Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On Why I've Not Posted Much Recently

In the past month or so, I’ve not posted as much on this blog as I would normally like to have done. There’s a reason for this, and it’s fairly simple - I’ve just finished preparing and delivering three presentations in the last four weeks: “Analysis of Students’ Cultural Models of Drinking and Related Contexts and Activities,” a poster co-written with Debra Vinci and presented at the 2nd annual Symposium on Addictive and Health Behaviors Research sponsored by the University of Florida and held at Amelia Island, FL; “Difficulty in Ethnographic Writing” (which I posted recently as a blog post), presented at the annual meeting of the Semiotic Society of America in New Orleans; and a workshop, co-presented with Mica Harrell, Rebecca Magerkorth, and Debra Vinci, “Building Campus Prevention Partnerships: Collaboration of Faculty and Student Affairs Administration in Implementing Evidence-based Alcohol Abuse Prevention,” presented at the U.S. Department of Education’s Annual conference on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention in Higher Education held in Omaha, NE.

It’s been quite interesting in the span of a month to attend three such different conferences (a health sciences research symposium, an interdisciplinary semiotics conference, a conference emphasizing the importance of research and evidentiary base for programming but which was geared primarily to health programming and planning) in three very different places (a secluded resort directly on the Atlantic, New Orleans, and Omaha).

To my surprise, as a place, I enjoyed Omaha the most.

Amelia Island Plantation resort is a nice resort, and its seclusion emphasized a focus on the symposium’s activities, but I’m just not a big fan of resorts. They tend to bore me, and creep me out a bit with the excessive servility that tends to be expected of the hospitality staff.

I wouldn’t say I have a love/hate relationship with New Orleans, but more a love/repulsion relationship. I’ve long been attracted by many aspects of the city and repulsed by much else (such as the shenanigans along Bourbon Street and the endemic poverty that’s never seemed to get any better). Since Katrina, this has been deepened – I’ve been heartened with each visit I’ve made there by the ways in which parts of the city have recovered, but always leave with a heavy heart because of the many ways in which much of the city has not.

Omaha, though, surprised me. My apologies to residents of the city – I assumed it would be bland at best, but instead found a city that was much more interesting (especially in terms of the architecture of buildings and public spaces, as well as food – I enjoyed a good Indian restaurant and a decent Persian one) than I had expected.

In any case, now that I’ve completed an intense month of prepping for and attending conferences, I look forward to posting much more regularly here. I plan a short series of posts, starting tomorrow, to highlight and discuss interesting information and presentations I encountered at these three conferences.

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