Wednesday, December 29, 2004

We arrived

It's good to be home. We arrived Sunday evening, our bags got here this morning. Finally ... out of pajamas. Well, perhaps I'm not out yet.

Spending time with the sisters and parents, with their spouses. Hope and Rob tried to leave this morning but had to turn back because of the blizzard (still going on here). Watching the news to track what's happening near the Indian Ocean.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Help!

OK, we were supposed to be flying to Newfoundland yesterday but that didn't happen. Snow, you know. Anyhow, we're supposed to be flying tomorrow now. Please pray, anyone who sees this during our scheduled flight period (11:59AM on Christmas Day to 1:15PM the next day), that all would go as planned, that the snow would be kept up in the skies and that our flights would depart, transport and arrive in a timely fashion.

In short, ask God to do selfish things for us, provided that these things don't throw a massive monkey wrench in his eternal plan for the universe.

Oh, and Merry Christmas, y'all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

All complete! [a delayed reaction]

Yes, we finished up last Friday. Did as little as possible on Friday afternoon but I ended up running around at school until 4 PM anyway, finishing up odds and ends. Went with the dorm gang for ice cream at Braum's in the PM.

Saturday, went for a last-visit-before-Christmas trip to the SDA church where we were doing our ethnography observation. We were invited out for lunch afterwards and spent a lovely early afternoon with a couple from Kenya (Joshua) and Botswana (T.K.). Then, we came home and fell asleep until about 5:30. Starting to feel the adrenal drop, post studies.

Went to Cedar Pointe church on Sunday morning, had lunch with the Buchers and fellow GIAL folks unti mid-afternoon. Tried to do up a newsletter and Christmas cards in the evening but Rob's Mac and the printer went crazy. Gak! Some little piece inside the printer snapped and the black ink cartridge won't sit properly anymore. And Rob lost sight of his hard-drive and has been trying to get it back since Sunday evening now. All day yesterday, all day today (so far) ... he's over at the school now, trying to re-register all his software. He had to backup all his data, when he found it again, and wipe the hard-drive, reinstall OSX. [sigh] I hope he finishes up today.

We need to go buy some barber shears this evening. He's starting to look like Wolverine. Actually, he insists that he now looks more like Krusty the Klown. I am undecided at this time. Either way, the fuzz ends here, tonight. Hope (my sister) and Rob (my brother-in-law) are having Toni (my niece) baptized on Boxing Day and I want us both to look presentable.


Wolverine


Krusty the Klown

Eshinee working at the library


Eshinee working at the library, originally uploaded by eshinee.

Rob doing grammar homework


Rob doing grammar homework, originally uploaded by eshinee.

Rob and Eshinee; the Christmas photo


RobEshXms, originally uploaded by eshinee.

Rob with fellow students


Rob with fellow students, originally uploaded by eshinee.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Anthro exam complete!

Rob is still in there writing his anthro exam. I finshed in about 30 minutes. It was a decent exam. Rob and I are doing an experiment on this exam. On the midterm, I had prepared all kinds of notes and studied pretty thoroughly. Rob says he doesn't know how to study and, therefore, he didn't study at all. He only got 4% less than I did. So, for this one, we studied exactly the same amount as each other, except for the time I spent preparing our notes. That is, I collected notes for 2 hours and we studied together by running through the notes one time, 1.5 hours. It'll be interesting to see if studying actually does help me remember more.

We have a short 12 minute presentation to do tomorrow in anthro class, on our visits to the SDA church. Preparation shouldn't take too long. I think we'll just come up with a list of salient events or practices and take turns talking about them.

I made cookies yesterday; chocolate chips, raisins and oatmeal.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Chapel talk complete!

Woohoo! It went well. I went overtime [roughly 40 minutes instead of 20 ... eep!], but it went well. David chased by Saul, 25 years from anointing to kingship. Pictures of Philistines, satellite maps and rotund infant statuettes; I had it all.

I am now stopping for today. This has been a dense workweek, school-wise. We have a couple of things to go to tomorrow but I think we'll make it to a movie this weekend. Alexander, here we come!

Gotta arrange a taxi trip for Christmas morning. We're flying out of Dallas airport at 8:40AM and it's an international flight so we need to be there 2 hours early. I wasn't thinking about getting to the airport when I made the flight arrangements, obviously. Who would be available to give us a lift 6AM Christmas morning? Doh! Oh well, better than a month's worth of parking lot fees. We'll be coming back to Dallas in late January. Rob may be back sooner, actually. There's an ethnomusicology course that LBT may want him to pick up, a short one.

Stew for dinner. I'm boiling the beef now so it'll be falling apart and herbed. Tomatoes, carrots, garlic, onions ... yumm. And yay!


Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Ethnography complete!

Yes, the ethnography is done for ... uh ... with. Finished up yesterday afternoon with a redrawing of my area map for the SDA church. Title - Finding and Refining Our Strengths: marital role change and child esteem in an African community in Texas. Rob finished at about midnight last night. We took a little walk to the school to hole punch the final product so that Rob could feel truly finished. We had anticipated that there would be a lot of people still in the computer lab finishing up. We were right.

The remainder of this week will be consumed with preparing my chapel talk. I am going with David's many years of running from Saul pre-kingship. Am taking a break tonight to go to a Creation scientist talk on dinosaurs and the evidence that they coexisted with humans. Should be intriguing. It's sort of an unofficial class trip for Biblical Backgrounds, as in half the class (both of us) will be going.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Preparation

So, I looked at my homework log for this session and tried to plan how much time I would need to allot for homework and on which days I should be planning to set aside more time than others. Turns out that the rest of this semester is doable. I just need to keep on top on everything that needs to get done. My upcoming major due dates are as follows:
  • 12.7, Tuesday - Ethnography; 15-25 page report on cultural themes observed at the SDA church, supported with observations taken from my data notebook, handed in with my printed out data notebook
  • 12.10, Friday - 20 minute talk in chapel on some aspect of Biblical Backgrounds; I think I'm going to present something on the running away done by David (from Saul), how his experiences prepared him for kingship of Israel. I found a great website that has many maps of major Ancient Near East events.
  • 12.14, Tuesday - Cultural Anthropology final exam
  • 12.15, Wednesday - reports on our ethnographies; presenting our findings to the class as we would to someone new to the culture wishing to integrate appropriately
  • 12.16, Thursday - Semantics & Pragmatics final exam
  • 12.17, Friday - Pragmatics Analysis project (one of the 3 major projects in this course)
We still haven't made it out to see Alexander the Great. [sigh] I even know stuff about him; we covered him in Biblical Backgrounds a few weeks ago. Perhaps the weekend after my chapel talk we might be able to make a break for it, catch a flick.

I have a pain in my heel. I've had this pain before, back when I was working at the daycare. At the time, I thought it had something to do with my shoes so I bought new ones, stopped wearing the others. Sure enough, the pain went away. It doesn't seem that long ago but perhaps it was. The shoes I usually wear these days are the ones I bought to replace those old shoes. They're Doc Martens so I expected them to be functional for longer than this. My last Docs lastest from 1994 until this last summer, when I finally was able to dissociate myself from them long enough to throw them away. Today, I am wearing my red Earth shoes. Have been wearing them for 2 days. No noticeable improvement yet. Must stay off my feet.


Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Happy Birthday, Lily!

Where there are no florists ...



(from the Cape York Photo Exhibition of Kerry Trapnell)

Thanksgiving adventures

So, we went to Seattle. Kate and Dave flew us up to stay with them until Sunday morning, when they returned us to the airport. We enjoyed that time very much. I was a bit burned out from 2 exams last week, anticipating much work over the next few weeks. It was nice to be with people who allowed me to mentally shut down for a few days. Kate took good care of me.

When I got back, I had a report to prepare for presentation today on an article on Bantu object relations. I had planned on taking the article with me to go over on the plane but it was already checked out when I went to the library on Wednesday. Someone else, reporting on a different article in the same book, had already gotten to it. Sigh. So, I had to haul it together in one day, yesterday. I plugged away at it all day, giving up at about 11:30PM last night. The presentation this morning didn't go as well as I would have liked. I had a bit of a headache and my left heel hurts when I'm standing so focusing was tricky for me. I found myself losing place in my presentation, despite my lovely typed notes and example chart. Oh well. I handed in my notes so, hopefully, Les Bruce will see that I wasn't just rambling because of lack of effort on my part.

I've agreed to work for someone tonight; they'll return the favor for me next week. Double work this work, nothing next week. Hopefully the switch will free me up on a week when my head is working better.

Gotta come up with a topic for my Biblical Backgrounds chapel talk, happening the end of next week. I keep thinking I'll do something on Mosaic Law, maybe in relation to the code of Hammurapi. Maybe I'll do something on Jesus as Shima, look at his rabbinical method of teaching. Maybe I'll dig around on the shelves at the library, see what triggers for me.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Monday, November 22, 2004

Weekend

We had a pretty full weekend. Saturday, we spent all day (except for 3 hours from 2-5PM) at the SDA church. They had a guest speaker for a relationship seminar. It was amazing! We heard things we'd never heard before about relationships, stuff we could identify with, stuff that explained things that had been puzzling to us about our relationship and other relationships. It was well worth the time.

I spent Sunday studying with Lauren for our take-home Biblical Backgrounds midterm. I went from 1PM to 7:30PM, with a dinner break, and finally hit threshold study capability. She went home, I took the exam. I think it went well. I find that it's really hard to tell how well I'm doing on things here until the final grades come out. When I did the Anthro exam a week or so ago, I counted about 65% definite "corrects" on the test. I actually got a 96%. So, I counted 7 (of 15) definite "corrects" on my BB last night, 6 "halfsies" and 2 "no ideas". I'm kinda curious to see how same-day studying works out: I rarely look at material the day of the exam. Somewhere along the way, I got the idea that sleeping on studied material makes it stick better. Any scientific basis for that, anyone?

Today I have to finish my kinship chart for Anthro. Spent over an hour on the phone with Mom & Dad trying to get the names of their aunts and uncles and their children. I only have to score 5 generations and I have 2 second cousins who have children so I technically only need to go back as far as my grandparents. Which is a good thing. The chart I was making based on the info I got from the parents on Friday spanned about 8 pieces of 8.5X11 paper taped end-to-end. Messy.

Wednesday is my midterm for Semantics. Got the study guide on Friday. Haven't had time to look at it. That should be my main task on Tuesday.

Happy Birthday!

It's Hannah's birthday ... yippee! I will melt some cheese and chocolate (separately, of course)and think of you.


Thursday, November 18, 2004

On a break

Working at the library tonight. Yesterday was quite the busy day. I did finally complete the semantics project and was only up until 11:30PM. So, I woke up tired but not as tired as I had expected.

I went to the Boutique this afternoon for the Christmas "sale". The Boutique is the Wycliffe second-hand store on campus. I use the term store loosely: everything is free. And throughout the year, they save the most special items (especially jewelry and stuffed toys) for the Christmas sale. Again, everything free. Wild, eh?

Tomorrow night, Rob and I will be doing more participant observation at the SDA church; they're having a relationship seminar. We're kinda stoked. From the pastor's description, it sounds like the topics will be geared to that congregation's expressed needs so we should really gain insight into the nature of relationships of that community.

But the real biggies for this weekend are the studying for midterms in 2 classes and preparing a genealogy that goes back 5 generations for my cultural anthropology class. Pacing myself may be key in keeping my brain functioning at optimal capacity. Lavender oil will also play a role, I'm sure. Kalamata olives may also be featured.

Hormone Hostage

This was sent to me today by Connie, an aunt of mine on Rob's side. Too funny. Had to share.

The Hormone Hostage
The Hormone Hostage knows that there are days in the month
when all a man has to do is open his mouth and he takes his very life
into his own hands. This is a handy guide that should be as common as a
driver's license in the wallet of every husband, boyfriend, or
significant other.

DANGEROUS: What's for dinner?
SAFER: Can I help you with dinner?
SAFEST: Where would you like to go for dinner?
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some chocolate.

DANGEROUS: Are you wearing that?
SAFER: Gee, you look good in brown.
SAFEST: WOW! Look at you!
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some chocolate.

DANGEROUS: What are you so worked up about?
SAFER: Could we be overreacting?
SAFEST: Here's fifty dollars.
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some chocolate.

DANGEROUS: Should you be eating that?
SAFER: You know, there are a lot of apples left.
SAFEST: Can I get you a glass of wine with that?
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some chocolate.

DANGEROUS: What did you do all day?
SAFER: I hope you didn't overdo it today.
SAFEST: I've always loved you in that robe!
ULTRASAFE: Here, have some more chocolate.



Wednesday, November 17, 2004

LBT is coming to town

Sharon (missionary personnel supervisor for LBT) is here ... woohoo! We met with her for a few hours yesterday, gave her an update on how school is going, went over some logistics stuff. We talked a bit about future assignments as well, bounced around some more ideas for possible locations (all Africa at this point). Afterwards, we went to dinner at Colter's BBQ. I hadn't had Texas BBQ yet and I was curious as to what a Texas BBQ menu would look like. I had BBQed brisket, broccoli-rice casserole and black-eyed peas. I had no room for the pecan pie so I took it home for later.

We're having an LBT get-together at the Cowan apartments tonight. I may have a late one tonight, after the shindig: 2 Semantics projects due tomorrow. It's all about definitions. Funny, you'd think meanings would be evident but when you start really thinking about what words mean (and what they don't necessarily mean), it can make your brain go a little woogy. Spent 2 hours last night trying to decide what praise, commend and credit meant. Now, I need to write formal definitions in NSM metalanguage and give context to prove my inclusion of various definition components.

Went over the maps I've done in Biblical Backgrounds with classmates this afternoon. We've been mapping major O.T. events; drawing arrows to show paths taken by historical folks, highlighting major roads and locales, etc. Also read 1 and 2 Maccabees. Can't wait to see Alexander the Great when it comes out!

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Pumpkin Soup

I got a book from the library; the "More-for-less" cookbook, sort of a conservationist approach to cooking. I found in it a recipe for pumkin soup and I remembered fondly the New Year that Abson brought me pumpkin soup from his mother's home, a traditional Haitian dish. I thought I might make it for dinner one evening but, not sure how well Rob would like it, I didn't really feel like going out of my way to procure ingredients. I thought no more on it.

While I was doing laundry last week, I noticed that someone had left a bunch of groceries there (they must have been moving out of the apartment complex). Among the canned goods was a tin of pumpkin. I remembered the soup recipe, which I had forgotten on our most recent trip to the grocery store, and thought I would adopt the lonely can of pumpkin. I returned to the apartment and looked up that soup recipe. Alas, I still had no green pepper, one of the ingredients. I thought I might try to remember to pick up a green pepper the next time we get groceries.

Today, I came in to work at the library. While tidying in the kitchen, I noticed a post-it note on the counter, saying "please, please help yourself". As there was nothing near the note, I figured that whoever had closed up yesterday must have put the item in the fridge, that it must be a perishable. I looked.

You got it ... peppers. 2 green, 2 red.

Godfunny.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Highlights

Some of the "salient moments" of the last week and a half:

We tried to go to the Liberian Lutheran church. But the phone numbers that were on the board when we drove out there were no longer related to the church. The church office number got me a private residence of a lady who knew nothing about the church. The pastor's number got me the residence of the former pastor, who had left for Sierra Leone 6 months ago. Methinks they no longer meet there, if the contact info is so old. We got a location to try from Jack, one of our Cult. Anthro. profs: the SDA church in Arlington. The membership is 80% African immigrant, mostly Kenyan. We have been warmly welcomed there, having been there twice now. The pastor in particular was very pleased to have us visiting and has offered to help us in any way that he can. They meet on Saturdays, being SDA and all, which flip-flops our normal weekend structure. I feel like Saturday is Sunday and Sunday is a random free day. Which day am I resting on? Hard to say. What is rest, anyway?

Our Biblical Backgrounds class met at the Bruce's house for dinner and a movie last Friday. The video was on archaeological evidence locating the Exodus account. The freaky coral formations were the best part. The satellite pics of Nuweiba Beach were pretty compelling too.


Anthro in three, two , ...

I attempted a post sometime last week but the site was down for routine maintenance and my carefully prepared post never got posted. When I went back in my browser, the posting was gone from the frame. Argh! I was so discouraged, I didn't have the heart to come back and post anything. I think I'll return to the way of briefer, more often posts.

And I do have to go to Cultural Anthropology class in 5 minutes.

We found a church to attend for our participant observation: All Nations Seventh-day Adventist in Arlington. They meet from 8:00AM to close to 2:00PM. The last part of the fellowship time takes place en masse, in the parking lot. More on our SDA adventures later.

I think I need to go over the latest posts to see what news is these days. :) I think I'll do that this afternoon.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Just asserting my rights...

...to post on this blog. Seriously, you gotta think twice about giving people the right to post things haphazardly on your blog.

-Marco

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Here we go

Well, classes are in full swing. I think I'm on top of things, for now. I've got a new system for tracking the amount of homework I'm doing compared with what needs to be done and I seem to be on track.

We had an interesting little weekend this past weekend. Rob and I were supposed to begin participant observation on Sunday at a local Nigerian church for our cultural anthropology class. However, we went to the car on Saturday afternoon to drive out to the church to check service times and one of our tires was punctured. Gak. So, we didn't get observation done this weekend. We ended up going back to Cedar Pointe, the church that meets at the school, just across the street. Good service, good band, great teaching.

Friday night, we went to Braum's ice cream parlour with a bunch of classmates and some SIL members in town for an international translation convention. We met a guy named Oliver, linguist in Mozambique, jazz guitarist. After the outing, we went to the dorm where he was staying and jammed together for a few hours. He came over Saturday morning and laid down some tracks of jazz progressions that he'd like me to put melody over. Saturday evening, we had chili and corn bread with Lee and Robin before playing Settlers of Catan. What a game! Resource management strategy game, fun stuff. Kind of like Age of Mythology/Empires without the mythology/empires and battle scenario.

We got our tires replaced yesterday, not just the one that was punctured but the other 3, being worn down quite a bit. Afterwards, we ran by the Nigerian church address but the building was empty. We need to come up with another location, perhaps the Liberian Lutheran church north of Duncanville. I have't got any response to my phone messages there though. We should probably do another drive out, make sure it still exists.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Weekend recovery

So, we recharged for 4 days ... ahhh. Here's how the time played out:

Friday: Fell asleep for a few hours in the afternoon. Went for Rob's birthday dinner at Pappadeaux seafood kitchen. I did not, of course, eat seafood; I had a hefty Greek salad. Played NWN in the evening.

Saturday: Cleaned like mad. In the afternoon, hiked on the trail behind campus. Watched movie in the evening; Adaptation

Sunday: Nearly fell asleep in church in the morning. Realized we had more relaxing to do before being ready for classes. Played some more NWN in the afternoon, watched movie in evening; A Beautiful Mind.

Monday: Worked on getting papers in order, financial crap and the like, in the morning. Went to Fort Worth botanical gardens in the afternoon with a group of friends from school. Played more in the evening while laundry was doing.

Tuesday: Grocery shopping in the morning, followed by internet research-curiosity-satisfaction for an hour before lunch. Afternoon of registering for Rob's next classes and gaming, interspersed with cooking chicken curry for dinner this evening at Dave and Ginny's place. We had a good time; curry, salad, firey mango pickles, ice cream, coffee and several hands of Rook. Dave and I trounced Rob and Ginny. Me, gloat? [teehee] Twas mucho fun.

The new session begins tomorrow. Sigh. I have hope for our readiness for this. Rob is taking Field Methods & Linguistic Analysis, Field Data Management and Cultural Anthropology. I am also taking the Cultural Anthro (finally ... a shared course!) as well as Biblical Backgrounds and Semantics & Pragmatics. Our in-class time is from 8:00 - 10:00 AM and 11:00 - 11:55 AM, Monday through Friday, plus whatever cultural observation and language learning sessions we'll have in the afternoons.

Must sleep now ... first early morning in days tomorrow.

Flu statistics and flu shots

This posting is a response to an article I saw on the news yesterday, about a woman who died in a line-up waiting to get a flu-shot.

This year's flu vaccine doesn't even contain the Fujian strain which is responsible for most deaths.

It doesn't look like the flu shot has had a meaningful impact on flu deaths over the last 4 years, according to the Center for Disease Control's statistics. One document states that the flu death rates have increased from about 20,000 per year in the 1970's and 1980's to 36,000 per year in the 1990's.



Compare them with mortality statistics from an earlier period:



Note the side effects of the flu shot:

What are the side effects that could occur?
Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
Fever (low grade)
Aches
If these problems occur, they begin soon after the shot and usually last one to two days.


Hmm ... sounds suspiciously flu-esque.

Can severe problems occur?
Life-threatening allergic reactions are very rare. Signs of serious allergic reaction can include breathing problems, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat, or dizziness. If they do occur, it is within a few minutes to a few hours after the shot. These reactions are more likely to occur among persons with a severe allergy to eggs, because the viruses used in the influenza vaccine are grown in hens' eggs. People who have had a severe reaction to eggs or to a flu shot in the past should not get a flu shot before seeing a physician.
Guillain-Barré syndrome: Normally, about one person per 100,000 people per year will develop Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), an illness characterized by fever, nerve damage, and muscle weakness. In 1976, vaccination with the swine flu vaccine was associated with getting GBS. Several studies have been done to evaluate if other flu vaccines since 1976 were associated with GBS. Only one of the studies showed an association. That study suggested that one person out of 1 million vaccinated persons may be at risk of GBS associated with the vaccine.

According to the World Health Organization's mortality statistics, 1665 people died of influenza in 1999 out of a population of 272,691,000. That means that 6 people per million dies of influenza. One is 6 times more likely to develop Guillain-Barré syndrome than they are to die from influenza. In 1995, 606 people died of influenza in the U.S.

Check out the side effects for the LAIV (live attentuated influenza vaccine):

Side Effects
• Symptoms are reported more often in healthy recipients of LAIV than in healthy recipients of placebo. These include:
o Nasal congestion/runny nose
o Sore throat
o Cough
o Chills
o Tiredness/weakness

Side effects in children
o Nasal congestion/runny nose
o Headache
o Fever
o Vomiting
o Abdominal pain
o Myalgias
o One unpublished study in 12- to 59- month-olds suggested an association of influenza vaccination with asthma or reactive airways disease. Further analyses and studies are pending on this issue.

I find this last potential side effect to be the most concerning.

And here's a quote from the CDC website:

Preliminary Assessment of the Effectiveness of the 2003--04 Inactivated Influenza Vaccine --- Colorado, December 2003

Influenza activity started earlier than usual in the United States this season, with widespread influenza activity* reported in 10 states by November 22, 2003 (1). The predominant influenza viruses (A/Fujian/411/2002 [H3N2]-like viruses) circulating this season differ antigenically from the 2003--04 influenza A (H3N2) vaccine strain (2). A retrospective cohort study was conducted among workers at a Colorado hospital to provide preliminary data on the effectiveness of trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV) against influenza-like illness (ILI). This report summarizes the results of that study, which indicated that TIV had no or low effectiveness against ILI. However, additional studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the 2003--04 vaccine against laboratory-confirmed influenza and influenza-related complications, including hospitalization and death. Influenza vaccine continues to be recommended, particularly for persons at increased risk for influenza-related complications, their household contacts, and health-care personnel.

Argh. I don't care what people do with their own bodies. I don't care what crap they buy into. I do care about media incited hysteria that leads to people dying in the process of buying into crap.

John Nash

We watched 'A Beautiful Mind' on Sunday and I'm doing a little poking around to see how much Nash's story was Hollywoodized. The movie doesn't mention:
- his seeking refugee status in Europe in 1959
- his divorce from Alicia; and her subsequent taking him in as a boarder a decade after the divorce
- despite the speech given in the movie, Nash gave no speech at the Nobel Prize ceremony
- the giving of the pens was a script writers invention, not a Princeton math department tradition

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Happy Birthday, Rob!

It's Rob's birthday! Drop him a line today ... he has seen the hill and refuses to cross over.

I'm at work right now; just shelved all the books, vacuumed the whole floor and stamped some books to go in the book depository for loan to missionaries on furlough. Rob is in the office here, spread out across the big table. The final grammar project. He's doing well so far with it. Seeing a lot of stuff, organizing on his computer screen as only a graphic designer can. We go home in an hour. Tomorrow, we celebrate both his birthday and the end of term.



He's working on Swahili.




Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Finished

I completed my term paper at 3:45PM today ... woohoo! I can't wait to hand it in. Funny, doesn't seem like it's finished until I hand it in.

After I get off work, I'll rush home to bed and try to get to sleep so I can wake up in the morning and hurry to class to hand in my paper.

Like Christmas, only bizarre.


Monday, October 11, 2004

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

A fun aside: many of my classmates are wearing red today, in honor of the Canadian component of GIAL.





Term Paper!

Need I say more? Due on Wednesday ... the crunch is on. Must not spend too much time blogging.

Friday: Took the afternoon as my weekend, gaming with Rob, had Jess (from down the hall) as dinner guest.

Saturday: With lunch break at Chick-fil-a, grocery shopping afterwards, spent the day working on term paper with an evening break; Rob's grammar class had an end-of-term party. I made Northwest garden salad: spinach, dried cherries, slivered almonds, bleu cheese, lime-marinated green apples with a balsamic vinaigrette. Returned home to work until 11:45PM on term paper.

Sunday: visited church on campus, worked on term paper for the rest of the day until 8:45PM. Was able to haul together a beef stew for dinner. Sent Rob to clip fresh rosemary for the stew from the massive rosemary bushes that can be found next to the sidewalk on our way to school.

Today: continuing to work on the paper this afternoon and evening ...

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Long time, no blog

It's been, what, a week? (How's that for a lovely example of spoken grammar?)

End of session coming up, term paper due, material getting more complicated. Here are the highlights of our latest days.

Sunday: went to drive to church, car wouldn't start (made a clicking noise)

Monday: Class as usual, heavy homework day for Rob; I spent more than 2 hours trying to do his grammar homework and couldn't get a handle on it. Every theory I came up had a single piece of data that 'broke' it. Got discouraged.

Tuesday: Rob discovered in afternoon grammar class that no-one else could get the homework either; I breathe sigh of relief. That's the problem with homework that accurately reflects all the complexities of actual language. Sure, you get the benefits of working with real data. But when the data selected is too complex to be done in a few hours, that's demoralizing. Part of me says, "Hey, the guy who collected this data probably took weeks to figure this out: I shouldn't be discouraged that I'm not getting in in a few hours." But there is another part of me that says, "Hey, this wouldn't be your daily assignment if it weren't doable in a day." Sometimes I have to shut down that second voice so that I don't develop negative self-image. I know I have aptitude for this stuff. Language is not rocket science; it's more human and complicated. You don't truly analyze or deduce from a language; you come to knowledge of through relationship with a language. Who does that in a day?
These courses are like speed-dating in preparation for a marriage. Imagine for a moment that you are a language and your potential spouse is a linguist. Now imagine that there are people determining whether or not people are good potential spouses for you on the basis of observing how they interact with you for a few hours. Sure, they may get a fast connection with you, sparks might fly. But are they capable of really achieving true emotional intimacy with you in the long haul? And how could an outsider judge their innate capability for intimacy based on a short interaction or a series of short interactions with a number of people? You'd end up for sure with an aggressive extrovert. Similarly, one-night-study linguists may have the capacity for understanding the question and picking out the answer but who will have longevity and intimate comprehension in the long haul?
Rob finishes homework earlier than usual; we do dishes and play Neverwinter Nights together. [sigh of joy].

Wednesday: We watch a National Geographic video in R&W class in the morning, challenging stuff. Look at land-diving in Vanuatu, fire-walking in Greece and voluntary crucifixion in the Philippines. I get help with term paper in the afternoon, get some guidelines for paragraph charting. In the evening, breakthrough! I finish a chart that works for the data! Now, I can start drawing conclusions.

Thursday: Still haven't called the mechanic; keeps slipping my mind. Must do that today.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Tendons

We had our worship chapel this morning. I sang backup. I must have been locking my knees for the whole thing; my tendons are mondo achy.

I think we'll have leftover mac-and-cheese for lunch and I'll make something nice/fresh for dinner. Apple crumble at some point as well. Today is overcast so it's a nice time to bake.

I'm planning on not doing any homework for the rest of the day. Rob is doing a term paper this weekend so I want to be scholastically occupied around him so he doesn't get jealous. I think it helps when I do housework in front of him as well, makes him feel like he's not the only one busting his butt here.


(c) 2004 Neopets, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Used With Permission

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Vioxx and other pain-killing mechanisms

My discourse analysis take-home midterm is due tomorrow but I finished it last night so I could hand it in today. Just don't like things hanging over my head. One of the tricky things about analysis is that you never know how long it will take. Apparently that goes double for field work post-graduation.

Curious person: "How long does it take to learn and analyze a language?"
Linguist: "Oh, anywhere from 7 to 46 years."

Anyway, the exam is finished. I whipped up smoothies for dinner as Rob and I both wanted to keep working through. We both had freaky dreams last night. I dreamed that Eminem was my discourse analysis teacher. Rob dreamed that his computer was stolen by a mechanic who had tried to rip him off on a repair bill the day before. Actually, the mechanic didn't succeed in getting the computer. Rob tied him up with duct tape and tried to figure out what the culturally appropriate thing to do with him would be (he was living crossculturally at the time). There must have been MSG in the boneless wings we had for lunch yesterday.

In other news, just noticed that Vioxx is being pulled from the market for causing a variety of cardiovascular conditions. Mind you, there has been some evidence that this was the case since August of 2001! As I have some people who are dear to me that have taken Vioxx and have developed cardiovascular conditions, that gets my back up. I've always had a bad feeling about Vioxx, mostly because I remember the week it was introduced to the market in my hometown.

Dad and Mom were in Jamaica and Dad had hired someone to be pharmacist at our pharmacy while he was out of town. As I often did when Dad was gone, I was helping out in the dispensary, counting pills, helping customers and other assistant type things. One afternoon, a pretty woman in her 20's (and a short skirt) stopped by the dispensary to speak with Dad. I explained that he was out of town. She gave me a bundle of promotional material to give him when he returned. I glanced through the stack of glossy pages; promotional material for a new arthritis pain-med called Vioxx. In the next week and a half, we filled more prescriptions for Vioxx than just about any other medication. I remember thinking that it was pretty freaky how something that wasn't available just the week before was suddenly something that the doctors felt everybody needed.

After throwing dozens of little white Vioxx bottles with blue caps away, having transferred their contents to standard prescription vials, I decided to find a use for them. It just seemed insanely wasteful; the bottles were pretty cute. I peeled off the Vioxx label, washed the bottles clean of Vioxx residue, got out a blue Sharpie and began to label the small bottles; cinnamon, cumin, dill, cloves, parsley ... to this day, my spices are kept in those little bottles.

Let's put a face on these Merck people, shall we?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

First Nations 'Rock'

I spent some time this afternoon picking out songs for the big worship chapel on Friday. Matt, the team leader, came after a bit and refined the set list. We ended up having an hour or so before practice was scheduled so I went to the library to get a head start on my homework. I didn't carry my notes or text with me to worship team practice, just my homework handout, so I didn't get very far. Instead, I went to the section of the library where the lexicons of First Nations languages are kept. I looked up 'rock' in a number of them, to see how closely they were related to Innu* (where my name is supposed to have originated, spelled Ashini). Here's what I found, at a cursory perusal:

Navajo: tsenii - 'rock face'
Crow: kohkoseni - 'granite rock'
Kickapoo: atheny - 'rock'
Cree: asiniy - 'stone'
Blackfoot: asin - 'rock'
: asiniiwan - 'to be of rock'

Fun stuff, eh? It's great to have scads of language resources at my disposal when a linguistic curiousity strikes.

After practice, went home and made macaroni with cheese & tomato for dinner. Looking at the pot after dinner reminded me of why I may have given up making it in the first place. It certainly wasn't the flavor ... yum! I found that scrubbing with my fingertips under hot water was actually the most effective method of getting the cooked-on cheese off. Involving a dishcloth seems to just provide you with a very cheesy dishcloth that is then unusable for any other dishes. We watched an episode of 'Friends' while we ate dinner. The plotline involved Joey auditioning for a part in a TV series called 'Mac & C.H.E.E.S.E.'; hmmmm ... coincidence? Or providence?

Rob had the first half of a phonology midterm as a take-home last night. I finished my analysis of a dialogue paragraph from the 3 little pigs and started to do the same with Jude. I had gotten stuck on my term paper at the charting level and wasn't feeling confident in my chart results, at least not enough to make any grand statements about macrosegmentation, given my lack of knowledge of Greek. However, the tree-diagram I'm making of the paragraphs, working with the sentences as a whole, is showing a lot of paired embedded paragraphs that I hadn't noticed before. I'm thinking that this section of the analysis process may give me the comprehension boost I need for me to go back and reassess my charts. We'll see.



*Most people have heard me explain that my name is Montagnais so you may wonder why I am now using the term 'Innu'. Well, upon visiting the website that bears my name, I discovered that the Innu people do not call themselves Montagnais, that was an external tag. Makes sense; it's French.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Snake!

Saw my first snake this morning ... a little tiny thing, could fit in the palm of my hand (not that I tested that theory or anything). We were on our way to class. It was wriggling up to our door.

Am about to work on a design for the class T-shirt, due by this afternoon. Will post the design when it's finished.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Pappasitos

We finally made up a reason to go to Pappasito's Mexican restaurant (as recommended to us by Heidi); our friend Tanya (who Rob knows from his days at Capernwray and who has been at school here taking a course on Tone Analaysis) is headed back to Alberta next weekend. This was kind of a last hurrah before she takes off. Very different style of Mexican cookery from the fresh-Mex we got in Redmond, WA. I had the tortilla soup and it had carrots and squash in it! Good flavor but not exactly what I was expecting. The tamales were nice. The best part for me was the fresh warm salsa and chips that we munched on while waiting for the main course. I was pretty full before the soup even arrived.


Thursday, September 23, 2004

Natural phenomena

I didn't know that the earthquake I experienced while visiting Rob in February 2001 was one of the top 7 worldwide for that year! Wild stuff!

Here's a site with many random links; it's where I found the earthquake link.


Newspapers

Some people shouldn't be allowed to read newspapers.

I found out that they've sprayed twice in the last week for mosquitos in Duncanville because they found a West Nile carrying mosquito. I guess I should check the Dallas mosquito spraying updates periodically to make sure I'm not basking in the toxins unwittingly. Gak. As if the air pollution wasn't bad enough. Part of me doesn't even want to know the ingredients and effects of those sprays.

I read a disturbing history of U.S. involvement in Haitian government in a New African periodical. In the same, I came cross an interview with Nujoma, of Namibia.

Quote of the day:
'There are many ways to kill a cat, by giving it whatever it likes.' - Nujoma

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Abstracts and excerpts

Yesterday was all about getting my abstract ready for the term paper analysis of Jude. Hard to know what to say the plan is when the analysis has just begun. Not knowing the intricacies of Greek doesn't help but at least I have access to BART software to get me through.

I spent the better part of the afternoon doing my discourse analysis homework and made chili for dinner. I'm currently tossing through a load of laundry while Rob continues with his homework. Wishing that we could be spending a little more time doing things together. I got up with him at 6AM to sit by the pool and read about verb chaining and switch-reference while he swam (rules about not swimming alone) but somehow I don't think that counts as "together time". Weekend ... hasten thee to my environs!

In other news; National Geographic August 2004, which I just found in the laundry room and have flipped through has a fascinating article on the placebo effect being on par with the medication/procedure being tested.

So, 'America's Next Top Model' premieres tonight and we don't get UPN11 here without cable. Not that I would ever get cable just to watch ANTM. That seems excessive. But I caught all of the last 2 seasons. Perhaps by the time we end up based back in Seattle for our support-raising time (where UPN11 is available without cable), they'll be rerunning it. Then, I'll have more time to enjoy it and it'll all be fresh to me. Still, it's hard to imagine Tyra doing a season without my faithful viewerness.

Laundry done ... blog over.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Aradhna

We went to a kicking concert Sunday afternoon; Hindi worship band, Aradhna. A must listen. They were also in chapel this morning.

Having a pretty good day today. I attended an academic talk on the difference between hortatory and persuasive discourse types, presented by my D.A. teacher, Dr. Hwang. I made curried lentils for lunch and ate it hastily before going to the talk. I just got back from the library where I discovered that someone has already done a discourse analysis of Jude. However, it looks like Osborn isn't referencing any of the terminology used by Longacre's method so I'm wondering if it's even related to discourse analysis as I have come to know it. Longacre isn't cited in the biblio for this article, nor seems there to be any other discourse analysis texts. Must give the article a better read tonight to be sure I don't replicate someone else's work. I finished charting Jude yesterday so I should be able to draw some conclusions by doing my colorcoding today or tomorrow. It is possible that I will come to an entirely different conclusion than Carroll D. Osborn as to what the macrosegmentation of the text should be and what the macrostructure of the text is, based on surface structures.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Random fun pictures

Yes, class is out for the weekend. Rob is still in class and I'm taking a moment in the computer lab to amuse myself, potentially amusing others as well. Here are fun items available online:

- a portrait of true fear
- when a baby in and of itself isn't cute enough
- gorgeous, yet oddly disturbing
- bizarre treat for squirrel afficianados
- a debate on the national betrayal involved in choosing Starbucks over Tim Horton's; frankly, I'm torn ...
- an answer to the urban legend about nicotine being added to Tim Horton's coffee
- Jimi Hendrix lauds Phil Keaggy?

This is hilarious. "In me own words: the autobiography of Bigfoot". Written by a Canadian, Graham Roumieu ... oh yeah!


Haircolor restoration


If your hair was a light brown before you bleached it, here are some products you could try:


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If your hair was a dark blonde before you bleached it, here are some products you could try:


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With permanent dyes, err to the side of lighter then you think your natural color is and use an ash. The permanents tend to grip better and go a little darker on porous (i.e. previously bleached) hair. Besides, it's more natural looking to have your roots grow in darker than your ends. If the ends are darker than the roots, it looks racoony. Ash will neutralize the reddish color of the hair. Permanent dyes will have a more caustic smell than the semi-permanents. If you have a major event to attend, do the dyeing at least a few days before, to give the color time to "normalize" (i.e. fade a bit).

If you want to risk a permanent fix (and you have really short hair that will grow out pretty soon anyway):


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Revlon Colorsilk: #60 - Dark Ash Blonde


Revlon Colorsilk: #50 - Light Ash Brown

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Hey, Jude

We had big old rain yesterday, as may have been covered on the news. It didn't go on for too long but was pretty hard while coming down. To give you an idea of how hard it was coming down; we have a locust clinging to our living room window that has been there since the initial downpour at dinner time yesterday. It's still there because it appears to have had a couple of its legs knocked off. There hasn't been any more flooding on campus that we know of.

I've really been getting into something that looks like it will be worthwhile but challenging and time consuming. In my discourse class, I have the option of doing either a term paper or a final exam. I originally thought that I might just do the final exam, for simplicity's sake. The term paper is more an option for those who are currently working with a language project and have immediate need for the discourse analysis skills that we're learning. I don't actually have a project that I'm working on but I do have something that I've been curious about for a while: The Message paraphrase of the Bible.

Here's how The Message promo describes it:
But more than that, it was meant to be understood. It was first written in the language of the people—of fishermen, shopkeepers, and carpenters. The Message gets back to that: You can read it and understand it. In The Message Remix, there are new verse-numbered paragraphs that will help you study and find favorite passages. Or, you can just read it like a book and let the narrative impact you. After all, it is God’s story, with its heroes and villains, conflicts and resolutions. Either way, it’s God’s Word—the Truth—in a user-friendly form.

The promo states that it is useful for 2 things: studying favorite passages and being impacted through narrative reading. I have had bad vibes about relying on passages in The Message as accurate representations of the source text, in terms of either notional or surface. However, my vibes have been largely unsubstantiated. Suddenly, after reading Longacre's analysis of 1 John, I see a method for discerning whether this is actually the case. If it is a narrative, then it has peaks. The peaks, whether they are action or didactic, should correspond to those in the source text (Greek) but represented in the peak structures of the language of translation (English).

Finally, I may put to rest my itching suspicions, one way or another. Is it the conspiracy theorist in me that responds to this paraphrase or the global observationist? As long as the quest doesn't become overwhelming in its scope, this may be my season to answer that question.

Along those lines, I have done an initial clause-charting of Jude, in The Message form. I am stymied in my participant referent color-coding by verses 22-23: are the "they" in these verses the same "they" referred to in the entirety of the preceding text? Jude gives pretty scathing descriptions of the "some people" (v4) throughout the letter. He describes what their plan is (v4). He gives the historical examples of that type of person which precede this current type; the fallen angels (v6) and Sodom and Gomorrah (v7). He outlines their sin-systems (v8, 10, 12, 16, 18-19). He even paints a sad metaphorical picture of them (end of v12). Can it be that, at the end, Jude reorients the reader to these "some people" by instructing us in a Christian approach to "them", despite their aforementioned sins and character flaws? At this, my first look at Jude in The Message from a discourse perspective, it appears that the ba-dam-ching (it's a technical term, really) occurs after the phrase "but not soft on sin" (v23). All preceding text provides supporting evidence for that conclusion. Just a theory. I'm working on it.

I'd love to hear any perspectives on this.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Result

Got my midterm back today - 98% ... woohoo! I lost a point for the "argh!" and another for not mentioning that climax and denouement are a part of notional surface structure. Oopsy, but obviously not a big deal, in the big picture.

We've started a new section in discourse analysis, one involving predication relations. It looks like stuff from the logic class (I think this is the one ... long time ago) I took in 1993 but with attention to grammatical constituents (noun phrase, adjuncts, verbs) as well as the logical thrust of the sentence as a whole.

I couldn't find a picture online of Robert E. Longacre (the guy who wrote our main text and put discourse analysis on the linguistic map) but I did find a picture of one of his books:


Sunday, September 12, 2004

Mountain Creek

We went to Mountain Creek church, the church family of Rob's SLACA language resource person, Grace Lee. The service was in Korean with bilingual worship time. At the end of the service, we gathered at the front for a picture. There was a commotion after the picture was taken and we were going our separate ways because, on the floor behind where we had been standing (I in my sandals), was a "small scorpion" (i.e. almost the length of my hand). That's the first one I've seen since I've been here.



After the service, we went to Grace's home (along with many church members) for Korean food. Korean BBQ and kim chi ... yum! And we ate it with rice, rolled in sesame leaves. I didn't even know you could eat sesame leaves!

Friday, September 10, 2004

Score!

Woohoo! The Discourse Analysis mid-term that I had this morning went great! There was only one question that I absolutely did not know the answer for (I couldn't remember what was mitigated in hortatory discourse - I filled in the blank with an "argh!"; that may be the answer, actually). There was also one that I was unsure of the answer (why knowledge of peak is useful in discourse analysis) but, upon discussing answers with fellow students after class, I think I got the general idea. A few of the questions asked for just 3 or 4 aspects of something for which I knew most or all of them so, as time allowed, I threw them in at the end of the space allowed for answering questions. Hopefully that will pad any holes in my basic answers of the questions. For example, Dr. Hwang asked about features of language that are not adequately addressed by basic grammatical analysis but need to be explained in relation to discourse features. She was looking for 3 or 4 areas but I know them all. So, I gave the few and wrote a bunch more.

I have secret tricks for studying that I used extensively in preparation for this exam.

  1. Reduce as much information as possible to list form.
  2. In red, underline the key trigger words in each list item.
  3. Develop a mnemonic device (e.g. a poem, acronym, substituted sentence based on the acronym) for the really big lists.

Here are some of my lists and devices, to illustrate my method:

Question: What are some areas in which discourse analysis is necessary?

  • The List
    • articles and deictics
    • pronoun use
    • verb morphology: tense-aspect-mood
    • deviation from standard word order
    • adjuncts: optional? location and time give motion and flow
    • adverbial clauses: discourse cohesion
    • sequence signals and conjunctions
    • nominalization and topicalization
    • variation in reported speech forms
    • length of syntactic units
    • mystery particles and affixes

  • The Red

articles and deictics
pronoun use
verb morphology: tense-aspect-mood
deviation from standard word order
adjuncts: optional? location and time give motion and flow
adverbial clauses: discourse cohesion
sequence signals and conjunctions
nominalization and topicalization
variation in reported speech forms
length of syntactic units
mystery particles and affixes

  • The Mnemonic; has every feature in the list but in an example form

"When the talking and walking but being quiet has ended, he stands as Billy stood; in fancy pants, against the wall." Said she, "Oh, for true, eh?"

My mnemonic for Discourse types is a sentence: To Narrate someone's Behavior is the Procedure to Expose them.

Another mnemonic that I used was a poem which referenced all the possible features that might mark a Peak Episode:

  • Blaow! Faster, bigger, crowded, eh?
  • Yesterday becomes today
  • You to I, they to she
  • I look like you, it was seen by me
  • and this, but that, asyndeton comma
  • narra - pseudo - dia - drama
  • Less repeating but more repetition?
  • An episode in Peak Condition.

This, of course, makes sense to nobody but me. It doesn't need to. Rob wouldn't even let me use my mnemonics out loud when I was studying because he had a final exam in Phonetics this morning. He was afraid he'd be asked to write the technical name for a phonetic sound and the only thing that would come to his mind in that time of crisis would be "fancy pants".

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Christian RPG

Just thought I'd toss these up here, so I know where to find them later:

- Holy Lands; a new Christian RPG
- Spiritual Warfare; another Christian RPG
- a brand new website for Christian Gamers

Wild!


Pushing through the middle

It has been a full couple of days. Yesterday, I gave part of a group
presentation on Robert E. Longacre's discourse analysis of 1 John in the
morning. I spent the afternoon preparing a reading report for Discourse
Analysis. The evening was spent on household tasks (dinner prep,
compiling receipts for LBT) and giving Rob a hand with his lesson plan
preparation. We tried to get an early bedtime but still managed to fall
in after 11PM. Energy low this week; everything seems to take longer
than I expect.

Today's task is preparation for my midterm tomorrow. I have my notes compiled and I'm going to check them against the study questions we were given, make sure I can match knowledge base to questions asked. I'm working tonight so I need to have everything set and printed before I leave home at 3:45PM to get to worship team practice. I won't get home until 10PM after that.

I cooked enough chili last night to last us for a few days. There are a
few days of pinto beans as well. Bulk cooking; the grad student's
friend.

Quote of the day:
Never criticize a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes. Then, if he gets mad, you're a mile away and you've got his shoes.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Long weekends

It's funny how a long weekend makes the regular weekend part of the long weekend seem more restful. Saturday was a homework day for me, as always. However, instead of having a feeling of "this is the only day that I can get my homework done so I need to work really hard", I had a feeling of "if I don't get it done today, I can finish it on Monday". Sunday was my rest day and I usually have a sense of "better have all my fun but get to bed really early so I'm not zonked on Monday." Instead, I had lots of fun and relaxation-based activities without the "get to bed early" necessity. So, both days were more relaxing than they usually are. Today is like a free day. I'm doing homework (studying for my midterm this week in Discourse Analysis) but I feel like I can stop whenever I want because it is a free day. In fact, I just stopped about a half hour ago. I also slept in until 9AM and talked on the phone with family members until lunchtime. Yay! Tonight we're having dinner with Rob's SLACA (Second Language and Culture Acquisition) partner and his family.

All that jazz

We went back to Prince of Peace Church in Arlington in the morning.
After church, we hurried back to the apartment to change out of our
'Sunday best' for the All Africa Diaspora Market being held across the street at
the International Museum of Cultures. I was thinking we could grab food
there that would not only be nourishing but interesting. Rob got a
smoked brisket sandwich (Texan) and I got some meat-on-a-stick with a
side of boiled corn-and-greens-in-a-lump (African). I was surprised when
I tasted Rob's sandwich: it was smoked salt beef! Good grief ... all the
sodium and all the smoky carcinogens a person could ever want, rolled up
in a white bread wrapper, soaked in barbecue sauce. Need I say more? I
enjoyed my sticked meat but had to put a bunch of hot sauce on the
corn/greens combo. I don't know what those greens were but they didn't
taste like any greens I'd had before. Not spinach, cabbage, turnip,
collard ... maybe kelp. I have very little experience with kelp.

It seemed like the festival was mostly composed of vendors of touristy
items and 3 food stalls so we didn't stick around long. The schedule
reported a concert later so I thought, "Hey ... African music! Let's
come back!" We returned at/around 4PM and went inside the museum. We
were directed to a back room which looked primarily like it was used for
storage but was occasionally repurposed for other events with rows of
chairs, a TV/VCR combo and a podium with an attached microphone.
Scattered about were pieces of old exhibits, some nailed on the wall,
others stacked horizontally near the rafters. As it turns out, the
concert was Norman Fisher, a soprano saxophonist, performing jazz to an
accompaniment track. Rob and I sat with maybe 6 other people for the
first few songs. Norman asked at one point if there were other jazz
musicians in the crowd. I didn't respond until he asked about jazz
singers. He offered me the opportunity to join him. I explained that I
had been coughing all week. He responded that he had as well. I said I
didn't know the words to the songs. He said that he was about to do
"Satin Doll". Well. I could hardly say no to that.

I went to the podium. Norman switched on the mike. I realized as the
backing track began that it was a little low for my range, that I hadn't
warmed up, that I couldn't remember all the lyrics as clearly as I
thought I might have been able to. But I began when my time came
nonetheless. It was a good time. Surreal (singing about a pickup
scenario
as the male protagonist on the grounds of Wycliffe property
from behind a podium under fluorescent lighting) but good.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Hummingbird

After much sweat and near-tears last night, I quasi-finished my Totonac 2 discourse analysis. I was pleased to discover, upon in-class discussion, that I did indeed get the general idea and picked up on some discourse elements manifested in surface features. Yay!

Here's my freaky story for today: During chapel, I was heavily using the essential oils I was carrying around to help my breathing and the little sinus headache that was developing. I alternated between several blends, including peppermint, rosemary, lemon, clary sage, rose, eucalyptus and pine oils. At the end of chapel, while the back door was propped open, a hummingbird flew into the chapel and headed for the front, where I had been sitting. It went straight to the ceiling above where I had been sitting and bounced around against the ceiling above my chair in an area roughly 4 feet in diameter. As I am (as you well know) the ultimate source of the woes of the world, I assumed that my use of oils was to blame, that I had unwittingly lured this poor flower-essence seeker inside and trapped it against the oil-coated ceiling tiles between 2 oil-coated fluorescent lights. I took out my oils and attempted to lead the bird outside, all to no avail. As I left, those in charge of chapel activities and grounds were trying to whisk it away from the ceiling with a broom. I left before anything unseemly occurred. I'll have to check with them next week and find out what became of the wee thing. Most likely, it'll fatigue and come down from the ceiling. I tell myself that so I don't have to imagine it expiring from its efforts to escape.

My voice was a little better for singing this morning but I didn't use a mike, kept more to the backup. I focused on drumming instead.

Looking forward to sleep and regeneration this weekend. I have scads of reading to do and another Totonac charting project to tackle but I have to select a day off as well. Balance, as they say.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Prayer request: Russia

For more information on the situation with the Russian school hostages, go here.

.

Skipping to the weekend

Man, I feel like crud on a stick today. I woke up at 4:40AM because my nose had sealed shut and couldn't get back to sleep after that. I had a momentary snooze but it doesn't count because I was dreaming about my nose being sealed off and having that yucky mouth-breathing-all-night taste in my mouth and not being able to get it out. Sleep like that doesn't count towards my overall total productive-sleep hours. If this were undergrad, I'd be tempted to not be here today but I know that I'll be totally out of the loop if I miss a day. Rob says that the pollution warning is red today. I can tell. My body seems to be like a pollution monitor here: the color of the skin on the back of my throat seems to be directly related to the pollution warning colors. I used my Sinu-cleanse kit last night but it was too late; the sinuses on my left side were already impacted. Sigh.

I'm preparing songs for tomorrow morning's chapel. We rotate song selection opportunity among our worship team members and it's my turn this week. I have them selected and tabbed already, just need to get the photocopy access code for the chapel budget before I can be totally ready.

Tonight, I work at the library. Not really looking forward to vacuuming, as weak as I'm feeling. Maybe I can finagle Rob into helping; he's a good vaccuumer.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

In other wor(l)ds

Today, the Discourse Analysis class began our work on charting a short
Totonac story. This will be my first discourse chart of a language other
than English. However, I didn't exactly find having English as a first
language to be entirely helpful in the last chart. I felt like I was my
own language resource person, fluent in the language but only able to
use the structures, not necessarily explain why I was using them.
Knowing the intended meaning of a clause sometimes got in the way of
simply stepping back and charting the surface structure. Somehow, the
Totonac story is more manageable to me, walking up to it with my clean
comprehension slate and a morpheme inventory. It will be interesting to
see tomorrow if I charted it correctly.

In Religion & Worldview, we read various articles as a group and tried
to glean information on the local worldview of the participants in the
articles based on their cited perspective on their situation. I related
best to the article on the rounding up of stray dogs in Greece prior to
the Olympic Games this year. This was the first I'd heard of it,
actually. They got them all off the streets, took care of any medical
needs they had, fed and housed them, with the intention of releasing
them back into the streets a happier, healthy bunch of strays than they
were before the games. Oh, and they neutered/spayed them too. Animal
rightists world-wide cried out when they heard of the rounding up of the
stray dogs, for fear that they would be "put to sleep" (sounds lovely,
when you say it like that). But authorities reassured them that this was
not the case, that they were being well cared for. I noticed that there
was no mention of further action on the part of animal rightists due to
the fact that, while the dogs were retaining their right to life, they
were being denied reproductive rights. What constitutes life? Who/what
has rights? Which rights? On what basis?

Wouldn't I love a telling peek at the foundations of some worldviews.

Balm of Gilead

A fellow classmate here at GIAL introduced me to an escharotic salve. She has used it for treatment of topical malignancies and let me borrow it for the weekend. I photocopied the instructions for use but didn't, upon reflection and research, find it necessary to use it at this time.

In the area of research, I checked the Intox toxic chemical database for reference to the salve's main ingredient, zinc chloride. On the FDA website, I found reference to use of zinc chloride in canned asparagus but in minute proportions. It is generally recognized as safe for human consumption, when used properly. There is an archived mention of a Mohis cancer paste, dated October 21, 1947 but here's all that the reference on this page says:
40 I 21-Oct-47 WISC ALUMNI RES FDTN MOHIS CANCER PASTE; ZINC CHLORIDE FIXATIVE
A related page lists this compound as inactive, but it doesn't say why it would be inactive.
The National Institute of Health site lists zinc chloride as a hazardous substance.
The quackwatch website has a section on alternative cancer treatment methods which makes mention of alternative uses of escharotic paste.
One alternative site is dedicated to the use of salves in external cancer treatment and refers to historical success rates.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Mountain of Prayers

That was the name of the church we attended yesterday. We were invited
by Sara, who lives down the hall from us. She is originally from
Mauritius but has been living in France in recent years. Man, what a
great time! Most attendees were Congolese and the service was a mixture
of French (usually translated into English) and some other language
which neither I nor Sara recognized. I was pleased to discover how much
French I've actually retained from all those years in the Canadian
school system
. My comprehension during the preaching was very high and
production was adequate during my conversations with French-speakers
following the service. The singing part of the worship service was
ultra-loud choral worship, often in call/response style, punctuated with
translated exhortations on worship offered by a man who I presume to be
the worship pastor. He didn't actually lead the singing, he just came up
onto the altar and gave mini-exhortations between songs and, sometimes,
during songs. Among the believers in the seating area, there was much
dancing, syncopated clapping, supplementary percussion (a rattle, a
tambourine) and ululating cries. Those peeps knew how to rejoice!



The service went for a couple of hours and the hanging out in the foyer
and chatting with people lasted another hour or so. We all had a long
lunch at Cici's Pizza and went to our respective homes. I came in the
door, sat on the couch and attempted to have a conversation with Rob but
he sent me off to bed as I had been nodding off during one of his
sentences. I was out for about 2 1/2 hours. I was so groggy when I got
up that we starting suspecting that I was dehydrated ... again. So, we
had smoothies for dinner. Smoothies are the best food. Throw together
pineapple, mango, ice cubes, blueberry juice, black cherry juice,
psyllium ... instant dinner. I felt much better after finishing the
smoothie.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Christian urban legends

There's a hefty cynic that lives in my head and doesn't always allow me to be inspired by things I can't verify. I found myself doing a little web-surfing, tracking down compiled information on these inspirational stories that get passed around by well-meaning individuals. Here are some interesting things that I found on my quest:

- a story that I was glad to hear has actually been verified in its origin
- a website called Truth Miners that calls for truth in Christian web communication
- a Christianity Today online article that addresses the urban legend as it manifests in Christian culture
- the urbanlegend.about.com site's section devoted to religious urban legend
- yet another site with links to urban legend debunking

Because if the truth sets you free, what does a load of hype and fluff do?

By the way ... if you don't visit any of the above links but you're into George W. Bush stories, check this website out.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

The Picture



Rob & Eshinee, after our second class of the day.

My professors

My professor for Discourse Analysis is Shin Ja Hwang. I tried to find a weblink for my Religion and Worldview professor (Shelley Ashdown) but I couldn't find one.

Rob & I got one of my classmates to take a picture of us after my class so hopefully I can get that posted in the next couple of days. Not that we will look all that different to folks who saw us within the last year. The bags under our eyes are bigger, that's all.

I'm going to try to get my homework done this morning so I can work on household paperwork this afternoon. I want to throw away as much as I can, hopefully at least 2 file-boxes worth. We'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Color someone else's world

Today, we do our first discourse charting session ... woohoo! I get to use my marker set to color-code different participants in clauses to look for patterns. Takes me back to the first CanIL course set in 1999, circling parts of speech in my grammar and phonology homework with Johanna's crayons, looking for patterns. Sigh.

You can't go back but you can flog the dead horse of sentimentality until you feel like you must be getting close.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Sensitive dilemma

Was confronted with a daunting prospect in Religion & Worldview today. It is something I have thought about in the past but it seemed to leap out and bonk me on the head today. The prospect was the encountering of what I would consider to be cultural evils and my response to it, as an outsider. For example, if the people of a culture knocked three times on a door before entering to ward of evil spirits, I wouldn't get too worked up about that on any basic emotional level. But what if there was some form of ritualized abuse that was occurring before my very eyes? What if it was about to happen and I had prior knowledge of it? Should I intervene?

I debated giving the example that was given in class and am currently deciding against it. While the situation seemed morally cut and dried enough from my perspective to make a personal judgement on the matter, I don't really want to be assessing this particular culture without any personal experience with the individuals involved. Therefore, I will invent a scenario and ask for the input of anyone who would like to respond, in hopes that my views in this area will be helpfully sharpened before this theoretical issue becomes a practical one.

NOTE: Read the following only if you are interested in engaging in this exercise and will not be bothered by imagining an unpleasant circumstance.

Imagine that you are involved with a people group in some far corner of the world where you have been living and attempting to comprehend their culture. One night, you are wakened by cries in the center of the community living area. It seems that the village has gathered to perform what you would consider to be a torturous act on the physical person of a young man, who is perceived to have brought illness on a community member by allowing the shadow of a woman to touch him as he sat in the marketplace.
1) Do you intervene in some way? Why or why not?
2) What would you do or say? What wouldn't you do or say?

Using the comment link to the bottom right of this posting will enable you to post a response. If you prefer, you can email me directly.

Monday, August 23, 2004

A day of rest

Yesterday was quite the restful day. I must say, I did not do anything that needed to be done. To all those who haven't had replies to emails or letters, who probably wish that I had done some correspondence related activities instead, my apologies. Neither did I wash dishes, nor do laundry, nor tidy the endless stacks of paper that blossom in my general vicinity. I'm actually feeling like emailing friends this afternoon, I think. This Sunday, I had what my mother would call a "day in the bone". Track that idiom back to its origins.

I got much course reading done on Saturday. I keep relating course work to North American culture, to an extent which would probably fry my profs' brains should they hear of my pondered application of the skills which they so lovingly entrust to me. The Non-Western Music Analysis course led me to muse upon the songsmithing abilities of Eminem and his potential usefulness as an ideal rap genre subject of analysis due to his pervasive and amplified use of rap rhythms and syllable rhyme patterns. My study in Religion and Worldview keeps connecting in my head to my perceptions of the North American Christian Church, making me wonder if the growth issues we face might be due to the lack of High Religion and the preponderance of Folk Religion both masquerading as High Religion and attempting to replicate large-scale Folk systems in small-scale societies/congregations. Discourse Analysis has led me to critically assess Reader's Digest as a form of cultural propaganda, skewing notionally hortatory material to a variety of surface forms to disguise the true intent of the publication, which is to inform the sense of humor, moral values, economic patterns and political actions of the general populace in communally beneficial behaviour.

And I get to use more big words than ever before.


Saturday, August 21, 2004

After the ball

We attended our first GIAL social event last night; an ice cream social. Basically, we played party games from 7 - 8:30 PM and then ate ice cream. The place pretty much cleared out by 9 PM, which was OK by us. I felt pretty wiped on Friday. Rob figures that's because Thursday was the first day of school after a very short break (there's something stressfull about first days of anything) and I worked Thursday evening.

I have a bowl of nectarines on the dining room table. On Wednesday, this bowl contained 4 nectarines that we had purchased at the Cox Family Farms market in Duncanville. I have eaten a nectarine on Thursday and Friday of this week. They have been barely ripe each time. I smell and prod them each day. This morning, I prodded the 2 that were left, wistfully. I want to eat them every time I see them, they are so bright and shiny. But they are not ready to be eaten. I will not be fully contented or discontented until that bowl is empty.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Prayer request: GFA missionaries

I received this prayer request via email this morning and copied the following text directly from the Gospel For Asia urgent prayer request site:

Nepali Missionary Abducted by Maoists!

GFA Nepali missionary Besh’s life is in danger as radical insurgency group Maoists forcibly abducted him a week ago for their purposes. This morning we received the urgent news. Though we do not know the details of the kidnapping or where he has been taken, we know our brother’s life is on the line. He is well known in the community as a Christian pastor and evangelist, and authorities in an area where he was ministering a year ago noticed his activity and asked him to leave. In the past, more than 200 people—teachers, students, village officials and commoners—have been abducted by the Maoists and killed without mercy. Some 9,000 lives have been claimed since the insurgency began in 1996. Missionaries are even more at risk as they travel to share the Good News. This has hindered our missionaries in their travels to reach needy villages for Christ. Elsewhere in Nepal, authorities have ordered two of our brothers, Pastor Basu and native missionary Imansingh, to vacate their area of ministry within a week.

Please pray earnestly with us for our missionary Besh’s protection and safe return.
Pray for courage for Besh and other Nepali believers in the face of persecution.
Lift up the persecutors in prayer, that they may come to know the Lord.
Pray also for the 200-plus pastors and their churches, and our 356 native missionaries in Nepal. Pray especially for the congregations that must continue on without their pastors.

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