Month: April 2013

  • On Second Thought, Leave The Hat On

    Nice hair, kid.

    No, seriously.

    I mean, man walks down the street with hair like that, people know he’s not afraid of anything.

    That’s good, kid.  Practice your pouty model look.  Hair like that, you can go anywhere.

  • Iron Chef Theo

    I proclaimed myself too tired to make breakfast the other day.

    Theo rather emphatically declared himself up to the task.

    It was a rather laborious process, although I wasn’t really allowed in the kitchen to check up on his progress.  (This photo was snapped rather surreptitiously.)

    His masterpiece (which, again, I was only able to photograph on the sly): peanut butter, jelly, and minced strawberry toast.

    It was very tasty.  A nice flavor profile.

  • Lullaby

    “Amos, can you please stop talking so I can sleep?”
    “Be quiet Amos Martin.  Shush.”
    “Amos, do you even know what shush means?  If somebody tells you shush, you STOP TALKING!  Stop talking now.”
    “People can’t sleep when you’re talking, Amos.  Just zipper your mouth closed and lock it with the key.”
    “Amos. Martin. STOP. TALKING.”
    “MOOOOOOM!  Make him stoooooooooop!”
    “Mommie! Mommie!”
    I’ve given up trying to explain that if he would stop talking, Amos would stop, too.
    I think this is going to go on forever.

  • Good Times

    My dissertation committee, minus the member who had to join us via telephone:

    Pretty splendid collection of theologians and ethicists there.  I feel very privileged to have had access to them for all these years.

  • In The Cards

    One of the first things you learn as a scholar is how to appropriate good ideas.

    A friend of mine recently mentioned her preferred chore/allowance-keeping system, and I ruthlessly made it my own.

    I sat down one Saturday afternoon while I was hanging with the boys, and I started writing down on index cards all the chores I would be willing to pay them for.

    I used a set of those garage-sale stickers to set the price.

    And I got a little bin to put them in.

    One bin for the unused cards, one bin for Theo, and one bin for Isaac.  (Amos will someday beg to do chores, I am sure.)

    So, all week, the boys can pick a card, do a chore, and put the card in their respective bins.  (McGee, personal correspondence, 2013)
    (See?  Scholars use good ideas, but they cite them properly.)

    On Saturdays, we have allowance.  I take away the four cheapest cards (“Because mamas should be able to ask their sons to do a handful of chores without having to pay them, just because that’s what families do”), and then I pay them for all the rest of the cards.

    Here’s the stroke of genius by which I made this system my own: They now have to pay for computer time.  A dollar an hour.

    Isn’t that brilliant?  Effectively, it means two things.  1) I don’t have to limit their screen time any more.  Their ability to work and their desire to use the money for other things limit their screen time far more than I ever could. 

    And 2) I can more or less use the same ten dollars to pay for chores for the rest of my life.   Because they always want to use their allowance to buy screen time.

    “Here, kids, here’s your money.”
    “Here, Mom, here’s some money for computer games.”
    “Are you sure you want to use all your money up today?  You won’t get money again until next Saturday.”

    And thusly the situation I wanted anyway–no screen time during the week, moderate screen time on the weekends–happens without my having to fuss at anyone.

    Isn’t motherhood grand?  What a vast untapped reservoir of brilliance and sanity are our nation’s mothers!

  • At Last

    I passed my dissertation defense yesterday.

    All done.

    Everyone keeps asking me how it feels to be done.  I have a hard time answering, because I don’t feel done.

    I realized on the way home why that is: this is the beginning, not the end.

    It’s the end of school, of course.

    But it’s not the end of doing everything I always did in school–reading, learning, writing, discussing, thinking.  It’s the beginning of my doing that professionally, for pay, and with the goal of making the world a little better, somehow, by the fruits of that study.  But it’s not the end of my education.

    I haven’t finished the dissertation.  I’ve finished my first book.  But first implies a second, and, one hopes, several more than that.

    It has been momentous for me in the sense that I finally feel that I can write a scholarly work (because four men who’ve written some very wonderful scholarly works just told me I did).  “I can write a book.”  That’s what I said out loud to myself when I got back to my car and closed the doors and had my first moment to myself.  I can write a book.  That’s what I’ve done.  And since I’ve done it, that means I can do it.

    Yes, friends.  It’s taken me twenty-nine years of schooling to be able to come up with such tautologies: If I can write a book, that means I can write a book.

    It seems a not-insignificant thought, however.

    And it’s making me want to go to that folder on my desktop titled, “Possible future projects.”  I’ve written the outlines and basic ideas for at least ten books and several dozen research possibilities.  And now I can do them.

    That’s kind of, you know, . . . exciting.

  • Boost

    Anybody have a Thing going on this week?  Something stressful or scary or demanding?

    Here’s a little (as the presenter calls it) “life hack” for you:

    Two minutes tonight, and two minutes tomorrow morning before you go out and conquer Monday.  What do you think?  Give it a try and let me know.

    (PS to my female academic readers: watch all the way to the end for a wonderful “Imposter Syndrome” story.)

  • Good Deal

    Best deal I’ve found in forever:  Cracker Barrel’s audiobook version of Redbox.

    You can rent audiobooks from any Cracker Barrel and return them to any Cracker Barrel.  There’s a lot of Cracker Barrels around, so this is, you know, fairly easy.

    $3.50 a week.  That’s not bad.  That’s pretty darn good, actually.  The selection is decidedly not pretty darn good.  But for $3.50 a week, it’s still a good deal.

    Especially when the road trip is getting really long and the readers on Librivox are also not pretty darn good.

    I’ve just started listening to Rowling’s A Casual Vacancy.  Will let you know.

    Have you listened to any good audiobooks lately?

  • Incompetent What?

    The principal occupational hazard for an ethicist is the tendency to get really riled really easily.

    Today, I’m annoyed–really, really annoyed–at insensitivity and latent misogyny in medical terminology.

    Why do men have erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation but women have incompetent cervices?  Why couldn’t it be called premature effacement and dilation?  Why hasn’t it been?  Is it because there are no profitable medications to treat the condition, like there are for erectile dysfunction, and therefore no pharmaceutical spin doctor to guard over the terminology?

    Why is slow growth in an otherwise flourishing baby called “failure to thrive”?  How does that make a mama feel?  Why aren’t such feelings taken into consideration?  Why has the replacement of discomfort-causing and even blaming terminology for female medical concerns so lagged behind the pace at which male medical concerns have been euphemized?

    How would men feel if all the female doctors got together and started renaming their reproductive conditions the way male doctors have been naming ours all these centuries?

    How much Viagra could you sell if we started calling it “incompetent penis”?  Forget the gentle-sounding “low sperm count” or its very technical (and thus exceedingly safe) “oligospermia.”  Let’s start calling it “incompetent testicular production.”  Instead of “decreased sperm motility,” let’s call it “incompetent flagella.”

  • Be Vewwy Vewwy Quiet

    House hunting isn’t particularly fun.

    I suppose it might be, if we lived in a place and were ready to move up (or down, or over) in house and had all the time in the world to find the perfect place for us.

    Long-distance house hunting isn’t really fun.

    House hunting under a time pressure isn’t really fun.

    House hunting in an entirely new city about which you know almost nothing isn’t really fun.

    Seeing how other people decorate their houses is a little fun.

    Home inspections are not fun.

    Do you like house hunting?

    What would your perfect house be like?