Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Human Evolution: Diving Into Online Learning

My 200th post!

Today is the first day of my edX course, ANTH_207 Human Evolution, offered for free by Wellesley College and taught by Adam Van Arsdale. I have been going over the course materials and have added my voice to the growing discussion. There are people from Vietnam, Brazil, Australia, Canada, the US of A...It is shaping up to be a fascinating course, with videos, scientific papers, assignments. I am so stoked!

Here is my introduction. There is still time to sign up if you are interested, or go for another of their many offerings.

A Hearty Hello from Vancouver, Canada (+ Answers to the Questions re Evolution)

CaseyWolfabout 2 hours ago

I am delighted to be among you all as we embark on this journey of discovery. I thought I'd read all of your introductions first...this proved impossible given my time constraints. Nevertheless, I am happy to have read many and to have some sense of my fellow travellers.
I have had a lifelong interest in "deep time"--paleontology, evolution, and so on--and in science generally, though I have been diverted into the arts over much of my life. I was forced to leave school for health reasons years ago and am excited to have an opportunity to look into the mechanics of evolution in more detail than a one hour radio program might offer. (I did take a 4th year course in Evolution at UBC years ago, which was truly wonderful, but I am definitely due for a refresher.)
The past months I have been caring for a dying friend and I am already reveling in the opportunity to take my thoughts far away from those worries and joys and put them onto something so different and so long of interest to me.
As to the questions: Why are you taking this class? Stimulation, pleasure, filling in the holes in my understanding of the evolution of our branch of the tree. A break from stress. What questions do you most want answered about human evolution? Why do we have round hairy nostrils when lemurs have smooth comma shaped ones? Why do we have so much hair on our heads, and so little elsewhere? (I can't think of other animals with hair that grows almost without check.) Are we more governed by the impulse to co-operate or the impulse to distrust and have power over outsiders, and how can these traits be examined in our evolutionary past? When and how did you first learn something about the human fossil record? Age five when my mother introduced me to all her favourite subjects.
Much wonder and delight to us all! Thanks to Wellesley for the offering.
(Gadzooks! There are 18, 000 people in my class!)

Sunday, September 01, 2013

VCon Coming...

Getting ready for this year's VCon--VCon 38. (And to think I have been attending since VCon 11.) I am thrilled to report I will have Actual Children in tow this year for the first time in ages, since my sister's first batch grew up. These two are now self-sufficient enough, and I have pared down my commitments enough, that we should do quite nicely ranging around the hotel and all the offerings of a proper SF con.

The Pallahaxi Players are taking the year off and I am concentrating my guestly contribution on Sunday. On that morning I will participate in a three hour, four contributor Writers Workshop with Linda Demeulemeester and Rhea Rose (chaired by R. Graeme Cameron). An hour later I plunge into three more hours of (in this second case) mad activity at the Turkey Readings.

I love the Turkeys. They were Fran Skene's brainchild many years ago, a way of raising funds for the Canadian Unity Fan Fund (CUFF) as well as a he** of a lot of fun for panelists and audience alike. One year I got so carried away with the joy of it all I abandoned my post as a reader/panelist and became the Evil Queen in one of the skits.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out this earlier posting. (Coincidentally, I am wearing a dress by Krista Reich in the video. You will see why this is of note if you read below...)

Apropos of nothing, I will mention that my wardrobe has just been elegantly improved by the arrival of two handmade linen dresses--a grey 12th century style gown and a black surcote--made by Krista Reich of Foliate Face Artworks. The gown is similar to the first one I bought from her back at VCon number who-knows-what. I can only hope October deigns to be cool enough for me to wear them because they are really lovely and feel fabulous to put on.

Never did I think I would say such a girlie thing. I guess C L Moore was right. As a teenager I made a very sour face when her otherwise barbaric Jirel of Joiry got all gooey over slipping into a nice dress.

Who'd a thunk I'd slide so far?

I just looked at Krista's portfolio online and she doesn't have up photos of either the gown (a simple and graceful full-skirted dress) or the surcote right now, but I'll add a photo she does have of a Saxon overdress she made for me several years ago. I've stumbled across a photo of me wearing a shawl she made for me, as well, so I'm popping that in for your viewing pleasure.

Krista draws from many periods for her garments, and also creates original designs. She uses good fabric and does excellent sewing, making clothes that can be worn for many years. And yet her prices are not high. I have seen many flimsy and cheap looking period gowns that sell for more than her fine dresses. It has me scratching my head, but I'm glad I can afford to buy her clothes now and then.

Unfortunately, Krista didn't sell much at that VCon where I met her, so she hasn't been back, but if you are interested she is quite good to work with even at a distance. She's recently moved to Victoria, BC, where a small selection of her garments can be seen in person at Triple Spiral Metaphysical, in Fan Tan Alley between Pandora and Fisgard Streets. But definitely have a look through her portfolios online.

See you at VCon!