July 26, 2010

Neanderthal Men in Italy

No, this is not a post about modern Italian men (although the one who hit on me in Termini did make me question his evolutionary lineage). On today's bus back from site, I saw this:


It says, "Please do not throw paper and trash on the ground." But it's hilariously accented with the depiction of a Neanderthal flint-knapping. In an attempt to fashion his Mousterian toolkit, he's inadvertently created a ton of debitage.

Anyway, it made me wonder whether this is an easily recognized image in Italy - are cavemen associated with trash? Can people tell from a teeny tiny sign at the front of a big bus what the caveman is doing? Why does he have a giant Kilroy nose?

July 13, 2010

Data Geek

Lest anyone think that all I do is traipse around Europe and fondle skeletons, I have proof that Roman bioarchaeology is far from romantic. Behold, the Access screen that I spent hours on today:


Sometimes even dead people can be mind-numbingly boring.

Linky Links

A couple cool links for anyone looking to spice up their intro to phys anth class (or just to learn more about the differences between humans and our primate ancestors):

July 11, 2010

Pain in the Lulu

Lulu.com is kind of a pain in the ass. It took me weeks of emailing support people and attempting to figure out how to trick LaTeX to embed Times (this is how), but Lulu finally accepted my dissertation. I just wanted a couple copies printed and bound to give to some Italian colleagues when I leave for Rome next week. Kinko's is stupidly expensive and produces poor-quality bindings. Since it took me so long to get this working, I had to spring for expedited shipping (still cheaper than printing and binding locally, though). My books shipped today. The confirmation screen looked like this:


I'm sure someone can tell me the significance of 12/31/69; I think it's a Unix clock issue but am not sure. Needless to say, this does not inspire confidence in Lulu. Will post a pic when the books arrive.

UPDATE: On Patrick's advice, I sent Lulu support an email noting the error in their shipping screen. I sent it at 7:39pm on a Sunday... and got a response back at 8:42pm. The tech support person apologized for the "difficulties" I encountered and said, "I would like to inform you that, I reported this issue to our QA help desk. They have made inquiries with our engineering and development team here at Lulu, and they are aware of the issues that you reported. They have identified the cause and are now working to resolve the issue. Once the issue has been resolved, we will inform you. We need your patience and understanding."

So yay. Lulu gets points for answering my support email in under an hour on a Sunday night. But they get more points taken away for being aware of their stupid Unix time issue and not having just effing fixed it already.

UPDATE 2 (7/14/10): I checked the shipping screen again this morning to see where my package was, and Lulu has (kinda sorta) fixed the problem... by just removing the shipping date entirely!

July 10, 2010

Accoutrements of Bipedalism

On Friday, I bought my daughter her first pair of look-at-me-I'm-bipedal! shoes at Stride Rite. The sales associate gave me a receipt with a code for a survey that promised a $5 coupon at the end. Since kids go through shoes quickly, I figured I'd do it. After a couple innocuous questions, I got this one (click to embiggen):


Seriously? I guess the sizes go from babies to toddlers or from babies and toddlers to big kids? All I know is that I bought a size 6 wide. I honestly have absolutely no idea if that's size "8 and under" or size "3.5 or larger." (I picked the first option because, really, does it matter? I just want $5.) There is a whole world of new terms and abbreviations associated with child-bearing and -rearing (attachment parenting, CIO, BFing, meconium, pitocin, etc. - there are even online quizzes so you can test your knowledge!), and I've dutifully learned everything in this new register, as sociolinguists might say. But this survey question really surprised me, as it highlighted that I have a lot more parent-appropriate language to learn as Chickpea gets older.

I also wish I had taken a picture of the wall o' toddler shoes at Stride Rite. The boy-coded shoes were on the left and came in a variety of colors: white, brown, blue, green, black, red. The girl-coded shoes were smack in the middle of the store (directly across from the entrance) and were pink. There may have been one or two pairs of shoes that had no pink on them at all. And a couple pairs that were predominantly navy blue, brown, or black. But I'd say that at least 90% of the options were a combination of white and pink. As an anthropologist, I try not to over-gender my daughter; as a woman, I don't really like pink as a color, at least partially because of its cultural/gender baggage; but as a bargain-hunter, I will give odd colors and styles some leeway. Besides, these are shoes that my daughter will grow out of in two months.

The thorough gendering of kids' shoes did take me by surprise, as I haven't had that much trouble finding girl-specific clothing that's not completely pink. It's especially strange, though, that if we reinforce gender stereotypes, girls should be able to pick from a wider variety of styles and colors - just visit any large shoe store and see how much is devoted to women's shoes and how much to mens'. (At my local DSW, I'd say the ratio is about 75/25.)

Before we ended up at Stride Rite, I had been shopping at Babies 'R' Us. Similarly, the girl shoes were all pink or white, and the boy shoes were way more interesting: colors, camo, action figures, etc. The girl shoes also looked incredibly uncomfortable: sandals and flipflops in styles that I would think twice about buying for myself, and that I definitely wasn't going to buy for a newly-bipedal child. At BRU I found just one un-gendered pair of sneakers: they had Sesame Street Muppets all over them. Surprisingly, they were in the boys' shoe section. So Muppets are male-coded in BRU land apparently.

I've probably been reading waaaaaay too much of my favorite blog, Sociological Images, but taking Chickpea to shop for her first pair of shoes was definitely an odd and surprisingly biocultural experience.

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