Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The blog, t'is a varied thing

I am no longer a social work student, but my legacy lives on! A little over a year ago (January 2006), I started a blog so that social work students could warn each other away from the numerous shitty professors who teach the number one school in the nation. I had just gotten a terrible (I thought it terrible at the time) grade from one of the worst professors I'd ever had, and I wanted to make sure other students were fully aware of the depth of crappiness they would be subjected to. I mean, everybody who'd taken this professor hated her, and I would have been warned if I'd had any sort of social network at the damn school.

"A-ha," I thought, "the web precludes the need for actual social networks! I can create an on-line network that is simultaneously more useful and less satisfying than a real-life one!"

And thus, 'twas created one morning when I finally realized nobody was going to do it for me. And thus far there are almost 600 entries - entries that run the gamut from blind rage to uncomfortably complimentary.

I assume professors know about the site at this point, and I do wonder what they think (my point was never to hurt anybody's feelings). Furthermore, in a fit of extremely typical innocent/arrogant bravado on my part, I put my name all over it...and not just my name, which has some level of anonymity since there have been several Shanas at the school, by my uniq-name. Uniq-names are just that - unique. Meaning, there has not before, nor will there ever be another person associated with the University of Michigan who has this name. I know. Smart.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Cat ghosts

I just kicked something under my desk that felt warm and soft and unwilling to move. I looked for the cat but nothing was there. It made me suddenly ache to be home and cuddling with the furlets.

For some reason, the bed has been jammed with animals recently (yes, I do know we have many animals, but they have their own bedding cups that they generally inhabit). So much so that Alexis gets shoved further and further over to my side by Crisfield, Beast, and Stoat, and ends up stealing my pillow. And any time you roll over, or pull on the blankets, there is some sort of protesting groan, whuff, mew or quack. It is v. loud.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Hob nisht geshlofn. Nisht!

I'm not sleeping. I'm neither tossing nor turning, nor worried...I'm just staying awake through this sea change. And it does feel a sea change, it does.

I told one of the women I work (who is three years in to a five year program) that I'd been accepted. She congratulated me warmly and then told me the following:

"Remember this time. Remember your excitement, and come back to this time for strength in the years to come."

Hm, I thought, ominous. And it's true, I am excited, and I remember that the time between hearing of an acceptance and actually beginning a program is just about the sweetest time ever. It is blissful, anticipatory ignorance, and it's delightful. Not bad, not wrong, but delightful in its own way. I am getting very little done, since I keep going back to Scott's email and the formal letter I was sent to make sure that the name on the top is really mine, and they really meant to tell *me* that they'll accept and fund me. I carry around a printed copy of the letter in my pocket - it's already creased and dirty from the readings in these few days.

I feel welcomed and acknowledged and appreciated for the first time in, well, a long time. What I know (that others may not know) is that I will do this work my own way -I will likely be graceless and clumsy - but when I finish, I will produce something totally unique and totally embedded...knowledge that is integrated and utile and relevant. Furthermore, I hold no illusion that this is a direct pathway to anything (university appointments, tenure, security, etc), but rather an incredibly precious time for work. The problems I want to work on are time sensitive and desperately important (and, yes, I do mean things like poop composting), and my *whole job* will be to think about them. This is a wondrous thing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Satadru says...

Why don't you just admit that this is all an elaborate scheme to be somewhere with Alexis and have somebody shout: "Is there a doctor in the house?"

To which you will scream, "I'm a Doctor!" and race to get there before Alexis does, and then shake your sadly head and say, "But this isn't an Urban Planning problem..."


What he doesn't know is that I already do this, that if someone falls, or appears hurt, my instinct is to go tell them what to do. I'm not sure this has anything to do with being a doctor or a pseudo-doctor.

Monday, March 12, 2007

I haven't decided yet, but it's nice to be loved.

From my inbox, circa 4:09 pm today:

Dear Me:

You will be receiving a formal letter and admissions package shortly, but I want to quickly let you know that the Ph.D. admissions committee, after reviewing many candidates, has recommended you for admission for Fall 2007. A very small percent of applicants receive approval for admission, so this indicates that the Committee views your background and achievements as exceptional.

I am also pleased to inform you that we are awarding you financial aid for four years of study. (The details of the financial aid offer will also arrive with the formal letter.)

All the committee members were very impressed with both your past work and your future research plans, and we are excited about the prospects of you moving up to the doctoral program. You already know about UM's vibrant intellectual environment, and you will find that as a doctoral student you will be in an even better position to take advantage of these resources -- both within the planning program and across campus.

Don't hesitate to stop by or email me if you have any questions. Feel free to talk to Profs. Shatkin, Fishman or any other faculty member with questions. I look forward to hearing from you.

Congratulations and best regards,

Scott Campbell
Chair, Doctoral Admissions Committee


I am so in love...

Just in case you wondered, they also come in pink.

And the boots...good lord.

Now these, my friends, are humanure-shoveling boots if I ever saw 'em.

Jon Fluevog. Who knew!?

The same only worse

I am finding myself obsessed with composting and "humanure." Could you all forgive me if I become known as "she who composts poop?" (NEWS FLASH: I already do! I've composted Kordax's poop for ages, and I throw dog turds in the compost pile willy-nilly. Interestingly, the compost is *much* hotter around feces pockets. In fact, it's often steaming when I unearth it. I know, can you believe I made you read this? Now visualize it! Ha!)

By the way, it's a myth that you shouldn't compost meat products - which is why I was worried about composting dog feces, a substance pretty close to meat (don't think too hard about this)- in fact, you can compost WHOLE COWS. (I'm not suggesting killing animals simply so you can compost them - but it's a useful technique for dealing with diseased stock, and the composting actually kills most of the pathogens.) You are encouraged to bury the cow (DEAD) on its back, with its abdominal cavity split, and layer non-kiln-dried saw dust, straw, and vegetable matter underneath and on top. Leave it alone and you've got a lovely loam in about six months. Furthermore, things compost better together. Forget chocolate and peanut butter - phone books rot better with sheep entrails!

I am still covered...COVERED in pimples. It's v. strange and also a bit itchy.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


It's been a bit embarassing over here at Bean Gables. First of all, I've broken out in a rash of a million tiny and not-so-tiny whiteheads all over my face, neck and behind my ears - everywhere I use this facewash I've been using forever. It's odd, and perhaps a little liberating to be covered in this many pimples. Unlike breakouts of yore, I feel this one is short lived and anomalous, and I'm not that worried about it...just sort of bemused and intrigued.

The second embarassment came at the check-out line yesterday. I've finally dragged A. to John K. King books in Detroit - four stories of used books in an old factory down by Campus Martius. It's a full-day wonderland...A. got the book she'd been looking for on the making of the Atom Bomb, an atlas of images from when they still X-rayed pregnent women (Radiologic Studies of the Gravid Uterus), plus, get this, a Latin to Hebrew/Chaldean Lexicon...with someone's Hebrew letter tabs still in it.

I also hit the jackpot! I wandered around the alternative energy and homebuilding section (I'm looking for home/city solar and wind resources, as well as storm and sewage water sustainable management) - and I found a book on composting human, um, leavings (the author doesn't like to call it waste, since that implies it should naturally be thrown out) called "Humanure." It's excellent - I read aloud from it the entire way home from Detroit...

The embarassment came, like I mentioned, in the check-out line, behind two French-speaking guys who were each spending about $400 on rare books. The young hipster with the saggy pants behind the counter offered one of them my book (which I left there while browsing) and he recoiled and said: "Euh, neuh!" By the time I got up there, I was so abashed I couldn't ask for my book by name - I had to make him point and identify it only by its color.

He looked at the title, looked at me, and said: "Huh. Hard core."

Friday, March 09, 2007

Jetlag manifest

It's strange - usually I have no problem dealing with the lag in this direction. So, you go to sleep a little earlier, and you wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning to pad aimlessly about the house. So what? But this time, I was so tired that I nixed the bedroom-viewing of the pre-penultimate Carnivale, and was asleep within moments of filling in the last square of my middle-difficulty Sudoku (I didn't have the brain or time for a harder one...). Animals start piling on, and before you know it, it's 7:30 in the morning and we can barely peel ourselves from bed. So, travel has resulted in us needing 10-plus hours of sleep. I can't imagine how difficult adjusting to daylight savings time will be.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Photos from Pompeii

Pompeii is vast - at least a mile in diameter and dense with structures. The streets, of heavy and smooth basalt, have fared the best of all since they are too hard to break and too banal to steal.

(Pompeii's amphitheater: the seats are covered, but the echo is fully operational.)

(Stepping stones across the deeper streets, which supposedly ran with muck, but were cleansed by the water continually running from the lips of the fountains.)

(Many of the aquaducts in Rome are still functional - they feed the large and small fountains dotting the city. Rome's waterways were sacked in 500 and rebuilt almost 1000 years later. Pompeii's were never reopened...that's how you know the city's dead: the fountains are dry.)

(A public bathroom: wooden benches spanned these stone supports, and continuously flowing water flushed everything into the sewer.)

(Lunch counters were everywhere - giant pots were imbedded into the cement, and the whole thing was covered in marble or fresco.)

(The old harbor: before the eruption, the sea came up to the city's edge - there are still stone loops with which to secure a boat.)

Monday, March 05, 2007

How was I to know...

I knew it would be fun to be in Italy, but I had no idea how amazing it would be to explore the ruins.

We spent three days exploring Pompeii, Herculaneum and Vesuvius:

(Pompeii was not only amazing, it was really beautiful. It's massive, but the streets are human-scaled: large enough for an ox-cart, but with stepping stones for a Roman.)

(Vesuvius's double-peak visible over the ruined wall of a temple of Apollo. Before the eruption of 79AD, it had only one massive cone. Now there are two.)

(When early archeologists would hear a hollow spot under their feet, they'd drill a tiny hole and pour plaster into the underground cavity. These casts resulted - this one still has his skeleton intact.)

(On the balcony, outside of our hotel. The owner (besides being a total load) brought us fresh oranges from his garden. The roof-top across from us - you can see the green - had lemon trees and a row of fiesty artichokes at the edge.)

And two days in Rome:

(In the Coloseum.)

(In the Pantheon)