Zine fame

A very exciting thing happened today: I got mentioned in one of my very favorite zines, The East Village Inky. This is a zine I've given as a gift to friends who've had kids, and that I've subscribed to for several years. Ayun Halliday, the creator of the zine, was fascinating to interview, and she helped me with my research by hooking me up with some of her readers to interview, too. And now she's mentioned me in her 10 year anniversary zine! I'm very excited. (Cindy Crabb and Neely Bat Chesnut, don't let Ayun Halliday get all the praise! You, too, could mention me and get a blog shout-out of your own!)


More abortion restrictions in SC

A bill passed a committee in the SC House today that would mandate a 24-hour waiting period for women having abortions. You'd have to go into the clinic, get all checked out for the procedure, then go home and come back 24 hours later to have the actual abortion.

This is such crap. It's a bill that's implying that women make the decision to terminate a pregnancy frivolously, at the spur of the moment. As if you might decide, "Oh, I want an abortion," and then ten minutes later have one. Even if we assume that women in South Carolina are all idiots, the simple logistics of scheduling an abortion would prevent this sort of timeline. Not to mention that informed consent is already legally mandated. Abortion providers make it very clear what's about to happen. It's not as if a woman would accidentally have an abortion without this 24 hours to think things over. Good grief. It's insulting.

A woman who wants an abortion generally thinks things over before she arrives at the clinic. There are any number of reasons she might decide to terminate her pregnancy, and she is the only one qualified to make that decision. There's no medical or psychological justification for mandating a 24-hour wait--the only thing that does is make the procedure that much more inconvenient for her. She'll have to take an additional day off work; she'll have to brave the nasty hordes of protestors one more time. This is an ideologically-driven bill that's trying to make a legal medical procedure harder for women to access.

And let me point out that this state is sinking fast. Our financial outlook is a couple of shades worse than dire, our teen pregnancy rate is rising, we're having to shut schools and gut the budgets of universities, but what our legislators want to work on is time-wasting legislation like this that just makes women's lives more difficult.


Random events

In lieu of an actual blog post, let me tell you some of the events happening in and around the Biffle-Piepmeier household these days.

  • Maybelle spent her first night (three nights, actually) in a hotel room over the weekend when we were in Atlanta for a business meeting of the National Women's Studies Association. She goes to sleep really early, so we made her a little pallet in the closet. It worked out well: she had a dark, quiet spot, Biffle and I got to stay up and watch TV and talk, and it made us both giggle.
  • Flight of the Conchords is back! Check out this video of "Sugalumps" from this Sunday's episode. I no longer feel quite so cool about my love of the show, since it's gotten quite a bit of attention in the last year, but I'm still happy that they managed to come up with a second season. And I can still perform the entire "Rhymenocerous" rap.
  • My zine book is finally in production, and it has a title: Girl Zines: Redrawing the Lines of Power and Creating a Feminist Future. It'll be out in fall 2009 (as I might have mentioned before, academic books take a loooong time to be published). Although it's an academic book, it's fairly readable, it features interviews with a dozen fascinating zine creators, and it's going to be loaded with pictures--so, worth a look.
  • Maybelle has fallen in love with the ceiling fan. She seems to have an actual relationship with it. She'll remember it's there sometimes, look up at it, and give it a huge open-mouthed smile.


result of some recent conversations with a couple of musicians

Star vocal: starr vo-kul adj. The nearly intangible essence imbued in rare vocal performances. 2) The indefinable quality of a musician's vocal track that shifts the listener's perspective from merely listening to to one of actually being in the music. 3) The result of an almost random and Zen-like series of choices made by a performer, accompanying musicians or even recording engineer during, or possibly in preparation for, the recording of a vocal track that helps lift a particular performance above a quality of the merely perfunctory or even spectular, and instead sends it effortlessly aloft for the enjoyment of angels enjoying a lunch of crispy watercress sandwiches with mayonnaise and fresh bread. 4) A musical aesthetic that concerns particular human vocal performance viewed as "having that thang (slang.)," or, je-na-sais-quoi (Fr.).

Star Search Vocal: starr surch vo-kul adj. A vocal performance exhibiting the symptoms of "excellent singing;" i.e. excellent breath support, a grotesque display of vocal range, ample histrionics; yet strangely devoid of any actual emotion or "soul" (slang.). 2) An annoying, limited and peculiar style of vocal performance rarely heard outside of network television or performances of the United States of America national anthem.


Back to work

I started back to work today. As I told Maybelle this morning, "This is day one of work-family balance." I am exhausted (Biffle observes that this is probably due to all the panicking last night and this morning) and feeling, as I predicted, very torn.

I am so happy to be back at work. It felt great to be in the classroom again today--to feel that energy, that confidence, the possibilities for interesting conversations crackling in the air around me. And at the same time I worried about Maybelle. She's recently decided that she's no longer interested in drinking from a bottle, and Biffle's been working through a number of nipples and sippy cup options with her, but none with great success. What this means is that I'm going to have to bike home between classes and meetings to feed her, and/or Biffle and Maybelle's nanny are going to have to keep trying to get her to drink as she gets angrier and hungrier. Today was just fine, but she didn't eat as much as she normally does in a 24-hour period.

We're sharing a nanny with two colleagues and their daughter, and today I found myself wishing that we had a million dollars, wishing that we had enough that we could afford a nanny who'd be Maybelle's alone, someone who would have the time to try and try to feed her, who would be able to hold her as much as she wants to be held, who won't constantly have to be weighing Maybelle's needs along with the other baby's. Last night Biffle said, "I know it's not realistic, but I just don't want her ever to cry." I feel that way, too.

It was great to come home tonight and feed her. During last semester when I was home with Maybelle all the time, I definitely had moments of feeling, "Somebody take this baby away from me!" But now that I'm not going to be with her all the time, getting to be with her is already feeling like a treat, a privilege.

I wish I could do my job and spend a lot of my time with Maybelle. And I'm not saying that I want to start teaching class with Maybelle strapped to me--I'm just saying I wish I could live in both universes simultaneously.

And to end on a happy note, here's a video from Christmas morning:
Good morning, merry Christmas from Walter Biffle on Vimeo.


Uber-networking event, part 3

Here are some random things I learned over the last several days at my uber-networking event:

  • Product placement is far more pervasive in mainstream tv and movies than I'd realized, and the people who pay for their products to appear in these venues have a fair amount of control over how their products are used (i.e. a car company can specify that their car be mentioned by name, that it not be shot in a shoot-out, etc.)
  • Voting is mandatory in a number of countries, including Belgium, France, and Peru. After they made voting mandatory in Peru, they elected their first President who was a member of an indigenous population.
  • Artists are more valuable than they're often recognized as being because they are creative problem solvers. They can be faced with various impediments to realizing their visions, and they work around them.
  • At almost all colleges and universities, a high percentage of the students are having to take remedial courses in writing and math. This suggests that our high schools aren't doing some of what they should be doing.
  • People report higher feelings of fondness and admiration for leaders if they see them make a mistake, like spilling a cup of coffee on themselves. This seems to humanize them and make them relatable, so mistakes aren't always bad.
  • Obama's got his work cut out for him, because the big players--CEOs, physicians, transition team members, bankers--all seem to have different ideas on what should be his top priority, and they all seem to believe he's going to be able to make big changes quickly.