If Pahoehoe were a man, I’d marry it

This is just one of many odd conversations I had with Mallory on the way down from the Mauna Loa volcano summit:  “If Pahoehoe were a man, I’d marry it”.  I was delirious from altitude sickness, lack of sleep and exhaustion.  To explain, pahoehoe is a type of Hawaiian lava with a “smooth and ropy surface”, in contrast with ‘a’a, which is “jagged and clinkery”.  You can imagine which one is easier to walk on.  We literally clocked about 1 mile per hour walking through ‘a’a, whereas pahoehoe was like walking on a paved sidewalk, but fun.

The 4-day hike to the Mauna Loa summit was absolutely amazing to say the least.  Surrounded by nothing but miles of miles of lava with no humans in sight for four days was epic.  I never knew how colorful and gorgeous different types, shades, and shapes of lava could be.  I felt like I was Alice in Wonderland, but instead of Wonderland it was the planet Mars on acid.  Throughout the hike, I would pause and take in the scenery around me, amazed by the vast and beautiful fields of diverse lava.

It sounds dramatic to say I came down the volcano changed person. I didn’t expect to feel this way.  I actually didn’t know what to expect.  I’ve always prided  myself in being Continue reading

moral opposition to exams

I’m kind of morally opposed to exams.  Don’t people trust I’m learning?  I’m too old to be tested on this crap.  I am in the middle of midterms and don’t expect much sympathy from anyone, I chose to be in graduate school, but I feel like there has to be a more progressive way of learning.  Well, there is I suppose.  Projects and hands-on experience happen.  And I’d prefer a paper over an exam any day.  What exams are to me: a reason to cram information into your head and memorize random facts you may never use again in life.   So cynical, but it’s how I’m feeling right now.

I’m a fairly motivated person and when it is important for me to learn something on the job or for life in general, I learn it.  I will go out of my way to make sure I understand.   So exams seem weird to me.

What makes me more angry is it doesn’t matter what I think about exams, I still have to take them and my grade will depend on it.  Then comes the question whether I care about that either.  I suppose the consequences of getting bad grades can be high, particularly if I have some sort of funding that requires a certain GPA.  Or if I want to get a Ph.D. which is a big fat “no” right now.

Writing in a blog complaining about exams while I should be studying may not be such a good idea.

International Women’s Day

This is something I wrote for a dear friend’s blog …

International Women’s Day

March 8, 2011

“Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.”

Bangladesh – our new friends, Winnie, and me

Happy International Women’s Day!  Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day that was birthed out of poor working conditions for women in Europe in 1911 but blossomed into a yearly celebration to honor women around the globe.  Go ahead and tell a special woman in your life how great they are! (And if you are a woman, include yourself!).  There are countless reasons to celebrate women and the contribution they’ve made to our lives and society as a whole.  The theme for 2011 is “Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women”.

This is relevant for all nations, including the US, but what stands out in my mind is a trip to Bangladesh for work about a year ago.  I was in the countryside sitting in a circle with Bangladeshi women along with a Kenyan colleague of mine, Winnie.  The purpose of the gathering was to observe a unique women’s savings and credit group model popular in Bangladesh (similar to micro-financing).  With the help of a translator, we were able to ask questions and exchange ideas.  The village women asked for our opinion on their program and for any suggestions we may have.  When Winnie spoke, one thing that I found powerful was Continue reading