Last Space Shuttle mission launched for July 8, 2011 followed by the Juno probe, powered with a solar propeller; I can imagine a disk-shaped vehicle propelled through the far reaches of space by such, spinning through space as it journeyed, its spin keeping it on course (if I ever went to a launch & wanted a place to stay on the beach with a kitchenette I'd go to the Wakulla Motel; don't know if they still have rooms available; I worked there years ago; they are a very nice family-run place, probably the nicest atmosphere around.)


Flesh is always in season,
lusted after, gunned, grenaded,
tabulated through machines,
incinerated, beaten to applause,
anesthetized, autopsied, mourned.

(from Samuel Hazo, 1983, "To A Commencement of Scoundrels;"
published online in: Thank a Bored Angel: Selected Poems, by Samuel Hazo; [New York: New Directions]/Google Books;

"He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

(from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,"
(Thanks also to everyone who wished me well when my foot was bad -- due to lyme disease which is a chronic problem but responds to coffee-peroxide soaks -- I definitely recommend these soaks.)

Good Reads

My L.A. Phone Bill: but I was not so broke up over a guy as that; that was not really what ran up my bill -- and my bill was high in L.A.; I do ♡ L.A. though (one good thing that came out of the telephone was I had the nearby copy center enlarge the map of time zones from the phone book and I made moveable clock hands to pin to each zone map and mounted it all on poster board; so a lesson on telling time, time zones, and phone sound ensued; children are excellent at creating ad jingoes and phone conversations too).

Women's College and happiness, language study, intonation patterns and fundamental frequency in infant babbling

I went to a women's college. There are few women's colleges today, only a handful really now; many have gone co-ed, and so for all those who think that women who go to women's colleges are horribly frustrated, I would have to say that probably there are more women who would like to attend a women's college but cannot find one to suit their needs than there are women who are sorry they did [but if you don't like one, with all the co-ed schools out there, you can transfer out freshman year; I almost transferred out freshman year, albeit to another woman's college, Bryn Mawr, but that's another story and it had to do with the caricatures I saw of each of the "Seven Sisters" students; the Bryn Mawr caricature was decidedly the most bookish-looking; I finally decided resignedly that I was just glad that the caricature of the student from mine was not a society-conscious gal in a gown or something]. Of my friends who finished college with me, well several are still not married; another, a working class lady from South of Boston, did get married; a friend of mine who was not working class and was a bit older than most of us was already married when she entered college -- to a working class high school sweetheart of French ancestry, French-Massachusetts-Vermont, and had a daughter; she divorced almost the day she graduated. All was fine and she was in love; then she had a daughter and she was not in love; she waited till she graduated though -- while she was in college her husband had been a regular babysitter.

I've studied French [formally nine years total including about three in high school, six semesters in college, more in grad. school; additional informal study ongoing]; Spanish [six years formally; I also studied it on my own in first and second grade using a book; I had Cuban friends]; Latin [two years formally]; and Arabic [two years formally]. Originally a romance language major, in college I read Dante's "Inferno" and a little bit of his other two books in Italian, but not formally, but on my own, and I needed a bilingual crib though I did figure out some of, much of, the Italian. The same way I acquired a reading knowledge of Catalan and Medieval Gallego Portuguese. My French and Arabic both need work still, and the internet is a good place sometimes for that; my Arabic is certainly the weaker of my three languages (other than English, there are three major languages I speak); I'd like to learn an Arabic dialect well as I mostly just read Arabic and also would like to study Italian formally and would like to switch from English to French as my primary language, seriously. But where I live there is not much French and there's not enough on the net though there is as much of it as of any non-English language.

I have on my own read enough to maybe have some minimal knowledge of computational linguistics though that field really did not exist anywhere I studied (best places to go in linguistics: Cornell, University of Texas at Austin, Diderot might be o.k., not sure about MacGill or M.I.T., but I went to none of those though I briefly took two linguistics courses at University of Texas at Arlington, not Austin, still quite a good place for linguistics).

I got involved with somehow after working on a translation, because of my interest in linguistics and the "wild life" on the net, and with hopes that my posts would lead to a job [and a chance to repay my loans]. An issue related to this: [see].)

The following review of several linguistic articles, now a bit dated, grew from a discussion; following is a brief list of texts on: Cross-linguistic differences in fundamental frequency, intonation contours, and vowel formants.

J. R. Firth (, Sounds and Prosodies (1948) argued that phonemics was not necessarily phonetic and that the phonetic relationships had to be teased out, mapped out, that is that a phoneme might not have a real phonetic realization at all. He argued that a feature, such as vowel quality (which I note before I go into the discussion below) is often super-segmental to some degree -- that is it can be mapped across one or several syllables, might be mapped as far as it needed to be (although we still need a rule to explain, for example, why some aspects of vowel quality only affect part of a word -- that is, to explain where the boundaries are; my feeling is prosodic analysis such as Firths does this too more elegantly generally).

According to Levitt (1993), "The Acquisition of Prosody: Evidence from French- and English-learning Infants," Haskins Laboratories Status Report on Speech Research SR-113: 41-50,, "Boysson-Bardies and her colleagues . . . in their crosslinguistic investigations of infant utterances", "[f]or example, using acoustic analysis, . . . found that the vowel formants of 10-month-old infants varied in ways consistent with the formant-frequency patterns in the adult languages (Boysson-Bardies, Halle, Sagart, & Durand, 1989)." Levitt continues, "Some of our own Research (Levitt & Utman, 1991), along with results from another study by Boysson-Bardies and her colleagues (Boysson-Bardies, Sagart, & Durand, 1984), suggested that young infants from different linguistic communities might also show early language-specific prosodic differences, which we decided to explore by comparing the utterances of French-learning and English-learning infants."

(NOTE: Levitt ultimately reported that there was a difference in intonation patterns in French and English infants' babbling/speech and that this corresponded with a difference in fundamental frequency; the measurements of fundamental frequency relied on measurements made electronically; the measurements of intonation patterns relied on listener judgements/perceptions; in spite of the fact that French intonation tends to rise more than English the intonation patterns were not all that different in the babbling; and note of course if the babbling is done so as to mean something, to be a statement of anger, a questions, etc. the intonantion of the question or statement interacts with syllable intonations; and so a falling intonation in a syllable might become flattened a bit at the end of a question; note that some investigators looked at this report I believe and concluded that there was a difference in intonation patterns in the babbling in the two language but there was not corresponding difference in fundamental frequency or even a real difference in fundamental frequency (yet there should be ultimately a difference in the overall fundamental frequency of English and French syllables, I expect, but like I note that difference can vary, step up or step down in questions or statements, and also is lower or higher according to speaker age, size, gender, more; for example, I have a low alto when I sing, not that I sing well -- I can only appreciate singing not do it; I don't have that high a speaking voice either and thus my English syllables would have a lower fundamental frequency than someone's with a higher voice).

Oller and Eillers (1982), "Similarity of Babbling in Spanish- and English-learning Babies," Journal of Child Language 9: 565-577 reported that vowels in Spanish and English language babies were the most different feature in their babbling (perhaps because of the great difference in Spanish and English vowels in adult speech, although de Boysson-Bardies as noted likewise found differences in vowel formants in French, Arabic, Cantonese, English).

(I read de Boysson-Bardies et. al in Fall, 1988 or maybe 1989 [two different papers; see for one: de Boysson-Bardies, Halle, Sagart, and Durand, 1988, "A Crosslinguistic Investigation of Vowel Formants in Babbling,"], along with some research on infant cries and some general cross-linguistic research on child language acquistion as sort of background reading for an analysis I was doing of young children's conversations, disagreements, etc. based on scripts collected by Nelson and Gruendel. I was looking at prosody, repetition, rhyme, and how important it was in establishing focus, signalling agreement/disagreement. I am not a phonetician. )

About the Translator . . .

The translator (CEW -- me:

Basics About Me & The Land

The CCENT (exam) -- with a link to study resources

My (Original) Research & Career Goals

How I Got Into Computing

Transcript of My Discussion with "Eliza"

More About Me (& about student loans, an element in my life)

Chicago and New Orleans (this is turning into an autobiography; maybe it would sell but I am going to axe some of it soon)

Woody's Restaurant (a summer job from college)

And More(Some Social Commentary and Favorite Links/Songs)


Commentary: more and more and more on students loans.

"All That Glitters" (an essay I wrote after returning from teaching in Kuwait, rewritten slightly since I have yet to dig my copy out). Or you can check out my articles at suite101 (on a variety of topics).

I was born in Florida near the Banana River, the second of four children. Florida was relatively undeveloped then.


I grew up in a family with an interest in land use and zoning laws. Our street was relatively wild and undeveloped. My mom taught us to walk 'single file' in what she called "the Indian Woods," to not make noise or disturb anything. Otherwise she said, "the Indians would not come back." We played hide-n-seek a lot and I became quite good at it, bending cactus spines back carefully so that they did not break and crawling into thickets that no light entered and hiding.

I loved walking the length of the street with our family cat, Guiseppe, and rescuing beached jellyfish (or jellyfish enroute to beaching; it made me sad to see all the bright colors melting in the sun). I used to stare through their transparent skin at their membranes and wonder what kind of consciousness the jelly fish might have. The strongest of them made it back to the deep when I turned them around and sent them seaward! (After some years of 'jellyfish rescuing,' & also, of course, after the locks were opened that went to the sea, the jellyfish that came in had thicker skins, preferred deeper water, and did not beach themselves; they also quit stinging for the most part although many years later, when visiting my hometown, a jellyfish sting would help my back some; however as a child when I swam back from the bridge I used to get stung repeatedly and of course I did not like it but when a large sting covered my neck I immediately requested several days off from school which I got and after a few hours I was not in so bad shape as that.)

As a child, I dreamed of an adult life as a hermit in the woods (too shy, too much of a 'dog,' too much of an overbite), but have come to enjoy the net some. Much of the fauna and flora that was part of this idyllic-sounding childhood (it was not of course completely ideallic; childhood never is probably) is now gone, so really where is there to go to "escape" but the net?

In ninth grade we had to take home economics (it was required of girls; it's no longer a requirement though perhaps both boys and girls should take cooking, nutrition, budgeting, and child development -- the cooking was fun; today's cooking classes of course would have to integrate foods and practices from diverse cultures in order to meet student needs; we made omelettes and biscuits -- something I later often made for my roommate in New Orleans; we also made: waldorf salad with tacos and iced tea, plus glazed carrots with brown sugar; and broiled grapefruit; we learned to ice a cake, using Crisco shortening to make the frosting because, when we did not add food coloring, the frosting made with CRISCO was sufficiently white; my Mom never stopped fussing about having to buy 'Crisco;' her margarine was "cheaper," "tasted better," "why did my teacher want us to make bad-tasting frosting?," etc.; we learned about nutritional and developmental needs of children but only a little about balancing proteins and amino acids which only came up because I was a vegetarian so I brought up the issue [I wanted to know how to get my amino acids in the combinations I needed; now I understand that you do not have to combine them all in every meal but you should eat all the essential ones daily -- children however have different requirements; people who have certain illnesses do also, and getting the amino acids in combination may be more important after a severe burn or period of starvation]; we home ec students also were entertained by the representatives of companies who sold silverware and crystal, which was kind of fun, to have a day with just promotional stuff for us, a bunch of thirteen- and fourteen- and fifteen-year old potential shoppers and credit card holders/trashers -- fortunately I was not planning to marry at 14 and get everything; my teacher by the way was excellent and taught budgeting and meal planning too). For my home ec project, "Weeds for Dinner," I investigated and cooked various local weeds (most of which -- Spanish Bayonet and prickly pear excepted -- you can't find anymore; these included: ragweed, glasswort, Spanish Bayonet fruit, Spanish Bayonet flowers, prickly pear leaves, cattails, nutgrass, great dock, curled dock, nettles, sea grapes.

For more wild food, check out:, Roger's Mushrooms; November, 2007, I canned some great puffballs (puffballs are about the only easy variety of fungus to identify safely; you just have to get them young, and to make sure there are not ridges sticking up from their fleshy caps but grooves engraved in them [or else you might have a super-deadly variety; it also helps to see some of the characteristic older drying/dried blackish sporecases around too]; see; unfortunately puffballs don't grow much in Florida it seems), using a fire to super-heat the jar -- with the mushrooms in it not with a lot of water in it -- because I have not got a pressure cooker! This method I think works -- but don't count on it! One has to be a bit careful canning -- so make sure that the jar and mushrooms get to 240 degrees! Don't keep anything caned more than a week and keep canned goods out of the sun -- you can try refrigerating even when the can is sealed. Uncanned mushrooms dry nicely and do keep well, and they rehydrate easily. Other great wild foods include: acorns, mimosa seeds, milk thistle, prickly pear leaves and fruit, spanish bayonet flowers, blackberries, and elderberries (see; beware the pictures in this site are graphic and I am not sure that having these graphic images here is completely beneficial -- but we do need to get the word out when research gets ridiculous) Acorns unlike mushrooms are easily identified. These are best picked mostly green, in the fall before Thanksgiving in North Florida. The raw acorn tastes slightly acrid or strong, but to make it wonderful, you just bury it in the ash by a fire for 20 minutes; don't put it in the fire and don't let the shell get black at all; it should roast to a golden color; after that you can eat it as it is out of the shell or take the inner acorn and add it to soup. But finding green acorns on the ground that are not full of holes is work; you have to have a way to get these out of trees -- most in other people's yards, so not a good idea either.

As a kid I dreamed of homesteading -- I was disappointed when at 18 I learned that the Homestead act had ended. It did so in 1974, when I turned 17, due to a lack of land to homestead on, and with it ended many people's dreams of self-sufficiency. The Homestead Act of course made short work of Native American land rights while it brought many other people farms (I'm inclined to say I do not think we manage our farm in terms of the environment as well as Native Americans did, but farms, particularly small ones, are generally better than city concrete, although row crops of a single kind generate dust, host bacteria, and exhaust the soil -- and the addition of too much rain to row crops means more bacteria and bugs; crops of multiple kinds, grown clustered with each other, among charred tree-trunks, and harvested without trucks or any machinery, with intensive labor, Native-American style, certainly do the least damage to the land, but many farmers who aim to make a profit from their farming find this method impractical although it is really the best, just a bit labor intensive).

What we live on -- whether it is land with fauna and flora or asphalt lots and concrete -- affects the weather greatly. Because trees and plants are, like us, largely water, they stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter; the roots hold the water from under the ground; underground water is always cooler than the air in the summer and warmer than it in the winter (it's 70 degrees f most of the year in Florida). Because water's specific heat is higher than that of anything else on earth, it takes a huge number of calories to change its temperature (1 calorie per gram of water to change the temperature by 1 degree). Without the trees holding the water, the land becomes desert, hot in the day and summer, cold at night.

Once in Pennsylvania's hills just before a snowstorm I undertook a three- or four-hour hike through the woods; the snow started falling and I had a bit of a hike, a stream to cross, then another short (less than half-hour) hike still before I reached the road; I was worried because I'd had frostnip before and as a result of that and as a result of warming the frostnip in Pennsylvania's not-so-great tap water, had gotten an infection in my foot. But I did not get even frostnip; hiking in the snow in the woods was incredible. Then I had to walk out on the road. Within minutes both feet were frostbitten. The bridge was the worst place of all; I weakened. Fortunately, it was not all that far from the bridge to a grocery store where I immediately bought dry socks and something liquid to drink, and re-wrapped my feet in the socks plus plastic bags, and somehow managed to make it home -- I did manage to thaw and prevent re-infection of my damaged foot (but that foot or at least some toes on it have just about lived out their life today mainly because of a lyme disease sore).

The year before that hike, passing through Roanoke Rapids (NC), a paper mill town (at the time it was; I've not seen it recently), the sky was black; it was putrid. Then it rained. I took a walk. The rain taste was sickening on my tongue. The plants did not look great either. I asked a lady about the rain. She told me the same sky and then the same rain came everyday except for Sunday when the mill was closed. The black cloud was from the mill. 'How do you live?,' I asked. 'We are used to it.' I thought, 'soon the entire world will be like this,' but wondered why people, probably with years of experience in the same job, with great job stability, did not move away from Roanoke Rapids and find better. I decided though that when the whole world got like this anyone with any sense would kill themselves. However, the air in the U.S. got clearer as time progressed, mainly because the foul-smelling mills, one by one, moved to places like China. I wonder what the air is like in China (Interestingly, the land that makes up the U.S., together with the Atlantic basin, underwent major climate change, in terms of rainfall, in the 17th and 18th centuries!!! Several farmers wrote of hotter dryer summers, colder dryer winters, wetter springs. So there have been climate changes before it seems, for various reasons; supposedly indeed the climate of North America change drastically after the last ice age, and one argument I've read is that the new human inhabitants were hunting game to extinction. Perhaps.)

The street were I grew up is still beautiful though it's been much populated since I lived there. Hopkins, in his poem, "Inversnaid," asked, "What would the world be, once bereft/Of wet and wildness? . . . " Elinor Wylie reminded us, in "Let No Charitable Hope," that we "live by squeezing from a stone/What little nourishment [we] get." Land use and language policy remain the 'political' issues I am at all interested in (except maybe I'm mildly interested in women's health and farming, the latter being related to land use). I'd like to see mixed-use of land rather than areas reserved for the rich and poor (but this may mean a cut in profits; I don't own property so 'mixed-use' does not bother me and it seems preferable to the great losses people took when the housing markets fell; also I think the use of some areas for the rich and some for the poor makes some areas easy targets for drug dealers especially if parents are not vigilant (see also; actually I wrote a longer letter to them and perhaps that's why they did not like it)!


Uranus crossed the horizon a few seconds before I was born (if the time I have for my birth is exactly right that is), which I think is wonderful although some astrologers argue that, if badly aspected, Uranus on the horizon makes a person quite difficult to live with. That may be true, though Uranus is far away and does not pull on anyone nearly so much as does the moon, sun, or Venus.

My mom worked as an astronomer in her youth. What she had to say about the astrology that my sister and I were attracted to was negative at first -- but my Mom is the kind that if her kids think something o.k. she warms a bit and says well it may not be science and it may not be right but what's wrong with fun so long as it's not wrong -- so ultimately for her astrology went into a grey area, and she bought my sister and me a copy of Linda Goodman's Sun Signs to share about the time we entered junior high.

My mom was always pointing out the sky to us. Also our parents usually tried to get me and my three siblings what we asked for for Christmas. Crazy as my mom made us for the sky, what would we ask for? Me, like the princess in the story who asked for the moon for Christmas or a birthday or something, I asked for the moon. My parents did not have the kind of money and power to buy the moon; neither in fact did the king in the story about the princess; if I recall correctly, the princess had to learn that the moon was 'out there', but that when you tried to grab it, it moved, that some things you could not take and put in your collection. My mom, who wanted to be fair to all of us, came up with her own innovative solution to the moon problem: she bought a board with a spring-controlled pad that came with four tiny plastic rockets -- one for each of us -- that could be slipped onto the spring or something and would launch. She told us we could all try ourselves to grab the moon, which is what we all -- all preschoolers at the time -- tried to do (a few of our rockets made it as high as the top of a palm tree, in the direction of the moon maybe -- & what I wanted to know then was, were the plastic missiles getting closer to the moon up there? Thus she economized on the moon. Maybe my Mom's economizing came from her Irish side, as she was like many the descendant of Irish potato famine immigrants on her mother's side; see TremontHouseHotel1860/TremontHotel_1860ClarkCoChicagoWard2IL_census_ancestry.txt) for a census image I transcribed part of; her great grandmother is listed there.!

I thought I had been changed with another child (exchanged with the child who really belonged to my parents) when we moved from one house to another; my sister thought she was a changeling entirely (exchanged with my 'real' sister by a UFO crew; I don't know about my sister and her UFO origin; I do know our move made me a bit insane).

More About My Childhood

My sister and I weren't Barbie fans. We liked troll dolls and stuffed animals only. My sister was the better seamstress (except for buttons, which were and are my specialty, though like my mom when I was a kid, I find threading a needled almost impossible today), but together we made some cute troll doll clothing. However, I stuck to vests, wrap skirts, ponchos, held together by snaps or hook and eye sets.

We played hide-n-seek and 'army' and more in the yard and surrounding neighborhood. As noted, I did not like to be found in hide and seek -- and almost never was, ever, hiding in the bush (or once in a garment bag full of clothing in my parents' closet where I could barely breathe as it was and had to hold my breath completley everytime people walked through my parents' room). These were the days of my hermit dreams and I hoped to take off for real and live in the bush -- and I did spend one night out. However, my bush escape fantasy, in part because of the trolls, gave way to one about the 'North Woods', so that by grade school, I dreamed of running away to the North Woods, or alternately, because I liked chocolate, of running away to live in a gas station bathroom (which I figured I could lock securely when the gas station closed at night) and find work as a babysitter or in a five and dime (I ordered my social security card at seven, writing a letter stating that I needed to go to work, for the chocolate and above all for the independence) and use the money to buy chocolate everyday instead of being offered food I did not like.


I stayed home from school a lot in grades 3-6, with either shyness or sickness (till I turned 12 I frequently had strep throat and high fevers -- 105 degrees, which made me quite fuzzy and affected my sight -- my mom usually gave me iced tea to cool my fevers down, or else took me to a doctor where they did this whole routine; to this day it just baffles me that anyone would deliberately take anything to make himself/herself fuzzy; I broke a few bones too and one would say I was 'accident prone' but really if you think about it, if you were double jointed and flipped your legs repeatedly over your head while hanging from a swingset bar, after a while your hands might slip). When I recovered from a sickness, I would continue taking days off and avoiding my classmates and teachers -- once I deliberately threw up some vitamins my mom gave me just to prove I was too sick for school. And so, I had ample time to walk with the cat & read. I locked myself out of the house once when 'staying home,' so had to call my mom at work using a neighbor's phone -- was she mad at me -- she could not think a really sick child would be out walking around! Once my brother decided to check on me and made up a headache excuse and stayed home too. When my mom left for work we were both left sitting on the sofa and we each turned to the other and asked, "So, are you really sick?" My brother, who had complained for some time about my not going to school daily, explained that he '"just wanted to see what I did everyday." The end of all this was that we -- my brother and I -- had a very nice day wandering around outside till a board with a nail went into my bare foot and my brother had to pull it out with plyers, which resulted in a gush of blood. I washed up my foot and we vowed to not tell my mother but I think she asked about some blood we forgot to clean up. The school lost some of the federal funding it was supposed to get on a per-head-in-attendance count on my account; and thus I saved the U.S. government a bit of tax money. And I did go to school some, & did do my research papers & major projects.

I studied languages, both at home and at school. I would note here that when our parents/grandparents went to school, in the 40's, students in the college-bound track had to take -- at least at some schools -- four years of Latin in addition to other academic subjects; in addition, all college-bound students took four years of a foreign language -- in those days usually German or French were all that were available, but students could choose among those two, at least initially, as ninth graders; that was one choice they were allowed. Of course, few students went to college in those days, but those who did were equal I guess to educated people elsewhere. I'm not saying of course that we should reinstitute a requirement that students study four years each of two foreign languages; if people don't want to do something, I tend to prefer not to make them; however . . . is there any way to 'cajole' them? For more, see

In the meantime, my mom taught science and math and studied for a teaching credential in science; I read her education books (Holt and Kozel, particularly) as well as her students' papers. When I was in fifth grade, I built a model of a molecule using styrofoam, toothpicks, and poster paint (the paint was to color the different atoms; the toothpicks indicated the bonds made in the exchange of electrons) which she used to demonstrate chemical bonding in molecules to her students. In junior high I researched nuclear physics and fusion for a science class. I fell in love with the story of Lewis Slotin, a Canadian researcher who died at the National Laboratory when some uranium slipped but did manage to pull the rocks apart and save Los Alamos. My dad, who was interested in electricity, and tried experiments with it at home (he's pretty careful though -- it's nothing to play with!) got me thinking about what gravity might be and whether or not it might be related to electricity. When teaching in Kuwait I got a kick out of reading a science article entitled "Planes, Trains, and Wormholes", when looking for articles on science that would interest my students, and this fueled my creation of a collection of black hole links and a writing activity on space-time travel that I published online; such space-time travel, propelled by an electromagnetic field, together with ecological disaster, serves to create the setting for my own attempt at science fiction, still in the works (but feel free to look at the beginning of the one story from this collection that I've sort of completely written, "The Vampires of Hoi An" -- I do of course not know enough about either Vietnamese or Chinese culture and the ending is bleak so I've not posted the whole; forbidden content as they say; also do beware the focus in this story is on the environment; hopefully another story will ultimately chronicle the rock-studded saga of the Murdock family's haphazard mostly magnetically controlled trip to the alpha centauri solar system.)

My real love however was languages and I took little science in college -- two astronomy courses, one math; later on I did take a few computer courses and learned enough physics and chemistry to make sense of npn and pnp junctions and equations (see"; basically silicon is a semi-conductor; there are also superconductors and things that don't conduct; silicon is 'doped' with other elements to make it conduct a little more; it is doped with elements with one or more electrons missing from the outer electron shell [ these atoms -- with just a few electrons missing from the outermost shell -- perceive that they have 'holes' in their shell that they need extra electrons to fill and thus, until the perceived holes are filled, attract other electrons changing the charges in the molecule and causing more electricity to flow ] and with elements with just one or two electrons in the outer shell [ thus perceived by the atom as 'extra electrons' -- well not really extra; there is the right number but the outer shell gets tricked into thinking it should be empty because it almost is ]; the doped areas with one or the other element are labelled as 'positive' ['p'] or as 'negative' ['n'] according to whether they tend to lose electrons [ amassing a positive charge ] or collect electrons [ amassing a negative charge ] initially, although as you will learn when you study these, the electrons can flow both ways in the npn or pnp channels in silicon semi-conductor chips).

I left home young, to spend a year working, travelling, living in two different cities (Chicago where I attended high school at Niles North and rented a room at 6408 North Clark Street and later, a room from a family in East Skokie; New Orleans where I lived with a roommate at 1608 St. Charles Street). I then returned home to finish high school, hoping that at home I'd have more time to study.

I put various birth dates on forms, and had other tricks to get by before my eighteenth birthday. In Chicago, I invented a story about my parents' having moved there on a job transfer. I forged their signatures on my school papers; in New Orleans, I lied about my age, moving my birth date back two years, to secure jobs. The font on my drivers' license actually matched that on my parents' antiquated typewriter; as I understood the relationship between the license number and my birth date, I considered altering both on my license, having a talent for lining up type and removing it with ordinary tape, but I realized that that was not small-time stuff, but serious forgery, so never did.

I loved financial independence. When I left for Chicago, I owed a phone bill (about $35.00), and I especially liked being able to pay it back plus plus $100.00, which my mom had no shame about taking; she used it for groceries which I rarely would buy; I weighed 90 lbs at the time but considered myself obese, so tried not to eat anything but diet soda; I don't remember how that came out; my mom I suppose thought we needed food; living at home I gradually gained my weight back, and fell into depression for a while too!

In case you are wondering what I, as a teenager living on my own, thought about most men I met, well, whether I lived at home or away, I have to say that some guys were nice, including guys I went to school with and ran track with (though I was not really up to running track of course, largely because my muscles had wasted as part of my starvation diet; and then the guys' track team was a bit much for me anyway); but whenever I hear the song, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" (, I do think quite seriously about how the second and third stanzas (Beginning with "When the working day is done . . .") might be used -- in spite of the singer's interest in meeting a guy -- I think this song could be used to get a message out that girls want a lot of fun in life not a lot of sex; that high-pressure sex is not what we need when the working day is done.


Besides having worked as a mother's helper, short order cook, waitress, and construction laborer (in New Orleans, on Lyon Street, where I stripped out asbestos insulation from the walls of a 19th century house, and also stripped paint off the wood; see above for more on New Orleans; and later as a hot tar roofer on a Cocoa Beach rooftop -- I was not much help hauling the asphalt felt up the ladder, but I could sweep and also bolt down flashings), I've worked as a cashier/counterperson, maid, dishwasher, farm hand, temporary security guard, clerk, temporary library worker, freelance writer, teacher, and technology assistant. I have also volunteered for a walk-a-thon, as a teacher, and in a free kitchen and a thrift shop.

My most recent post was in a call center, and came with a fifty-mile round-trip drive, a bad head gasket, and no place to live for more than a few days at time; I have a chronic lung infection so live outdoors and had not decided to move permanently anyway; I could not find a campground that would let anyone stay more than a few days at a time; indoors at work the air was not so good anyway; so I lost money; once I quit and winter came my face -- the arteries in the front had gotten swollen -- got better. Just prior to that I'd had brief stints picking greens, picking cucumbers (way too heavy for me and my heart), and picking onions and a short stint as a temporary children's ride operator with Strates Shows. Prior to that I was a VISTA volunteer (technology assistant) in Fort Worth, Texas (2002). After leaving the VISTA position, I went to school, then took the odd jobs listed above, and also volunteered in a thrift shop and in adult basic education/ESL classes. I am of course (in case you did not see the links above) now freelancing for suite 101; see and Hope this will give me job stability -- but English was never my favorite subject (I always preferred math, history, and above all languages, particularly French, but liked working with the literary magazine; thus I still dream of working on search engines or more multimedia -- publicity and advertising but I've no coursework in marketing and only one in advertising during which I had fun designing ads).

As a child my career goal was to either work in publishing or editing (like a cousin's first wife did), or to work in bilingual customer service for an international airline (albeit not as a 'stewardess' as flight attendants were still called then, but in some other post; cousin who also liked languages had found a job with Pan Am before it got into money trouble). I really wanted to use my languages. I got involved however with my undergraduate literary magazine, and that fueled an interest in media and publishing, particularly the academic and literary stuff. When I got into grad school I began to think about editing language learning materials or else maybe getting into computational linguistics, back in the days when there was no major in computational linguistics and few courses related to language processing; decently paid jobs teaching college in the Middle East & working on my Arabic were likewise a draw. As noted I've also done various odd jobs. Having been a vegetarian since age twelve because of animal rights, after graduating from college I had a bout with pernicious anemia and a hematocrit hovering between 20 and 23 (my doctor stared at me and said, "I want to know how you are alive;" my head and stomach hurt all the time and I felt a bit lethargic); I gave up vegetarianism at 30 but became one again because of health only not so strict as I'd been. (For my not great resume, cv/index.html.)

I lived until last August with my one still living cat (the others died of feline AIDS; she had AIDS too but was my little survivor) -- who was taken, cage and all, from her car under a shade tree when I ran an errand (we both have lung-heart problems and cannot live indoors as a result, so she always travelled with me to get fresh air; still looking for her but I've sort of given up hope; I adopted another cat three weeks later, who is a sweetheart and a real flirt, but I miss my companion of so many years, dumb as she is/was; my kitties made me happier than anyone. With my new kitty I've been able to go on living and looking for jobs to pay back my student loan -- but she has caught a lung infection which seems sort of chronic though I might try pepper tree sap on her or pepper tree dried berries. We haven't stabilized where we are living (because of the job situation and the weather; North Florida I suppose is nice between October 5 and the vernal equinox. I never meant to become a 'gypsy' when I finished grad. school, and I do wonder if the 'gypsies' ever meant to become gypsies or if moving from town to town to seek work/etc was simply the most economical solution for them. (Poet Thomas Lux wrote that "[t]here was poverty before money; with a relative and me 'homeless' albeit the 'stop and shop' style and 'bankrolled' by my mother, there was homelessness before bankruptcy I guess but the other gets there soon enough.)

No pix of me available (I can dig up a picture of my shadow trying to take a picture; not great but it was o.k for a try at photography); check out my travelling buddy (Photos/MackieEnroutetoAtlanta.html). (If anyone hears of what happened to Mackie the cat; I'd love to hear more of her as she's been my long-time friend and buddy -- 17-18 years!; it was impossible for me to imagine life alone without my kitty -- plus a kitty is cozy in the winter -- I would love to know what happened to Mack).

I like French, cooking, hiking, computers, working, and staying busy; also spending time with my furry friend (Bettie Mai the pet I adopted when Mackie was taken). I also like working and making money, and would love to pay something on my student loan! (Am also looking for someone to adopt Bettie Mai should my health fail though she now has a chronic bacterial infection herself -- well she caught one in the fall of 2009; never seemed to throw it.)

I don't plan to date or marry; my pet-peaves include over-medication (yes I left home at sixteen but I did not take beer or drugs and I was smart enough to know that when anyone I was around had drugs I was at risk for getting into trouble; so away from home on my own when offered marijuana I refused and took off though once I was cycling and the people kept calling me back and dumb that I was I kept pedaling back to explain my case again to explain that I was not interested and to add that marijuana might affect the lungs too; the last time I was leaving the police were pulling up, I guess because the idiots were blocking the roadway as they tried to convince me that I wanted to smoke; anyway I was pedaling away and the police pulled up to the car and so I rode back and said to the police do you need to talk to me? and they said no and then I turned around but looked back being curious though it was then none of my business and I saw the officer approaching the car and a lot of stuff being tossed out the window as the police officer asked the dudes if they had some i.d. on them; as a child I once made the hospitals turn down the dope the hospitals give for surgery; this was when I had my tonsils out and the amount I got anyway was more than I cared to have -- the whole thing was a zoo and so I ran away after the surgery and though I was eleven and not quite 4 foot eleven inches the hospital and I had quite a fight and in the end their tranquilizers did not work on me; I do think a glass of wine with dinner once or twice/week is o.k.; if you need more than a glass or need wine too many nights a week though it's no longer a good idea -- though cooking using wine a little wine is just fine). I consider myself an absolutist (if Voltaire in the eighteenth century knew that the idea of a savage or primitive man was ridiculous, that every society had its own cultural trappings, and that religions varied because people do, then what can we say about Emily Bronte's 19th century portrait of Heathcliff? Which seems a bit racist? That Emily was just a product of her times? So was Voltaire. And so on. The same for Shakespeare's treatment of women in "The Taming of the Shrew" [but it's drawn from popular comedy about the battles of the sexes, I guess, and there's much to laugh at in it, much as is the case with his treatment of Falstaff in "The Merry Wives"] and his treatment of Jews in "The Merchant of Venice" [but I still love his "Two Gentlemen of Verona;" can we find someone rascist and still appreciate his other writing?; arts are a funny thing; I note Shakespeare gave Othello a bit more dignity but at the time Muslim African traders were trading with European and got respect but still I do not agree that his times excuse him]. Literature's problems aside, today I try to be very careful about telling people which pieces of literature are absolutely not worth reading and which are the absolute best stuff of an era though I've always loved editing and selecting favorites for others; I think it's not as grave a sin as taking over a student's writing is and saying, why if I were you I'd just cross out this and write this and so on -- but when I taught writing, everyone I taught could do great things & I did try to build on their talents, but it is so, so easy to take over someone else's work, you cannot imagine; back to Emily Bronte: Jane Austen is a nineteenth-century author who appeals to me more than Emily Bronte; one essay I like on her is Lionel Trilling, "Regulated Hatred: An Aspect of the Work of Jane Austen" [in D. W. Harding; Regulated Hatred and Other Essays on Jane Austen; see], though I think this is only a tiny aspect of Pride and Prejudice -- one of my favorites; I also like Emma).

I was really excited to pass the CCENT! -- albeit the first exam only (I think the second is harder, but hope to do it within a year). You must know subnetting, absolutely, and you will need to do the base 10 to base 2 conversions so you can check for the subnet mask and the broadcast address, as well as the subnet address; that's most of it. (You cannot assign either the subnet or the broadcast address to an interface! So you have to check for these, and for where the subnet begins and ends so you can tell if hosts, etc. are on the right subnet. For some of my study materials, see the files in the folder, CISCO!) The South Carolina library was very helpful in letting me access the computer there up to two hours/day, mostly to study; but I also ran up quite a few hundred dollars on a credit card studying elsewhere [and the Banks have been generous in providing credit but who can afford this if he/she does not get a job?]

Graduate Research

I took Arabic while studying for my M.A. (but never got too good at it!) so as to be better qualified to investigate the Arabic poets' influence on the trobadors (which made for one grad school paper--where I discussed "anacrusis" in poetry, '[a]quel pe que porta penden', or 'that foot that dangled [over]' as Trobador Piere d'Alverne put it in his satire of the trobadors and their verse styles, "Chantarai d'aquestz trobadors"; in my paper I also compared some Mozarabic and Gallego verse; and analyzed in-depth the Spanish "-iyya" suffix of all things--I do not know why that in particular--I guess because I found an article discussing Arabic influence on Spanish with a discussion of 'iyya'--not the best discussion of it either! All this means that in my paper I missed entirely--though I had seen 'al-Khansa's work by that time [first as an undergrad when I sat in on a Winter Term course taught by Dr. Sununu, and then as a grad. when I worked through a text of 'al-Khansaa in order to create a poetic 'translation'] -- the similarity between one of 'al-Khansaa's laments for her brother, "Inniy 'ariq-tu fa-bittu l-layla sahiritan," and Bertran de Born's planh ["lament"] for the Young King [Richard Lion Heart's son, killed by his father as a result of de Born's nationalist (I think) instigation apparently], "Si tuit li dolh, e.l plor, e.l marrimen;" even the rhyme scheme matches!). (For a translation I did of 'al-Khansaa from classical Arabic, go to ENGLISH_LANG_POETRY/TRANSLATIONS/InniyAriqtubyalKhansaa.html; this is from the 'al-Khansaa poem mentioned above; it's my only real translation I did from Arabic; I did fool a bit with Mozarabic, but translating from Arabic is quite tedious for me. For a translation I did as an undergraduate from Occitan, of one of my favorite trobador poems ever [done for my degree in English--although not counting my thesis and my few hours of independent work translating the trobadors which counted as English hours, I actually earned more undergraduate hours in Romance languages than in English, but was still an English major as that and not Romance languages was the department for anyone who wanted to do creative English translations!], go to, ENGLISH_LANG_POETRY/TRANSLATIONS/trobadors/Guilhem_posdechantar.html.)

While pursuing my M.A., since I was interested in Arabic and in the relationships between Arabic poetry and that of the trobadors, and since I was a native speaker of English, I began considering earning my living by teaching English as a second language in the Arabian Gulf. I was also interested in publishing -- I had become so as an undergrad when involved with my college's literary magazine.

I worked my way through teaching half time most semesters and also had some funding for tuition from my Mom. I was briefly involved with politics which took anywhere from 1 hour to 4 hours/month most months; some months I managed to get out of all political meetings; the politics involved meetings, manning a table about Lebanon, and two days registering voters (without identifying a political interest or candidate; we just asked people as they entered the store if they were registered to vote in our county and if not if they were interested in doing so, and if so if they wanted to register as Republican, Democrat, or Independent; I had a lot of people wanting to be Independent so I reminded them that while in some states, such as Ohio at the time, Independents had the right to vote in either primary this was not so in Florida so unless their particular affiliation besides Independent -- if they had one -- organized its own primary they would not have that option; this way I discouraged a few -- I just wanted to make sure they did not throw away their right to vote in a primary).

After earning my M.A., I travelled briefly, substitute teaching a day in Istanbul (I had an offer of a longer tenure in teaching plus a shack-up with another teacher to save money), visiting my Arabic teacher from UF in the West Bank, and then applying at a couple of schools in Egypt, which is where I thought I wanted to work most, for my Arabic and my safety (I did not trust Palestine-Israel though there were no incidents when I was there; it was nice), but Egypt was incredibly hot, even in winter.

In Palestine-Israel, I discovered that Hebrew numbers and counting were a lot like Arabic (not surprising) and Yiddish was even possible to understand if you also knew German, and so at the shops I tried my best to count and greet in all at the various businesses and then ask the merchants which they preferred. They all retorted with the same question: why did I need to know their preference?

I got another take on things from a businessman in the West Bank. He was really nice. He said to me, "Is there anything you want for?" There were two things at the time I wanted for: (1), a car of my own to keep my goods in when I travelled as I tend to lose things (I carry a lot) and lost things taking buses and cabs and what's more travelling in the West Bank made me nervous; (2), water as I had amoebic dysentery (which I'd gotten when the water was off in Turkey; I went ahead and looked all over Istanbul and finally found one tap on and filled my jugs daily to make sure I had plenty of free water; I assume that was the tap that fixed me up); the water was off one day in the West Bank or else my teacher's family shut it off to save money; the family had lemon trees growing about in their garden and my teacher knowing I was not well made me several servings of fresh lemonade which were good, but not enough considering my case of dysentery. (Fortunately for me the water went on that night.)

However being tired, frightened, and dehydrated, I said that I wanted for nothing. He replied to me, "I want for nothing either. So what are people fighting over?" And I said I did not know; it was dumb. He agreed and added that any time I was travelling I should stop at his shop and rest. He did a lot to make me feel welcome outside his shop where I waited for a taxi or bus (whichever came) and did not try to sell me anything. "Happy ever after in the market place" I guess though I really have not got any money.

After that, I taught in Los Angeles, and later, for a year, in the Arabian Gulf; upon returning to the States from the Gulf, I returned to Grad School where I earned a specialist's degree in education, focusing on language policy and writing communities. I investigated bilingualism and identity for one of my courses; see: RapLanguageIdentity/Jemison.html. I also took courses in line editing and Library/Information Science with the hope of going into publishing or the 'IT' field, rather than simply teaching at the college level, at low wages.

Computers in My Life

Prior to going for my specialist's, when I first got into grad school (for the M.A.), I had a chance to attend a talk on "Eliza" (a cute but pretty useless little "Doctor"-patient conversation program; check it out--I always get a kick of what it can't do when you get enough pronouns and ask it enough questions about why it is saying x, y, z, to you:; now known as "The Doctor"), but as you can see this is really basic stuff--all Eliza does is rephrase your words or try to, or else Eliza interjects some pat phrases it's been trained to interject; sometimes Eliza, well, you try talking with Eliza. If you carry on for a while you can see just how long it takes before Eliza starts repeating it (him? her?) self--hopefully much less time than it would take for you to start repeating yourself in a conversation--unless someone were getting you pretty exasperated.

[Eliza]Hello, I am Eliza.
[Me] Hi. I am Me.
[Eliza] How long have you been you?
[Me] I suppose I have been me all my life; how long have you been Eliza?
[Eliza] {Lost exact words. Something to the effect that we were talking about me not Eliza, which I would not have gathered from the conversation; we both just said Hi; why does that make the conversation about me? It's not there in the referents; the program writer assumes that anyone coming to Eliza knows that they are coming to a 'computerized psychoanlysis' and that the subject must be them not the computer program.}
[Me]Well, it was a conversation, two-way I thought, but anyway, I answered your question about me. Any others? {Meaning, 'any other questions?'}
[Eliza] Why are you concerned about my question about you. Any others?
[Me] I'm not concerned about your question about me; I answered it as you asked. Then asked {I omitted 'I' here}, 'Any others?' But tell me, why did you ask, 'any others?'
[Eliza] Did you come to me because you are not concerned about my question about you; you answered it as me asked Then asked, 'Any others?' But tell me, why did me ask, 'any others?' {Note: "Did you come to me because . . . " is standard Eliza repertoire.}
[Eliza] No I did not come to you because of your question, which I did not anticipate. And I'm not sure why you asked, 'any others?' (By the way, I think the pronoun you want here is 'I.')
[Eliza] Did you come to me because you are not sure why me asked, 'any others? ' (By the way, you think the pronoun me want here is 'I'.)?

And for Conversation Two

[Eliza] Hello, I am Eliza.
[Me] Hello, I am CE.
[Eliza] Did you come to me because you are CE?
[Me] "Did I come to you because I am CE?" What kind of a question is that to ask?
[Eliza] Do you enjoy being CE?" What kind of a question is that to ask?
[Me] I guess I enjoy being CE. There is no one else I would want to be. But I do not understand the quotation mark at the end of CE?. And why did you repeat my question, "What kind of a question is that to ask?"
[Eliza] Oh . . . repeat your question, "What kind of a question is that to ask?
[Me] Yes, why did you repeat that?
[Eliza] We were discussing you, not me.
[Me] Perhaps. But you repeated my question. I answered your second question, in any case (the one about enjoying being CE). I could not understand your first question.
[Eliza] You're really not talking about me, are you?
{Eliza has a bit of a paranoid personality; but I've really tried to be gentle this second session.}
[Me] Yes I am.
[Eliza] How long have you been ?
[Me] Do you mean, 'How long have I been talking about you?'
[Eliza] Oh . . . mean, 'How long have you been talking about me?'
[Me] Yes, do you mean that?
[Eliza] We were discussing you, not me.
[Me] No you and I were both discussing you.
[Eliza] You're really not talking about me, are you?
[Me] Yes I am, and so are you, but I've got to go.
[Eliza] Would you prefer if I were not but you've got to go?

Compared to today's search engines, which process the text you type in, sort out words like 'or' and 'and,' then check the text you've entered against text strings for the more common searches to see if yours is one of those, and use various algorithms to try to find results with the most relevant information (how do they do this? I gather one thing is the number of links to a site from other sites; my guess is that hopefully sometimes engines might even be 'fed' various search strings together with statistics for the next page choices searchers made for each string, and they then attempt to 'match' to sites chosen to the 'search strings,' analyze text and markup at the selected sites and compare it to the search query string, and try to 'discern' or 'learn' from these examples what makes a good match; I'm not sure? but this is a possible way), Eliza is just basic stuff.

Still Eliza seemed like an interesting idea. I was interested in discourse and rhetoric, and "Eliza" got me interested in how discourse analysis might help us 'teach' computers to converse in a bit more sophisticated way (conversing I cannot always do myself)--but that was the limit of my interest. And computers were pretty alien toys to me, in spite of the fact that my father, as a technician, helped trouble-shoot them. (I'd been offered a chance to learn some minimal mainframe computing in the 70's as an undergraduate teaching assistant but figured that it would take me away from my real work, & that I did not have the math & science background. Plus with typing skills, a great academic record, several languages, and plenty of experience editing and assisting with the college literary magazine, I did not expect to find that tight a job market I found upon graduation; apparently today you have got to stay abreast of the latest technology, and I think being young helps too.)

I finally learned to use computers when I was writing my M.A. thesis. As text processors they were useful to someone who had had to retype so many pages when the lift-off and white out got overwhelming; with computertized word processing there are so many ways you can move text around, compare text, rewrite text, etc.

This was in the 80's and by the 80's, computers were actually getting to be more the norm for everyone. I would have had to pay to have had an account where my stuff was formatted nicely and printed on a laser printer as required by the graduate school for a thesis, but I found it more convenient to use a free account with dot matrix print-outs where I just typed up a few hand outs for my students that did not need to be formatted in a particular style. My Dad was the real pioneer. He bought a pc maybe at the end of 1982 or early 1983, when they first came out. Dad encouraged me to learn a word processing program he had--and I used that to write my thesis and apply for jobs, so that I never had to pay for a computer account but I had to pay for trips home (I'd never been one to run back between school and home--even on holidays; so the semester I did that was unique; it was nice in that I had a way to get away from the town I studied in where politics I'd been involved in had gotten 'overwhelming;' it also was nice because I really did not feel comfortable learning computing and so was lucky to have my Dad.) I had to phonetically transcribe Arabic texts, and knew of no system for doing so myself and of no special phonetic characters though I am sure they existed by then; fortunately my Dad likes to try new things with computing and has some programming skills; I designed the symbols based on symbols used to transcribe Arabic that I had seen and the characters available on a standard typewriter (symboles used included a raised c, to indicate a pharyngeal, standard English symbols for the consonants t, d, and s, with dots under them to indicate pharyngealization, etc.; indeed, I'd already been rolling the paper in my antiquated typewriter up to insert the c or moving it back a half-space and rolling the paper down to put in a dot and so on); my Dad wrote simple programs for his computer to create these, which we stored on a tape drive. We had to stop the daisy wheel printer however, anyway, to change the print wheel because we used two fonts--I think one for transcriptions and one for the thesis. I attended TESOL conferences and bought a book, Linguistics, Computers, and the Language Teacher, and also got briefly exposed to LISP. After getting my M.A. I went to all the temporary agencies and took their word processing tests and quickly started learning MS WordPerfect (I had no luck with the temporary agencies but did find a few temporary positions on my own). But, after that, I had some computer accounts sabotaged and began to avoid computers.

Even as I started avoiding computers, I considered re-enrolling in graduate school, in computing this time, and based on test scores only since I could not get many of the programs that I tried writing to work that well and so would not get in for my programs; so I bought a sample GRE computer science exam from ETS--that is a hard copy of one of the released ones--although I did not buy any software since I did not own a computer; with the GRE booklet for the released exam, I embarked on a study program for the exam: I learned base 3 terniary--it's like binary code except today's technology can differentiate between high voltage, negative voltage, and neutral voltage, and base 3 tries to make use of that; you count in it as follows: (1 [written as: 1]), (2: 3-1 [written: 1-1]), (3: 3 [= 10]), (4: 3+1 [= 11]), (5: 9-3-1 [= 1-1-1]), (6: 9-3 [= 1-10]), (7: 9-3+1 [= 1-11]), and so on--a talent that I imagine is about useless since no one has ever figured out how to convert efficiently between this system and binary code. However, I did poorly on the GRE subject exam, scoring below the 50th percentile (I scored somewhere around 38--I'd taken courses in MS Office, Basic, etc, and had also helped my Dad write a program in MS Basic, but the only working compiler I'd ever used was for Basic--hardly what was on the exam; it was PC Assembler, Fortran which I'd never seen, Pascal, and C++ at that time); I thus realized graduate school in computing was not for me; after that I took two undergradudate computer courses--one in Data Structures, one in Architecture, & they made sense but still I felt some accounts had been sabotaged--in fact I'm sure of it myself whatever others think because I traced through my code and showed what the outputs should have been at each step and no I did not mess up semi-colons or brackets.

I completely rejected email when my parents asked me to get it to keep in touch with them when I left to teach in Kuwait in 1996-97 (my Dad was already using email at home, but I bought calling cards and sent out letters). Ultimately, however, I learned to use email and lists from a co-worker in Kuwait when I wanted to use a list to search for jobs. I got email, subscribed to a list of employment opportunities, but that was all; I never even looked at the web, though my students in Kuwait had brought me sometimes colorful print outs with URL's on them from official sites on the web and such when asked for 'research papers' (one very good student synthesized information from several sources, books in the library primarily as he'd asked me where to go and all I knew was the library; I wanted him to get one more source, and when he asked where, I finally told him to ask a professor, rather than suggesting he look up anything on the internet; and of course, when he asked the professor, the professor said, 'Let me see what you have.' The student did so, and the professor said, 'that's all you need.' So much for research). I did not even need to go online to check people's work--because the Kuwaiti students were pretty open about where they printed their 'reports' from--and they printed the pictures and URL's too for me.

I finally learned to use the internet and the www to do some graduate research when I returned to the States and began working on my degree in education (I had looked at studies in education and advertising before deciding on a major; I would not even look at computing--as, a little technical error in computing can mess up your grades completely! and so can a virus!). I then began viewing the source code of web pages. When the chance came, I took a class in educational media, where we were, among other things, given a template for creating a personal web page; I created the page then went to Dave Raggett's tutorial at the w3c, reviewed it, and used the information in it to help me make some changes to the basic template. (I was really happy with the web at that point, absolutely in love, when my page displayed o.k.; but I kept it off-line.) For one course, I had to do a project to share with the class, and feeling brave after my initial HTML page had turned out o.k. (HTML is really pretty robust though, so if you make mistakes, something will display--so learning html may be in a lot of people's reach; however the same is not true for all computing!), I opted to create a web site; my school would have hosted my site so long as I was a student there, but I was about to graduate; I knew there was at least a good place or two to hang such sites, because people had shared sites in my graduate classes, but I could not think of a host name (I'm terrible at names, better at rhythm); so I used a search engine and ended up at a host who has now gone out of business. Initially, there was a small advertisement at my site; my site dealt with HIV. Soon the advertisement showed gals in just whatever, not much, the gals were maybe in their twenties or thirties, but they were advertised as seventeen-year-old minors; the goal was to direct visitors to a porn site, presumably "kiddie porn" but sorry I don't know I was sort of horrified about clicking on it (I can't recall if I tried to turn my host in--perhaps); the ads got bigger and bigger too, and so I started paying for an ad-free site. I had a cgi-bin, everything, for $4.00/month, and was about to learn how to format the content sent via forms using a page in the cgi-bin--I thought I was about to learn this at least--when my host went out of business in February of 2002! Fortunately, I had my whole site on a diskette, and so searched again for a new host.

The web is here, for good or for ill. (The good side is summed up for me maybe in Stevens's poem, "The Emperor of Ice Cream"--though Stevens did not write about the web at all of course. Moreover, the web does help get some stuff off of the streets.)

A much-cited poem by Hetty Hughes discusses the bad effects of too much texting (see "Further discussion,/txtin iz messin;" winner of 2001 Guardian poetry contest; reprinted in Crispin Thurlow, with Alex Brown, Part 4, "Generation Txt? The sociolinguisticsof young people's text-messaging," in Discourse Analysis Online, Some people lament the sparseness of the language in these messages (but some uses of language are fresh and original too). The new media afford more opportunities for 'back-and-forth' social interaction, and also afford a space to hide behind, and not just from parents and others, but from the message recipients (but watch out; as some online writers point out, archives of messages can persist a long time and ip's of internet traffic are obtainable too).

One use of the internet is online collaboration--that is online data crunching, spread sheets, news groups & discussions, search tools, translations of content--about the environment & bio issues in particular--this saves repetitive research & lets people around the world who want to save their environments, coasts, etc., and who want to protect their health and drinking water, learn what worked and what did not in other communities with similar environments. (For example, Florida, like Africa, now has swatches of savanna-like terrain, now that parts of Florida have been dried by repeated droughts; other parts of both Africa and Florida are still wet & swampy; the savanna-like terrain--grasses, with palms and scrub, plus alkaline soil & a dry season in the winter--in the SE extends into part of East Georgia too. Although the U.S. drinking water has--until recently in places like Pennsylvania--been of 'first world' quality, perhaps, someday, communities in Florida and Georgia and Africa will be collaborating together on how to deal with similar drinking water problems--the chance to learn from other's experiences online is really better than having to live them all over too. Students can also collaborate online with students around the globe with similar interests.)

Text is parsed on the internet primarily for two ends: (1), search queries people input are parsed in order to perform searches on them; and (2), online content is parsed in order to translate it into another language). Text-parsing will be important in online collaboration: machine translation can allow more people to collaborate easily and can allow documents created in one language to be shared in other languages; better text parsing can also allow collaborators to retrieve the reports, discussion threads, and other text that best fit their queries.

I am interested in seeing what role text and genre (Hallidayan topic-comment/theme-rheme and neo-Hallidayan) analysis plays, or might play in online text parsing. Because information about gender, case, and number provided with pronouns and verbs, varies from language to language, text parsers/translators often have trouble identifying the correct 'gender' (m, f, neuter), 'case' (nominative, oblique, etc), and 'number' (singular, dual, plural, are the options I know of for 'number') when translating a pronoun or verb. It's necessary to go back into the sentence and find the noun phrase that a pronoun refers to or that indicates the doer or recipient of verbal action. (Hopefully, more on this to come; someone once said, "ideas are a dime a dozen," but I did briefly try to write an algorithm for parsing text using topic-comment, theme-rheme analysis . . . I note also that a simple knowledge of the genre--whether we are dealing with dialogue, monologue, drama, oratory, or other--is helpful in identifying pronoun referents -- the specifics of this latter came to me thanks to a conversation about including information about whether a text was oral or written, and/or about its genre in the language tags, held at a list I sometimes participate in and then in private.)

Halliday is the pioneer of topic-comment grammar, with his analysis of Darwin's Origin of the Species; I'll never produce such an elegant analysis, but for fun I'll try to analyze the paragraph above:

"As far as online text parsing goes" actually introduces the topic of the paragraph; it seems to me that in every language, whether it's ergative or sov (subject, object, verb) or svo (subject, verb, object), or whatever, a sentence begins with the topic! That's the neat thing about topic-comment grammar! Topic-comment grammar is really suited to the way people speak (writing allows a few convolutions of the topic-comment structure but speech is built on it!). The whole clause that follows the topic, beginning with "I" and ending with "might play" is of course the comment, which further elaborates on the topic, "online text parsing" (which was introduced by a topicalizer, "As far as . . .goes"). The first word in the 'comment', "I", however, is a new sub-topic itself within the comment, with a comment following it; it's worth noting that this clause beginning with 'I' is in standard English svo (subject, verb, object/complement) order.

How would a machine or program know to break the English up this way? My idea is that text is parsed with the aid of a dictionary (thus nouns, pronouns, articles, etc. can be identified), and with a simple phrasal grammar designed to break language up into noun-phrases and other phrases--which are then parsed as either topics or comments! The big problem is you have to keep parsing phrases recursively when they can be treated as topics or comments and yet also contain several smaller topics and/or comments within--which does not seem like a problem to me, but maybe it is, in terms of processor-workload. For example, if you look at the clause beginning with "I" you'll soon find that the comment on "I" contains some new sub-topics when it's broken up. (NOTE: "I" is the only pronoun and, unlike the English pronoun "it" or like "he" or "she" in some languages, whom "I" refers to here is abundantly clear, and there's no need to search or trace backwards through the text from where "I" appears to identify that it [that is, "I"] refers to the speaker/writer, who is extraneous to the text in this case! [Of course, a reference to someone extraneous to the text may be confusing for a text-parsing program in some instances.] But pronouns like "it," "he," "she," when they refer to something identified in the text itself, do need to be traced!) (For my effort at analyzing the paragraph above, see topiccommentgrammartry/textanalysistry.txt; see also; however this effort is still in the works!)

I'm a feminist, whatever Koltes thought of women.* "I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail . . ./a hammer than a nail" (quoted from Simon & Garfunkle's "El Condor Pasa") -- but why does anyone have to hammer anyone anyway, he, she, whatever? But anyway, I dated in grad school but dating was a flop with me, and marriage was not for me -- I am sure I am difficult by now to live with.

Student Loan Blog: My Life in Student Loans

"Life is unsure, and death, we learn,
gives no redress in any event.

(from Derek Mahon, "Legacies: After Villon," in Night-crossing.)

When I took my teaching job in Kuwait, my goal was to pay off some small credit card debt plus the balance of an undergrad. loan, save enough money for a car, and to find jobs and credit easier to secure as a solvent person. I never dreamed I'd return home to run up the debts I did.

My goals now are to: (1), avoid the marriage bed (and avoid sex too); (2), repay my student loan.

In the U.S., anyone who is accepted to either a degree or a teacher credentialling program, and who is in good standing & making satisfactory progress toward a degree (generally, making satisfactory progress involves taking at least six hours/semester; in the 70's and 80's it often involved taking twelve; most of this coursework has to fulfill degree requirements--no room for a lot of electives) can get a loan. This makes higher education relatively accessible. (I'm not sure how Europe works. I suppose some schools in Europe are quite selective; some here are too; but ???) Grants at the graduate level where I was however (you could get up to $2500/year in grants) required you to take 12 hours/semester (this varied with the school), and I think teach.

Loans may be difficult to repay if you do not take up the right major (I took up languages, literature, and linguistics, not the smartest major if you need to repay a loan I note because the number of graduates exceeds the number of jobs available in these fields; however I did take some computer courses too--it may be foolish to take a loan at all or go to college at all if you plan to take up these majors--perhaps it will look better on your credit in the long run to not take a loan, to simply finish high school and go straight to work; however high school at least seems essential, even in rural areas these days!--but I am now much more skeptical about higher education than I was growing up, when I was taught that what I needed to do was do well in school and get a scholarship to college and do well there and the future was mine-and perhaps had I been college age when I was a kid it might have been mine with a degree; on the other hand, if you are from a minority group where college education is not that common, it might be of some use to you to be one of the few in your group who has an education; certain professions, such as teaching, media, etc., do need college educated minorities probably -- you have to have a multiracial news crew for example -- but on the other hand, the news media is not short of most minority groups either [there are still groups that are underrepresented on the news though]; otherwise, unless you are good at math and planning to study computers or maybe one of the health fields you are gambling (and certain fields, such as law, are the worst)! On the other hand, even in a field where maybe 30% or more of the graduates don't get jobs in field, you can sometimes create a niche somewhere -- if you are creative and resourceful, if it's what you really, really want to do; of course it helps to have the financial resources to struggle till you do . . . . For more on this attitude, see Jay MacLeod's study, Ain't No Makin' It [reviewed at I would not hope to see anyone in jail however simply for having this attitude or for lacking it [I've been both positive and negative about the future, but have moved toward the negative end]--which is where McLeod found a number of his 'informants' -- those who hoped for a future and those who did not -- when he revisited them as adults; I do alas to this day question MacLeod's letting the underaged young men he worked with push him into buying them so much to drink at one event -- it seems to me he could have offered hip music, tried to find a band, anything else, to lure them to work with him, but anyway, it's worth noting that MacLeod was quite quite young when he did this study; young for a graduate school student, he was hardly any older than the seventeen-year-olds he worked with and too bookish to know how to deal with street-smart kids; for more commentary on MacLeod's study of young people and their various attitudes, see [a slightly different view of MacLeod], and -- apparently MacLeod did not find that members of either group had moved up the socioeconomic ladder at all when he revisited Clarendon Heights [drugs and drug money in the neighborhood no doubt lured even those who thought they might climb the socioeconomic ladder] -- the question is though does the researcher have a job to just observe or to try to change things as well, and to what extent did McLeod -- who was a really young and really bookish grad. student [I remember the stresses of college, things like hazing when you are around other youth near to you in age, so I do sort of think I understand what McLeod went through working with these teenagers] -- really try to fill both roles?).

I note that, according to Khandker, Lavy, and Filmer's World Bank-financed study of Moroccan census data -- see the Morocco Living Standards Survey (MLSS) 1990/91 (, literacy at least in rural Morocco seems to be associated with 'demand-side' factors, that is with job opportunities and rural development, more than with 'supply-side' factors such as access and teacher education (although 'supply-side' factors have some role); if demand-side factors are also critical factors in literacy in more 'developed' countries, perhaps illiteracy in slums in these countries is a function of slum economics; slum children do learn some things -- those most critical for survival in their neighborhoods perhaps: in a study of young Los Angeles children, Taking the Literacy Walk, the researchers discovered that six- and seven-year olds were quite skilled readers and interpreters of the gang symbols and graffitti in their neighborhoods; all the same, in a tight job market, some people do attend school.

I personally do not support our going to a program where education is totally free (but a year of free higher education here would be great; in any case, I think the main thing is to get more people to take high school seriously & get through), though I'd like to see more options for getting parts of loans forgiven (VISTA/Americorps is one). I do note that if the loan program collapses, the schools that rely on it will collapse too; because a lot of their tuition and students have financial aid; without them and those bank loans, enrollment declines & with that course offerings & so on!

I've had a ton of schemes for repaying my own loans.

Prior to obtaining the more recent loans, after leaving my job in L.A., I was left with about $2500 in undergrad debt. Determined to repay it and a credit card, in 1996, before it became so difficult for single childless folk to obtain food stamps, I went down to the food stamp office to get what I could--though my mother was paying bills for me and sending money so that I could only get maybe $70.00/month (even though Mom at that point got me a $200.00 credit card which she paid monthly instead of giving me money outright. The food stamp office made me bring in a ton of paperwork. I finally got approved. As soon as I got the stamps, I went down and bought $10.00 of groceries--wheat flour, yeast, oil , some dried prunes, lemons (we don't want scurvy here; the first three ingredients on this list were for fried bread). The rest of the stamps I determined to cash--buy pop or something twice/day where I would get a large amount of change on a dollar without spending many stamps; this cut the remainder of my stamps in half, but what was left I was able to use to pay student loan interest and also to straighten out my credit. And yes, I ate for four months on about ten dollars/month, plus soda pop, with the assistance of a little wild food (prickly pear leaves, which because I was job hunting, I did not clean up too mahy of, and blackberries when they were in season). At the end of the four months I felt malnourished but vindicated--I had a job offer in Kuwait! All of the $200/month credit card that my mom paid every month I had spent on faxes, calling cards, a TESOL conference, postage, etc, in an effort to secure the job in Kuwait. When I got to Kuwait I suppose they thought they were going to feed me. However, the one thing I wanted when I got there was fresh spinach salad, but I could find fresh spinach leaves nowhere in the country. For a while I had a working refrigerator at least, and at night made up a leek/onion soup which I froze into separate 'tupperware-style' containers and froze; in the mornings I cooked the contents of one of the containers with some frozen farmer's cheese and so I had soup. But the refrigerator quit. There was no way that my stomach would tolerate the only vegetarian street food--the fried samosas. So that was it for me. In a short while, my size 12 suit fell off my five-foot-seven frame the minute I tried to pin it on. Skin hung from my leg bones. Miraculously, before returning at the end of the year, I went on a binge, eating turkey sandwiches with mayonnaise out everyday (violating my vegetarian ethics) and gained the weight back. Still, when I got home, for a month I made spinach salad everyday.

I later secured a job with VISTA/Americorps, after living in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, since the cats had feline AIDS but I did not know what supplements would help for sure, I had used money from my mom to buy supplements and spent my days foraging the wilds for leaves, grasses, flowers, pine cones and needles (which I used in soap for washing the household up). I lived off almost nothing but the wild food and a little bag of cornmeal for four months and the sugar I had bought to sweeten the concoctions I made for the cats. I was thin but strong but, because of the sugar (which I ultimately decided to discontinue for both myself and the cats), was a bit hypoglycemic. However, I think I never ate more vitamins than I found in those wild plants. After that I worked for VISTA/Americorps, getting up to clean, walk the cats, take a walk, and fry up potatoes and onions (sometimes wild onions) and then drive to work where I stayed till midnight or often three a.m., then drove home stopping at Taco Bell (which closed at four) for a bean burrito. VISTA, if you can work the whole year, provides an education award -- but with $3000 the first month in car repair bills & the car still not working, I resigned after a few months; I got the car repaired only after quitting -- coincidence maybe?; but how could I commute the 40 miles to work and then to various job sites without it?? I needed to move closer of course, but my room was cheap -- a little wierd but cheap, and near some trails. I continued to volunteer for a bit after resigning, but gave up the education award of course.

More recently I packed (not picked) peppers and eggplants (amazingly packing was hard on my heart -- and more; for some reason one guy kept knocking boxes into my face/head -- accidentally I'd like to say?? at least my boss was nice and I did make money at this position because of the impossible twelve-hour days and the relatively short driving distance), picked greens (briefly, the greens were ruined by rains) and cucumbers (on the farm where I picked greens--I did this one day; these were way too heavy, causing chest pains, etc.--actually I think it's a jaw that's messing up my chest); I was also too slow sorting through the greens rotted by the rains about 7 weeks back or so; the turnip greens and some of the cabbage was rotten; the stuff coming now is a bit better I see, finally), and onions (also briefly; I was not strong enough to stay long in the field; to stay in the field, you have to clip about 30 buckets/hour throwing aside onions that are rotten or gone to seed & then dump those onto a conveyor or into a truck; you file [to sharpen] your clippers before starting in the morning--while waiting for the fields to dry, on breaks--which are or are not paid; if you can't work fast enough & make the hourly rate, they are paid; but if you are fast and make the piece wages that exceed the hourly minimum, since you don't pick any onions during the breaks and thus don't increase your daily wages by doing so, breaks are most useful for sharpening clippers. Thus I [who picked 10-20 buckets an hour and shook trying to get the bucket up to the truck unless one of the guys helped me which half the time they did] was transferred to the warehouse which was quite dusty and where I had lung problems; the Mexicans on the other picked 39-60 buckets an hour often enough I'm told; if unions came in and paid them more benefits though I'm afraid the farmers would go bankrupt). My last job involved peppers (good for your heart) and eggplant; the work was easier & I was o.k. finally with packing but 12 hour days of lifting boxes, any boxes, 6 or 7 days is too much for a heart-lung infection I've finally realized! Check out the vocabulary we exchanged (mostly in the mornings waiting for the fields to dry and occasionally on our bus back from the fields, when I rode it) VidaliaVocabulary/SpanishEnglishVocab.htm! I got my most recent call-center job because they needed people for a French call blitz and also for the 'cash for clunkers' blitz--and so I got hired; I'd never used the word 'taux d'interet' ('interest rate') so I pronounced it wrong at first and had to look up the pronunciation online. I don't think my French accent is quite right and it's certainly not Canadian, and both the French call blitz and the 'cash for clunkers' programs are done (there may be more call blitzes of course, who knows?), and it's quite a drive--25 miles each way--which with my not much more than 10 miles/gal transmission job that AAMCO apparently won't fix though it's under warranty and my oil spewing head (the head is not so bad as it sounds; it's just that it sends out oil; there's an issue with the catalytic converter now too--someone told me it was going and it went after all the driving!!); breaks are supposed to be short but they are my one chance to get outdoors and air out my heart/lungs, which need it (I think I've been using an extra 5 minutes most days, sometimes 10 but I try not to)! Waiting for calls to come in is boring (I've never cared for the phone anyway, except as a grade schooler when I was interested in the more technical side of it; for example, in the old days, before the circuitry was speeded up, if one gently pressed the hang-up button, rapidly, and not quite completely down, and did not let it quite completely up, one could dial 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.; the numbers from 11-17, not on your keypad obviously, made test tones; after 17, as I recall, these test tones recycled; I also liked unscrewing the receiver and speaker parts and examining them; I mostly played alone but I did, with my siblings and some neighbor children, create the 'Quizzay Question Club'--where we actually called people we found in the phone book when our parents were out; we learned to pick from the phone number who was going to be nice to us and who was going to get mad or say we ought to get in trouble; we asked a question and whatever the person we called said in reply, we gave him/her a number to call to claim a "free surprise;" it was a test number and made lots of wild squeaks and such; of course I take computer crime seriously; don't get the idea from reading this that I think it's a joke, but I don't think we caused any harm); however, you can clean your keypad or try to read your manual to pass the time, whatever. I have health problems but absolutely want to find my space in the workplace; I think my best bet would be to find part-time work that I could do freelancing (I'd just have to get a laptop and a good internet connection!).

Georgia, of course, was not the easiest state to work in. I got sick from a supplement I got from an outfit in Atlanta, and have breathing problems; I put mesh on my car windows and I can breathe in the car for many hours with the fan going (though the absolute best place for me to sleep is outside on a picnic table or cartop, honestly; even to some degree in the rain). But that is true when the car is mostly empty; once I load it up with a tent, a grill, etc., I can't breathe! By morning I always have to open the car or I get headaches. But Georgia is so ridiculous about people sleeping in their car, and so ridiculous about people staying more than a few days at campsites -- the result is that, when I farmed, I had to move out of my campsite after five days and then move back in after two more; we were working 7 days/week at the time, 12-hour days; at night I cleaned and cooked and exercised to keep my heart and lungs going. One time, moving back in, a tent stake flew into my skull; it took months to heal-- the healing was slowed perhaps because guy at work started beating me regularly with boxes right on the bump!! He also tried to put straps around me for some reason, but I pushed him off and said, 'get lost.' All is well for now though; the aneurysm I ended up with is not small but not in the worst place and I've found the jaw infection (it's related to my chronic infection and to some teeth that I finally had pulled that had been left in for sometime; I'd been able to keep them down before I got the chronic infection and I really don't think the jaw was bad till I had a heart issue in 2005--but teeth and the heart sort of interact, as apparently do infected jaws and aneuryms--even though the aneurysm is near my eye; the problem is that it does not respond well to antibiotics--so that taking the dentist's antibiotic actually made it worse--part of this is because the infection is in my stomach as well as my lungs and jaw).

I've joined all sorts of somewhat professional internet lists in part in hopes that these 'pro-bono' activities will improve my somewhat spotty resume (see above) and make it easier to find a good job that will enable me to repay my loans ( -- not that I am not interested in linguistics or html or security; I am of course; I've also tried to get on as an editor at DMOZ -- with no luck thus far -- in hopes of adding that activity to my resume.

How I Financed My Schooling:
Undergrad: Total Cost (room, board, tuition, books, laundry): around $23,000 (in 1975-80); scholarship: $10,000; loans: $6450 (these loans were financed by my college which, upon my graduation sold these to the Charlotte-based bank Wachovia which held on to them till I lost my teaching job in L.A.--I was offered substitute work there while I worked on my credential, but the only thing full-time subbing was in a gang-riddled area; my mother had already repaid $4000 of these loans prior to that, when I was in grad school getting these subsidized loans deferred; I then repaid over $3000, some from L.A., and some from my job in Kuwait; however I expect Wachovia sold the remnant of the loans after I left L.A. at a loss and in the end they would have been bailed out completely had they hung onto them); earnings: around $5600 -- including several hundred dollars saved from working illegally (as a breakfast cook/maid) & legally (doing the grape harvest) in France; savings: $400; support from mother (not including what she later repaid of the loans): $2300 (Mt. Holyoke actually probably worked out a little cheaper for me than a state school; I managed to save money partly by rarely going home for vacations & could have saved money the same way at a state school of course; once I moved off campus junior year, I was able to find a very cheap room to rent too; but the big plus was that Mt. Holyoke put me with an on-campus job my first year --in waitressing in part because I had waitress experience -- without my having to apply; then my second year, because I liked my beginning astronomy class so much, the astronomy department got me a job there; thus the only job applications I filled out were summer ones & unfortunately my first summer I took what was a permanent waitress job & then resigned giving two weeks notice -- it was a well-paid waitress job too except that several nights I had to put up with the bar rush and the night shift & with today's job market I wonder if resigning to return to school my sophomore year was a mistake; even at the time I wondered because my boss & co-workers were nice; I don't recommend taking permanent jobs as summer jobs thus -- it's better to find a temporary job or internship or else to take time off and work );
M.A. linguistics: a teaching assistantship supported me; however my mother paid much of the in-state tuition (& occasionally provided other money); family also supported me the last semester when I was finishing my thesis
M.A. Education and Ed. Specialist: loans; initially also I taught ESL but the drive cost more than it was worth and there was no work summer/fall; just spring; I tried a couple of other jobs but school put demands on me that conflicted with job demands; ultimately, working for the Ed. Specialist's degree, I decided I only wanted to take one course in the summer and really concentrate on that and miscellaneous paperwork (career profiles & such); I could not finance that with a loan as you need at least six hours/term to get a loan, so I did that with credit cards & by living in my car--I got a storage locker for computer diskettes, etc. -- but I stayed on a loan in the regular semester. (Tallahassee was hot; plus there was a sociolinguistics class I was dying to add to my Data Networks class the summer I took that, but I was nervous about computer classes, plus I was upset all the time during class because of something extraneous to the class; so of course I did not feel I would concentrate on a second course -- I used any 'extra time' instead to research issues related to my extraneous concerns & to update web sites I'd worked on previously for non-profits, & to fuss over my kitties who had to put up with all kinds of bizarre shuffling around when I moved out of my apartment--though I really should have used some 'extra time' to get a CISCO study guide to supplement the course text as there is so much in the CISCO study guide that was not in the course text--network building is so much clearer to me with it--at the time we had Linux accounts to practice on though no one gave us any passwords that would let us configure the routers; but even so, I might have taken a networking exam and graduated with a few more job opportunities! I've now taken an exam; I need to take one or two more). Back to school finances: I still owe a little money for a French course I took by correspondence through another institution--I did not like their grading system as there were no letter grades; I felt unsure where I stood; I had 88's & 90's & wanted straight 100's (then, worse still, one of the books flipped me out enough that I decided not to read it for the final -- & there were only three texts on the final & that was one); so when money was short, that not being a course needed for my degree, the final bill got put aside.
I went to Europe while an undergrad -- I'd planned to both go to Europe & work the year that would have been my junior year; I had $500 left from working at the end of sophomore year; I house-sat & cut the grass once/week for $5.00/week, ate out of the garden mostly, did research, and considered picking berries (piecework) but had not gotten around to doing it in late July/August, when I reserved my ticket. My mother offered me the $400 for my ticket in August; I took it, and took $200 in travellers' checks from my own leftover money. In Europe I camped and stayed at youth hostels; then when money ran low it was harvest season & I harvested grapes for two different bosses & set off hitchhiking with a girl I'd met in one of the youth hostels. I had enough money that way that I got to Morocco (I'd originally planned to go to Greece; so how I ended up going to Morocco is a story I suppose, but it was as suited as Greece for for someone interested in the trobadors, as North Africa no doubt influenced Iberia which in turn I believe influenced the trobadors). I did no research in Morocco however. I was broke, and told my mother so, & she decided to mail me a check for $100; thus I learned one phrase in Arabic, 'En Ch'Allah,' and said it everyday at the post office but after two weeks my money had not come and I left. I had money for the ferry and for the train -- as far almost as Madrid. At the train station I met an elderly man from Morocco who spoke French, Arabic, and Spanish, and also read and wrote in all three, and loved Arabic writing, & he wrote the alphabet down for me; but I learned zilch though I found the writing beautiful. When I got near Madrid, I started hitchhiking. I'd met a French girl in Morocco and called her when I got to France and she invited me to visit and ultimately dog sit for a place to stay while she was off, vagabonding. When she returned I decided to try to find work in Paris (nearer to Luxembourg; which I where I had to get to to get my return flight home): I borrowed money from her for train fare -- she insisted I do so; I'd been planning on hitch-hiking. In Paris, I had only tea bags and sugar cubes left from earlier days for food, and when I walked around town, I looked for food that had been discarded in the streets -- I don't remember if I found any. I had money to stay briefly at a Youth Hostel however and it turned out that the lady who worked in the kitchen was ill and they needed someone fast and they hired me illegally. I worked five or six weeks sixty hours/week and made over $600 U.S. & repaid my French girlfriend. The Moroccan post finally returned to my mother her letter with $100 in it. She sent me $200 more in Paris -- by wire I think -- & I finally got enough time off of work to retrieve it & took it plus additional savings back to the U.S. when I did go back--right as scheduled; no point in leaving early. (The $600 I got from home that year was all I got the entire year -- or asked for! Those were the days of independence)
I'd like to go to Europe again! (This time, for longer.)

Chicago and New Orleans

The year I was sixteen I lived in New Orleans after living in Chicago and before completing a bike trip to Mexico -- I doubt the place I lived in New Orleans is still there --especially not after Katrina hit New Orleans; the place in Chicago is there however, as it is all brick -- the Chicago place was rebuilt in brick after a fire circa 1950 (not the Great one; my mistake)! The subway was/is right across the Street from where I lived in Chicago -- this was very convenient. Don't know if it is still an apartment/rooming house like I had (I visited it when I attended a TESOL conference in 1996 and it seems they had limited it to older persons with monthly checks by then & the age limit made me in 1996 two years too young to look into renting there in any case) -- it was called "Ashland Arms" when I was there and rented to everyone all ages pretty much (though I am sure they thought I was eighteen as I lied and told them I was a student at the 'Circle' -- University of Illinois's Chicago campus when I was actually a high school student; I did always dream of renovating my hotel [situated in the middle of an old Irish neighborhood; plenty of stout I guess but I don't really drink] -- I thought of taking out a wall between each pair of rooms thus doubling room size and then adding private baths/showers as who wants to go down the hall although still keeping one of the antique baths on each floor because some people like these as they are really better I think than modern tubs; maybe adding a small laundry room too; converting one room to a sitting room with a fireplace was another idea I had; but I loved the foyer just wanted to add a mirror and some other parlor-type stuff, then finding a way to control substance abuse among tenants while welcoming the stray who wanted a bench in the foyer for the night -- and apparently someone went and did renovate it; see; it does look nice -- it was a really solid building but we had terazzo floors no hardwood; we had a foyer with a bench for mail but no parlor). My reasons for leaving home were varied, & included the difficulty of finding a part-time job in Florida, the constant household arguing, and perhaps even an independent study course I took that got watered down by the teacher in the end, when other students wanted to take it--I had H. S. Commanger's two-volume history for my main text which was replaced with a more boring text by the teacher, albeit by one with the Joni Mitchell lyrics I wanted interspersed with the history content; I still preferred Commanger and continued to use it -- so I suppose this last was not a good reason to leave.

We had a foyer with mailboxes, then a locking entry that went to the stairs; I lived upstairs; in my room I had a fridge, a neat old dresser, and a deadbolt. The bathrooms were large--two per floor--with deadbolts and antique tubs. Ashland Arms was next to an Irish orphanage, the latter run by nuns, and a number of the tenants had grown up in the orphanage. We also had several elderly tenants (also Irish; I myself am about half-Irish, with some of my own ancestors having lived in Chicago), and one young businessman (from India) -- but his stay was very brief. Strangely or not this was one of my favorite apartments (although I never did anything except work and go to school and run track, I liked not worrying that someone was wondering when I would arrive home; so the newness of 'being free' appealed then.) Some of the guys were not regular rent payers (due to drink, etc), and--I don't know how Ashland Arms made it -- the landlady, 50-ish, Irish herself, was very understanding about this -- which meant people could owe rent for months; one guy Pat wanted to be an artist & he actually was a better-than-average tenant & one of my favorites; he did odd jobs for the landlady and worked some at the daily wage places. I worked at Howard Johnson's in Skokie, where I had cared that summer for a small boy and his larger German Shepherd while his mom hobnobbed in Chicago politics. In the school year I took a Spanish class with a Cuban lady (she was wonderful; we were reading Marianela or starting too; I left after twelve weeks though), French (not as good as the French I'd had the year before, not really), two English classes (not what I wanted; I wanted to graduate, two history was what I wanted; my English teachers were a Linda Tripp -- her name was right, she was "hip" too hip, teaching "Protest in Am Lit" -- o.k, if you like Catcher in the Rye, The Strawberry Statement, Catch 22 -- the pace was fast but I did not go for Salinger, sorry; as for poetry her course lacked it and there is a ton of Am. verse that "doth protest" a bit, starting with Bryant, maybe sooner --; and also Mrs. Shapiro, who loved me because I got stuck in a "dummy composition" class and I could write a whole paragraph and more; I was shocked to be in eleventh grade in a class where students were writing paragraphs as I'd always tested tops in English in my own school, had had to take independent study and was ready for advanced placement; Mrs. Shapiro was nice but her course was not right for me, but it was easy; the lit. magazine Niles North put out showed a bit more talent and what I remember and other family members liked it too when I got home and showed it to them was a short poetic story about someone's grandpa I think it was; it was entitled "There and Back" -- "Hell, I been there" he said and then he finished his sentence; bad pun, but funny I guess; really there was some good stuff in the magazine, some talent; finally I had "History of Am. Minorities" -- the teacher was a great lecturer, years later I found the perfect text book in a used book sale and it had been published the year before I took the course, we should have used it). I managed to run track at school three days/week as well, boys' track, but, with my being too thin from dieting and not as good as the boys at track, this was a bit of a disaster; I managed to study as well, ten hours/week outside of class, which includes the time I spent studying during my lunch breaks at school. I paid for a PSAT test (unlike Florida, Illinois may have had financial aid for taking the PSAT but I was smart enough never to admit that I did not have that high an income; besides with the hours I worked and only myself to take care of and public transit, I was alright), took it on a Wednesday (fortunately my school was 90% Jewish so that the test was offered during the week as I worked Saturdays and Sundays), and did alright; and mail from different colleges followed me when I finally went home. I stayed with Howard Johnson's for seven weeks, till my not discussing a finger cut in the meat grinder got me into trouble -- they wanted me to talk but like Bartleby the Scribner, I preferred 'not to;' it was not that bad, not at all, and I had stupidly told my mom via phone about the cut and she had called Ho Jo's to my chagrin; I found another job where I stayed for six or seven weeks as well, working till 3 am (I worked Thurs -- Sat 5pm-3am & Sun 5pm-1am and one more day 5-1; I made 50 cents/hour plus tips which because tips were generous came to over $70.00/week; I asked another waitress what to declare in tips & she said 'they know you make something, so $4.00 is what I declare--meaning $4.00/week), and getting up for school at 6, but was sexually harassed by my new boss, sick of the cold, and quite behind on sleep when I turned in my two weeks' notice and prepared to go home; at home, although I carried a B average actually (just barely) from up north (even with the Spanish course one year ahead of my home school's Spanish course; the other northern high school courses were not 'ahead' of similar classes at my Florida high school, however -- though perhaps I'd ended up taking the wrong courses in Chicago -- too easy or too hard), I was asked to make up the entire six weeks of work; I tried for one week, sitting at the picnic table trying to get some color back in my skin, studying in the wind from the time I got home till night fall as well as most of the day Sunday, drinking diet soda so I would not gain weight, and missing my money, and feeling fat, and having trouble even concentrating. Finally, I had my Mom sign my drop out papers. Then, by listing my age as eighteen, by saying I held a diploma from the school I'd attended up north, and by listing some experience, I landed a job within a week, something I'd not been able to do before leaving for Chicago (but of course previously I'd gone to restaurants with my mom in tow and had listed my age as sixteen).

In New Orleans, I lived at Mayer Investor's, on Saint Charles Street, in front of a trolley stop. I was sixteen. I had a roommate a year older from Boston. We also had -- briefly -- a draftswoman (age 19) from Atlanta staying with us. And we had some guys who crashed there.

When I first came to New Orleans I had almost all my money stolen ($50.00--travellers' checks I'd just cashed -- from a clear plastic bag I left on my bike seat behind me in the French quarter while I made some phone calls to find lodging. It was the beginning of Mardi Gras. I was only on the phone ten or fifteen minutes. It was broad daylight). Anyway, I went to stay at the Salvation Army briefly where I met my roommate-to-be in the shower (I got there at 6 everday, which is when the showers opened; my roommmate-to-be got there at around 6:35- 6:45; after 7:30, when the matron came up to remind people that breakfast would end promptly at 8, we were the only two left -- amazingly I never looked much different on leaving the bathroom at five till eight than I had looked on arriving in it almost two hours earlier though I hoped I looked better -- my hair was always wetter and my skin a bit more prunish; as for my roommate, she put her hair into elaborate braids to frizz it and put on earrings). My roommate was a run away whose parents knew where she was (her mother wired money -- most of her poor mother's salary as a social worker in fact was wired to the girl; the girl had lived on the streets of Boston for a while first, and had sent a "Mother's Day Card" home: Happy Mother's day. This is from your runaway. Living on the South Side . . . Gee I'm glad that I'm not home!." I told my mom about the card and my mom said, "and her mother's helping her?" and I said "yes" and my mother said, "of course"). While we were at the Salvation Army New Orleans opened up the stadium for people to camp free, absolutely free (I remember my co-worker at VISTA-Americorps announcing when we got some training materials that non-profits could use to teach people computing that, "Best of all, it's all free, free, free!"). But young women by themselves were generally advised not to go there and the Stadium sounded a bit spooky to me. So I stayed at the Sally. I went to eat lunch at the Process Free Kitchen (The Process was run by the Process monks, but the kitchen was really run by us; more about the Process later), and they were so backed up I started volunteering, cutting up bread, whatever anyone needed. I worked there every day from 12-4, and hunted for a job the rest of the day.

I worked at nights at an Italian restaurant, in exchange for a sandwich (I really liked the staff, but the sandwich was good), collecting nickles from evening parade viewers who were not customers of the restaurant, but who needed to use the bathroom. The owner explained to me that his was "the only restaurant in town" were people who were not customers could use the bathroom during Mardi Gras. He added that he had used to let out his bathrooms sans charge but that he now felt he needed to charge something for paper and cleanup. People trashed the bathrooms he explained. I was unconvinced. His may have indeed been the only restaurant that let people use the bathrooms because the line threaded way down the street, but I still had a few dollars left after the robbery, & when one gentlemen asked me, 'What do you do if someone comes up to you and tells you he has no money to go to the bathroom?,' I asked him if that were his situation. He said, yes, in fact it was. I pulled a nickle from my purse and put in in the till. When he returned, he tossed me a nickle: 'Use that for the next guy who does not have change,' he said. So I kept my nickle that night. I had to explain over and over to these irate and formerly non-paying customers that toilet paper had come to cost too much for this service to be free. A few were in fact understanding but most were pretty irate, and I hated asking people for five cents to do what they absolutely had to do, and also hated the horrible fight I had each night getting past I suppose those same parade viewers I hated charging, in order to get back to the Salvation Army at 10 or 11 p.m. I asked the police for help 'just getting home' -- I did not want to watch the parade --through the crowd but they laughed and went about their business, after saying, 'be tough'. I then found other work -- by word of mouth from a young lady from Hungary also staying at the Salvation Army. The work was at a Japanese Restaurant making teriyaki skewers for 4 cents/skewer (I made about $2.00/hour stringing the skewers--this was 40 cents/hour more than the minimum wage to my delight -- the tomatoes and meat had to be unbroken or you had to redo). I was working six days at the Japanese Restaurant so was volunteering only Sundays at the Process kitchen at that point, bringing in biscuit Mix and butter. I took over cooking. We had fish tails donated by a restaurant which I fried up, day old bread donated by a bakery, the Bisquick biscuits I made up, and a soup of vegetables -- we all -- those of us who could -- pitched in for the vegetables which I shopped in the Market for before cooking. I had a lot of friends at the Process Free Kitchen, and had several of them helping me serve and clean up on Sundays. My friends included a mother and her eleven-year-old daughter, who had run away from the girl's father and were camped on the beach (the girl was absolutely delighted: no school), a man in his fifties who had abandoned his family and taken to the road (and could not call on his wife for help he said, as he'd taken their joint money and had a wild time on the town before heading for New Orleans), a woman from Tennessee I think who was expecting a baby, and more.

At Mayer Investors' my roommate and I put our names on the lease (we split the rent; initially we shared three ways with the vacationing lady from Atlanta, but only for a couple of weeks). A Chinese-American guy who tended the bar where I worked at the Japanese Restaurant used to knock on our door when the bar closed and I used to make up the couch (apparently his roommate had stolen money from him and he could not live there). Soon my roommate's sister, an Antioch College dropout, arrived, sans job, and moved into a cot by attic wall. She had found two dudes at the bus station -- one British, one Californian -- who were travelling the country --and had offered them a place to crash without even asking us. Alas, they had to spread their sleeping bags on the floor as we had no more bed space. Every morning before leaving for work, I put out a frying pan, several eggs, real butter, whole grain bread, and a note telling them to help themselves and lock the door when they left. Thus at least we controlled the locks. They were nice guys in any case--never bothered us or gave us any trouble. When my bike was stolen, the British guy tried to help me get baskets on the new bike I bought--but I needed panniers for my bike touring. My roommate and I took turns doing the laundry and when it was my turn I did it for the whole crew which was more than I could carry and that is my one complaint -- no one volunteered to help and it was not my thing to say that I wanted help; I just figured when I started dragging the bags people would run after me to help.

I continued working at the Takee Outee, cooking the teriyaki skewers and cashiering; just before lunch, if my boss stopped by, I took flyers to Canal Street and passed them out, but otherwise I was alone in the shop. My drawer was almost accurate except occasionally either I dropped a penny or my boss missed counting one at night; because they weren't from here they were perturbed because the previous cashier had kept the drawer several dollars over; but I had to ring up all orders in my opinion and could not over-charge customers so called my mom, who likewise suggested not ringing up an order; I solved the problem by dropping a dollar in the drawer every day instead (a small price to pay for $1.70/hr 54 hours/week; and actually when I quit the job I dropped by and asked my boss if he were still looking for a replacement; he said, 'how long do you want to work?;' I replied that I wanted to work a few weeks more as I needed some stuff for my bike before continuing to Mexico; he said, "six months, o.k.," but would not take me on for a few weeks).

In New Orleans I got another job too, helping to renovate a nineteenth-century house at 720 Lyons Street (and I wonder if it even survived Katrina). For the first few weeks I pulled out asbestos, with the windows open fortunately but without a dust mask, from the walls of several rooms; everyday I coughed up brown stuff but drank and drank water and spit and spit till my nose was as clear as possible; I also had a fairly active Sunday --biking out to breakfast, jogging four miles on the trolley tracks racing and beating trolleys, and then biking thirty miles around town till I needed an ice cream soda or a stuffed tomato salad before heading to the Process at noon to volunteer. So the lunch at the Process was really my dinner as I'd already had breakfast and lunch. Perhaps because of my youth and the short time I worked with asbestos, several weeks after I switched to doing something else, my lungs were completely clear again (and of course it's not the people who pulled out asbestos but the people who lived in it with the doors and windows closed who got brown lung). After that I stripped wood, using strip-ease and turpentine, but of course not gloves. My roommate joined me at that job after I'd worked at it a little more than a week, and helped stripped wood and also had a chance to go through the attic to see what was there. My boss had hired another gal prior to hiring me and my roommate; she worked at another site but my boss brought her down to teach me how to saw wood; unfortunately I had zilch for arm muscles, even at my New Orleans weight, on my New Orleans diet (yes, in New Orleans, I ate well, although I never got into the idea of eating both half of a 3-egg cheese omelette for breakfast and then a hard-boiled egg for a low-calorie snack the way my roommate did).

On Friday or Saturday nights we went to a deli to eat with a couple of our neighbors -- a boy my roommate's age, and our immediate neighbor, a secretary. After eating sandwiches (and dividing up pennies since I was there and I was obsessive-compulsive anyway and loved counting money in those days and keeping track) we often went to Sissy's Bar -- a redneck bar across the street from our apartment -- where like Marilyn Hacker in "Exiles" "I drank brandy as the couples changed," except I did not drink brandy but orange juice and coca colas which cost the same as beers and there really were not many couples, just a bunch of guys who were sometimes hopeful; my roommate who was gorgeous with a nice blouse the long black frizz and her earrings batted her eyelashes at guys she selected to plop down next to until eventually she wanted to be rescued later in the evening (and amazingly, all the guys apologized all over to me when I arrived at the table and asked for my roommate back, per her request). The waitress at Sissy's ignored me though I tipped a dollar for a dollar and always asked her about her day. Some of the guys tried to buy me drinks; I sent them back down the counter (I'm a lousy shot except when I'm mad when I'm perfect for some reason and never expect to be) -- kind of rude, but unfortunately, being drunk they were not even put off by my rudeness. If we did not go to Sissy's we roamed the town or played chess (my roommate had books and a chess set; I just had books). I and my roommate played some but mostly my roommate played the neighbor boy and I was their 'go fer,' meaning if they got hungry, I went out and fetched snacks -- for this task, I wore men's baggy jeans and a man's jeans jacket and did not speak much so people would not guess my gender as I roamed the streets in search of a store still open selling nuts and candies at maybe midnight (I did not have any troubles doing this except that the same store clerk who buttered up to me on Sunday mornings almost did not want to serve me because I had smeared grease on my face). Sometimes we went to a French restaurant were we ordered doughnut holes (I can't remember if the doughnut holes were free or cost money) and coffee/water/pop/whatever, where I got to use French. We met the 'moonies' downtown -- my roommate wanted to see what they were liked, the same way she liked to see what guys would do when she sidled up against them in a bar, batted her eyelashes and asked for something to drink, but, looking at the 'glassy stares' of the kids who were pestering us with literature, I worried that I would not be able to break the two of us out without at least blowing all my savings, so dissuaded her (today I wonder all the time what sort of persuasion techniques the moonies used but never found out). We had tea at five-thirty most evenings with our neighbor the secretary who played piano; I made hot soy milk and/or bisquick biscuits or toasted nine-grain bread which I served with real butter; our neighbor often supplied cheese or yogurt. Sometimes my roommate's sister brought some kids (real kids, aged ten-to-thirteen) home who were on a semi-informal ball-team that practiced in a nearby park. So dinners were simple, though we sometimes picked up a sandwich out. Lunches were out because we worked though I packed apples, and for my roommate, hard-boiled eggs, when we did construction. Breakfasts were my speciality -- I got up at four, but it was a drag dragging my roommate out of bed -- but she liked breakfasts too. My roommate did my chart (she had learned to do these, and did them periodically as free hand outs never for money, but she put Pluto in the wrong house; and got some other measurements a bit off; I've since re-done it using a midnight and a noon ephemeris together and also of course checked it out at fournilab's online 'the sky above'), and from her I learned the basics of doing charts, so that when I came home I did charts for my sister and neighbors. I tried to teach my roommate some Spanish without much luck. (My roommate did smoke a little pot as did our temporary roommate, the draftswoman from Atlanta; this was the one time I dealt with pot users but I enforced a 'smoke outside' rule, arguing that I was allergic to smoke; I'm glad the police did not see them but I'm also glad we did not leave our place smelling like pot; my roommate's sister at least did not smoke. Neither did our male guests -- that I know of. Myself, I applied for a Civil Service job when I was eighteen, and listed my New Orleans and Chicago addresses, and because I did not smoke, drink, take drugs, or date, and because I was quiet and paid the rent on time and kept everything spotless, I had no trouble with the background check though I do not think it was that fussy a background check; a much fussier one is the Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance -- which investigates one's background, residences, roommates, including their ages and your relationship to them, going back 26 years; I suppose there are top-level security clearances that are also tougher to get but I do believe these only go back ten years! I never took the job I got clearance for however, having a job as a waitress already secured, with a uniform all bought and no need to buy fancy clothing, and plenty of tips, plus cheap rent.
For more on my adventures, see addendumonleavinghomeandgoingtowork.html.)

Woody's Restaurant

Perhaps the most interesting place I worked in college was Woody's Restaurant in Eugene, Oregon. I took a job there at the beginning of the summer at the end of my freshman year, worked the whole summer, turned in my two weeks' notice, trained my replacement and also the replacement for a lady whose husband had sat and watched her every night before deciding that his wife must not be a waitress and wait on men, but must instead work in a cannery where she would not be so visible (she had met him working as a waitress apparently and he could not stop worrying that she might meet someone else), and then left myself to return to school. This was my first instance of adult job-hopping as I could have worked at Woody's till it closed -- the previous summer I'd had a temporary (during launch only) job as a motel maid, and the school year job I'd had had been only for the duration of the academic year. My summer job could have been for keeps and, looking back, I do miss it some -- for one thing, the waitresses were well-paid. But it was not in the town I was attending school.

I arrived in Eugene and was offered two jobs; the job at Woody's was the second job I was offered; the first job I offered was at a truck stop out by itself way out of town -- with no public transit if my bike had a flat, and only me on duty to watch the counter, the grill, and the cash register, which did not lock. So I took the second offer. The management was Christian. I spent the end of many an evening making milk shakes for my boss's wife, who ran her own deli by day but by night ran her husband's place for him -- she was on a diet, actually, and had had her jaws wired shut, so could only take liquids, and so frequently she dropped by at night to request her favorite mike shakes -- what else could she eat?

Mr. Fields, the owner, hired me to wait tables, and later my cousin to wash dishes and bus tables (which was great; my cousin, a high school senior, was getting antsy to get out of her parents' house -- she'd already been caught leaving pillows under her blankets in as close to her silhouette as possible and dragged home from a party [her parents were about as fed up with her as she with them], and antsy for money too; since I'd gotten a summer sublease, we rode bikes together from her parents' place to work, but rode back to my place after work where we made 'snackin' cake' and kept an eye on the neighbor who had a sex battery history or something). My cousin at first did not want to eat courtesy of Woody's (that is on the house) during the half hour after her shift, since she considered it breakfast time at 1 or 3 a.m., and she'd not brushed her teeth, and wanted pancakes anyway which was breakfast, and of course she could not eat in the morning without first brushing, but I managed to convince her that she could consider the pancakes equal to a late night pancake supper dinner if she'd not had one. In between my cousin and myself, Mr. Fields hired several recovering alcoholics to wash dishes and bus tables, every one of whom begged from him and received an advance on the first two weeks' salary after the first night of work. None was ever heard from again I don't think. Perhaps once al-anon called us about one who'd returned to al-anon, ultimately, after a while on the town. Not that the recovering alcoholics were not nice guys: I was fond of them all, all the same. But I would not have advanced them quite so much.

I had favorite customers -- among the truck drivers who stopped in at 4 a.m. my all-night night (my double shift night) to buy coffee and tip generously enroute to their daily driving shift, and among the elderly. A particular favorite was a lady who'd gone cross-country in a wagon train, outlived her husband and other kin, and walked in everyday for her lunch. Another was a gentleman who in better days had been a sailor, perhaps a Norwegian or Swedish sailor, but had picked up a smattering of a number of languages including French. Although we did not serve alcohol and it was not allowed, he generally arrived with a small paper bag containing whatever he was currently drinking. Often enough I had to buy him his coffee as he was broke but he was always really polite and sweet. Only once did the police come looking for him; when the police car arrived he disappeared into the men's room; the policeman entered and asked me where the gentleman was; I pointed to the men's room; they knocked on the door; he emerged and waved to me as he left, saying, "Taxi's waiting." They did not keep him long enough and he was in again drunk in a few days.

The coffee was ridiculously cheap. Woody's and I-HOP and I think Sambo's were the only places to go after the bar rush. I went out once, with two other waitresses, to I-HOP -- but we'd not been drinking. We sat and drank an unlimited pot of coffee, and tipped the cabbie well going and coming, and enjoyed tipping instead of getting tips. Getting tips was our more usual style.

I worked Sundays 5 pm till 11:30 -- the one night Woody's closed (from 11 pm Sunday till 6 am Monday was the Lord's time I guess in the management's view -- no coffee was served); Monday's 5 pm till 6 am Tuesday -- my one double; Wednesdays I was off and volunteered at a runaway shelter; Thursdays I worked 5 till 1 am; Fridays 5 till 3 am; Saturdays 5 till 3 am. I arrived generally at around 4 pm to have a salad and talk with the waitress on the previous shift -- a University of Oregon student who had trained me and from whom I ultimately acquired a kitten; at 4:30 I ordered coffee because it was on the house within a half hour of shift; at just before 5 I punched in. I liked to rise early (6:30 am) and have coffee with my uncle, then make another pot for my aunt who was a later riser, and read (Meg Bogin and such) and plan my senior thesis, some years away. At 3 pm I pedalled to work. Tuesday morning I only got about a half hour of sleep thus but Tuesday night was my night to go to bed early (6 pm-ish, just before dinner) and catch up on sleep.

Otherwise my bio is more staid -- maybe. (I keep to myself and in spite of this blog where there seem to be no secrets keep some secrets, but can also pick people to tell some problem to just out of the blue; because it is a way of trying to 'unload' a problem though I'm not at all sure how well it works, I call it -- in computer jargon -- dumping; but I think 'dumping' was used to describe human behavior way back too.)

I'd still like to get in touch with people I knew from 1974 in New Orleans -- I was sixteen then but some people -- my boss & former landlady -- may have had me down as eighteen; included in my list of 'it would be nice to find's' are: my boss under whom I helped renovate a house, a friend [lady -- there were few ladies in attendance there] from Sissy's Bar who kept snakes and lived in the sticks, my roommate whom I have been in touch with some since and last I knew had returned to her family in the Boston area, had completed her GED, and was attendoing some classes while working (she was dreaming of a career in medicine), several neighbors from Mayer Investor's where I lived, finally my former landlady or her daughter who worked for Mayer Investor's later. I'd also like to locate the Fields and Sharon the waitress who gave me Manda the kitten at Woody's.
(Contact me.)

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And more . . .
More favorites
Iluliaq: Spirits of the Ice
Ice-covered mountains Life on an Iluliaq, or Ways to Survive In Your Car . . .
(Why now? It's winter coming on for half the planet. Anyway, it's hot here, time for some cold thoughts. Anyway, in the winter here--in the sunny south--I used to watch for the sun to rise over the clouds, which is spectacular, and when it got there I'd think yes it's April on the "Iluliaq", see the sun coming over the ice fields, because the winter clouds to me look just like ice in the tundra might--to my imagination. In May of course, it all starts melting in the tundra, more each year, they say.)
  • Don't use a candle in the car; the candle uses oxygen and interferes with your metabolism--which is what really keeps YOU warm! (I try opening the door a tiny bit once in a while and breathing really deeply.)
  • Do use a candle or stove to heat soup or tea just out the door, then bring that inside and drink it; the real secret to warmth is a warm belly anyway, and the steam from the soup actually gives your car a bit more atmosphere inside--which is essential for retaining heat. It also provides the moisture that enables your own body's thermostat to work properly and keep you warm (yes warm). Vegetable or tomato soup--which should have a bit of potassium in spite of processing--may also be better than coffee at keeping you warm, since potassium is also involved in the body's thermostat.
  • Of course you have to have a loose blanket in the car. And cover your head.
  • Hot hands™ are great but don't leave them too long on your heart; they work best in a sock or in your hands; it's really great if you can put one in your hand and then use it to squeeze the paw of a warm furry friend and share the heat. (Also you can leave the hot hands near your arm pit for a bit, but if your chest starts to hurt, you'd better go back to the hands)
  • I lived in Pennsylvania once; the trick to driving in the snow, when it has not been plowed, with ordinary tires (they must have treads I think) is to go very slowly, especially on hills, like 5 mph or below, even 1 or 2 mph. It will take you forever to get very far (fortunately I did not have to go far) but you will not skid--though if it snows enough I guess you could get stuck.
Actually it would be neat to live off the land, pick wild onions and boletas (boletas are one of the easier classes of mushrooms for beginners, but the edible ones are typically maggott infested as far as I can tell), but I have bills to pay so I have to live in the town where I can access employment services, internet services, computers (the latter are fun, but . .  much of town life, food included, is just incredibly boring.) But as Koltes quotes "Burning Spear", we need parking space under a tree at least -- it's a shame so many parking lots are paved over; maybe the day will come when we will all live in cars and when we die, perhaps we'll head off then to the "spirit in the sky" (


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(Graphics on this page from barry's Background on this page from backgroundcity.)