Back to being a student, or as my new course on ethnography puts it, learning the difference between "deep hanging out" and the more shallow hanging out which is the stuff of everyday life (or Facebook). I wait for further enlightenment, and will have to look up the Geertz quotation.
A planchette (pron.: /plænˈʃɛt/ plan-SHET), from the French for "little plank", is a small, usually heart-shaped flat piece of wood that one moves around on a board to spell out messages or answer questions. Paranormal advocates believe that the planchette is moved by some form of subtle energy. The motion is allegedly due to the ideomotor effect. In occult usage, a pencil would be attached to the planchette, writing letters or other designs on paper to be later interpreted by a medium.
The most common use of the planchette is with a Ouija or spirit board. In this instance, it is sometimes referred to as an "indicator" or "pointer" to show where something is etc., like a Dowsing board. Used since the beginning of the Spiritualism movement of the mid-nineteenth century, planchettes predate the invention of spirit boards.
But in Lithuanian a tablet computer has become a planšetinius kompiuterius. Do they know something we don't?
Somehow this paper found its way onto my computer: At the Center of the Table: The Rise and Fall of the Olivier Salad by Anna Kustova. It's quite long, but a treasure trove of nostalgia, as it indeed is intended to be, although it's a really serious and long anthropology paper in its academic guise (53 pages, including 10 pages of footnotes).
In the course of the life of the salad, you are treated to the class relations of the salad, the role of hunter-gatherer (or ordinary shopper) under developed socialism, the social life of peas, the rehabilitation of the chicken, the gender bias of sausage, the one-and-only rich, hearty, Soviet Provençal-style mayonnaise, (plenty of scope for a further paper on mayonnaise as substance: "cosmetic; it joins, covers, restores"), commensality in the Soviet home, Nourriture de Passage: The Olivier Salad as a Ritual Dish in Soviet Cuisine; its status as the “magic of the beginning”; and the place of the Olivier Salad in the gastro-cognitive map.
In fact all human life, and a variety of anthropological themes, are there.
Some time ago, I noticed the scroll bars on the mailbox window of Apple Mail had disappeared. One moment they were there and the next, so it seemed they weren't. Sometimes they came back for a few moments and if you were quick with the mouse or the trackpad, you could grab them. But sometimes they resisted appearing completely. Now I have a lot of mailboxes in that window, collecting mail filtered by lots of rules. It's supposed to make me read only the ones that relate to work, and leave the fun ones for distraction later.
But I never had time to search to find out what had changed, since it wasn't me. Today, in my traditional New Year effort to fix all the computer things that are irritating me, I finally googled and found the solution. It seems that the scroll bars have vanished on all the apps, because Apple decided we didn't need them all the time. It's a setting in System Preferences under General. If you set the scrolling to "always" they don't disappear.
But it seems Apple has decided we don't need arrows on the scroll bar. I can live with that.
One of the problems of going back to be a student is adjusting to the fact that your time is not your own. Working for yourself and being boss of a team of younger team means that what you do each day is largely set by yourself, as long as you are meeting deadlines, delivering the goods etc.
All of a sudden I was plunged back into a rigid weekly timetable of lectures, and readings that had to be done before the lectures. At first sight, three 2 hour lectures a week plus one tutorial, combined with a reading list for each of about 6 papers, only one or two needing to be read, doesn't seem too much hard work, does it? So why did the week disappear so quickly, with not much reading done? Surely I didn't have a problem with time management? I wasnt spending hours chatting either. It seems we all found the reading hard and slow, so didn't achieve much. Hopefully it will be better this term, or I will have learnt to read faster.
Of course when you are reading Marx and Foucault, then you realise that this is part of the state's disciplining you to fit you for intellectual wage labour, under capitalism, to fit you in with its defnition of normal, starting with school, the army, prisons and the clinic. Thank God I found a profession and a job where there are few rules and practically no bosses, and my eccentricity is generally admired, and helps me to get the job done.
I needed exercise so decided to walk into the centre, and go to the Museum of Modern Art for my first bit of Scottish culture (yes really, it's a hard life being a student).
Thanks to Google Maps I saw that in fact I could walk all the way along the side of the grandly named Water of Leith, so imagining I would be walking down a sort of towpath, I set out prepared for mud.
My flat is in Leith not far from the Shore, where there are lots of trendy bars and restaurants, most of which I haven't had time to visit. I had done a preliminary explore along the water in December, when the weather was better, and the swans were out, so here are some photos from then.
What was promised as a 21/2 mile stroll, turned into more of an obstacle race, as sections of the path disappeared into landslips or flood prevention works. I'm used to walking along English canal towpaths which, like railways, still show the backs of industrial buildings, so what you end up with is a view of towns you don't normally see, and an idea of what it must have been like when water was the main method of transport. Although that has changed, somehow there is still an air of industrial archeology about a walk along the river near the port of Leith, as this old water tower shows.
After about 15 mins, the way was barred completely, with not a clue where to go next. So I was on the point of looking for a bus into town, but then I realised with Google Maps I could probably guess how to get back onto the river. So after a big detour round this Waste Removal Station, I managed to get back to the river and quite a pleasant route.
But huge concrete walls appeared to keep the floodwater from the smart gardens with conservatories, which you can just see over the wall. Or perhaps it is to give privacy to the private gardens from all the gongoozlers* walking along the river.
Then I came to a strange set of narrow low terraces, which though small, were rather smart. A noticeboard explained that these were "The Colonies". When flat hunting, I had seen a mention of these, but never went to see them.
Thanks to Wikipedia we can find out that they are artisans cottages built in several places in Edinburgh between 1850 and 1910 as homes for artisans and skilled working-class families by philanthropic model dwellings companies. In Stockbridge they look very gentrified now.
On these walks you never know what you will come across just round the corner. Here's a strange building looking rather Spanish among the Edinburgh granite. And a (metal) bird has landed in the middle of the river. By now we are right in the middle of the city, but well below the streets, as you can see.
Then even the river develops two levels, with this weir, and an old mill at Dean Village.
By now, I was almost at the Museum, though I had to climb back up from the river, and Google Maps does not show it in the right place. I think the best exhibits are outside: the Charles Jencks "Landform", (which looked great for toboganning and skating, though I doubt it was intended for that) and the neon sign over the museum entrance saying "Everything is going to be all right". My feet were too sore to do the whole museum, but I saw the cafe led onto a walled garden, so a good place to visit in the summer.
*gongoozlers is the name from people who stand and gawp at narrow boats on the canals, see more here
It's pretty shocking that after four months in a new place I haven't managed to blog about it. But that's because I really haven't got out and about in Edinburgh due to the time pressure of being a student. Hopefully that's now better under control and my New Year's Resolution is to revive my blog and post stuff.
So yesterday I went for a walk. Hopefully I can still remember how to use Typepad and get back to blogging about my student life.
And remember to update the Librarything widget showing that I still haven't finished the books I was reading two years ago, and probably am never going to finish them now.
It's amazing how my blog still keeps getting visitors even though I haven't added anything recently. Some of the content must be interesting to some people at least.