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The sky and smell of the air after a thunderstorm always make me happy... and that those are, today, accompanied by a sky that looks painted by Maxfield Parish just makes joy well up in my belly until I can't help but laugh!
I love the sound, I love the smell, of rain on a thatched roof. I love the way humidity here pervades everything. I even enjoy this kind of loneliness, once in a while.
Is it really true that there is a Kindle app for iPhones/iPods, but that with an iPod and this app one cannot download books outside the country of purchase? I know that if you own a Kindle you can still download books while traveling internationally, but you have to download to a computer and transfer to the Kindle (no wireless downloading.) My understanding is that you cannot do this with iPod/Kindle app. Am I wrong?
I would really prefer to buy an iPod than a Kindle. I will be spending 12 of the next 16 months in Chiapas and would like to bring music, video and books. I would prefer one device that does all three (so iPod makes sense) but if I can't get books on the iPod I'll just get a Kindle and another external hard drive. And there do not seem to be as many choices of ebooks available (they're cheaper but more limited, is my impression) if you don't have a Kindle.
Also: Does anyone speak any Chol? Or know where I could get learning materials? I would like to brush up some (outside of finding a language partner) but I don't know of ANY books or other resources that exist. If you know it, where did you learn it?
I will be spending 11 of the next 16 months in Mexico and am happy to report that I have a pretty good internet connection. So that means that I'm back to reading Slashdot regularly.
I have not read Slashdot regularly for years, and feel pretty out-of-the-loop.
I like some of the changes a lot, though. But don't really know much about them-- for example, this achievement thing; what's "the Maker" mean?
Sometimes I'm inadvertently an asshole. Foot doesn't taste good.
Way back in the day, a poll suggested an interesting breakdown by gender. I wonder how much the breakdown of
I think that web usership in general has gotten more female, older, and less professional. Geographically? Maybe more Asian? I don't know, but I suspect that a lot of these ideas are actually founded on things I read somewhere and filed away in 'lost' but retained ideas about. (in other words, I think I'm right but can't give proof! What else is new.)
My neighborhood has changed a lot, demographically, in the last few years. It's younger and more sober, I think. It also seems to be populated by people who are on their way to somewhere else more then it used to be. When I first moved to Little Italy, it was all old retired couples who'd lived there for fifty years dammit, or young people who had grown up and moved out of the house and then inherited it from their parents and decided to come back to the old neighborhood to live in the family homestead. Now there are a lot of young professionals doing a stint somewhere for a few years before moving on, or artists who aren't sure how long they'll be staying, or people buying the old houses and flipping them to sell to the burgeoning hipster community.
All communities change.
I love neighborhoods. I love ones that seem to be very self-contained in the way that mine is: there's one or more grocery store, hardware store, church, school, barbershop (I mean, it's even got the swirly pole!), &c. all within walking distance. You don't have to leave the community for any of the basics or most of the luxuries. People know and look out for each other. Block parties happen.
It all seems so quaint!
10 PRINT "Hello World!"
Israel Kamakawiwo'ole is the guy who does the ukulele rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. For some reason, I love, love, love this tune. Every time I hear it, it pulls at heartstrings. I really don't know why that is, what it is about this song, the guy's voice, the ukelele...
There are songs I'm attached to because they bring back memories, specific ones or of eras in my life, of people or places, ideas, smells, whatever... this one doesn't. This song brings back memories of someplace I've never been-- it's like that feeling of home that you have sometimes (especially in that teens/twenties phase when you sometimes just wanted to go home, but weren't sure where home was, or even if it was really a place instead of an idea)... that's the place that this song makes me think of. It's somehow wistful. It reminds me of a home I've never been, but that I'm nostalgic for. I hear it, and I'm transported. I love that.
No, I'm not from (nor have I ever been to) Hawaii, my dad doesn't play the ukulele, and I wasn't an obsessed Wizard of Oz fan when I was a child. I can't think of a single deep-seated psychological reason. It's just something about the song...
Because of the overwhelming amount of email I received in response to my "I am a woman and innately different" post, I thought I would write a journal entry to respond to some of it. I especially want to talk to the people who misunderstood me when I said something about "our society's inability to cope with a workforce that is actively involved in reproduction" and suggested that I was unconcerned about the fact that males don't get this consideration either. To the contrary: I specifically said "a workforce that is actively involved in reproduction" instead of "women having kids" because a workforce should be composed of men and women, and because I believe that both fathers and mothers should be actively involved in reproduction/childrearing; I am talking about more than one major change. "Society" would have to 1. realize that not only women should be actively involved in having kids and 2. find a way to cope with a workforce composed of parents. It should not be a workforce of men because women are doing the parenting. That's total bullshit.
I want to have kids someday. So do a lot of men I know. But I don't know any men who are worried that they will not get hired or tenured if they are wearing a wedding ring because their employers will think they are going to have a child soon and slack off. I want to have kids someday, and part of the reason I picked teaching is so I have a more flexible schedule. Not a shorter schedule: I fully expect to be putting in all the overtime a junior faculty member puts in and working my ass off. I also expect to have a partner who is just as flexible as I am and will be the one to pick the kid up from school a few days a week. I know a lot of pairs of professors who have kids, and put in equal work taking care of them, but the woman had a much harder time getting a tenure-track job than her husband because it was assumed that she would take more time off or have more kids. That's not fair.
Finally, as for the maternity leave deal, I am not suggesting that the university pay for me to take nine months of maternity leave for my pregnancy and then keep my job and benefits for me through my child's early years until I decide to come back to work. I am merely suggesting that some women have complications and cannot work right until a the day before the baby is due, and that if breastfeeding is chosen the woman is often discouraged from working because a nursing infant is unwelcome in a work environment. Unfortunately, consideration for this is not treated as a medical issue OR a personal issue, like a death in the family or an injury requiring hospitalization-- and the difference is that is was chosen. However, I think herein lies the innate difference: men and women both [often, sometimes, not enough?] choose when to have children, but this means choosing a period of time in which the woman may in some way be physically restricted. And for many employers, this is not an acceptable option until the employee has been working for decades. And this means it is not an option for some (reference: the ad reading "Egg donors needed. Waited too long for tenure.") That's not fair either. If it was some kind of elective surgery, most employers are more than willing to accept it, or even plan with you-- but when it comes to pregnancy, many employers treat it as disinterest in the job and a sign of poor quality of work to come.
I think that's everything I needed to respond to. I'll add more if something else springs to mind. In contrast to all of the defending and clarification above, I want to thank everybody who wrote messages of support or suggestions or "hang in there"s-- no, I'm not planning on getting married or having babies anytime soon, so it's not like I'm making any tough choices at the moment. But --well, I hope I do someday, and it would be nice to stick with the career, too.
28 February-- Nature (the journal, not Mother Earth) seems to be on the same page as I am: http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nature/journal/v433/n7027/full/nj7027-780a_fs.html
I love thanksgiving food. Mostly because I love baking. I love baking things that take hours and hours and make the whole house smell yummy. Smells are awesome. It's amazing what smells can do.
I can't live for long without bagels. Or fresh bread. Cheese just isn't the same without it. And corn tortillas just aren't as tasty as wheat ones. Yes, wheat is a wonderous thing.
I thought that sleeping 8 hours a night and trying to wake up and be out the door in under half an hour would be good for me. Get that "much needed" sleep. Train myself to be more of a quick, up-and-out-the-door kind of person. But I am finding that if I get more than 6 or 7 hours of sleep I am sluggish all day, and if I don't relax and wake up slowly in bed and the shower I am still sleepwalking 5 hours later. Bah.
Long time no talk! I got back about a month ago from Chiapas, Mexico, where I had been since May. Anyone been to Chiapas? Very large indigenous population (varieties of Maya) and lots of great archaeology. I spent a couple of months tramping through the jungle, and found sites with pyramids, temples, ball courts... all sorts of cool stuff that had never been registered, mapped, recorded-- so cool, to stand in a building you know no one has probably stood in for many hundreds of years! So cool to stand in a community so removed that no one speaks Spanish, so cool to stand on a hilltop you know no gringo has stood upon before, or is likely to again for a very, very long time.
There was a tarantula in my bed my third day in Palenque. After that, I slept in my hammock.
I made it out of the summer without getting a single bot fly.
I stood at the top of a Maya observatory on the solstice and watched the sun set exactly between two mountain peaks, shining through a series of doors and windows onto the easternmost mural in the palace.
I learned exactly how hard it is going to be to sustain friendships in Mexico or in the U.S. when I spend a third of my year there and two thirds of my year here. I decided that such incredible experiences are worth that difficulty.
I learned exactly how much you can't help standing out in southern Mexico when you're tall with blonde hair and blue eyes, and that it doesn't matter as long as you speak the language. (Chido gringas do exist!)
I learned to use the words guey and fresco correctly.
In learned that Maya words and thought heavily influence Spanish in southern Mexico-- cool things like using the same verb to mean "to lend" and "to borrow" --no differentiation between whose property you're talking about and who is using it on a temporary basis. Definitely derived from some different conceptions of "property."
I can't wait to get back to Mexico.
I'm staying at a Ramada in Milwaukee for a conference.
Ask the Business Center at the conference center (the place you're supposed to go to fix up your presentation, fax things, make phone calls... you know.) Ask, "is there wireless access anywhere in this building?" while holding my laptop. Response: "Wireless... what?"
"Oh, no, we have a couple of computers here you can use for internet access though."
"How much is that?"
"Ten dollars an hour, one hour minimum."
"Is there wireless access anywhere around here?"
"Oh, no, this is Milwaukee; we don't pretend to be a big city."
"Ok... is there a Starbucks around here?"
"Oh, yeah-- eight or ten blocks that way (pointing.)"
"Ok, thanks. Future reference, all Starbucks have wireless internet access."
Leave with a smile, figure I'll ask one of the hotels around the conference center, and somewhere will have to have wireless.
Go back to my room at the Ramada. Call guess services: "Hi, do you have wireless internet access anywhere at this hotel?"
"No, ma'am, but there's a Kinko's two blocks up the street."
"Ok, thanks!" I hang up, wondering why I had never heard that Kinkos did wireless. I call back. "Hi, I just called a minute ago-- did you send me to Kinkos because they have wireless access or because I asked for a computer thing?"
"We send most of our patrons there."
"Ok, thanks. Can I have Kinkos' number?"
I call Kinkos. "Do you have wireless access there?"
"Wireless internet access?"
"We have some computers that can get on the internet, but they've got wires attached to them..."
I'll try the Hyatt. I know they're across the street, but the only number in the phone book is an 800 reservations number. "Hi, can you tell me if the Hyatt in Milwaukee city center has wireless internet access?"
"I'm going to have to look that up, just a moment.
"Ok, thanks very much."
I'm sitting in the conference center; paid $10 but get as long as I want for teaching the people who work here what SSH and FTP are.
I don't think I'll be coming back to Milwaukee. My poor laptop is sitting lonely in my room at the Ramada. I miss Pittsburgh. I miss Telerama.
Poll(ish type thing):
Are you worried about SARS?
Do you know what SARS is?
Has it affected your life in any way?
Do you expect it to?
I keep being reminded of 12 monkeys.
My students have largely never heard of it. Then again, a good half of my students barely realize that we're in a country at war.
Who doesn't like pasta?! It's a staple food. It's like not liking rice. How can you not like pasta?
Then again, I don't like ice cream.
I have got to say that, after all these years, I can still sit down to adventure, the forerunner of zork, or rogue, the forerunner of dungeons of doom, and have a blast. They just don't make 'em like they used to. Now they're in java instead of DOS.
I go to protests, write letters, and try to make sure the people I know are informed.
I have a student who emailed me that he had to go "to the base" yesterday at 5am, and would try to make it back in time for recitation. He did make it for the last 20 minutes of class, and after class he said he would be sent over shortly. He won't be able to finish out the semester. A shame. "So you think the war's a bad idea?" he said. Yes, I do. "You must hate me then..." No-- of course I don't hate him. I support and admire our troops. It's the administration that I have a problem with, that I think is jumping prematurely into conflict, is risking the lives of people like my student when other avenues have not, in my opinion and the opinion of much of the world, been fully explored.
I have a friend who was making offhand jokes about how Iceland or Switzerland is looking awfully nice right now. Low unemployment, good social services, no desire to police the world. I love my country; I think that the U.S. was founded on, and manages to adhere to much of the time, some incredible principles. I think that I would rather stay here and try to change the things that I feel are wrong, try to understand why so much of this country feels that it's our place to violate international agreements and invade a soverign nation (however volatile) against world opinion and without fully exploring other options. I would rather try to promote change from within than abandon a place that I love and think has so much potential.
I think it's a terrible thing that the media has twisted so many protests and statements to imply that you either support the troops OR feel that war is not yet appropriate. As I type this, we've bombed Baghdad and a long, drawn-out conflict which will certainly involve a bloody land war has begun. I have a student who will be there, and I hope he and all the other soldiers manage to make it back. And I hope people write letters ot their representatives, assist in movements like War Resisters, moveon.org, the Community Action Network, the Thomas Merton Center, Cities for Peace, Take Back the Media and Women of Vision and Action. A friend laments that he feels so hopeless. No one of us can change everything, but if everyone does a little, together we can do a lot.
I love the way smells bring back vivid memories-- more than anything else, a smell can remind me of someone or something or sometime or some feeling. Tonight it smells like springtime. That, in and of itself, doesn't remind me of anything in particular, but it did get me thinking about smell.
I remember being probably 11 or 12 years old-- old enough that some friends were starting to spend a lot of time thinking about boys but not old enough yet to know much about them. A friend of mine had borrowed her "boyfriend"s t-shirt and was saying that it smelled like him. She was saying that every guy (and girl, for that matter) had his own smell, and that this shirt smelled like nothing but Seth. I'd never thought about it before, and the other friend participating in the discussion thought that the idea was gross-- "eew, Seth smells?" But I knew it was true, and not gross at all. Familiar. Close. Good. Today I was walking down the street and I smelled something-- some aftershave or deodorant or shampoo or something-- that brought me back to the nights I spent in highschool with a boy I thought I loved; it almost stopped me cold. The guy wearing whatever-the-smell-was was feet away from me... I only noticed it because the smell was so familiar, so vivid in my memory. I was walking with a friend about a month ago in the rain and he said, "Oh, you smell good..." and stopped me to smell my hair and try to place it; apparently a girlfriend 15 years ago sometimes used the same shampoo.
Today it smells like spring, like a night with a comfortable smell of Bloomfield, Pittsburgh. I hadn't realized that I knew the smell of this place until I went out onto my porch and realized that it smelled like those days I was moving here, the nights I spent in my unpacked apartment, not knowing where anything was or what I would see when I walked out the front door of my apartment. Now I know the street outside without looking at it, can imagine how to get to a grocery store, a club, my office, the bus, a friend... but the smell of the air tonight makes me think of this place, unknown.
I love that smell is such a visceral reminder. I love that we pick up things that we wouldn't notice otherwise, like a hint of vivid color out of the corner of the eye, that we have such strong associations and can make such minute distinctions when they matter.
And what makes them matter? Familiarity, being so close to smells for so long that you don't smell them, and then when you come back to them they're inseparable from their remembered source. Emotion, having a memory so important stored up that everything about it is fixed, and smell takes the longest time to fade. I can imagine why it would be so evolutionarily important to have strong reactions to smell, to be able to distinguish so finely between smells, to remember smells so well. But it's incredible to me how much smell is tied to emotion, vague or general memory, ideas and feelings and people and places, instead of momentary things like so much of visual memory is, at least for me. I think of a person I see them in a moment or at several moments; I hear a song I remember incidents; I smell something I remember sweeping eras or long-felt emotional ties or general situations.
Noodle kugel makes me think of my mother and my kitchen when I was very small. Thunderstorms near saltwater make me elated. Connifers make me think of nights in northern Michigan. A certain shampoo makes me think of sleepovers with my best friend when we were small, no matter how often I've used it as an adult. The smell of an approaching rain makes me happy; the smell of snow on a really cold day makes me subdued.
What do smells remind you of?
I just spent a couple of hours with a friend of a friend from Michigan; it was very nice to chat with someone about far-reaching topics. Expecially to chat with someone who likes hardware, video games and computers, and who knows what Slashdot is. I've spent the last six months with people who need help recovering their Microsoft Word files and know that I'm good with the "dread machines"-- and without people who can talk to me about that whole realm of my interests. I left my job as a programmer happily, and plan never to work in a cubicle again; I hope never to have a profession in the "computer industry" or the "information technology industry" again... but that doesn't mean that those interests have dropped totally out of my life. And while Slashdot and other electronic outlets are always available, I have found it hard to find real, live people to talk to who share some of these interests.
Where's a geek-gal-in-hiding to go? I'm not really in hiding-- I just spend my days teaching college kids about evolutionary biology and doing research in archaeology, so it seems like the computer geekiness is hidden. Where, oh where, do I go for an outlet?