted example there. Note to self here. Save the document obsessively even though it saves automatically and sits in a cloud safely. I look at the words--did I write that? Is this any good? How do I make it better? What's missing? What's the next sentence supposed to be? What's the next paragraph going to be? Write, read, edit, plan, write. Take a break to eat. E-mail. Make a list. Go for a walk because walking clears the mind and soothes the soul.

Feeling good after the walk, so I review the words again. Chop some. Add new ones. How do the words sound now? Hmmm, it's 1:39 p.m., maybe I should take a shower.

Out of the shower, proofread what I've been working on, back and forth between that document and this blog post. Why spend time on this blog when I could be concentrating on that other thing, you ask? Because these are a different kind of words. These words come easy. On this blog I get to play with words. I never want to lose the joy I find in writing.

Minimize one screen, focus on another. I look at my main writing of the day one more time. I managed 392 words. I think the words will do. That's all for today. Back at it tomorrow.

I Would Love To Spill The Beans With You Till Dawn

Is "Loving Cup" on your short list of great songs by The Rolling Stones?

My two favorite things about this song:

1. The piano open.
2. The lyric "I would love to spill the beans with you till dawn".

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Champagne Weekend

"If you don't get the little things right, you can't get the big things right." I don't know if that's true but it's something I said in a parenting moment this weekend.

My 9-year-old's soccer team got destroyed. Whatever weekends used to be it doesn't matter except for useless comparisons. Weekends now are soccer and baseball games, birthday parties, and whatever else you can cram in between cleaning and loads of laundry. On Friday night we sat out in the cold watching soccer, with me mumbling "Bad News Bears" in reference to our team. That's not a nice thing to think or mumble but I'm human. I tried to say something useful in the car on the way home after the game: "It's not all about winning but winning feels better than losing and if you can't win at least make sure you worked hard. You can't control how good the other team is and how other people play but you can control your effort." Or something like that. Not exactly Vince Lombardi material and way short of inspiring but the reason I gave my kid the business is because his laces were untied for like the 1000th time. Dude, tie your laces and hustle, that'll make your old man happy.

Then came Saturday for 6-year-old's baseball game. All the 6-year-olds hit the ball after about 10 tries and we all clapped and hollered. I love baseball so much that I'll stand up and cheer if any kid on either team makes a clean play on a ground ball. Another thing that makes me happy is when they sell hot dogs at the park for a buck so after the game the Schoepflins crushed some hot dogs and shared a few milkshakes for good measure.

Through all of Friday night soccer and Saturday morning baseball I could barely stop sneezing and wiping my eyes because of wicked allergies. I'm embarrassed that my wife has to sit next to a sneezy guy blowing his nose who is mumbling about Bad News Bears and checking his phone to see if Trump is still president.

Post-milkshakes we chilled at home for a few hours and then made our way to a birthday party. We're blessed to have many friends, some of whom are lifelong friends. One of those friends invited us to a birthday party for one of his kids, so we got to enjoy a relaxing afternoon sitting outside in near perfect weather drinking the Champagne of Beers. If you think I'll ever pass up a chance to drink Miller High Life, you're dead wrong. There was a moment when my friends and I were drinking said Miller High Life and listening to seven ZZ Top songs in a row. Whatever life is or was or might be doesn't matter very much but in that moment everything was good and right.

When we got home the kids went to bed and wifey and me watched about 40 minutes of The Wizard of Lies with Robert De Niro playing Bernie Madoff and while it wasn't anything special I still think De Niro has that "it" quality and so what if he doesn't because dude has lifetime greatness guaranteed on Taxi Driver alone. I won't get too sidetracked talking about De Niro but I think his performance in Cop Land is underrated. By underrated I mean I never hear anyone say anything about him in that movie, but I'm here to tell you he's the second best actor in the film. First is Stallone.

Sunday morning was quiet and we went separate ways in the afternoon, with my wife and 6-year-old going to another birthday party and 9-year-old and me going to see the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie. It was a ludicrous road trip film that felt like something of an homage to The Griswold family but as if it was written by Sherry Turkle. Sherry Turkle you see is someone who cautions against the overuse of technology and believes nothing substitutes for conversation and face-to-face interaction. And in this film the mom is all about the kids not using their gadgets. Even the dad is sneaking around with his phone because he needs it to make calls for work. When the mom realizes she is losing the War on Phones she is super pissed and declares she will no longer fight and it looks as though technology has won and family has lost but there was still 20 minutes left and the family rallied and came together for a happy ending. It was all ridiculous but ridiculous works for me something in the way that Miller High Life works for me so I laughed a lot during the movie when I wasn't stuffing popcorn in my face or checking my phone to see if Trump is still president.

After the movie we stopped at a store to buy potato chips, Bison dip, and tissues. I'm still wrecked with allergies so had to stock up and I'm going to see if my wife wants to skip dinner and go directly to chips and dip. Sometimes you gotta break routine. There's even a bottle of champagne in the fridge so maybe I'll bust that open because there's gotta be cause to celebrate something. Like the end of the semester or that it's still the weekend until midnight or just because I could say I had the Champagne of Beers on Saturday and then a little champagne on Sunday. Everything in moderation of course, I had like three beers on Saturday and maybe a glass or two of champagne tonight and that's probably it until the middle of next weekend.

Well everybody I hope you enjoyed this and I don't know if I'm doing parenting or husbanding right but I sure do try and I love my family and that is most definitely something to celebrate.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Random Sampling Nerds of the World, Unite!

I know I'm not the only one who geeks out on the subject of sampling. Here's a useful two minute video about random sampling. There's a helpful soup analogy in the video. The accompanying article mentions the video series Methods 101 that is "dedicated to explaining and educating the public about the basic methods we use to conduct our survey research." Good stuff.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

The Continuing Relevance of Sociology

Sociology is having a good year. Two quick examples of sociologists getting well-deserved acclaim.

Matthew Desmond was awarded a Pulitzer for his book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.

Tressie McMillan Cottom appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah to talk about her book Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy.



Her book was reviewed in the New York Times.

Sociology is alive and well. Kudos to these and other sociologists who produce work that is accessible to the public.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

1993 > 2017

In today's edition of 1990s appreciation, I offer you a tremendous song from 1993. It's by Digable Planets from the album Reachin’ (A New Refutation Of Time And Space), which you should own.

100% guarantee that "Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" is the best song you'll hear today.


2017 get out of here with your fidget spinners.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cold Take: Nirvana is Still Great

Maybe I'm biased as a Generation X person but Nirvana's music is great and continues to hold up beautifully. If you're visiting a desert island anytime soon you best bring Nirvana's MTV Unplugged in New York album. Though this is a cold take about Nirvana, I'm going to mix in a hot take about Courtney Love because when I think about Kurt Cobain I also think of Courtney Love. Courtney's a great musician in her own right and I dare say if not for sexism she would get way more acclaim. Go ahead and listen to Live Through This and tell me it isn't a great album. You could tell me it isn't great but you'd be wrong. I'm wearing my sassy pants today, fyi. And when you're done listening to Live Through This watch the movie Basquiat and enjoy Love's outstanding, scene stealing performance. But your first priority should be to listen to this phenomenal Nirvana cover of The Velvet Underground's "Here She Comes Now". I've got all the superlatives today, I know.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

We'll Make Great Pets

We humans aren't very good at being human. Our record is dismal in many ways: war, slavery, racism, poverty, terrorism, violence.

On a micro-level, we fail at the art of communication, we aren't consistently nice, we brag, complain, complain more, then complain some more, and finally ask "How are you?" without really wanting to hear the answer. Listening, compassion, and empathy are in short supply.

Counter point: humans do good and surprising things too. Suddenly a human drops a nice gift on you, or offers a lovely compliment, or flashes a brilliant smile, or hugs you. Humans are great to share a beer with and they're important if one wants to make love. They also tend to say funny things. They even argue about Oxford commas.

Plus, to err is human or something like that. Maybe we take the good with the bad, maybe we all work on being a little bit better and a lot less terrible.

I mean, what's the alternative? Leave it to the algorithms and robots? I don't know.

Like the song goes, maybe Martians could do better than we've done...


Friday, April 14, 2017

Ivanka Trump Feminism

Ivanka Trump feminism: When a super rich white woman makes generic statements about economic equality, ignoring racism, poverty, heterosexism, and those who are gender rebels. It pays disproportionate attention to women with higher levels of educational attainment. It pays sparse attention to women with less earning power. It is a businesswoman ("lean in") and middle-class feminism, not a working-class feminism.

This is a definition in progress. Please let me know if you have suggestions for improvement.

What's The Best Van Halen Album?

I've spent approximately 4% of my life trying to determine the best Van Halen album. This, of course, is a subjective endeavor. Then again, I suppose some quantitatively minded person could develop a set of metrics to objectively make the call. But that ain't me. Let me take you through my process.

The easy part is eliminating anything that happened after 1984.

I get caught up between Diver Down, Fair Warning, and 1984.

I am quick to remove their first three albums from the picture (Van Halen, Van Halen II, Women and Children First). Each are strong albums in their own right, but none of them offer enough to make it into the final round. Van Halen II gets the closest on the strength of Dance the Night Away, and don't forget their fine cover of You're No Good. Women and Children First contains one of my top 10 favorite Van Halen songs--In a Simple Rhyme--but it's not an album that provides enough good content from beginning to end.

As I write this, I'm twisting myself in a knot, and ready to delete this, which is something I've done numerous times over the years in trying to write this post. As soon as I review the tracks of the first Van Halen album, I'm ready to put it back into consideration for best album. Goodness, you've got Runnin' with the Devil, a cover of You Really Got Me, Feel Your Love Tonight, and Eddie Van Halen doing his thing on Eruption. There's also Ice Cream Man. One day I'll tell you about how Ice Cream Man got me out of a fight in 8th grade, but you'll have to wait until my memoir.

As usual, I'm stuck, and again I'm close to hitting delete and moving on with my life. I've probably spent closer to 6% of my life with this process. You can judge me for that. I accept.

Maybe there's no right answer to the question. Maybe that's the answer I've been searching for all these years. But it's no fun to sit on the fence. The fact of the matter is that one of their albums is better than the others. I have to face another fact: I am not ready to conclude which album is the best. I will return to this another day. I have to be content with the process. For now, let's keep this thing inconclusive and enjoy the simple beauty of Runnin' With The Devil.


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Melancholy Sociologist Shuns Bon Iver














When you write a poem quickly you might make a typo ("if his life"). In his life was what I was going for there. Well, editing mistakes is a reason we usually process words nowadays, eh?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

THE KARDASHIAN-JENNER INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

ALL CAPS HOT TAKE SO YOU KNOW IT'S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG PLUS RUN ON SENTENCES FOR FULL EFFECT HEY PEPSI HERE'S THE THING IF YOU WANT TO USE A KARDASHIAN/JENNER TO MOVE PRODUCT THEN GOOD NEWS THEY'RE ON THE TELEVISION 24-7-365 I WISH IT WERE ONLY 365 BUT THEY'RE ON THE TELEVISION SCREEN 24-7-INFINITY SO HOW ABOUT SOME SUBTLE PRODUCT PLACEMENT INSTEAD OF WHATEVER THAT 30 SECOND SPOT WAS OR PURPORTED TO BE. I KNOW THIS IS EXHIBIT Z OF CAPITALISM BEING CAPITALISM BUT LISTEN SODA JERK WE CONSUMERS HAVE OUR LIMITS. TO ADD INSULT TO THIS HOT TAKE INJURY LET'S BE CLEAR THAT COKE > PEPSI BY A FACTOR OF BAZILLION.

PARAGRAPH #2 BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH I SHOULD BE GRADING I CAN'T DENY WHAT THE PEOPLE WANT AND THE PEOPLE DEMAND HOT TAKES SO STOP READING DAVID BROOKS AND START READING TODD SCHOEPFLIN'S CREATIVE SOCIOLOGY BLOG AND HERE'S ANOTHER TAKE THE MORE YOU LISTEN TO WHITNEY THE MORE YOU REALIZE THAT WHITNEY SOUNDS LIKE BREAD I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT WHITNEY HOUSTON I'M TALKING ABOUT WHITNEY THE BAND FOR INSTANCE LISTEN TO THEIR SONG GOLDEN DAYS <-- HYPERLINK CAUSE I'M GOOD LIKE THAT THEN LISTEN TO ANY SONG BY BREAD AND YOU'LL SEE WHAT I MEAN RETWEET INSTAGRAM ELLO MELLOW YELLOW PEACE OUT.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Fear of Catching Feelings

Maybe you want to catch feelings.
Or maybe you don't.

How long will you wait for the right one?
What if, all along, there was more than one?

Will you decide to cool your heart?
Or decide that linking your heart to another is worth the risk?


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Hot Take: Men and Women Can Be Friends

It's come to my attention that we are not yet in universal agreement that men and women can be friends. Here's a bullet point:

  • Men and women can be friends.
Here's another bullet point:
  • Men and women should be friends.

I am blessed to have many friends that are women. I find it rather easy to be friends with women. I haven't counted lately, but I think I have more friends that are women than men.

I heard of a prominent person in society who avoids dinners with women because he's married.

I'm very happily married. 12 years so far. There are times I have meals with women who are my friends. It's not a problem. Here's another radical detail. My wife has friends who are women--I consider them my friends too. 

So I have women friends at my workplace, and women friends I've met outside of work too. Imagine.

If this is an unusual life skill in 2017, I am happy to speak at your campus or to your organization about it for a reasonable fee. 

Thank you,
Todd


Sunday, April 2, 2017

4 Hot Takes

1. Men buy boats so they have something to name.

2. "Oh Darling" is the best song on Supertramp's Breakfast in America album.

3. The Food Network should be renamed The Guy Fieri Network.

4. April is not the cruelest month.

I am scheduled to appear on a highly-rated program to debate these points.

When and what program, you ask?

I will keep you in suspense.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

On This Snow Day, Let's Appreciate the Greatness of "It's All I Can Do"

For 16 years I've been working as a professor at Niagara University, a lovely place situated in Lewiston, NY (near Niagara Falls and about twenty miles from Buffalo). Snow days have been extremely rare in my career. I would guesstimate fewer than 8 in all those years. I'm pleasantly surprised to have a snow day today. So far I've caught up on e-mail, made pancakes, and emptied the dishwasher. Just as I was about to have my second cup of coffee, one of my favorite Cars songs came into my head: "It's All I Can Do." Time to give this one a few listens before slugging down more coffee. Once properly caffeinated, I will set to work on class prep and other sociological pursuits. Have a great day everybody.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Random Things Bracket


Middle Kids - Edge Of Town

I love when a song changes pace and catches you by surprise. The kind of song that makes you feel. It's right around the 2:17 mark when this song goes from good to great. Feeling the lyrics too. "Have you got something on your mind? Tick, tock, can I take it for a while?" And the fantastic final thirty seconds: "And I got something on my mind..." It never ceases to amaze me how much great music there is in the world. It's one of the best things about getting older. More time to accumulate music.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Listen To This Song. And Then Listen To It Again.

This is a terrific song. The video works too. A pay phone is featured prominently. There is dancing. Lovely background singing. A funky guitar solo. Smart fashion choices. Plus, it's true: friendship is a small boat in a storm. Chicano Batman is now an unofficial band of this blog, joining other musicians unofficially affiliated with this blog: Real Estate, Courtney Barnett, and Stevie Wonder. I have seen Stevie in concert. Now, let's gather Chicano Batman, Real Estate, and Courtney Barnett for a concert in my backyard. Loyal readers, you are all invited. There will be beer.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Strength Has No Gender

Did you hear the one about how, in capitalism, corporations do whatever they have to do to move product? Sometimes, the result isn't terrible. Here, Brawny does a nice job selling paper towels in a way that promotes a positive gender message. For now, I will overlook the fact that paper towels aren't good for the environment. I will admit to using too many paper towels. I try not to make much garbage, but use of paper towels is one way I regularly do so. Well, I will try to reduce my use of paper towels. In the meantime, I will buy Brawny paper towels to support their Strength Has No Gender campaign.

Scoreboard for today:
Capitalism 1
Schoepflin 0


There are even different versions!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

I Love You, Man

These are nice words by Lindsey Graham about John McCain. It's not often you hear a man say "I love him to death" about a friend. I like seeing these men express their emotions to the public.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I'll Speak At Your College. It Won't Cost A Lot. People Will Leave Feeling Good.

There's a lot of talk right now about college campus speakers. Controversial speaker gets protested. Provocateur falls out of favor.

What do you want your speaker to accomplish? Does the speaker have to say 1,000 outlandish things to remind you of the First Amendment? I'm a fan of the First Amendment. As they say, there's a reason it's number 1. Lots of ways to celebrate it in ways that don't involve hate. Got that? Celebrate without the hate.

I still remember being an undergrad at SUNY Fredonia and listening to Henry Rollins do spoken word. Good, energetic speaker that made me think critically. Inspired me to do some spoken word of my own when I was in my 20s.

I'll come to your campus and give a speech that will make people feel good. There were likely be references to love and intimacy and classic rock. Not just classic rock, I'll likely say something about Stevie Wonder and then advise everybody to listen to De La Soul's Three Feet High and Rising. My speech will be uplifting. I won't provoke for the sake of provoking. There's enough controversy freely available on Al Gore's Internet. Why amp it up? There is a love deficit in the United States. I aim to do something about it.

Being a low-profile (no profile) speaker, I don't cost a lot. I'll negotiate a fair price. I will make sure some of the money goes to a local food bank or other charitable cause.

Use the Google to find my contact info and holler.

See you soon at a campus near you.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Interview with Mark Cuban About Our Rapidly Changing Economy

Mark Cuban talks about the changing nature of work and how rapidly the economy is changing in an era of automation. Near the 14 minute mark, he says he expects an increased demand for liberal arts majors. You need a "freer thinker" who can give a fresh perspective of the data, he says. He also talks about the need to be realistic about workers being displaced in our fast-changing economy.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Respect to Rex Ryan

Yesterday I was driving around with my family. We decided to check out Rex Ryan's house. It's on the market for a $1 million. We live in a neighborhood where homes are in the $150,000-$200,000 range. We live about twenty minutes from where Rex's house is located in Orchard Park. We were curious about what kind of house fetches a million dollars. As we drove into the neighborhood, suddenly a Penske truck was driving close behind us. Not right on us or anything, the driver seemed patient, but I felt in the way. I maneuvered out of the driver's way. Then I got distracted by the sight of a huge, beautiful home. As I was admiring the home, my wife noticed a house in the other direction. It was the house we had been looking for. "Rex is driving the Penske truck," she observed. Rex, like a boss, was backing the Penske truck into his driveway. It wasn't a 21 foot truck or anything, but it was substantial size. It would have taken me 3-4 tries to back in and I'm sure I would've taken out the mailbox along the way. It only took Rex one shot to do it right. There was Rex, chilling in his sweats, apparently ready to pack up some of his belongings. One day you're making $5 million to coach the Buffalo Bills, and then you're just another guy renting a moving truck. I almost yelled out "Good luck Rex!" but that seemed ridiculous, even for me. Rex, if you happen to read this, the Schoepflin family wishes you well. Best of luck in all your endeavors.

Ain't That Peculiar

One of my favorite movies was on when I woke up this morning. American Splendor. I love that film. Each time I watch the film, I notice something different. This time it was the song "Ain't That Peculiar" -- and I didn't know it was a Marvin Gaye song until I looked it up. I know the most popular Marvin Gaye songs, but I'm new to this one. It's perfection.


Friday, February 17, 2017

Deeply Unhappy Man Seeks Constant Validation

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

Information Whiplash

It's the era of information whiplash. Wait, what happened with Nordstrom? What did Kellyanne Conway say? Ethics violation! Wait, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the executive order?! Trump tweets SEE YOU IN COURT! Did you say SNL is funny again? Yes I saw the Melissa McCarthy bit and it was hilarious. Is Rosie O'Donnell going to play Steve Bannon? What percentage of Americans know who Steve Bannon is?

Can't keep up with the news. The information that comes in puts me on an emotional rollercoaster. It's exhausting. People in the streets are yelling ANOMIE!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, not yet, but you never know.

And then I come across a news item reporting Mississippi lawmakers would like to add THE FIRING SQUAD as one of their execution methods.

I'm going back to bed.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Bernie

Democrats casting around for fresh voices -- Kirsten Gillibrand and Thomas Perez come to mind --  shouldn't forget that Bernie still has plenty energy left in the tank. Here he calls President Trump a fraud and says he will sell out the middle-class and working-class. Depending on how the next few years go, this could be a primary ad. Lose the "Feel the Bern" slogan. Keep the direct language in talking to voters.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

By the Way, It's Guilty Pleasure Saturday

















I love donuts. I haven't eaten a lot of them in 2017. Like many guilty pleasures, donuts are best served in moderation. I spend half my life at the grocery store. It's hard to pass up Entenmann's assorted donuts. I only get them a few times a year. Today was one of those days. Okay, let's rank them in order of deliciousness. First are the chocolate frosted ones. Amazing. My 9-year-old and I share a love of them. If parenting is a selfless act, he will get the final one tomorrow. In second place are the plain donuts. Life is hard and stressful but these plain donuts dunked in strong black coffee make it all worth it. No disrespect to the powered donuts, but they are in last place. One is okay in my second cup of coffee, but they never taste totally fresh to me. Honestly, friends, they fall short of being inspiring in the way that donuts should.

It's guilty pleasure Saturday. In addition to donuts, perhaps a Lifetime movie is in the mix, or a listen to Van Halen's 1984 album, or maybe I'll google around for facts about Robert King Merton. Drop me a line in the comments section if you care to share your guilty pleasures!

Judith Butler Talks Gender


Judith Butler describes gender as a phenomenon that is always being produced and reproduced.

She says: "To say gender is performative is to say that nobody really is a gender from the start. I know it's controversial, but that's my claim."

She mentions bullying as a practice that tries to "keep us in our gendered place."

She says "it's important to resist the violence that is imposed by ideal gender norms, especially against those who are gender different or non-conforming in their gender presentation."



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Donald Trump's Executive Order on Refugees and Migrants

The Washington Post reports an executive order signed by Donald Trump "suspends admission of all refugees for 120 days and bars for 90 days the entry of any citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iraq, even if they have valid visas." Watch the video below from The Washington Post for a summary of the executive order. Inside Higher Ed has a piece about the executive orderAn article in Vox mentions that permanent residents (green-card holders) are being allowed, in some cases, to enter the United States even if they’ve come from one of those seven countries. Apparently, it's on a case by case basis. An article in The Atlantic further explains who is and is not affected by the executive order. I've also included a video clip of Rudy Giuliani talking about how the executive order came together (at approximately the 3:00 minute mark). News keeps coming--the latest development is from White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, "saying that people from the affected countries who hold green cards will not be prevented from returning to the United States."

I Wanna Go Surfing

Except I live in Buffalo and it's snowing.

But in between class preparation and recommendation letters and parenting it's nice to transport my mind to a warm place where there's surfing.


Opposition to the Confirmation of Betsy DeVos

An article in The Washington Post indicates that no Democrats will vote to confirm Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. Here are a few exchanges with senators from her confirmation hearing, courtesy of The Washington Post.

Stressful Times Call For Baking Measures

We live in stressful times. That's an understatement. I find that cooking and baking helps. Check out this unbelievably easy recipe for breakfast cookies. All you need is two ripe bananas, quick oats, and chocolate chips. I made them this morning. Nice way to start the day.

Monday, January 23, 2017

When Donald Trump Spoke at C.I.A. Headquarters

If you only have time to read one article today, I recommend it be Robin Wright's piece in The New Yorker entitled "Trump's Vainglorious Affront to the C.I.A." It's an amazing report of what happened when Trump spoke to hundreds of intelligence officials at C.I.A. headquarters on Saturday.

This is what Trump is quoted as saying about being on the cover of Time magazine:

“Like, if Tom Brady is on the cover, it’s one time, because he won the Super Bowl or something, right?” he told the intelligence officials. “I’ve been on it for fifteen times this year. I don’t think that’s a record that can ever be broken.”

Directly after the quote is this sentence: Time told Politico’s Playbook that it had published eleven Trump covers—and had done fifty-five cover stories about Richard Nixon.

That's just one of many head shaking moments I had in reading the article. Really, carve out a few minutes from your busy day to check it out.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Martin Luther King, Jr. in March 1968

In March 1968, the month before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King went to Memphis to support sanitation workers on strike. In a speech, he said "You know Jesus reminded us in a magnificent parable one day that a man went to hell because he didn't see the poor. His name was Dives." Soon after in the speech, he said:




















Source: pp. 353-354 in The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited by Clayborne Carson (1998). Grand Central Publishing.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Good Soup to Start the Week

When it's Sunday and cold, I'm probably making soup or chili. Today I made a tasty, healthy soup to start the week on a good note. It's Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Soup. I worked from a recipe at Peas & Crayons, click here to see it. I used two sweet potatoes and about 3/4 of a head of cauliflower. I chopped up the potatoes and cauliflower, sliced half an onion, and put them in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. All you need for that is olive oil and spices. I had cauliflower and onions on one pan and sweet potatoes on another. The cauliflower and onions cooked faster, so I put them in the crockpot with 32 ounces of chicken broth and added the sweet potatoes a few minutes later. The recipe calls for vegetable broth, but I like chicken broth better. I used to always buy low sodium chicken broth but found myself adding a ton of salt for flavor. Now I just buy regular chicken broth and barely need to add salt. I added diced scallions to the mix, a few splashes of hot sauce, and that was pretty much game on. After only an hour of the crockpot being on high, I was surprised at how much flavor I already achieved. I thought of stopping right there because the potatoes and cauliflower were softened and I liked the taste of the broth. The recipe calls for then using an immersion blender but I don't roll with an immersion blender. Plus, I wanted to preserve the nice chucks of sweet potatoes and pieces of cauliflower. So I skipped the blender part. The recipe calls for adding cream cheese and milk but I used some half and half instead. I didn't measure it, just added enough to cream it up. I let it cook for another thirty minutes or so. It obviously sweetened the soup up, perhaps too much. I think I liked it better before I added the half and half. Don't get me wrong, the soup was good, very good, but I lost some of the wonderful salty chicken broth taste. I added a little more hot sauce. The recipe says to cook the soup for 4-5 hours, but I was all done in a total of two hours, including the 20 minutes of vegetables roasting in the oven. I put out oyster crackers and shredded cheddar cheese for add ins. This soup went over well in the Schoepflin household. Everyone but my 6-year-old liked it. Fine, little man, sit over there with your soupless lunch eating chicken nuggets, do what you have to do. Lol. My bottom line is this is a delicious soup -- you've caught my drift by now that half and half or other milky-creamy substances are optional. I think I might try this recipe sometime with curry powder. My life is an adventure and my memoir will have a lot to say about soup, so there you have it. One last thing: there is enough leftover soup for another meal. A lovely, nutritious, inexpensive soup, enough for two meals. Loving life, I am.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

What's Your Favorite Thing About This Rush Video?

Rush: a great rock band hailing from Canada with Geddy Lee as lead singer and bassist, Alex Lifeson on guitar, and Neil Peart pounding the drums. Music to my ears. Poetry meets sociology meets philosophy meets great riffs and music that makes you feel. Here they are back in the 70s with a great example of a three minute rock song, "Fly By Night." Watch it and please tell me your favorite thing that you see or hear.

a. Unconventionally long hair (using no product, mind you). Cheers for breaking gender norms regarding hair and refusing to use hair spray.
b. Lifeson's outstanding guitar solo beginning at 1:24
c. Peart twirling his drumsticks TWICE in a span of 14 seconds (2:08 first, and again at 2:22).
d. The lyrics. It's all about the lyrics. "Quiet and pensive/ My thoughts apprehensive/ The hours drift away"
e. Lee totally owning the ending. "My ship isn't coming and I just can't pretend.........."
f. all of the above
g. none of the above

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Time Al Roker Didn't Let Me Down

A few days ago, my wife showed me a Buffalo Chicken Calzone recipe making the rounds on Facebook (click here to see recipe). The recipe looked good to us, except for ranch dressing. There's no chance in H E double hockey sticks of using ranch dressing in a Buffalo anything recipe. We live in the greater Buffalo area, fyi. The interesting thing is that Al Roker doesn't appear to use ranch. He uses cream cheese (fine by me) and shredded mozzarella. Watch the video: he's solid in putting together the calzones while doing happy talk with Dylan and Tamron. I followed Al's lead and also added blue cheese dressing to my mix (I like the Marie's brand). Al went heavy on the hot sauce. I dialed it back a notch with our two kids in mind. Don't forget to put olive oil on the calzones, that's key. I think Al's look better than mine, but I'm pretty happy with how mine turned out. I make pizza all the time, but this was the first time I made calzones. I cut these in half. We had plenty for dinner and enough for lunch tomorrow. I used whatever pasta sauce I had in the house for dipping. All in all, Al didn't steer me wrong. I'll be speeding down Calzone Highway again soon. Oh, forgot to mention I served the calzones with carrots on the side just to feel better about things. You can always count on me to indulge in carbs and cheese and then be like "Hey but I also ate carrots, so I'm good." One other note: all this from one 16 ounce package of pizza dough.


Monday, January 9, 2017

My Meryl Streep Take

My Meryl Streep take is that everybody should watch Kramer vs. Kramer. It's an amazing drama about marriage, divorce, and parenting. Justin Henry provides one of the great kid acting jobs of all time as Billy Kramer. Dustin Hoffman steals many scenes, such as when he makes French toast for Billy but burns it because life is hard. I'm also known to cry when Billy and his dad eat breakfast together when they've worked their way into a quiet routine. I watch Kramer vs. Kramer whenever I'm lucky enough to come across it. It's also never mentioned as a Christmas film, which is a huge oversight. Every year there are insufferable debates about whether Die Hard is a Christmas movie which is about as interesting a debate as whether a hot dog is a sandwich. A hot dog is not a sandwich and I don't care if Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Meanwhile, people forget that Ted Kramer had to talk his way into a job at a holiday party because he needed income ASAP. He sits on a chair at a holiday party and waits to talk to The Man to get a job. He takes the job even though the salary is beneath him, because sacrifice. Die Hard is a film with gratuitous violence from what I can remember. Kramer v. Kramer is a great all around movie (also a Christmas movie, as now established) thanks to excellent performances from Hoffman, Henry, Streep, and others. Also there's a memorable scene when Henry asks a woman if she likes fried chicken but I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen the movie.