daily life

An attic full of bones…

I’ve been playing with bones!

I’ve collecting data for my thesis project, that is. Measuring bones. Doing fieldwork. Very official. Very much hard work.

… and spent all of last week in the coolest skeleton-filled attic ever. There were “my” chimps, of course, plus others that I won’t even pretend to be able to identify (especially not things with horns).

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personal essay

“My” piece of the Berlin Wall

I was there when the Berlin Wall fell. I toured with the Rolling Stones. And I was in a stroller at the time.

I have a piece of the Berlin Wall to prove it.

My parents got it from the source – the wall itself. The wall had been built the year my mother was born; it fell the year I was. By the time we got there, there was still enough of it left that, as my mom tells it, half of Europe was there to party and hack off what they could.

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activism travel

Nepal as case study: demography & development

Nepal as case study: demography & development

Nepal is officially classified as a Least Developed Nation (142 of 177 on the UN’s Human Development Index). Over 90% of the population lives rurally with more than 30% under the poverty line . Nonetheless, the last 50 years have shown steady growth in most of the key markers used to gauge success and development – rate of infant mortality, life expectancy, and more. And yet, this hopeful improving “situation” was bad enough to turn the calls for political reform and ethnic conflict that began in the 90s into a full on civil war that killed at least 13,000 and displaced more than 100,000.

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“… culture… is an ensemble of texts…

…which the anthropologist strains to read over the shoulders of those to whom they properly belong.” – Clifford Geertz


I ate dinner last to the Muslim call to prayer, heard in surround, from the roof of the Pyramid Hotel. The calls came from three different mosques. They started on a slight delay, one after another; out-of-sync, nearly harmonizing. Ascents and vibratto wrapped around each other. The crackling bull-horn speakers turned the male voices into horns – deep trombones and lilting saxophones playing minor, off-key, beautifully. They grew in strength and more seemed to join in – there may have been more than three to start with, it’s hard to say; there seems to be a small neighborhood mosque on every third corner – until they washed out, receeding, drawing back to fade away. I missed the last notes, only realizing it was over when the dogs and laughing children returned to the foreground.

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