Mini Comics Roundup

If you don’t follow me on Instagram or other social media platforms, you might not be aware of my new hobby of posting mini comics over there. So here’s a roundup, plus a new one I somehow didn’t get scanned/posted before now.

These were all scanned using the CamScanner app, so if they look kind of cruddy, that is why. I ran them through Photoshop (okay, GIMP), but some of them, this was as good as I could get them. Or conversely, if you think they look awesome, that’s also why.

From Jan. 11, 2016:
business travel_1

Like a lot of people, I sometimes struggle with feeling like a total fraud. At this point, I’m pretty comfortable with my frauditude. I observed to someone a few years ago that it has been a long time since I went into a job confident that I could do all the parts of it flawlessly without issues. If you are reading this and also struggle with feeling like you are faking your way through life, I urge you to not worry about it. Nearly everyone feels like this. Just roll with it, you’ll be fine.

I went on my first business trip (to Long Island) since 2008 the week of January 11th. That previous trip happened to be in early February of a leap year too (to Houston, TX), and was chronicled in this comic:

em_132

It’s weird that eight years later, I’m back in healthcare IT after a long jaunt into different various fields. I no longer worry about feeling like a corporate stooge–for one thing, I work at a much less corporate place, and for another, I have come to the realization that art and making a living both have to have a place in my life. At least until the singularity.

From Jan. 14, 2016:

Security at LGA_1

This actually happened on my way back from my trip–there was a fire alarm as I was coming through security. No one seemed concerned. Certainly not the TSA agents.
Feed me_1
On the way out, I left the morning that David Bowie’s death hit the media. I actually woke up to an email from B telling me about it. On the way back, I was sitting in LGA waiting for my flight when the news that Alan Rickman had died broke. It was a weird week. At the gate, the agent was making announcements noting that it was not necessary to “slam” one’s bag into the bag sizer, and if we persisted in doing so, someone would get hurt.

From Jan. 28, 2016 (ish):

mixed grip

Deadlifting with Daniel during the St. Paul trip. I didn’t feel like inking it, and it looked better in pencil anyway.

Mixed grip means one hand palm up and one palm down. It is the best; I don’t care what you say.

From Feb. 3, 2016:
joyce_1
I sketched this out basically on the back of an envelope to amuse Daniel and Claire while we were in St. Paul for a wedding after I ran from their house down to the Mississippi River. Then I decided to go back and draw it out for everyone. It got three likes on Facebook. That is probably about what it deserved.

From Feb. 4, 2016:

volcano_1
I get anxious about travel.

From Feb. 6, 2016:

Bison_1

We went out to a company event in Montana for the weekend. After spending a few hours cross-country skiing (skate skiing, actually), I dashed out of the rental shop just to see the shuttle back to the lodge leaving the parking lot. Luckily, one of the women was heading back to pick up some trekkers, so I managed to get a ride and didn’t have to wait two hours for the next shuttle. We talked about wildlife on the way back.

From Feb. 7, 2016:
Skiing_1

housekeeping_1

Another one from my skiing experiment, and one from the hotel. A bit behind the times, I guess, but no worse than the Joyce one, right? XKCD did the same thing a while back, except much better.

That’s all for now. I’m done traveling forever until April, but I may do a few more of these periodically. I enjoy the somewhat instantaneous feedback aspect (i.e., people clicking the little heart icon on Instagram), and it’s usually a lot faster for me to do these little ones than to think up a joke and draw 4+ panels. But we’ll see. I have another longer comic sketched and partially inked that I might be able to get up this week if I’m lucky.

 

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Antelope Island 50K

The top of the Hill on 1st (1st and Aish) in SLC

The top of the Hill on 1st (1st and Aish) in SLC

Ok, now that I’m back in Madison and have slept some (a lot), let me see if I can talk about the Antelope Island 50K in a brief yet entertaining manner.antelope island

First things first: Where is Antelope Island? It’s the largest island in the Great Salt Lake of Utah, so specifically it is about 46 miles from my brother and sister-in-law’s apartment in Salt Lake City. When B and I decided to go out to Utah for a fall visit, I noticed that this race happened to be right around the time we were going out and arranged our travel schedule to coincide. So I didn’t OFFICIALLY travel out there for the race, I just happened to be in the area and the race was happening. (I have a personal rule that I don’t travel more than an hour from home for a race unless it’s a super awesome race.)

We flew in Tuesday afternoon. I had originally planned to run Tuesday and Thursday this past week as the last bit of my taper, but then I was up in the night Monday night/Tuesday morning with. . . something. Was it food poisoning? A norovirus? Only her intestines know for sure. At any rate, things sure weren’t 100 percent when I got up Tuesday morning and I didn’t go for a run, and I even told B that if I still felt super crappy come Saturday I was going to cancel the race. My conditioned waxed and waned throughout the day (including a long stopover at O’Hare), and by the time we arrived I had a pretty intense migraine (complete with nausea, light sensitivity, and blurry vision). Bodes ill. But Wednesday morning when I got up I was fine. In fact I felt so much better than I had in twenty-four hours that I was positively jubilant. Daniel and I went for a run around SLC’s Liberty Park in the afternoon, and I felt pretty good. My foot gave me some trouble on the last part of the run, especially going up the hill from State to A on 1st Street, but the view is so rewarding I couldn’t complain. Then I had two full days of rest, which I knew would make both my foot and my PT happy.

Pre-Race Selfie

Pre-Race Selfie

Saturday morning, I woke up at 5:50, a full forty minutes before Daniel and Claire were coming to pick me up, so that I could eat and also reconsider my life choices. I was suddenly very nervous, in a way that I seldom am before races anymore. I felt a little crappy (too much wine the night before? Too little water?), I was nervous about the course and elevation, and I just kept thinking I should call Daniel and tell him not to come and crawl back into bed with B. I could go for a run later, maybe even go up to Sugar House Park and do twenty miles, and. . . but I didn’t follow through on any of this. I kissed B goodbye and went down and got in the car.

By the time we got to Antelope Island I was feeling better, physically anyway. When I got out of the car to check in, I heard gunshots in the distance. The women working assured me that it was just hunting and “not on the island, we hope.” They also said, “Don’t bother the buffalo and they won’t bother you.” Ok, good to know.[1]

Sunrise

Sunrise

My Lovely Hosts, Daniel and Claire

My Lovely Hosts, Daniel and Claire

Daniel and Claire dropped me off at the starting line just as the sun was beginning to climb over the mountains and paint the sky pink. It was beautiful—and cold. I told them to come back in not less than five and a half hours and thanked them again for their tolerance of my weird hobby. Then I had to take off my sweatshirt and go wait around for the race to get started. The RD announced a last-minute course change owing to mud that took the course from 31 miles down to about 30. I stood in line to use the port-o-potty behind a guy who had his arm in a really complicated sling owing to some sort of surgery (he was still running, which made me feel possibly a bit better). Then a few minutes later, we were off.

The First Climb

The First Climb

Starting Line to the First Aid Station (Mile 5.8)

The race started with about half a mile or so of flat on a gravel access road of some sort. We went along a fence until we came to a break and turned onto a dirt trail that took us in slow switchbacks up the foothills of the mountain (I think the main mountain is Frary Peak, but I’m not totally sure that was the one we were running around, so you’ll have to just guess at the geography). We were at times running east, into the sunrise, which was very pretty but made it hard to see the trail. Luckily, the trail here wasn’t very technical, with only occasional rocks to dodge. There were a lot of false summits—I would look up the trail, thinking that just beyond the coming ridge things must flatten or even descend—only to find when I arrived that the trail continued up. Luckily the hill was quite gentle, so the continuous trekking didn’t bother me and I kept up a pretty steady pace between 10:30-12:00 min/mi. After mile three, the trail turned downward (and west) and suddenly I was skimming along, taking in all these breathtaking vistas I hadn’t had a chance to look at before. Oh, wait, the breathtaking part—that was the altitude. And sure enough, after two miles of lovely downhill, the path turned sharply upward and we hiked it in to the first aid station. I arrived right around the one hour mark.

I wasn’t too concerned about calories so early in the race, but I knew I couldn’t fall behind, especially with the comparatively long distances between aid stations (most were five to six miles apart). I think I had a Fig Newton and a couple of potato chips. Then I was off again. I actually made it through a bit faster than several women, some of whom I would leapfrog with for much of the rest of the race.

Mountains at the Beginning of the Course

Mountains at the Beginning of the Course

Mile 5.8 to the Second Aid Station (Mile 14)

elevation

Elevation Profile. Click to Embiggen.

As I left the first aid station, the staff said that there was a nice bit of downhill ahead, “About a mile of downhill.” And it was very nice, good enough to hit a 9:40 split. I started thinking about how fast I was going to finish—maybe I would hit a 5:15:xx and be lounging around when everyone came to get me. Then suddenly, in one of those weird moments you seem to encounter in the mountains where the ground tells you something your eyes/inner ear don’t necessarily get, I went around a corner and the trail turned sharply upward. The rest of this section was largely not nice; it included steep climbs (about 1,700 feet over seven miles, with over 600 feet of that in the last mile alone); downhills too rocky to run; sections of trail ankle-deep in sand or shifting, golf ball-sized gravel; sections covered with rocks the size of bricks I was not nimble enough to bound between; and of course absolutely no shade. I began to run low on water and at times felt a bit dizzy, but there was really nothing to do but keep going to get to the next aid station. Luckily, I was able to sort of tuck into my brain (I thought about a lot of rather silly things, like the book I have been editing) and keep going. Each time my watch buzzed, I felt a bit surprised that another mile had passed. My splits during this section ranged from 9:21 (the downhill) to 22:42 (the last 600 feet of climb and a stop at the aid station to pull a rock out of my shoe).

It was very nice to get to the aid station and eat some potato chips and potato dipped in salt and refill my water. I also got to blow my nose, which was nice. My nose always runs when I’m out, er, running, and I’d neglected to bring any tissues.

Mile 14 to the Third Aid Station (Mile 20ish)

At the mile 14 aid station, I heard one of the guys say that the next aid station was five miles away. I was excited to leave—both because I had told B I would try to text him around mile 15,[2] and because mile 19 seemed very achievable and also very close to the finish (at the time I thought it was only ten miles out). Also, at this point the trail turned downward again, and we got to give back all that vertical gain. I ran for a while with a woman from Layton, UT, who mentioned that she had never done a 50K before and had trained only to sixteen miles as a long run! She left me behind when I once again couldn’t navigate the rocky descents fast enough. I also found that whenever I tried to accelerate a lot, I developed a stitch in my ribs (the altitude? Pushing too hard?) and I just couldn’t keep up. I had been gunning to finish strong, maybe even top three in my age group, but I realized at this point that I was going to have to just run my own race and finish when I finished.

That is the dao of the trail, I guess.

Mountains, near the End of the Course

Mountains, near the End of the Course

During this section, I came down around a bend and looked up to see two buffalo standing in a field. They were maybe a hundred and fifty feet from me, without any sort of protective fence between us. Wow. So I stopped and took a picture. They were unimpressed.

No Fence

No Fence

After the buffalo, the trail eventually narrowed and went into this area along the western side of the island where there were a lot of plants very close to the trail that were dry and kind of spikey, perfect for scraping the fuck out of my legs. Seriously, plants, what did I ever do to you? I was bleeding in half a dozen places by the end of the race, not fun. The best cut was right on my right ankle, perfect for accidentally kicking with my left foot (I am not graceful), and then good for a quarter mile of pain.

Eventually I reached the aid station and dumped some water over my head, which made me feel better. But I was tired after all the up and down of the first twenty miles, and pretty much ready to be done.

The Two Close-Together Aid Stations (Mile 20 to Mile 24ish)

This was the section where the bargaining began. I was feeling pretty woobly from the heat, so although the course was pretty flat, I started to walk. For a while, my right hip flexor was cramping up. But I knew I was so far from the finish line that I couldn’t just walk until I felt totally better, because I would never feel better until I could stop running and I would never get to the finish line walking. So I started to make deals with myself—run for half a mile, then you can walk for .05 miles. Repeat. Although my times were a pretty steady 11:30 min/mi during this section, and I felt really pretty terrible, I kept passing people, so either I wasn’t the only one having a bad time of it or I managed to out-strategize a lot of people.

The fourth aid station was over a ridge near mile 24. I had been planning to walk, but I crested the ridge and saw it, so I kept running. Yay, more water dumped over my head. (Sadly, none of the aid stations had ice.) Yay, more potato chips.

Mile 24 to the Finish

Leaving the mile 24 aid station, I was relatively sure I had five miles to go. The aid station personnel thought the distance was more like six to seven. They also thought that there was a water-only aid station between them and the finish, though this turned out not to be true. I continued my run/walk strategy for a while here, crossing the 26.2 mark in 5:21:43 (a personal not best) and picking off several more people. Despite my slow speed, I was making progress. The course at this point was very boring—lots of scrubland, the salt lake kind of in the distance, no real change in altitude from mile to mile, nothing to focus on but the passing of a few trees and rocks and the odd pile of ossified buffalo droppings.

Right around mile 27, and just before I was about to allow myself another walking break, I came up behind that woman from Layton again.

Remember her?

As I came up behind her, debating about whether to try to pass or to walk and let her get a lead again, she turned around and said the most magical words I could have heard: “I think I see it.” I was actually kind of unsure at this point what “it” was—the drink station? The finish line? Maitreya Buddha? But I actually did not care. She took off and I took off after her.

I was looking, but I could not for the longest time see whatever she had been referring to. Finally I saw a glint of light at the top of a hill—maybe light off a car’s windshield, but it could have been our destination. Layton and I had some discussion about how far we thought the race actually was. As she said she wasn’t sure if we were going twenty-nine or thirty miles, another woman came up behind us and remarked that she was still telling her friends she did a 50K. I said, “Of course!” We chatted for a brief bit, and then when the trail widened I sped up and passed both of them. For a while I thought we would stick together and finish the race, but they were slowing down, and I could smell the barn.

"SAY CHEESE"

“SAY CHEESE”

I reached the fence we’d run along at the very beginning and crossed though an open spot, only to face another climb. My watch suggests it was about 224 feet of elevation gain in a mile or so, I think about a 5.8 percent grade. I was kind of annoyed, but stumbled up it using a hike/run strategy. At the top, just by the turnoff for the half marathon course, was a herd of buffalo (on the other side of the fence this time). Wow! They seemed unimpressed to see yet another runner stumble past.

The road turned down for one final descent. There was a guy ahead of me in a yellow t-shirt, and I suddenly wanted to pick him off and add one last catch to my list, so I sped up as much as my incredibly tight quads would allow. Better yet, as I came within range of the finish, B, Daniel, and Claire were all standing there cheering me on! I crossed the finish line within a few seconds of the guy in yellow (I was so close to catching him!) and was awarded a coffee cup. I think I said something really intelligent to B, like, “They gave me a coffee cup!” Then I sat down for a while before I could fall over.

Final Tally

Some of My Cuts (and an Amazing Amount of Dirt)

Some of My Cuts (and an Amazing Amount of Dirt)

I finished 29.88 miles (according to my watch) in 6:04:24, a 12:12 min/mi pace. According to my watch, the course had just over 3,100 feet of elevation gain. The results at UltraSignUp.com are still somewhat preliminary as of this writing, but I am listed as 6th woman, 4th in my age group, and 22nd overall finisher. I learned that I should be careful of climate differences (WI had a cold snap, so it had been quite a long time since I’d run in warm weather), bring something to shade my head/neck from the sun (no trees), and give the elevation its due. I did a good job at staying on top of salt and calories all day, and I think my run/walk strategy was pretty successful, considering how many people I passed in the last ten miles.

My foot was actually totally fine though the race, giving me no more than passing discomfort. At some point my hip slipped out (my SI joint got stuck) and I finished with knee pain and lower back pain because of it, and I also totally blew up my quads, and my calves are hurting if I sit for too long, but other than that I feel remarkably good. My PT will be happy. The race was well-organized and enjoyable, the course a real challenge. I had a hell of a time.

A special thank you to Bryan, Daniel, and Claire, for not just making this madness possible but for supporting me through to the end. Having you guys there to cheer me on in the last moments was really amazing. Also special special thanks for helping me get a new Garmin last minute. It worked out really well and was super useful during the race.

20141011_140442-20141011_140446

My Finish (Photo by Daniel)

Also I’m going to stick to half marathons for a while. Holy cow.


[1] When I was a kid, my parents used to stick me in the car and drive me out to Fermi Lab (the supercollider) to look at the buffalo (really, this was a method of making me fall asleep). The sign at Fermi Lab said, “Don’t try to cross this pasture unless you can do it in nine seconds, because the bull takes ten.” I have no recollection of how big the pasture was (though I do think I wanted to feed the buffalo Cheerios, as though they were ducks), but in my mind this means that buffalo are both fast and mean.

[2] Does that sound lame? It was an important psychological goal—during the last few miles of climb leading up to the mile 14 aid station, I was counting down—“Only three more miles before I get to text B.” The idea was to tell him my time at the halfway point to help better gauge the SLC crew’s departure to Antelope Island. Unfortunately I realized after the race that my text hadn’t gone through. Whomp whomp, sad tromboon.

Amazing Post-Race Liege Waffle at Bruges (SLC-Area Waffle Stand)

Amazing Post-Race Liege Waffle at Bruges (SLC-Area Waffle Stand)

Em oi! #387: Bad Dog

Bad Dog

Proof:
Dog!

Oof. Remember when I used to have time to blog? Me neither.

Ironically, I finished this drawing almost a month ago, when we were visiting Baltimore. But I didn’t get it posted the week we came back because we were packing for the move, and then we were moving. After the move, first I couldn’t find the sketchbook. Then I found the sketchbook but I didn’t know where my eraser (the one surviving eraser at this point), so I couldn’t finish the sketch. Last night I decided to get my act together.

I’ll file this under: SF429.S63 L86 2013, which stands for:
Animal culture–Pets–Dogs–By breed, A-Z–Shiba dogs.

More comics about the dog here and here.

I ran the Baltimore Running Festival half marathon on the 12th of October. It was fun. I was going to write a race report, but let’s face it: The chances of that happening are kind of slim at this point. I get up every morning at 5:30 to start work on my thesis, then I work out and do actual work, and after all that I have no energy left. So enjoy a few photos from the run:

go pass

My MTA ticket. I ❤ public transit.

pre race

Looking skeptical before the race.

starting line

There was a goodly walk from where we lined up to the starting line, the last bit was uphill. It was a bit confusing. I bet people who actually read their race packet knew about this though.

socks

It’s the Natty Boh man. We’re in B’more, hon.

lake building

I’d been reading _From Hell_, and this building looked strangely like some freemason business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

empty rowhouses

Running past empty rowhouses.

done

Post-race. I finished in 2:00:07.

Em oi! #376: นักแปล [nakplae, the translator]

I have the skills to...get bug spray for Andy and Sara's room. Possibly.

Another sketch from our trip to Thailand. This actually happened at a down-at-its-heels hotel in Chiang Mai. Eventually Andy and Sara got to move to a slightly better room…but they didn’t manage to get one with a double bed. At the time, I complained that we had landed in the Chiang Mai version of Pham Ngu Lao, a street in Ho Chi Minh City known for cheap/seedy backpacker hotels. I think, having looked at a lot of other hotel reviews, that most places in Chiang Mai are like that. It wasn’t a bad hotel, exactly…well, it was. But it was clearly a nice hotel about ten or fifteen years ago when it was built. And then nothing was updated again.

My nemesis

My nemesis

There was a fiendish device on the bedside table. You can see it in this photo to the right (and now you all know the name of the hotel, oops.). You push a button and the lights turn on or off. Somehow we managed to push the buttons so that around about five o’clock in the morning, the lights started to turn on and off by themselves. You can imagine, given how jet lagged I was, how well that went over. I thought the place was haunted. I guess this was state-of-the-art in like…1980.

I’m maybe a bit bitter because the room smelled like smoke. But later on that day, after our freaky awakening, B got sick and basically slept in the room for 12 hours. I figured at least the sheets were clean and the AC worked.

A few trial sketches of Andy.

A few trial sketches of Andy.

These are my preliminary sketches of Andy, done to prep for this comic and Em oi! #374. I guess he’s lost a fair amount of weight since he got back to Texas, so these are not entirely accurate.

Today we went to see Oz the Great and Powerful, Sam Raimi’s prequel to The Wizard of Oz. I found that in the years since I first saw the original, the details of the land of Oz have gotten tangled up in my head with other fantasy places, like Wonderland, Middle Earth, and Australia. There were some details that struck me as kind of bizarre–why would you have a field of poppies that can cause everlasting sleep right next to the Emerald City? Isn’t that a liability case waiting to happen? The witches were also interesting, although I was sad that they went with the old trope of “dark hair bad, blond-y good-y.” Glinda the good witch, played by Michelle Williams, reminded me of Galadriel (blond hair, long white gown, kind of ethereal expression). Then I remembered that amazing scene where Galadriel almost takes the ring, but doesn’t. Wow, she’s a really interesting character in that scene. Too bad Glinda was just blandly kind. Of course it is nice to have one character who is kind, but… Also I am not sure how I feel about the turning-green-as-externalization-of-internalized-self-loathing? And of course no one can out-evil Margaret Hamilton.

There was a lot about families in it though, and a kind of magical scene where Oz (played by James Franco) glues a little china doll’s legs back on. I maybe got a little verklempt.

Now that I think about it, maybe Glinda was a bit more manipulative in the first film, since she doesn’t tell Dorothy how to use the slippers to get home until the very end of the book…

Today I got up and ran 18 miles (well, 18.25). It was an interesting run. I was up in the night with indigestion (from 2:30-4 am) and only got out of bed around 8:30, an hour later than my alarm was set for. Actually, at 8:15, Bryan rolled over and said, “Why are you still here?” I took some drugs and set out, going easy, waiting to see if anything bad would happen…but nothing did. I got tired, since I did the whole run on only 190 calories (two gels, one 90 cal, one 100 cal) plus the glycogen stored from yesterday’s overeating (the thing that caused me so much trouble). Anyway, I mostly shuffled along at 10:30-10:40 minutes/mile, more than a minute slower than my planned race pace. Toward the end, I tried to pick things up and ran a 9:54, but then my stomach started to ache and said, “Don’t ever do that again,” so I finished slow. (I wasn’t going to call B to pick me up with two miles to go.) At least I finished.

This is wandering, probably because of my weird interrupted sleep. I’d better bring things to a stopping point.

This comic will be filed under P306.94 .L86 2013, for Philology. Linguistics—Language. Linguistic theory. Comparative grammar—Translating and interpreting—Translating services. In case you were curious, if you search for the heading “translation,” all you get is class numbers related to specific translations–translating the bible, translating Emile Zola into English, etc. The correct subject heading for translation as the subject of a work is “translating and interpreting.” I had to look it up.

Em learns to ski

A few weeks ago we were in Lake Tahoe. Last time we went on a ski trip, I tried to learn to snowboard. It was not a huge success, involving as it did a lot of falling down, crying, shouting, bruises, and eventually a migraine. This time I decided to learn to cross-country ski, something I’d not done in easily 20 years.

Like a graceful blue bird, Em descends the mountain.

Like a graceful blue bird, Em descends the mountain.

At one point, I asked the guy who was renting out skis to give me a brief overview of the trails. He was kind enough to point out good routes. One of them he said, “This one is very flat.”

It turns out “flat” is a relative term on a mountain.

I picked out a route, about 12 km round-trip, that was uphill on the way out and downhill on the way back. This let me tackle the problems of how to ski uphill and downhill one at a time, and I eventually got the hang of it. I went on to ski almost 20 km that day and gave myself a wicked blister. Anyway, I’m in love with skiing. I made a friend of mine go skiing with me at Elver Park here in Madison yesterday, and it was awesome.

I like ski trips because I get to do stuff like eat fancy food, drink fancy drinks, look at poorly proofed artwork, and think about how terrible the airport in Reno, NV is.
precious artwork

precious artwork2

Bryan was so impressed by the scare quotes on this sign he made me take a photo. I like a man who can get excited about inappropriate punctuation. That’s one of the reasons I married him.

drinks

menu

Reno, NV, you are a terrifyin

Reno, NV, you are a terrifying place.

Then we come home and I get to see dog again and feel more attached to reality instead of a jet-setting lifestyle.

For her part, dog is not overly attached to the ground.

For her part, dog is not overly attached to the ground.

My thesis proposal is done and handed in, so until I get some comments on it I’m in a bit of a lull. (Well, a lull that requires me to continue working all the time on various things.) I’m hoping to get caught up on some other projects–writing/drawing comics, blogging…My ankle and I have reached a détente, so I’m back to training. I managed eight miles on Friday, eleven on Saturday (plus skiing), then seven this morning, and I feel good. Tomorrow it’s back to the pool for a day off.

After a lot of thought, I’ve decided to take myself off Facebook for the nonce. Not totally–I’ll stick around to monitor the comments on comics and that sort of thing. But for a lot of reasons, I need to put some distance between me and FB for a while. Feel free to email me (ehlupton(AT)gmail(DOT)com) if you want to chat, or leave a comment here. I’d love to hear from you.

Em oi! #374: Winning

Chai Yo!

This conversation actually happened while we were in Thailand, and I should have uploaded it earlier but I didn’t. For reasons (primarily, I am engaged in a standoff [ha]with my right ankle and have been busy sulking). But the good news is that it is up now. The guy in the pictures is Andy, you can see him in the background of this picture. The woman is named Wanni–she was our cooking instructor, and she was amazing. Clicking on this link will take you to their website.

In the last panel, the banner says “Chaiyo!” which means “Hurrah.” But I figured you could guess that from context. At the time, I’d spent a lot of the trip feeling like I was struggling to make myself understood…and then conversation with Wanni had been so easy, I was just thrilled. And evidently so was she!

We’ll file this under GN367 .L86 2013, for Anthropology—Ethnology. Social and cultural anthropology—Culture and cultural processes—Acculturation. Culture contact—Assimilation. The Chinese have a term for this too–they call it “Zhong guo hua [中国化]” or “Sinicization”–I believe it specifically refers to an outsider adopting Chinese cultural norms. The Thai…I was going to say they don’t have a word for becoming Thai, but they do– “Siwali” or “Civilized.”

So that’s interesting, I think.

Things have been quiet around here. In order to avoid a feeling of isolation while working on my thesis (easy to have, since I no longer have any courses), I’ve rejoined a local martial arts dojo. It is so much fun. And I am, despite being on a rather large dose of ibuprofen, very sore. Yesterday the animals had their teeth cleaned. Maya had to have a tooth extracted (she’d cracked it, maybe chewing on a rock or a bone) and Kali was a bit loopy from the anesthetic, so things are pretty calm (see photograph).

20130202_121956

Oh, the excitement.

Here are some other photos from the trip. This is still a tiny fraction of the total pictures I took, so I’ll try to find some more for next week. If you’re interested in more background information, some of these were taken at Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Doi Suthep in the area surrounding Chiang Mai City. Click to embiggen.
pink flowers

espresso con panna

espresso con panna

enhance your appetite

“Enhance your appetite.” I love this one. Also, I think the sugar packets hold more sugar than the ones here.

emily at wat chedi

Me at Wat Chedi Luang

bryan wanni emily maew

Left to right, B, Wanni, Em, and Wanni’s husband Maew.

altar wat chedi

Altar at Wat Chedi Luang

wat chedi

The chedi at Wat Chedi Luang.

Nagas at Wat Chedi Luang

Nagas at Wat Chedi Luang

maybe an orchid

many flowers

girl and naga

Girl and Naga, Wat Doi Suthep

flower

Em oi! #373: What We Talk About on Long Drives

Conversation omitted: "Quick, grab a baggie before the dog drops a vom!"

This was drawn from a conversation we had on our drive back to Madison on Xmas Day. I had the comic 80% done before we left for Thailand, but I didn’t manage to get the last two panels colored and the whole thing scanned until just now. I should add that I know Berkeley was really refuting Locke more than Descartes, but I understand the objections to Descartes much better, so I drew him.

This is hardly the first time I’ve touched on Berkeley’s philosophy in the comic. He has long been an obsession of mine, given that immaterialism (also called idealism) is so damn weird.

The Rumble in the Library

The gentleman with the wig there is Samuel Johnson. According to legend (and Boswell), Johnson had this to say about Berkeley:

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, ‘I refute it THUS.’1

Of course, Berkeley would not have accepted this as a refutation, because both the stone and Johnson’s foot exist in Johnson’s mind.
I belieeeeve...in the Czech Republic's existence...

Finally a comic dating from Ly’s tenure in the Czech Republic. If you happen to be an atheist or agnostic, Berkeley’s philosophy becomes very strange, because whose intellect is watching the entire world? It’s troubling. Having just come from Thailand, I suppose I’m pretty sure that it still exists, or at least I’ve got friends there who might tell me if it ceased to exist. But I can’t be sure.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll file these under B1348 .L86 2013B1348 .L86 2007, and B1348 .L86 2007b, for Philosophy (General)—Modern (1450/1600-)—By region or country—England. Ireland. Scotland. Wales—18th century—Individual philosophers—Berkeley, George, 1685-1753—Criticism and interpretation.


Yesterday we came back from Thailand. Yesterday was Friday, but we actually got on a plane in Chiang Mai at 17:30 on Thursday to fly to Bangkok. From Bangkok, at 23:30 we got on another plane and flew to Incheon airport in South Korea (a very nice but intensely baffling place). We’d all been up since about 7:00 on Thursday (although we dozed on the plane, it was that weird fugue sleep you slip into on an airplane), so when that plane landed we were a bit loopy.

We got breakfast. I took some photos:

B's strawberry cream cheese waffle

B’s strawberry cream cheese waffle

Sara's blueberry bagel. I think the other available flavors were "garlic" and "plane."

Sara’s blueberry bagel. I think the other available flavors were “garlic” and “plane.” When I saw the flavor list is when I began to suspect that something about Korea is a giant joke being played (on me, I guess?).

This was called "stick pie." It was crispy.

This was called “stick pie.” It was crispy.

Those are the only photos I took in the airport. I took lots of photos in Thailand, though (about 300 I guess). Here are a few:

Various Thai Fruits!

Various Thai Fruits!

ผัดพักบุงไฟแดง, or stir-fried morning glory. In Vietnamese, the plant is called "rau mung." (Please excuse my lack of diacritics.)

ผัดพักบุงไฟแดง, or stir-fried morning glory. In Vietnamese, the plant is called “rau mung.” (Please excuse my lack of diacritics.)

Sara makes a friend at the place we studied cooking.

Sara makes a friend at the place we studied cooking.

Cooking the morning glory with Maew's instruction.

Cooking the morning glory with Maew’s instruction.

I also took photos of wats, monks, that sort of thing. I’ll upload those later.

Anyway, I started training for my upcoming 50 km races this morning after I got up. The first is April 30th and it’s about 14 weeks away, which also means I have about 14 weeks until my birthday and until my THESIS has to be done and and and. So the 50k is really what I am focused on, since it is a lot less frightening. I thought running was going to be terrible because it is cold out (about 46 degrees colder than Chiang Mai was). But in fact I had a great run. I hit my planned tempo for the majority of the miles, had a runner’s high all day, and felt very strong. I stopped at 14.4 miles, but I could have gone much farther, I think. The only way it could have been better is if I’d remembered to bring water. Whoops.

Well this entry is already treatise-length, so I’ll leave off here. Hope you are all having a good winter/January!


1 Boswell, James. Boswell’s Life of Samuel Johnson. Abridged and edited, with an introduction by Charles Grosvenor Osgood. Project Gutenberg, 2006. Retrieved from http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1564/1564-h/1564-h.htm. 12 January 2013.

Flowers from Mormon Central

I took this picture at the Mormon Holy See in SLC a few weeks ago. Tonight my brother Daniel helped walk me through the process of making it “less red” (per B’s request). I think it looks pretty good now.

Say what you will about the Mormons (and I’m sure you will), they certainly have some nice gardens in Temple Square.

 

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, I think we can all agree that last night’s gubernatorial recall here in Wisconsin was a total travesty and a terrible insult to all women, LGBT persons, union workers, and all thinking persons more generally.

Have I missed anyone?

B and I have long joked, with minimal seriousness, that if candidate x (initially John McCain, but Walker in the most recent election and Romney in the upcoming presidential one) were to win, we would head for country n (Canada, Sweden, or France, take your pick).  When hearing of this plan, a relative quipped, “You’d leave us all to suffer, and not try to help defeat candidate x?”  To which we’d replay, “Well, no,” because typically in the US these candidates have a lot of money and power, while we have (comparatively) little, so what the hell can we do, anyway?

But that got me thinking–what is the obligation of a citizen when her government has ceased to represent her interests?  (And I do feel, for a variety of reasons, that the government of Wisconsin and the Republican party more generally are not governing with my best interests–which are to say the interests of a woman academic–in mind, and that given the opportunity they would prefer for me to drop out of the workforce entirely and stay home and have babies.)

I tried talking philosophy to the dog and this is what I got.

Unrelated photo of my dog and cat, because really, with what could I illustrate this post?

John Locke says that if you don’t like it, you can lump it: “But since the government has a direct jurisdiction only over the land, and reaches the possessor of it, (before he has actually incorporated himself in the society) only as he dwells upon, and enjoys that; the obligation any one is under, by virtue of such enjoyment, to submit to the government, begins and ends with the enjoyment; so that whenever the owner, who has given nothing but such a tacit consent to the government, will, by donation, sale, or otherwise, quit the said possession, he is at liberty to go and incorporate himself into any other commonwealth; or to agree with others to begin a new one, in vacuis locis, in any part of the world, they can find free and unpossessed: whereas he, that has once, by actual agreement, and any express declaration, given his consent to be of any commonwealth, is perpetually and indispensably obliged to be, and remain unalterably a subject to it, and can never be again in the liberty of the state of nature; unless, by any calamity, the government he was under comes to be dissolved; or else by some public act cuts him off from being any longer a member of it” (Locke, section 121, italics in original, bolding mine).

Of course, Locke also says later that if legislators act “against the trust reposed in them,” then the people living in that society are within their rights to change the government: “[R]evolutions happen not upon every little mismanagement in public affairs. Great mistakes in the ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient laws, and all the slips of human frailty, will be born by the people without mutiny or murmur. But if a long train of abuses, prevarications and artifices, all tending the same way, make the design visible to the people, and they cannot but feel what they lie under, and see whither they are going; it is not to be wondered, that they should then rouze [i.e., rouse] themselves, and endeavour to put the rule into such hands which may secure to them the ends for which government was at first errected…” (Locke, sections 222-225, italics in original, bolding mine).

To what issue will this come? It seems inconclusive. The addition in the first quote of the parenthetical notation “before he has actually incorporated himself in the society” and the phrase “tacit consent to the government” make me worry that Locke was in fact referring to a situation such as: You are living in the middle of an ungoverned place (i.e. in the state of nature). Suddenly some people come along and start up a government. You didn’t ask for the government, therefore you’re allowed to leave. Which seems okay in theory, but go tell that to the American Indians and see how hard they laugh.

The first quote, even taken at face value, raises a larger problem of privilege. We could probably afford to sell our house and move to Canada. I think we have a sufficient amount in savings to get green cards and B has a job that he can do in Canada, which would also be a big plus for immigration officials. Also, I speak French, the result of a long and expensive education that allowed me time to focus on relatively useless things (like learning multiple foreign languages) instead of getting a job.  There are a lot of Americans who don’t meet any of these qualifications; in fact, a lot of people have underwater mortgages and can’t afford to sell their houses at all, let alone have the necessary savings to immigrate to a different country.  If all liberal, upper middle class Americans start migrating to other countries, America is left with the poor (both Dems and Repubs) and the Wealthy Republicans who, let’s face it, don’t really have economic incentive to make the country a great place for the working class.  So in the same way that we have a responsibility to fight for rights because we might need them “someday” (e.g., healthcare, abortions) or because people we know might need them (e.g., gay marriage and associated rights), we could say that there is a responsibility among those who otherwise might leave to stay and provide a balance to those who would choose to exploit those who cannot leave.

I’m uneasy with this responsibility idea. It smacks of “white man’s burden”-type bullshit–surely the people who remain in the US after this purported exodus can look after themselves! And yet citizens have a responsibility to vote, don’t they?  To voice their opinions at least when society requires the selection of a new government.  So perhaps I’d restate this a different way: to abandon the US would require not just becoming an expat but a naturalized citizen of another country, since to retain the advantages of US citizenship while living abroad would enable one to shirk the responsibility one has of being an active participant in society, essentially the responsibility (at minimum) to vote and protect both one’s own rights and the rights one believes others deserve.

The second quote is suggestive of the conclusion that one should not quit the country; since rebellion (or call it simply changing the status quo) is permissible when one feels the government is no longer working, and there is some inherent responsibility citizens have to take part in society, it is better to stay and fight than to flee.

[I wish to add belatedly, footnotedly, that Locke’s use of terms like “the people” suggests that he sees all individuals in a society as agreeing on what the correct course of action is, in opposition to their government.  In the absence of unison, which is certainly the case in WI presently, I suspect he would accede to the majority’s opinion and tell me, as a member of the minority, that I cannot go about instituting rebellions just because I feel slighted.  However there is always something to be said for being the loyal opposition, because when the majority is making choices that are (morally, ethically) incorrect or unsound (as arguably they are), someone needs to speak up for the oppressed–see, for example, the abolition movement before the Civil War.]

My other favorite political theorist, the late, great Robert Nozick, does say, when speaking about a replacement for society that would be, essentially, small communities of individuals under minimal government, that, “After a person has spent much of his life in a community, sent down roots, made friends, and contributed to the community, the choice to pick up and leave is a difficult one. Such a community’s…seriously changing its character, will affect its individual members in something like the way in which a nation’s changing its laws will affect its citizens” (Nozick, 324, italics his) and that “Anyone may start any sort of new community…they wish.  For no one need enter it.  Modifying an already existing community is held to be a different matter” (ibid.). His suggestions–that people who disagree with a proposed change should be compensated in some way, e.g. (this is very particular to the libertarian project he is working on)–are impracticable in US society as it stands, but he does seem to argue strongly for the “if you don’t like it, you can lump it” point of view.

Nozick’s work on communities does suggest one other solution: flight need not be international. If one’s state has changed politically, one is welcome to move to a state more in line with one’s views. There are fifty of them, plus several protectorates/colonies; surely one will match one’s views. This is a slightly less privileged action (though it still requires some liquidity of funds that not everyone has at hand) and allows residents of a divided country to assort themselves in ways that please them.

But after all of this reasoning, I still feel conflicted.  There are reasons beyond the political to stay in Wisconsin, and reasons beyond the political to go. Ultimately, I think Nozick is right when he writes that the goal of a society is to allow its members to “individually or with whom we choose, to choose our life and to realize our ends and our conception of ourselves, insofar as we can, aided by the voluntary cooperation of other individuals possessing the same dignity” (334). Wherever I go, or if I remain, if I can do that, I’ll be satisfied.

Bibliography

Locke, John. Second Treatise of Government. Edited by C. B. Macpherson. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Co., 1980. (The unedited text is online here.)

Nozick, Robert. Anarchy, State, and Utopia. [United States]: Basic Books, 1974. (A previewable version is available at Google Books here.)

Em oi! #356: Passersby were amazed

Clearly this is satire.  In reality they only got Marburg.

You can click to embiggen slightly. The panel second from the end (the fourth or seventh panel, depending on how you are counting) was designed by Bryan.  I owe him considerable thanks for help on this comic generally.  Also the final panel might be one of my favorites ever.

I have so much to write that I’m not going to write, because now I’ve got to go do some homework and go to bed. That is very much a summary of my life over the past several weeks, and I can only hope that it will get better during spring break next week and I might be able then to write something.

We’ll file this one under QH545.C78 L86 2012, for:
Biology (General)—Ecology—Influence of special factors in the environment—Special, A-Z—Cruise ships.

If you’re into Twitter, you can follow me at @pretense_soup. I personally find Twitter to be like a giant party where everyone is shouting witticisms at each other as loudly as possible–in other words, intimidating, so I don’t tweet frequently. But I assure you that when I do they are naught but the ripest, freshest, wittiest tweets available. So you should follow me.

For more on cruises:

Lupton, E. H. “Our Honeymoon–A Recap, parts 1-3.”  Em oi!, no. 308, 10-12 April 2010. Retrieved from Part 1/3, Part 2/3, Part 3/3.

Ronson, Jon. “Rebecca Coriam: Lost at Sea.” The Guardian, November 11, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/nov/11/rebecca-coriam-lost-at-sea?CMP=twt_gu.

Wallace, David Foster. “Shipping Out: On the (Nearly Lethal) Comforts of a Luxury Cruise.” Harper’s Magazine, January 1996, 33-56. Retrieved from http://harpers.org/media/pdf/dfw/HarpersMagazine-1996-01-0007859.pdf target=”_blank”.