Saturday, March 26, 2011


Today we prepped for the next part of my big experiment. Last time it took us 2 days, but I estimated approximately how many person hours it took (54) and so this time I recruited 2 extra people to help and we got it all done in one day! I am really proud of my ability to correctly estimate how long it would take. I was worried when we were only 25% done at lunch time, but we really got in a groove and finished at 4 pm! Meanwhile, we watched several nature documentaries and Finding Nemo on my computer.

I also arranged with T and B to pay their wives to make some plastic thingamabobs for me, which worked out well and provided them with some extra income (plus, I'd given them both nice scissors as a gift so I knew they had the tools to do it!).

But my most exciting news is that I'm planning to take off FOUR consecutive days in April for a break from fieldwork! Cam and I are going to travel somewhere else for a few days. I'm SO excited about a vacation! I'm planning to do some computer work then, but it will be a great mental break after being in the field for all but 9 days in the past 9 weeks.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What have I been doing?

Certainly not much blogging! The muse just isn't there lately. Instead of composing blog posts in my head while I ride around on the back of a motorcycle every day, I compose the acknowledgement section of my dissertation (which I've only started writing in my head). I'm grateful for the help of many, many people. But I digress.

In the past 3 weeks I've:
-started a big experiment
-dealt with several extended power outages
-had no running water for 2 weeks due to drought
-had 2 different house guests back-to-back, followed by the arrival of Sam and Dr. K!
-gotten chased away from a site by bees
-spent all but two days in the field (15 days straight)
-gotten great encouragement and advice from Sam
-went swimming in a newly discovered (and safe!) place

My schedule is pretty well packed for the next 5 weeks, but I'm trying to find a few days to get away from Nyota and travel someplace new. I hope I can. I could use a little vacation.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gendered perspectives on the same book

One of my favorite books is A Primate's Memoir by Robert Sapolsky. It's especially great Africa/field biologist reading since it's about Sapolsky's field work in Kenya and other adventures in the late 70s and early 80s. I've recommended it to many people, and people rarely seem disappointed. Therefore, I was a bit surprised at Cam's reaction when I asked him what he thought of A Primate's Memoir. He said, "It was ok... I liked it, but I spent most of the time comparing myself to him and feeling like I'm not having nearly enough adventures." This was a reaction I'd never heard before, and certainly not a reaction I had myself for one simple reason: Even though it's been 30 years since Sapolsky was hitchhiking around East Africa, I still don't think a woman by herself could do many of the things he did. I read his adventures and think, "My gosh! Even today I couldn't hitchhike by myself to Sudan with some Somali truck drivers!"

Cam, like Sapolsky 30 years ago, is a single man in his 20s doing field work for his advanced degree in Africa. I guess the comparison is easy. 

I suppose I can relate, as when I read Jane Goodall's books I can't help but compare myself to her, delight in the similarities, and then marvel in amazement at everything she did before age 30, not to mention everything she has done since.