staying on

So, one sometimes hears the statement that a student should not go to graduate school at the same school where s/he  went to undergrad. I’ve heard that at least one top 15 sociology department has a policy against admitting its own students (I’m not sure whether it is just students who were soc majors or all students). I would strongly disagree with such a policy because I believe that, if the argument is that it’s bad for the intellectual development of the student to attend the same place for undergrad and grad school, then this should be up to the student rather than the admitting department.  My dominant metaphor for graduate admissions is “graduate programs are like an employer” and not “graduate programs are like your mom.”

But is this even good advice from the perspective of the student? It feels like the kind of advice that may have made more sense in the past than it does anymore, and it just gets repeated across academic generations. For one thing, perhaps the division between undergraduate and graduate study was less than it is now. It seems to me like grad school is still a whole ‘nuther thing even if you do it at the same place. For another, universities themselves might have been more cloistered from one another in the past than they are now. Certainly, the students are less cloistered, as so many students study abroad, take time off before going to graduate school, and do internships and otherwise do things that take them outside any particular university.

ron amundson is my hero.

You know how as you teach a class there’s a tendency for your syllabus to get longer and longer? This isn’t because you’re teaching more material (probably) but because you’re slipping in additional notes for your students. Fun things like, “Late work will be accepted only with an adequate excuse. Being a member of the football team and playing an away game on the due date is an adequate excuse. Playing football on the game cube is not.” Well, I now have a new goal in my life that is related to this tendency.

Somehow, someway, I want to find an excuse to include a disclaimer as cool at the one Ronald Amundson uses:
Continue reading “ron amundson is my hero.”

two adventures

So, I’ve been absent. In part it’s been because I can’t really see. Allow me to report two adventures: one happy, one not so much. So to start with the happy:

The food collective I founded with four other people while in graduate school was reviewed by the NYTimes and Gourmet magazine!

I guess if sociology doesn’t work out…

Continue reading “two adventures”

going and stopping

Almost everyone agrees — and this is supported by my own many years of observation of colleagues — that the  most productive scholars have regular schedules of writing a few hours every day.  We binge writers can be intensely productive when we are working and can get a lot done in a short time, but over the long haul we are simply less productive than the “write every day” people.  A big reason for this is that if you have been away from the writing for more than two days, you forget what you were doing and have to invest a lot of time in start up and remembering where you were. The turtle beats the hare every time. I have known this for years and “write every day” is the advice I give students, even though I have never successfully followed that advice for an extended period.

Today I figured out the other half of the problem. It isn’t just a problem with self-discipline.  Continue reading “going and stopping”

brief nostalgic aside

I’m Leechblocked from the Scatterplot archives here at work, so I can’t link to old posts, but: does anyone remember those halcyon early days of the financial crisis, when a person could wonder about whether the economy would have adverse effects for sociology’s assistant professor job market? Who knew a few months later one would hear about tenure-track assistant professors worrying about whether they are going to be laid off?

winter shortcut


Out for a run this morning (btw, you would not believe how much warmer -12 is than -15), I saw a person taking a walk across frozen Lake Ontario. Some guys that were watching him said he came all the way from Burlington, walking in the most direct path. Looks like he saved himself quite a bit of effort with that one.

Later, I saw others playing some hockey, much closer to shore, and I decided that I really should get out more, even when it’s chilly.

balance is the wrong metaphor

We all hear a lot about people having trouble balancing their work and family life. We especially worry about this in terms of gender, since the greater familial responsibilities that women, on average, have over men has been identified as an important factor in the gender wage gap. Further, the self-help industry produces buckets of advice to women who are stressed out to find a better balance. We have heard this before in the Supermom Myth: you can work, you can be a mom, you can do it all! Stressed out? Then take that on as yet another project you’re in charge of! Continue reading “balance is the wrong metaphor”

mario kart is tonight! 8pm est

Mario Kartsters: here is the google spreadsheet with the friend codes of everyone who is playing. It has instructions how to input these codes to play against each other. We’ll also use this spreadsheet to communicate during the game.

If you want in and haven’t been granted access to this spreadsheet, shoot me an email at my last name at and alert me. See you there!

the gay agenda

You have never, ever seen anything like this in an American president’s agenda. It is, by a mile, the most far-reaching statement of support for lesbian and gay rights this country has ever seen. Sure, it doesn’t include marriage, but it includes everything else, like federal discrimination protections for transgender people, along with lesbians and gay men: Continue reading “the gay agenda”


Today I spent part of my morning at home repairing our dryer. After a prolonged period where it made a horrendous screeching noise the drive belt finally snapped, thus necessitating the repair. After I installed the new belt, reassembled the casing, checked the gaskets, reinstalled the electrical contact on the door, and put the lint filter back in- all with the assistance of my lovely wife– she hit the “start” button. Bingo! Normal sounding, fully operational clothes dryer. And as I stood there feeling pleased with myself, a very upsetting thought ran through my head:

“I hope it feels this good when I get my Ph.D.!”

As a side note, I am aware of how gendered the above account sounds. Rest assured that we are good little liberals. Not that it's anyone's business but our own how we divide up housework.