Update: What I've Been Up to

Just a quick personal update, hopefully to get me warmed up for writing a few real posts this week:

I’ve been traveling a lot with family the last few weeks. First we went to Florida, as we do every year, and finally got to experience the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. I was the only person in my family to enjoy the butter beer. It’s like cream soda with an extra buttery thick head of foam. I’m also the only person who loves funnel cakes (I actually call them doughboys, but I seem to be in the minority) as you can see here. My son took about ten pics and this is the only one in which I am not covered in powdered sugar.




We went to New York and New Jersey, twice. These trips were for family and soccer. We had a great time sailing on Oyster Bay, visiting the New York Hall of Science (although their 3D film, Legends of Flight, is a long infomercial for Boeing, which annoyed the heck out of me) and generally doing the urban stuff (like eating in really good but cheap restaurants) we miss out on in Maine. My niece is heading to Barnard in the fall and my husband and I had a great time picking out classes for her.

Since we’ve been home, we’ve been visiting Maine lakes and parks and spending time with friends. This is from a day at Sandy Point Beach:

And this is from an evening on Green Lake:

We’ve also been spending a lot of time in the garden. Right now we’ve got loads of greens, including lettuce, collards, Swiss chard, and kale. The blueberries and raspberries are coming along as well. Here’s a pic of the garden:


We have so much kale that I started making kale chips this summer which everyone — even the kids — LOVE (provided I put enough sea salt on them to induce an MI). Here’s a pic from an evening we had friends in, with kale chips (recipe here):

As for work, I’ve been getting what I could done in small snatches. I had to miss a hospital meeting I usually chair, and asked a doc to sit in for me. I assign readings every month, and this month I chose “Queer Bioethics: Why its Time Has Come” (read it here), among others. I was sure they were going to skip that one (we usually can’t get through everything), but it turns out they spent the entire hour on it! One question folks left with was what “queer” even means, when you already have the L, G, B, and T. So I’m thrilled to “have” to spend some time this week looking at resources and putting together a mini lesson on this.

We had one pretty complicated ethics consult before I left, and there is often a follow up meeting just to review, provide emotional and moral support, and and search for organizational lessons to apply going forward. I was gutted to have to miss it, but when I saw this later on the whiteboard, I had to smile. Maybe we can make everyone in book blog land assent to this:


As for university work, I am on a program committee for an annual national feminist theory conference. This is work I used to do a lot of, then kind of stepped back from for a while. It’s very challenging trying to meet all the usual conference goals while at the same time making sure we are actually operating with feminist principles. We spend a lot of time on language, on looking at who we are inviting to speak, and how the program looks from many different perspectives.

I’ve also agreed, after years of resisting, to sit on the uni’s IRB (Institutional Review Board). You might think a bioethicist would automatically want to do this, but in fact, I have much less interest in research ethics than in clinical ethics. For those who aren’t familiar with this kind of committee, we basically vet every research proposal that involves human subjects  for its ethical fitness. Now that I have a three hour meeting this week, I am REALLY excited for it.

As for teaching, I am teaching a 200 student contemporary moral problems course this fall. I taught 100 students last fall, and it went really well, so I asked my chair to make it larger. Be careful what you wish for.  I’ll be thinking this summer about changes I need to make to deal with a large lecture class like this. I confess my inner Oprah kind of enjoys it, though.

As for reading, not so much has been getting done. I got sucked (heh) into the Vampire Diaries. At first I thought it would be kind of a shlocky thing I happen to enjoy (how I feel about the Underworld films) but I now think it’s a terrific show. I’m in the middle of season two, and when I finish the third season, watch out for some posts. I’ve read Elizabeth Hoyt’s Thief of Shadows (review this week), and Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars (same). I read Easy by Tammara Webber, which I really enjoyed but do not plan to review (we’ll see).  And I’m halfway through a slew of other books I got from attending BEA, like The Power of Habit and The Homecoming of Samuel Lake. Of course, I’m still working my way through Nietzsche and hope to have another Beyond Good and Evil post up very soon.

8 responses

  1. Love your pictures! I will look forward to reading your post on the Underworld movies, talk about a personal indulgence… I enjoy those. Anyway, I’d be interested in finding out/reading about what resources you found for your mini-lesson to drive home the meaning of “queer.” 🙂


  2. Since my Occupy child began being more open about gender issues, I have had a huge awakening in this area. I thought I was pretty good on queer/LGBTQ, but having an androgyne in the family has led to some lessons.

    And hey, you got vacation pictures up before I did. I see that as a challenge to be met, lady! Glad you’re having a good summer.


  3. Your children do not like funnel cakes?! This led to me (briefly) questioning your ability as a mother. Then I realized – if the kids don’t like funnel cakes that means more for Mom.

    Well played Jessica. Well played.


  4. @Hilcia: ok, I’ll do a little post on it!

    @SonomaLass: I feel that everything is changing so much and when you talk to people in their teens and twenties now, I see a whole different understanding of gender.

    And yes, please get those lovely UK pics up!

    @Wendy: See, now you are getting it! Be sure to tell Lemon Drop that ice cream is just terrible as often as possible!

    @Merrian: Hey, looks like your internet is functioning again? A funnel cake is just fried dough with powedered sugar on it. Some folks add cinnamon, and even jelly or chocolate. Folks use a funnel type thing to pour out the dough in a circular and criss-cross way and it creates a lacy effect pictured in the link above. Doughboys are German in origin.

    I grew up in Rhode Island. It’s a very Italian place, and I am Italian American. There, a “doughboy” is rolled out pizza dough (whereas the funnel cake is unleavened batter). It is also fried, and flipped midfry like a pizza. Here’s a pic of a doughboy. Doughboys are typically covered in granulatd, not confectioner’s sugar. They are my FAVE.

    Both are served at fairs and seaside resorts. In the pic above, I am at Disney World!


  5. Summer’s meant for traveling so catch up when you can live it up first!

    Butter beer? My arteries were hardening just reading about it. Now with funnel cake you’re talking.



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