Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I went to a conference-type meeting of about fifty people today, and during the introductions, I caught myself assessing my appearance in comparison to the rest of the attendees. And I realized that in situations like this I do it all the time. While ignoring the interminable Review of the Agenda, I think I figured out why- it helps me get a sense of what kind of power I can assert in a group that includes a number of people with more organizational or social networking power than myself. It also helps me decide how I want to present myself (which in professional situations can range from cold, driven, numbers-focused academic to young and amenable student) in order to get what my organization or I want from the meeting.

It's possible that the self-confidence I gain or lose from deciding whether or not I'm one of the pretty ones affects my perception/ wielding of my power, but (obviously) I don't think it's all in my head. I am listened to more closely and taken more seriously if I rank near the top, which is especially ironic given that I'm most likely to do so when I'm one of the youngest (and presumably less experienced) present. It's true whether I'm working with men or with women, academics or social service providers. Now that I think of it, it's also true in social settings when no one really knows each other.

I'm trying to decide whether it's more a factor of the fact that (a) I am assessed with more value if I'm deemed comparatively attractive or (b) if the interplay of the subconscious comparisons we make between each other affects each of our confidence enough to make a difference. It's not news that people rated as more attractive are more successful (they earn more money and are seen as more likeable), but I find it interesting that the population present in the room seems to matter so significantly, and that at some point I subconsciously started using it to my advantage.

Rumor has it that extremely attractive women have a hard time being taken seriously; thankfully, I don't have that problem.

(But lest you fear I have self-esteem issues, I tied for second today, based on my perception of typical American beauty standards. Perhaps I actually just have an inflated ego.)

I went to a meeting last night about redistricting the elementary schools; on the current map, we're only a block away from being assigned to a rather less desirable school, so I wanted to see if it's likely we'll be reassigned next year. Unsurprisingly, the meeting didn't begin to give me any answers to that question, but a somewhat unexpected issue was raised- someone asked if the redistricting was going to consider the socioeconomic balance between the schools in its decision-making.

One of the elementary schools located in a more rural part of town has the most economic diversity (i.e. a few not-so-rich people live out that way). Busing kids to and from that area would be illogical and, I would imagine, undesirable to anyone involved. So I'm not entirely sure what they were getting at, and it wasn't explicitly stated. Other than that rural area, Bethlehem residents for the most part range between pretty rich (I include those who'd consider themselves middle class in this category, because compared to the folks a mile down Delaware Avenue into Albany, they are) and very rich. I've heard some grumbling about the new PTA-funded playground equipment at one of the elementary schools that includes more of the very-rich, and am wondering if that's what this is about- is the person who raised the question (someone I dislike, incidentally, whose kids attend C's school) offended that his kids might only benefit from the fundraising efforts of the pretty-rich folks, rather than the very-rich?

Following the question, someone said something earnest about how we needed more economic diversity in the schools (racial diversity, of course, being completely off the table). I muttered "we live in Bethlehem!" under my breath, which got a few snickers from those around me, so I don't think I'm missing something obvious here....

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Twin Trees

Monday, September 17, 2007

Robert Jordan died. I wasn't a big fan- I read the first couple Wheel of Times and didn't feel the need to continue- but wonder how his followers are going to deal with the lack of completion of the series. Fanfic? Legal demands for his notes? Zoloft? And of course I'm always concerned about a similar fate befalling G.R.R. Martin before my pet series ends....

Friday, September 14, 2007

and less sleep-

Two hours. And today I need to work, put in hours at the co-op, pack everything for the weekend, and drive to Twin Trees. Not even catnap time in there. Maybe it's time to find better drugs....

Sunday, September 09, 2007

pear butter

We obtained large quantities of pears from my parents' tree yesterday, and while the kids are eating all the fruit they can as fast as they can, we figured we should save at least some for the winter. So I decided to make pear butter. Pulling ideas from various Internet-derived pear butter recipes, I peeled and cored the pears (a time-consuming process, because most of these pears are only about two inches across, and they're bruised and twisted and generally look like wild fruit usually does), tossed them in the crockpot for a few hours on high with some sugar and cinnamon, pureed them with the stick blender once they were soft, and then cooked them on low overnight with the lid ajar to let the steam escape. It worked beautifully, and produced delicious pear butter, but is perhaps too efficient a space-saver- I used a gallon-sized bowl of pears, and ended up with an 8-ounce jar of pear butter. When the rest of them ripen, I think I'll make pie filling instead, just so I feel like I got more out of it!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Honest slogans. (These also make me think of the backside of the "Welcome to Indian Lake" sign along Route 28- instead of the more typical "Hope you visit again soon!" or some such sentiment, it just says, "You'll be back!" Which is, of course, true, since that's the Only Road Out.)