Sunday, May 24, 2009

a weird moment

have you ever been busy doing something, and then, mid thought, have a complete out of mind experience, and wonder, how in the world did i get here? for some reason, sometimes when i am walking around at night, usually down church street to my apartment, I have these sudden random moments of, "huh"? its almost as if i fell asleep sophomore year in AP US history, and woke up here. its a weird mixture of amazement and disbelief. sometimes it feels like i'm living someone else's life--like this isnt' the real me, i'm just exploring one possible pathway? something like that. sometimes its like--wow--who would have thought that i would have ended up here? It's both a positive and negative feeling, where the negative is a more panicked--wtf am i doing here, and the positive is--how the hell did i get here and why is it so cool. I remember my best friend Steph and I talked about how we would walk down this one corridor in our High School, each year, till graduation, and say, "remember the time, that we would remember the time, that we would remember the time..." remembering all the other times that we were also remembering the times. (ha). I wonder if either of us pictured us to be where we are now. kinda weird eh.

anyways, on a completely different note, i taught the 2xs company class today. it was really fun, and i really need to get my choreography butt in gear and start getting creative and moving my body again. it feels weird going from 7 hr intensive rehearsals till now....where i dance, maybe...1-2 times a week? need to get going again! so anyways, here's the youtube....its kinda a little just a little vibe i needed to get out of me. i just wanted to try and do "hip hop" to something completely not hip hop, but something that still moved my body and moved me. i think the product is kinda interesting. anyways, i did have fun teaching it, i hope ppl liked it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

and summer begins! .... sort of...

So I did have all these ideas for intellectual, introspective posts, but I think I've been getting kind of bored by them. (Plus I'll get some nifty idea I think is pretty cool in my head, and then after 15 minutes of pondering it, I either a) get bored b) find I'm contradicting myself or c) solve my initial worry with some not-quite-as-nifty conclusion. So I'll hold off on that stuff for now.)

I figure I can talk a little bit about my "actual" life. You know, the events, and daily doings, that make up a so-called life or lifestyle that I lead. Since, you know, this blog thing was originally supposed to let me keep in touch with people I rarely talk to. (Although all the people that comment end up being people I talk with on a regular basis. So.....Speak up!, all you people that I rarely talk to. :) )

Anyways, I've finished my first year as a PhD in Sociology at Michigan. For some reason this winter, although having gone through four years of a midwest winter before in Chicago/Evanston, seemed more rough than usual, and waaaaay longer. Maybe its because my winter wasn't divided up as nicely as it was in the quarter system. Michigan's "spring break" actually happened in the middle of February. So in the middle of February, I took a break from the semester, to go to a still-cold-Chicago, and then return to a still-cold-Michigan. Not quite similar to the experience in undergrad, when returning from spring break, there was a somewhat noticeable difference in temperature.

The semester ended somewhat chaotically. I don't know if this is going to happen every year from now on, but its like I fell asleep sometime in December, and woke up in April. Basically starting in February, I was either rehearsing or out of town for a performance every weekend. And during the week I would do school or have rehearsal. It was pretty freakin intense. But amazing nonetheless. January opened up with Michigan's Best Dance Crew (which 2XS took second in whooooo!) and preparations for Cabaret, which is a talent show that the Sociology 1st years all have to put on. First week of February had 2xs chicago auditions. second week was the Cabaret performance. third week was spring break. the beginning of march was The One (with a big shout out to Hip Hop Connxion and Boogiezone for making such an amazing event happen) and Dance2XS Michigan's very own bar night (many thanks to all the dancers who came out to perform and support--CODA, Joe de La Rosa, Mina's group from Washtenaw, Anonymous, and the Filipino students dance group!). AFter that, we fell into intense rehearsals for the one and only Urbanite. Choosing a detroit theme and using only two artists was a serious challenge, and there were a hell of a lot of blood sweat and tears that poured into this performance. I would literally pass out exhausted at 3-4 am thinking about 2xs and wake up at 9 am still thinking about 2xs....damn. what an experience.

Then holy crap it was april and the end of the semester. Urbanite and Dance mix was the first weekend of april. followed by me going down to chicago to take lando wilkins awesome awesome class at NU. (check out austin's blog (Shaolin) for footage!) Then there was the Purdue Urban Showcase, where we joined our family down in Purdue for an awesome time. Seriously. Awesome. I have no words, but just love for Purdue! :)

Then, wowohmygoditstheendofthesemesterandcrapineedtodoschoolworkwow. So after that was a serious hibernation of kathy into the pits of academia wondering what the hell am i studying here. haha, no not that serious. But i had to really buckle down and do a lot of work. But I know all that work was worth it because now I have some decent projects to work on over the summer. I also got a chance to go to the Population Association of America's conference which this year was held in our very own Detroit. It was really a very eye-opening experience to what possible research projects are out there that involve the study of populations. I guess I've never really had/still don't really grasp, the whole scope of population studies, or the use of it (even though that's technically what i'm "studying"), but I am slowly learning. It was also great to see a number of my friends from school presenting posters or papers there. It may sound trite, but I felt completely empowered and at the same time so completely awed, by this conference. Because on one hand I know that someday I will be able to present research findings that contribute to some kind of research conversation, but on the other hand, howthe-F am I supposed to get there, lol. It was definitely inspiring and encouraging to see my friends up there doing their thang though. So, I know, somehow, it is all possible. :)

After a 2 week overpowering stint in academics, I fled to Chicago for a somewhat "summer"y break (although for more than half of it, the weather refused to cooperate). there i've been able to take dance classes, see performances, hang out with some friends, and best of all, see my sister! (oh yeah, and stay with austin. :-p) I mostly spent my days at Uchicago, tying up some loose ends, playing scrabble on facebook (Dan, I think it's your turn), and coming up with a prelim reading list. I have the summer to study for the first hoop that Soc PhD students have to jump through: the prelim. It's an 8 hr exam in one subfield of sociology that all students have to take and pass in order to make satisfactory progress in the program. Usually subfields are given sort of a standard reading list, with little changes between each year. Apparently Social Demography is a subfield of a different breed here at Michigan. We aren't given a list: instead we are told to come up with our own, and to basically just know "knowledge" of the field. It's all sort of confusing, and sometimes a little frustrating, but so far the act of putting together my reading list has been a good exercise in surveying the field. So maybe in the end its all going to be for the better. (stay tuned for more bitching about the prelim posts. I'm going to try and maintain a positive attitude about this whole thing, but I'm sure in my weaker moments, some whining will come through. I guess I still have to maintain that image of the cynical grad student *sometimes* haha. )

Anyhoo, that pretty much brings me up to speed with today. I just got back from Chicago to Ann Arbor last night. Today was absolutely beautiful, so I spent a good two hours out in the sun reading about the compression of morbidity/mortality. Conclusion: some knowledge of the rectangularization of survival curves is in my head, and my skin is definitely a couple shades darker. :) hopefully I can continue this practice tomorrow. I love summer. Even if I have to wait through 8 months of miserableness for it, haha.

Its been a very good semester; hectic, but I guess I wouldn't have it any other way, as many of you will never fail to remind me. And a great beginning to the first summer here. And that's all I will leave you with. Stay tuned for (hopefully) more frequent posts so tha tI won't have to mind dump my semester again on here. :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Public Health

So apparently everyone is talking about the swine flu. Now as a global health student, and someone who lived in S. East Asia during SARS, I feel like I have a decent grasp on the difference between paranoia and precaution. At first, when I heard about the swine flu, I thought wow, don't go to Mexico. But that's it. I didn't think much of it. I'll wash my hands, cook pork thoroughly (because you know cooking kills the virus, so you CAN'T get sick from EATING pork. newsflash). And drink OJ and other immune system-y things so that I won't get sick.

About a week later, it got bigger on the news, with cases increasing in Mexico, as well as in the US, and some cases even found in New Zealand. But apparently at the same time as case counts were going up, so were reports of self-doubt: was the US media making too big of a "splash" of swine flu? Was this the typical example of the media market exploiting public fear in order to make stories? (I have a friend working at a newspaper who says that even reporters are grappling with these questions and examining how their take on the event could affect the public's view.) Peopel are asking, what SHOULD we worry about and what SHOULDN'T we worry about? I got a sense that Americans were trying to grapple with "staying cool" but not trying to be total public health idiots.

I guess, the point of this blog isn't about whether this swine flu thing is REALLY a public health crisis or not. Because the word "crisis" is subjective. We can only do what we think is best--whether that be wearing a mask, quarantining yourself, or staying at home and washing your hands. I'm not trying to tell you whether or not you should be worried. I trust that people will be smart. However, I'm curious: what is the appropriate way, or rather, the smart way that governments should handle epidemics like this? How do you make decisions, when you are trying to corner a moving target? What is the best way to protect your people? How do you walk the fine line between precaution and paranoia?

Governments around the world have responded differently. China, South Korea, and Hong Kong have enacted some kind of quarantine. China has even gone to restrict travel from Mexico. Several other Latin American countries have also restricted travel from Mexico. Meanwhile, in the latest WHO update, they say that restricting travel will not do anything in stopping the spread of the virus, and instead will only cause global disruption. The US so far has not issued any travel regulations. These are not easy decisions to make. Suspending travel or even making some sort of regulation on travelers has political and economic connotations and consequences. (ie. I'm not sure that Mexico is particularly happy with these decisions.) What is worse? A potential "pandemic" or worsening a developing economy?

Like I said, I lived in Singapore when SARS happened. The media in Singapore and other Asian countries, praised Singapore's actions as exemplary. Temperature scans at every entrance to a hospital, in the airports. Masks everywhere. Schools shut down. They had everything in control within a week. I saw the two extremes of government response to public health crises: Hardline, and completely negligent. The question is: is there such a thing as a middle ground when it comes to questions of public health and safety?

newslink with some examples of what has been done