Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bronx Zoo's Cobra

I know that most people on the Internets are not on Twitter. The latest stats are that only 10% of folks on the Internets are also on Twitter. And it's hard to explain why people would want to be on twitter. You don't get to explain about a story in detail like when you write a blog and you don't get to learn about someone's life and develop relationships (at least in your own head) like when you read a blog. And the criticism is always "Why do I want to know what someone had for lunch? I don't care about that."

Honestly, people, it's not like all people do on twitter is talk about what they eat. They may tweet about what they are drinking, maybe, but that's later on at night and a whole different issue.

Oh, and as an aside, on of my colleagues came up to me and said I was the best example about what he didn't want to be on Facebook. I had posted a very funny (I thought) update about lingering puke smells around the house after the twins' bout with a stomach bug. He said "why am I reading this? I don't need to know about it!" Why, indeed.

Two words, people: Un. Follow. Instead, I blocked him, because I am passive aggressive that way.

In any case, have you heard about the cobra that escaped from the Bronx Zoo? Well, that cobra has started a twitter account. And I love it.

And I am not the only one. The twitter account started on Monday and already it's been featured on the NY Times, NPR, the BBC and various other news outlets. Ellen DeGeneres, Steven Martin, Jon Favreau, the New York Hilton, and even Sesame street have all referred to him (or her?) in their twitter feeds. There is even a hysterical video of baby twins talking to each other which has been re-interpreted into one warning the other about the cobra. It wants to eat baby toes!!

I tweeted last night: "It's somewhat hard to explain to "normal" people how one is following an escaped cobra on twitter " and it has been my most retweeted and responded to tweet ever.

What. Is. Up? For some reason, the word Zeitgeist comes to mind. Obviously, there's something about escaped cobras that captures one's imagination. And the idea of one touring New York ("looking for Rebecca Black. No reason.") and tweeting about it is funny.

But there's a time urgency here. They could capture the snake and then the tweets won't be so funny. The snake could die, and sort of the same thing. You can't really put off following this snake until some time in the future. We have to enjoy it now because it may be over in the next hour. (Or not. See the post by the vet above)

I cannot explain this easily. It is something I would like to research and explore in further depth. What I love most about twitter is sharing diverse, time dependent, special or unique events with friends and strangers. I would love to know what it's tapping into for me psychologically or sociologically. And when I've had more sleep I will pursue that.

But right now, I'm having a lot of fun following an escaped cobra on twitter. You might enjoy it, too.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


I hate to keep changing the background and layout of my blog, but I am still not completely satisfied with it. I would like it to be fancy and eye-catching, but not so busy. Sort of like how I'd like my own life to be. ((Rudely laughing at my own joke))

So, um, yeah! Here we are in spring. Work-wise, I need to be reviewing abstracts for a conference and what I'd really rather do (besides writing constructive comments) is just to turn in my short assessments to the conference organizers:

1) Hell No
2) Yes, great job
3) Yes, but as a poster or interactive session
3) Nope.

That should be enough. It's relevant for conference organizers, but, alas, does not have enough specific feedback for the authors. (Really? Ya, think)

In mother news, Bridget was given an "incident report" this week for biting another child. The good news is that it is fully clear in the report that she was defending herself from the tooth-y onslaught of the other child. That is, she wasn't the aggressor--someone was trying to bite her, she knew someone was trying to bite her, and she got the first bite in, probably right after she said "Listen, fool." (She can channel Mr T when she is defending herself)

In working mother news, I have a much better internet connection, we have a printer that works, and the cat is still alive. Let me back up a moment. A month. Ummm, two months.

Two months ago, in that I took a work-life balance class for mid-level women academics at our university: How the heck are we supposed to do this thing called A Career that allows us to have A Life, too. I honestly don't know if that is possible, but one thing we worked on was our "tolerations." Tolerations are those annoyances you have in your life that if you took 10 minutes or $10 (or maybe a bit more investment of time/money), you could solve the problem and your life wouldn't have those niggling "tolerations" any more.

For me, besides exercise, some of the big tolerances we've been putting up with around the house is crappy internet service (from AT&T U-verse) and no working printer. As someone who works A LOT from home, these are problems. The night of the workshop, Dave read my list of tolerations and within 3 days, had fixed them. Or at least, these two. The Messy House toleration is ongoing. Let's just stop for a second and talk about how wonderful my husband is, shall we? Yes, he's wonderful. Ok, moving on...

What bothered me about ME is that I had also included on my list of tolerations: Cat Won't Die.

Really? Really, Anita????? It is a daily annoyance to you that your Cat Won't Die. What kind of heartless bitch am I? A pretty big one, apparently.

In my defense, the cat is 18 years old. If she were a child, we would be exploring college opportunities right now. It would be time for her to move on. She also howls at night. LOUDLY. Right by the bed. That is annoying. Especially since sleep is so precious right now, an 18 year old cat howling by the bed is a toleration, that could be solved. By, ummm. Well, a shoe would be a less extreme solution than death.

Of course, feeling very guilty, I started paying a bit more attention to the cat. And that's when we realized that she is completely deaf. I have no idea how long she's been deaf. But she is completely and utterly deaf. That's why she's howling. In the middle of the night she has no idea what anyone is doing and would kind of like the world to know she's still alive. (Fortunately, she cannot read and did not know of her place on my list of daily annoyances/tolerations).

So she is still alive and she is not on my list of tolerations any more. We are also paying her more attention and she is not howling as much.

Finally, a funny professor story. After I give lectures, I will often write notes to myself on the syllabus or on the PowerPoint slides if there was a problem and if I should revise the lecture. This week, I gave my lecture on Stress in the workplace and I had written on the opening slide (so as to catch my attention) "This is a BORING lecture!! FIX!" So, I did. I added more exercises and more places for the students to contribute their own feedback and experiences.

Then, yesterday when I was reviewing my notes before class, I realized: I had uploaded the PowerPoint slides on the web....and had not taken off my note: "This is a BORING lecture!! FIX!" Yes! On the first slide!! The first thing the students saw when they looked at the slides was how awful class was going to be this week!! And yes, they did notice it!


What I appreciated was during the class, I kept asking: Are you bored? how am I doing? I absolutely LOVE the student who said, "I'm not bored, but I am less enthused than I was."

We stopped and did an exercise.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

She's Alive!

Hmmm, apparently, I've used this same title for a blog previously.

Oh, Lord. We have had some sickness around here. It's taken about 3 weeks, but FINALLY, everyone in the house is healthy and back to school or work. I am really hoping that next year the twins will be immune to most of this crud, so we won't be in danger of becoming a CDC super fund site.

I've also decided not to try to combine this blog into a professional blog. I would love to have a fancy pants professional blog to talk about my take on technology, psychology, and parenting research/news. But I can't do it any time soon. And I'm afraid if I did it, I would most certainly put a stake in the heart of this blog. I like the Mother thing. And although I don't post much on it, and I certainly don't get the readers I used to, I need a little space of my own. It sounds very Virginia Wolff-ish, doesn't it? Eh, well. So be it.

In any case, I do see this blog moving more towards working mother issues and perhaps working mother in academia issues.

I still need to blog about a mid-career/work-life balance workshop I went to in January (JANUARY) and had some great insights on the "tolerations" in my life. (I keep calling them haterations).

The problem is as an associate professor with a big(ger) house and three kid---I not going to be able to find the time. I'm going to have to take it.