Making Knives Out of Rocks in North Georgia

Enjoying the North Georgia Primitive Arts Festival.

Image licensed under CC BY 2.0. Courtesy of erix!

As promised in last week’s post about not losing your time in a fog of Netflix and malaise*, I spent part of this weekend at the North Georgia Primitive Arts Festival/Knap In. As expected, it was fairly small and uniformly delightful. Y’all, it is a truth well established that festival folks in general are friendly, and rural southern festival folks even more so.

You want to feel loved? Haul out to the Georgia Apple Festival, ignore the warnings about chewing tobacco causing mouth cancer, and eat an apple fritter with someone who makes wreaths out of bullet casings.

So, I was just delighted to find myself with my two classmates and professor on a Saturday morning, heading out to Cartersville to hang with people who like to make their own arrowheads, and–in the case of the primitive bowhunter side of the festival–their own arrows and bows, and then shoot deer with them. We rolled up–one of the few cars that wasn’t a truck–around 11am, and headed on in.  Continue reading

2012 Wrap Up

This was written a few weeks ago in preparation for my trip to Boston, where I am at this very moment ringing in the new year while being terribly, terribly cold. Enjoy!

In the shower today, I was thinking about this past year. There are some years where you can’t really remember what happened in them–they’re a pretty standard accumulation of the component parts that make up most of your life. This was not one of those.

This time last year, I was preparing to go to Dakar. I spent January through May of 2012 in West Africa, with a stopover in Barcelona and Paris. I had never been out of the country for that long, and I had never been to Africa or to Europe.

While in Dakar, I got used to taking cold showers and malaria pills. I sweated a lot. I drank in parks and was mopey and climbed inside a baobab tree and on a termite mound. I learned how to carry money, ID, and my phone tucked away in my bra after I had my phone stolen on my birthday. I was homesick. My dog died.

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Have been in one of those funks where rather than write, or read, or be productive, I nap for six hours a day and try not to be hit in the face by the children who live in my house. So that’s been fun. (Study abroad: I am the worst at it.) So, in lieu of actual, structured post, here’s some interesting things that have happened recently:

Thesis, oh god why: So my thesis adviser’s suggestions and my wordiness led to a thesis proposal that was roughly twice the length it was supposed to be. Whoops. Hatcheted it down, and the entire time I wept for killing my babies. (“Don’t you want to know about theoretical frameworks for death? Or blogging? Or my love for danah boyd? No? Okay.”) Need to get it sent in by the end of the week. Am somewhat terrified. Then realized that I would happily not do a thesis if it wasn’t a Prudent Thing to Do, and stopped caring as much. (Also, did you know that GDocs now has MWord comment support? It does! This is the best thing ever.)

Senegal has a new president: So that’s pretty neat! The night he was elected there was a spontaneous parade in the street near my house. It was pretty fantastic. This also means that a) we’re not going to be like Mali and b) I can stay in the country without fearsome emails from the embassy. Yay! Continue reading

Professor’s Pen Point

Fickle, High, or Strict: all three = rageI think I was in high school when I learned about the engineer’s/freelancer’s triangle. It’s the old joke about good, fast, and cheap–you can have two of the three but you give up control of the third. It has the distinction of being both funny and true. However, I think there’s an overlooked version of this for professors and their grading: to keep it thematic, I suppose you could call it the professor’s pen point.

You have three options: your grading can be strict, your grading scale can be high, or you can be capricious with what your questions mean. You can be two of the three, but if you pull all three your students will hate you. I know this because a professor who I normally love just managed to move from his typical pairing (strict decisions about what he’ll take and a high grading scale) into the dreaded all-three zone. In a class in which an A is a 94 or above, an A- is a 92-94, and a B+ is an 89-92, he just gave a test where the highest grade in the entire class was a 91. Literally no one got an A. No one got an A-. All of us are annoyed.

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Slogging Towards Turkey

My friend saw this and was convinced I had joined a sorority. Nope. We just learn their slimming arm-pose techniques.

It’s been a long couple of weeks. We’re hitting the point in the semester where the work is piling up in forboding sorts of ways (I have an English paper, a response paper, a Women in Cross Cultural Perspectives response and essay, an annotated bibliography for Social Problems, and a lab for Bio Anthro due by December 7th), and it’s rainy and honestly all I want to do is take a nap.

But, it has been a good few weeks too. I went up to Blue Ridge with Elizabeth and my family, and we climbed Amicalola Falls (and by “we” I mean “Elizabeth and my parents” because my sister and I were too lazy to go more than halfway up), and it was lovely and there was tons of food and I napped. I even got to sit on an easy chair and I swear to god, of all of the stupid things I miss since entering college, furniture is high, high on the list. It almost makes me want to rent a house rather than live in the dorms next year. Continue reading

StudyBlue Creates On-the-Go Flashcards

StudyBlue has the hippest layout since Tumblr and an excellent flashcard feature, to boot.

If you’re looking for a browser-based note-taking and flashcard tool, StudyBlue may be your new favorite site. Because the service is targeted specifically at students, it’s organized in ways that closely mirror the binders of notes that it hopes to replace: data is organized by classes, and the two content options (note and flashcards) closely mimic their analog counterparts. However, unlike paper-based notes, these are accessible from any browser and can include rich text, sound, and images.

The easy-to-use interface and text formatting tools are strong points for the service. Sign-up takes thirty seconds, and only requires visiting the site’s front page and clicking an email confirmation link. The formatting tools work just like they would in a desktop text editor, but they focus on what’s useful for note-taking: lists, indentations, colors, and super- and subscript. I know that the science, tech, math, and engineering students I know have trouble taking computer notes because equations are difficult to type out. The dedicated super- and subscript buttons could make typing out STEM equations worlds easier. StudyBlue has nailed a feature that is rarely implemented as well or as cleanly as it is with the service. There is also a non-English character button, but cycling through it to get to the right Greek letter is probably less efficient than just learning the keyboard shortcuts for the letters.

Read the rest at HackCollege.