Archive for October, 2008

How can I have a Second Life if I don’t have time for my first one?

Posted in Musings with tags , , , on October 29, 2008 by xxxicana

It is strange how life is full of coinkydinks. I just read Onion Tears’ blog about spending the weekend playing Zelda. I spent a better part of the weekend exploring Second Life. I made two avatars, here’s my main girl:

I was clued into Second Life by my mentor Mark, a world famous archaeologist and all around great informant regarding popular culture. He recommended a book recently published about SL and Identity. I’m putting off reading it until next year when I have more time. Anyway, I thought I would enter SL to check it out. When visiting Onion Tears a couple of years ago, I really got into EverQuest. I had a great looking avatar and had a lot of fun. After I returned to Lincoln, I decided not to play anymore since I get so sucked into the game (don’t even ask me about Tomb Raider). I loved “Zelda, Ocarina of Time” and “Marathon 2, Durandal,” and like Onion Tears, I will forget about RL for hours! So, I was a tad trepidatious once I stepped into Second Life that I might not leave for hours. Not to worry — YET. I spent a lot of time outfitting and wandering around. I had a couple of interesting encounters and like a good anthropologist spent some time eavesdropping in on other conversations. There was a group of people talking about the global economy – and this is how they sounded: waawaaawaawaawblahblahblahwaawaawaaa, heeheehee (woman with girly voice) waaaawaaawaawaawaa (guy pontificating on the market). BORING. Later someone admired my avatar — he looked like a normal guy. You know the type, jeans, t-shirt, average height, etc. After a bit of generic conversation he started to shape shift! It was very cool. His avatar has a randomizing effect that allows it to go from “normal” to quite fantastical.

As an experiment, I made a fat ugly stupid looking male avatar. I wanted to test if people would interact with me in the same manner as they did with my main avatar. I’d put up a photo, but I messed up his appearance and need to redo him. Anyway, the results were AMAZING! I was hanging out in an area with a lot of people just flitting by, posing, observing, and conversing. I was treated like crap! One character harassed my poor guy and no female avatars would speak to me! So, on the basis of very limited exposure to SL, I can say that it seems like people act pretty much the same in SL as in RL — maybe even worse. Great stuff for ethnographic research!

But, I’m not going to spend much time in SL. Unlike games, there’s no “point” — no quest, no fighting, no treasure to discover, etc. So, it isn’t really all that fun from a gaming sense. However, I might just keep dropping in now and then to study social interactions based on avatar appearance.

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More on the body – does my pikacho stink?

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , on October 26, 2008 by xxxicana

As Oniontears and Adriana have remarked, social norms have eased up over the past few decades. I’m sure this has much to do with feminism and the Women’s Movement(s) — specifically Title IX which mandated that schools provide equal access to sports and athletics to girls/women. When I was a child, I wasn’t allowed on the soccer team cuz I was a girl. Now, it seems like some type of sport is considered healthy and normal for girls (which I think is good). Of course women DO sweat. And we need products!

Oniontears went through so many brands of deodorant looking for one that smelled right. Personally, I have not used deodorant since I was in Jr. High school. I use perfume on occasion (when I remember, my favorite is Shalimar — very old school). I prefer that men NOT use deodorant or cologne, but can put up with it. I like the way people smell (and there’s evidence that smell is an important factor in mate selection). I bathe nearly everyday (abstaining only when staying at home all day) so I don’t feel a need to cover up my body’s odor. Mr. Man REALLY abstains from bathing (like any good hippie) — he sees it as his part in reducing his impact on the earth (actually, he just doesn’t like to bathe). Fortunately for me, it takes quite a while for him to become so rank that I have to insist that he shower. His favorite cologne is Old Spice! This is so retro it is cool!

So where is this going? I guess back to the point where consumerism, gender difference, and the body intersect. Marketing campaigns have convinced us that we stink. There are products to mask the natural odors of our skin, hair, breath, arm pits, and even our “pikachos” (to quote Chelsea Handler). We are are constantly encouraged to turn our gaze to our bodies to ensure that we are projecting the right message to the right people. I do like to shop, but I also realize that I am being manipulated into DESIRING. Advertisers not only want us to buy specific products, but they want to create in us a strong sense of desire. This directed desire is illusory much like that created by pornography (just for the record, I’m not against erotic material). Through the barrage of media, we form desires and we come to believe that these desires can be met by consuming. We have been transformed from people into consumers. As consumers we become data points in demographic studies to be used to cater to and shape our desires. But these desires and the products aimed towards fulfilling those desires are not meant to make our lives “better.” Rather, the point is to purchase stuff to satiate our marketer created desires. Am I wearing the season’s new hot color (purple for fall 08)? Am I driving the right car (for my demographic, it’s the Cadillac SRS)? Am I using the right skin product (Botox or Rejuviderm)? The products themselves, of course, will not actually fill the voids I feel. Will I attract friends and lovers? Will my status be promoted and displayed? Will I be able to put my “best face” forward? Products cannot fulfill us. The big web of lies contained within advertising, however, keeps us perpetually trapped. I LOVE TO SHOP. I have, however, cut way back on the amount of advertising I was consuming before. I have only one magazine script, Mother Earth News (but don’t believe that it’s not filled with ads also. I nearly plunked out $300 for a compostor until I realized I could make one with hog wire sitting in the back yard). My biggest fear is becoming a grotesque imitation of Edwina (AbFab) — the boozy, dumpy, muffin topped, and superficial consumer of every new fad (including Zen Buddhism).

Yikes! I fit some of the descriptors!!! (I once even threatened my daughter that I was going to adopt a Romanian orphan! LOL). [For the record, I stopped smoking almost 2 years ago].

These are just my musings for the day as I sip my coffee. Hope your day is AbFab!

Antique Show

Posted in Musings with tags , , on October 26, 2008 by xxxicana

Went to an Antique Show today with Patti – lots of cool stuff! I bought vintage pyrex refrigerator dishes which I have been desiring as of late. Here’s my find:

This set is in pristine condition, I really lucked out. These were standard household items before the proliferation of plastic. I would like to eliminate plastic from my life as much as possible/feasible. I’m not entirely a nutty Luddite — but it is important to me to reduce my consumption of non-renewable resources. It is SO hard to cut out plastic. Every week I assiduously sort our trash, compost our kitchen waste (unless Mr. Man makes coffee. I just can’t get him to put the coffee grounds in the compost container) and equivocate during purchases to buy products with the least amount of packaging. Still, we end up with plastic trash each week. I bought tilapia fillets recently from the frozen food section. Big mistake. The fillets were in individual plastic pouches inside a larger plastic pouch. It seems that plastic is wrapped around almost everything! Anyway, I just love my new pyrex dishes. They feel so retro and now I want to redo the kitchen into a retro 40s look (the Tuscan orange clashes with my red mixer anyway). Don’t tell Mr. Man . . . I’m still working on repainting the bathroom!

I had lots of fun at the antique show with Patti. Darn, I forgot to take pictures. I was just enthralled by all the cool stuff.

Flatulence may be adaptive!

Posted in Musings on October 24, 2008 by xxxicana

Dear Gentle Readers,

I know that for most Americans, flatulence causes extreme emotional responses (either embarrassment or laughter). As an anthropologist, I am concerned with human behavior, development, and evolution — and I just love taboo subjects! Farting (ok, let it out . . . the laughter, that is) is a normal, everyday aspect of the human body. In our culture, however, there is almost nothing more humiliating than to let one rip in public — unless of course you are a sub-adult male. In that case, farts are used as weapons. Women in American culture, of course, DO NOT fart. You know that saying “men sweat, women glow”? This is a good example of how bodily functions are subject to cultural interpretations and can be deployed to signal gender differences. Same with flatulence. For men, collective farting can even promote social bonding. For women, it’s another story [however, it should be noted that I have never lived in a collective of women such as a dorm, sorority, or convent, so my perspective may be skewed]. As we move along into adulthood, into the stage of relationship building (pair bonding), there comes the day that we must reveal to our romantic interest that we do, indeed, have bodily functions. Now, come on, admit it, you all know what I’m talking about. Have you ever gone in to tinkle and tried to muffle the sound of the stream? What about the first time you actually fully expelled your bowels in the vicinity of your lover? Moving up the chain of increasing trust, there comes a day when one can pass a small, innocuous fart with no consequence. Now that is intimacy!!

You may be wondering what brought on my musings about farting. Well, a new study indicates that the gas that makes farts stinky (hydrogen sulfide) may play a role in regulating blood pressure (see story here). Most of the gas in farts is made by bacteria in the digestive tract, but it is also naturally produced in the cell lining of blood vessels. Mice that were genetically unable to produce hydrogen sulfide were shown to be less able to control hypertension. Researchers will be following up on this research to develop treatments that would promote the production and release of more hydrogen sulfide. So, will we see a fart pill in the future? Next time you feel the need to suppress a fart, think twice — let it rip for better health!

Spot’s “real mom” visits Lincoln

Posted in Musings on October 22, 2008 by xxxicana

I’ve been away from my blog for a bit . . . my sister came for a visit . . . so I was busy cleaning the house and then enjoying her company. It was great to have Shell visit our fine city and enjoy some good old sisterly fun. When we were kids we spent a lot of time playing board games, as we grew older, the competition became stiffer. So, to relive those times, I dug out Trivial Pursuit. BIG MISTAKE. Of course Shelly kicked my butt . . . although I am blaming Mr. Man for serving me two shots of tequila. I would have won, I think, had I not been under the influence of that evil tequila!

Since his mommy left, Spot has been inconsolable . . . at least I think he has. He hasn’t moved from his favorite chair (except to nag me to feed him, oh, and to also hold him for hours). Here’s a photo of the two:

I think Spot really enjoyed seeing his real mommy . . . he also had three people’s laps to jump to for extra cuddling.

To entertain Shelly, we visited our favorite eateries and she met my friends. Here’s a photo of us at Grateful Bread (although they’ve just changed their name to something I don’t remember).

From left to right: Shemelis Beyene, Mary Willis, Shelly, Dan Osborne. These are the biological anthropologists at UNL and my favorite people in the department. We meet regularly at the “soup shop” since the soup is healthy and inexpensive, the decor is, hmm, well interesting, and the ambiance tres bon. Shelly was impressed by the large collection of Mr. Potato heads.

The Soup Night crowd met up with us at La Mexicana for dinner:

Left to right: Dave, Joan, Shelly, me, Patti, Tom, Matt, Ken (hiding behind Matt),and Kim (missing were Betty & Ray). I think this shot was taken early in the evening since there’s no accumulation of empty beer bottles and margarita glasses! I’ve made reference to the Soup Night crew before. This is a group of great, interesting, caring, funny, intelligent, and RAUCOUS folks that help keep me sane!

On Saturday, Tom and I had to figure out the best sights to show off Lincoln . . . hmm . . . should we go to the Germans from Russia Museum . . . or the International Rollerskating Museum . . . or perhaps visit a local winery (nixed since we are from California . . . one does not go to England for its cuisine . . . one does not sample wines in Nebraska). Ultimately, we decided that Shelly would enjoy a tour of the State Capitol building. Here’s a shot of Shell:

The Capitol was constructed during the Art Deco period — this is REALLY apparent in its architecture, materials, and embellishments. It is truly a beautiful structure and well worth a visit (jeez, it sounds like I’m a member of the tourism board!).

Although Nebraska isn’t entirely flat, the Capitol Building is the most prominent structure in the area. This has led to some rather off color phallic nicknames for our great state’s seat of government!

This is a door! Currently, much of the art work is being cleaned and restored. The main floors are replete with mosaics and so much detail it is hard to take it all in. I’m pretty sure that this building would cost a fortune to build today.

We also visited Wildlife Safari which I love. No pictures from me, however, I forgot to charge my camera battery.

All in all, we enjoyed Shelly’s visit immensely. The best part was spending some quality time with her just talking about our lives. I regret that our busy lifestyles have led me to forget to be in better contact and be a more supportive sister.

It is too easy to forget the important things in life . . . I’m going to try to remember to call and communicate more with my only sibling. It is funny how I have assumed that my life issues are unique. Talking with my sis I realized that we need to be more open about our trials and travails since we actually have to confront similar situations.

Anyway, I am so glad Shell came for a visit. I really enjoyed our time together and hope that next time the entire family can come out for a visit. Oh, and BTW, I will be naming one of my chickens “Bobbie” !!! TTFN

Spyboy has its first Gig

Posted in Musings on October 13, 2008 by xxxicana

The band finally came up with a name — SPYBOY — which is a reference to the Mardi Gras Indians who would have a spyboy to keep watch for rival tribes.

Here’s the lineup: Tory on bass, Stan on Drums, Tom on Guitar, and James on Guitar

Tory is a bass wunderkind . . . and he’s only 17!

All the way from San Antonio . . . . Stan the Mexicutioner

Here’s James with his voodoo eyes . . . he’s from New Orleans . . . and belts out great soulful songs

Mister Man tunes his guitar before the gig starts.

Check out the new Chucks for the gig!

It was a fabulous premier. The band played great, lots of friends came out to see.

Greg, Lisa, and Tom

Soup night group minus a few soupers.

Patti (our fav KZUM dj) and Joan

Doug and Shari

Metalheads/Newlyweds Willa and Dominique

Leslie, Stan’s wife and our vecina!

C’est moi, striking a pose

Hmm, should I rethink the purple eye shadow??

Halloween Party for kids AND adults!

Posted in Musings on October 13, 2008 by xxxicana

Yesterday I woke up a bit hung over from the previous night’s revelry . . . I was sitting sipping my coffee when it hit me . . . S*%T . . . I have to go to a Halloween party today! MY BFFs Mary and Cynthia have a huge annual bash for all to enjoy. They bought me an Amy Winehouse wig and begged me to come to the party. So here’s what Amy would look like if she lived a clean wholesome life in the midwest:

Meaning that she would have to gain the Nebraska 40 (in her case it would have to be 80)!

The first question was: Champagne or a beer?

Cynthia and her husband dressed as Teletubbies:

It’s hard not to love a man who will put on a silly costume so his daughter will have fun!

I’m mad a Mary, she had a TinkieWinkie costume, but never put it on. She’s the one in the orange shirt. She is either giving an elaborate explanation of primate dentition or trying to explain to me why she doesn’t have her costume on.

The party was a great success, even for the children:

I received a text message from Mister Man at 11pm . . . gently asking if I was ok . . .

I think of myself like Edina of AbFab . . . you know, the pudgy fashionista . . . if there’s still more champagne to drink, I ain’t comin’ home!