Sunday, February 03, 2008

Bits and Pieces

Well, here it is, Super Bowl Sunday again. Last year was exciting, because it was two teams I like and therefore could be happy with the outcome. This year, I couldn't care less. Yawn. But then, I don't actually care much about pro football anyway. I don't even "watch it for the commercials." I view the SB as a social event.

This year, though, I am recovering from some horrid bug which, for convenience' sake, I will call the Flu. One day of total dizziniess and movement-induced nausea, followed by a day of wobbly weakness with a bit of dizzy and a sore-ish throat, and today still wobbly, and very, very tired.

No respiratory symptoms, no digestive symptoms, but otherwise the general malaise that flu brings. So what was that? Perhaps the vaunted flu vaccine (which I got--I live in a dorm; I'm not stupid) made it less severe after all. Which is good--combining the last few days with respiratory symptoms would have been miserable.

In any case, no Super Bowl party for me this year. I should be sorry to miss it, but I feel yucky enough that I don't care. Plus I have work that has to get done before tomorrow, so I will be doing that.

Flu has been making the rounds of the dorm (as well as campus) and it puts me in mind of the 1918 flu epidemic. What a nightmare--as if the world hadn't suffered enough the previous four years. If I remember right, more people died of the flu than had died in the war...and that's saying something. L. M. Montgomery lost her best friend to the flu that year, and it devastated her.

As bad as things seem sometimes, history shows that there have always been times that were worse. It's really *not* "the end of the world."

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Shot Heard 'Round the World

I've spent the day watching The Revolution miniseries on the History Channel. It was a fantastic way to mark the Fourth, especially since I did the fireworks/outdoor concert of patriotic music thing over the weekend.

One of the things the miniseries brought home to me was how important the quirks of individuals are to the decisions made in times of great historical importance. The officers' personalities, their past histories, and their relationships with those around them had everything to do with whether they made good tactical choices or not. Same goes for the politicians.

It makes me wonder what choices we are making now will have the most impact, for good or ill, on the future. What will the History Channel of a hundred years from now be talking about?

I also wondered about my own ancestors who, I believe, were here during the Revolutionary period. Given that they were in Connecticut and Pennsylvania (I think), they likely never owned slaves, but I wonder if they were Loyalists or Patriots? Patriots, likely, since they stayed where they were after the war, and most of the Loyalists left. But still--I wonder if they were fired with the nobility of the cause, or were they in the 50 percent who wanted to be left alone?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

For real? Seriously?

Two items in the last couple of days:

1. Bob Evans died, may he rest in peace. But was I the only person who didn't know Bob Evans was a real person? I thought he was pretend, like Betty Crocker. His obituary:

2. This gentleman is expected to be elected the FIRST MALE PTA PRESIDENT in America on Friday:

For real? Seriously? The first, ever? One hundred ten years. Of course, there have probably been quite a few men who were involved in PTA, just not presidents. But still. I thought we'd evolved enough to be long past this. It's like when we had the first black "best actor/actress" Oscar wins, or the first female evening news anchor. It took us this long?

About time.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Honorable Mentions

So many things have caught my blogging-eye in the last few days and I've just been overwhelmed with them. Thus, accomplishing no writing. So I am going to note a few, just to pass on the word.

--20th anniversary of "Mr. Gorbachev, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!"

--40th anniversary of both Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Aretha Franklin's version of "Respect".

--40th anniversary of the Supreme Court verdict that gave us the Miranda Warning

--25th anniversary of the Falklands War

--Tiananmen Square massacre anniversary

--Aung San Suu Kyi's birthday

There's just a lot of stuff going on!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Deadliest Catch

One of my all-time favorite television shows is Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel. It's a popular show, and I'm trying to figure out why it inspires such loyalty.

1. It is full of thrills that are absolutely genuine. No artifice about what these men are doing: serious, dangerous work in extreme conditions. It is, per capita, the deadliest job in the world.

2. The activity of crab fishing on the Bering Sea is real work. This is no Survivor, where contestants compete for a prize. This is the fishermen's livelihood. This is what they do to put food on the table (and, in a good season, extra money in the bank--stored up for next season, which could very well be a dud).

3. Its documentary style: the audience watches the men go through good and bad times. There is no need for the "second take" (if they do them, one would never know), because there are so many interesting things happening.

4. I don't know if other audience members feel this way, but I feel like I get to know the men and their crews, and I have a stake in how well they do. I have favorite captains and favorite crew members. I laugh at their pranks and cry in their moments of disaster and deep feeling (one boat rescued a man from the sea and the captain--who had been unable to rescue another man a few years earlier--came down and hugged the rescuee. Both men--tough, rough-looking guys--were crying and barely articulate: "You saved my life, man. You saved my life." "We got you. We got you." I just bawled).

5. There's something addictive about the show. I could watch it for hours on end, even episodes I've seen before. It's great.

All of the above reasons are likely common to the whole audience. For me personally, I think the risks involved, and the overt masculinity of the program offer a nice contrast to my own life, which involves the care and direction of 200 college women and is fraught with emotional drama, but not much physical risk. I'm certainly okay with that, but I think the contrast draws me to the show.

The show's website:

The Wikipedia website, which links to individual boats (with merchandise! How frickin' awesome is that? Gotta love capitalistic synergy):

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Me vs. Stairmaster, Round One


I've been out of my exercise habit for the last couple months, but I'm back on track. I'm learning to work out at the gym as well as walk outside (my preference), because the reality is that 6 months out of the year here in the great Hoosier Heartland it's just too miserable to exercise for any length of time outside. At least for someone who is extreme-temperature-intolerant like I am. (I can do rain or snow if properly attired, but too hot or too cold are just not to be borne.)

So. Me and the gym. I am blessed to have free access to a fantastic university gym with all manner of equipment for both cardiovascular and weight-building needs. There are time limits on all the cardio machines, though, and I need to walk about an hour a day to reach my own fitness goals. There's a third-floor walking deck which overlooks the basketball and soccer courts, and has windows lining almost all of it. This is fantastic for walking, and very comfortable, but I would often get bored after 15 minutes and want to quit.

Enter technology. I got a new cell phone recently and it came with little headphones--there's an FM radio receiver inside! And it uses very little battery, so I can listen to an hour of NPR while I walk the indoor deck. Brilliant!

So I did the hour. Round about 40 minutes I decided to get brave and use one of the Stairmasters in a corner of the deck (they have strategically placed cardio machines at the four "corners" of the oblong track).

Oh. My. Lord. Thought I was going to die! I've always hated climbing stairs, but the Stairmaster is Evil.

(I learned recently that walking actually strengthens the side muscles in your thighs, but does very little for the quads and the back thigh muscles, whatever they're called. That's why I decided to have a go at the Stairmaster.)

First I was like, Okay, 10 minutes. Then after about 5 I was like, ARE YOU SERIOUS?!? I was pouring with sweat. Yeah. Guess I was burning calories after all. I thought I was going to have to quit after seven, but decided that come hell or high water (or fainting from exhaustion) I was DARN well going to do 10 minutes. And I did.

And then I walked for ten more minutes around the track. Take that, Stairmaster.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Millenials in the Workplace

Hello out there to all my fans in Blogland (in other words, Mom and Ben). The summer is now upon us, and I have a little more time than I did the last few months.

I heard a segment on NPR this morning about millenials (18- to 25-year-olds) in the workplace. The link:

It talked about their need for feedback and how, as a generation, they have been closely monitored and "guided" by their parents, so supervisors in the workplace need to provide these things for them. It also had advice for millenials: see your life as a "project" (like at work): show your independence by getting an apartment (instead of living with your parents) and find a mentor at work (not your supervisor) who can guide you.

I knew this about millenials; I finally learned through hard experience. I've been working with and supervising college students for several years now, and have been baffled and frustrated by this need for what I saw as "hand-holding" and "having everything done for them", not realizing that the happy flip side is hard work and loyalty if the millenials are given what they need.

I am from Generation X, which, as a group, was independent-minded and spent a lot of time thinking for itself and rebelling against the Baby Boomer values of the 1980s (in broad terms, we thought our parents sold out: they talked big in their youth about Changing The World and then when the 1980s hit it was All About The Benjamins, with little time for their kids). Of course, Baby Boomers (BBs) perceived Xers as "whiny", which, to a certain extent, we were. But that doesn't mean that we were wrong.

In any case, what this BB/Xer cultural clash wrought was a generation of people with an independent, do-it-my-own-way, make-do-with-what-I-can-get (because the BBs weren't letting anything--jobs, government, money out of their vise-like grip), why-bother-too-hard mentality. This can be perceived as "lazy" or "whiny" by BBs, but really, we have more in common with the 1960s now than they do. And what do they expect?

God love the millenials, though. Like any generation, they have a good and bad side. The good side: the aforementioned loyalty and hard work, as well as a belief that they can, indeed, change the world. If anyone can, they probably can. The bad side? They aren't that good at thinking for themselves (they need constant approval), they are joined at the hip to their parents (students I work with often talk to their parents several times a day; I talked to mine probably once a week in college), and they need everything spelled out for them. I used to perceive it as individual weakness until I figured out it's a generational trait; it's not their fault. Here's my theory:

BBs kind of screwed up with Gen X (thus we rebelled against their 80s materialism and career obsessions and got all 90s grunge), so then they tried again with our younger siblings and made them into perfect little children who are a Credit Toward Their Parents. These poor youngsters can't do anything without being monitored and encouraged by their BB mommy and daddy (the ever-hovering "helicopter parents").

It's totally unfair to them. BBs make fun of "Father Knows Best," but please: these kids are more compliant than the ones on 1950s TV. And their BB parents made them that way.

What to do? Well, I certainly can't do anything about changing an entire cultural setup that's been in the works for 20 years. But what I can do is be more charitable toward millenials, and try to foster a little independence and free-thinking in them. They're good kids, and if they can cut loose from their parents, who knows what they might accomplish?