Sunday, October 29, 2006

Thoughts on learning

My favorite class (the one I just had the midterm for) is child language acquisition. There's more we don't know about this than what we do know at this time, but research is making leaps and bounds.

What's interesting is that there are primarily two camp: one believes that languages is innate and doesn't have to be "learned," the other believes that there's nothing in the brain pre-wired just for language and that kids are more active in the process in figuring language out.

Our teacher is strongly in the latter camp, which of course influences the class. Of course I am also on that side now, not only because of the structure of the class, but really because the research strongly supports that theory (IMHO).

The main problem I see between these two theoretical viewpoints is the claims they are making. The innate people say that language is far too complex and variable a thing for very young children to learn as quickly as they do, therefore there must be something inborn in them to facilitate this. Kids can't pick up algebra by 5, and yet they can produce incredibly complex grammar by that age. The cognitive people say that kids have lots of abilities that help them learn and it isn't too hard a task, given the skills and other non-language specific aptitudes they have.

The issue is that it seems like the burden of proof is on the cognitive side, since it seems difficult to prove that something is impossible (like "learning" a language). Happily, it seems like there are many great researchers up to the task who have discovered some surprising things about "facts" linguists have taken for granted for quite some time. This field is still relatively in its infancy (no pun intended, I swear!) and with technological advances, I think we'll be learning a great deal about this in the future.

Friday, October 27, 2006

We need to institute siesta time

I cannot live without naps. I know I used to, I used to be able to get through days of work and school without any kind of catnap, but I don't know if I'll ever be able to go back to that. Even if I get home at 6 PM, I still enjoy a quick little nap before dinner if I can get it. As much as I love any nap, I have a few favorite kinds:

Sunny afternoon nap: This nap usually takes place in the summer. The sunlight is filtered through our blinds to make a warm, diffused light, everything is warm and sleepy, the pace of life is slow. Lay down to read a book and the quiet warmth steals over you until sleep is inevitable. This may be a shallow nap, but still lovely.

Winter afternoon nap: It may be sunny, or it may be snowing (this IS Colorado!). It's chilly outside, but the down comforter (or knit blanket) is warm and inviting. Snuggle in whenever possible, maybe with a bellyful of delicious hot chocolate in you, and escape the cold world outside for an hour or two.

Snuggle nap: May take place in any season, only requirement is a co-snuggler. This may be the best nap of all. Snuggle with the one you love on a lazy day with no obligations (thus its comparative rarity) and sleep in each other's arms (or comparable mutually comfortable position). Truly something to be treasured.

*Yawn* Now I want a nap! Luckily, I'm done working in half an hour, and I might be able to sneak home for a little sleep after this.

This week has been quite stressful, but it all ended yesterday. I handed in my midterm for my hardest (and most favorite) class, I performed my belly dance at the drag show and now I have a TEENY break until I have to tackle all my other projects (like a book review for a book I received last night due on Friday, all my other projects I ought to be working on all semester, etc.). I think everyone who like naps ought to try to catch one soon!

Triple Mimesis

Thursday night, I performed in a drag show. I was a female performing female and I did a belly dance. I'd been preparing for this for about three weeks, and it was the first performance I've ever done that was almost completely improv, but I think it went pretty well. I got a lot of compliments and people seemed to like it, but the whole thing was kind of a blur for me. I was more concerned about feeling like I was coming out of my costume, not being able to hear the important parts of my music (the balance in the audio was off) and I was extremely thirsty, so the reality of performing didn't really hit me. As always, I feel like I could have done better, but such is life! My dearest husband also dressed in drag as a female and looked fetching. I know some of our friends took pictures, so when I get those, I will try to post some!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Why I should always listen to my husband (because he's pretty much always right)

Yesterday, he put out the last Yoplait yogurts we hadn't eaten, because he was going to throw them out (after taking and washing the breast cancer prevention lids, of course, because that's the kind of good person he is). I saw them, saw that it wasn't an "expiration date," but a "sell by" date, and commenced eating one.

Apparently, that was a really bad idea.

Almost exactly 12 hours later, at 3 AM this morning, my stomach began really, really hurting. Obvs, I was asleep prior to this, so I drifted in and out of consciousness while my body did it's thing. This is where the fun happened.

I had just finished reading Into Thin Air for the first time yesterday, so I had these weird, half-waking dreams about my pain and being on Everest. I'm also clearly going to have multiple personalities someday when I completely lose it, because in my dream, if I was laying on my left side, I was somehow a woman named Laura who was being dragged down Everest to safety. If I lay on my right side, I was man (can't remember the name), and if I was laying on my back (the only position that didn't really make my stomach go nuts), I think I was helping other people. So weird!

I'll spare you the details of the rest of the night and morning, but suffice it to say, I didn't really sleep much, and it says a lot about our bed (and my husband's sleeping) that Peter didn't even know I was sick until he woke up and I told him. I'm feeling a lot better now, but still weak. I didn't go to work, and I'm mighty glad I didn't because I can't imagine how uncomfortable I would have felt (and looked) sitting at the front desk with a still-tender stomach and no food in me. In fact, I'm 99% sure I wouldn't have made it up the hill between here and work; someone would have found me collapsed in the last remaining snowdrift :-)

Post 100!

I just wanted to say that. Real post to follow. Commence the celebration :-)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bordieuan Condescension

I think this is my new favorite phrase. To be used when describing frat boys wearing trucker hats, models dressing as refugees and the Olsen twins dressing like hobos. I can't tell you what it means, exactly, since it took us a three-hour class and three incredibly dense papers (by Bordieu) to talk about. Not recommended.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Supposedly, good things and bad things come in threes. I've never experienced this before, but I've never really paid attention, either. I'm officially over my limit as of now, though. So much bad stuff has happened to people I love in the past month that I've decided that this October (one of the very few containing a Friday the 13th) is cursed. I'm at 4 bad things within a few weeks, and not just little bad things. Big, major, life changing, life ending bad things. The upside of all of this is that (sadly) I'm no longer shocked to my core when I get an unexpected phone call with unexpectedly awful news. I just add it to the well of sadness and love I feel for these people who have been so devastated. Amazingly, I only feel brief periods of deep sadness, probably because none of these events have happened to me, and therefore I can not think about the badness for longer periods of time and therefore be my normal happy self. I've heard that many deaths and other sorrows happen around the holidays, presumed to be due to the sadness and feelings of loss older people have, therefore making them less willing to fight for life. I think the sad season is starting early this year, and I blame it all on Friday the 13th, which ironically enough, was not one of the worst days of the month for me!

Monday, October 09, 2006


So unfortunately, TV has put on a fair number of decent shows (so far), forcing me to watch far more television than i ever have before (it didn't take much, really). One of the shows we watch comes on right after Deal or No Deal, so we usually end up watching the last few minutes of that show, which probably could be in Swahili or Urdu or Czech for all I know what's going on. I've never seen it before, and have no idea what the rules are, so every action seems totally random and meaningless. I actually quite enjoy not knowing what the hell is happening. I don't get stressed out like I usually do watching those kind of shows because I don't know what's a "good" thing and what's bad. Plus, they always leave the last person hanging, so I don't even know how one would win anyway!

Not cool! (not literally)

We're supposed to get snow tonight and/or tomorrow. Le sigh.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Method is the best!

A little while ago (maybe last week?), I came home to a package by our door. There is nothing I love better than a package! I wasn't sure what it was, though, since I hadn't ordered anything.

It was a present from Method! They make home cleaning products that are environmentally safe and very chic. Some time ago, I had signed up to be a Method Advocate, and as such, they sent me a free (awesome) t-shirt that I wear all the time, plus free samples to tell my friends about Method.

But what was this package? It was heaven in a box, I tell you.

Inside this clever little package was Method's new lineup of microfiber rags, along with sample bottles of each of the cleaners.

Each flap of the square had
one of the towels (wood, granite, window + glass, stainless steel) and the center square had all the cleaners. I immediately went into the kitchen (where all our stainless steel lives) and started cleaning so I could actually get to our SS appliances to clean them. By the time I was done cleaning, I only had the energy to use the towel and cleaner on a few things, but it worked beautifully on those! We have a SS tea kettle we leave on the stove at all times, which means it gets very dirty from oil splatters and other little food bits. It had lost its glory :-( But the combo of the towel and the cleaner gave it a new lease on life!

Next up was the window/glass cleaner. I cleaned our teeny little mirror in the bathroom, and it seemed to do well on that. No streaks and it only took a little elbow grease to get the toothpaste spots off. The real test, though, was going to be our giant sliding glass door.

Previously, we only had $.99 generic window cleaner on sale from Target to clean the windows. It was fine, but streaked like mad no matter what I did. I could never get the sliding glass door clean. Unfortunately, it was night time when I wanted to try out the Method cleaner, but I went at it anyway, blindly, since I couldn't see where if there were spots that needed extra attention. The next morning, I came down and it looked like the door was open, it was so clean! The towel was filthy with the dirt from the window, but the best part about the towels is that they are fully washable and reusable! Less waste for the environment!

I haven't cleaned off enough wood surface to try that one out, and unfortunately we don't have any granite in our luxury family housing apartment, but I do have a glorious little color-coded towel I can use if we ever do get granite countertops.

In sum, if you have a lot of a specific surface you clean often (esp. SS or glass), it's quite worth the $5 for the rag and about the same for the cleaner because these do their job quite well and they are lovely little products. Thanks, Method!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

OK, I guess I like Autumn...

Last week, Jena and I went up to Rocky Mountain National Park. I really wanted to get up the the mountains before all the color was gone, and since Peter wasn't too keen on going, I decided to ask a friend to go instead. Luckily, Jena is a fellow shutterbug, so I knew I could wander around taking close-ups of leaves and bugs and things and she would be just as happy doing the same, whereas saner friends might get a bit impatient and want to keep walking or something.

We only had the afternoon, but we certainly made the best of it. We got to see some incredible golden aspen on the drive up (no pictures, sorry. My windows were too dirty.), we found a stand of the most perfect, brilliant gold aspen in the park, and we saw a bunch of wildlife to boot! Jena got to see her first elk up close and in person, and we got as close as you really want to get to a bull elk in mating season to get some great pictures. We also saw a herd of bighorn sheep, as well as a mama deer and her two babies grazing by the side of the road. I haven't seen her pictures yet, but I can't wait!

Here are some of my favorites:

Jena's first "close" elk:

See more on my Flickr page.