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Phycologia's Phunhaus
I am fascinated by the Global North's obsession with exact time. Growing up in Mexico this was never even a concept, and I have experienced the same lack of fixation in many other cultures, including Native American, so I'm fairly certain it's not literally geographic. Cultures living rooted more closely to the diurnal cycle and the seasons (whether by necessity or tradition), even those that DO have industry, seem like they continually adapt to the incremental changes the planet actually undergoes, and have an overall more fluid sense of time.

Every day, the sun rises and sets at a slightly different time than the day before, earlier or later for each, depending on the season, and that same sense of time as malleable pervades in myself and apparently these various peoples, rather than the arbitrary and unrealistic "static" time established for efficiency's sake. I think it's to do with an industrialized/mechanistic society that inflicts its linear "Greenwich Meantime" structure on the world rather than being part of the world, and a part of real earth-time.

It's not that time doesn't exist or isn't marked in the Global South, it's just not to the minute like it is here. Growing up, if we were told to be somewhere at 8, we'd get there somewhere around 8, sure, but nobody was going to have an anxiety attack if it was 7:50 or 8:15. Honestly, sometimes the agreement was "morning", "afternoon", or "evening", which led to hours of difference in timing from one day to the next.

Most American/western-sensibility people I've talked to about it seem to think this type of system automatically means chaos, but it does not. It means adjusting your expectations, but other than that, people still go to work, kids still go to school, bills get paid, chores get done, socializing if anything is more common. Life just has softer edges.

The GMT + zones idea obviously has its advantages in a society focused on WORK first, especially work-as-measured-by-hours (in education they call it BIST = "butt in seat time"), but just based on that LJ discussion I can see how much stress it causes when (shocker!) people are not cogs. I'm not wired that way, due to my formative years, so I've worked very hard to find a career environment conducive to my very internal sense of time.

I teach college biology, which is not hourly/punch a time-clock, but rather very independent and self-directed. I'm in charge of how my classes meet and what we do, and this creates a different sense of when my workday begins, and ends. I may be teaching at 1pm, but I probably have a few things I want to do beforehand, so I will get to campus with enough time to do them...but sometimes I don't have anything that needs doing, so I don't.

It's all flowing throughout the day: I'm plugged into the rhythm of the schedule in such a way that I'm hardly ever checking the time. Example: let's say my class begins at 1pm, I'll usually be there 10-15 minutes before if I anticipate lots of set-up or student need, but sometimes not. I may not begin exactly at 1pm, depending on what's happening, and they won't get their break at exactly 1:50pm, but rather somewhere near the halfway point that is a good pausing place. Just because the lecture ends at 2:50pm, doesn't mean I lecture right up until that minute, though I do not go over time; as I know sometimes students have very little time in between classes. After class I may have students waiting, or other things to do, or I may be done and go home, it all depends.

It's not at all regimented, I guess is what I'm trying to convey, and though obviously my being "late" in the students' perception would not be okay, that's an almost abstract delineation, since their concept of start=lecture time is not the same as mine, I "began" my work day much earlier. This extends to the students as well, if they come after I've started they may have missed stuff that I will not repeat, and they have to come through the rear door so as not to interrupt, but I will not inflict arbitrary sanctions on them, I think it's ridiculous.

Faculty & committee meetings are the same, bracketed by chit-chat, refreshments, adjustments, and also, due to the myriad of faculty schedules, someone coming in "tardy" is not a pariah, they aren't even noticed. 1-on-1 meetings are about the same, there's a window of time, ~10 minutes on either side of the agreed hour, where it won't even be noted. There's just a different professional paradigm, without a "boss" tapping their foot and looking at the little hand on their watch. Nobody is boss, we're colleagues.

Even my commute is like that, because the route I take is slightly longer distance but highly consistent in duration, and since I'm usually on my own, organic schedule of "I need to do this in my office and that at the copy center and there's that meeting around 2pm" or whatever, so I have a general sense of when I ought to head out.

My personal life is the same, I agree to be wherever around whatever time is needed, but make it clear I will likely not be there on the dot. If it's a movie or something my "around" time is obviously early (e.g. ~9p for a 930p show) but for lunch/coffee/dinner/party/museum/beach/band/club, it's a stretch of time with generally 15 minutes flexibility on either side of the target. Chores & errands are similar, I generally have a list of things to do and do them on the days when I have some time, but not the same day/time every week. I pick up my best friend's daughter from after-school 1-2 times a week, and it's anywhere from 3pm to 6pm, depending on what I have got going on that day, it works great.

This keeps my stress level very low w/r/t "time", as I'm never late, I'm never early, I just am :)

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I (along with Bill & the Sibs) am visiting my folks in Tecopa, CA for "Christmas" (we're actually flying home, snow willing, on the 25th).

Tecopa is not a city, nor even a town, township, or village.

It is officially an "inhabited area" of Death Valley, a region encompassed by California and Nevada barrens.

It has the kind of landscape that is impossible for Europeans, and even many urbanite Americans, to even imagine. They only seem to get the true scope of it, and the singular fusion of inchoate fear and reverence it engenders, once they have actually been deposited in the midst of it.

I am a water person, a naiad, and thus to me the profound absence of my life-giver, my nurturer, is grotesque and tragic. This is made even more poignant by the artifacts of the seafloor purpose this area once served, when the ancient earth was even more ocean-blanketed and the very place I sit was eons ago swaddled in water and swarming with joyous aquatic creatures.

Scanning the horizon, one feels at the center of a crater on Mars. The towering mountain range encircles the flatlands like a prison wall intended to retain giants, so sharply and brutally do they prevent escape. In the abstract they are lovely, sunlight glowing off of their painted faces in the late afternoon is glorious, until the reality of their disdain for our very lives reasserts itself.

The staggering beauty of those stratified edifices is at once awesome and oppressive; we are profoundly aware of the impossibility of surviving the combined forces of an almost mummifying desiccation, stupefying cold in the winter alternating with the unrelenting furnace of heat that is the sun, and geologic time itself.

In the desert, time moves slowly but flayingly forward, stripping flesh, hope and reason away with every grain of windblown sand by which we measure the progression of our fate.

This is not the pastel-infused postcard desert of the "Southwest" persuasion. This is not Santa Fe, each tidy whitewashed adobe cottage with its curving sandstone walkways, surrounded by a prism of iridescent cactus flowers, fluttering in the soft breezes from their perches. Here there is no palliative myriad of shape and color, artful affectations by a parade of succulents manifesting shapes, sizes, and colors it would take a gifted potter ten lifetimes to imagine.

No, here there is only the same spiny, scrubby, sharp-edged bodyform. It is a seemingly universal solution, by trees, shrubs, and even flowering herbs, to the problem of life in this vicious environment. Every plant looks as though it was attacked by armies of housecats, shredding their trunks and stems to ribbons of splinter-ridden warnings against contact of any kind.

There is no verdancy, only the dull taupe non-color whispering that the plants are already dead, and crumbling into dust like a long forgotten corsage.

The soil itself repels them: in addition to a gnawing lack of moisture, the plants are beset by complex salts that rise to the surface and cover it like a dusting of fine snow, adding mocking insult, in their mimicry of that water-full phenomenon, to the injury of preventing seedlings from taking root.

WIth plants so embattled, the animals are few and commensurately plain . Insects of scuttling, stinging and ambushing natures abound. To eat the chitinous monsters; bats and rodents living silent lives on the margins of the meal-attracting lightfields of human settlement. And finally, always off in the distance, coyotes call their dire feminine warnings about the certainty of loss and heartbreak.

In the face of such overwhelming struggle for bare existence, it is a wonder I am so content and heartened.

My saving grace is that which has always brought forth hope for humanity, and enabled the carving of home & hearth out of the unforgiving wilds. The gathering together of resources and will by people heavily invested, both emotionally and physically, in each other's present and future, maintaining those bonds through rituals and celebration gatherings. Holy days.

I am sustained by the feeling of common bonds, purpose, history, love and compassion I have around me, as we set about making meals, telling stories, giving thoughtful gifts, and playing games. In a word, family.

Merry Christmas 2008.

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Current Location: Tecopa, CA
Current Mood: ecstatic ecstatic

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Current Location: Highway Hut
Current Mood: mischievous mischievous
Current Music: Chet Baker in Tokyo

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Hello All!
I am posting this email from Sheila Hyde, a friend of mine who is a civilian working in Iraq. They have a great need for the most basic of school supplies, and I thought many of you might want to contribute to the cause of education there. The photos make the case better than words ever could...

Please repost in your journals and/or forward to any person or group you think would be interested. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this!

-----Original Message-----
From: Sheila Hyde [mailto:sheilajhyde@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tue 9/30/2008 3:20 AM

Greetings from Iraq,
I have wanted to collect school supplies for children in southern Iraq, and now that I have extended for 6 months I've decided that it is time to get started.
I would like to collect "kits" for individual students, rather than bulk supplies to be dropped off at the school. It seems that the supplies are more likely to get into the hands of the children if the kits are handed out directly to them, rather than if supplies are given to the school adminstration.
Kits should be sorted and compiled into large zip-lock bags. Kits can be specialized for either primary or secondary students.
Primary school kits should include:
color pencils or crayons- 8, 16 or 24
glue stick
pencil sharpener
children's scissors
small tablet or notebook

Secondary kits should include:
ink pens
solar caculator
student scissors, pointed
fine-tipped markers, gel pens or colored pencils
pencils and pencil sharpner or mechanical pencils
glue stick
small notebook or compostion book

Please sort items into large ziplock bags; this is a great project for children if you are planning of having students organize supplies.
Please mark the outside of boxes clearly with "School supplies", as well as primary or sedondary.
I will collect the supplies at GRS, and then send them out to schools through our security teams, Iraqi engineers, or area office teams when they visit schools.
I attached a photo of a typical "Mud" school so that you can see the conditions that many of the children in Southern Iraq attend school in; they usually look like they should be condemned. I also attached a photo of a child from an orphanage modeling a coat sent by one of you this past year. As project manager for Buildings, Health and Education in Southern Iraq, I have overseen the awarding of 6 new schools so far, and have 9 that I am currently working on that should be awarded by November. Infrastructure is in especially poor condition in southern Iraq sue to years of neglect.
Please mail the kits to me at:
Sheila Hyde
APO AE 09331
Feel free to forward this message to anyone that you think may be interested in participating in collecting school supplies, either individuals or organizations.
Thank you very much for all of your help. Please e-mail me with any questions or to give me a heads up if you are mailing some boxes.

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Also, I'm in the WRONG business; screw teaching, I could make a month's salary in 2.5 hours if I used my NATURAL skills...no wonder "our kids isn't learning" (quoting Bush) high class whores make more by far, and don't have to take out student loans to get their training.

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So, there was an auction on Ebay this month that got a bit of attention, for a "Golden Mermaid" that the lister had supposedly found washed up in Desoto Beach, FL. The creature sold for over $1,500! You can see the actual auction page here: EbayCollapse )
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Now, I know what you're saying, "How could anyone believe that thing is a real mermaid?", etc., but the reality is, some people do! The mermaid was featured on the syndicated radio program Coast 2 Coast, which is this wierd, squirley program run by a guy that saw a UFO, and where they discuss all maner of strange and hidden phenomena. It's like Mysterious Mysteries of Strange Mystery in Invader Zim, but as a radio call-in show.

I found out about it because my mom, a devotee of C2C, had seen the photos and was so disturbed it gave her bad dreams! She asked me to take a look at it and use my biology-fu to decide whether it was real or not. I did so, and I am reposting my analysis here for your perusal and amusement. MermaidCollapse )

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Current Music: Crap Chinese Vacation sndtrk

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is who I look like acording to the facial recognition site (myheritage.com). I guess it actually kinda makes sense, in that my actual heritage is eastern european and Irish. If you think that's interesting, it matched Bill to Heath Ledger and Kevin Spacy, which, if you mashed them together (and took away the homosexuality) would come close to the human masterpiece that is my man...

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Current Mood: sleepy sleepy
Current Music: Adult Swim

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Your Inner European is Irish!

Sprited and boisterous!

You drink everyone under the table.

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you might get close to the enigma that is me...
You are Inara, the registerred Companion. you are
sexy, sensual and skilled, yet have trouble
admitting to your emotions. You swing both

Which Firefly character are you?
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I'm Destiny!
Which Member of the Endless Are You?
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