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Archive for the ‘Meeting Expectations’ Category

It’s a new low!

In Chicago this year I felt particularly busy. Between sessions, meetings, and hanging out at Kitty O’Sheas, I hardly had any time to explore the conference itself. I never made it to the book exhibit or poster presentations, I never found the unisex restrooms, and I never even posted on social media about ASA or ate a meal alone! I did, however, manage to wander around the various floors of the Hilton wondering how practical it was to give each floor its own confusing layout. I also found the ASA App to be useful, though I wish that it would have been more friendly to those without wi-fi or wireless signals by only updating when requested.

In the end, I completed 13 of 30 scavenger hunt items, including: 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 17, 19, 20, 21, 28, 29, and 30. Next year promises a new location that is even more distracting since I’ve never been there, but can it match Kitty O’Sheas and Meli Cafe? I’ll let you know in 12 months.

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At the American Sociological Association conference in Chicago I noticed something else that demonstrates the ways that faculty members are just as bad as students when they are in the audience instead of standing at the front of class. During several presentations audience members took pictures of PowerPoint slides so that they did not have to write information down. This practice was made worse by the fake camera noises that their phones made as they took the pictures (I’m not sure whether or not all phones have the ability to turn the camera noise off). The most egregious example of this was in a presentation with a lot of references on slides. Those who wanted to record the references just took pictures. Worst of all was the fact that the presenter made very clear at the beginning that he would send the complete presentation via e-mail to anybody who was interested.

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Conference bingo cards are fun to read but fail because bingo can’t actually be played unless everybody is in the same room. Conference scavenger hunts are infinitely better. Thus, for the fourth straight year I give you the ASA Scavenger Hunt! You can download the 2015 ASA Scavenger Hunt and, for your convenience, I have also listed the items below. Post your progress and results in this SJMR thread. Good luck!

2015 ASA Scavenger Hunt

Instructions: Record the dates, times, locations, and/or session numbers for the items below between Friday, August 21 and midnight on Tuesday, August 25. Post your results in the “2015 ASA Scavenger Hunt” thread at SJMR. Good luck!

  1. Attend a friend’s roundtable session
  2. Hear a presenter explain technological difficulties with, “I’m used to my Mac”
  3. Hear somebody refer to the Chicago School in a presentation
  4. Attend a workshop
  5. Attend a great talk by an “unknown” sociologist
  6. Check out the poster presentations
  7. Use the ASA App
  8. Walk past the Employment Service area and observe the job candidates
  9. Discuss the pros and cons of replication
  10. Overhear a sociologist make a racist/sexist/homophobic (etc.) comment
  11. Talk to somebody about SJMR
  12. Eat some candy at the book exhibit
  13. Turn the paper part of your nametag upside-down to make tag-checking more obvious
  14. Find the unisex restrooms and rate their implementation on a scale of 1-10
  15. Pour one out for DAN
  16. Get a free drink at a section reception
  17. Spot Fabio (bonus points if he’s wearing a fanny pack)
  18. Talk to somebody from a liberal arts school about his or her research
  19. Talk to somebody from a research school about his or her teaching
  20. Talk to somebody on the job market about his or her ideal job
  21. Introduce two people you know to each other
  22. For Faculty: Buy a student coffee or a meal; For Students: Accept coffee or a meal from a faculty member
  23. Eat a meal alone
  24. Have an awkward conversation with an acquaintance
  25. Post on social media about ASA
  26. During conversation, move somebody across the room by slowly inching closer to them
  27. Walk to the Navy Pier
  28. Spend an entire day in Chicago without attending a session
  29. Take a picture with that shiny bean (a.k.a. Cloud Gate Chicago)
  30. Eat deep-dish pizza

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Was it really just last year that the American Sociological Association released an “app” that was really just a web page? After seeking feedback, the ASA really has tried to do better this year. For example, if you are registered for the conference and logged into the ASA website the online program actually lets you see the locations of sessions, hopefully ending the practice of searching for sessions online and then having to look those sessions up again when you get the actual program to find the locations (at least when exporting the schedule didn’t work).

More interesting are the developments in ASA app land. These developments center on the fact that this year there is an actual app that you can download to your phone. The app provides session information as well as maps and directions to get from your location to particular sessions. (Of course, all of this will depend on the strength of the ASA’s wifi signal.)

Scatterplot has some instructions for downloading the app, because of course the ASA needs to make it more complicated than necessary by putting the link to the app page on the Member Portal and not on the conference website where somebody might expect to find it. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you need to login with your userid and the ASA’s app password (which you get from the app website), but then to access your saved sessions and information you need to login again with your normal ASA password. Once you’ve done all of this, you can search for sessions, set reminders for sessions, use the maps, etc.

The ASA is trying, so hopefully everything works well when we all get to Chicago! Now, about the conference dates…

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-Shorter days

-Cooler temperatures

-The return of students to college campuses

-Endless calls for additional members from ASA sections trying to increase the number of sessions they get at next year’s annual meeting

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When I arrived at my previous institution there was a miscommunication about my moving reimbursement that caused my check to be sent to the moving company instead of to me. Rather than waiting weeks or months for the check to come back from the moving company, I was able to arrange for the original check to be cancelled and a new check was made out to me, which I had in a matter of days. This was my first experience with the potential speed of a small bureaucracy after spending my grad school years at a huge public university where this sort of thing would have been impossible. (I thought I wrote about it at the time but after spending quite a while looking for the post I have to conclude that I didn’t.)

Since starting my new job this fall, I’ve noticed that more money leads to a slightly larger bureaucracy. The biggest difference so far is that there is more paperwork involved in financial reimbursements and it is examined in greater detail. For example, at ASA I split a number of meals with others and noted my portion on my travel receipts. After submitting my receipts for reimbursement I received an e-mail asking about a few receipts that looked like they could have been for more than one person.

In the past five years I had never been asked about my travel receipts, but from a few other conversations it seems like this level of attention is the norm here. I’m not sure if the school pays more careful attention to money because it has more of it coming in and going out or if the administrative assistants have the luxury of paying more careful attention because they aren’t spread as thin. I don’t necessarily mind the scrutiny, and it is definitely worth the increased financial stability of the institution as a whole, but it is interesting and something I’ll have to pay attention to.

*A.K.A. mo money, mo problems

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ASA ended a week ago so I suppose it is time to post my 2014 ASA Scavenger Hunt results. Last year I set a personal best by completing 20 of the 30 items, but this year I could not attain that level again, ending up with 17 of 30 items. For those competing at home, I completed items 3, 7, 8, 11, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, and 30. I also left San Francisco with some good ideas for next year, including people sitting in the back row of an empty presentation room and “We’re going to use X as a proxy for Y.”

Regarding item number 14, I was fairly busy at ASA this year and may  have attended a record number of sessions and meetings, so I didn’t have time to check out all of the unisex restrooms. The ones that I did see, in the Hilton on the Ballroom Level were a textbook example of how not to designate unisex restrooms, and were even worse than those in the Hilton last year in New York. Although they appeared on the conference hotel map and signs were posted on the restroom doors indicating their unisex status, the door to each restroom was at the end of a 10-15 foot-long hallway, the end of which was marked for men or women and made no mention of unisex status. Thus the Hilton Union Square receives a 1 out of 10 for its unisex restrooms. Grading it felt like grading the student who puts absolutely no effort into an assignment. Hiltons of the world, you can do better!

 

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