Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I have two spot tests after Christmas (which count for 50% of their respective modules, so I think it's a misnomer). Before Reading Week we had Invertebrate Form and Function, and after we had Vertebrates. Every week in the museum room there'd be a demo set up of specimens relevant to that week's lectures, porifera right up to mammalia. (Everyone in the class has griped a bit about the fact that we spent so long on jellyfish and sped through mammals in less than a week. I know invertebrates are terribly important, but I have a pretty strong bias towards things which have a proper vertebral column.) For the test, we'll be shown a sample of pictures of the specimens and have to identify them. Depending on how complicated and order a given phylum is, this can require giving Phylum - Subphylum - Class - Sub-class - Order - Sub-order - Genus - Species. And there were over a hundred specimens out in the final week of term. Sometimes I am confident, sometimes I am not. I've been flip-flopping on the value of it as well.I like the notion of being able to be all "oh yeah, that's X and it's related to Y and possesses these properties which enabled this other thing to evolve or stem from this ancestor!" but in a broader way than "You can see that the gill slits are much reduced and the eyes are lidless but have a thin membrane covering them and only the forelimbs are developed which is atypical of the Order." For such a simple and obvious concept, I do find evolution to be wonderfully beautiful and elegant, but it can be hard to transfer that into a motivation to learn that THIS dead thing in a jar has three toes in it's forelimb but THIS one has four. Or maybe I'm making excuses.
I didn't make many Christmas presents this year. For the most part I couldn't think of ideas, and a present the person has no use for isn't any more considerate just because I made it myself. I am finding it hard to think of projects lately, which is a minor problem to the point of not counting, but it makes me uncomfortable. Usually my issue is lack of time rather than lack of ideas, so I worry I'm getting boring, and it's a shame to lose a hobby. But I want to make myself socks and a jumper and turn some old t-shirts into different things, so maybe I'm not doing too badly. Going to go wool-shopping sometime this week.
Whenever people gripe about Christmas I feel childish for liking it to the extent that I do. Yes, it is materialistic, it is manipulative, it is hard on people. Yes, people shouldn't have to have twinkly lights up to remember to call loved ones. But if it does remind them, what harm? For my own part, I like having everyone together. I like that all my family come home, and I like that there's a set time where friends will make the extra effort to meet up. I don't think it's a reminder to show you care, just of the very fact that you do. I like cheesy cracker jokes. And I like thinking of a present I think someone will like, a token of appreciation of friendship or affection or something. I like giving presents, and it's odd to do so for most of the year. Also, the twinkly lights are awfully pretty.
I can get myself very angry, and the world is very beautiful, and I need to find a balance on how much store I set by these things. I don't have much patience for people sitting around discussing grand political ideas and what kind of world would suit best, and then when they get into the finer points of such a world, oh do I wear out. Because I'm sure it would be lovely, but people are hungry and lonely and falling by the wayside in the real broken world in which you're having this conversation. I like discussing Concepts, but more ones like racism or sexism or blah which are real things towards which I can change my attitude -> my interactions -> the world a teeny-tiny bit. Sometimes I get so frustrated with abstract ideals I could cry because you could be doing something, organising something, changing something, but it's not my place to tell people what to discuss. But maybe it's rude to have a conversation one person can't join in on. And then when it comes to the doing, organising, changing, there's so little I can do. So much is wrong. And if I forget it I can become complacent, and if I only focus on the bad it's easy to become overwhelmed and stop trying for the same reason and just be an unproductive little ball of ANGRY. But the world is also achingly beautiful, and the point of getting angry and then doing stuff is to try and make it beautiful for everyone. But I also don't want to focus on the good alone and see the ugly through rose-tinted glasses. And good things don't negate the bad, or vice-versa - some people were mean to me in secondary school but people are nice in college! Unrelated! - but when there's more of the bad it's easier to feel a little helpless. "Today I helped an eight-year-old kid with their homework and we told each other stories and played chasing in the yard, five years later they ran away from home because it wasn't safe for them." "I bought a sandwich for a homeless man a month ago and we had a chat and he froze to death one night during the snow." I'm not sure where I'm going from this, because there's nothing I can conclude. Nothing to be done but keep going. Making on person day brighter for an hour or two a week is so much more than nothing, even if it feels so tiny. The world is so huge and wonderful and tragic.
I don't know what I would like to do when I'm all grown up. I think I would be happy to work in a lab, there is a wonderful joy in finding things out and how amazing would it be to be the first person finding them out? At the same time, so much time that I could be helping people directly, just so I can feel a thrill of discovery? I don't mean to imply the latter option would be a sacrifice, I like working with people and I like feeling useful. But if my job is trying to fix things, it might burn me out to doing outside volunteering, in which case it makes more sense to go into research and keep up the auld volunteer work. Who knows.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Every year when our heating breaks, my dad expresses his envy of my big cosy socks. they don't seem to make men's socks in a cosy form other than.. socks, but thicker, so I knitted these for him.
I ran out of wool, but not by nearly enough for it to be worth buying another ball. So there's a blue stripe on the bottom of one. Shows it's made with love.
I have stubby little feet, they'll be snugger on my dad.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
I still have to give him tentacles and build tiny fleeing snowmen.
Also the angle is funny because it's at the front of my garden so people walking by can see it, but I didn't want the fence to be in the photo so had to lift the camera up higher than most people will be viewing it.