Friday, November 30, 2007
1) You have already successfully jumped through so many hoops to get to the point of the big D that you ought to jump through that last one.
You will learn something.
Something insightful - about your ideas. Did they pan out? You want to find out, don't you?
You *can* do it.
No matter how pathetic and inadequate you feel about your research or your position in academia (graduate school is a pride swallowing, belittling, gut-wrenching, losing all sanity venture) you are good enough, you are smart enough, and god dammit you are worth it.
Take it from someone who has finished the Pretty Huge Document:
It is way more satisfying to have a Pretty Huge Degree than to be All But Done.
No one likes leaving behind lose ends. Tie 'em up and get the heck out of there. ABD is All But Dungeon if you don't get your butt out of there.
When you're done, you get to be called DOCTOR.
People respect that credential. You're 90% of the way there, why not do the last 10%? It will be worth it to hear your dad say "What's up Doc" when you call.
You get to wear the garb.
It is freaking cool to wear the doofy hat and walk around like a dork on the day of the hooding ceremony. When I graduated, I got to wear a kick ass costume and even had the chance to be hooded by a President of the United States so I wanted to finish! Who wouldn't be motivated to finish just to potentially get goosed on stage by Bill? We all have our light at the end of the tunnel ;-2 You know what your dream is. Chase it.
It doesn't really take that much effort.
You have been percolating the ideas and preparing for years. Once you sit down to actually write it, you'll find that it gets easier and easier the more you have written. I wrote mine in ONE MONTH. I wrote the preliminary document that I put to my committee in a month, they approved it, I started collecting data, and then when I had processed the data, I found that I wrote the results up and the rest of my dissertation in ONE MONTH. That is all that is standing between you and DONE. One measly month. Anyone could do that.
You *can* do it.
That bears repeating. The impostor syndrome virus lurks around academic halls, but you are immune to it. That is, once you finish your dissertation. You will no longer feel like a loser. When your students don't give you the respect they give to "real" profs, you can flaunt the degree in their face. You can make them call you Doctor. It changes everything. Your colleagues will know you had the grit to finish, and they will want to collaborate with you more now than ever.
[edited to add]:
When you get your first request for a pre-print, you will hit the roof and then you'll want to revise and submit your dissertation for publication because it is way better than your earlier work!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Those dissertation revisions are still hanging over my head. I have to convince myself IT IS WORTH IT to revise it and submit it. It's a lot easier to resolve to succeed in the alternate career path I've chosen. More on that later. Statements about WHY it is worth it to publish one's dissertation are welcome!
Here are a couple of easy things I've finished.
A pen or office gadget holder, made out of toilet paper tubes and paper I had left over from a previous project. I listed one on etsy and got lots of praise for it. Rather than selling it, I ended up trading it for a neat silver wrapped pendant that I can wear with almost everything. I plan on listing this one soon, along with another like it that I made with Japanese paper. [Listed now].
I also got a hair brained idea to make felt monkey face ornaments. I've seen some inspiring felted ornaments on etsy but didn't want to duplicate other people's ornaments so I thought - monkeys! I doubt many people would want to hang a monkey face on their "holiday" tree, especially a freaky looking one like this species, a golden snub-nosed langur, so I may end up making something else to sell.
I am at least going to make a couple more so my niece and nephew can have one from their Primate Doc Aunt.
I don't know who in my family started the tradition of getting an ornament every year, but I have a Christmas ornament from each year I've been alive, give or take some years during college and grad school, and each is dated. I think it's a neat tradition.
This year is the first Christmas we'll be spending in our home so we decided to get a tree. Although, I do think Mr. Monkey looks quite nice hanging from the umbrella tree in my office.
We got a permit from the Forest Service and will go up this weekend to get our tree. We've got snowshoes, warm clothes, and gear to enjoy hot chocolate when we're done. I think Mr. Field Notes friend from work will video the experience and post it. I am sure we will have quite a story.
Her Royal Newfiness The Thundering Herd Dog will come with us. She looks like a bear so I'm going to outfit her with a hunter's orange jacket. We bought the fabric today. I don't have a pattern, but Max got a hand-me-down jacket from his cousin Charlotte so I've got something to work off. Mr. Field Notes wanted some Desert Storm style camo for the inside, but I want to make this thing reversible and I don't want my "kid" wearing camo. Really, I didn't want both sides to be fleece. It'll be brown corduroy on the inside. It was on sale 50% off, and is dark so her hair will be less noticeable when it coats it.
I'll post pictures when she's ready to model it. For now, you'll just have to be tided over by these two adorable pup pics:
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
In this case, the city wants to collect green matter that can be composted by the city instead of having it go to the landfill. Mr. Field Notes commented on seeing the signs for the city's "sanitary landfill" on our drive home from the Westside, which I have to say, tends to be more eco-aware than the Eastside, that there is nothing sanitary about them. So today when we received a letter today letting us know that we can opt into the program, I immediately thought GREAT! Yes, that makes good environmental sense and if the city is going to make it easier for its residents to adopt eco-friendly behaviors, I am all for it.
If you charge people $200 a year to haul away their leaves and what not, who but people who have disposable income are going to sign up? It would cost me far less to buy a bin and take it to the city's composting area than that. That's not what they want people to do though. It would also cost me less to set up a composting area on my own property (we already have).
I am sick and tired of eco-friendly behavior costing more than eco-aversive ones. If you want to change behavior, you've got to make the desired behavior cost less than the undesired one.
Sixteen bucks a month is too much. I don't have 60 gallons a month of green waste even in green waste heavy months, like November when most of the trees shed their leaves.
Here's my solution -
Charge people a fee for waste pickup based on the weight of their waste.
That way the cost of throwing away something is relevant. It would give people incentive to use less, use what they have longer, and contribute less to the landfill. If you hit people's pocketbooks, they will change their behavior. People drive less when the price of gas goes up. If gas cost what it ought to, people would choose other methods of transportation. Of course, with my weigh the trash solution, you would have to figure out how to police people who would cheat the system by throwing their waste into someone else's bin.
Mr. Field Notes traded her for a gorgeous purple and green scarf she wove and hadn't sold yet. It was so pretty and a perfect match for my winter vest that I actually considered buying it outright. I am so glad they worked out a trade :-) I had to toss in the Little Prince envelopes I made to round out the deal. I made them out of a calender I used in 2001. I bought it in Paris and ended up keeping it because the images were too neat and the paper stock too nice to toss in the recycling.
I've turned all of our old calenders into envelopes. It's easy. I think I've got around 50 envelopes - La Vache Qui Rit (The Laughing Cow cheese calender I also bought in Paris some time ago), a couple of Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund calenders (we get them every year) and a set of Newfoundlands.
Speaking of the Newf, she was such a McStinkus again when we picked her up from her weekend resort destination (aka the kennel amid the orchards) that we gave her a bath. Her lil bro needed one too. I think they gave them baths there because they both had the characteristic corkscrew curl crimped ear hairs they get after being really wet. While McStinky was getting her bath I was blowing the little guy dry with the hair dryer and brushing his hair at the same time. He looked almost professionally groomed by the end, so I figured I'd spritz him with a little perfume like they do at the groomers. I used some B&BWs Black Current Vanilla. Miss Newfssance got the same deal minus the blow dry brushing. She's self drying, being a Newfoundland and all.
Speaking of the B&BWs, I scored some new scents. If my olfactory bulb no longer did it's job I would be one sad little primate. Fortunately my senses all work well. Even though I have been sick with a run of the mill head cold that has alternately caused my nose to rain mucus and be completely plugged, I could still smell the turkey dinner and the Velvet Tuberose at the B&BWs. It's my new favorite.
I am so glad to be home now! The dogs have been big lovers, even Mr. Curmudgeon. He tried to climb into my lap to get snuggles when I was busy organizing my shoes in the closet. I decided that it is no longer sandal season so I put them away and broke out the winter shoes, including my new pair of snazzy black Euro tennies from Clarks that I found on sale last night. I asked for a discount because they only had the display model in my size. You have to do that; they won't offer it. It wasn't much - basically the amount of the sales tax, which is in principal an unfair tax. But that's another post. See, if you grow up in MT and marry someone who grew up in OR and both of you move to NH (all of which are states without sales tax) and then settle in state with a sales tax, you develop an attitude about the 8%.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
What I wrote comes from my etsy store announcement so the real work came in laying it out. I don't know why I made my job harder by doing it in Photoshop; I guess I knew that by doing so I would learn new tricks. I did. But wow, doing layout and design in that program is a pain.
Some artist statements are vacuous and overly flowery. I wanted to avoid that. I think I succeeded.
Now I just need to size and print out the inserts for two different sized envelopes, print stickers for the backs of the cards, stick them, and stuff the envelopes. I'm thinking of also bringing my bookmarks and monkey pendants to gauge interest in them. Although I have sold every bookmark I've listed on etsy, listing them is a royal pain and the profit margin isn't so great, so I'm not inclined to list more of them if they can be sold in other venues.
I don't have any expectations about this trunk sale. In an ideal world I would make enough to buy a new sewing machine so I can start making monkeys again. Why monkeys when none of them has sold yet? They bring people in to my store :D and relisting the same old one isn't going to attract people who already recognize him. Plus, I need a break from paper.
Wish me luck!
Monday, November 19, 2007
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Since Papio first launched, it has partnered with the African Wildlife Foundation to protect some of Africa ’s most treasured primates, such as the chimpanzee, golden monkey, mountain gorilla and bonobo, along with their habitats. I believe it’s important to support wildlife and habitat conservation through consumer choice, so I am a proud consumer of Papio even if it isn't a local wine (It's from CA).
"Monkeys are such playful, sociable animals. They’re a great reminder of what wine should be all about: having fun!" says the Papio label winemaker Erick Schultz in response to questions about the connection between the wine and monkeys.
Our local version of Papio has to be Dusted Valley Barrel Thief Red, a wine that you'd instantly recognize from the chimp on the barrel on its label. I'd rather have one of DV's shirts, but they don't donate to primate conservation and don't offer tees, so far as I know. It's hard enough to find a bottle of their monkey wine for sale! Barrel Thief Red is one of the local "artisan" wines that are made here in small batches. It's my local favorite in the high-end range, which for me starts at $18. We've got a bottle in our "cellar" waiting to be opened on a special occasion.
I prefer reds, though very recently, as in about two months ago, I tried some local chardonnay and found it surprisingly enjoyable. Last night we sampled some Da Ma wines. We would have walked away with a bottle of their chardonnay had the wine tasting room attendant not been alternately distracted by her 5-year-old daughter playing with light bulbs in the front window display and the material she herself read while pretending not to ignore us, the only people there. We left politely after she failed to hear my husband tell her we'd like to buy a bottle. The winery does offer tasty, affordable wines and supports local non-profit agencies, namely women's organizations such as the YWCA. Maybe we'll go back on a different night.
After leaving Da Ma, we stalked the Karastan rug we like in the furniture store that is closing up shop WITH DRASTIC PRICE REDUCTIONS ON EVERYTHING!!!!! (but the rug). Right now they're asking $550, but I only want to pay $350. I imagine someone else will come along who can actually afford to buy it at the price the furniture dealers want. After passing on the rug, we wound up in the tasting room of Sapolil Cellars.
We'd walked by several times but had never ventured in. It always looked like another hoity-toity joint that wouldn't be welcoming, but I still always got a kick out its name. It reminded me of a very cute kids book I found in Paris several years ago. The book is called "Sapajou et Bonobo" and is about a pair of apes who go on the run from poachers. Sapajou is a lil like Sapolil you see.
Anyhow, last night we went in and discovered that although the place is hoity-toity looking, the wine-maker and his daughter are decidedly down to earth. At one point we ended up talking about toilet paper, granted it was about a hypothetical "artisan toilet paper" made with lavender. We were there for hours, drinking free, yummy wine and making new friends, and for me, a business contact in the wine industry who I may be able to wholesale my cards to. We certainly got a lot more than the two bottles of wine we walked away with at the end of the evening.
Just so you know I am not a wine snob, I'll share my philosophy of wine pricing and buying:
(This only applies to red wine.)
under $5 - Don't bother drinking it; add it to a spaghetti sauce.
$6-12 - This is my comfort zone. I'll try most things in this price range and usually find that either the wine is enjoyable from the first sip or enjoyable after a full glass.
$13-18 - This stuff better be significantly better than good wines in the lesser price range in order for me to buy it again. I have to like it from the first sip.
$19-32 - Special occasion wine that better be incredibly good. Barrel Thief Red is in this group.
more than $32 - I'll be drinking on someone else's dime, or in a smash-o restaurant on a very special occasion, such as a 10 year anniversary, getting my PhD, or other event that only rarely occurs.
And now you understand a little more why I feel spoiled to live in a cozy house, in a wonderfully walkable neighborhood that is also walking distance to work, parks, downtown, and dozens of wine tasting rooms. Did I mention there are 300 days of sunshine here? You wouldn't want to leave either.
Friday, November 16, 2007
During medieval times the moors were Muslims, Arab and Berber, who lived throughout North Africa and Spain which is sometimes called the Mahgreb. Today the term moro refers not only to people of Moorish ancestry throughout that region, but also to Muslims in general in many parts of the world. Moro is also the name of blood oranges which are grown and consumed in the region, and also exported. Blood oranges have red flesh.
It would not be inaccurate to say that the Moors introduced some aspects of "civilization" to Europe. Mattresses are a good example. The word mattress come from an Arabic word meaning cushion. During the Crusades, which is what inspired the chess set, Europeans adopted the custom of sleeping on cushions thrown on the floor. Initially they were stuffed with straw. I first learned that simply by reading the dictionary I use while playing SuperScrabble with Mr. Field Notes. Our games takes days to finish and when one person takes a long time to play a word, the other usually winds up reading something. The dictionary is always nearby.
The Alhambra in Spain was constructed as a Moorish palace. I think it is one of the most gorgeous examples of architectural design in the world. Someday I will see it in person, perhaps as part of a trip to Morocco to see the Atlas Mountains and search for the "Barbary Ape" which is actually a monkey with a severely stubby tail. The name ape stuck I guess because people didn't realize they are monkeys who no longer have tails. Some monkeys don't have opposable thumbs, but they're still monkeys. That sounds like a subject for another post on hands, los manos, but really I was planning on discussing hands.
Today I received my order of hands of fatima from my new etsy expat contact in Morocco. The hands are fabulous! I first learned about hands of fatima when I went to Tunisia a few years ago. Tunisia is the county in North Africa between Algeria and Libya. It's like Morocco but is smaller and has a town sharing the name of Luke Skywalker's home town, Tataooine. Star Wars was filmed in Tunisia as was The English Patient which are some of the reasons we chose it over Morocco. All over the Magreb you will see hands of fatima. They are on tiles, door knockers, painted above doorways, and outlined in nails on the brightly colored arched doors that are characteristic of the region.
Hands of fatima are also called "hamsa" which means 5 in Arabic and Hebrew. Fatima was the daughter of the prophet Muhammed who is the person Allah chose to receive the words of the Qu'ran, the holy book of Islam. The hand is a folk symbol used in both Muslim and Jewish cultures to ward off the "evil eye" of envy. It predates Islam and Judaism.
On a beach in the Tunisian seaside town of Mahdia, Mr Field Notes bought me a tiny hand of fatima stamped with the words "souvenir de Tunisie" on the back. It hung off of a bracelet made out of cheap metal and blue plastic stones. I wore it proudly for a few months until the clasp broke. I eventually discarded the bracelet but kept the hand and attached it to a clasp so that I could wear it again on any beaded bracelet or necklace as an removable pendant. The hands are a terrific symbol to promote the idea of peace in the Middle East. I don't know exactly what I will do with the little hamsas I now have from Rabat, but I am sure they will be gifts of some sort.
In the meantime, I dream of one day going back to Mahdia to visit the textile district. We really screwed up when we only allowed ourselves one night there. Stupid. We didn't have enough time to go into town to explore the textile district. Mahdia is known for weaving. Sleyed should have planned better :D
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Shi, a jewelry designer who joined etsy about the same time I did, kindly volunteered to be my first interview subject.
My favorite piece from Shi: The Beauty Within, A Multi-
Gemstone Chakra Pendant. It's made with garnet, fossil stone, yellow jade, unakite, sodalite, amethyst, and quartz. The pendant is wrapped with sterling silver wire and priced very well at only $25.
1) How long have you been making jewelry, and how did you get started?
I started making jewelry after a combination of things happened to me, a car accident that left me with a back injury and homebound for awhile that I had to find a hobby, next my favorite bracelet broke then began my jewelry repairing and creating venture almost 4 years ago.
2) Is it your full-time job? If not, what do you do for a living and what strategies do you use to manage both?
I could only wish I could commit all of my time to my jewelry. During the day I’m a loan clerk at a local credit union and during the night I’m a wife, mom (of twin 16 year old boys) , a human pet to 2 Great Danes and 3 cats, then last but not least a jewelry designer. Between work and my family the only time I have really to work on my jewelry is after everyone is in bed. Then it’s “me” time, I turn off the tv, put on my favorite music then let the creative juices flow.
3) How did you first find out about etsy?
I heard about Etsy after reading a post in “Crafty Vixens” on Tribe.net. I used to sell on the other “E” site, but I wanted a more personal venue to sell my wares in.
4) You work with semi-precious gems and silver, so I'd guess that's your favorite material. Am I right? Do you have a favorite piece of jewelry that you've made? If so, tell me more about it.
You’re right, it is my favorite material to work with and wear. With so many color choices in the gemstones I can make anything to go with whatever outfit I have. My favorite piece is something that I have just recently created using a Goddess charm that I’m waiting for a copyright on. While I was listening to a new release by my favorite band, Woodland, I had a sort of vision for this necklace. After I made it, I posted it for the band to see….well they loved it and asked if I could make two for the lovely women in the band. It’s kind of a proud mama moment…I was honored.
5) What do you like most about making jewelry?
Honestly I truly enjoy the creative outlet that it offers. I like learning about the healing properties in the stones then creating a piece with those properties in mind.
6) What, if anything, is frustrating about it?
I think the most frustrating part is just not being able to dedicate the time that I would like to it. I’m envious of the people that can do that, but I’m also happy that they’re in a place that allows them to have that freedom. It’s always wonderful when our dreams come true. In time mine will come true too.
7) Finally, what inspires you?
I’m inspired by music, my dreams, the natural beauty of the stones that I work with, but mostly the beauty, both inside and out, in the women that I'm blessed enough to have in my life.
Sea Breeze Earrings - Another wonderful piece of jewelry created by Shi.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
And then, when she feels the need for a good stretch, she extends her giant front paw straight out and into my back so forcefully that I suddenly find myself thrust forward and curled over my laptop. She leaves her paw jambed into my back to reinforce her point. And then, just to make sure I noticed, she lets out her characteristic WRaaaa-ooooh-uuuuhn statement about how disgusted she is with the fact that I was in her way.
Just a typical morning when you share your living space with a person sized dog named Katy.
Max smartly stayed curled up in his bed in a warm, dark corner under his fleece blanket.
Some mornings I am tempted to do the same, but if I had, you'd never see a box like this!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
If it is possible to educate people about the biases in judgment they make while deciding who to vote for, the hope is that by doing so people will make more rational choices. In other words, in order to not be bamboozled into liking (or disliking) a candidate for superficial reasons, people need to know what influences our judgments of candidates. They also have to care that they make rational decisions, but that's a topic for another day.
I am afraid the average American chooses political candidates by deciding who they "like" most. Those who care to think a little more may decide who is the most "credible" or "capable." Too many people are too busy to really consider the issues so they end up voting for a candidate for stupid reasons.
What are some of these superficial reasons?
In no particular order:
Numerous studies have shown that people who are more physically attractive are perceived to be more capable, successful, happy, intelligent and just about any other desirable trait you can think of. The trouble is that beautiful people aren't necessarily more capable. We only think they are. Dennis Kucinich is cursed while Mitt Romney comes out a winner on this one. All other things being equal, the more attractive candidate will come out on top.
Size impresses animals, and humans like other animals, are impressed by tall people. Taller people tend to make more money, get raises more often, and as Presidential candidates, the taller candidate has won more of the popular vote in every election since the arrival of the television. We assume tall people, like attractive people, are more competent. In the animal kingdom, size corresponds to dominance.
The pitch of one's voice indicates dominance as well. Lower pitches are perceived to come from more dominant individuals. Vocal cords tighten under duress, so a nervous person or candidate tends to have a slightly higher pitch when talking. Size also influences pitch. Bigger bodies tend to be able to produce deeper notes throughout the animal kingdom. One very interesting study measured the pitch of Presidential candidates' voices during nationally televised debates and found that since 1960, pitch predicted the popular vote outcome in every election (Social Psychology Quarterly, 2002). Women are at a disadvantage here, just as with size, because they tend to be shorter and have higher pitched voices than men.
We like names we've heard of before. In fact, we like just about everything more the more familiarity we have with it. The mere exposure effect is well documented in psychological studies. Although there are a few exceptions to the rule that merely being exposed to a name, face, or object creates more positive feelings, in general the more times a person is exposed, the greater the chance that the person says they like it. That's one reason why raising money is so important. It gives candidates the ability to spread their name through TV ads, billboards, bumper stickers, signs and more.
Several studies of person perception, notably those of social psychologist Leslie Zebrowitz, have shown that people make attributions of a person's competence and credibility based on the size and shape of eyes, cheeks, forehead, lips, and chin. Not surprisingly given what is known about cues to dominance in other animal species, any feature that tends to be associated with testosterone and maleness in humans is a trait people associate with competence. This means that people with relatively small eyes, small cheeks, prominent chin and eyebrows, and thin lips tend to be perceived as more competent and credible.
Gestures and stance.
People who take up more space are believed to be more confident, competent, credible, and in control. That's no surprise either given the connection between size and dominance. An upright posture with shoulders extended uses more space, as does gesturing that is more expansive. More quality research needs to be done on this topic. The bulk of what is known is decades old.
In all, nonverbal cues such as appearance, voice, and name affect attributions people make about a candidate. Because so many cues to competence and credibility are associated with masculine traits, female candidates will be at a disadvantage whenever visual and vocal stimuli predominate. I think people would make more rational electoral choices in the absence of these cues.
Monday, November 12, 2007
These birds are crested auklets, and until recently the purpose of their strange behavior was a bit of a mystery.
Hector Douglas, an assistant professor of biology at the University of Alaska, had been observing the birds while conducting experiments on St. Lawrence Island in the northern Bering Sea. Through a series of ingenious experiments he found out the birds are strongly attracted to an orange-like scent that they secrete in wick-like feathers on their backs.
"They honed in on the scent, rotating their heads to place their nostrils directly over the dispenser. Then they rubbed their bills over the dispensers just as they would on the wick feathers of their partner. Next, the birds rubbed themselves on the lifelike models right in the area where the wick feathers are located,'' he said. "They would engage in prolonged loving on the models."
The birds rub the citrus-like scent on each other during courtship. Each adopts a characteristic posture, a signal to the other that some rubbing is desired.
According to Douglas, this is the first time alloanointing, or the transfer of chemicals, has been documented in birds. A few species of primates have been observed to anoint themselves, but not each other, with various organic compounds they get from breaking open centipedes. They spread the bug juice over their fur, thereby repelling pesky, biting insects.
The crested aukets' alloanointing also serves a practical purpose. Douglas showed the substance they secrete harms ticks. "The ticks exposed to average amounts of citrus scent moved much slower than the controls. They were sluggish, they staggered, and some appeared to be paralyzed,'' he said.
So just how does this help in mating?
Just like people with great hair and skin are more attractive, birds with good quality plumage are more attractive. Just as pimples and frayed hair are turn-offs to people, parasites turn glossy plumage into dull and ragged feathers that are a turn-off to birds.
Because birds can't preen their own heads and necks, those spots are vulnerable to ticks. By roping a partner into feather care, auklets can look better. It's very similar to going to get your hair cut before an important occasion. The birds pay for the service by returning the favor. Such reciprocal exchanges of support reinforce pair bonds.
Crested auklets are not the only ones who can benefit from a little prenuptial perfumery to get rid of the creepy crawlies and keep a budding romantic relationship alive. Viewers of the TV show Desperate Housewives may recall a comical scene aired recently in which Gabby successfully hid her affair with her ex-husband and the fact that she caught crabs from him by allo-anointing her husband. In order to keep her new husband from discovering her infidelity, she had to invent a way to treat his condition without letting him know that she caught crabs and gave it to him too. She turned the application of medicated lotion into a playfully erotic occasion, thus successfully keeping their pairbond alive.
Watch this human version of crested auklet allo-anointing:
The article, Prenuptial perfume: Alloanointing in the social rituals of the crested auklet (Aethia cristatella ) and the transfer of arthropod deterrents, will be published in the German journal Naturwissenschaften.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Yesterday I revised my teaching statement. I also reworked my statement of teaching philosophy, completely rewrote my research statement, and revised my cover letter (I am still not happy with it but it is good enough for now). I also took another look at my statement of teaching excellence. It's a self-analysis of how well I exemplify the qualities of a "master teacher" with quantitative data from my evals and qualitative quotes from students. I identify ways I plan to improve where I need to. This statement of teaching excellence isn't something I send out with applications; it goes in my teaching portfolio - a useful file to have if and when I ever need to compile a file for T & P.. ha ha. I hadn't updated it for a while, and truthfully, I really need to update it even more. It's a low priority for now.
It was great to work on the documents and make some marked improvements. I'm also having them reviewed by a peer who has served on several search committees for the type of position I'm aiming for.
I still have my dissertation to cut in half and make each part more concise. I need to update the literature review and beef up some of the topical sections. Setting a firm deadline for it is absolutely necessary - and I have to stick to it. It's harder than it looks to set one because I need to make it achievable. I also need to decide which is more important. I am leaning toward reworking the empirical paper first and dealing with the review article second. At least I know where I am sending them to! That is half the battle.
This week I also made an important business purchase - packaging. It had to happen eventually so that I could branch out from etsy to start doing wholesale orders. My materials should arrive next week. That leaves enough time to assemble everything for my first "trunk show" which will happen the weekend after Thanksgiving. I am not expecting much more than exposure because I will essentially be piggy backing on to another artist who has a customer base coming just to see a particular thing. It will be fun to see how my work is received outside of the etsy community.
I have two blank boxes and some envelopes to create - projects sitting in front of me - plus application materials I need to print out tonight... dogs to walk, TV to watch (is Grey's Anatomy new tonight?), dinner to eat...
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
When you go birdwatching in the same places time and again, like I did with Mr. Field Notes here at the reservoir, it becomes easy to identify the regulars. Sometimes that's all you see. I like novelty, and of course actually seeing a "life bird," but what really excites me is the challenge of identifying the new birds. It's part of the fun of foreign travel! Seeing the kingfisher in Japan was definitely a highlight as was the hoopoe in Tunisia.
I put up this bookmark for sale today on etsy, and I am clueless about what the birds on the stamps are! Perhaps some bird enthusiasts may drop by here and be able to tell me the general type of the birds. Their scientific names aren't given on all of the stamps.
I think one of them is some sort of dove or pigeon. What's the difference between those anyway?
One of the yellow ones looks like a finch based on the bill, but then again maybe it's a type of sparrow?
Some birds go by a different name in another location even though they are effectively the same bird. That only adds to the confusion of bird names. And don't even get me started on how amusing it is to see old bird guide books! Genus names change - not species or common names - entire genuses. Or is it geni?
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I choose not to wear the academic burqa.
Perhaps it's unfair or wrong logic to call that style of dress a burqa, but I see some connections. Both stifle the display of sexuality and are adopted in response to cultural norms that dictate that style of dress. If you depart from that norm you'll get publicly admonished, strange looks, and some comments from those "who mean well."
In academic culture, it seems to be the case at SLACs anyway, female college professors wear clothing that is drab and seemingly designed to repel men, or at least, not attract them. I also know a lot of academic women, professors included, at SLACs who have a difficult time dating. The pool of attractive men is small, perhaps because smart women want smart men (just like every other woman on the planet) and the most attractive men are either uninterested in a "relationship" or are taken. Many people find mates at the workplace, so why not dress to impress there? Women in other professions do it all the time.
Maybe women adopt the academic burqa to avoid harassment. That's one purpose of the burqa. If you don't give them anything to gawk at, they won't gawk right?
I have certainly caught a few male students checking out my legs, breasts, and butt - but rather than hiding behind baggy clothes and head to toe covering, I go on about my job and wear what I like. If some guys look a little, where is the harm? I'm not offended by it. And, maybe some of them will pay better attention. Studies have shown that students (male and female) pay more attention to attractive teachers. We are, to some extent, wired to attend to people who are attractive. We also have enough self-control to stop ourselves from looking.
I am reading the book "Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Qur'an" by Asma Barlas, a professor of politics at Ithaca College. Though the writing is far from smooth, and that is why it is taking me so long to slog through it, I have picked up some insight about Islamic culture. One of those concerns the burqa.
Interpretations of the vague wording in the Qur'an about women's proper attire have been taken by conservatives (Islamacists, Saudi culture, and others) to mean that women should cover their bodies so as to not reveal womanly curves. They should not decorate their faces with makeup, so as to not entice men who are not their husbands to look upon them as sexual objects. They should similarly not wear nail polish - that's a sexual signal too.
They would have us believe that to display one's body in such ways is to invite sexual advances from men who cannot control themselves. They would have us believe that men can only be kept in check and women can only be protected from sexual harassment (and worse) by effectively "disappearing" women from view.
Now I don't know about you, but I have more faith in men's self-control than the patriarchal readings of the Qur'an and indeed, our own culture, imply.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
At the time, my chem teacher probably hoped that I would go on to be an amazing chemist who would frequently use the book. Obviously I didn't go into chemistry - blame a series of cruddy college chem profs and stellar psych profs for that one! When I began college I really had every intention of majoring in chemistry and biology. I never took a college bio class (sh!) because I got the AP credit. Although I didn't major in bio or chem, I did continue to study biology pretty heavily. Chemistry fell by the wayside, and now sadly the best I can do is list some elements. Nevertheless, I still use that $140 CRC Handbook every freaking day - as a paper weight.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Thursday, November 01, 2007
What's more, I live in the middle of a huge arboretum and never really realized it until I started making regular rounds to pick up leaves for my embossed paper cards. My favorites are the ginkgo, the heart shaped leaves from the redbud trees, the rounded leaf white oaks, and my new favorite - a tree that produces one of the funkiest leaves I've seen.
I had collected some of the leaves before for my papermaking without knowing what type of tree they were from. I didn't really care too much... until the other day when Mr. Field Notes drew my eye to the tree's unique seed pod. That piqued my interest.
The seeds radiate out from a central stamen-like structure making the whole pod look a bit like a flower. But that's not where the tree's name comes from. It produces yellowish-orange flowers that look like tulips.
I used a website to help me identify the tree it comes from based on just the leaf, but that was a bit tricky because the tree is evidently rare enough to not make the list of the tree I.D. tools that appear on the first page of google.
After a diligent search, I discovered my mystery tree is a tuliptree (Liriodendron tulipifera).
It's the largest member of the magnolia family, but it is also called a yellow poplar. Go figure. It's native to the eastern part of the country. I've found a few of these trees growing here, and judging by the size of the ones I found, they've probably been growing here for as long as the town has existed.
Mr. Field Notes wanted to plant some seeds in our front yard when he learned more about the tuliptree, but then we found out the soil condition in our front yard is not at all likely to sustain it even if the seeds succeeded in germinating. So, instead, I am going to experiment with making them in to paper!
But first I am forcing myself to revamp my behemoth of a dissertation into two short articles.
Believe me, I'd rather be making paper...
This is the mini-card I made last week (you can see part of the seed pod in the upper right hand corner of the photo):