Thursday, November 27, 2008

I spent the night with a lady, and now I'm in love

Me and B have been thinking about getting a dog, specifically a beagle. His sister just got a beagle named Penny a few months ago, and brought Penny with her to our Thanksgiving hotel, in Joliet Illinois. After listening to B's sister talk about how much work is involved (she has to take her dog for a walk four times a day! and one of those is a 45 minute walk! ), I'm not so sure we should get one until we move and have a fenced in yard or something.

Penny spent the night cuddling with me to try and change my mind. She didn't leave my side all night, not even to go sleep with B's sister in the next bed over. (B is sharing a room with his parents, since we're not married and all)

I think it's working, cause she is so adorable I kinda want to dognap her and take her home with me. She's lying next to me right now, snoring away. So adorable!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What is wrong with this article

Hint: I'm going to bold the part that's wrong, and not post the rest of the article.

NEW YORK ( -- The home price plunge stayed on a record pace this summer, according to a widely watched gauge of national real-estate markets released Tuesday.

The S&P Case-Shiller Home Price national index recorded a 16.6% decline in the third quarter compared with the same period a year ago. That eclipsed the previous record of 15.1% set during the second quarter.

Prices in Case-Shiller's separate index of 10 major cities fell a record 18.6%, while its 20-city index dropped a record 17.4%

With foreclosures soaring at record rates, the economic picture dimming and job losses ramping up, all the elements were in place to push prices lower.

"The turmoil in the financial markets is placing further downward pressure on a housing market already weakened by its own fundamentals," said David Blitzer, Standard & Poor's spokesman for the indexes, in a press release. "All three aggregate indices, and 13 of the 20 metro areas, are reporting new record rates of decline...Prices are back to where they were in early 2004.

Answer: The problem here is that when prices fell by 18%, they fell to 2004 levels. That reflects an insane increase in housing costs over the past 4 years that far outpaces the rate of inflation.

Well boo freakin hoo homeowners. Your house, which you bought for 200,000, and thought you could sell 10 years later for 300,000 is now only worth 260,000. You still made $60,000! Meanwhile, people like me who want to buy their first home have no way of breaking into home ownership, since someone, somewhere, decided that home price inflation should far outpace the rate of actual inflation. How did you think that was going to work out for ya?

I'll tell you how that works out- no one can afford to buy your houses anymore, so you either drop the price or stay on the market forever. So you end up dropping the price. And somehow that's a Big Problem (tm).

Houses aren't something that you invest in to make more're supposed to invest in them so that instead of throwing your money into a big black hole we lesser beings call "rent" you can get the money back in a few years if you want to sell your house. But that doesn't mean you should get your money back at an 18% interest rate! That's just unreasonable! And yet because it's not working out like that, people are freaking out.

(note: the foreclosure problem, though related, is a whole other kettle of worms, and I don't think people freaking out because of that are ridiculous).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Always on fire

I was watching an old episode of Six Feet Under last night, where one of the characters goes to some self-actualizing seminar thing called "The plan."

In the show, the seminar leader talks to one of the participants, a woman from a foreign country. The woman tells this story about how when she was 12, her father had a dream that she was unfaithful to her future husband (who had already been picked for her), so her dad set her on fire. She then shows off her scars to the seminar.

The seminar leader responds with something like "you should invite your father over, and forgive him for what he did to you." The woman is of course skeptical, at which point the seminar leader says "as long as you can't forgive your father, you will always be on fire"

Now my parents never set me on fire, but I think the general principles are the same. Forgiveness is not for the person who is being forgiven. It's for the person who forgives. As long as I can't forgive my parents for how they have treated me, they will always have some kind of control over my life. Even now, when I talk to them once every several months, I still have a major chip on my shoulder about them. Not a day goes by where I don't feel upset about the way they are reacting to my choices. Not a week goes by without me fantasizing about what life would be like if my parents would be supportive and happy for me and my decisions.

But how ridiculous is that? I'm barely talking to them, and they still manage to cast this huge shadow over my life. I need to somehow figure out a way to forgive them, to be at peace, to not be spending so much energy thinking about my parents. Part of me wants to go to therapy for a bit to figure this stuff out, although I kinda hate going to therapy cause then it just makes me dwell on bad things more so than I would otherwise. Part of me wants to just call my mom up and say "I forgive you" and see what happens. Part of me thinks that if I truly did forgive them, I wouldn't even feel the need to tell them about it, so clearly I don't forgive them.

Who really knows anymore.

Meanwhile, I don't think I ever told my parents I was going to Chicago for Thanksgiving. Oh did I mention that? B's parents are flying me (and B) out to Chicago to meet the entire extended family of B who all meet up outside of Chicago every year for Thanksgiving. I think it might be fun, and I'm hoping that his family will be cool, since our future kids probably won't be having too much contact with my family.

But meanwhile, I don't think I ever told my parents, and they never asked what I was doing for I guess it's good that I made these other plans, since it seems I'm not invited home anymore. This will be the first time in my life that I won't be at my parent's house for Thanksgiving (Since they don't celebrate Christmas, and since I won't go to my parents house for Jewish holidays, Thanksgiving was really the only holiday my family was ever all home for).

I'm not sure if that's going to be weird or depressing or this point I'm more excited about taking a mini-vacation with B (Our first plane ride together! The first time in a while that I get to go on vacation!) and meeting all of B's family (who soon will also be my family!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

rut students found my facebook!

Apparently, even if you set "photo's that are tagged of you" to be friends-only, that doesn't set the actual photos you post yourself to be friends-only.

As I discovered, when a student of mine came up to me on Monday night and was all "I saw your facebook profile, I can't believe you had dreadlocks! Mad respect!"

Later that day, another student of mine (who is friends with the first one) friended me on facebook. After some thought and editing of my profile, I added her back. Why not? There's only 2 weeks left to the semester. If something goes horrible wrong, that's just lessons learned for next time.

Yesterday I found that student #2 had sent me a lovely facebook message, that just totally made my day.

The best
You are teaching, by far, the best class I have had all semester-- Not a night goes by with out something hilarious happening and it actually helps me to remember things! You should here the pow-wows that go on before you arrive!!!

So it seems this facebook-friending thing is working out in my favor. :)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The state of religiousity in the U.S. (among women of childbearing ages)

As you may or may not know, when I'm not ranting about my parents, I'm a sociologist. Specifically, I'm a grad student in sociology: I have a MA, and am planning on completing my PhD either next May or August depending on how things go (if I don't get this professorship job I just interviewed for I may end up staying in grad school until 2010).

The specific topic I study is family and gender, and my dissertation is about cohabitation in the United States. I do my research using large scale nationally-representative datasets.

Right now I am working on an index of religiosity- that is, a measure of how important religion is to the daily lives of people in my dataset. I want to account for this in my statistical models, since religiosity is highly correlated with cohabitation.

So here are some brand spanking new numbers I just calculated using the National Survey of Family Growth dataset. This dataset was collected in 1995 and 2002, is nationally representative, and specifically surveyed women age 15-49 (women of childbearing ages). So these numbers are only true for women age 15-49 in the US.

For all women age 15-49:
Religion very important: 57.04
Religion somewhat important: 36.45%
Religion not important: 6.5%

I'm specifically looking at women who have ever been married (so may be divorced or widowed at the time of survey, but were married at least once). For women age 15-49 who have ever been married:
Religion very important:60.90%
Religion somewhat important: 33.97%
Religion not important: 5.13%

For women age 15-49 who have ever been married and didn't cohabit before marriage:
Religion very important:68.03%
Religion somewhat important: 28.31%
Religion not important: 3.66%

For women age 15-49 who have ever been married and who DID cohabit before marriage:
Religion very important:51.29%
Religion somewhat important: 41.60%
Religion not important: 7.12%

It seems that not being religious is a pretty rare state for women of childbearing ages in the United States.

you may say I'm a dreamer...

But I'm not the only one

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

the pro's and con's of a professorship job.

Well I had my interview last week. I think I'm going to take the job if offered, but I'm trying to think about it in a more rational manner. I won't find out until December that I got it, but I want to know before then what my decision would be, so I'm not trying to make a decision in the 2 weeks you normally get to make such decisions.

*2 and 2 teaching load (2 classes a semester), which is basically the lowest teaching load you can get outside of an ivy league university
*everyone was really really friendly and seemed happy with the department.
*I would have complete flexibility over at least one course a semester (which course to teach) and complete flexibility over when to schedule courses.
*no one is doing research very similar to mine, so I won't feel like I'm in competition with specific people
*I would never have to teach introduction to sociology, since that's taught by adjunct faculty

*tenure expectations are not impossible- out of the last 9 people who went up for tenure in the University(which represents 3 years of hires in this school since they hire so few people a year), 1 person didn't get it, and he was denied at the university level and not the department level. I looked up this guys CV later, and it seemed that since he got his phd he only published 1 book based on his dissertation and 1 article, so it seems to me that they were fair in denying him tenure.
*so research is expected, and supported by the university
*the school is unionized, which means guaranteed raises every year and an excellent benefit package.
*it's a public university so I wouldn't be teaching a bunch of rich spoiled white kids all the time- there is a very diverse student body.

Grad students:
*although there is no grad program in sociology, there are some grad programs in affiliated departments (like women's studies) that I would be able to teach in if I wanted to do graduate teaching
*no grad program might actually be an advantage cause that means no time taken up with advising and mentoring grad students.
*I don't even know if I want to teach grad students, I think my passion is much more for undergraduate teaching.

*The school is about a half hour drive from where i grew up, and where a lot of my friends still live, so I would have a built in social network.
*The school is in the NYC metro area, so I would not be living in the middle of bumblefuck

*The department is really really small (~9 faculty members including whomever they hire this year) which may lead to small department infighting, although I was assured on my interview that this has been a really great place to work for at least the last 20 years (but that before that, there was some infighting)
*No one is doing research similar to mine, so I would have few people in my department to bounce ideas off of, or to give me technical help with stats
*I would be required to teach research methods and stats every year, which I don't mind right now but which might get tedious after a while. Also those classes are known for low teacher evaluations since the topic can be pretty boring, which may hurt my teaching evaluations (which may affect tenure)

*I would be judged for tenure using the same criteria as the other campus's in this university's system, some of which have grad programs and grad research assistants to help them do their research
*it's a public university and subject to budget cuts at the government level. The economy sucks, so there will probably be budget problems
*public universities generally have less resources at any given time.

Grad students:
*No grad program in sociology so I wouldn't be able to have graduate research assistants to help me write papers, which might make me less productive

*the NYC metro area has a freakin insane cost of living compared to anywhere else in the country. I was checking out housing prices around this area, and even places further out with longer commutes have what I would consider insane housing prices- like $300k MINIMUM for a piece of shit that needs work. So we might not be able to buy a house right away. A LOT of junior faculty seemed to rent instead of own. The salary is a little higher for this job than in jobs in other locations, but definitely does not make up for the huge cost of living increase
*It's near my parents. And we're not on great terms right now, obviously. In fact, I refuse to visit them until they agree to meet B, and they refuse to meet B, so we're at a standoff right now. Being closer to them might mean we would reconcile (in a dream world where my parents are reasonable people), but more likely will mean having to deal with them 9and related drama) more then I would if I moved to, say, the west coast.
*B really hates the place and doesn't want to live there. To be fair, he has only visited the area 3 times, and I think if he visited it more he would like it a bit. He has reassured me repeatedly that he will follow me wherever I go, even to rural Texas, and has reassured me that he would follow me to this area too. But just because he WOULD follow me there, doesn't mean he will be happy living there, and even as I try to convince him that it wouldn't be so bad, I'm afraid he's right, and that the reasons he has for not living there (congestion, high price of living, etc), are good ones.

So this will all be useless information if I don't get the job offer, but I have about 30% chance of getting it I think (since they are interviewing 3 people for the job), and I think they are looking for someone who does pretty much exactly what i do, so I am a really good "fit". Then again, maybe the other people they are interviewing are better fits. I have no way of knowing.

My options if I don't take this job are to wait and see if anyone else wants to hire me this year (which is pretty unlikely at this point, as I applied to 7 jobs, 5 have scheduled interviews, and 1 of the remaining ones is Princeton which I don't think I am good enough to get a job at. So I have 1 more chance for an interview). So If I don't get or take this job, I will stay in grad school for an extra year and apply for jobs again next year (for professorship jobs you can only apply once a year, around fall of the year before you want a job). I have full funding for another year of grad school, but I will probably be finished with my dissertation before that year (since I definitely will be finished if I do get/take this job). So that means an extra year of fucking around, no reason to be in this city, not earning as much as I could be earning, etc.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I was so caught up in the presidential race that I barely had to to be nervous for my interview tomorrow to be a REAL tenure track professor. (Ok that's a lie, I had a few anxiety dreams about getting interviewed here and there)

But now that the election is over, it's starting to set in. I've been working the past 9 years towards becoming a tenure track professor, and tomorrow is one of the last big hoops I have to jump through before getting it (ok, I also have to finish my dissertation, but I'm not worried about that).

It also is my only interview so far (of the 7 schools I applied to, 5, including this one, have scheduled interviews, leaving 2 more possibilities). If I don't get this job, I will probably end up spending a 6th year in graduate school. They are interviewing at least 2 other people, possibly 3. So my job tomorrow is to be the most awesome I can be, in order to beat out those other 2 or 3 candidates.

Wish me luck!!