whenever i go a few days between posts, folks start wondering whether all is well. well, aside from a mounting backlog of email, all is well. swell, really. i’ve just returned from a few busy days in beautiful oregon, where i enjoyed a productive trip as department chair, researcher, and public criminologist.

As chair, i had a lovely meal with a generous donor to the minnversity’s sociology department. i know that not every academic enjoys this sort of thing, but I love this aspect of being chair. i’ve met a lot of very smart, successful, and civic-minded people this way. and, contrary to my expectations when i became chair, i never ever have to ask them for money.

as researcher, i spent some time on an nsf grant with melissa thompson, a former advisee who is now professin’ at portland state. melissa is the p.i. on this grant, so i’m mostly following her lead – not quite a full role reversal from her days as my research assistant, but we’ve both come a long way. she’s the first of my advisees to come up for tenure, so i’m feeling a bit senior these days.

as public criminologist, i spent yesterday afternoon at oregon state penitentiary, where my pubcrim colleague michelle inderbitzin has led several inside-out classes. several of the men on a-block had read my work on disenfranchisement with jeff manza, but we had a long and wide-ranging group discussion about mandatory minimums, family support, public opinion, the economics of crime, and the politics of criminal justice. i learned a lot — and hope i struck the right balance between talking and listening.

i didn’t have time to see all of portland, but i saw enough to know why melissa is so happy there. the pic above is from the japanese garden — a last-minute stop on the way to the airport this morning. beautiful.