As Lydia said, it's possible to use a different style of teaching/believe in a different style of politics/ascribe to different principles in re: mothering, cooking, shopping, whatever, without being smug and annoying about it. And I find it hard to read the smug people who are convinced they are RIGHT, probably because I rarely am convinced of it. (And also, I tend to believe that in nearly everything in life, a one-size-fits-all policy merely means everyone is fit poorly).
And I was thinking about the reality show stuff. The current target for bile is the Honey Boo Boo show. I've seen a few minutes here and there of it. (My main fear: the child in question will grow up to be a dysfunctional adult with a monstrous ego. See: child-star syndrome). I rather suspect the family involved is laughing all the way to the bank and are playing up their individual quirks for the camera. (Or perhaps, I want to believe that). However, it reminded me of an idea I've played with in the past, and if I had time to do NaNoWriMo (I'm not, because I know I won't, and adding another "duty" like that to my schedule would make me resentful): a group of individuals (either a family, or a group of co-workers, or a band, something) who portray themselves as this horrible, dysfunctional set of messed up people on camera for a reality show....but when the cameras stop rolling, they're normal and sane, so much so that their friends outside the show setting don't even realize that's the same person, and the people involved just vaguely say, "Oh, I work in television production...." when they're asked what they do. Kind of like the old joke about the hard-driving punk rockers who, as soon as they walk off stage, breathe a sigh of relief, start speaking in British public-school Received Pronunciation accents, and politely ask their assistant to bring them tea.
It's funny. A lot of people who are professors speak of "playing a role" in front of the classroom. I don't think I do, really - oh, I suppose I am a bit more outgoing and I can "act" (a bit at least) like an extrovert - but I tend to think that what people see is what they get from me - I tend to go off on slightly odd tangents in class (though there's a pedagogical reason for that, I would argue: good to break up lecture occasionally with lighter stuff they don't have to take notes on, and also, it shows some of the challenges of "real" research when I talk about things like the time the state FWS wanted to give my advisor grant money on the condition that one of his grad students would sit out in the field all night for a number of nights, on something like a lifeguard's chair with a pair of night-vision goggles, and count the deer that walked through the area. He approached me with the idea, and I said, "Only if they let me keep the night-vision goggles afterward." So he turned them down...). And I make it clear that there are certain specific oddball things I'm fascinated by (clay crystallography, weather patterns) that most "normal" people don't care about. And I knit while invigilating exams. I went into academia partly because I wanted a career where I wouldn't have to sink my personality below some kind of "normal" exterior that conforms to a Corporate Standard. (I am now thinking of the SpongeBob episode where he turned "normal" - "Hi, how are you doing. Nice weather we are having.")
(You know, it's interesting how many "kids'" cartoons have lessons that adults can learn. Or that contain a sort of sly humor that only someone who's actually worked for a living might get.)
My gift already arrived at my brother and sister-in-law's house (the baby hat and the copy of Go Dog Go). My brother was fairly tickled that I remembered what his favorite book was from his childhood, and thought to get a copy of it for HIS daughter. (I wrote a little note on the flyleaf so she would know - later on, of course - that it had been his favorite book.). But it did seem like such a perfect gift to me.
They also liked the hat but said it was still a bit big on her; she's a tiny bit below average in size, apparently. Well, she'll grow into the hat. (They had their first pediatrician appointment. One of their big concerns: "It seems like she cries all the time." Apparently on further investigation, the pediatrician decided that their definition of "all the time" was actually what he considers "a normal amount of time for a new baby." I'm not going to tell my brother about the familial tendency for colic...my mother still talks about what a "colicky" baby I was and how hard it was to comfort me sometimes.)
Also, my parents' neighbors (the one with the little dog I have talked about on here) sent them a gift card to buy things for the baby. And one of the women in my parents' church, who anonymously knits gifts for all the new babies in the church knit a sweater for Sarah-Jane. It makes me happy to think of all of these people - some of whom really don't know my brother and sister-in-law all that well - coming through with gifts for the baby. Like there's already a whole network of love and caring underneath her, even beyond her parents and her immediate family.
Plans are on to get my soil tomorrow. My research student, hearing I was going to go do it, offered to help me. I told him I'd let him know (mainly, I had to check to be sure I still had two samplers). I do, and I think I'll ask for his help. I'm trying to make myself be done with being "RAAR, I WILL DO IT ALL MYSELF!" woman. I don't know why I sometimes have a hard time accepting help, even when it's freely offered, but I do. I suppose it's because I feel like I'm putting people out, and I don't like putting people out. But he didn't HAVE to offer to help, so I'm taking the fact that he did that he wants to help. And anyway, having his help will cut my time in the field down to 2 hours or thereabout, rather than being all afternoon. And I know he knows how to do it; it's similar to sampling he did for his ecology project.