Jingle Bells Batman Smells

xmastreeblog

The countdown begins, not that I haven’t already been counting the days before I leave the United Kingdom. It seems that for almost two months, I had been trying “to prepare,” however that far back it is hard to get anything set in stone. I was still getting documents ready for my visas and getting passport-sized photos, then approval from the university’s ethics committee for the research, then approval from the department for funding, then having to re-book my flights because the airline canceled them, etc…. Now today I had everything together for my visa for my second country and they decided to take the week off before Christmas. So now, I’m trying to see if I can apply at an embassy in America when I return or while abroad in West Africa.

So we will see how that pans out. Embassies are notoriously difficult to get a hold of, which is frustrating when they want you to email them for an appointment. Thus, shouldn’t I get a reply email confirming my appointment or even answering a general question if I am just getting stuff ready and just want to know what to bring in advance?

Other than my general frustrations and woes with government bureaucracies, how are all of you doing?

Not that I’m expecting an immediate response, but I know with the upcoming holidays everyone is just going through something during the happiest time of the year, right? Ironically, since this is my first Christmas away from my family and I am not planning to cook a gigantic meal, nor does London seem to get into the “spirit” as much as New Yorkers, I feel toned down this year. It could be because I have my head in the books and am more worried about theoretical frameworks (still no idea what that is), rather than thinking about people (that I know). However, being single and hardly knowing anyone here has really just made me able to focus on myself this past month and “getting things crossed off”. It is selfish, but being away from home can have its perks. Unfortunately, London is completely shut down this weekend, which feels very unusual. At least NYC had Sunday/holiday service on the subway and buses.

Taking care of self during this time of year is just as important as looking out for the ones you love. You can easily get wrapped up in other people’s issues and burn yourself out. So here are somethings that I think helped me get through these last few weeks.

1. Start as early as possible. I know it is hard to think about end-of-year things in October, especially when anything can happen between now and then. However, you will save yourself a lot of time getting those “little things” done that may seem only take a minute or two. For example, I knew that I was moving out after holidays and I had to get a key replaced, order some last minute things off of Amazon, and get boxes from my job. Well, had I waited until this week to do that, there’s no way that stuff from Amazon would have made it before I left, nor would I have been able to carry some free boxes for packing from work all at one time. I also did have my key made as it gave me opportunity to shop around for a lower price. Things that I have no time for this week, now that this visa emergency has popped up.

2. Book a spa day. At the end of all the holiday parties and dinners or perhaps right before, you are going to need a couple hours to yourself to get the kinks out. If the spa is not your thing, then get your hair washed or another activity where someone is doing something for you. We all love our family and friends but sometimes having someone do something that makes you feel loved can coax you back from the brink of insanity.

3. Give up your expectations. Whoa, whoa…now put down the bottle. Expectations are different than your inhibitionsstill keep those. So what I mean is that there is no perfect or fantasy Christmas. Yes, maybe we have an idea to specifically go somewhere or do something, however do not give your hopes up for the “perfect experience.” As I opened above, you can see that unexpected shit happens (like government offices closing a week early so they can have their perfect Christmas, which messes up my perfect Christmas). So flexibility, patience, and open-mindedness is key – remember what is a priority for you to get done may not be someone else’s priority. I’ve worked in customer service and although we are supposed to empathize with clients, it’s hard to feel for someone when they are blowing up in your face.

So this is just from my experience, but I hope that you find them useful! If you have any other ideas about de-stressing through the holidays, please share them with me!

@ReporterandGirl or post these ideas on my wall.

30 Year Old Student

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This is when you realize that your vocabulary is permanently scattered with words like “problematic” and “ontological” and “hegemony.” I’m just a monster.

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Or now that my social circle consist of other PhD students that go to pubs and parties, just talk about their research. Because no one know who Ariana Grande is.

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Or when all my colleagues, acquaintances, relatives, and facebook friends are married and having babies (yes, even “that guy” from high school). Life has dealt a low blow on this.

Did you ever need a reminder as to why you strayed onto the off-beaten path? I’m sure there is light at the end of this tunnel!

Tweet me or hang a picture on my wall. Solidarity!

Read the rest on BuzzFeed Images/gifs are a courtesy of BuzzFeed

 

So much for the Free Market

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Indiana tax payers will subsidize Carrier with 7 million in tax breaks in exchange for keeping 700-800 jobs in the state, it is unknown if the remaining 1000+ jobs will continue to move abroad or not.

It seems that most Americans do not understand how Capitalism works. The government is supposed to stay out of the “free market”, not even to bail your sorry @$& if your company fails or one loses a job. These aren’t my rules, but if you studied economics 101, then you understand the laissez-faire principles. Businesses are suppose to compete and be profitable by keeping costs low and sell quality goods at the lowest price. That means cheap labor by either replacing humans with machines or hiring labor at a cheaper wage. If not, they will be priced out of the market by other competitors. Who else competes? Customers! Yes, sometimes customers bid and compete for high-demand goods (i.e ebay or buying a home); and employees also compete, by convincing employers that they can provide valued services at the best wage. If someone else can do your job for a lower price, then guess what, you weren’t competitive and free market principles dictate that you keep looking for another job or leave the market all together. These are all components of the “free market” that Conservatives rally for, but seem to only to remember one of these branches.

However, when White working class men realize that they are not competitive in the market, its time for a government handout (corporate welfare)! Unfortunately, the working class won’t benefit from these deals. Carrier is not obliged to hire union workers or pay the same wages/benefits that will put decent food on the table, nor keep these jobs on U.S soil for more than a year. However, this is politics, so a very good symbolic move for Trump. Nonetheless, my post is about the free market and the State staying out of the affairs of the private sector. Let’s take the fight for $15 minimum wage, that many conservative-leaning naysayers feel that these low-skilled, low wage jobs are for teens and college students for entry level positions in the workforce and thus raising wages could actually cause more unemployment as business will cut jobs.

When food workers picket for a higher minimum wage, they are classified as “lazy” low-skilled (predominantly shown in the media as Black, Brown, and female) workers that need to “get better jobs” instead of flipping burgers. Hence, this year’s election was all about poor and working class men who have seen manufacturing and mining jobs disappear as long as 30 years ago! Why didn’t Bill O’Reilly or Tucker Carlson also argue that these low skilled (mainly portrayed as male and White) workers in the manufacturing industry should “improve their skill-set” to get “better jobs” instead of asking for the government to intervene? This is a true capitalist perspective, which in no doubt would leave many people very vulnerable. However, many Americans are not advocating for government welfare policies to benefit the bottom 70% of America. Instead, mass society cheers and claps at the mention of more corporate welfare that may eventually (hopefully) trickle-down. Folks, something will trickle-down from the top 1% but it won’t be the loose change from their pockets, don’t you smell what’s going on here?

Tweet me or post it on my wall

Packing Up Again

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I still remember that awkward feeling of excitement, nervousness, and reality setting in when I boarded the airplane in January of this year to leave NYC. I had been mostly excited up until November. Then I started feeling nervous when I had to think about saving money (harder when you’re not working) and looking for a place to stay. Then reality hit me in late December, perhaps after I received my visa and cooked Christmas dinner with my family and friends for the last time. January was coming too quickly, I still had lots of packing to do, some stuff to pre-read before the school year starts, and I didn’t (and never would) have enough money saved up.

It took me awhile to call London home and I remember exactly when that was. It was my first night in Copenhagen in late August. I haphazardly planned the trip (bought tickets and accommodations), but I didn’t have any plans for the whole week except to visit a friend outside the city for a day. By the time I arrived, it was late afternoon and I was staying in a room in a nice house-share away from the center, on a street that I couldn’t pronounce. I sat on the tiny bed and thought about the comforts of my full size bed and my laptop with amazon prime where I could fall asleep to a movie. Yes, I had missed my home, London. I was not thinking of New York or how I could call a friend to hang out in Manhattan or Brooklyn, I wanted to go back to London and sit at my pub down the street.

And now the time has come again to pack up and start again. For almost seven months I will be in West Africa conducting field research for my thesis. I have my documents ready and am anxiously awaiting to process my visa. I am unable to sublet my apartment while I am gone, so I had to give it up and will my put my belongings in storage, except for a tumble dryer if anyone is interested in buying my appliance. I’ll be starting over in London again, when I return in the summer. I won’t say Thanksgiving was miserable, but without the dinner and the fuss, it was depressingly quiet and it looks like Christmas may be too. However, I will return home a for few days before boarding at JFK airport again for another stage of my life.

Damn, coming home from college (it soundsso lame after 25). I wonder how everyone looks? Maybe my room looks ten times smaller or my neighborhood has burned to the ground. Hey, I’ve been following what’s been going on in the States. I also kept up with local gossip, I know who broke up, who got together, who left my old job (besides me!), who just had a baby, who is engaged, in short everyone but me. Yep, everyone has moved on and for a moment that makes me feel insecure. I mean, shouldn’t I be an associate director or junior vice president now with a bun in the oven and an anxious first time buyer? Not that I really want to be in that world, but I am re-thinking life as a post-grad student and what contributions I can make in my field at this level. In other words, I don’t see the light yet and I’m a little anxious about that. On top of that, it doesn’t help that my supervisors also seem anxious and that just makes me more anxious, oh and I’m broke.

I’m also fairly certain we are heading into another recession in 1-2 years, so my prospects for a job opportunity when I come out of this will also be poor. Thus, rounding back to the same old question of, “what is the meaning of my life?” Happiness is key, but finding what makes us happy is so hard! And I wonder why, don’t we know ourselves best? Why does it take so long or so many trials to find something that makes one happy? Obviously, someone who is happy has to give me some advice here!

In the meanwhile, I’ll be packing up.

Everything You Need to Know About Online Dating

black girl on tablet, online dating, saturday afternoon, the reporter and the girl, IR blog, BWWM, S.C Rhyne

Digital technology like smartphones, tablets and computers have changed the way people connect. They’ve also changed the way people date. If you’re single and ready to date, you should consider internet dating as it lets you interact with like-minded people before having to meet them in person. But what are the pros and cons, the advantages and dangers of these internet platforms? Here’s a look at how you can get started, protect yourself and find your match from your mobile device or computer.

Your Profile

Every online matchmaker site requires a personal profile for each person. Most of these sites will guide you through the profile creation phase once you sign up, but there are some tips you should consider. First, be honest about your intentions and your lifestyle. This can be a snapshot of who you are and your everyday life. Also, only post profile pictures of yourself. If you post one picture of yourself and many group pictures it can confuse those who look at your profile. Second, don’t list your ideal partner — that person doesn’t exist — instead include the type of values you have and cherish, this will attract similar people. Lastly, check your spelling and grammar. Attention to detail is key.

How You Connect

When you’ve chosen an internet dating site, how do you connect with other users? People love to talk about themselves, so personal questions about someone’s life is always a sure bet. Or if you’re more blunt, just ask someone if they want to have dinner or a drink after work one night. Remember, people are on these sites for this very reason, oftentimes there’s no point beating around the bush. If you’re a flirt start a game with the person you message like Would You Rather. This can get as intimate as you and the person messaged let it.

Precautions, Catfish

There are certain things about yourself you should never disclose online. Personal information, your address and other sensitive data shouldn’t be included in your profile. Another precaution you must keep an eye for is catfishing. A catfish, in the online dating world, is someone who pretends to be someone they aren’t and lures a person to fall in love with the idea of the catfish avatar they’ve constructed. Whether for manipulative power or financial gain, why some people do this is largely unknown. To protect yourself, demand an online video conversation on your computer or smartphone once you’ve had a few conversations; the iPhone 6s smartphone and similar models come with FaceTime installed making it easy to connect via video chat. If the person continually makes excuses for why they can’t speak face-to-face, it’s best to move on.

Offline Meet Up

Once you’ve messaged someone for a while and have a good grasp of who they are — that they are a person you’d like to spend time with — initiate several FaceTime sessions and then schedule a meet up. This can be any type of activity: a drink at a bar, an afternoon in a bookstore or a picnic at the local park. The most important aspect is that you meet them for the first time in public, as you likely don’t know enough about them to meet them at their house or yours.

Conservatives, Liberals, Progressives…what’s next for 2017?

pro-poor policies, pro-family policies, political activism,

So I will acknowledge, with the understatement of the year, that this week has been an emotional one for many Americans as well as people abroad.

While I did expect Trump would win, I think what surprised me was how he won. Many states that reliably voted Democrat since the 1980s, turned red and even the states that Clinton did hold onto, like Maine and Virginia, she did so with a 0.1% margin in her favor. While I feel that her campaign and the DNC especially did many things wrong, I will only sum it up to this: hubris. They underestimated how angry, fearful, despondent, and tired people were with 1996 rulebook to politics. Trump is a populist candidate and they needed a populist face to counter him, but the Democrats did not produce it. They stuck to the same message, and took some things (people) for granted and that is why they lost. The biggest upset is now the GOP is consolidated and it is the DNC that is in a crisis mode and they need to shake things up and do an autopsy as to why they are not relating to middle America.

I am probably what some people will call a liberal elite, however my family and I, are by no means rich, elitist, or insider to any political machine. My mother and father were both born and raised poor in a developing country, and came to the United States in the 1970s because their only choice was to stay home and continue starving or take a chance to go to college here and have a decent life. Luckily, each (separately) chose the latter, and settled in my hometown of New York City. I had a good life, I went to a private school that was adamant about bringing quality education to lower-middle income neighborhoods, and then I went to a prestigious private school in an upper income neighborhood before going to public school, then college. I know plenty of young people, whose parents came later in the 80s and 90s, and their families had a much harder time establishing themselves. Under Reagan and Clinton, immigration laws changed and funding for ESL, GED, and citizenship classes dried up in a lot of places; these are the resources that my parents and many immigrants used to assimilate into American society and become part of the American Dream.

Donald Trump will be the 45th president, and although I have mix feelings about this, I will follow Seth Meyer’s path. The fear, anger, and sense of loss that many left-leaning and centrist people felt this week is probably how Trump supporters felt for years and maybe decades. It would be wrong of me to think that my feelings are more valid than yours. While I may feel that Trump will not benefit you or your families, especially in the long term, I hope that he proves me wrong and that he does not forget you.

It is important for me to say this, because many Clinton supporters and left-leaning people are blaming the loss of this election on the wrong thing. The reason I believe in universal health coverage, education, and an enforcement to market regulations is because in my academic research, I compare the poor in countries that do not have these things (Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Haiti) with the poor in countries that do have them (Sweden, Tunisia, Germany) and see a difference in how people live. The quality of life is different for everyone when we have pro-poor policies, in other words, pro-poor is also pro-middle class and what we had since the 80s has not been that. It would be hypocritical of me, to call myself a pro-poor advocate who can “relate” to the poor in Africa, the Caribbean, or Latin America, but remain blind that there is an under-privilege class outside my doorstep in America and my adopted home of the U.K. Maybe the last thirty or forty years have not befitted everyone and we need to think about where we go from here. So now that I know some people who did vote for Brexit and some Trump supporters, I can empathize and hopefully they empathize with me about the elusive American Dream and the reality where the law respects the rights of all persons and opportunity is open to all.

Thus, this is what I will continue to fight for, under every administration going forward. So liberals, progressives, conservatives, patriots, and freedom lovers: put away the tissues and let’s hold our leaders accountable, starting January 20th, 2017.

Send me your thoughts @ReporterandGirl or post them on Facebook.

On the Eve of the Eighth

2016 elections, S.C Rhyne, the reporter and the girl, uncle sam

Hello readers,

It has been a while since I could settle down long enough to type out a message to you. My October has been filled with a flu, that later turned into bronchitis, and my mother came to visit me to celebrate her 70th birthday at one of the highest peaks in Switzerland.

Well, November is here. I finished my round of antibiotics yesterday, the semester is in full swing as I spend many nights in the computer lab, every store has their holiday specials up, and my inbox is starting to flood with the countdown emails to Black Friday. But of course, we are waiting to see what happens tomorrow on Election Day. I had just mailed my ballot on Saturday, it was sitting on my countertop for weeks before I filled in the bubble, sealed, and delivered it to the post office.

One of reasons I decided to pursue a higher degree in political economy is because I am interested in the way policy is created and how it impacts people. The intended as well as the unintended consequences need to be anticipated and law makers have to be flexible enough to adjust for anything. Policy is a vision for the outcome one seeks in a particular issue and how one strategizes to reach a set of goals. There is a lot more stuff that goes into policy making, like evaluations, resource management, power relations, and multi-sectoral planning. It doesn’t help that the U.S. is a federal system and it doesn’t have a lot authority in state and local sectors; so in our case, policy making is more complicated because authority is decentralized rather than our European friends who have national systems of governance.

I, like many Americans, have been astounded, fascinated, shocked, frustrated, and even disgusted at how we arrived with our two main front runners for the 2016 presidential candidates. Our arrival to this moment tells us that there will be a lot of work into reforming voting in the U.S., such as opening the primaries to more registered voters, rather than party insiders. But nonetheless, we are finally here and I don’t think this election, which has seen the bottom of the bottomless barrel, have ever caused so much stress and division to American families, friends, and relations.

I just want it to be over. Actually, I don’t even know if I want to live through the next 4 years. I’d rather be cryogenically frozen and defrosted some 50 years later.

But whatever happens tomorrow, know that on Wednesday, November 9th, we are still the same country that rest of world looks to as a shining example of democracy, opportunity, and liberty. Whether you know it or not, since post-WWII, the U.S. has been a major influence on political, cultural, and economic platforms; if we sneeze, Europe catches a cold, then Asia, Latin America, and Africa too. So yes, everybody is watching, and part of being a global leader and influencer means role modeling and setting the example for everyone else. Now my preferred candidate will not win tomorrow and I will not tell you how to vote, but only to vote. The only way your vote can be “wasted” or “thrown away” is if you do not vote at all. If you do not like any of the names on the ballot, there is a blank line to write in a name. Any name. It is not just a right, but a civic duty– your RESPONSIBILITY to vote.

While we have very real and serious issues to address after November 9th, I hope the weapon we will choose for the next chapter will be our pens or keyboards if you’re new school like me. The pen is more powerful than any fist or gun for changing our systems to fairer and more sound mechanisms that will work for the average Joe and Jane. So I will be up tomorrow night, watching and waiting with you all, good luck.

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