Trini Like Salt

Trinidadian in Boston.

PhD student, among other jobs.

Sometimes, I blog in Trini dialect. It'll make you happy and want to drink rum.

Go away, children. This blog is not for you.

Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth, and remember what the dormouse said.

Walking for the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation’s OneWalk, in Boston. 

LilOne’s day care buddy was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last month. The 5-year olds came out in support.

Walking for the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation’s OneWalk, in Boston.

LilOne’s day care buddy was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes last month. The 5-year olds came out in support.

I teach an MBA class in marketing analytics on Tuesday nights.  It’s a 2 and a half hour class that ends at 9, and often, students will want to talk with me after class - so I don’t get home until late, and I don’t usually get to bed for a few hours after that.  It’s a long day.

My Wednesdays are usually crap for productivity is what I’m saying.  

Apparently, sleep is vital for cognitive brain function.  Who knew, right?

In middle school, Kim and Tom had both decided that math was something you were good at, or you weren’t, and they weren’t. Interestingly, that was *not* the kind of thing that most Americans said about reading. If you weren’t good at reading, you could, most people assumed, get better through hard work and good teaching. But in the United States, math was, for some reason, considered more of an innate ability, like being double-jointed.

The truth was that American adults didn’t like math or think it was critical to kids’ life chances. In 2009, most American parents surveyed said it was more important to finish high school with strong reading and writing skills than with strong math and science skills. It was almost as though math was optional, like drawing. Half of those parents said that the science and math their children were learning in school was just fine, and they were right, based on a standard from a different era.

But based on the standards of modernity, all decent jobs required some math and science fluency. In real life, math was not optional, and it hadn’t been for some time.

"The Smartest Kids In The World (and how they got that way)", by Amanda Ripley.

Started reading this today, and I can’t put it down. It’s fascinating.

I often see posts here decrying the ways kids are learning math today, because those ways are different from the ways the parents did - and therefore, parents say they aren’t as good. So the “standard from a different era” point, I found, was very thought-provoking.

I like having my thoughts provoked.



  • My daughter: We have to go to school 13 years.
  • Her friend: Twelve.
  • My daughter: Thirteen. 'Cause of Kindergarten.
  • Her friend: Oh.
  • My daughter: I asked my daddy and we counted and he went to school for 23 years.
  • Her friend: That's dumb.
  • My daughter (thinking): Yeah.
  • Her friend: Yeah.

There are days

There are days when I need to be reminded that a whole bunch of stars had to align for me to attend grad school while holding down a full-time teaching job, and that if I hadn’t taken the shot when I had it, I’d have regretted it for the rest of my life because there was no way those stars would align in the same way again.

There are days when I need to be reminded that I had the opportunity to go back to school without incurring any debt; in fact, while paying a mortgage and increasing the net worth of my family, albeit slowly.

There are days when I feel like all the choices I have made, and are making, regarding my career and future, are the wrong ones.

Today is such a day.

Academia rots your brain, Part Trois

coyotesqrl replied to your post “Academia rots your brain, Part II”

Couldn’t you also just get a job as a non-tenure track lecturer? Holders of PhDs can be semi-fungible resources to unis, I’d assume, just as those of us out of academia are semi-fungible as employees?

That’s actually what I am now - a non-tenure-track Lecturer. Which is fine by me - I actually wouldn’t mind getting a series of 5-year lecturing contracts post-graduation. The pressure to publish wouldn’t be anywhere near as great, and I’d get to do other things, like consult or write books. 

The thing is that tenure-track academics look down on anyone within academia without a PhD, regardless of what they’ve done in the past (which is kinda fucked up, IMHO, but it’s the way of the academic world) - which is why I decided to get one.  I figured if I was gonna be the low man on the totem pole, I might as well get the union card. Turns out that I like research, too*!

*Not all kinds.  Need to find a school that respects what I want to do. 

Academia rots your brain, Part II

drdisgruntledphd replied to your post “Academia rots your brain”

I guess, the difference is that if you don’t get tenure at your review, your academic career is basically over. And then where do you go from there? Start from essentially zero at, idk, 45 years old? So terrifying.

I can understand this perspective, having embarked on what I thought was going to be a long career in a field when I was in my mid-20s.  But I’m only one year shy of that 45 number now, and I am only just about to defend a proposal.  Assuming I get done with the whole shebang in the next 18 months, I’ll be close to 46 if I get a tenure-track position somewhere.  Then I go through the stress of the uncertain tenure-granting process…and if I get there, I’ll be in my mid-fifties.  

I can’t compete on those grounds with folks coming out of grad school with 30 years of publication time ahead of them. So I can’t afford to think in terms of “what if I don’t get tenure?” The more I think about it, the more I think that the traditional path may not be for me.  

The other point this raised in my head is the idea that a person goes through more than one career in one’s life - and not reaching a goal (like tenure) doesn’t mean a career is over.  I started out my business career as a consultant.  Now I’m teaching and going to school. Come next year, this teaching gig will be the longest time I’d’ve been with one organization.  I’ve had to “start from essentially zero”, at 38 (thank you George W. and your friends in Wall Street!)…with a new mortgage, a new toddler, and a new baby on the way.  Yeah, it’s terrifying - but the universe, she unfolds, and self-corrects.

I guess all I was trying to say was that the ONE path that everyone stresses over may not be the only path - and that one’s life isn’t over if you get bumped off of it.  And coming from a situation where people were losing their jobs left right and center and were told to start from zero (or close to it), maybe I think differently about the whole shebang.  Maybe this is the second of three or four careers for me.  Maybe I’ll leverage this doctorate to go back into consulting.  Maybe I’ll write books.  Maybe I’ll partner with a student on a business idea that I can’t see coming yet because I’m so preoccupied with what “the Academy” keeps telling me I should be preoccupied with.  Or maybe I get lucky and get some tenure track position somewhere.  At 44 now, though, I know I have a disadvantage with those who think traditionally about academia.

Or maybe I don’t know shit.  (Academia has taught me that there’s always new stuff to learn!)

Academia rots your brain

If I was still working an office job in the private sector, and I had a multi-year contract for me to work and get paid, I’d have little anxiety.

In academia, under those same conditions, I think and am anxious about *the future* way more than I ever did in the private sector.

Everyone in academia is always focused on the tenure brass ring. Anything less causes those within the institution to go into paroxysms of stress. Yet a tenure-track job is pretty much a guaranteed paycheck for 5 to 8 years, unless you breach moral or ethical codes.

I can’t think of any ‘real’ job in 2014 that offers that level of security, for lack of a better word.

I just want to…sit

I think I need a mental health day.

A day when I drop the kids to school (I walk them up the street) and come back home and meditate and watch all three Godfather movies until it’s time to go get them at the after-school program.

A day when I don’t think about dissertation proposals or class preps or answering student emails or answering any type of email whatsoever.

I woke up exhausted this morning. It’s like getting the proposal doc out to my committee signaled to my body “Hey! You! You finished it (for now)! You may now rest.”

Except…I don’t think I can.

I think I may have to answer at least some emails…and make sure next Tuesday’s class materials are all set. Goddammit.

*Ball, lobbed, back over fence*

That thing where your mind is so tired you just stare at the screen, trying to do what they’re paying you to do and/or what you need to do so they can pay you in years to come but absolutely nothing is registering.

In other news, I completed, edited, and submitted my dissertation proposal revision to my committee this morning.  

The defense is in 2 weeks.

Should I be feeling more anxious about it than I am?  Or am I just too damn tired to care right now?

Either way - Version 2: Electric Boogaloo is in the hands of the Overlords.  They’ll either say yes I can defend, or no I suck.  So I wait.

Damn, dissertating is tiring.

Hitting Kids: A Personal Evolution, In Bullet Points

  1. Haven’t been posting much of late.  Proposal defense is in less than 3 weeks and I’ve been all up in dat.
  2. Not that it matters to you.  I sometimes wonder whether anyone would miss me if I stopped posting entirely.  I mean, who wants to read about my mundanities? They’re called that for a reason.
  3. However, I just paid bills and while at this here computer, I feel stream-of-consciousness writish.

So, thoughts…

  1. On Adrian Peterson: Now I don’t really follow much American football, but NFL scandals get plastered over everything so I can’t help but be aware.  Apparently this guy beat his kid with a switch?  That is straight-up child abuse.  Period.
  2. I used to think spanking a kid was okay - necessary, even.  I come from a culture where it is accepted, even expected.  I no longer think that it is any of those things.  
  3. If you think that a stronger, more physically powerful person hitting a woman is wrong under all circumstances, then you must accept that hitting a weaker, much less powerful human being is equally as wrong - if not more so.  If you think “domestic violence” is limited only to adult spouses or partners, you are simply wrong - and if you think domestic violence cannot be condoned, then that must include all members of a household.  Especially its most helpless and vulnerable.
  4. The idea that “well, I got hit as a kid and I turned out okay” is, I think, a fallacy.  Because I think that if you think that hitting a kid is okay under [insert circumstances here], you, in fact, did not “turn out okay”. 
  5. Among black folks, especially, hitting kids is accepted, expected, and even a matter of pride.  ”The only way I can get them to behave and do what I want is to give them a good ass-whuppin’.”  I can’t be the only one who sees a connection between that, and “The only way I can get these black people to behave and do what I want is to whip them into submission.” Having something in common with the overseer is nothing to be proud about.
  6. Hitting a kid, especially a young kid, is pure laziness.  It’s “I can’t be bothered to understand what’s driving my kid to do X so I’m going to revert to my base instinct and lash out.”  It’s lazy, and it is wrong.  And if you hit a kid, and he/she ends up reacting to frustrating situations by hitting other people, where do you think that comes from?  
  7. I was spanked as a kid.  Not often - once in a blue moon - but I got spanked.  I love my mom, and she is my hero for how she brought us up - but on this, she was wrong.  Parents are not perfect.  (See Points #4 & #5, above.)
  8. If I am half the parent to my children that my mother was to us, I’ll be an excellent parent.  But I will never hit my kids.  That’s one thing that stops with me.
  9. It took my wife putting her foot down and educating my ass about this that made me evolve.  Made me evolve.  And I am thankful for that.  Sometimes, personal evolution needs a little push.
  10. But not a kick in the pants.  See Points 1 through 9, above. 

Okay.  I’m done thinking for now.  Probably a good thing.