Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Everyday activity critical to weight loss

A new study shows that big workouts at the gym aren't necessary for weight loss. Apparently,
ordinary daily movements can shed pounds

Researchers put volunteers into special underwear that recorded every tiny motion and change in posture, revealing that it's the little movements (or lack of same) throughout the day that can add up to a huge difference. They might have saved themselves time and expense by talking to the mothers of toddlers, who know all too well how much energy is expended daily by keeping the body in continuous motion.

Looking to drop a few pounds? Start fidgeting! And remember, that strange guy on the bus who won't stop shaking his leg is probably just burning off those Krispy Kremes he had for breakfast.

The State Quiz

You're Colorado!

You really enjoy getting high. Even though it's often a lot of work, the view from the top is almost always worth the effort. Your distance from others makes your relationship with them rather rocky at times, but they do look up to you. Be very careful around schools. And stop being quite so focused on the number 5,280!

Take the State Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Another great stress reliever - juggling! It's even more fun when you make the balls yourself.

What do you do to blow off steam and rejuvenate?

I can also make practical things, like this dishcloth, for myself.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Knitting is a great way of relieving stress, plus I get to make fun things for my kids, like this bag.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Promoting Sameness: A Lack of Excellence in America

Last year's animated movie The Incredibles took a comic book view of a world in which superheroes were forced to conform by hiding their superpowers and pretending to be merely average.

In one scene, the young son complains about not being able to use his extraordinary powers by competing in track, powers he believes make him special. The mother tells him that everyone is special, at which the boy ruefully observes that this is just another way of saying no one is.

It's an astute observation, and one which I believe applies all too increasingly in the United States. Call it political correctness or dumbing down, but whatever the label, the result is the same - we are becoming a society in which the least common denominator is preferred over individual expression or superior achievement.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the American educational system. The No Child Left Behind Act posits the absurd notion that testing children at each grade level will provide a means of holding teachers and schools accountable for their education. As President Bush says in his foreward to the NCLB Act: "If our country fails in its responsibility to educate every child, were [sic] likely to fail in many other areas."

The result of mandating that every child, including those with learning disabilities, non-English speakers, and others, be 'educated' (i.e., pass standardized tests) is that schools must now put all their efforts into reaching these arbitrary goals instead of educating children individually, according to each child's abilities. And one of the consequences of this is that gifted or advanced students have increasingly fewer programs and resources available. Who has time to help the very brightest achieve even more when it is an absolute requirement that slower learners must attain a level of proficiency determined by the federal government?

A clear example of this is happening at Portland's Franklin High School, where Honors classes are being phased out in favor of 'academies' in which all students are lumped together and taught a single curriculum, regardless of academic achievement, ability, or even previously completed coursework: The sorry demise of high school honors classes. Apparently, providing the opportunity for students to excel is less important than rigorously shoving everyone into a middle ground of mediocrity.

Are we sacrificing our country's future in the name of equal opportunity? One thing seems apparent - while no child is left behind, no child can get ahead.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Kid Lit

My daughter Emma, who just turned 5 three weeks ago, wrote this tonight. She's written stories before, by dictating to me as I typed, but this is the first one she's done entirely on her own, writing it all out by hand on a piece of paper. We are a family of bookworms and writers...

Emma Butterfly's Easter

The night before Easter was a special night for the butterflies. Emma woke up in it. Emma called her Mommy, "Help! My dreamcatcher's off, I can't reach it...unh..."

"Why don't you get the stepstool?"

Emma got the stepstool and put it on her bed and reached the dreamcatcher.

The End

Wednesday, May 18, 2005



They say hellfire hungers
for fuel, for those who will not follow.
So cremate my breathing body.
Stir the ashes into a soup
served up to the faithful
in soft, felted footsteps
of purple and tangerine.
I will raise a fist, flip a finger.
I want to stick in their throats
because I am too slick to swallow,
because their belief is blinding
me with honey smiles
and hands laid in numinous touch.
Burn away my body
and make my breath
an eternal flame
of unbelief.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Cecilia Miller in Salome

Read Cecilia Miller's honest, beautifully written essay Crisis of Faith.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Little girls, gas bubbles, and pediatric physicians

Last night was very long. The day was going great - I was having a day off while my husband took care of all things kid-related, and he even insisted on taking me out to dinner. We decided to try a brand-new restaurant that just opened near our house. That's when things started to go bad.

Our youngest, 27-month old Kate, wouldn't eat. Instead, she kept pointing to her left side and saying there was an owie in there. I've never heard a two year old complain of a stomach ache before, so that was odd. Then she said she wanted to go back in the car, and insisted on being held. We rushed through our dinner and my husband took her out to the car while I paid the bill. When I got out there, he said Kate felt hot.

Long story short, we ended up first at the local Immediate Care center, where Kate was the very last patient to be seen. Unfortunately, she has a terrible fear of doctors and the instant the nurse called us back she began pitching the worst tantrum, screaming and flailing and kicking. The doctor who looked at her panicked a bit, I think because of the tantrum (which is perfectly normal for Kate at a doctor's office) and sent us to the hospital to have her checked there. She mentioned something I'd never heard of - intussusception - and suggested Kate might need to be sedated in order to figure out what was wrong with her. I couldn't catch all she said, thanks to Kate's screaming, but I caught enough to understand this woman was worried and we needed to get to the ER immediately.

Our pediatrician refers all her patients to a specific hospital in north Portland that has an entire ER just for kids, so we had to drive all the way into town. We then spent about 2 1/2 hours in the waiting room of the children's ER watching Kate run around, skip, laugh, and have a generally grand time. She seemed perfectly fine and didn't complain about the pain anymore. When we were finally seen by a doctor, she was pretty good (for her), with only moderate flailing and crying. The diagnosis: gas bubbles.

As it turns out, major abdominal problems like intussusception and appendicitis are almost always on the right side. Kate consistently pointed to her left. Her pain was sporadic, coming and going suddenly, but it was not intense enough to make her cry or double over. When I looked up intussusception later, it was described as something that makes children (usually infants) pull their legs up to their chest and cry and scream. Clearly, it did not really fit her symptoms in other than a very superficial manner. I understand that the Immediate Care doctor was just being cautious, because it could potentially have been something serious, but I also suspect that, not being a pediatrician, she was really not well qualified to diagnose a toddler's abdominal pain.

We finally got home about 10:15, well past the kids' bedtime, exhausted and stressed, but greatly relieved. Nothing puts the world into perspective better than getting a glimpse of how quickly it might change. Today, I've hugged and kissed both of my kids many times. Have you hugged yours?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Blog interview

My blog interview, with questions from Dave Clapper

1. How do anthropology and archeology affect your writing?

My profession permeates my writing, in many ways. There’s the obvious influence of subject matter - I’m currently writing a collection of poems based on archaeological burials, and I have a novel on the back burner in which the protagonist is a physical anthropologist. I also have a series of children’s novels planned, involving the adventures of a boy whose parents are an archaeologist and a physical anthropologist. Also, many of my stories and poems share a theme of change through time and a sense of the humanity in every situation.

Less overtly, my background in anthropology/archaeology shapes the way I see the world and therefore dictates the way I create worlds in my writing. I’ve been trained to pick up fragments of the past and connect them to create a picture of what went before, and I think that training helps me in my writing to use details like pieces of an incomplete puzzle, putting the right words together to reveal just enough of a hint that readers can imagine the picture for themselves.

Anthropology also gives me a good understanding of how similar all human beings are, regardless of social or cultural circumstances. We all want pretty much the same things and share the same emotions, and keeping that in mind helps me put myself in the shoes of characters that are very different from myself.

2. Are you native to Oregon? If not, how long have you been there, and what made you decide to move there?

I’m not a native Oregonian, though I might as well be by now. While growing up, I lived in lots of places, mainly in the Pacific Northwest, including Oregon. Later I came back and attended the University of Oregon in Eugene. I then spent twelve long years in the sprawl around Phoenix, and though I love the desert, I did not love the extreme heat or the heavy traffic and huge population. When we were expecting our second child, my husband and I decided enough was enough, and escaped back up to the sanity of Oregon. I love living here - the weather is much more kid-friendly (you can’t play outside when it’s 110 degrees) despite the rain, there’s lot of lovely green plants, and there’s much more of a small-town feel to our community than the impersonal concrete suburban expanse of the Valley of the Sun.

3. Do you think geography affects writing style? If so, what is the Pacific Northwest's impact on your writing?

I think geography affects everything in my life. I’ve always had a strong sense of place and am very much a Westerner at heart, despite having been born in West Virginia. I identify mostly with the basin and range landscape, having spent the most years in Idaho during my childhood. And that probably does affect my writing, now that I think of it, because I tend to write in a style that is spare and lean, much like the high desert I love so much. We’ll have to wait and see whether the forested abundance of western Oregon begins to creep in as well.

4. What market is your number one target to get into these days?

Hmmm, that’s tough, because there are lots of markets I’d love to get into. I’ve been reading literary magazines by the bushel and have found several that I particularly enjoy, so those are right up there on my list:

Quarterly West
The Gettysburg Review
Alaska Quarterly Review
Night Train
Hunger Mountain

If I had to pick what I consider my own personal literary coup, it would be getting a story into Glimmer Train. I think they consistently showcase solid (if not daring) work, and their production value is without a doubt the most professional, highest-quality, that I have seen.

I’m also dying to get a piece into Born Magazine, which is, I think, the fullest realization of the internet’s potential for combining literary works and art.

Other online venues I covet include:
Double Room
Café Irreal

I’d love to get another piece into SmokeLong Quarterly, too.

5. Which do you prefer to write, flash or poetry?

I actually consider flash and poetry to be two ends of a single continuous spectrum, and sometimes it’s hard to tell where a particular piece falls. I have written things that began as poems and ended up as flash fiction, and vice versa. In a few cases, I still haven’t figured out which label is most appropriate.

I like these short forms for several reasons. The first is the most obvious, perhaps - as a busy mom of two small children, I simply find it easiest to write something very short. I can often knock off the first draft of a poem or a flash in a single sitting, whereas I seldom have the time to finish even the bare bones of a longer story in one writing session. But I also like flash and poetry because the conciseness suits my writing style. I like the challenge of conveying a story or an emotion in a few words, the need for precise language, and the thumbnail nature of sketching a rich, full world by using both what is said and what is unsaid. It’s kind of like playing a game with the reader by running up ahead and hallooing back, then waiting to see if the echoes are enough to lead them to me.

Great questions, Dave! Thank you.

Rules for those of you interested in further interviews...
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions of my choosing.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions. If you don't have a blog, you can post your responses in my comments section.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post, following the same rules.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

At Sunset

At Sunset

The sky screams in shades of orange
and pink brilliantine, thrusting
an undulating tongue
towards the night
as we walk hand in hand
along sidewalks scrubbed
clean by the morning’s hard rain.

Lights wink on around us
in neon gestures
pitching beer and cigarettes.
Pausing quayside, we watch the slow sway
of electric clusters floating
above the decks of houseboats.

We haven’t spoken since I opened
the letter that said he’s dying,
though you held me tight
and sat close as I packed.

At the corner where we hear
the trains we squeeze hands
together. I turn for the station,
our fingers brushing slowly apart
as the sun spits its last drops
of blood-red light into the sky’s face.

Inspired by the lovely photo on Debra Broughton's website.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Where have all the salmon gone?

Weak Salmon Run Shuts the Northwest's Fisheries
"Tens of thousands of adult salmon that were expected to swim up the Columbia River this spring are missing..."

"The salmon is the ultimate symbol of the Pacific Northwest. These stalwarts have fought all the obstacles we've put before them in order to return to the spawning grounds of their birth. We ought to be ashamed of ourselves if we can't save them."
- Cecil D. Andrus, Governor of Idaho

Salmon by Kim Addonizio

Of long weekends and abundant chocolate

Friday we drove to my parents' house for the weekend. What should have been a 7-8 hour drive turned into a 12 hour day thanks to a rented minivan that smelled like a wet dog (returned), the hassle of renting a new minivan, and all the attendant pit stops of traveling with a five year old and a two year old.

Saturday and Sunday were lovely, though, and well worth the trip. The girls love being at Grandma and Grandaddy's house and were revved up the whole time. Sunday was a real treat, being Mother's Day for both myself and my mom, as well as my birthday. I got to lounge around taking it easy while my husband kept the kids entertained in my parents' huge backyard.

Yesterday was another long day, though not as long as Friday. We were all exhausted by the time we got home, and just carried all our bags in and dropped them. I guess now it's time to face the music and start unpacking, but that can wait till tomorrow. Today, I'm ready to sit back and relax.

I've got new books to read:
The Mercury 13 : The Untold Story of Thirteen American Women and the Dream of Space Flight

The 100 Best Poems of All Time

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Archaeology as a Process: Processualism and Its Progeny

I've also got the wonderful series Reilly - Ace of Spies to watch on DVD, as well as a bunch of new yarn to knit with, and loads of my favorite chocolates, like turtles (slowpokes), mint sandwiches, and non-pareils, from Lee’s Candies.

Yep, it was a crazy, busy, long weekend. It was also great fun and so terrific to be with my family. Now, where did I put that chocolate...

Coming soon: my blog interview questions from Dave Clapper

Friday, May 06, 2005

Happy Mother's Day!

I'm off for a long family weekend.

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, dads, grandparents, and others who fulfill the role of mother in a child's life. Enjoy your special day - you deserve it.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A Taste for Violence

The Anasazi

One of the greatest puzzles in archaeology has been, and continues to be, the circumstances surrounding the development and demise of the Anasazi. The Anasazi cultural tradition is ancestral to the modern Pueblos and is found throughout the Four Corners region of the American Southwest. It reached its zenith about 900 years ago with a complex system of masonry pueblos radiating outward from Chaco Canyon, connected by a series of roads and signaling stations. In the 13th century, the Chaco region was abandoned and the Anasazi moved north and west, taking up residence in the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde and numerous other canyons before vanishing entirely.

Next Monday (May 9), the History Channel will be airing a show called Digging for the Truth: Mystery of the Anasazi at 9:00 pm ET. The show promises to examine possible reasons for the disappearance of the Anasazi, including drought, invasion, internal warfare, and cannibalism.

Cannibalism and Violence

Anasazi sites throughout the Southwest reveal evidence of violence in the form of fortified settlements, site burning, unoccupied zones, unburied bodies, rock art depicting weapons, shields, and warfare, and of course human remains themselves. After decades of ignoring or dismissing the role of warfare in the Southwest, archaeologists are finally beginning to examine how violence may have affected the region, though it is still far from widely accepted as a major impetus of change.

Archaeologists remain sharply divided, however, over the identification of possible cannibalism at many Anasazi sites. Initially, cannibalism was based on the observation that some human remains show the same pattern of destruction and burning as the remains of animals used for food. With further research, Christy G. Turner II identified a set of six criteria that must be present in order to infer cannibalism in human remains: perimortem breakage, anvil abrasions, cut marks, burning, missing vertebrae, and pot polish.

What I am continually struck by in examining human bone assemblages from this area is not just the signature of cannibalism (an interpretation I do agree with), but also the extreme degree of violence. People are cut up, smashed into tiny pieces, their faces bashed repeatedly. Why was the violence so brutal? Why were people seemingly cut up and cooked like animals? And why does this kind of violence and cannibalism occur in sites connected to the Chaco Phenomenon?

There are a lot of questions and few answers regarding the Anasazi. Further discussion of the issues can be found at the links below, as well as in-depth studies in the books cited.

The International Journal of Osteoarchaeology published a special issue on cannibalism and violence in 2000 which included my own article: The Taphonomy of Cannibalism: A Review of Anthropogenic Bone Modification in the American Southwest.

National Geographic
Researchers Divided Over Whether Anasazi Were Cannibals

US News & World Report
Dying for Dinner?

Man Corn: Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American Southwest
Christy G. Turner II and Jacqueline A. Turner

Prehistoric Cannibalism at Mancos 5Mtumr-2346
Tim D. White

Prehistoric Warfare in the American Southwest
Steven A. LeBlanc

Deadly Landscapes: Case Studies in Prehistoric Southwestern Warfare
Steven A. LeBlanc