Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lions and GIS and Evolution, Oh my!

Growing up in the D.C. area I was lucky to be able to journey to museums, the zoo and other cultural places on a regular basis. Sometimes I wonder if I hadn't grown up in the area if I would have the same passion for Anthropology and the related topics.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to take a friend from VA who had never been to the National Zoo on a tour of it. Unfortunately a bunch of the exhibits were closed and at the other exhibits a lot of the animals were sleeping. Despite this we still had a great time and it renewed my love for these type of visits again. Now there is a part of me that doesn't like that the animals are caged up but on the other hand I do like how they are available so that people can learn about them.

This day, like many days at the zoo, there were many children there with their parents. Many parents though I noticed took their kids through the exhibits, pointed to the animals and then moved on. Hardly any stopped to read the captions or the exhibits that were just all explanations. Of course this struck a nerve mostly because I know how much time and effort goes into designing just one exhibit and coming up with that text (I spent an entire SEMESTER working on my Evolution Exhibit for Penn State). Even beyond that I was sad that these kids were missing so much information that they could absorb into their young brains.

So needless to say that made me a bit sad for those kids but even sadder was when the parents were talking to their kids and giving them wrong information. I made sure that I loudly talked to my friend about the animals, what the really were and correcting any information that those parents were spouting. Of course the WORST one for me was one mom was pointing out to their little boy, who was probably around eight, the gorillas. She saw how excited he was to see them and said, "Look at the monkeys!"

It was at that point that I was close to screaming at this woman, but I kept it to a minimum. This happens to be a great pet peeve of mine since I spent so much time in my undergrad studying evolution and as a result all about apes, new world and old world monkeys. See, this is a reason that when you don't know something you should READ the text that comes along with the exhibit (which was about 5 feet from them).

Once I got over that I had a great time at the zoo and luckily my friend put up with me explaining everything I knew about each animal in great detail to her. Perhaps my favorite part of the zoo though had nothing to do with the animals. We were actually leaving, walking through the research part of the Amazonian building and we came across a room with animal bones in it. Of course the Anthropologist in me starting geeking out and I starting talking about how I missed playing with bones in the museum.

It was at that moment that I thought for a second if I was really doing the right thing switching fields a bit and going into GIS. This though only lasted for a second as I turned around in the room to see a computer that had ArcGIS maps displayed on it. Next to it were countless books about different uses for GIS including plotting underwater volcanoes. It put such a smile on my face not only because it reminded me that I loved GIS and what I could do with it once I got my Master's but also that these things were actually being taught and displayed.

So even though this trip had it's moments I had a great time, mostly because it was great to see my friend again who I only get to see once in awhile since she lives farther away. It made me even more excited to start my Master's Program and start learning about new things again.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Confessions of a Klutz

Let me start out with first saying sorry for the absence. I know I said I would try to do at least one blog post a week but sadly life has gotten in the way. Anyways what better way to get the ball rolling again then to talk about the anthropology behind my klutziness! Yes, you heard me correctly.
Now for those of you who know me already know that I am a born klutz. Honestly it makes no sense to me. I come from a long line of athletic Irish and Norwegian men and woman and even though I am athletic myself I am extremely klutzy. So why is this? Well like everything I decided to think of it from an anthropological perspective. First I decided to think about the genetic aspect. Like I said before I’m both Irish and Norwegian and come from a line of strong and athletic men and woman. I myself have always been athletic as well. Give me a softball or volleyball and I can do great things. Ask me to do a simple task like walking across the apartment without hitting my foot on the coffee table and I fail.
I mean just in the course of these past few hours I’ve managed to clunk my knee on two different parts of my desk, run into a doorknob and somehow shut my hair in the fridge (yes even I was impressed by the last one). What makes it even worse is that because of my ethnicity I’m incredibly pale so every little bruise shows up.
So once again I ask how did this happen to me? Well I decided to look at my parents. My mom is very coordinated but like me, bruises easily and always seems to have them from barely touching things. My dad cannot eat anything without spilling it all over whatever he is wearing. So if you put the two of them together I guess you get me.
Then we come to the idea of nature vs. nurture. Nature gave me apparently my ability to spill things all over myself (mostly things that stain clothes to the point of having to be discarded) and my paleness. Nurture gave me my ability to run into things and hurt myself on things that shouldn’t be able to hurt me. My mom blames it on the way I rush around to do everything. This comes from the society we live in, especially me who all my life has lived in the DC area where everything is rush, rush, rush, no time to sit down and relax.
Honestly even though I can see how all of these reasons make sense, I think I’m just the oddball in my family who can’t go anywhere without finding weird ways to injure myself. For those of you who don’t know me, here are some things in just the past few months (in no particular order) that I’ve done to myself:
-        Got my hair caught in a shredder
-        Got my scarf caught in a shredder (yes there is a trend here)
-        Ran into a wall
-        Fell and bashed my chin on my boyfriend’s head
-        Ran into countless desks and doorknobs (I swear they have it out for me)
-        Fell down a set of stairs near my office
-        Fell face first running to first base at a softball game
-        Stepped off a curb wrong and sprained my ankle
-        Got hit by a car in the parking lot (yes someone actually hit MY BODY even if it was barely a tap)
-        Got attacked by two birds outside of my office building after being locked out
-        Got a hole in my Panera coffee cup and spilled coffee all over myself and the car
And those of course are just the ones that I remember off the top of my head. A lot of times I tweet about the weird things that I end up doing to myself so follow me @curtincall89 for more laughing at my expense. My klutziness is something that will most likely stay with me for the rest of my life. Let’s just pray to the gods that my kids don’t inherit it otherwise we’ll be stocking up on ice and band aids.