A very wonderful Valentine's Day to you all! I am celebrating… handing in a chapter!

sea turtle yay!
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Writing up interviews is not easy!

From an anthropological perspective, there's always the worry that I'm committing the ethical crime of appropriating someone else's subaltern culture. Racially I'm white, and I don't want to even accidentally appear to act like I'm either stealing the words of, or attempting to speak for, any of the minority participants. Also, as I feel is only correct, CIIS strongly suggests all participants be allowed to review what you've written about them, so they know for sure that you've not either misquoted or misrepresented them.

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As the holiday season approaches, I've been asked by several folks what I want for Christmas. There are the easy answers, which I suspect I will not receive despite all my dreaming: a white Christmas, rational national leadership, world peace, and all my student loans magically wiped away. :-D

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Happy Friendsgiving!

27 Nov 2019 In: Anthropology, Family, House stuff, Random

I love the idea of a day for giving gratitude for friends and family, for one's warm/fed/dry/whatever circumstances, or even simply because feeling grateful helps one to appreciate life more. Just for fun I cooked for a few years… and then I'd had enough of that! We started celebrating at nice restaurants instead. Good food served to us with no worries about cleanup or whether there'd be enough or if the cats had gotten on the counter with the whipped cream… perfect solution, we thought!

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Review: Bristly dog toothbrush

12 Feb 2019 In: Random

Goldie's Bristly Dental Set Christmas gift finally arrived a few days ago! Here's my review.

The (slightly crumpled) package I received had three items in it: the big, green, sturdy Bristly itself; a smallish tube of "Bristly pre-biotic toothpaste"; and a triangular blue, umm… thing… which is apparently a tongue cleaner. It has a wide, round suction cup on the back so you can stick it to the floor for your dog. I'm not sure how useful it is, though, since Goldie ended up doing a great deal of licking on the Bristly itself.

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Later edit: I was notified that some of the video links weren't working. I think they all are now, but please do notify me if any of them don't?

Yesterday I bragged on Goldie's Novice Trick Dog title, so today I'd like to share some of her awesome work on her Intermediate and Advanced titles! To receive the titles a dog has to successfully perform 15 tricks for the Novice, 15 more for the Intermediate, and then five more difficult tricks for the Advanced, and five tough ones for the Expert.

Goldie in new bandanna & ITD certificate!

Goldie in her spiffy new purple DMWYD bandanna & her ITD certificate!

For me, a fabulous part of this was discovering that there are Facebook pages by accredited coaches which are dedicated to helping folks reach the various levels they wish to accomplish. Best of all? They give you excellent tips on teaching the tricks, and they'll witness your films of the tricks for free! I'm currently working with Kim Mayes' Rockin' Dawgs Spark Teams. They are, of course, closed groups but they're easy to join; the link will take you to the Novice one. It's a ton of fun. ;)

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Later edit: I was notified that some of the video links weren't working. I think they all are now, but please do notify me if any of them don't?

So there's this thing called patellar tracking disorder which, if you are a middle-aged or older woman, is apparently something you have to watch out for. In a nutshell: the muscles that hold the patella, or knee cap, in the right place for your knee joint can weaken to the point that the patella sort of drifts away from where it should be — and ends up rubbing painfully against other bones in the knee. It was not something I knew about, but I've become intimately acquainted with it in the past couple of months. Did I mention painful?

According to my doctor, for two to three weeks I needed to stop any running or twisting motions with my knees — which effectively wiped out my agility training with Goldie, and my ATS bellydancing. Drat! Fortunately, the "fix" for patellar tracking disorder is relatively simple: exercise. So I did the doctor-recommended exercises for about two weeks, and one of my wonderful housemates gave me my Solstice gift a little early: a gym membership with a trainer! I've consequently been working out there for the past three weeks or so, and now I am deeply pleased to report that my knee is doing much better! It's funny, though, how often physical and mental issues I have are resolved by exercise. Geez, you'd think maybe I should, like… do it routinely or something! ;)

So because I wasn't able to do any agility training with Goldie I decided I would do some other type of work with her, so she wouldn't get bored. It had to be something we could do inside, where I wouldn't be required to move around too much — so I chose trick dog training. I'd been idly training her to do tricks to relax in between agility training elements, after all, for the past two or three years, and it was clear she enjoyed doing them… so surely it wouldn't be too much of a change for her?

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Things that make me happy (part 1)

8 Nov 2017 In: Random

Because I'm feeling somewhat under the weather due to a touch of stomach flu, I've decided to put today's writing time into happy thoughts. The following occurred about two years ago, but it still makes me smile, and people laugh when I tell the story, so I thought I'd write it down to share to a larger audience.

At a recent steampunk convention I was at I noticed there was a sort of scavenger hunt in which one could participate. I eagerly signed up, and learned that the things to be collected were stamps from different locations at the con, which you had to figure out from the clues. Several of them turned out to be in the dealer's room, and in order to get your stamp you had to do some funny little thing the dealer asked you to do. These varied from doing a "proper villain's laugh" to singing a short bit from a song about balloons to decorating a little steampunk cog and adding it to a board of interlinked and moving cogs, and other similar things.

There was one dealer I located, but I noticed two girls were there before me — so I politely waited and watched. The two girls were standing in front of the little desk/table, swaying slightly and making low groaning sounds. That… was odd… but the dealer smiled at them, told them that was good, and stamped their papers. They scampered off and I stepped up and explained why I was there. He said he was happy to stamp my paper, but first he wondered: had I ever seen the legendary Galapagos Tortoise, and heard its beautiful song? It was reputed to sound a bit like whale song. Did I know the Song of the Galapagos Tortoise?

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Author: Maya Angelou

Review first posted April 2004

It took a while to decide to review this book. There is an unfortunately strong current societal meme which says if you are: (less victimized, &/or more financially secure, male, white, privileged, whatever) then you don't get to comment. I understand it's a natural reaction to the horror of being silenced due to not being recognized as even human, and I emphatically don't want a return to that. But as Angelou herself notes, bigotry perpetrated by those who have suffered bigotry doesn't make it right.

 

Too, if I am silent due to fear of censure but blame society for it, who is really at fault? I strongly believe in both facing one's fears, and in allowing all to speak, so meaningful dialogue occurs. How else to learn from each other? So here's the review. I feel contributing one's thoughts & experiences to on-going societal dialogue is good, even if — especially if — one's personal experiences are different than those of others. After all, wide variety in experiences makes for more interesting shared commentary.

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This makes me feel bad — so it must be bad!

On deeper examination of this issue, I believe the selfish desire to profit regardless of the pain or damage it causes others is behind the deliberately inaccurate reframing of cultural appropriation as something good. For example, I've seen terms such as "cultural evolution" and "anti-censorship" tossed loosely around as justification. Let's try unpacking these phrases to see what they really mean.

The concept of cultural evolution is an attempt to broadly apply the theory of evolution, based on biological natural selection, to a different intellectual field. However, if we more deeply explore the theme of cultural appropriation as a form of evolution, how do we account for the hurt and damage it causes in the unjustly appropriated culture? If we are matching this to some sort of biological exchange then aren't we perilously close to admiring what is in effect cultural rape? Do we really want to take that route to self-justification?

Fortunately cultures (unlike individual organisms) are not biological organisms, and therefore cannot engage in natural selection — there are no "culture genes," for example. As a consequence, trying to apply natural selection to cultures makes about as much sense as trying to apply it to, say, mathematics. True, mathematicians are biological entities which perform the math in question — but you cannot point to, say, a gene in the math itself that will lead to the creation of calculus from algebra. Similarly, you cannot point to a gene in a culture that helps produce authoritarianism or egalitarianism or whatever. Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Enjoy!

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