Friday, March 23, 2018

The Library

Academics are nerds. We all know it. One of the things that is illustrative of this common trait is our love for libraries. The larger, the better.

I was reminded of this last night while watching Game of Thrones for the second time. It was the episode where Sam finally makes it to the Citadel. Once he’s checked in, he is given permission to enter the Library while he “waits” to be fully admitted. The look of sheer joy on his face is classic!

I remember my first time in a large, University library. I had experienced my high school library, but had never experienced a multi-floor stack of books, newspapers, newsreels, and historic relics. The University Library overwhelmed me. It took my breath away.

Over the course of my academic career, I found myself attracted to the Library. As a student, as a professor, as a campus visitor, I always carved out time to visit the Library.

The “best” library I have ever been in is the Library of Congress. We could not venture into the stacks, but we could (as Senate Interns) check out books as long as they remained in the Library. Reading them in the Library was an experience I will never forget. The smell of history permeated the air inside the library.

The “most modern” library I have visited was the newly constructed library at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It had robots that would seek out and retrieve the books you were interested in using. It was pretty incredible to see in action.

I guess my favorite library was the one at Cal. The Classics section was incredible. I would request books to read that were over 300 years old! At that time, I was reading books on Christian history, with an occasional venture into political theory.

I have yet to actually spend time at the Library on my new campus. I intend to visit it soon, though. It will be a great time of discovery. I will enjoy every minute of my visit.

I told you we are nerds!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Bad Liver, But No Broken Heart!

During my last visit with my doc, he was a bit startled at my Liver numbers. All my other numbers were fine, though my blood pressure was still a bit high.

But my liver numbers! They were high enough that he joked (?) that I’m close enough to be on the liver transplant list.

I know he was joking, really. I could see it in his face!

BUT—when he asked what could’ve caused those high numbers, I admitted that I indulge in some heavy drinking at times. And, since the blood tests were taken during the Holiday season, I’d have to say I had a few nights binge drinking with friends and family here at home.

Still, his comments alarmed me. I knew that I needed to change my behavior.

Now, he strongly recommended that I stop drinking completely. Though I shook my head in affirmation, I know I can’t do that. I’m not sure if that revelation makes me an alcoholic, but I honestly like the drink and the buzz a bit too much to give it up (unless I find an alternative).

So, I have adjusted my drinking habits. IF I find the time to take a drink these days, my limit is two. I can have no more than 14 drinks a week—which is within the bounds of normal. I can’t drink all 14 in one sitting, though!

And I’ve adjusted (again) my eating habits. More fiber, taking a liver oriented detox herb (Milk Thistle), and more exercise.

My next blood test is in two months. I am really hoping for a “normal” liver test result. If so, then I know I can keep drinking—just in moderation. If it’s not, though, then add me to the liver transplant list. Knowing the likelihood of that happening in my lifetime, I’ll just settle for whatever happens next.

It’s All Good!

Friday, January 12, 2018


I take my politics seriously. My parents are responsible for this—the tv was on the news every night, and they were constantly talking about current events in a critical way. My grandparents are somewhat responsible too insofar as politics was the center of family conversations during holidays to the point where my grandfather and dad would yell at each other about their narrowly different perspectives on certain issues.

When I look back on their perspectives, though, I am amazed at how I came to view the world. THAT was all my mother, and perhaps that was because of her immigration to the US and experiencing our society as a minority.

But my grandparents and my dad—they were Kennedy Democrats. Working class democrats, pro-union, advocates of social programs that helped working people. And they were racists. But their working class roots, and perhaps their experiences during the Depression, marked them to always question the motives of the Republicans. My grandparents and dad hated the Republicans because the represented the interests of corporations. For my grandfather, the prospect of me going to college angered him—I would be rubbing elbows with “those educated idiots” who he framed as the leaders of corporate America. Educated Idiots didn’t care about the working class. I would become, he thought, one of them.

I guess with my conflicted political background, I can say that I fully understand where the Drumpfer’s come from. As I see the rural poverty around me here today in East Tennessee, I understand as well their frustration that the economy no longer favors them. I am angry, though, that they’ve kept that racism that is generationally passed down as the reason for their plight. They have forgotten their working class roots—the foundation for their anger should be corporate interests as they have moved to not only maximize profit by taking jobs offshore but have also maximized investment by keeping (hoarding, actually) the profits they make all to themselves without investing in the US worker.

I’ve always been a political nerd. When I was in the 3rd Grade, I worked the Bobby Kennedy campaign handing out pamphlets at the Democratic Party headquarters on weekends in May and June 1968. His assassination hurt me to the core, but work me up politically. It matured me politically at a very early age. I had stickers on my bike (that I made myself) that said “Nixon—In Prison Now More Than Ever.” It was a play on his reelection campaign slogan in 1972.

Politics is important to me. It started at an early age.

That is why it is so difficult for me today to interact with those who are Drumpf supporters. I can handle interacting with anyone, really, but if they begin to articulate a Drumpf ideology, I will not only turn them off—I will cut them off in my life.

I need a place (like here) to make that sort of testimonial. A mix between being too old to care, and valuing my interactions with people, moves me towards eliminating the interactions I have or may have with Drumpfers. It is for my own mental health to a large extent.

I’m rambling quite a bit here, but as I start this new year, and given that in less than two weeks Drumpf has only dug the hole deeper as far as loss of international respect, even placing our society in graver danger when it comes to nuclear war, understand that I will not tolerate spending much time with those who support his agenda. Life is too short, I believe in my perspective too much, and I know there are others who see the world the same way I do that will support me. I will write when I can about those things that trouble me politically. I will because it too is good for my own mental health. It is about time.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

It's Only January 3rd and in Washington....

There's a helluva shit-storm happening in and around the White House these days. I continue to be amazed at how the Conservative/Republican base rallies around a crazy man in the White House.

Well, given the new book by Michael Wolff "Fire and Fury" it seems that Drumpf is really as crazy, paranoid and senile as we all thought.

I was asked this morning what can we do in practical terms to make social change in the immediate future. I responded with this--

As a sociologist, I can fully see lots of things we must be doing. (Indeed, there is so many empirical findings for the last 20-30 years on how to help bridge social, political and economic gaps that it would make your head swim). But, whether our society has the will to do it (to implement strong, empirically based social change policy) is quite another thing.

But, this is a systemic issue and will take decades to repair. In my honest opinion, we need to first put people in office who have a progressive worldview. I'm talking about at the local school board level. We need to nurture new leadership for the future (see Julian Castro's "Opportunity First" initiative).

Second, we need to mobilize and vote in the next elections (again, at the street level and on up). There were a number of factors that led to the 2016 debacle, but complacency and lace of real get-out-the-vote efforts would be my strongest observations. The recent Alabama Senate election is an indicator of what can take place when you fully mobilize oppressed communities in the election process. We need to harness our anger and mobilize the vote. We need the "Tsunami" electoral effect to take place in 2018 and beyond.

Finally, we need to find a way to get Drumpf out of office before 2020. A Democrat controlled Congress will impeach him. Otherwise, we need to wait until 2020.

Sunday, December 31, 2017


Every year is full of anniversaries. We celebrate those 365 days passing with reflections on what we’ve achieved and what we would do different for the next year.

We do it on our birthday.

We do it on our wedding anniversary.

We do it for our special events.

The one we do for “New Year’s” is full of a wide range of reflections, based in large part on our collective social identities and the contexts we define those identities in.

This has been a “ying-and-yang” year for me. In many ways it has come to remind me of which of my identities are most salient to me.

My “goals” for 2018 are a reflection of this. I value my role as a father, as a husband, as a Professor, as a Liberal/Progressive, and as a Boozefighter.

Based on those identities in 2017, I was mainly satisfied with my performance and social production. The students at Kennesaw are great, the job was much better than I could have ever anticipated, and the Chapter is doing fine and is well respected in East Tennessee.

What I didn’t do “well” was the father and husband end of things.

Not to appear that things are “bad”, because they’re not. But it’s just that I have so much more to give to family and I haven’t done as much as I know I can do. And over the past few weeks I’ve done a good job starting off being more of a “family” person, and I can see it starting to produce rewards, especially with my son Devin.

I also haven’t re-connected with the “few” liberal and progressive friends I have up here in the region. Our Knoxville friends—I haven’t seen them as much as I want to. They’re riders too so this shouldn’t have been much trouble to coordinate. But things got in the way (mainly club activities) and being around my progressive riding friends took a back seat.

This will not happen in 2018.

As much as I felt “happy” in 2018, I still cannot shake the fact that our society has such an idiot (with power) in the presidency. As much as my mental health would be richer without thinking so much about the daily issues and problems he puts our society in, I cannot avoid reading the news, the tweets, and the other various forms of social media that chronicalize his daily disasters.

I can see that 2018 will not be a good year for me as long as that blowhard idiot is in office.

So, this is how I start the New Year. Hoping to spend more time with family and progressive friends, and perhaps to dive into new adventures voicing my dissent to Drumpf. Perhaps a march or two in the streets will be in my forte for 2018.

To you all, Happy New Year! May 2018 bring you renewed prosperity and joy!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Goals for 2018

1. I want to spend more time with my family.
2. Specifically, I want to spend more time with my son Devin.
3. I want to spend some more quality time with Susan.
4. I want to read more, especially academic articles and applied research.
5. I want to socialize more with people who see the world and its problems in similar ways that I do.
6. I want to socialize more with those people who see similar solutions to today's problems as I do.
7. I want to see a more musicians playing original music in small venues this year.
8. I think many of us "want" this during this time of year, but I really want to seriously get back in shape again. Lose a few points (30 would be nice), walk a mile each day, lift some weights just to build some strength again.
9. I want to sponsor at least four Salons this year.
10. I want to see more baseball games this year.

That's if for right now. I may add a few later.

It's All Good!

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Xmas Story

Been a while since I posted here.

Here's a Xmas story I've told often to my students. It's a story about working class poverty and the children who live in those conditions.

One of the most memorable Xmas' I've ever had was our first one in Placerville. December 1965. We had just moved to Placerville a few months prior. My dad had landed a job as a Deputy Sheriff in El Dorado County. He would keep this job until he retired 24 years later.

We lived in a small duplex in downtown Placerville, close to Marshall Hospital. We had a tree, but there weren't going to be any presents this year. Dad's new job really didn't pay well, though it had benefits. Mom wasn't working yet but she would eventually take on two full-time jobs to help make ends meet. This Xmas, though, was going to be rough. The only presents (and food for that matter) would be brought up to our house from San Jose by my grandparents. They were set to arrive later in the day.

When my sister and I woke up in the morning, we were surprised to find a present for each of us under the tree. Santa had found our house, even without the chimney! We were beyond happy.

We opened our gifts. We both got a "rip-cord" dragster! We immediately set out to race them down the hallway!

What we found out later was that Dad had earned these two dragster toys as a free gift when he filled up the car at the gas station. Back in those days, if you filled up your car with a tank of gas, you would often receive a free gift.

We would never really be that poor again. We struggled for the next two-or-three years, but we would never be that poor. I learned much during that time, though. Family means lots, my father loved us deeply, and you don't really know you're poor until you interact with those who have more. Otherwise, you don't see yourself as different.