Monthly Archives: March 2017

Thursday 30th March 2017

This morning I got up and went for a run outside then went for a walk along the beach which was totally deserted. Then went back and had breakfast at the villa – the views are amazing now fro here, now that Gino is away to the Bahamas and his boat no linger blocks the view of the bay. We got ready and then we all went to Boynton Beach to go to Toys R Us to see if Alan could get Star Wars figures ,but they didn’t have the ones he wanted so we need to order them online.

We went from there to a place for lunch which has a large buffet. It was full of seniors who looked like they could be ‘snow birds’ and we were even asked on the way in if we were seniors! The food was Ok but not great – the best part of it was the sweets. I think I enjoyed them better than Alan – I had blueberry pie, ice cream, some marshmallows and chocolate, and chocolate fudge. I could hardly move afterwards, having also had some salad and then a plate of turkey, a small burger and some macaroni and cheese and corn on the cob. Karen and Alan didn;t really enjoy it that much – I didn’t think it was the best but still enjoyed it!

Afterwards we went back to the villa and sat in the sun, had time in the hot tub and had some drinks. After tea I drove round to FAU to print out some vouchers for us to use from Groupon to go on a riverboat cruise and also to go to a restaurant called The Griddle. I came back just after 9 and read for a while before bed. Alan was on the computer but I managed to grab it from him long enough to do my blog!

Wednesday 29th March 2017

Well, I can hardly believe that the end of March is nearly here and I have been in the USA now for exactly 13 weeks. How time has flown in. Today another milestone in my journey came along when it was Karen and Alan’s turn to come into FAU and come to class with me. we drove to FAU in two cars and parked just outside my apartment building. I took them to the main breezeway cafe area and left them to get some food while I went over to the office to meet with Vaughn and Seth and give them an update on my research and for us to begin to plan a paper together. I then went to get Karen and Alan and brought them over to the School, introducing them to Cassandra, Sigal, Seth and Audrey and to meet Lincoln and Vaughn again. they saw my office and we had some photos taken.

Just before 11am we went over to the class. Today’s session was on schools and the education system and the relationship with youth violence and disorder. I introduced the topic with some background slides and then students went into seminar groups to look at case studies. Karen joined one of the groups and chatted to them while Alan was drawing in the corner! I then got Karen to take a photo of me wit the whole class which was nice. We had a really nice morning and then at break I walked Karen and Alan back, passing some of the iguanas at the pond en route. I then taught the second half of the class where we looked at some of my research in Glasgow schools and we thought about how schools can become more democratic and uphold the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. I introduced the students to the independent work they are expected to do next week and prepared them for the exam and group projects in two weeks time.

After this I finished off work and left at 4.45 – it is now time for me to have 2 weeks off to spend with family which is nice. I celebrated by having a gin and tonic in the hot tub! we had our tea and relaxed. Gino has now gone on holiday so this means his large boat is gone and there is a much clearer view of the bay in front of us and there is also more room on the terrace which is good.

Now looking forward to some holiday times…

Tuesday 28th March 2017

Today I went to work until about 3pm, working on getting finished with everything before my 2 week break. I had a Skype call with one of my PhD students in Scotland followed by a Skype call with Kate Miller and colleagues from different parts of Europe who are participating in the Erasmus+ project we have funding for, and who are currently in Slovenia. I then worked on getting my class prepared for 12th April exam script ready and everything else finished off.

I left work at 3 and went to Walmart to get some stuff for Karen then drove back to the villa and helped to do a bit of cleaning up and then got changed before the Smyklas came. They arrived at 5.30 and we had a cocktail and then a meal. John and Evelyn brought a toy drone for Alan which he really liked and played with outside afterwards. It was a a lovely evening.

Tomorrow Karen and Alan will come onto campus with me and will come into my class for a while before I finish for holidays.

Monday 27th March 2017

Today I began the day by going to the gym and then went up to West Palm Beach to do interviews in the county jail. This was a very interesting experience and helped me to get a wider picture on the causes nature and impact of gang culture and violence in the county and the experiences these guys have had with the police.

It was interesting to get a first glimpse inside the jail although my interviews were conducted in meeting rooms on the ground floor so I did not get up to see the cells. However, I will be going with other FAU colleagues on 17th April for a full tour of the jail so will see more then. I met with Captain Tutko who helped me to set up the interviews and the Sheriff corrections officers who are great big guys who wear all the cool gear – sheriff seat tops, kakis and armed with tasers and pepper spray. It is quite a different picture to the prisons in Scotland! I got to chat them for a while about their jobs and about the type of offenders they have in the jail -all very interesting!

I drove back down the road and had a stiff gin in the villa! Karen and Alan had been shopping today and this evening we booked a trip to Key West for 3-4 April.

Sunday 26th March 2017

Today I had more confusion with time differences. y iPhone had automatically changed time to the new UK time after the Uk clocks went forward last night so I got up an hour earlier than I needed to and arrived at the church one hour too early< having left Karen and Alan in the villa asleep. However, it was quite lucky because I had also forgotten it was mother’s day (it is not celebrated here until May) so I went to Publix to get some flowers, chocolate and wine for Alan to give to Karen, then went back to the church in time for 10.30!

The service was really great and Pastor Bill gave a really good sermon. I missed not being there last week! The church has been a real source of support for me while I have been here. Karen and Alan are going to come with me next week and experience the evangelistic approach!

After I got back we drove into Boynton Beach and went for lunch to a Texas steakhouse which was an All American place, with basketball and football showing on every screen and huge steaks and a range of memorabilia from Texas. We left there, came back to the villa and I slept for about two hours I was so exhausted after a late evening last night and being up an hour too early this morning!

Early evening, I went out for a stroll along the beach, Karen and Alan watched a movie after tea and I did some work on my laptop.

Tomorrow I finally get to interview some gang members in the Palm Beach county jail.

Saturday 25th March 2017

Today I went out out for a run and a walk along the beach before breakfast. It was really lovely walking along the beach which was totally deserted at that time. we had breakfast and then I had a shower and went outside for a while. It was cloudy and rainy on and off but also sunny at times too. Karen and Alan and I managed to play in the pool for a while, then had a late lunch before getting ready to go to Hollywood, which is on the road to Miami, in time for Lincoln from work’s wedding reception.

we got there at 6.30 and Karen and Alan finally got to meet all the Faculty. – the Smyklas and all my good colleagues from the school. We sat with John and Evelyn and also with Adam, and most of the other staff were there too, including Vaughn who was Lincoln’s best man. It was a nice ceremony and there was food there too. Alan was a little bit bored to begin with but came round and was OK as time went on. Lincoln and Vanessa looked great and took their wedding vows during the reception, a nice touch being that the both had to pour different coloured sand into a bowl – the sand represented their two lives and once mixed up the bowl, illustrated that just like the sand grains can never be separated again so is the case in marriage.  Vaughn made a really good speech and it was a really nice event.

Karen and Alan will get a further opportunity to meet everyone when we have Faculty round to our villa on 7th April, and John Evelyn are also coming round this Tuesday.

We left around 9.45 and got back around 11, having stopped on the way to get pizza for Alan from Pizzahut!


Friday 24th March 2017

Today I went into work early and got all of my student essay gradings finished. I also planned out my class for 12th April in preparation for taking time off from next wednesday until 12th. I went to my yoga class on the way home and lunchtime and was back in the villa for 1.25pm

Today was another very wet and rainy day and so there was not much opportunity to sit outside. Alan was on the computer most of the afternoon and Karen went shopping. I got chatting to Rob, who lives with his wife in the villa next door – they come down here for the winter most years from Maryland.

In the evening we all went out for a meal to the Cheesecake Factory. Karen and Alan were not that keen on the food though. we left there and it was still raining, and Alan and I went into Dunkin Donuts on the way back to get donuts.

The weather is due to change tomorrow to be back to the sunny 80s!

Thursday 23rd March 2017

I managed to get to the gym this morning and did a good workout before going into work. I worked on completing the last of the proofs for my new book ‘Young People and Social Control’ which will be released by Palgrave MacMillan towards the beginning of this summer. My co-author is Professor Kalwant Bhopal from the University of Birmingham and we are both really excited about the book – it’s great to see the final proofs coming together after having completed the majority of the writing of it in 2016. We hope to have a launch of the book in a few months’ time. The book features illustrations from my research with disadvantaged young people caught up in the criminal justice system in Scotland and Kalwant’s research with ethnic minority young people in schools and in universities in England. We include a range of case studies of good practice where the barriers to social justice are broken down. The book will have an interesting and unusual front cover which we hope will attract attention on book shelves …

After this I also completed the first full draft of chapter 4 of my next book, ‘Gangs and Spirituality’, which is due to be completed by the beginning of 2018, and again for Palgrave MacMillan. I am right on track in terms of completing the chapters for this and it has been good to be able to fit in the writing of 3 chapters while I have been here, in among all the other things I have been doing.

I then left to go to West Palm Beach to complete my focus groups with the kids in the Boys and Girls’ Club of Palm Beach County. I got some really good insights into the young people’s views on life in their neighbourhoods, on the police and on the impact that the club has on them. I got back to the villa after 6, and there was a big storm (it has been grey and wet most of the day). Karen and Alan had spent some of the day doing Alan’s homework but had been unable to get out beyond that. Let’s hope the weather improves for the weekend again.

Wednesday 22nd March 2017

Today I went into work early and continued to mark my student essays online. I also prepared for next week’s class and then went to teach this week’s session with the students. The focus for today was to look at the CIRV initiative in Glasgow and how it was inspired by earlier work in Cincinnati, drawing on my 2013 book ‘Policing Youth Violence – Transatlantic Connections’. I talked to the students about the way in which the initiative had been implemented around the use of ‘call-in’ sessions and I played several clips of DVD from the sessions which I had earlier reenacted in UWS in Scotland. The students discussed the comparative impact of inputs from the police, reformed offenders, surgeons and mothers of victims. I then shared some case studies with them from my research that illustrated the part that CIRV had played i enabling some of the young people to move towards criminal desistance, before then exploring  the remaining challenges in terms of police culture, particularly in Cincinnati, and likening this to some of the drama within the TV programme ‘The Wire’. The students had a final seminar discussion where they considered one case study from my book and how the approaches of the police officer needed to change to enable more positive relationships to emerge within some of the communities. They drew upon Bourdieu’s concepts of ‘field’ and ‘habits’ to help theorise some of the remaining challenges within American police culture. As always it was a good session. The students have grown in confidence hugely during the time I have been teaching them, and are now asking some really great questions. Today they asked a few questions that I really had to think about and this is a great sign!

In the afternoon I had a visit from Lenny, who is one of our graduate students who was a Federal Special Agent in the Drugs Enforcement Agency in West Palm Beach. I interviewed Lenny for my research project and he very kindly brought me a police coin with a replica Drug Enforcement Agency badge on it to give to Alan.  I said to him jokingly, ‘for Alan – not his dad!’ and I think he is now going to get me one too! He already has given me a Federal agency DEA sweat top which hands pride of place in my office – how cool!

I finished work at 5 and went back to the villa and relaxed with a gin and tonic. Karen and Alan had been out at the shops, went to get a takeaway from Wendy’s for Alan and then spent the rest of the day in the villa.

I have now managed to create an independent study week for my students on 5th April which means I will be able to take some holidays from 30th March to 11th April while the family are here. I do feel i need it – it’s been full-on here since the beginning of January!

Tuesday 21st March 2017

Today I spent the day working at home.. I went for a run and a swim in the sea and then a walk along the beach, then cane back and had breakfast before settling down to work on the laptop. I completed the first draft of chapter 4 of my book today, focusing on the impact that Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles was having on re-engaging gang members. It is over 10,000 words long and will need to be seriously edited after Karen and Alan go away. However, for now I am happy I have got this far with it and will come back to it in a few weeks’ time.

I spent some time late afternoon in the sun and then we all went out for a meal to a restaurant in Boca that I had never been to before – Applebees. the food was quite nice there, and I was interested to find a red Lambourghini parked outside when we left! we came back home via the local gas station where Karen managed to get Alan’s favourite ice cream here – dipping dots.

we came back to the villa and I read some of my book I have started reading before bed. I have about one week to go in work until I hopefully can take a two week break, having arranged for the students to do independent study on the first wednesday of April.