Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Folk vs. Pop

Today's lecture in my US & Canada class was on folk culture and popular culture. Pop culture infuriates me. Or at least, the thought that we have become so "pop culturealized" makes me ill - but yet, I am definitely part of it.

Folk cultures are really only found in primitive parts of the world. They are classified by living in rural areas or small towns. They are old-fashioned and not influenced by modern technology. Most folk cultures are self-sufficient and value strong traditions and rituals. Most importantly, they have strong relationships and a high emphasis on family.

Our wretched, but unavoidable, pop culture (my teacher has just informed us that we are not a waste of human flesh even though we are part of pop culture) is defined by being urban. We value leisure, and depend on mass production to get things. Sadly, family relationships are not as strong.We have tons of relationships, but they are weaker. Change is rapid. -- Are you beginning to understand why I detest pop culture? -- and we are more mobile and less attached to the land.

I like to think that I am a blend of both. But that really isn't true. I am a part of pop culture - with folk culture dreams. [My teacher just described a situation I find myself in quite a bit. He was describing watching someone sit at a keyboard and sticking out their index fingers. Immediately you want to pick them up and set them aside and say, "Here, let me." So true, I have the hardest time watching anyone who types slower than 75 wpm. That's what I type, on my worst days. Sometimes I can get up to 90 wpm. I'm not bragging - I'm just saying. I have a hard time watching slow typers.]

I hate change. But I love having the latest technology...sort of. I would love to have an iPhone, and a Mac Pro or whatever...even though I don't know how to use Apple products. I would like to have them. Oh man, I wish I had a nice digital camera. I love driving. I like leisure time. I use my weekends as a mini-vacation. Rarely do I use the weekend to actually WORK. *shudder* But I do value my family. I wish I were more self-sufficient. I think I would like to garden and sew. Maybe... I wish we didn't move around so much. I think I would be completely content living down the road from my parents and siblings. And grandparents, and cousins. I like the idea of living on a large piece of land surrounded by family -- with no one leaving. Hehe. It sounds fabulous. Of course, then I wouldn't have my friends from California, Utah, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Colorado, Idaho... get the picture? Our economy doesn't allow us to live in a folk culture, and I don't think we would really enjoy going back...

But I am sick of the trends that roll through that are just retarded. I hate that our country worships celebrities. I am so disgusted with the lowering of standards, the widely accepted lifestyles that 50 years ago were taboo. I know that these lifestyles have been around since the beginning of time, but pop culture has allowed it to flourish and to be part of the norm. Since we can't revert back to our folk culture ways, I think we need to embrace some of the traditional aspects of a folk culture and start to ignore it idiocy of pop culture.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Losing My Mind!

It is supposed to be a figure of speech, but recently, I can't help but feel that I have completely lost my mind.

Point #1
I typically get lost. That is just how it is. However, in the last week, I've gotten lost SEVERAL times when I was going somewhere I've been before. I went last weekend to IKEA to purchase a chair. I've been to IKEA several times and have never had a problem finding my way, or getting home. Yet, somehow, I managed to find myself completely lost, in the dark. I still am not sure where I was, though I think it was just at the base of the mountains in Salt Lake somewhere. Where ever it was, I was sure I was going to end up in Wyoming. I didn't, in case you were wondering. I thought I was in Magna, but I looked that up and I wasn't there either.

Point #2
Part of my routine in the morning is straightening my hair - if just my bangs. Also part of the routine is turning said straightener off. In the last week, I've managed to leave the straightener on 4 or 5 times. This is abnormal. Also, I typically respond to reminders - and yet, Ashley has reminded me over and over again, and I keep doing it.

Point #3
I have NEVER left my lights on. And yet, in the past 3 days, I have forgotten to turn them off 3 times. On Friday night, Ashley told me that my light was left on in the car (I don't really think it was that time because...well because my car actually started when I came out the next morning and the switch was in proper position). I didn't go check, because I forgot. But then, when I got home late Saturday night, I checked to make sure my lights were off and went into my apartment. When I woke up Sunday morning, my car was dead. Apparently, I had not checked my lights. They had been left on all night. In my haste to get to church, I left my KEYS in the ignition and caught a ride when a couple of girls from my ward. After spending 45 minutes recharging my battery, I headed to American Fork for a mission farewell and open house. At the open house, someone announced that MY car had its lights on. Seriously.

Point #4
I don't speak well. Usually I pride myself in having fairly intelligent speech. The last few days my tongue has been tied in knots. I hardly know what I am saying anymore.

All of this proves that I am losing my mind. I am sure that there are those out there that would tell me to get more sleep...well, I have no reply. Perhaps I am not losing my mind, and in fact, just killing it from lack of sleep.

Is there a thing called Fatigue Stupidity. I think I have it.

Aspen Falls Review

The Time of Aspen Falls by Marcia Lynn McClure

The Time of Aspen Falls is a plotless love story set in modern day Albuquerque, New Mexico. It revolves around Aspen Falls, a twenty something book store clerk and her ultimate dream guy, Rake Locker, who happens to be the very essence of what a real man should be. If the storyline redeemed the choice of names, I would have forgiven MLM, but there simply is no story.

Aspen and her best friend Gina are supposed to be twenty-something-year olds who seem to have their own apartments and jobs, but still spend time sitting in a tree that they have played in since they were little girls. They are ridiculously silly and their dialogue is reminiscent of speaking to my 91-year old grandmother. They enjoy watching Leave it to Beaver, who as a 23-year old, I have never watched a full episode and doubt very much that my peers would enjoy such a show. This horrible habit of Marcia Lynn McClure's, that is mentioning song titles and TV shows, is perhaps a personal preference, but I like my stories to be timeless. And when such specific mention of Actresses, current fads, etc. are mentioned, it bugs me. Not to mention that Aspen and Gina were drooling over an 80-year old man (who turns out to be Rake's grandfather) and Sean Connery. The current 20-something-year old, especially the younger versions, probably do not even know who Sean Connery is! Other mentions of iPods, Angelina Jolie, and Stephenie Meyer's Twilight books were not only unnecessary, but oftentimes ridiculous.

If I had been able to read the Author's Note before purchasing the book, it might have changed my mind as to whether or not I paid for it. Marcia admits that there is much of herself put into the story. I don't have a problem with that, except Marcia isn't 20-something, and it shows through her characters that she doesn't seem to know how a real 20-something-year old actually speaks and what their interests are. Her use of the word "cool" was just silly at times, and trust me, there was a lot worse. The obsession with the Balloon Fair was over done, the mention that Rake wears white underwear made me throw up a little in my mouth, and Gina's fetish with UPS guys was completely unfathomable and uncomfortable.

MLM's hero and heroine is patented. They are basically all the same in all of her books. There is a reason I have read all of her books - it works. However, in The Time of Aspen Falls, Rake was just too perfect. Except his name. Rake Locker. Rake Locker? I wanted to throw my book across the room in disgust when I read his name. And unfortunately, I came across that feeling more than once as I read. The costume party where he dresses up as "Rochester Darcy - the vampire" made me want to scream at somebody. The fact that he was a Victorian Cowboy (professional rodeo champion, by the way), that wore Nike (again with the modern-day mention of a brand) basketball shoes while running, was the perfect physique and still had perfect manners, morals, and standards, was too too much. Not to mention is was a Master Clockmaker, and a pretty successful one at that. Of course he was. His family was perfect. He was perfect. He disgusted me.

Their relationship was something incredibly perfect as well. Apparently they were mutually attracted to each other for weeks - from the moment they laid eyes on each other, they knew that they were going to fall in love. It took a crazy phobia attack to get them to finally meet, but then after that, it all moved so quickly. They were immediately in love, even though they didn't really know each other. Throughout the story there is mention of past heartbreak, a name attached to it even, but no real explanation for any of it. Gina's story is even more ridiculous - it leads to a make-out session on the day she MEETS her dream guy.

Over all, I wasted a few hours of my weekend reading this book. Worse, I wasted money I didn't have buying this book. I knew that The Time of Aspen Falls was going to be cheesy and typical. But I enjoy MLM's Westerns and Regency books (at least they leave Donny Osmond, UPS, and Edward out of it)and have liked a FEW of her modern ones; though, they tend to get increasingly worse. If she would leave out her personal convictions and work on developing the characters, while allowing for a little flaw in her hero and a little more confidence in her heroine, she would do a lot better.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

To be unmarried...

We had to laugh at a kid in class today.

We are talking about one of my favorite topics in my Population Geography Class today and this kid raises his hand and the following ensues:

Kid: I'm sure you've heard of this, heck, you've probably studied it already. But have you noticed that when New York loses power for a week, nine months later women are popping out babies?

Class: *stares at him, with mouth gaping*
Me: *trying not to giggle*

Kid: I mean, have you seen a connection with natural disasters or something like that and an increase in population? Did people have babies during the black plague?

Snotty guy that makes too many comments: We're here! (Implying that YES, people did have babies during the black plague.)

Teacher: Goes into lengthy discussion about how, really, those things to not have such a huge affect on population. Not when it comes to trends and transitions.

Kid: And what about when war is over? I mean, with all the soldiers coming home?
Me: *trying not to snort*
Class: *faint giggles and guffaws*

Snotty guy: It's called the baby boom.
Teacher: Are you married?
Kid: No.
Teacher: Obviously.
me: *dying*
class: *mild laughter*


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Let's go to Europe!

I know y'all were wondering, desperately, what I decided to write my paper on. So I decided to post it here.

Why I should like to travel to the United Kingdom

Shelli Armstrong

Geography 348 – Tourism: Patterns and Analysis

Professor James A. Davis

21 January 2009

As the assistant of the director of brand and marketing communications for an international corporation I had the opportunity to assist my boss in creating a travel plan that involved flying from Salt Lake City, Utah to Frankfurt, Germany to Salzburg, Austria, to Edinburgh, Ireland. While she and a few associates were in Europe, they wanted to use their weekend to explore and travel – and she assigned me the task of coming up with their itinerary. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I literally sat and planned all the fun things that they were going to do, knowing that I would not be enjoying their excursion to Vienna and Salzburg in Austria. Writing this paper feels like the same sort of delicious torture. As I have studied and explored, it has only increased my desire to travel and further broke my heart that I do not have the means in which to do so at this point of my life.

I fell in love with geography, the class, in seventh grade; but I had fallen in love with history, different cultures, and all things European long before that. Despite my passion for studying and reading about different times and places, I have never had the opportunity to leave the United States. And so, I am recommending to myself and anyone else in my position, the United Kingdom as our first excursion abroad. The United Kingdom, comprising of England, Scotland, Whales, and Northern Ireland, is a country that is rich with history, culture and “touristy attractions.” Also convenient is the fact that this particular country speaks English, so for our first trip overseas, we do not have to worry about a language barrier (we can save that for another time). From the times of the ancient Romans to that of Jane Austen, particular cities have been made popular destinations – made famous through timeless literature or famous battles. Aside from the fact that I am practically giddy each time I hear the Scottish lilt or British brogue, these areas appeal to all sorts of tourists.

There are several different types of tourism, and since I do not discriminate, and really wish to participate in anything and everything I possibly can, I have a hard time making any sort of set decision of what I would actually like to see. If one fancies adventure tourism, then Southwest England is the place to go. The Southwest has been designated for getting wet, going faster, getting high, and staying active.[1] Activities like kite surfing, Skid Pan, and Microlighting are all available for the adventure tourist. Another type of tourism available to the avid sportsman involves several different games that can be watched, if one is so inclined. England is known for Wimbledon; there is also a variety of football (soccer) teams in which to go watch. If you are lucky, perhaps your favorite team will be in a championship of sorts. If sports tourism really is your thing, then you should make it a point to see a rugby game or play some cricket. Throughout Scotland and England, agri-tourism has followed the trend of other European countries and begun to rise in popularity; and one can stay in an old farmhouse and enjoy the simple country life.

All of these things sound brilliant and entertaining; however, my interests lie in cultural and historical tourism. Since I have never been outside of the United States, it is hard for me to imagine beyond what I read in books and see on film of what the UK is really like. Unfortunately for my very own misconceptions, I often read books that are based in regency times or before. Despite my own delusions, there are places in the UK where I can go and enjoy the history of England and Scotland that cater particularly to those that want to dwell in the past.

As the capital of the county, as well as one of the founding cities in England, it makes sense to begin a trip to the UK in London. Officially founded by the Romans, London was used as a strategic city for defense and as a port city. It has not stopped growing in importance since. Of course there is Buckingham Palace, the Parliament buildings and Big Ben, Westminster Abby, Hyde Park, and Piccadilly Circus. Among all the sites that I have actually heard of, there is a lesser known attraction named the Geffrye Museum[2] which exhibits the changing style of the English domestic interior starting in the 1600s and working to the present day. It promises to be fascinating.

While there is certainly enough to keep a tourist entertained for weeks and weeks in London, it would be a shame to go all the way to the UK and not visit another location. The city of Bath[3] has long been a tourist destination, dating back to the times of the Romans. For 2000 years people have come to the city of Bath of to enjoy the mineral springs. Since the city has a longstanding tradition of tourism, there are always activities and festivals, like the Fringe Festival and the Bath International Music Festival; but more importantly to me, there is a longstanding history. The magnificent Jane Austen lived in Bath, and her residences have been transformed into a tourist site. \Bath claims that it has always been an extravagant city that celebrates the arts. It has produced great poets, architects, musicians and actors. There are a number of parks and gardens that should not be missed. There are so many things to do in Bath, that it is unlikely you will get to see everything in one visit (didn’t we say that about London as well?).

When most people think of vacation, their minds wander to that of sun, sand, and sea. The UK is not known incredibly for its long lasting, sunny days; however, Brighton[4] offers sand, of sorts, and the sea. Of course, Brighton does not really have sandy beaches that we have come to associate with the Caribbean or Mexico, but it does have beaches. It can not boast warm water, really, either. However, Brighton has a historic past and has developed into a city that is much like San Francisco, California, where the arts and the body are celebrated. Comedy clubs, theaters, music, films – they are all accessible to enhance and culture our trip to the UK. While there, we can focus on our mind, body, and spirit through yoga and maybe even a trapeze class at the Hangleton Community Centre. Regardless, it is sure to be an entertaining and relaxing atmosphere – which is what the beach is supposed to bring, after all.

I would be absolutely distraught if I went to the UK and did not see Scotland[5]. After having read a series of books by Diana Gabaldon, I have fallen in love with the country. Even before the books, I have always been a sucker for a Scottish accent. And, not to mention, my family tree actually hails from Scotland. Having said all of that, there is plenty to do in Scotland, even if you do not drink whisky; and whatever you choose to do, it is sure to be enlightening and magical. In Edinburgh[6], there is, of course, the castle and the Royal Mile. And since it is free, I should definitely love to spend some time in the Museum of Edinburgh. Scotland’s turbulent history left fortresses and castles all over the country, not just in Edinburgh. There are so many cultural distinctions among the Scots that can be seen through the Highland Games, which should not be missed if you want to hear bagpipes and see men in kilts. The countryside is absolutely breathtaking, and if we want to try a little Island tour, there is always the Shetland and Orkney Isles to visit. The Orkney’s boast a world famous Neolithic village that has been preserved, and the village happens to be older than the Egyptian Pyramids.

Throughout the world there are all sorts of historical places and places of exotic beauty and grandeur that should be seen. It may seem a bit strange to pick the United Kingdom as a number one destination choice when there are so many other places that should be considered. Since I am quite inexperienced with traveling to foreign countries, I have to rely on what I have read and seen through the media – and by doing so, I have come away quite enchanted with the once colonial power of my own country. The United Kingdom boasts so many different types of tourism that one could spend an entire year over there and never see it all. With four different nations living in one country, the diversity and cultures available to experience and study are boundless. The more I have researched the UK, the more I know that I should like to visit – the sooner the better.

Websites of Interest:

[1] http://www.itsadventuresouthwest.co.uk/

[2] http://www.geffrye-museum.org.uk/

[3] http://www.cityofbath.co.uk/

[4] http://whatson.brighton.co.uk/index.asp

[5] http://www.visitscotland.com/

[6] http://www.edinburgh.org/

**United States is an awesome place to travel. It is, of course, why we get so many tourists from all over the world. However, part of the assignment was writing about a place we'd never been. Granted, I could have written about the U.S. and a place where I've never been (Oregon, New York, Maine, etc.) but I didn't think it sounded nearly as interesting. We are very lucky to have all the cool things we have in our backyard, as Carla put it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I love Geography!

"Why I should like to travel to the country of _______"

Sounds like the easiest, best assignment in the world. Right? WRONG!

How am I supposed to pick just one? How am I supposed to sit and research exactly what I would do in said country, and then NOT get to go? I am reminded of when I had to plan my boss' trip to EMEA (I can't remember what that stands for anymore, Europe something...something) and where she would go on her down time. What a horrible sort of torture to inflict upon a geography major that has NEVER left the country. (And isn't likely for some time...) For a week I researched all the things that you could do in Austria. They had a grand time.

I can't even rank the countries that I want to go to most. I could try...but really, the priority changes depending on what book I'm reading at the moment, or whose accent I accidentally overhear.

Top 10 to visit in Europe (not ranked in any order...)
  1. UK - Britain, Scotland, Whales
  2. Ireland
  3. Croatia
  4. Austria
  5. Germany
  6. Czech Republic
  7. Romania
  8. Poland
  9. France
  10. Spain
  11. Portugal
  12. Italy
  13. Greece
  14. Bulgaria
  15. Switzerland
  16. Estonia
  17. Finland
  18. Sweden
  19. Denmark
  20. Hungary
Oh...whoops - did I say top 10???

Top 10 in Asia-Pacific
  1. Thailand
  2. Japan
  3. India
  4. China
  5. Indonesia
  6. Philippines
  7. New Guinea
  8. Australia
  9. New Zeland
  10. ALL of the Islands
Top 5 in Africa
  1. Ghana
  2. Kenya
  3. Morocco
  4. Madagascar
  5. South Africa
  6. Mozambique
  7. Ethiopia
Top 10 in Central and South America
  1. Brazil
  2. Mexico
  3. Argentina
  4. Chile
  5. Venezuela
  6. Peru
  7. Costa Rica
  8. Nicaragua
  9. Honduras
  10. Belize
  11. Uruguay
Top 10 in the Caribbean
  1. Cuba (hehe)
  2. Dominican Republic
  3. Haiti
  4. Barbados
  5. Jamaica
  6. Bahamas
  7. All of the Islands
  8. more Islands
  9. There are lots of Islands
  10. I'm not kidding - Sun, Sand, and Sea...awesome
Top 10 in the US/Canada - having grown up in the US, you would think that I wouldn't want to visit places here, but I realize that there is a lot that I haven't seen or experienced; but there is also stuff that I would like to experience again and again. The thing about the US is that it is so diversified, that you could probably spend all your time and money and resources discovering our very own country and still never see it all...but, it definitely lacks in some things that world traveling would provide.
  1. New England
  2. New Orleans
  3. New York
  4. Alaska
  5. Hawaii
  6. More California
  7. Oregon/Washington
  8. Minnesota
  9. Chicago
  10. The South
Do you see my dilemma? Now that I have two hours before the library closes, I need to pick a place. But where to pick? I still haven't decided. And how am I going to afford all of this? I guess I really do need to get a job at the airport so that I can travel for free. That won't subsidize all the cost, but it will help a little bit. Oh man, I want to leave this country...just for a little trip. I don't think I'll ever see it all. I guess it is good that I do not have a passport and a credit card with unlimited funds. I don't think I would be stupid enough to charge a trip across Europe, but there would really be no way enough.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Trench Coat Flasher

As I walking up the steps that lead to our hot tub and inevitably my warm apartment, I had just finished a book that wasn't something that I needed to dwell on - it was full of fluff. You don't dwell on that sort of thing, especially when you don't participate in your own life. There is something about reading for a couple hours and then snapping your head up and realizing that you are back in real life. But you're still in transition mode, you put the car in drive and it seems like you are on auto-pilot until you get home. And then you start thinking.

I was thinking, as I climbed the stairs, that it was cold. Dang cold. But I was grateful, for once, that I was not in Ohio - because I hear that it is even colder in the midwest. Still, I was anticipating getting back inside, or wishing that I had never left the warmth of my car. And then I thought, "At least my boots match my coat." I'm not sure how that justified the cold, but it did. Because I hadn't taken my coat off all day. In fact, I had completely forgotten what I had chosen to wear yesterday because I had not seen the outfit all day. So I thought, "Heck, why do I dirty my clothes then? I could just wear absolutely nothing under my coat - save my self the chore of doing laundry (which I hate) and spending money on laundry detergent and softner and bleach." I contemplated that for a full 10 seconds and further realized that I have to wear clothes underneath, if simply for the layers. Layers are what make the coat work after all, I think. Whether or not that is true, you are advised to wear layers in the cold. So dang, guess I won't be going freestyle under my coat.

In related news, I found a cute jacket that I bought last year, maybe the year before, but I haven't worn it since I bought it. Because it was in the truck of my car, I had forgotten about it. I finally pulled it out, washed it, and now I am wearing it. Too bad that I'll leave my house, put on my coat, and no one will see it until spring.

I am grateful I'm not in Ohio right now...it's freezing there. Or at least, that is what I keep telling myself.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Awesome Things You Learn in College

The following is a list that has been compiled over the first week of school of amazing things I have learned...gosh, I love school! I will most assuredly be updating this list.
  1. "From the point of view of the mythical Grim Reaper, Americans are most elusive at ages 10 and 11 when only one in every 5,000 people dies, and most vulnerable at age 122 when virtually everyone is harvested." - Population: A Lively Introduction*. Population Geography**
  2. "The effect of the weather on the inhabitants of Provence [France] is immediate and obvious. They expect every day to be sunny, and their disposition suffers when it isn't. Rain they take as a personal affront, shaking their heads and commiserating with each other in the cafes, looking with profound suspicion at the sky as though a plague of locusts is about to descend, and picking their way with distaste through the puddles on the pavement. (If he weren't talking about the French, he most certainly would be talking about our apartment...) If anything worse than a rainy day should come along, such as this sub-zero snap, the result is startling: most the population disappears... But what did everyone else do? The earth was frozen, the vines were clipped and dormant, it was too cold to hunt. Had they all gone on holiday?...It was a puzzle, until we realized how many of the local people had their birthdays in September or October, and then a possible but unverifiable answer suggested itself: they were busy indoors making babies. There is a season for everything in Provence, and the first two months of the year must be devoted to procreation. We have never dared to ask." -A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle. Travel Geography
  3. My teacher, Dr. Hardin, is the "best darn apologizer in the world!" -GEOG 211 Syllabus. Map Use and Analysis (I thought I had a list of things from the syllabus that I thought was hilarious, but I think it was just what he told us in class.)
*I am not going to properly cite everything. Take the title. If you want more information, you can contact me, but I doubt very much you'd be interested in reading full articles, text books, and various hodge-podge material that I am studying.
**This is the class that I was doing homework for when I encountered these gems of knowledge. Just for proof that I am studying ALL of my classes, whether I like them or not.

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