Monday, December 31, 2007

Materials for "Metpropolis"

Yesterday, Monta and I bought the materials for building a top bar hive. The hive, affectionately christened Metpropolis, will follow Phil Chandler's top bar design with some minor modifications and additions. Minus tax, the materials cost us a total of $90. See below for details:

Hive Materials
2 - 2"x4"x8' premium grade @ 1.83 each for 3.66

Sides, bottom, lid arches
2 - 2'x4' 1/2" plywood, good one side @ 7.04 each for 14.08

Top bars, lid frame
12 - 1"x2"x6' clear aspen @ 2.30 each for 27.60

Lid cover
1 2'x4' 1/4" plywood @ 5.98

Ends, following boards
2 - 1"x12"x4' standard grade pine @ 2.54 each with 25% off for 3.81

Lid roof
1 4'x8' sheet of semi-rigid 1/8" thick plastic* @ 24.45
* enough for at least 3 hives

1 qt Linseed oil @5.98
3/5"x2-1/2" carriage bolts, washers & nuts @ 2.96
3/4" bend screws (for attaching removable bottom) @ 1.48

Subtotal 90.00
Tax 5.85
Total 95.85

I'm afraid I will serve mostly as a "go-fer" throughout the construction process with Monta doing all the skilled labor. I shouldn't have avoided those "shop classes" in high school.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Making a Virtue out of Necessity

As I continue my ethnographic work on beekeepers, I have concluded that one idea of Pierre Bourdieu seems quite useful. Bourdieu notes that the necessities and realities produced by one's position in an objective social space are often framed as virtues by those occupying the position. (When the fox can't reach the grapes, he says they were probably sour anyway!) So, the faculty member, whose academic background and/or lack of ability forces him/her to forego scholarly research and work for an emphasis on teaching, will construct a rationalization making teaching a greater virtue than research.

Bourdieu takes this one step further however. The winners in social struggles, not only accumulate capital, they also get the right to define their "virtues" as the rules of the social game. So, for example, if these "virtuous" teacher-professors dominate an academic institution, they often impose this "virtue" on others as the "standard" all good academics must follow and rewards are distributed accordingly.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Where Do I Go From Here?

I'm slowly getting over the humiliation and depression caused by the rejection of my sabbatical proposal. I've had to begin to ask: where do I go from here?

I will continue my project even without university support. Yes, I will have to be less ambitious, and the project will take more time but I feel it is a legitimate project even if some adminstrators don't think so. The last few days I've slowly got back into my research "discipline", examining and coding messages on the Bee-l and Organic Beekeeper email lists. I have been reading some old 19th century beekeeping manuals as well.

I called to order two 3 lb. packages of bees from B & B Honey Farm in Houston MN on the 21st of December. I don't know why but I was a bit nervous making the phonecall. I know people are usually helpful but I really hate requesting things for the first time. I also hate talking on the phone. I will have to call again in a few weeks as the people at B & B don't know how much packages will cost until January.

I have my small beeyard planned atleast in my head. The yard will be approximately 20 feet by 20 feet. The south side will be mostly bordered by an 8 foot fence. The east side totally fenced. The west side is our house and the north side will be a strip of legumes (soy beans and alfalfa). Against the inside of the fence I will be growing plants in flower pots. I will plant some borage, bee balm, chives, sage, catnip, and peppermint. A small, small pond of water will be located near the legumes. A standard Lang. hive will face south and be located near the house. A top bar hive, 5 feet in length, will be perpendicular to the east fence.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Dear Friends...

Many have urged me to apply for sabbatical next year. All I can say is:

If there is no guarantee of getting a sabbatical next year, I do not want to risk humiliation again.

If there is a guarantee of getting one next year, I do not want to benefit from an unjust system.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

'Tis the Season...

Dear Dr. *******,

I allowed my response to my sabbatical rejection to sit for 24 hours so that I could respond with a semblance of calm. Frankly, as a 23 year "veteran" at SMU who has never received a sabbatical I feel rather humiliated by the rejection of my proposal. I also have this great sense of urgency about my research, a sense that is shared by the newly founded Global Bee Breeders Association, an international organization of bee breeders and entomologists who have granted me membership in the GBBA on the basis of my wholistic research agenda even though I am neither a beekeeper, bee breeder or entomologist.

If I understood you correctly, your concern was that the sociological/anthropological implications of the proposal were not fleshed out enough; the proposal was too biological. Aside from what I think is an obvious misreading of this proposal , this assessment seems rather ironic to me:

1. The proposal was focused on improving an interdisciplinary course "Global Issues". Many global issues have obvious biological implications.

2. If you examine my career here you will notice that a lion's share of the courses I have taught have been either interdisciplinary or in some other discipline other than sociology. Look at my schedule next semester: two global issues courses, public policy and political and social thought I. None of these courses are primarily sociological. While other people have been able to focus their free time on their own discipline, I have always had to learn someone elses. Now this is turned around when it comes to a sabbatical?

3. My own sociological work has always been informed by strong currents of the "sociology of science" subdiscipline which has often put me at odds with people in the natural sciences. They would be quite amused to hear that my research agenda was primarily biological in focus.

I really don't know how to end this letter because I really don't expect that much can be done. I hope you will recognize and respect some of my frustrations though.