Sunday, December 31, 2006

Calvino Meme

found via Moyen Age

Books You’ve Been Planning To Read For Ages:

Totem Salmon: Life Lessons from Another Species
Walden; Or, Life in the Woods
A Sand County Almanac

Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered:
Ecotopia
Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA
A Feeling for the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock

Books You’ve Been Hunting For Years Without Success:
The Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg (Actually I found a copy at a garage sale and gave it away as a present, but I can't remember the names of the other lost storybooks of my childhood.)

Books Dealing With Something You’re Working On At The Moment:
Creating Better Cities with Children and Youth
Children and their Environments
Children's Participation

Books You Want To Own So They’ll Be Handy Just In Case:
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Books You Could Put Aside Maybe To Read This Summer:
The Famished Road
Amnesia Moon
Foucault's Pendulum

Books You Need To Go With Other Books On Your Shelves:
The Nature of Design: Ecology, Culture, and Human Intention
Coming Home to Eat: The Pleasures and Politics of Local Foods

Books Read Long Ago Which It’s Now Time To Reread:
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
A Room with a View
These were both favorites as a teenager, I wonder if I would still like them as much.

Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First:
Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster
The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession

Books Too Expensive Now And You’ll Wait Till They’re Remaindered:
Community Participation and Geographical Information Systems ($95?)
The Ecological Design Handbook ($80?)

Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too:
Guns, Germs, and Steel - I agree with Wil.
Silent Spring

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Late Christmas Photos



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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I'm a creative genius

I must be a creative genius, because I have a crazy messy desk! According to the NY Times this is a sign of creativity.

"His studies and others, like a survey conducted last year by Ajilon Professional Staffing, in Saddle Brook, N.J., which linked messy desks to higher salaries (and neat ones to salaries under $35,000), answer Einstein’s oft-quoted remark, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk?”

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Blogging Hiatus

Apologies for the long blogging hiatus, I had a minor health scare and it left me at a loss for words. Chest pain and a feeling that my face was going numb on the left side resulted in a trip to the emergency room and much stress. After several hours, an EKG, a CT scan, and several blood tests, the ER doctor diagnosed Bell's Palsy. Bell's Palsy has some sort of vague connection to viral infections so they gave me the antiviral that is usually proscribed for herpes. (Lovely!) The feeling of numbness lasted a few days, but gradually disappeared. When I checked in with my regular doctor she disagreed with the Bell's Palsy diagnosis, since Bell's Palsy involves the nerve that controls the facial muscles, but I didn't seem to have any paralysis. Sensation is apparently controlled by a completely different nerve. Luckily, it will probably turn out to be nothing. I'm supposed to be getting a referral to a neurologist, but who knows how long that will take.

Whenever I have a health problem I imagine the worst, despite the fact that I have never spent a day in the hospital in my life. Until this year I had never broken a bone. I have a number of small health complaints, but they are all stress related, like my migraines. In general my family has very few serious health problems. I'm 33 and all four of my grandparents are still alive, so I'm pretty lucky genetically. My healthy history doesn't stop me from engaging in frantic internet research when I feel a little twinge. The down side of the information age is having access to information about everything that could go wrong with your health. No matter how unlikely it is, I'm always convinced that I have some sort of rare brain tumor or degenerative disease.

Grandma G's side of the family does have a rare genetic disorder, Joseph's Disease, also called spinocerebellar ataxia type 3. It causes Parkinsons-like symptoms in later life. Joseph's Disease victims used to be perceived as alcoholics because of their slurred speech and staggering gate. Last year Grandma tried to convince me to be tested because if I have it, I could pass it on to my children. It's an autosomal dominant disease, so my kids would have a 50% chance of inheriting. Unfortunately, if I get tested before I start showing symptoms, then it becomes a "pre-existing condition" and so insurance companies would be able to deny coverage. The nice neurologists explained that it would be better for me to have kids by in vitro fertilization. Then the doctors could test each embryo, eliminating any genetically unfit ones, and not let anyone know whether they had found any with the disorder. Then I could have a genetically "perfect" baby without exposing my own genetic defects to the scrutiny of the insurance industry. The cost averages around $12,000 a cycle, with only a 15%-30% chance of pregnancy. So just conceiving a baby could easily cost $36,000. It seems like an extravagant expense considering the number of unwanted children out there. On the other hand adoption can be expensive as well, and if you don't have the right qualifications you won't be given a child.

During my emergency room visit, a young Latino couple arrived with an adorable little baby boy. I surmised from my limited Spanish language skills that he had a fever and diarrhea. Maybe my prejudices are showing, but I imagined that they ended up in the ER because they lacked insurance. The whole medical-insurance system is frakked in any case.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging

Funny thing happened last week, Beorn adopted two guinea pigs. He claims it was just to save them from the SPCA, but I think he's just a softy. The pigs are funny and in combo with the cats they are really funny! They make hilarious noises, including funny purring sounds and loud squealing sounds. If you rustle a plastic bag around them they get very excited because they think they are getting salad. This afternoon while I was trying to grade papers, the princess got up on the fish tank, trying to get into the bag of fish food. For some reason she is convinced that the fish food is actually a giant bag of kitty treats. So she's chewing on the bag, which makes the pigs utter loud noises."Sqeeeeeee, Sqeeeee, Sqeeeeee!" This means I have to get the cat a treat and give the pigs some salad. Later I sit down in front of the computer with a salad. What do I hear? "Sqeeeeeee, Sqeeeee, Sqeeeeee!!! Can't I even have salad in peace???

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Students are funny!

This quarter I emphasized the need for essays to have a thesis. (The class is not a writing class and I am certainly not a writing instructor, but it fulfills a writing general education requirement, so I feel obligated to try to assist students with their writing.) For the final essay, several students decided to do something to point out their thesis to me. One wrote a separate section titled "Thesis" and then proceeded to write "In this essay my thesis is..." Another kind student italicized her thesis so that I wouldn't miss it. I guess the problem isn't with their writing, it's just that I don't know how to read an essay and identify a thesis.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Links to people saying what I wish I could say...

I the last few days several people have posted on academic issues I have been struggling with. Since they wrote articulate posts, whereas I have a headache and fifty essays to grade, I thought I would just point them out.

From Profgrrrl a story about irresponsible attitudes towards human subjects protocols. IRB: It's Required, Buddy! I have been struggling with understanding and following the IRB process. Frankly, the negative attitudes of many professors makes it really difficult for grad students. How are we supposed to learn the process if our mentors make it sound like the most horrible, intimidating thing in academia? Really, I'm not afraid of any part of getting a PhD, except going through the IRB process. Additionally, I want to work with agency partners, but I recently found out the the agency people I was working with weren't following the IRB processes required by their own agency. How was I supposed to know?

From Inside the Philosophy Factory some lovely thought on why college professors should learn to teach. Teach the Professors... As a TA, I have had way more work this quarter because Inexperienced Lecturer doesn't know how to teach. It's also very painful to watch poor teaching.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Final Exam

(Watch out, more complaining!) Inexperienced lecturer assigned a 5-7 page essay as the final exam. Students have to turn the exam by 5PM today. The quarter is officially over on Friday. I have approximately 65 students. If I only spend 15 minutes reading each exam it would take me 16 hours and 15 minutes to read them all. My goal is to be done by 5PM Friday. Grades are officially due 72 hours after the exam. Am I so wrong to want to be done by Friday and have a break like everyone else?

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Research Complications

I really want to blog about my recent experiences in social science research, but I'm not sure I can blog about it in an anonymous manner. Let's just say that it's pretty confusing when you try to work with other people rather than just being in control of your own project. I'm trying to follow the proper procedure according to university rules and the people I'm working with weren't. Yet somehow I feel like a narc because in the process of me trying to follow the rules I managed to bring their breech of protocol to the attention of the authorities.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

This meme is creeping me out.





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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Blogger Changes

So I decided to make some changes, including trying out the new blogger. I also cleaned up my blogrolling, so if I accidentally deleted you let me know.

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Obligatory Grading Complaints

I posted grades for project three tonight. It's embarrassing how high the grades are, but the assignment was so poorly written it was difficult to come up with fair grading criteria. After struggling with the projects for a while yesterday I finally figured out a system that seemed fair. (There has been no grading criteria provided by Inexperience Lecturer all quarter, so I have had to make up rubrics that seemed fair to me.)

Tonight I posted the grades and within minutes the first complaint arrived. This group probably deserved a C, maybe a C+, but since I was grading so leniently they received a B. The assignment asked them to create a poster illustrating a hairstyle they designed. They asked me if they could do a 3-D model instead. I told them they could, but that it would be much more difficult and time consuming. They went ahead and did it anyway. Of course, their 3-D model turned out looking like an elementary student made it out of popsicle sticks.

I wish I could post some of the "poetry" I received for the second assignment, but most of it has incriminating details about my location and field of study. Let's just say that students who aren't literature/writing majors should not be asked to write in verse, because they don't know what that means. Apparently, in their minds any writing that includes rhyming the last word on every other line counts as verse. I was a natural sciences major as an undergrad, so I still have trouble with lots of grammar rules, especially when to use commas, but even I can tell the difference between verse and prose.

I'm so tired of this crap!

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Friday, December 08, 2006

because grading is too frustrating

By Breena
(as seen on The Clutter Museum)

Instructions: Type one word. No explanations.

1. Yourself: forgetful
2. Your spouse: tired
3. Your Hair: flat
4. Your Mother: anxious
5. Your Father: workaholic

6. Your Favorite Item: blanket
7. Your dream last night: baby
8. Your Favorite Drink: cranberry
9. Your Dream Car: carmengia
10. The room you are in: disaster

11. Your Ex: crazy
12. Your Fear: everything
13. What you want to be in 10 years: relaxed
14. Who you hung out with last night: Beorn
15. What You're Not: organized

16. Muffins: pumpkin
17: One of Your Wish List Items: house
18: Time: short
19. The Last Thing You Did: dinner
20. What You're Wearing: blue

21. Your Favorite Weather: sunny
22. Your Favorite Book:
23. The Last Thing You Ate: stirfry
24. Your Life: confused
25. Your Mood: depressed

26. Your best friend(s): funny
27. What you're thinking about right now: grading
28. Your car: small
29. What you're doing at the moment: decompressing
30. Your summer: unknown

31. Your relationship status: improving
32. What's on TV: Seinfeld
33. The weather: cold
34. The last time you laughed: grading

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Friday Cat Blogging

Kitty TV!

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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Student Applause

Flavia posts on the how to consistently get applause from your students at the end of the quarter. Of course we would all like to be appreciated by our students, but this week I feel I have been unfairly applauded, not once, but twice.

Tuesday night Inexperienced Lecturer was expecting a guest lecturer. The guest was coming from out of town and called a half an hour before the start of class to say that he was stuck in traffic. After spending 5 minutes trying to organize the class evaluations without supplementary pencils and 10-15 minutes discussing the final, Inexperienced Lecturer left the class to chat while messing with his cell phone reception. So Christian TA and I discussed the likelihood that this guest will make it to class before the end of the assigned period. By the time 30 minutes had passed I decided that we should make up something to discuss since Inexperienced Lecturer wasn't going to. So I got up in front of the class and opened up a discussion to questions about 'hairdressing.' Of course the students from my discussion immediately ask me whether I am a licensed hairdresser (which I'm not because I'm still in grad school.) As soon as I answered the question, including some information on the requirements for becoming a licensed hairdresser, the guest finally arrived. Now I could be wrong, but I could swear that the students gave me a round of applause, maybe they were happy to see the guest finally arriving. Either way, I thought it was rather sad that they were so willing to applaud since I felt the class was a complete mess.

Then tonight, during my last Thursday discussion, certain students made a point to applaud me as I was leaving. I didn't do anything to wrap up the course, I have given up.

The final "exam" is actually another essay (5-7 pages), in which Inexperience Lecturer has asked the students to cite three examples from lecture and three examples from the readings, writing a paragraph about each one, while simultaneously writing a coherent thesis. It's the "write a paragraph about each one" that gets me frustrated. Some of the most common writing problems in this class have been lack of coherent paragraphs and problems with transitions. Why give them directions that will just make these problems worse? If you really just want them to prove that they attended three lectures and read three articles why not just have them write six separate essay questions?

So I was just attempting to pass out graded papers, collect their most recent assignment, answer questions about the final, and pass out discussion evaluations, yet the students pointedly applauded. It just made me feel sad. I'm certain that some of them like me, but I would rather be certain that they learned something from the class.


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Disserations and Children

I have been trying to post for several days on the topic of children and graduate school, which has generated a lot of discussion, starting at BitchPhD and including posts at Academom, Geeky Mom and Mama(e) in Translation.

The topic has been on my mind because I'm getting to an age where I will have to really worry about fertility issues if I don't have a baby soon.

Maybe I'm just lucky because I feel like many grad students in my program, men and women, have children. As a female grad student I feel a little left out because so many students I know have been having babies. Big Ag U. is certainly not ivy league, but some programs are particularly well regarded, and yet it doesn't seem to unusual for grad students to be having children.

I do think that most men who are famous academics now have had the support of a 'traditional' wife. Too bad I can't get myself a wife! I want someone to to the house work and take care of the children while I'm busy being brilliant. Unfortunately, statistics (if you can trust them) show that female grad students are actually disadvantaged by having a partner and children while male grad students who are married and have children actually do as well or better.

I chose carefully to work in a field and with professors who will take my life outside of academia seriously, but not everyone is so lucky. I think you just have to keep pushing for fair treatment and make sure that you do what you can to support other women with children. No one in a competitive career is voluntarily going to change things to make room for women with children. We have to push for what we want.

Beyond the particular issue of women and childcare, I'm surprised at how little discussion there has been of whether more hours of work really result in a higher volume of research or a higher quality of research. It is typical of Americans to think that working more hours makes us more productive, but if we look at our system in comparison to other industrialized countries that is not necessarily true. If you are doing any sort of creative work (including science) your brain will need time to recharge. Maybe some people are able to obsessively focus on work for long hours and remain productive, but even among very intelligent people, that is probably not the rule.

My feeling is that I need to take my own career as seriously as my husband's. I can't afford to take on all the childcare or housework duties because I have no guarantee that my husband will be able to support us. This is not a criticism of him, just a sign of the times. Beorn and I have to share responsibility for both work and home life because there is not guarantee that either of us will be able to find a lucrative job. Right now we are both students, who knows which of us will be able to find a job with family health coverage. So I have to demand that he do his fair share of the work, there is no other way.

I'm not willing to work some soul sucking 9-5 so that I can get "enough" money to have a family. Is the situation in corporate America really any better? Most people I know who work outside of academia consistently work more than 40 hours per week.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Amendment: Another great post on this topic comes from
Dr. Free-Ride, who says, "Not that I wouldn't like a wife to take care of at least some of the family stuff. Indeed, my better half and I are willing to economize by sharing a wife if we can find one."

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Dubai: Post-Modernism at its Best

Falconcity of Wonders is an new development being built in Dubai, which combines all the seven ancient wonders of the world into one extravaganza of consumerism. The website is so strange and amazing that at first I thought is was a joke. The waste of energy and resources is very disturbing, but I can't help but laugh. Sometimes the world is so surreal.

" Here is the most astonishing place on earth, Falconcity of Wonders.

In the modern world, Dubai has emerged as a city with no parallel. A city that embraces modernity while proudly maintaining its rich cultural heritage and unique identity. The tranquil trade and fishing village that transformed itself into one of the world’s most modern cities holds places of pride for all who have come to know the land. Dubai’s pace of growth continues unabated and its innovative spirit has consistently and continually earned the admiration of the world. Dubai is in every sense a living wonder of the modern world; it is an ideal example of progress. A city driven by bold, inspired, and visionary leadership.

The world’s admiration of Dubai has resulted in a steady and increasing stream of visitors and expatriates. Not a city to rest on its past ways, Dubai continues to innovate and break new ground in all spheres of development.

A new project designed to engrave Dubai’s place in the minds and hearts of the world citizens' is currently emerging, and is called the Falcon City of Wonders. This is the project that honors mankind through its various civilizations, a project that could inspire generations about the power of the human spirit. This is where the world will see its past, its present and its future.

The Falconcity of Wonders has been designed to resemble the national emblem. The falcon with its outstretched wings symbolizes the spirit of leadership, pride and excellent qualities that the Falconcity of Wonders will embody.

The Falconcity will be a self-contained and multi-faceted resid
ential, tourist and recreational destination formed after the wonders of the ancient and modern world."

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Monday Cat Blogging

I always forget that cat blogging is on Fridays and since I'm too stressed to write anything I thought I would show a picture of The Princess.

Forecast? Storms ahead, with possible lessening later this week.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Migraines anyone?

Any advice for a migraine sufferer? It's Wednesday, so I have a migraine. This usually lasts two days, so both Wednesday and Thursday I'm barely functioning. I'm trying to grade papers, but the student's grades are suffering. I have a good 10-12 hours of work to do tomorrow, including running around from place to place...

9-12 presentation on campus
1-2:30 meeting at advisor's house
3-5 meeting in neighboring city
5-6 lead discussion section
6-7:30 attend lecture
(There are also ~25 papers that need grading by Friday morning.)

All that and a migraine sounds like hell. I'm frustrated because I keep trying to do less and yet my schedule doesn't seem to get better.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

holiday illnesses

Dr. Free-Ride has a post Thanksgiving cold. I'm convinced that she's not the only one. I frequently get sick during school breaks, weekends, or vacations. Neither Beorn nor I were sick during the break, but by Monday morning he was definitely sick and now I'm starting to feel it. Here's my explanation for the phenomenon...During times of stress your immune system is on overdrive. When that stress lets up, your immune function drops.

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Why do celebrities get to do random fun stuff?

Last night I watched a nature program narrated by Robin Williams about dolphins. Basically it was an hour of Robin Williams playing with both captive and wild dolphins. I'm so jealous.

Over the weekend I discovered this podcast series, created by Daryl Hannah. The topic? Looks like all things crunchy: mushrooms, green building, hemp. Again, why don't I get to spend my life making movies about interesting, eclectic topics?

What am I doing tonight? Grading papers.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Meme about a researcher studying memes!

Check out this study and then add a link to your blog.

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Mixed Results

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm

You're probably in the final stages of a Ph.D. or otherwise finding a way to make your living out of reading. You are one of the literati. Other people's grammatical mistakes make you insane.

Dedicated Reader

Literate Good Citizen

Book Snob

Fad Reader

Non-Reader

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz


Found this quiz on What the hell is wrong with you? My results flatter me and yet give me a little impostor syndrome. I certainly aspire to be one of the literati but often feel I have missed out on reading important works of literature. It's true that my students grammatical errors irritate me, yet I'm not really in a position to criticize since I'm constantly making small, yet simple, grammar and spelling errors. The previous sentence probably contains one or two.

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Hibernation in Grading Jail

The hibernation began during the thanksgiving break because of my angst about family issues. At the moment I'm very conflicted about spending time with my extended family and it's adding to my stress levels. Additionally, I'm looking forward to the last few weeks of the quarter being miserable as usual. The end of every quarter is stressful but it seems like winter quarter is always the worst. Unlike Limon de Campo, I managed to ignore my work over the break, although this did little to relax me.

Thursday we spent with friends despite my father's appeals to familial obligation. Friday I went bird watching with my mom. This part of the country has lots of winter wetland birds. Unfortunately, neither of us are serious bird watchers, so we went without a set of binoculars which made it difficult to see the birds. I believe ours were lost last year when Beorn's car was stolen, but maybe they were just misplaced in the move. Saturday and Sunday Beorn and I hid out at home, trying to figure out what to do with ourselves now that we have given up WOW.

This happened only a couple of weeks ago and already Beorn is surfing gaming websites for new MMORPGs. I'm trying to encourage him to explore what real life activities he might enjoy. For example Saturday night, under Beorn's lead, we made a huge pot of apple-persimmon chutney. There is a persimmon tree outside our house and we don't like to eat them fresh that much. They are perfectly good, we just aren't used to them. The chutney turned out well and we'll probably can a bunch of it to give as gifts.



This isn't our persimmon, but it looks similar. Isn't it pretty? The fruit stays on the tree after the leaves have fallen. I stole the picture off of Krista's website. Krista is my favorite female weightlifter and feminist scholar, if you haven't ever seen her website you should check it out. She gives tons of practical down to earth advice about weightlifting and exercise. I read it whenever I'm trying to get inspired.

]Now that the break is over I'm back to being overwhelmed by grading, the writing assignments for my class, and dealing with field work (focus groups, meetings, etc.) I'm always fearful that I'll forget some important and everyone will know what a flake I am, which will somehow ruin my career and my life. (The truth is everyone probably already knows what a flake I am.) I'm only writing a blog post to avoid grading. The sci-fi papers aren't as bad as I expected so far. Now I have to apologize to Trillwing for being so whiny about the assignment.

I am looking forward to the end of the quarter, but these last few weeks always seem to linger. It seems that grading continues practically till Christmas, even though finals are over a week before. Between grading, finishing my own assignments and preparing for Christmas I always feel completely exausted and burnt out, which makes me a complete grinch. So I'm trying to work out a plan to relieve my stress and reduce my grinchiness. I like Chris Brogan's idea for exchanging little holiday packages. I'm working on my package wish list.

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Avatars

I created a new avatar for myself because my cute little kitty photo was so small that it was difficult to even see the kitties. I'm not sure I like it though, the cartoon face is so big eyed and pouty mouthed that it doesn't feel right to me. Her hair is doing what I wish my hair would do though. Maybe if I make a less realistic avatar I'll be more satisfied.

In my view there are three basic strategies for creating avatars.
1. An avatar that closely resembles your own physical appearance, or your idealized physical appearance.
2. An avatar that reflects your inner self. This type of avatar doesn't need to resemble your physical body at all, its characteristics are based solely on the inner qualities you feel you possess.
3. The third type of avatar reflects your shadow self. This is the avatar that allows you to possess all the characteristics that you think you don't have and to act in all the ways that you wouldn't let yourself act in real life.

My new avatar fits into the first category or maybe category one and a little of category two, which is what makes it not very satisfying. The choices given to my by the doll making website didn't result in an avatar that closely resembles me or even an idealized version of me.

(Anyone know of published writings on avatars? I want to read up on the subject if I get a chance.)

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Knitting Fun


pink scarf
Originally uploaded by breenaronan.

I always get more crafty as the holidays get closer. Knitting relaxes me as long as I have a simple pattern. It has to be rhythmic and easy to remember.

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Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books Meme

Yonmei of Feminist SF commented on the 50 most significant The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years, 1953-2002. She cut down the list from fifty to nineteen and then added her own favorites. My knowledge of sci-fi and fantasy is very spotty, but here's my version...
Bold: unread, Italic: on to-be-read pile

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. The Earthsea trilogy, Ursula K. Le Guin
4. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
5. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
6. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
7. The Caves of Steel/The Naked Sun, Isaac Asimov
8. The Discworld series, Terry Pratchett
9. The Harry Potter septology, J.K. Rowling
10. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
11. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
12. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
13. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
14. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
15. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
16. Interview with the Vampire/The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice
17. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
18. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
19. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein

I would add to the list:
Dune, Frank Herbert
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Dark Is Rising Series, Susan Cooper
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S.Lewis
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L'Engle
The Phantom Tollbooth, N. Juster
Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson and Donna Diamond
His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
Callahan's Crosstime Saloon, Spider Robinson

To be fair, these books are particularly significant, they are just ones that made an impression on me, most of them I read as a kid.

If you have recommendations, add your comment.

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Create a Bibliography on Foxfire

I love foxfire extensions and my new favorite is Zotero. It allows you to save the bibliographic information for books and articles directly in Foxfire. I found it by reading Geeky Mom's blog where Mr. P posted a comment mentioning it.

I have been using Endnote to organize my bibliographies, which is great, but while it's easy to save article information from academic databases, it's not so easy to download books or articles found on the web.

Now if I can just figure out how to link the two together I would be in bibliographic heaven.

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Kids and Cats

The comments over at Bitch Ph.D. are hilarious. People who have children are actually comparing their children to cats.

"If it's not the kids it's the damn cat, who is at least portable. Ever tried to walk around with forty pounds of kid draped over your forearm?
As a matter of fact, children seem to be the larger version of the cat that won't get off your pillow, and you really can't just sling them onto the floor. They're much too heavy and you will sprain your arm."-

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Fire...fire!

I had the weirdest interaction with my discussion session today. For some reason when I tried to discuss fire ecology with them, a couple of people started giggling. I only got a few more sentences out when the giggling spread to more people.

I haven't had problems with giggling before and the only thing I could think of was that someone was amused by the way I said the word "fire." You might remember the way Beavis, ala "Beavis and Butthead" used to say "Fire...fire...he..he..he," in that weird way. I have a friend that for some reason does Beavis and Butthead imitations sometimes, so that's what came to my mind.

So I tried asking the students what was so funny, not it an accusing way, but simply that they might want to share so that we could all have a laugh and then move on with the discussion. Of course I didn't say anything so clear to them, I just sort of asked what the giggling was about. They didn't want to say anything as they were trying to stifle it. So I just moved on to a new topic, but I felt like someone who discovers that her fly is down in the middle of an oral report. I had discussed the topic with my other two discussion sections without any giggling, so I don't know what the problem was.

The truth is that I'm never sure how discussion groups are going, especially since lectures for this class have been so scattered and confusing. I'm spending some of the discussion session trying to provide students with a framework for fitting together so many disparate lecture topics. I haven't put much effort into discussing the readings because they don't fit very closely with the lectures and so I'm not always sure how to put everything together. Most of my effort has been put into giving the students some direction and help with the assignments. It's really difficult to set up any real discussion when most students don't attend lecture and don't do the readings. Although the lecturer keeps on trying to require them to draw on the themes from the lectures and the readings in their assignments, there really is no way for them to make a direct connection since the first assignment was an autobiography and the second was a creative writing assignment.

I'm so ready for this class to be over.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Putting my Eggs in Too Many Baskets?

At the moment I seem to be trying to write my masters thesis, find people to be on my committee, and figure out all the paper work to graduate while simultaneously writing a dissertation proposal, finding funding for the dissertation research, finding a site for the research, and on and on. Am I crazy? I'm starting to think that I am because I don't seem to be making progress on any of it. I also have a 50% time TA position and my own coursework.

I thought I was simplifying my life, trying to do less, and concentrate on what I really want to get done, but the minute I try simplify some crazy part of my unconscious convinces me to take on a bunch of extra things. I really want to get started on my dissertation research, but I know that it will take a while to get funding, so I need to write the proposal and submit it to possible funders. Unfortunately, I don't feel at all confident that I'll get much help from my advisor. So far papers and proposals submitted to her have resulted it a few verbal comments and nothing in writing. Isn't that weird? She's always friendly and generally supportive, but it's difficult to get any real feedback from her.

On the positive side, she recently said she might "use" some of the concepts from the paper I submitted to her last spring in an article she is writing for submission. The question is, what does that mean? Based on our conversations I suspect that she hasn't read much of the recent research that I was reviewing in my paper. Should I have to specifically ask for written comments? If feel like I could write up a thesis and get it approved without any substantive feedback and graduate without learning a thing.

Unrelated to my academic anxieties, Beorn decided to make hot sauce from scratch in our kitchen tonight. He blended everything up in the food processor and then put the resulting mixture on the stove, so now my lungs and eyes are stinging and I feel slightly sick to my stomach.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Memorizing students

I have 60+ students this quarter between my three discussion section. It's now week six of the quarter and I still only know a few student's names. I always have trouble memorizing the student's names, so this quarter I made a special effort. I took notes while everyone was introducing themselves the first week. I looked at people's pictures on facebook. I take attendance every week and try to match names and faces. It's getting embarrassing. I'm starting to want to explain to students that I have memory issues and I really am trying to learn their names. Maybe next quarter I need to take pictures of everyone and make student photo flash cards.

Also, I have a terrible time pronouncing unfamiliar Asian names. I normally spell everything phonetically and sound out unfamiliar words. It's like I have some sort of learning disability. I'm spelling challenged in English and have no experience with Asian languages.

I think I have to search the internet for advice, because I'm just culturally illiterate.

Then I'm extra confused because those same students sometimes want to be called by their American nick-names. The other day one of my students came up to me and asked for her paper, then she said, "Can I have my friend's paper too?"
So I said, "Sure what's your friend's name?"
"Jason," then continued, "Oh, it's something like, "xxxxx."

I don't like it when my pagan friends decide everyone has to call them by a special, magical name and suddenly I have to keep track of two different names for each person. I'm much more sympathetic when I comes to people Americanizing their names, because my RL name is very long and difficult. I can understand why someone might want to just have a name that everyone around them can pronounce, but it doesn't make it easy for me and my memory problems.

Remembering everyone's names seems important to me, a sign that I care about and respect my students. Constantly mispronouncing or forgetting their names makes me sad.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

Oh to have my own class

I just got an email from a student with a paper draft, but unfortunately, this student completely misunderstood the prompt. As a TA, I didn't write the assignment prompt and I spent the entire discussion session trying to clarify it for the students. I went over what I was expecting and had them discuss, in groups, what they are planning to write about. I even tried to give examples. Unfortunately, I think I'm going to get quite a few papers that are completely confused.

I asked the lecturer to create some sort of grading rubric for the assignment so that I could let the students know how we would be grading it, but he never did. I think each TA is interpreting the assignment in our own way since the prompt was very vague. I have had to try to give the students some structure and direction because the assignment was so vague. Frankly, at this point I would rather just decide for myself how to grade them. If he creates a rubric after they have turned it in it will just be confusing and unfair to the students.

If the students misunderstand the assignment and write a good research paper instead, what should I do? Normally I would give a D or F if the student didn't put in enough effort to thoroughly read the assignment. But if the assignment is completely confusing and unreasonable for a lower division, general education class, then how fair is it to penalize a student who made a genuine effort?

Maybe I'm just a big softy, but I don't expect freshman to automatically know what modernism and postmodernism are or what geomorphology means. Should freshman already know those things? Because I sure didn't when I was a freshman. I guess I should take a positive outlook on this class, because the lectures are completely post modern: it's a collage, a montage, or some sort of performance art.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

On Writing and Tenure

UCLA Professor, Ann Forsyth writes on writing, publishing, and tenure. She's a prof. in planning, but I think many of her comments are relevent to various fields. I'm at the very beginning of exploring the process of academic writing, so I'm just looking to get anything at all on my CV, but strategy is important.

Urban Planning Research: Forsyth, On Writing and Tenure

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Trampline Simon

A new twist on active gaming...Junkyard Sports: The Blog: Trampline Simon

Tags: ,

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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Immaturity Levels Rising

Discovery Channel :: Serious Study: Immaturity Levels Rising All I can say is REALLY?!? I have been meaning to post this for a while, it comes to me via A Distant Soil.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Online Microloans

Last night I watched Frontline. The first piece was on human rights abuse in Burma. Luckily, to counteract the depression they then showed a piece on a new microlending non-profit. Uganda - A Little Goes A Long Way .
The idea is to put up people's microloan applications on the web and allow individuals to loan out small amounts to a specific person and business. It's so simple and beautiful that I can't believe it hasn't been done before. It's really exciting to see the positive ways that technology can make an impact. If I had any money I would be donating right now. The non-profit is called KIVA. Their server is overwhelmed at the moment, but you can donate money to buy a new one.

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Turn Your iPod into the Ultimate PowerPoint Accessory

I want this!!! Micro Persuasion: Turn Your iPod into the Ultimate PowerPoint Accessory"

Beorn is a computer geek exstordinare but since we are both students we are poor. This quarter the landscape class has been very scattered. The new lecturer is all over the place and he shows very few slides. To me showing slides of landscapes and talking about them is central to this class. So I keep on wanting to show slides and video clips during my discussion section. If I could I would spend all my discussions visiting various landscapes, but I only have 50 minutes and the campus has a limited number of interesting landscapes.

The point of this story is that my laptop was super old. It was heavy and almost too slow to actually show powerpoint. Then two weeks ago it died in the middle of a discussion section. Last week I managed to just discuss with no media crutch, but this week I really want to show some clips and slides. So I have to borrow a laptop from Beorn or the department if I can manage to find the I.T. guy.

I don't really have the money for a new laptop and I don't really want one anyway. As a grad student I have access to multiple public and semi-private computers on campus. Why would I want to carry around a laptop? Too bad my palm pilot or my thumb-drive can't show video clips or powerpoint, but Beorn pointed out that a video i-pod can. $200 doesn't seem too bad, but really why can't they outfit the classroom media stations with enough of a hard drive to play this stuff?

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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

My New Favorite Thing

I'm so excited about independently made web-based radio and TV shows. What's the proper name for these things? podcasts? v-blogs?

What's playing tonight? My new favorite...Galacticast spoofs The Rocky Horror Picture Show.


One of my favorite halloweens ever was the year I was living in Boston. It must have been 1994. My then boyfriend (who later turned out to be insane, literally) and I went to Rocky Horror in Cambridge. They had a killer floor show. I have seen Rocky Horror in at least three states and numerous theaters over the years, but I have never seen a floor show like that. It was like a full blown theater production.

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post cyberpunk?

For a long time I haven't done a much reading of fiction. Often I'm not sure what I want to read or I'm stressed and I don't want to read anything too serious. I haven't even read much sci-fi/fantasy in the last few years. Although I'm familiar with the genera through movies, I don't think I have read any of the famous cyberpunk novels.

So John Twelve Hawks' novel "The Traveler" was a pleasant surprise. (Thank you Mom!) Certainly The Traveler isn't high fiction, but it explores interesting themes, primarily the increasing levels of electronic monitoring we are all facing. To summarize: An epic battle between the forces of evil who want to maintain the status quo vs. the forces of good who want to spread peace, love and understanding across the world.

The Good Guys:
travelers-Spiritual leaders who are able to astral project, exploring other worlds and bring back the wisdom they find there.
harlequins- A sort of order of knights templar, sworn to protect the travelers, avoiding being detected by electronic surveillance of "the grid" through use of all sorts of disguises and random (literally random) behaviors.

The Bad Guys:
the tabula-Monitor our every move, killing or disappearing anyone who expresses any dangerous thoughts .

Overall a very entertaining book, very fast paced. I especially like that the traveler is a man and the harlequin who protects him is a woman. She has no problem destroying her enemies and isn't karmically punished at the end of the book for doing so. There are a number of other strong female characters in the book, but the main point is that people's roles in the novel aren't determined by their gender.

Unfortunately although the themes and characters are fascinating, the plot is fairly transparent. The details of the final showdown are revealed slowly and but the central confrontation is obvious within the first 75 pages, so it's not much of a thriller. Also, there's quite a bit of hype surrounding this book, especially rumors that the author actually lives off the grid and his true identity is unknown to even his publishers. (Pretty transparent stunt.)

I recently read something comparing the purpose of science fiction literature to classical "high" literature. In contrast to classical literature, in which the plot and characters are central, in science fiction the plot and characters are simply vehicles for exploring cultural trends and moral dilemmas. Maybe that's why I like it.

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Dissertation Fears...It has just begun

Take a look at this post from Acephalous: "Dissertation Fears: Please, Continue". Hilarious stuff!

My personal dissertation fears?

1. My ideas are so interdiciplinary that I'll never be able to explain them in a short proposal.

2. My ideas are so interdiciplinary that I'll never find an advisor that will take an interest.

3. My ideas are so interdiciplinary that even if I get the thing written I'll never get tenure.

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

working out my theoretical position via blog posts...Part 1

At the moment I'm in a really interdisciplinary place, which leaves me confused much of the time. So I'm going to try to work out my issues via blog post.

Returning to grad school my personal interest was to lift myself out of the poverty that was entregal to my career in environmental and science education. But beyond my personal issues, I was concerned that the environmental and science education wasn't really reaching many students. When I say that this education wasn't reaching many students I'm not referring simply to the horrible dearth of this type of education in American schools, but instead to the fact that when I taught lessons related to the environment or science, the lessons simply didn't seem to touch students in a deep way. Often we found ways to make science fun and exciting but rarely did the topics covered relate deeply and directly to students' lives. Students simply considered this education another form of entertainment and tolerated it as long as it was easy and fun, but had little investment in it. In particular I was concerned with urban children who often seemed to lack experiences with simple things like pill bugs or sitting on the ground.

Luckily for me I'm not the only person to have noticed this phenomenon, it's commonly referred to as "the extinction of experience." This theory is the basis of Richard Louv's book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, which created a small splash in the media when it was published earlier this year. In Louv's writings, children's lives are becoming more and more impoverished because of too much time spent on programmed activities and video games and not enough time spent goofing around outside playing with lizards and swinging on a rope. The picture of childhood shown in this book harkens back to New Urbanism's romantic images of a time when American towns where filled with good things: women had time to pack their kids' lunches and it was safe for kids to play outside in the neighborhood (ala Mayberry.)

Unfortunately, this is not the childhood that has been experienced by the vast majority of human children throughout history. Even if that childhood could be provided to all young children would it really be better for them? Would they really be more environmentally sensitive? Would more of them be interested in science? Would they be healthier or happier?

I'm not so convinced. Peter Kahn, an environmental psychologist at U. of Washington, as done some interesting work examining the development of environmental attitudes cross culturally. In studying environmental attitudes across five countries Kahn found very similar issues. Children everywhere understood something about environmental problems, but no matter how degraded and polluted their own environments were children didn't recognize how environmental problems were affecting their own neighborhoods. Kahn's 'environmental generational amnesia' means that every generation of children considers the conditions of their own childhood a baseline, undisturbed condition and any changes seen later are viewed as degradation. So change that happens slowly over the period of several generations is never fully perceived or comprehended.

This leaves us with quite a problem. Each generation sees the environment degrading, but has trouble understanding how they are both victims of and perpetrators of this injustice. At some basic level all environmental problems are actually a sort of temporal environmental justice issue in which earlier generations are stealing resources from later ones. In itself, this is not that surprising considering the whole definition of sustainablity and folkloric sayings about considering seven generations and so on. What is surprising is that we don't realize that it's happening to us and instead romantize our childhoods as belonging to some sort of prelapsarian past.

Coming soon...Part 2, Romantic Views of Nature and Environmental Education

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tortured Artists?

Random cultural history question. Many years ago, in the early 90's, I was a college student. One of my dorm mates was a tortured writer. She wore a lot of black and was obsessed with her own suffering as a sign of genius. There seems to be a long tradition of this type depressed writer/ artist/ creative type. Why do many young people think that suffering and depression will make for better art? When did this start? Do other cultural traditions have similar archetypes? Is this some sort of catholic guilt or protestant work ethic thing? There is probably a simple explanation for the origin of this phenomenon, but I have no idea. Any cultural or art historians out there with suggestions?

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tauren Doll

Hilarious! WOW doll based on a specific character. I bet someone could make a lot of money making personalized WOW dolls.
Wonderland: Look what my guildie made:

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What Is Machinima?

So I have seen a few movies made in virtual reality, but I didn't realize there was a name for it. For some reason I'm fascinated with the trend towards de-professionalizing culture making. As far as I know these movies are mostly made by amateurs.
Machinima.com: What Is Machinima?

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Pokemon Science

Take a look at "trying to understand pokemon" at Adventures in Ethics and Science. Funny stuff!

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Follow-up on X-Men 3

So Robo-Pirate's comments on my mention of X-Men 3 pointed to the fact that I didn't full explain why I was displeased with the movie. There are a number of people who wrote insightful reviews so here are a few views on the topic...

"Ticked off times 3" from Feminist SF-The Blog!

X-Men 3, Post 1 from Written World

X-men 3 thoughts from Free Candy for Everyone

Immediate Reaction to X3, sans spoilers from Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

My main problem with the movie was the fact that Jean and Rogue both question their powers and their ability to control their powers while the most powerful male mutants seem to have no confidence problems. Then when Jean uses her powers she kills the people she loves. Rogue is so convinced that she has to have a man that she's willing to give up her powers to get that chance. Underlying message? Women and girls, if you are too powerful you will hurt people and be out of control. Neither Magneto nor Professor Xavier seem to have any fear or doubt about exercising their powers, even when people get hurt. When Jean is supposedly out of control and power mad she is actually following Magneto's orders. So if a woman gets too powerful she will become the pawn of evil? What kind of message is that? I want to see a woman get pissed off and just kill her enemies without going insane or getting so out of control that her friends die as well.

Having never read the Dark Phoenix Saga in the original comics I have no idea what I would think of it. I'm hoping that it's a much more interesting storyline.

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Asylum Street Spankers Video

Hilarious commentary on Iraq for your friday viewing pleasure. Not work appropriate.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Different Type of Comics

It's funny because I read the feeds from several blogs that focus on comics from a woman's /feminist's perspective (i.e. Written World, When Fangirls ATTACK!, and Pretty, Fizzy Paradise) but since I rarely read the major label comics I usually don't know what they are talking about. I'm interested in hearing about them because comics are related to other sci-fi/fantasy media forms and because I do read comics, just not the usual ones.

To illustrate my lack of knowledge...Although I do know a little background on the X-men, it's not from having read the original comics. As a teen I watched some X-men on Saturday morning cartoons and enjoyed the first two movies in the trilogy. When I need to know more about the backstory and how the movies fit into the original stories I ask Beorn. After an interesting post on Writing as Jo(e) about what super power you would like to have, I decided I better watch the third movie. After reading some discouraging reviews from friendly feminist bloggers I never bothered to watch X-men 3 but after Jo(e)'s teenager suggested that she resembled phoenix it was time to take a look. After sitting through it, I was disgusted not only because of the phoenix storyline, but also the overall gender dynamics of the movie. So of course I had to question Beorn about the original Dark Phoenix storyline to see if the misogyny originated with the movie makers or with the original author. (If I can find a copy I plan to take a look at the comics someday.)

Back to my strange comics reading...

My favorite comic ever: Strangers in Paradise
Other paper comics I've read: (Comics about gaming, it can't get dorkier than that.)
Knights of the Dinner Table
Dork Tower

Online comics I've been reading lately: (Watch out, some have adult content.)
Dykes to Watch Out For
The Devil's Panties
PhD (Piled Higher and Deeper)
and my new fav...
Liliane Bi-Dyke

Anyone else read comics? What are some great underground, woman friendly comics?

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Graduate School: The Game!

So Beorn, who is currently an undergrad, has started reading PhD. Beorn reads a number of comics online and we even have a small collection at home, but this new interest scares me. He's reading all about the worse aspects of grad school and not being scared off. Maybe he's serious about it. Beorn is forty and I'm already feeling old and poor at thirty-three. On the positive side, at least we are staying young at heart.

Yesterday I started thinking about how graduate school is a game. It doesn't matter that I really like teaching and want to help with various campus service projects. The name of the game is to accomplish as much research as possible while accumulating lots of grants/fellowships. So logically, our conversation rapidly turned to the creation of a computer game about graduate school, maybe modelled off Disaffected! The game would be extremely difficult and frustrating. It would mostly involve avoiding undergrads and your advisor while collecting free food and research points. Various events in the games would change the objectives temporarily (think Pac Man). For instance, most of the time you wouldn't have enough research points accumulated, so you would want to avoid your advisor, but at times you would need to find your advisor for signatures, etc. I think the game would be very educational as it would uncover the hidden agendas inherent in academic life. Any skilled game designers out there ready to take on an extra project?

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hooray! I'm only 30% dorky!

Pure Nerd
69 % Nerd, 47% Geek, 30% Dork For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.

Congratulations!


Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

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Friday, September 15, 2006

Women in Science

Yesterday I was interviewed by a woman who is researching women in science. I majored environmental science as an undergrad, but ended up teaching science at museums and science centers for eight years before returning to grad school as a social scientist. As a feminist I still feel guilty for not being a "real" scientist. I rarely felt inadequate in terms of my ability to do science, but increasingly, as a became more familiar with the culture of science I had trouble accepting the assumptions that were integral to that culture. For example, I always had trouble believing in scientific objectivity. Most importantly though, I came to believe that the important problems I saw such as habitat destruction or global warming couldn't be solved through further scientific study. So, as much as I would enjoy spending the rest of my life exploring the amazing diversity and beauty I find in the natural world, I'm choosing instead to study people, to try to figure out why they do all the crazy things they do because lets face it, we are the problem.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11

Last night I watched a documentary on 9/11. I made it all the way through the disaster, but couldn't continue watching when the firefighters started digging through the rubble. I read a number of blog posts today about the events of five years ago. My personal memories of that day are unimportant, but remembering our own stories must be better than watching those terrible moments replayed over and over.

Five years ago I woke up very early because I had to be at a school in the hills by 8:15. Once I had stopped by work to pick up supplies, I turned on NPR like I did every morning. It was apparent that something was wrong. I live on the West Coast, so it must have been very early, because the towers were still standing.

I had the worst time staying awake during that long drive to school as I listening to the unfolding disaster. When I finally got to the parking lot I put my head down on the steering wheel. I was so tired and wanted to keep listening. After a few minutes I woke up, disoriented and late for my first presentation.

I spent the rest of the day in the classroom, hopefully distracting the kids with science. It seemed bizzare to not be talking about what was happening, but what could we say to these children that were not our own?

The strange thing was that after that day I started drinking caffeine again. I had given up caffeine because it contributed to my anxiety and insomnia. It had taken me a long time and a lot of resolve. After that day I concluded that if I didn't start drinking caffeine I was going to fall asleep one morning while driving. I never thought about my drowsing as something unusual, but I had never had a problem like that before. Why did I change my life in response to that day without even giving it a second thought? Maybe there was a part of my mind that wanted to fall back to sleep, wanted that morning to be a dream. My spirit rejected the reality of those events, seeking instead to wake again on an ordinary morning, an ordinary day.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

Smart Women are Unhappy

Rosa points out, in FairerScience Weblog that women in science shouldn't marry economists. I would like to add that living in this crappy excuse for a culture could make any woman unhappy. Michael Noer's article in Forbes has apparently been all over the blogosphere. I haven't been feeling well, so this is the first I have heard of it. As usual, looking at the "data" Noer presents, I'm struck with an alternate theory. Noer claims that "career women" will be unhappy no matter what choice they make, and so make their spouse unhappy. Give up your career to stay home with the kids-not satisfying. Continue working, while trying to keep up with the kids and the housework-not satisfying. I wonder why that is? If you make more money than your husband, but still end up doing the majority of the housework and childcare you will most likely feel unappreciated. If you make less money than your husband but still end up doing a second shift of housework and childcare you will probably still feel "less than." So what, exactly is Mr. Noer suggesting that an intelligent woman do? First of all, avoid getting a college education and instead concentrate on catching yourself a successful, career oriented husband while working a cash register at Walmart. Considering the fact that wages aren't keeping up with cost of living increases, this hardly seems realistic. Men and women are working longer for less money all over this country just to support their families. I'm not sure if women who don't have a university education or a job making more than $30,000 a year are just happy because their husbands happen to be making enough money to support their family, or if they are just happy because they haven't noticed the injustice in the world around them, but I know that smart women have plenty to be unhappy about.

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Happy Birthday to me!

Today is my birthday! My dad bought me a gift certificate to the craft center where I volunteer. So now I can afford to buy some crafting supply or take some new crafting classes. What classes should I take? Well I have already taken pottery, glass bead making, and glass fusing. Welding appeals to me because it's something that is frequently thought of as man's work. I could also use a woodcrafting review, but I often get overwhelmed by the possibilities of these crafts. Woodworking and welding could evolve into furniture making or large sculptures. I like crafts that are limiting in some way, that involve small projects done relatively quickly. So I may choose precious metalsmithing, learning silver soldering and gem setting, or maybe enameling.

What else am I doing for my birthday? Beorn and I are planning an expedition to get a haircut and a new pair of shoes.

Also, I think I have secured an internship with a local design firm. First they emailed me to set up an interview, then last night I got a second email saying they wanted to offer me an internship. I don't think I have ever gotten a job without at least a phone interview, so I'm a little confused, but hopeful. Now I'm just waiting to see what the next email says.

If I do end up with this internship, I will likely be working full time this year between the internship and my TA positions. Luckily, I'm not planning on taking many classes. Hopefully I'll still have enough time to get some research and reading done. It should mean a less stressful money situation for our household.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Focus

Lately I have been having blogger's block. Things have been in great flux in my RL so I have had little energy to post here.

I started this blog to explore the idea of writing for pleasure and to join the interesting conversations happening in the blogosphere. Unlike many serious bloggers, I didn't think much about my audience or try to limit my posts. I really enjoy this video blog post from Nancy White that describes her thoughts on blogging. Speaking of blogs in terms of candles or mirrors really works for me. This blog has been a mirror that I have used to explore my own thoughts and interests. I have sometimes been surprised by what topics get me jazzed.

It's also a great place to complain about things that are bothering me. I tend to get wrapped up in my work and the difficulties of day to day life and grad school can be isolating and stressful. (Big news!) When I started writing I figured most of my posts would have to do with academia and the frustrations involved, but I'm finding that I have less and less interest in posting on university life (other than the occasion post complaining about having to grade papers.)

The main thing I would like to post about is the recent progress I have been making on my thesis. I'm very excited because I have been able finally identify a topic with a limited, do-able scope and identified a location and found a group already working in the community. Unfortunately, the type of work involved is distinctive enough I don't think I'll be able to write much about it here and still remain anonymous. Besides, since it will have elements of an urban ethnography, I would probably be violating some ethical rules.

Recent posts on The Clutter Museum have brought to my mind the split between anonymous academic bloggers and those who blog under their own names. I have resisted focusing my blog because, frankly, I barely have enough energy to maintain one blog. My interests are so diverse that if I sent up blogs for all of them I would be spread WAY too thin. At the same time, I would like to have a "salon" of colleagues whose work and interests are similar to mine. I certainly don't have that through my graduate program. But in order to do that I would have to jettison my anonymity and be much more cautious in what I chose to blog about.

So for the moment, I'm going to focus more on my non-work interests. This summer has been quite stressful monetarily for our household and so all my hobbies have been on hold. The other day someone asked me what I do for fun and I had trouble answering her. I have a special talent for turning any interest into "work." I want to turn that around and start developing the ability to do "work" and have it turn into "fun." So my new focus for this blog is FUN, FUN, FUN!

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Cash incentives aren't enough to lift fertility

Cash incentives aren't enough to lift fertility
Why is every other industrialized country paying women to have children but we can't even get a few months leave or job security?

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Captain Picard's Journal

Here's a fun blog I found a while back, Captain Picard's Journal. I wonder if there are many more fan-fiction blogs out there. Anyone know?

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The book meme

Trillwing tagged me, so here it goes...

1. One book that changed your life?
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Milan Kundera

2. One book you have read more than once?
The Naria Series
C.S. Lewis
I can't count how many times I read those as a kid.

3. One book you would want on a desert island?
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I love magical realism. That book is complex enough to read over and over. I considered some 19th century British novels, but frankly I find them depressing.

4. One book that made you laugh?
Callahan's Crosstime Saloon
Spider Robinson

5. One book that made you cry?
The Culture of Make Believe
Derrick Jensen
This book is not about fairytales or fantasy, it's about hate and racism (very difficult to read.)

6. One book you wish had been written?
Is this question really, "What book are you planning to write?" How am I supposed to know what hasn't been written? There are all sorts of books I wish adults had given me to read as a kid, but I'm not sure what hasn't been written. I wish there were more coming of age novels for girls. Maybe there are but I haven't read many.

7. One book you wish had never had been written?
This is a difficult question...There are tons of books out there that are just insipid, but I usually don't read them. The book I remember hating the most because I was force to read it was
The Old Man and the Sea
Ernest Hemingway
As a teenager I was horrified by the type of masculinity it glorified.

8. One book you are currently reading?
The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Jane Jacobs

9. One book you have been meaning to read?
Foucault's Pendulum
Umberto Eco

10. Now tag five people -
Who hasn't been tagged? I want to hear from some feminist sci-fi folks. If you are out there, consider yourself tagged.

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