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User Journal

Journal Journal: Clouds like something out of Maxfield Parish 2

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!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Rain on a thatched roof 2

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.


Journal Journal: iPod, Kindle, Chol

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?


Journal Journal: Mexico, Disconnect, Achievements 7

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?

User Journal

Journal Journal: demographics 1

Way back in the day, a poll suggested an interesting breakdown by gender. I wonder how much the breakdown of /. readership has changed, and if that 'means' anything. Changed in terms of gender breakdown (I'll bet there are a lot more women now... though maybe I'm wrong. Hmm. I dunno.) and also things like age and geographical location and occupation (is tech a hobby? a job?) ...that kind of stuff.

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!

User Journal

Journal Journal: Israel Kamakawiwo'ole 1

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...

User Journal

Journal Journal: I am a woman and innately different 2

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. :) It was really nice to hear from (or about) so many women who are tenure-stream and have faced the same questions.

28 February-- Nature (the journal, not Mother Earth) seems to be on the same page as I am:


Journal Journal: Wheat is a wonderous thing. 3

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.

User Journal

Journal Journal: A Failed Experiment in Sleep 5

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.

User Journal

Journal Journal: San Cristobal and Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico 7

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. :)

User Journal

Journal Journal: IS "Wireless" a common term? 1

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?"
"Wireless internet?"
"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..."
"Ok, thanks."

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. ...It looks to me like they don't... in fact, it looks to me like they only have analog, miss."
"Ok, thanks very much." ...It seems that the Hilton has two computers that have internet access for free to people who are staying there, but you have to give your room number and then someone unlocks the door for you (damn.)

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.


Journal Journal: SARS 8

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.

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The solution to a problem changes the nature of the problem. -- Peer