3 posts from December 2022

December 19, 2022

Restrooms in Cultural Context

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

Several years ago, I visited the Mauna Kea Observatory on the Big Island of Hawai’i. I was surprised and amused by a sign I saw in the visitor’s bathroom, instructing users how to, um, use the facilities. I had previously taken this action as self-evident once one was old enough to regulate one’s bathroom activities. But this turned into one of many important lessons that travel can offer:  It helps us learn about cultural practices that we might take for granted.

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December 12, 2022

Nonfiction for Beginners: How to Read Sociology Monographs

Author photoBy Karen Sternheimer

I read lots of books in high school, both for school and for pleasure. Most of the books I read for school were for English class and were works of fiction. I read both fiction and nonfiction on my own, but I can’t recall writing a paper or taking a test based on a nonfiction book until I went to college.

I had no idea how to read a nonfiction book for anything but my own interest, so I didn’t know how to prepare for tests or write papers after reading a monograph. (A monograph is a scholarly book that focuses on a single subject; in sociology it is typically based on a specific research study).

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December 05, 2022

Here We Snow Again (But Not On Our Own)

Todd SchoepflinBy Todd Schoepflin

Nationwide, Buffalo is known for a few things: chicken wings, a football team that lost four consecutive Super Bowls, and a place that is cold and snowy. True, we happily claim our city as home of the chicken wing, we love our Buffalo Bills, and we take pride in being able to handle adverse winter weather conditions. Those of us on the inside refer to Buffalo as the city of good neighbors, and use slogans like “My city smells like Cheerios” and “Talking Proud.”

I’ve been through countless snowstorms, including what’s known as Snowvember in November 2014. Back in 2014, it wasn’t snow that was our biggest worry. It was the smell of gas in our basement that concerned us. We stayed with friends across the street who generously offered to take us in until a worker from the gas company was able to determine the leak was coming from outside our house and was able to solve the problem.

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