PiU (samedi) wrote,

anthropology, engineering, and driving in the dark

I'm sitting at a table in the Zoe Coffee House right now, having spent a nice and productive past two days. I met with Ling to study for our Anth 331 (America Before Columbus) exam on Saturday and spent four hours creating outlines for two of the possible essay questions - yes, they require that much detail. She invited me over to her house for dinner and I was introduced to her boyfriend, Ambrose, who sat me down so we could both watch the premiere to Lost for the first time on her computer. We also watched Men in Black, and while I couldn't understand most of the Cantonese exchanged between Ling and Ambrose I was able to make out the difference between 一 and 二 (one and two) for which episode we would be watching based on their similarity to Sino-Korean counting. Comparative linguistics can be fun and useful at the same time.

We met again last night to finish going over the last remaining essay question on our exam [*], and Ling told me that Ambrose had stayed up for most of the night watching the next few episodes of Lost after she had driven me home for the night. Apparently he's addicted. While we were at the café I noticed Wendy sitting in the corner with another student, so later I walked over to say hello. We must have spent fifteen minutes talking while I waited to order a chocolate truffle (hot chocolate with raspberry swirls), and after Ling went home for the evening I went back over to her table, where we spent another three hours in conversation. Oddly enough I was able to help her prepare for an environmental engineering assignment she had due this morning as well - and this despite my never having taken an engineering class before.

The main reason behind my success came from the fact that she was supposed to interview an individual selected from a list of private engineers, government-employed specialists (a bridge engineer was included among the names), and environmental quality personnel working for the state. The questions involved trying to determine how much of the work the individual did on their own and how much was delegated to others, as well as figuring out which classes or experiences had best prepared them for their current position. Midway through our brainstorming session Wendy heard that environmental engineering can intersect with anthropological interests and we got into a discussion on Native American sovereignty and Cultural Resource Management projects in Canada and the United States.

Even though she had already left for the night Ling wanted to give me a ride home from the café, but when I called her at midnight she was busy fixing her friend's computer. Wendy offered to give me a ride home, but because she didn't bring her glasses - which she needs for night driving - we spent most of our time driving directly over the center-line of the road. Sitting in the navigator's seat meant I was responsible for making hand motions to indicate whether she was within her lane or drifting wide, and hopefully Wendy was able to manage during the drive back to her apartment.

Running into Wendy turned out to be the perfect end to my night, as we were both laughing and commenting on how great it was to spend time together again by the time we reached my house. This is definitely something I would like to do again some time - although preferably some time when she has her glasses handy. As a side note I noticed that she still has the stuffed animal we won at the Spokane County Fair sitting in the back seat of her car. I wonder how long she'll keep it there?
* * * *

[*] Question One: Compare and contrast developments evidenced in the Arctic with those of the Northwest Coast for the latter periods of the precontact sequence, indicating the nature and degree of social differentiation, its basis, and how this relates to resources. How does the environmental structure of a region influence subsistence organization and what do groups need to do to generate surpluses? What social strategies were derived to integrate populations and/or mitigate risk? What potential effect did different strategies have on the stability of this system?
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