Thursday, May 24, 2007

Random Sharing

I just have a bunch of random stuff today, but that's ok, we don't need a dramatic feminist post every day ;)

Though speaking of feminism.....I'm not sure if I ever mentioned this on my blog, but last semester I took Animal Behavior with a professor I found to be pretty damn sexist. I thought it was me being all women's college graduate on his ass, until one girl from Tufts, which as great a university as it is, I do not find it to be a bastion of feminism, raised her hand and said "Professor? You never call on girls when you ask a question. Even when their hands are raised." HA! I thought, You are soooo right, sister. The professor looked bewildered for a second and then said "Ok, you're right. Ok......." Then he turned to her suddenly and with this shattered look on his face he whined "BUT IT'S MY CLASS and I can call on whomever I WANT!!" I sat there stunned. Dude, I thought, could you not be so blatant with your man-favoring?? He also yelled at a girl when she said "Vagina Monologues" in class. He pointed a pointer at her and said "You can't say that word in my class" Oh I'm sorry are we not in BIOLOGY, does not half the class have in their possession a va-jay-jay? Anyways, so I decided not to be so much of a fan of that professor (though in the end he gave me a C. A gift, because Jesus knows I did not do well on his exams. phew.) Last night I was sitting in my first Wetlands Management class. You know when you just get a vibe that a person is cool and nice? I definitely got that from my professor almost instantly. I think it's because he's not pretentious and tried to be friendly to us, but was still the teensiest bit shy. Plus I get the feeling he's really freakin' brilliant, but he's not a showoff. So he's going over the syllabus with us, telling us a bit about his consulting work, just going along, when one of my classmates raises her hand. "Can we do our project on a man-made wetland?" He smiles and looks at her and says "Of course, man or woman-made wetlands are fine, if you like." I sat there and smiled and thought 'I like this guy already.'

And speaking of class, while taking notes about a habitat, I often throw in what types of bird species would live in it. Because I am super bio nerd of the world, associating a bird with a habitat actually helps me remember the qualities of a habitat better. For example, if you have a beach with piping plovers on it, I"m going to know what the beach is like simply because I know what type of beach plovers (which I pronounce "Pl-O-vers" but my boss pronounced "p-love-ers" with the "love" in there. I loved that) prefer. Same with something like a wood duck or killdeer. Anyways, I'm taking notes about swamps and my professor pointed out that in swamps the dead trees are sometimes the single most valuable ecological feature of the wetland, and he has been involved in resoration projects that cemented snags (dead trees) into swamp. I found myself taking notes and write "Important for species such as pileated and ivory-billed woodpeckers" I sat there after I wrote that sentence and thought "the ivory-bill is extinct. no one has confirmed its existence in the world today, not really." I smiled though and thought "but I know it's there." Hope-a-holic indeed.

While I'm talking about Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers, I need to recommend a sciency book for any bird-lovers out there, or anyone who really wants a glimpse of how insane birders really are. As a fiction-lover and a former non-fiction avoider, I must say that this is one book that reminded me of the importance of including a healthy dose of non-fiction in my reading diet. Tim Gallagher's The Grail Bird is part of the reason why I feel it's even the least bit appropriate to write down "Ivory-billed woodpecker" as a living wetland species with a penchant for dead trees. He made me want to believe and then actually believe a species can persist even in the face of near-complete destruction, and reminded me why I wanted to stick with the conservation field, even when genetics was making me tear my hair out.

Now I've been on this quest to read 100 books this year. I'm doing alright, especially since I have 3 books at home that I'm 95% done with and just need to read the ending. I've been starting new ones before finishing old ones because I hate to finish a book on the train and then sit there for 30 minutes staring into space or trying to tune out the i-pod music or overly-loud cell conversation from the person next to me. I must say that I haven't read anything disappointing thus far. There have been the sensational but strange (The News from Paraguay it got mixed reviews on Amazon, but I think people were looking for things that weren't there, like a history lesson. This book is Gabriel Garcia-Marquez-esque, dark and extraordinary, not historical fiction!) and there were my beloved Mma Ramotswe books from the Number One Ladies Detective Agency series which I highly highly highly recommend (they are so African; never has a book so closely captured the more mundane life of rural Africa. All you ever read about is famine, AIDS, dictators, genocide, and the plight of the continent and her people. While these issues are real and accounts are true, I found that in the small rural towns in Kenya, life is calm, peaceful and very much like Mma Ramotswe's Botswana. It is an excellent break, reading this series) I also love Alexander McCall Smith's Isabel Dalhousie series, which are sort of like the Mma Ramotswe books (endearing female heroine) only in Scotland (and not as loved on Amazon, but I found them nonetheless entertaining). I read some nonfiction too, and the slim volume that Calvin Trillin wrote to honor his late wife was by far my favorite piece thus far. About Alice was a simple tribute to a woman that was this man's entire world. I saw this book on some list or other, maybe a best seller list, maybe in the paper - I don't actually remember. And while some of you will probably recognize Trillin's name immediately, as he has been a staff write for the New Yorker for nearly 45 years and has a list of publications a mile long on his resume, I had never heard of him. I saw About Alice on my library's shelf, and grabbed it. I read the book jacket, something I ALWAYS do (because nothing is worse to me then getting a book home, reading it, hating it and feeling like you just wasted your time because you could've read a gem of a book had you just read the jacket) and saw that it was a memoir about his wife who died on 9/11/01 of heart failure from complications from cancer. 'A cancer memoir' I thought. Working at a cancer hospital I can manage cancer memoirs fairly well, but they're a rather depressing lot. I added it to the pile nonetheless. I soon realized after reading the first few pages that this would not be a cancer story - no way, this was going to be a love story. The book is 96 pages, yet after I finished it, I loved Alice too. I felt like I knew Alice and Calvin and their daughters and friends, so passionate was Trillin's storytelling. There were no sordid medical tales, no long ramblings of what radiation and heart failure do to the body, no long story of Alice's physical decline. There were simple vignettes about adventures with Alice, the funny things she used to say and do, and their life together. Trilin mentions something he heard once - I can't recall the story exactly, but basically a woman's boyfriend proposed to her and while she was telling someone about it, she said "He loves me. But will he love me like Calvin loved Alice?" That sums up this heartfelt tribute. One reader on Amazon says "Alice is a bore - couldn't like her" I want to email her and say "well did you actually read the book and do you have a heart and soul, or has glacial ice taken the place of both?"

Finally, I just want to recommend a crafty site. I read SouleMama every day. I love her posts and the fact that she shares her life with her readers. It's mostly a crafy blog, but her kids are often prominent features, and I think they're all hilarious. Her most recent post is a little story about how her oldest son is going on his first sans parent overnight at his grandparents. Her storeis are so endearing and full of heart - I so admire the type of parent she and her husband are and love reading about her adventures as a mom. A+!

Ok I have rambled waaaay too long this morning. Happy Thursday all - just a bit longer til the weekend!

PS A final word - women of the world: if you're wearing white/light pants to work, get underwear a couple of shades darker than your skin tone. YOU CAN SEE WHITE UNDERWEAR THROUGH YOUR PANTS. I know you might not think so but oh hell yes, you can. Here's a link to Victoria's Secret. These panties are no show in that they won't leave you with a panty line, plus they come in several "skin" shades - remember, a couple shades darker than your skin tone NOT WHITE!!

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