(blog of a feminist dad)

Facebook killed my blog.  I’m sure I’ve said this before.  But it’s positively true.  Where else but Facebook can I be so narcissistic, so often, and so easily?  I have to actually work for my narcissism in a blog post.  And now that we have 250-character-limit Twitter posts, Facebook status updates can feel like Big Time Essay Writing.

More than FB though, there’s something else killing my writing.  Before I worked a full time job, which is funny because for me that was in academia which is actually two or three full time jobs put together, I had more creative energy for blogging.  Maybe it was that I wasn’t required to spend 11 hours a day preparing for and being at work.  Maybe it was because I loved my academic subject matter and often blogged about it.  After all, you blog about what you do, right?

And I’m not even talking about the conundrum offered by workplace social marketing, where my personal blog posts could also be perceived professional.  In social media, there is really no distinction between the two. i.e. no blogging about the workplace without a layer of codes and pseudonyms I can’t possibly have the patience for.

I’m talking more about the conundrum offered by social media itself — that before tweeting and poking the people who read my blog were other sociologists, other feminists, other parents, other bloggers.  People who shared a common subject matter.  Now they are anyone lucky enough to be accepted as my friend.  Fourth grade acquaintances, friends of my parents that I knew growing up, my very-patient-in-the-1980s flute teacher (Hi Carlyn!) … well it’s just a different audience.

Of course that assumes that I link my blog to FB, but who am I kidding, of course I will!  After all, this is yet another thing I do online that must tie back to Facebook.

I mean, have you noticed how EVERYTHING you do 0nline now leads back to Facebook?  I read the news, if only to hope for the chance to share the link.  I take pictures, awaiting the perfect capture to send up from my phone.  And the most circular of all: I click on other people’s facebook links, just hoping to share their links on my own page!  You can’t say you don’t do this.  That Christine O’Donnell not-a-witch promo was too much not to go viral.  And I did my part by sharing.

Then you say you’ll just quit Facebook.  Puh-Shaw!  We all have friends who post as their status update, “I’m leaving facebook – it’s not you, it’s me” … only to return in usually less than seven days.  I mean really, you had to post a Facebook update about your disinterest in Facebook?  Alrighty then.  So I know I won’t be doing that.

So here I am, not blogging often enough for anyone to be following it.  I know, because the only traffic to my blog are search engine traffic and links from my own Facebook wall.  Facebook now serves as some pseudo-super-feed-reader.  I suppose this guarantees at least some kind of audience.  An audience of whoever happens to (a) be surfing FB at the moment I publish, (b) be a friend with current FB algorithms placing me on “top news” over “most recent” updates, and (c) decide they can handle actually reading more than the 250 character norm of a status update.

I promise my posts won’t be this long every time – Hell I may even link to another blog in the next post – but for now, you know: That’s how Marc with a C sees it.

We found $9 tickets to Disney on Ice! Once I realized that my daughter is fully indoctrinated with all things Disney* there was no reason not to spend less than 30 bucks to see it. Ok, so parking is $10, popcorn something insane, Mickey Mouse binoculars another $10 (so cool), and requisite beers for Mommy & Daddy another something something. I’m not adding it up.

Any critique you could possibly drum up for Disney is known: hetero overly regal and magic relationships of light skinned or otherwise uber-typecasted princesses. Cultures are debased, values flaunted, but you know what? My daughter LOVES Snow White. She danced and pointed when Snow White skated on stage. She clapped when Cinderella was tossed in the air by Prince Charming. After we got home she told us all about when (spoiler alert) the Wicked Witch tried to give Mickey Mouse an apple. Noooo Mickey! Don’t eat it!

Our biggest critique, beyond all things Disney, was the line: There’s one thing EVERYBODY in the world celebrates: CHRISTMAS! But even that is forgotten. On the way home Edie exclaimed that she saw Snow White, Mickey Mouse, and Santa Claus, and I once again felt good about our day.

Moral of the story? I wouldn’t spend $75 per ticket. Probably I would think twice before spending $15 on the upper balcony. But that’s just because of cost. Lots of kids love this show and you might as well buy the binoculars too.

*Let me count the ways: Princess & the Frog, Snow White, Mickey Mouse Club, and guess what? Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas – of which Edie knows two songs, both sung at Disney on Ice.

In the 48 hours since owning Wii Fit Plus I’ve learned I’m overweight, off-balance, really bad at non-competitive sport… oh and the undisclosed propitiatory Wii Fit aging scale places me eleven years older than I really am. And, I’m getting a little tired of that low hanging disappointed Mii head after every game I play.

My experience of the last two days gives me the following possible hypotheses (points to anyone appreciating the link):

1. I’m overweight, off-balance, and eleven years my age. If it looks like a duck and talks like a duck…
2. All Wii Fit ages begin older – sometimes way older – so we can appreciate the product we’ve purchased which will make us young again.
3. Wii Fit supports the conspiracy that older means less fit. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised about this. But why do I get excited when someone tells me I look ten years younger than I do? Whatever the answer, this is what Wii feeds on to get me so upset about my, er, mature fitness status.

It’s not a stretch to say that Wii Fit Ages are not reliable. Much of the scale seems based on balance activities that change every time you log in.

UPDATE: Nine days later, and really it’s not that bad. Without even working out, I am now Wii 45, less two years! I’m not convinced this thing is intended to make you feel good however. Yesterday my fitness tip started out, “As you rapidly age, you become even more unbalanced and less healthy” or something slightly less exaggerated.

Best game: Skateboarding. Ride the rail!
Worst game: Obstacle course. If you mess up, an oversize black pendulum knocks you 50 feet over some water and for all I know drowns you.

p.s. Don’t be surprised if you get Wii Fit and you don’t actually get healthier. I rejoined the YMCA this month and will use Wii Fit to track my goals and progress. Until I’m thin again.

I can’t tell you how hard this is. I’m getting rid of some really good books. But they’re common, and by the time I ever decide to pick up my Ph.D. work again, they will probably be available for free on Kindle. But a few I’ve chosen to keep.

This might only be interesting if you know sociology, and feminist social theory at that. Nevertheless, and in no particular order:

Patricia Hill Collins ~ Black Feminist Thought
Nancy Folbre ~ The Invisible Heart
Dorothy Smith ~ The Everyday World is Problematic
Kathy Charmaz ~ Constructing Grounded Theory
Thomas Gieryn ~ Cultural Boundaries of Science
Michael Kimmel ~ Sexualities
Charles Lemert ~ Social Theory (I cheated this is an anthology of many of the books I’m getting rid of)
Nancy Holstrom ~ The Socialist Feminist Project
Douglas Kellner ~ Critical Theory and Society
Abel and Nelson ~ Circles of Care
Zimmerman et al ~ Global Dimensions of Care Work
Arlie Hochschild ~ The Commercialization of Intimate Life
Raya Dunayevskaya ~ Philosophy and Revolution
Caldwell ~ Statistics Unplugged (I won’t name the other ones but I did keep advanced statistics books)
Marjorie DeVault ~ Feeding the Family
Dorothy Smith ~ Institutional Ethnography
W.J. Wilson ~ When Work Disappears
Edin & Kefalas ~ Promises I Can Keep
And then a couple of books written by my professors.

If I write about the books I’m chucking I may be tempted to keep some of them. Out of sight, out of …. well that’s how I’m going about this move. Now on to Craig’s List to get rid of 88 books for free.

white mesh.

Women received email messages and men have been guessing.  In case you’re wondering, here’s why people are filling in colors for Facebook status updates:

“We’re playing a game. GIRLS ONLY. Put the color of your bra as your status.
One word-the color of the bra you are wearing. Then send this message to all
the women you know. This is to raise awareness of breast cancer PLUS it will
drive the men crazy wondering what we are up to. Men are not allowed to know
what we are doing. Remember the main focus is to raise breast cancer
awareness.”

I’m not sure how to treat this whole thing.  I’ll say up front that I’m fine with NOT treating it, but it’s fun to critique and speculate and surf the net for reactions so here I go:

My first reaction was that I wanted to participate.  After all, who isn’t looking for the perfect status update?  Then I found out it was about bras and I couldn’t participate.  Well technically, since I feel out of shape and my tight-ish sleeveless tanks serve a second purpose to pull myself together a bit under my shirt, then maybe I could*.  Sometimes. Did I just say that?

But that’s the whole point.  I don’t think about or wonder what bra color women around me are wearing.  Now after this brief facebook fad I am more likely to think about it.  I am *not* more likely to think more about breast cancer.  That’s something I think about when – it happened just today – someone tells me they started radiation treatment for stage one breast cancer.

Maybe it’s bad timing for me personally, but the status update thing is fun (or as feministe says sexy and provocative and whatnot).  It does not raise awareness for breast cancer.  If you want to raise awareness then consider Feminazery’s idea to post how you can check for breast cancer.  You could also look into donating to your favorite breast cancer research group.  The facebook thing however borders on my pet peeve of over-commercialization of a cause.

But it doesn’t quite, since no-one seems to be making money, and no company or product is behind it yet.  Maybe that’s the saving grace and I should quit complaining.  And oh yeah here are some good stats about breast cancer.

*in this case see title of post.

UPDATE: Status quote from a guy which proves my point (and I thank him for it!) “Am I the only one that thinks today’s color-coded topic of discussion is worthless without pics?”  What’s next, posing topless to raise awareness?  oh wait…

Do you give Christmas presents to your child?  No seriously, if you celebrate Christmas, do you exchange gifts?  I’ve heard of families who just don’t want all the – excuse me but it’s true – junk around the house, and hence say “no gifts please.”  I wish I could do this, but I can’t even impose my vegetarianism on others for much too long.

Then I read about Joel Waldfogel’s book, scroogenomics.  This economist calculates the dollar value of satisfaction of gift giving versus giving to yourself.  The result?  We’re more happy with gifts we buy for ourselves.  Big surprise, right?  I like my new Wii, my own present to myself.  I’m not so fond of Edie’s growing Baby Doll collection, now up to three of the exact same doll*.

The New York Times counters this argument, suggesting that Waldfolgel forgot to calculate the value of one’s affection.  Says Edward Glaeser:

Inevitably, I’m an imperfect buyer, but I like to think that the recipients of my gifts value the knowledge that I care, more than they feel the welfare loss from my mistakes.

I buy this.  Economist and Sociologist Nancy Folbre long ago addressed the value of love over money.  But what if we truly don’t want the junk around the house?  If we listen to Waldfolglel, a full 25% of our gifts go unused.  I’m thinking it’s a lot more than that.

In the end, however, I can’t rationalize myself into changing my family tradition.  I love opening presents, looking through them before we open them, thanking the people they come from, watching them open my gifts in return.  I love my little red book that I keep, recording gift ideas around July or August, where each person is thought about and cared for if for only this thing they may never use.

So here I am, practically a full-on socialist, telling you to Buy Buy Buy!  And if you don’t buy, don’t not do it because the market told you to.

*My daughter however has no problem with this.  Let it be known.

Marshmallow World

We’re heading to the East Coast for Christmas, now the land of snow*.  As we pack all our luggage into a single suitcase, we’re playing the three-song-holiday-rotation that is the Holiday Light**.

For several years of this, precisely seven, I’ve listened to the Rat Pack rendition of Marshmallow World.  You know, some combination of Dean Martin, Frankie, or Sammy entertaining old school.  There’s this one part of the song where the chorus takes over and the audience starts laughing.  So you’re listening to the radio, to a scratchy classic – if Marshmallow World can be called that – and the laugh track sets in.

What are they laughing at? What’s so funny about this chorus?  All I can ever imagine, as I do in black and white, are two dozen people dancing across the stage entering from multiple directions pushing the stars out of the way.  They pan their hands across the knees George Bailey style (at 1:15 into this video).  And oh yeah, they all look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  Or something like that.  Big cotton balls around their body at least.

So tonite, as we pack Edie’s snowsuit for Marshmallow Land north of Philly, the song rotates through The Holiday Lite and I have to finally look the thing up.  Here’s the best version I can find. Wait for the laugh track around 1:04 minutes and see what ole Frankie and Dean are up to.

Anti-climatic to say the least.  Well there’s always that marshmallow man.

*I swear it took a debilitating blizzard to finally get Congress to pass any semblance of health care legislation.  How else would a 1:00 AM weekend vote take place?

**Ah Delilah. I have so many touching stories for you but no song requests in which to explain my call.