Where are we now?

View Where are we now? in a larger map Jo, Annie, Miles and I are living in Northport, Alabama and working at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. We've been glad to be in one place for a bit after what appeared to be semi-permanently traveling (in actuality for a period of 2.5 years).We started this blog to catalogue some of the adventures when Jo and I were sequentially conducting our dissertation research in India and Brazil. While we've fallen off the blogging bandwagon somewhat during recent trips to Brazil, we're trying to pick it up again now that we're back in India!

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Well, no, not exactly. One might ask why I have been up since 5 this morning after getting to sleep at 12. No, the answer is not A) I was so excited about schoolwork i couldn't sleep, it could've been B) I was craving coffee so bad i was retching in my sleep, also C) I was dreaming of a sedentary lifestyle, could've been a strong possibility, but no, in fact it was D) there was a cockroach crawling on my face.

Yes, that's right, the pleasures of being a transient grad student, staying on people's futons etc. Now, one has to understand I'm not staying in a dank, decrepit, dwelling of dubious description (now that's descriptive). Rather, the apartment of my friend, who shall not be named out of fear of reprisal, is immaculately clean (as a newbie grad student she has no funiture save a futon and tv).

As i slept I felt something nibbling on me. Seriously. I itched it, rolled over, and went back to sleep. I awoke again to the same sensation; again, rolled over and went back to sleep. Later, at 5 am, i felt it crawling over my face-with a quick flick (i was conscious enough not to swat myself) i through it across the room, turned on the lights, considered the existential implications of killling the little bugger, and then squashed it.

Oh, life as a transient grad student.

and i'm doing this because.....

Monday, August 27, 2007

in transit.....

it appears we are in the final countdown now. until we move into the new apartment that is. We received word yesterday that wednesday would be the big day, but alas that offer was merely a bad joke, and we won't get to actually move in for real until saturday. Enough complaining. While jo and i are really looking forward to the new apartment it has been really great staying with Charrow/JJ, connie, and Rakesh. It is so nice to have so many friends that one could eternally couch surf.....oh wait, there's an idea, forget the apartment, Charrow/JJ we're not moving out. Sorry pandas.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

First week reflections.....

Well, I've completed the first class of my last class, which means I've now had a taste of all the classes I will be taking this semester. Thoughts: the drive to Athens really isn't so bad, it's a good chance to listen to some music, unwind, and be forced not to do school work or play on the computer (I tried but couldn't master the stick/mousepad interface). Oh yeah-reflections, perspectives, brilliant answers to life's greatest questions....not quite there yet. My one impression, and i'm sure this will change by the end of the week, is that i''m not being challenged to the degree that i expected. I'm sure this will change, and i will rue the day i made such a blasphemous statement, but reading is one thing, but really being challenged theoretically to think in different ways is another. I'm sure my cerebrum will be screaming out in existential angst soon enough.

On another note: It's so nice to have Jo home- if only because i was getting tired of cooking for myself. Just kidding. Sort of. Not really. Ok, i was, because i made a darn good eggplant and chickpea pasta dish from our 'Vegetable' wedding cookbook.

Monday, August 20, 2007


0800- Pickup one very special someone

0800-1000- Drink lots of caffienated beverages while in atlanta airport


Thursday, August 16, 2007

First day of school....

Well, i have successfully completed the first day of my ph.d. program.....how many more to go- I don't want to know. I 'TAd' my first course this morning, which essentially means I sat through the ANTH intro course and drank coffee. I don't know how well I performed though. It was by far the largest class I've ever been in, bursting at over 300 undergrads, and I definetly stammered around when i had to get up and give my 'cocktail party story' about who i was and what my interests are. As I have never taken an intro-anthro course before I'm sure i will learn alot (for example whether or not i am in the right discipline). What was really interesting though was that a first year stopped me on the way out and was very interested in talking with me about my interests, anthropology, how i got to where i am, and whether i am leading a study abroad trip (he probably has a crush on me, it's the shirt (see photo) {sorry jo}).

After plodding through the furnace-like heat to my first graduate level course, i entered a different world. Well, not really, it was just up the street, and engaging essentially with the same subject, but on a clearly much different level. The foundations of ecological/environmental anthropology course is taught by my advisor, Pete Brosius, who has done his fieldwork among the Penan in malaysia (http://www.anthro.uga.edu/people/pbrosius.html)

The class was interesting, he gave some broad background on anthropology as a discipline from an ecological/environmental perspective, and some perspectives on starting the ph.d. process. This was our first meeting as a cohort, and i'd have to say it was like a middle school dance; no, it wasn't awkward in a gendered way, but in the sense of 'oh, my-these people will become close friends and colleagues over the next X years.....' anyway, so an exciting day, let's see what tommorrow brings.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Not in Kansas anymore.....

Well Toto........

it's a different world down south. My second pre-pre day of school. Reflections: UGA is a very different institution than any I have ever attended. As opposed to a hike up gap mountain, we had an orientation sponsored by verizon wireless, where rubber beer coasters with important academic websites were passed out (something UGA student's couldn't misplace). Unlike Antioch's predominantly crunchy bearded folk (which applies to all genders, and everything in between), there are the air-brushed blondes and abercrombie-beer-can-crushing-on-head student body. Ok, i'm being way too judgemental. maybe. not.

I did register for classes today though....in the lineup is

Foundations of Ecological Anthropology (taught by my advisor)
Human-environment interaction in anthropological perspective from the eighteenth century to the present. (ok that is a horrible description of a class that i think will be extremely interesting)

History of Anthropological thought
The development of anthropological theory. (wow! ditto)

A proseminar (no description)


New Geographies of Conservation

This Graduate Seminar will help to deconstruct nature conservation in contemporary narratives of cultural landscapes. The main goal is to expose graduate students to the current literature on biodiversity conservation and the human predicament. The analyses of classical works on wilderness, of challenges to ideas of an uncommon ground to study the place of humans in nature will help us to construct appropriate descriptors of cultural landscapes with four major pillars: a) cultural reactions and conceptions of nature, b) degradation and restoration cycles of the environment, c) ecological time and footprint, and d) ecological forecasting and geographical scenarios of sustainability.

The first 3 weeks, we will be exposed to theorizing the objectives of nature conservation in a globalized world. We would analyze the metageography of continents to frame conservation scenarios in a North-South vector, with spatialitites of sustainability and transfrontier conservation. We will also identify the constraints of designing protected areas with the idea of wilderness and our definitions of paradise as archetype of the governance of conservation in a central protection scheme. We then construct our narrative for the human dimension of place worth conserving, namely a cultural landscape. The following weeks will bring a dynamic discussion based on students' presentations, and a final videoconference with the main actors of political ecology and conservation science available.

ok, i cheated on that one (don't tell the academci honesty gestapo) and copied it from the instructors course description.

Anyway, so i'm sure it will be interesting. Tommorrow, the pre-pre-pre first day of school, or would that just be one pre as the first is on thursday!, i will be meeting with the professor I am TAing for to discuss tactics for indoctrinating the minds of the young.

Expropriation station

Well.....i hope no one minds, but i found this very interesting description of a trip from new castle to atlanta online. It seems to match our trip amazingly well-so i just copied and pasted it. I hope the author never finds out.

The trip to Atlanta was quite interesting -- and very very hot. I felt like I was at yoga. At least my clothes were as wet as they are after yoga. My body was a little stiffer after sitting in the car for so many hours. We saw Uncle Burt and Aunt Midge for lunch on the way down, and eventually made it to Debbie's for the night. Then off to Atlanta, in the 103 degree weather (and the unairconditioned LHS pulling the U haul it). We saw the apartment which is in a house on a beautiful, quiet, tree-lined street. It should be terrific for David and Jo. It is close to Emory, but Athens and the UGa are FAR away. Not going to be a fun commute for David. Lots and Lots of time in the car -== maybe gift certificates for Audio Books are appropriate birthday presents. Anyway, we got all of the stuff unloaded to a Uhaul storage area, and then went to Charrow's to put the top layer of the wedding cake (and a "new House" chocolate zucchini cake) in her freezer until David and Jo's apartment is ready. David's introduction to Teaching Assistant registration was a little confusing, but he meets with the professor whose course he will be TAing in tomorrow and will get more details re: expectations and what the work will be. I took a bus tour of UGa campus -- could put around 25 Colby's in the space (4 miles from one end to the other). Then David and I headed off to Calloway Gardens, which has many lakes as well as many different types of trees, etc. hiking trails, and a beach on a lake == which was welcome since it was 103 to 104. The next day we went to Warm Springs, and the Little White House, which was FDR's retreat. Very interesting and well worth a trip.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Last photos from Scilles

Here is the link to the last of the photos from the Scilles
this might work, this might not


Last entry before re-entry

Hard to believe that in just two days I will begin the multi-stage return trip, leaving St. Mary’s in the Isles of Scilly for New Castle. It has been quite a trip to date, especially amazing when I remember Jo and I left essentially the day after the incredibly hectic wedding weekend. We have both seen and experienced so much over the last two months. When is it we will finally have a chance to relax? Here are the last of the pics....

Well, considering I am somewhat marooned on a psuedo-tropical island, and acknowledging that life will only become more hectic once we return, I decided to take a day off and enjoy the brief respite from the rain. I took a boat over to the island of Tresco (one of the 5 inhabited islands, and 00’s of uninhabited islets and rocky sea mounts). As part of my research I felt the ‘need’ to go on a wildlife walk with a naturalist, and so was able to pick his brain a little while looking at birds and the exotic plants from all over the world that had been brought over to Tresco (which has a world class outdoor gardens, see posting below). Going on walks with skilled naturalists is such a pleasure, it really makes the world come alive to see someone identify all of the various birds, plants, and insects. Even if I remember the name for only a nanosecond, it is still really amazing to be able to see the islands through someone who really knows about their ecology. It’s interesting, because with the research that I am doing here (on people’s understanding of biodiversity), I realize to what large extent I have become separated from my knowledge/interest in the diversity of the natural world, going on an amazing walk of this kind reminded me of the myriad ways that I value the environment, the various ways that are so hard to put into words, which makes me take pity on my ‘research subjects’ who I relentlessly question, asking them to be more specific about why the environment is beautiful.

The Scilles are an amazing place. The landscape and the people are so dynamic. The flora and fauna are constantly changing, what was last week a bed of purple heath is now magenta studded with gold flowers. The puffins, which draw the tourist in droves, have left for their breeding grounds. The demographics are also constantly changing. In September the family visitors will leave, making way for the ‘twitchers’, strange individuals who fly in from the UK for the day to see rare birds (see below). The communities here are also amazingly close knit, everyone looking out for each other. The Scilles are truly magic, and I can understand why families come back year after year after year (for some this was their 70th season!).

It's a shark...no it;s a twitcher

It’s a shark! No, it’s a twitcher!

The other night I went out ‘sharking’. A friend is doing (or trying to) his master’s research on blue sharks, and how they are affected by changes in ocean water temperature. He was going out on a tagging boat, where they try to catch the sharks, put little metal tags on their fins and release them (much like the sea turtle research I did). It was truly a mini-epic voyage. It was a stormy night (isn’t that how all stories start?), with 15 foot waves and very strong winds. Our 5 ½ hour boat trip took us 9 miles out into the sea (only what 3000 odd more miles and we would have reached home?) The guys started by filling a net with mushed up mackerel they had caught and left in the bottom of the boat for a week to get extra smelly, and than threw that in the sea, bobbing it up and down like a tea bag, trying to tempt the sharks. Unfortunately, we were unlucky on the shark front (we were only looking for small sharks, not the great whites spotted off the Cornish coast).

However, midway through our voyage we spotted a small black bird which darted across the boat. The various passengers went absolutely out of control, jumping, hugging, and kissing each other. The reason-they are twitchers, people who travel from as far as Norway to come on these boat trips in hopes of seeing “rare birds”. This little black bird whose name escapes me (don’t tell them or they’d be outraged) had never before been seen in Britain. SO when they saw it they were excited to say the least, they called the bird hotline, much like the bat signal, text messaged their ‘mates’, and paged all other twitchers; the rest of the night their phones would not cease going off, their pagers beeping and so on, they had set the birding world astorm, and I had no idea, or interest, in what was just observed-not only because it was just a black fleck that was only visible for three seconds, but because, and here is what I think is the strangest part, it is not like the bird is truly rare, or incredibly colorful or exotic, but only rare to Britain, for our North Carolina colleagues they can see thousands of these birds in their backyards, it is just the very very lost bird that somehow manages to show up in England. And so during the month of October, following a certain type of storm that often affects the North East US during that time (they definitely know more about our weather than I do), some birds get lost and end up in England, and with them a stampede of twitchers flies down for the day (now that’s an expensive hobby) to try and catch a glimpse of them before they keel over, knackered to the point of death. What is also interesting about this strange breed of humans is that they’re not particularly interested in the bird per se, it is really more of a weird game where they literally have a list which they are constantly adding to in competition with their mates. As my mom would say, at least it keeps them off the streets (and I would add-and in the air).

Tresco Gardens

Tresco Gardens-

I have been over to the privately owned island of tresco three times in the last two days ‘doing research’. On one of those visits I went to see the renowned Tresco Gardens. The reason these gardens are so famous is that, although in England, they enjoy the Mediterranean climate and constant sun (really?) and so are able to grow plants quite easily from all sorts of other exotic locales. It is quite a beautiful place (I’d have to say longwood is more impressive), filled with plants from south America, south Africa and the Mediterranean. As I was walking along it was virtually impossible not to continuously snap photos of all the incredible plants that I came across. At one point I had to tell myself I wasn’t going to take any more photos, and then I would come across another plant the likes of which I had never seen. Some of these photos I have included in this latest link.