As I hurtle towards the inevitable end of the semester, it’s a good time to polish up some of the drafts that have been piling up. Instant content, just add coffee.

Yes. Well.

In my Anthropological Research Design seminar this semester we’ve been, um, designing research. Specifically, ethnographic research. (As a biological anthropologist, this is not something I do often).

I knew I wanted to do something involving Floridians and alligators. I’d read Laura Ogden’s Swamplife: People, Gators, and Mangroves Entangled in the Everglades and her scholarly articles on the cultural and political constructions of nature and the concept of ecosystems but I wasn’t quite sure where to go from there. (Here’s an interview on the Anthropology and Environment Society blog with Ogden about the book – it’s fascinating).

I was flailing about on a Friday night in late February, knee-deep in a literature review, when I decided to take a brief twitter-break. That’s when I saw that uber-scienceblogger Brian Switek had tweeted this::

My fear of a world where apes evolved from men kicked into high gear and I quickly responded.

Later I discovered my Tivo, Overlord II, had been trying to give me nudges in the right direction all week:

planetapes

Amidst all this chatter, and the inevitable branching twitter conversations, I realized I was thinking too narrowly. Reading Ajay Gandhi’s ethnography, “Catch Me if You Can: Monkey capture in Delhi” was a turning point. My ideas were sound, but my theoretical model was all wrong. I don’t think that multispecies ethnography (see references at the end of the post) is really going to be The Next Big Thing, but the possible applications are intriguing.

So the moral of the story: Twitter is not always a waste of time and Tivo is your friend and it just wants to help. Also, beware the Ricardo Montalban Effect, which I still haven’t fully explained but intend to in the very near future. I thought I had an old post explaining it, but I was mistaken. I’ll fix that, but probably not until the semester is over.

In related news, Brian Switek’s new book, My Beloved Brontosaurus: On the Road with Old Bones, New Science, and Our Favorite Dinosaurs, is waiting for you to buy it. It’s pretty great.

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References

Fuentes, Agustin
2010 Naturalcultural encounters in Bali: monkeys, temples, tourists, and ethnoprimatology. Cultural Anthropology 25(4):600 – 624.

Gandhi, Ajay
2012 Catch me if you can: Monkey capture in Delhi. Ethnography (13): 43-56.

Kirksey, S. Eben and Stefan Helmreich
2010 The Emergence of Multispecies Ethnography. Cultural Anthropology 25(4):545-576.

Ogden, Laura
2008 The Everglades Ecosystem and the Politics of Nature. American Anthropologist 110(1):21-32.

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[embedded image: post-smoothie cleanup operation]

This morning I decided to make a green tea fruit smoothie because I had a large quantity of frozen fruit. This is not rocket surgery. You put fruit, green tea, honey and lime juice in a blender. Then you paint the ceiling with the smoothie when you accidentally turn the blender back on after Husband removes the lid.

I make it sound much easier than it is.

In between, there are a few intermediary steps that involve destroying Husband’s kitchen appliances, as well as a significant amount of profanity.

Destruction and profanity. That pretty much sums up my entire cooking style.

To be fair, the death of Husband’s beloved kitchen appliances was not exactly my fault.

Much like the ape uprising wasn’t exactly Caesar’s fault in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, but was more precisely the result of what is known in scientific circles as the Ricardo Montalban Effect, an inevitable trajectory begun when Cornelius and Zira travelled back through time in Escape from the Planet of the Apes.

I’m not sure Husband sees it that way. Frankly, Husband should have seized operational control of this entire enterprise as soon as he heard me snuffling around in the kitchen, but he didn’t.

So really, who’s to blame here?

Ricardo Montalban, obviously.

First, the blender mysteriously refused to work. Husband joined me in the kitchen as soon as he heard me muttering and swearing at the blender. The indicator lights were on and the outlet worked, but no matter how much button-pushing we tried, the blender was an inert object. Our blender has 3 buttons. It’s not a complicated device.

For a brief moment I thought I’d well and truly lost my ability to function as an adult, so I felt better when it didn’t work for Husband, either.

House elves, we* agreed, are to blame for the death of the blender. I would feel bad if Ricardo Montalban was blamed for killing our blender.

At that point, Husband suggested we use the mixie. He dumped the ingredients from the blender carafe into the mixie carafe and started the mixie, which promptly broke. The little plastic pieces that spin the blades all broke off.

To be fair, the mixie has endured years of steady, almost daily use, and I contend it was time for a new one. I never touched the mixie, so clearly this was in no way my fault. I didn’t even suggest using it.

Clearly, this was Husband’s fault.

Although I may have been the one who failed to warn him that the pineapple chunks were still frozen and that there was a quarter cup of honey in the mix just waiting for an opportunity to ooze to the bottom of the carafe and gum up the blades. So that may have been my fault, but who can say, really?

While Husband was standing over the mixie, possibly administering Last Rites, I plugged the blender back in and hit the start button in what I figured was an act of futility. Of course the bastard roared to life. One of the three buttons didn’t work, so it’s still a bit of a mystery what’s up, but “on” and “off” were in good working order so who needs to the pulse function?

Husband dumped the ingredients back into the blender carafe, at which point we discovered that hard clump of honey and pineapple in the bottom of the mixie carafe.

You don’t need this much detail, and we don’t know for sure this is what killed the mixie, but I like typing the word “mixie.”

We then made smoothies without any further difficulty.

Unless you count the part where Husband removed the lid from the blender and I immediately reached over to make sure the blender was turned completely off so that we wouldn’t have any more accidental disasters. The carafe was still sitting on the blender body, where Husband left it when he removed the lid. Instead of powering down when I hit the button, the blender roared to life and geysered smoothie all over the kitchen counter and everything on that counter.

Obviously, it was his fault for not maintaining situational awareness (read: remembering that I was still in the room) and taking the carafe off the blender body before he removed the lid.

Husband does not agree with my logic.

In closing, making smoothies is serious business. Also, don’t forget to clean out the toaster while you’re wiping smoothie goo off of every other surface in the room.

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*We. I. One of those.