Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rest easy now?

The semester has been going fairly smoothly. I never got behind on grading. My prep work has been getting done in a timely fashion. In fact, I'm even a bit ahead; I might not have any work that absolutely needs to be done over Thanksgiving Break. Great, right?

No. It's been making me insane. I've been living with a low level of background terror that I've forgotten something important. I've taken on extra responsibility at work, so there is no way I should be on top of things at this point in the semester. What am I forgetting?

Then I figured it out: I only have one job. You see, ever since the last year of my Ph.D. program, I've been working two jobs - full-time at the community college and part-time at the university. Even when we moved to San Diego last year, I was still coordinating six TAs, 16 lab sections, and almost 400 students at the university from afar. That stopped this semester. For the first time since 1999, I only have one job, but I've been working at the same pace as usual.

I can sleep easier now, methinks.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Variations on a theme

As Greg has pointed out, we voted against Proposition 8, but we didn't do anything else. We both feel guilty about not donating, but frankly, in the current economic reality, we were constrained. We donated to Obama's campaign and nothing else. I still think it was the right thing to do, if we had to pick just one. I just wish we'd had more money to spread around. For the immediate future, though, efforts to repeal Prop 8 will be a priority for us.

If you're curious about who donated for or against Prop 8, the SFgate website has a good searchable database:
Bring up various states, then bring up Utah. There's an interesting tale there. I also, naively, didn't realize that you could contribute donations to a proposition in a state other than the one in which you live. If foreigners are prohibited from donating to presidential races, why can someone from Arkansas donate to an issue affecting another state? (If you'll look at the Arkansas data, you'll know why, among other reasons, we don't go to Wal-mart!)

And there is another reason why I'm choosing Arkansas. I've mentioned before that the people of Arkansas passed an initiative (Act No. 1) which bans people who are co-habitating outside of a valid marriage from fostering or adopting children. This law isn't getting nearly enough attention, so I will note Dan Savage's column in the NYT today. This law has the potential to be much more dangerous than Prop 8, because it sets a precedent that disallows unmarried couples (gay or straight) from having children. Greg and I couldn't adopt there... what if I needed to take in my great-nephew in the case something happened to my niece? We'd be prohibited. But more ominous, what if you've already adopted or fostered a child? Is this the first step in taking children away from gay couples? A horrible, horrible precedent and one that should be discussed, feared, and reviled. As I've always thought, there is nothing more anti-family than the "pro-family" movement, nothing more without values than the "values voters".

I spent sometime today talking to a student of mine who took a few weeks off school to canvas for Obama in Nevada. (And yes, I'd have been fine with it if he were campaigning for McCain.) He spoke to me of experiencing racism... having seen swastikas and the n-word painted on their campaign office, seeing Confederate flags flown in their faces, watching white volunteers being treated differently than African-american volunteers. As a young white male, this was an important lesson for him to learn: the playing field is not level, racism still exists, thrives even in parts of the country. He'll never forget this. He'll also never forget the times where he felt he made a difference, the voter here and there whose vote swung or at least teetered because of his words. He also spoke of being down with how the canvasing was going, but being inspired by an Obama visit. Michelle Obama, to be clear. He said she was absolutely inspiring. So we'll take the lesson here: bigotry still exists, but hope will prevail.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Graphic Views

The L.A. Times has done a great job breaking down the demographics of the election in California. Once again, I am reminded of why how much I love the Central and Northern coast of California.

And this illustration makes me tear up every time I look at it. Via Greg:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Roller coaster ride

I am so upset that bigotry was made constitutional in California. My much beloved Kirsten has expressed the argument against this hateful proposition so eloquently that I'll let her words stand for my own. Just let me get this on the record: if you voted in favor of this proposition or any other banning gay marriage, it is my sincerest wish that you are forever prevented from being with the one you love. Since you think it's fair for you to cast judgment and place limits upon someone else's relationship, I get to do so, too, right? Also, to the people of Arkansas who passed an initiative making unmarried couples unable to adopt children, you have convinced me to never go to your state for any reason if this law goes into effect.

Tuesdays are my long workdays. They start at 8am and end at 10pm. Greg and I arrived at our polling place about 15 minutes before it opened, so we could vote before I had to go to work. Because of the hectic nature of my Tuesdays, I couldn't keep up very easily with the election coverage and as I went into my night-time astronomy lecture the results of the election were just starting to come in. My students were nervous and excited, hoping for change and for tolerance. Around 8 pm, I could see all of my students get distracted as their phones started buzzing with the news that the presidential election had been called. I even picked up my phone and had students say hello to Kirsten who was at an election party. I let class out soon afterward. The students went out into the night overall pleased with the new president-elect and they wanted to see the results of the ballot propositions. As I could tell from discussions I heard today, the students have been on the same roller coaster ride as I've been on, as so many of my friends have been on. How can an election make us so happy and so sad at the same time?

One more comment about the election: the youngsters were really interested this time around. This is the third presidential election while I've been a full-time college instructor and I had never seen this level of interest or inspiration. For example, one of my students has been absent for the past two and a half weeks. Why? He's been in Nevada, on the ground for the Obama campaign. He'd been just spending weekends there, but wanted to give his all to get his candidate elected. And last night we saw the results of his youthful enthusiasm. Even in the bitter news of the propositions, the light of youth shines in the demographic breakdown of the vote. The change we sought last night is not complete, but rather has only just begun.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Balancing Act

In blatant compensation for my election- and semester-related anxieties, I found myself doing a month's worth of grocery shopping this morning. I always feel secure with a well-stocked pantry. I was overwhelmed with the need to cook. With Greg's help, I managed to turn last weekend's apple pickings into apple pie filling. Now four individual serving pies are sending a lovely homey aroma through the apartment. I also made chicken and spinach enchiladas for dinner, with enough leftovers for tomorrow night. I feel soothed. My goal is to keep the positive vibe up over the next few days.

Hope y'all had a good weekend!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Just thinking in print

I think the election has been robbing me of my urge to write blog entries. Not that I don't have opinions, because I certainly do, but rather the tenor of the election on both national and local scales has enraged and saddened me to an unprecedented extent. I have managed to do some positive things. I made a few donations. I told my Tuesday night lecture that voting takes priority over class; most of these students are full-time workers so the evening might be their best time to vote. I reminded my students that, as long as they are in line before the polls close, they have the right to vote so they shouldn't leave. I also reminded them that they don't have to vote for every office and proposition, that leaving some decisions blank would not disqualify their ballot. Many students did not know that, by the way. Another instructor found herself explaining the electoral college to her class, because several students thought that the winner was chosen by popular vote. It makes me wonder what other basics the populace does not understand and perhaps that is why this election feeds on ignorance.