Monday, March 22, 2010

Why I hate academics

Good moooooorning, everyone! And by "everyone," I mean all 2 of you who read this.

You might be wondering (as I am) what the hell I'm doing up at 6:30 in the morning. Well, I'll tell you. I actually got up at 4:30 as part of my attempt to write a "first draft" (due at 7:30 this evening) of this undergrad "thesis" I have due at the beginning of May. If you can't tell how well it's going, here's a hint: I'm writing a blog entry at 6:30 AM and just procrastinated for a good 20 minutes by going through a yoga routine. I'm on my third cup of coffee. You do the math.

"Well," you might say to yourself, "why don't you just stop whining and fucking write your paper already?" Good question! I'll tell you that, too. Because some idiotic part of my brain decided it was interested in studying tourism in Cape Breton, and I'm sitting here surrounded by 21+ sources, most of which I have at least perused if not pored over. And let me tell you something. Tourism studies DO NOT MAKE ANY SENSE. I'm pretty sure a bunch of bored academics got together and went "Hey, let's confuse the hell out of people with theories that run themselves in circles, and let's write articles that decide to take POSTMODERN THEORY and apply it to TOURISTS."

What. The fuck? I'm generally fairly good at understanding fluffy, esoteric ideas that are floating around in the middle of nowhere and bear little to no significance to most people's lives. But read through enough of this stuff, and it's almost a guarantee that you will go brain-dead. The problem is, I know exactly what I want to say about tourism in Cape Breton because I think most of the people who've studied heritage tourism are disgruntled old fogies who hate everything. But trying to couch what I'm saying in terms of what's already been said (which every good aspiring academic is supposed to do) is impossible because I can't understand half of their arguments. Well, it's more like I understand them in the most abstract way possible, but trying to put them into my own words without cherry-picking quotes from every single article is proving impossible.

Why can't people just learn to write in a manner that makes sense? In a way that makes their thinking clear and accessible to everyone? There needs to be reform in academia...because, let's be honest, who's going to bother with most of this stuff? Sure, the theory can be interesting, but if you write about it in a way that's comprehensible to no one except you and your cohorts that are pretending to understand you to avoid looking bad...what's the point?

I don't mean to denounce every scholar who's every published anything. But I do mean to denounce the ivory-towered folks who cater to their own kind and dismiss the rest of the population as plebeians. You know they're out there. And apparently half of them have decided to write articles about tourism.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Once again, I find myself compelled to write about the joys that come from hopping around airports all day. Mostly because I decided to drop $8 on a Boingo session, and now I feel that I ought to use it. Well, Rachel, that was silly, you might be saying to yourself...and you're probably right. But let's face it--I have the attention span of a retarded flea and if you expect me to sit around the Chicago airport for 3 hours without Internet access, you expect far too much of me. I'm also being a bitch and using one of the handicap outlets at the outlet kiosk. I figure I'll limp away if I get yelled at by anyone.

But it was either this or go be enthralled by all of the sparkly stores and restaurants, where I wound spend lots of money I don't have on things I don't need. Like the $7 *cough* Foreign Policy magazine I got at BWI. I have an unfortunate love for that magazine, and when I've got 3 hours (yes, I show up obnoxiously early for flights due to a lifelong fear of missing stuff) to kill...I tend to buy things. Retail shops in airports remain in business because of people like me. In fact, I'm convinced that this whole "show up for your flight 2 hours early" thing is a conspiracy between TSA and retailers. Because if you're in the airport for multiple hours at a time, you're going to buy shit. Lots of shit.

Oh, did I forget to mention where I'm going? I'm flying into Halifax to go up to Cape Breton to "conduct interviews for my undergraduate thesis," as I'm telling curious people. And I'm going on a partial Honors grant. I'm pretty excited, but mostly I'm stressed out at the ridiculous amount of work this means that I have to do before I graduate. But we won't talk about that now.

What we will talk about is the jolly old time I had in security at BWI this morning. The line was really really REALLY long, and in response to people complaining, this dude in front of me started talking to me. I didn't catch all of it, but it was mostly about how he's willing to sacrifice his freedoms for the good of his country, and how it's part of being a member of a free country, and how you surrender your rights once you walk into an aiport, and how he was in law school before 9/11 and got into a big debate with the dean of the law school about this, who eventually apologized for disagreeing with him, and yadda yadda yadda...yawn.

I cut him off and asked where he went to law school. He said Texas. A Texan and a lawyer. Based on those two character traits alone, I decided that he was the most obnoxious fuckwad I'd ever met. This was confirmed when he asked me where I went to school, I responded, and he said, "Ah, American! A liberal hippie then. I had a friend at AU--she hated it there. She was a military person, really cool, but man, she hated hippies. Where are your Birkenstocks?"

Rather than ripping into him for typecasting and being a conservative prick, as I should have done and was dying to do, I decided not to pick a fight in security and instead said something about the militaristically liberal contingent of students and how most of us aren't like that...then said that I find Birkenstocks to be uncomfortable, thank you. Not a terribly biting retort.

I always come up with great responses for these situations well after the fact (don't we all), but I've taken to retorting with large words in large sentences that usually shut the other person up. Fortunately, in this case, I had to step through the metal detector and leave him behind.

Then, my metronome in my violin case decided to turn on right as I put the case on the conveyor belt. I almost had a heart attack, but fortunately, it was too noisy for any of the TSA agents to hear the steady ticking noise...and I did manage to turn it off in time.

And now, suddenly, I'm thinking about all the crap I have to do in order to graduate in less than 2 months, and I really want a beer.

All right. Enough whining for now. Peace out, homekids.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Random thoughts

1) My thin wallet, fat stomach, and college student mentality have teamed up to discover my new favorite food. Betty Crocker's Instant Sour Cream and Cheddar mashed potatoes? SO GOOD. For 50 cents on the sale rack at Giant? Even better! With sriracha? Orgasm in my mouth. I'm going back tonight and praying they have more.

2) I had a photo published in Bicycle Times! Specifically, this photo:

I realized shortly after I sent it that I had sent the wrong one, but I guess they liked it. I imagine they cut it down, but I wouldn't know because it was the ONE bike mag Barnes and Noble didn't have. Grump.

3) Today was the first evening I've worn a light jacket outside and didn't really need it--and it was almost shorts weather today. Weird having that with piles of snow still on the ground, but who's complaining? And after my second bike tour today, my cheeks are actually a little sunburned. If I were born into another time culture, I would probably be a sun worshipper.

4) The above feeling is slightly dampened when you remember that your boyfriend is on a cruise in the Caribbean and soaking up more than his fair share of sun. But it comes back when you see your first daffodils of the spring.

5) It's a good day when your parents surprise you with 2 boxes of Samoas (or Caramel Delights, depending on which region you're from) in the mail.

6) It's also a good day when you can make a Canadian journalist and her son really, really happy on a private bike tour--especially when she (1) will be publishing a piece that mentions you and (2) has contacts at UBC, where you might potentially want to apply for grad school...

7) Hipster douchebags annoy the ever-loving shit out of me. While I myself make a habit of riding no-handed (it requires less effort in certain situations and is very easy with a road bike), I don't do it while making loud comments about how cool I am and wearing one of those stupid cycling caps. While riding a fixie. In brand new skinny jeans. With one of those bike messenger bags (which, while really cool and useful, are something I wouldn't be caught dead with). Like...could you try and fit the stereotype any more?

8) In real life, when random men in stores hold open doors for me and ask if I'm taken, I can't help (against my will) but be flattered and say "yes" while trying not to smile. Especially when they follow up with, "He's a lucky man." But both times this has happened, it's been followed up on the same night by nightmares about running into creepy men in dark places and nearly getting raped. I can't figure this one out.

9) It's a good night when you see a fox crossing the road, it doesn't get squished, and you can excitedly text your roommate (who is coming home tonight! Which, after being stuck here for 2 nights by myself, will be a welcome change) about it.

10) You know you're a giant IR nerd when you get excited about finding articles that connect the "tourist gaze" with Nova Scotia. And get to read them with a mug of tea. After taking a shower, of course.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A sense of humo(u)r

Discovery of the week: When it comes to people mocking Canada...I don't have one. In the wake of the US loss to the Canadians for the gold in men's hockey, I've overheard and read more Canadian-bashing than usual. Most of the time, people have no idea what they're talking about, and the complete and utter lack of respect really annoys me.

You don't have to love it, but you really ought to show it more consideration than that. It is its own country, after all.