"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Saturday, June 30, 2007

i'm baaack!

"Сайн байна уу" and " 你 好 " !

i have returned from my extensive travels in the East, and have much to report!

but first, much sleep.

i haven't adjusted to home time, which is exactly the opposite of Mongolia/China time. that is, 12 hours in the future.

and i haven't quite gotten used to using English again. that will take some getting used to. the words come funny, slowly. give it time.

there are foodstuffs and gifts, words and pictures to unpack!

let's begin...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

where'd stephan!e go?

stephan!e is out of town (and country).

please check back for sweet updates & pictures from her wild adventures in the Mongolian steppes!


Saturday, June 09, 2007

travel advice for those visiting Mongolia

Ugluunii mend!
("good morning!" i'm learning, with help from friends, as you'll see below. keep reading...)

a kindly reader alerted me in my last post that he currently lives in Mongolia. he was kind enough to give me a special list of tips and advice in preparation for my travels to the land of Blue Sky, a special post i will share with you now:

by Mr. L.Gantulga

Dear Stephanie,

Thank for your e-mail. I was read the your blog from Internet. I am as system administrator and researcher at Mongolian Academy of Sciences. I think that it is possible to organize some trip in Mongolia for you but it is depending your schedule.

Some words:
Good morning – Ugluunii mend.
I – Bi.
You – Ta.
to study – sudlakh.
Thank you – Bayarlalaa.
Bye – Bayartai.

Mongolia considered to be relatively safe place for travelers with no serious crimes against foreigners. Neverless, some precautions can save you money, time and nerves.
• Bring preferably U.S. dollars in cash, $20 and $50 denominations
• Best place to exchange currency is Exchange Point at the first floor of the ARD Cinema, one block west from the Central Post Office as they offer slightly better rates than banks.
• When traveling to countryside make sure to take along cigarettes, soap, colored pens, a couple of bottles of alcohol and sweets as a small gift to cheer up local hosts.
• You can't book domestic return flights in advance, so stop at the MIAT or other companies local ticket office as soon as you arrive at each destination, or see if your guide can take care of it.
• Do not carry big amounts of money with you. Beware of pickpocketers, especially in crowded places or while riding public buses.
• The streetlights in Ulaanbaatar function only along the central streets, so do not walk lately or keep well lit central streets.
• Mongolian drivers do not care much about pedestrians. Make sure to look left and check for an approaching car before crossing streets.
• It is advisable not to eat in small canteens as the quality of food is not guaranteed. And it's better to buy foodstuff from large shops or food markets where cool storing equipment is available.
• If possible, make a copy of your passport and bear it on you while leaving the original in the hotel.
• Do not leave personal belongings unattended. They can easily disappear.

Best wishes,
Mr., L.Gantulga
System Administrator
Mongolian Academy of Sciences

Thursday, June 07, 2007


so the 7th book of the Harry Potter series is going to be released July 7, 2007. (the 7th book. on 7/7/07. oh JK Rowling, u so clever!)

and a whole MONTH before that time comes, i've got a huuuuge spoiler for you! yes, that's right, u could even call it... a GIANT spoiler:


what, don't believe me? check out this special report from the correspondents at The Onion:

J.K. Rowling Hints At Harry Potter Date Rape

wow, i might actually read it now.


p.s. my 2 favorite parts:

JK: "it was always my plan to have a character date-raped in the final book, but it was just a matter of deciding out [sic] who, or what, the rapist would be..."

Harry Potter look alike [speculating on who or what the rapist would be]: "giants are aggressive sexually"

hello, Mongolia!

sain baina uu!

that's "hello" in Mongolian. or "Сайн байна уу" to be truly authentic. (that's Cyrillic for those keeping track at home!)

i'll be in Mongolia in a matter of days, researching participatory education and its role in community-based conservation efforts in the Mongolian steppes.

when i first decided to do this, ppl kept asking me "why Mongolia?" and aside from a superficial knowledge of the nomadic lifestyle (which fascinates me, as someone studying communities, their formation and role in education) and what i'd been told about the conservation of their wild horses, i didn't really know...

but after some research, i'm getting pretty excited. Mongolia is one of the few countries that remains relatively un-modernized. and the Mongolia i'll see will be much more authentic than the experience of this travel blogger, who had this to say about Mongolian food:

"Many tourists seems to think they are somehow obliged to try local food to get a feel for the local ... food. I have only got two things to say: "you're not" and "don't"."

he instead recommends eating Marco Polo pizza at the Circus everyday, which is what he did. hm... somehow i think i'll fare much better. i'll be living out in the steppes (the grassland) in an authentic Mongolian ger, which are basically tents made of felt!
(that stuff on the roof is cheese made from goats' milk. notice the lack of trees and brush in the background. the desert steppes are fairly devoid of coverage. = makes for interesting (read: awkward) restroom breaks...)

and i'll be meeting and working with nomadic herders on local conservation efforts, particularly the projects to reintroduce the Wild Horses,
a.k.a. Przewalski’s horse (or takhi), these horses have struggled to survive, altogether disappearing from southern Russia and the edges of China, where they once roamed. there are only about 1500 worldwide, and mostly in Mongolia, where the herding lifestyle of the Mongolian ppl may have saved them.

and the Pallas Cat, endangered b/c efforts to control the erupting rodent population, which is stressing the already over-grazed grasslands, with rodenticide may cause inadvertent poisoning of the Cat population.
(aren't they cute?! they hide out in burrows (as pictured), which is how they catch their prey. we're not likely to see one in real life, but i've been training myself to look for the little tufts of white ear fur - the most we might hope to see. more info and another picture here.)

anyway, i have more research to do. this experience comes with a Course Reader that's dense at best, and a whole lotta packing to do. let's see if i can stuff all my belongings for an international adventure into just one rucksack and a purse and still manage to carry it onto the plane!


p.s. for a description of what i'm doing, see this.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

a specially prepared travel guide

hey to the blogosphere!

for any of you planning extensive travels abroad this summer, as i am, i've assembled a guide to travelling comfortably, healthily, and informedly (yes, that is a word).

i was dreading sitting still on a plane for 15 hours* straight without music or books (i'm travelling extremely light for a 2.5 week trip), so i looked into ways to offset cabin fever and
prevent those aches i get from lack of movement (i'm antsy. so what? i can't even sit still at home for longer than an hour without getting up and jumping around.)

there's also a ton of restrictions on what u can and cannot take on board a plane these days. i had to figure this out too, since i can't risk having any of my already sparse belongings confiscated before i even get to Mongolia.

so all that (and more^!) is available here, at STEPHAN!E'S AWESOME TRAVEL GUIDE FOR THE CONSCIENTIOUS AND EASILY ANXIOUS TRAVELLER. (which is really just a link to my del.icio.us of "travel" tags. what do u want from me?)

happy travels,

*i don't know which i'm dreading more, the 15 hour plane flight, or the more than 1.75 days in total it will take me to get there. layovers are a bitch. especially since i'm waking up at 4 am only to be laid over for the rest of the day. and no books?! how will i ever make it?! don't get me wrong, i love travelling. it's the actual travelling (flying, driving, waiting around in airports) that i just can't stand.

^in addition to helpful bookmarks for travelling, there's a random link to a Dubai website. check it out anyway. DUBAI IS FUCKIN NUTS!!!

dramatic irony

a more dramatic and emotive version of U2's "with or without you" i have not seen, nor will ever see again.

this is a Belgian girls' choir that has produced several cd's of wistful and unexpecting pop covers. they go by the name "Scala and Kolacny Bros," which confused me until now, b/c it seemed incredibly egotistical for two dudes to take all the credit for the singing these girls were doing. [edit: Scala is actually the name of the Scala choir. oops.]

but then i saw this and i was completely convinced otherwise.

indeed, there would be no singing without the conspicuous affect of their conductor.

so carry on, carry on wayward son.
(now there's a cover i'd like to see them do!)


p.s. one of my favorite moments comes around 1:12, when they sing "you give it all, but i want more." something in one of the girls' faces tells me she's got a real special interpretation of that song lyric. oh smiles!
p.p.s. 2:20 onward is pretty awesome too.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

re-presenting radical student politix

i've been playing with the idea of "re-presentation" [sic]

that is, to represent some things via media is quite different from the things themselves, and so, re-presented. and so, reimagined. the representation is itself a new thing.

this came out of an earlier idea to collaboratively write a book. tho now i am thinking that rather than getting submissions and compiling the disparate pieces, a group of us (student activists) could conduct the writing as an action in itself. we "speak" (rather than write) the book.

so check this out:

a book.
(books are symbols of power, crystallized knowledge, authority. how to remove the weight of the text? (or, how to co-opt it?))

self-published by SFS
(1. challenges the top-down structure of the media industry that mirrors the hierarchies of knowledge found in the educational system. 2. challenges notion of author/reader, performer/audience, producer/consumer. 3. active, rather than passive, participation in the generation of media, dissemination of knowledge)

containing conversations
(VOICE! one thing i've noticed in my study of critical pedagogy is the concentration on theory and lack of PRACTICE. education is fundamentally social. education for the betterment of our society and its citizens - what could be more social?)

about our activism
("our." "we" "us" "you" "me". first person plural. positions my self, our selves IN the discourse. there's no distance between me (the author) and you (the reader). i am part of the problem and solution, just as you are. draws reader in...)

there are so many books out there written about student activism and disengagement of our youth, but they're all by academics and theorists, not by actual students themselves.

furthermore, participatory media builds community and can empower students with a feeling of agency if they are involved in the process.

i dunno, but i'm thinking this could become a pretty cool creative project portion of my thesis...

Monday, June 04, 2007

cool gif(t)

from the awesome band Architecture in Helsinki (and the only music blog i read, StG), we get an interactive gif animation that allows you to play along with the music.

play here.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

i get around

this is going to change soon!

(currently showing i've visited 4% of the world. meh.)

countdown to Mongolia: 10 DAYS!!

and just for fun:

create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

EDIT (6.28.07):

(now showing 5%!)

Friday, June 01, 2007

satire isn't dead!

my faith in the college student specious has been restored! (and College Humor,which until now had always been a sight to avoid, if only b/c it always confirmed my suspicions that the college male had nothing better to do than get stinking wasted at parties and ogle braindead females)

AND the world benefits from an all-too-plausible parody of - get this! - both Hollywood and Facebook!??!! (the other axes of evil)

my day just got a whole lot brighter.