Saturday, July 25, 2009

End of the Week Recap...

…in which Ellen teaches life lessons, remembers her sunscreen, and learns the value of a home-cooked meal.

This week has been hectic (as you might have guessed from my lack of posting) but quite enjoyable nonetheless. Monday evening was spent making wedding shower invitations for my lovely friend Sarah who is getting married Labor Day weekend. I really struggled with exactly how to enact the concept I had in my head of a silhouette and ribbon and eventually found that simplicity was the best way to go, as is so often the case. While making the invites, I was serenaded with bluegrass tunes picked out on guitar and banjo by Geoff and our friend Logan. Here is Logan showing off the neck cushion I knit for him to keep the banjo strap from digging into his neck.

It was double knit based on a pattern for a simple flower repeat pattern that I think was meant for a hat. Double knitting is actually pretty easy but requires you to keep track of which side you are on because you are simultaneously knitting two sides where the pattern is the same but the colors are reversed. In this case, the strap can be turned inside out and on the other side are navy flowers on an orange background. Basically you perl anything you want to be on the back side and you knit anything you want to be on the front. It has the added benefit of being I picked out this pattern because I thought I remembered that his strap was navy and rust colored with a (masculine) floral pattern. I asked him “you’re banjo strap is navy and orange, right?” to which he replied, “that sounds right,” at which point I remembered that Logan is color blind. I have assured him that the strap looks good and he has assured me that it has made his banjo playing all the better.

The next few days were spent teaching my students about primates (they love this part because it involves a lot of cute pictures) and on Wednesday my friend Craig was in town for a visit and we all headed to a baseball game to see our local single A team the State College Spikes. For those of you not into shooting furry animals, a spike is a juvenile deer. Yes, that is right, our fearsome mascot doesn’t even have horns. How could we hold out against the infinitely more fearsome Lowell, Massachusetts Spinners and their drop spindles of doom? (Neither of these is my favorite team name in the league, however, that would be the Vermont Lake Monsters.) I am proud to report that I was the only one who remembered to wear sunscreen and the only one (except for Geoff with his inborn sunscreen) who didn’t get a sunburn.

On Thursday, in addition to my regular teaching, I guest-lectured in an Intro to Cultural Anthropology class. This is a lecture I give frequently on the intermingling of our concepts of race, human variation, and ancestry and how these things relate to human evolutionary history and population genetics. For the most part, the students have no concept of the evolutionary history of our species or that natural selection has adapted different individuals to different climates so I have to cover that before moving on to a discussion of the history of immigration to the U.S. which mostly includes individuals from only a few parts of the world. So based on where our ancestors lived we have inherited different skin colors, face shapes, body proportions and even some diseases that were adaptive in the climates in which our ancestors evolved. I then hit them with a little unpacking the invisible knapsack of white privilege by telling them about a study in which having a white name on a resume was equal to an extra 8 years of job experience in the likelihood of getting an interview. A lot of material to cover in 1 hour and 15 minutes and I was pretty much exhausted afterwards (my students learned about sexual selection and primate mating strategies earlier in the day). More on Friday (when I learn the value of a home-cooked meal) tomorrow.

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