Some years ago I had a friend with whom I lunched on a weekly basis. At that time he was on a job team that had something particularly difficult and complex to accomplish. This wouldn't have been such a big deal except that, frankly speaking, the manager was terrible. He wished to hear only that things were finished; he didn't want to hear about or assist with technical details or difficulties. As he became more… disinterested, more hostile to listening to the team members tell him anything he didn't want to hear, he added someone he liked to the team — a guy who was (pardon my bluntness) basically a brown-noser.

Unsurprisingly the team started fracturing soon thereafter, as the brown-noser picked someone to scapegoat to his boss — my friend. It was a rather painful time for both my friend experiencing this, and myself as listener, since I could see what was happening. I tried to gently urge him to start looking for a job right away so he could leave as soon as possible… but he really wanted to believe the team could indeed accomplish its goal. As it turned out, he was right — the team staggered to a shaky conclusion point. The very next day my friend was fired. Because he lived some distance from me, and it was his work that was close to me, we put our weekly lunches on hold.

Fast forward to now: I get an IM (Instant Message) from my friend suggesting I look at a particular web page. I do so; it's some girl's blog. I read a few entries and am not terribly impressed; I'm thinking she seems to be rather… self-centered? Kind of has a chip on her shoulder for some reason… might want to work a bit on her grammar and spelling. Maybe she's still in her teens or early twenties? No idea; don't really care since her chatter about herself is not very interesting to me.

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I don't usually use trigger warnings in my writing, mostly because I don't expect that many people read my blog, and those that do have not asked me to please do so — which I'd be happy to? -but wevs at this point. However, I'm using a trigger warning this time for… hm. I guess for possibly graphic descriptions of sickness? Therefore: please be warned.

 

I'd meant to write about our new dog right after the posting on the kitties. However, two rather significant events happened which derailed my writing. First, we signed on a house — WOW! I'm still amazed and thrilled by this. Second, we went out to celebrate with dinner that night… and I promptly came down with a hugely and painfully debilitating case of what I think was either food poisoning or stomach flu. I was under the impression that food poisoning usually lasted only a day or two. However, it's six days later, and I'm only today beginning to have enough functioning brain cells that I'm focusing well — which is annoying as heck. I truly loathe feeling stupid and not up to snuff.

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Two of the fruits

Two of the fruits

I'm trying to write more often — it's way too easy for me to get into a no-writing slump and procrastinate on my dissertation proposal. Everything I've read on the process says any writing is better than none, so this is a collection of thoughts all tossed out for consideration. The first one, though, is a request for help on identifying a particular fruit. In the backyard of one of the houses we visited — we're house-hunting again now that the previous possible purchase fell through — was a fruit tree. I took one of the fruits to try and identify it, though I didn't actually take a bite of it.

The fruit cut in half

The fruit cut in half

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As I write this I've just spent the past two or three hours sitting in the tire shop and waiting for a tire change. It was busy there; fortunately I knew it might take a while and planned ahead so I had my drink and one of my textbooks to read. The book's cover is attractive: off in the distance you can dimly make out a rust-colored desert background with scudding dust-red clouds reflected on the red surface below — though it's not clear whether that is a mirage or a lake. Up closer to the viewer, and strikingly precise in comparison to the soft, distance-faded edges of the background, flies an osprey. It is a curious choice of bird for the cover: distinctively marked, ospreys are renowned for being extremely poorly suited to captivity. To put it simply, they pine away. This one flies free on the cover, but I still find myself wondering: what is a fish-eating bird doing in a desert biome?

Osprey in flight over Lake Wylie, SC - from wikipedia

Osprey in flight

The cover suits the book, which is titled Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. The author is Terry Tempest Williams; I generally enjoy her writings for her ability to intriguingly weave together personal experience, a deeply compassionate emotion, and ecofeminist themes. This book is as excellent as I expect: she ties together the natural rising of Utah's Great Salt Lake and the ensuing disastrous loss of viable living and nesting grounds for a huge variety of birds and other wildlife due to the pressures of human encroachment… with her mother's — her entire matriline's — doomed struggles with cancer, due to Utah and Nevada having been used as nuclear testing grounds.

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I'm reading Vandana Shiva's Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, & Development for an on-line class on Ecofeminism which I'm TAing. The following are two comments made on the class forum at different times.

While reading both the book and the forum comments, I was reminded of a study I read about many years ago (which means unfortunately I've lost it, darnit!) which reviewed war as a profit source. The current common perspective is that war is good for the economy — especially that of the winning side. So the study's researchers examined several wars over the past century or so, and discovered something fascinating: war is not actually good for the economy, so much as it is good for the "captains of industry" (read: the old white guys that own everything already) — but only of the winning side. So not only are these the men who aren't actually risking themselves or their families when they urge a society to go to war, but they're also those who most stand to gain. It's everyone else – including the environment and the poor, especially women and children, on both sides — who will lose in war, regardless of who supposedly "wins."

I have some friends I have amiable arguments with about things like this, and some time ago I said to one of them that current Third World development by First World companies was almost a war on the people there. He scoffed, pointing out that lots of folks made money on that development, and it was good for the industrialization of the countries involved.

I have to say now, though, thinking about it — I think I didn't go far enough in my description. I think maldevelopment (Shiva's descriptive term of the economic and ecological devastation which occurs when First World corporations start throwing their economic weight around in Third World countries) really is a war on the poor, the women and children, and the environment. I don't think it's done maliciously, per se — I think it's worse: these people are absolutely indifferent to the pain, destruction, suffering, and death they're causing in their incessant quest for more profit. In maldevelopment there may be short-term gain for the rich of the non-industrialized nation, but I suspect it's only the already-rich of the so-called First World countries that benefit in the long term, just like in any war.

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So I'm thinking about books and research, as I'm driving back home from turning in yet another handful of library books, several of which were brought to me via the courtesy of Interlibrary Loan — a true lifesaver for me, in regards to getting some of the less well-known works which I'm reading for either class texts or dissertation proposal research. Consider this a shout-out of gratitude to the San Jose Public Library system, which is linked with the San Jose University library as well, thereby marvelously expanding their collection!

My housemates have been real troopers too, in that they have allowed me to borrow library books using their cards as well as mine. This was enormously helpful during my two comps classes, when I had to check out, read, and review — and manage, since if I accidentally got an overdue book fine it was my responsibility, not theirs — about 35 books per three-month semester. I get my brain candy from the library too, which is a financial blessing in that I don't have to pay for a book which I'll tear through in about an hour or three to relax, then likely be done with forever — since I tend to only read those once.

So I'm still driving, and considering all this as I drive: via the miracle of the internet, when I call for them, these marvelous books come from all over the country to me! It is thanks to the internet also that I can so easily find the varied, unusual, and sometimes eclectic works I need; I can likely count on one hand the number of times the vast and wondrous US interlibrary loan system has failed me. Further, I've had these books, magazines, and articles being placed on hold for me, checked out to me, reviewed by me, and returned by me for… goodness, it's been well over five years now! That means for the past five years I've had anywhere from one to 15 books stacked on my desk in the library book spot, so I don't misplace them — though that is not a perfect system, since they do tend to wander with me while I'm reading them. Nevertheless, there is no dust or random other-stuff in that always-filled spot of my often-messy desk.

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The following is a quick review of an article read for the Ecofeminism class in which I am a TA — yay! I'd like to figure out how to TA more… though apparently you cannot TA for a class you haven't actually taken. Considering the changeover in classes occurring in my program in the past few semesters, that appears to leave all the older students out in the cold. I'm going to have to ask for clarification on that policy.

Re the article reviewed here, it's quite fascinating and I recommend it strongly. It can be found on-line: Toward a Queer Ecofeminism by Greta Gaard. If you end up reading it, I'd love to hear your thoughts in comments below. Enjoy!

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Finally had a bit of a breakthrough on my dissertation proposal — hallelujah! Working now on getting a dissertation committee Chair, and figuring out all the astonishing amounts of paperwork that must be filed as well. Gah! The Chair is harder than it sounds — this person must be a professor at my school and should be familiar with the niche subject I'm interested in researching, in the niche field which is my corner of the Philosophy & Religion department. Another gah.

So this means I'm frequently kind of out of brain juice, so I'm taking this moment to try and help out a sister scholar who is doing some research for a personal project on menstruation. If you're willing to answer a few interesting questions regarding menstruation, would you head on over to her site and check it out, please? :)

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I have great friends. ;)

8 Sep 2014 In: Random, Year of 50 new things

My friends are a delight — which is a huge relief when I'm cranky due to being ill or tired! I'm very lucky they all still put up with me. ;)

One dear on-line friend of many years accepted my recent google+ contact request, then sent me a message: "You literally just gave me the ability to IM you at any moment. I can't fathom why you thought this was a good idea. It is all cat GIFs from here."

Another "face to face" friend is always good for fun commentary: "It's amazing how much sweet potatoes look like Jabba the Hutt." A pause to consider for a moment, then: "No wonder they're so bad tempered!"

The same friend some time after helping me move some things: "Of course I'm fine — I've got an ice pack down my pants!" He'd wrenched his back earlier. :)

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Grumpy mutterings

7 Sep 2014 In: Random

I hate being sick. Hatehatehate it with the fiery passion of coughing exhaustion coupled with the urge to rasp out: "just kill me now!" I really despise having no energy to even get out of bed… and I loathe having that groggy-foggy-headed case of the stupids. Memory check says: yes, I am smarter than this, dammit!

I had my tonsils removed when I was 5 or so – no biggie, as far as I remember. So why do the stupid things have to partially grow back, and then get infected now?! Swallowing should not feel like ground glass on the back of your throat!

To be fair – a mental state I consider highly overrated when I'm in pain – I should mention this is partly my own fault. A few nights of way too little sleep, coupled with enthusiastically overdoing it physically, coupled with not taking my vitamins for almost a week… and I'm not really surprised I'm ill. I'm not wild about my Trader Joes's Women's multivitamins, though – especially having to take five of them a day. Admittedly, they noticeably perk me up when I take them religiously, but I don't enjoy having to take them scattered throughout the day – I want to take them all at once and have it over with, you know? But if I do that, they make me nauseous. I'm totally open for suggestions on better vitamins to take, audience!

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Bestiaries depict mythical, moralizing animals, but are also potential allegorical sparks that can bloom into brilliant mental bonfires. My bestiary is this mythologizing animal's fascinated exploration of beauty & meaning in the wonder of existence -- in the hopes of inspiring yet more joyous flares of intellectual passion.

Help yourself & me too!

Buy good used books at Laughing Collie's store on half.com. After purchasing there, ask me here for a free book as well!

Enjoy!

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