Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cecilio Chi Elementary School

This is Cecilio Chi Elementary School on the town square of Laguna Bacalar.

Cecilio Chi was a leader in the Mayan rebellion during the Caste War in the Yucatan in the late 1800's which was very nearly successful. That there is an elementary school named after Cecilio Chi seems to me a little like passing by Nat Turner Elementary in rural Virginia. I wish I knew more about the local politics that brought this about. I'm sure they are very interesting.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Daniel the Manatee

This is Daniel the Manatee.

He is adorable. He was rescued as an infant off the coast of Belize and fostered by faculty and students at ECOSUR. He's living now in Laguna Guerrero and is almost an adult.

I really wasn't expecting such charisma from an animal called a sea cow. Daniel is more alert, inquisitive, and playful than most dogs I know. He's clearly smarter than any dog I know. He's also beautiful and incredibly graceful. Sadly, habitat destruction is taking its toll on these amazing creatures.

For those of you who can stand the cuteness, there are also baby pictures of Daniel available online. ZOMG soooo cute!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Taken at the Temple of the Masks at the Mayan ruins of Kohunlich:

These masks were covered over when the temple was remodeled at some point during the centuries Kohunlich was occupied. Because of this ancient makeover, these masks are wonderfully well preserved with even some the colors still visible.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Time To Publication

What is the longest time you know about for a journal article to appear in print?

I just had an article come out. I had submitted the article back in 2005 (and just to make me feel better, let's ignore all those years this particular article spent on my desk in the form of various drafts and conference presentations shall we? kthnx.) That's 4 years from submission to publication. This is certainly longer than usual, but I doubt I broke any records.

The article actually whizzed through the initial peer review process at the journal and was accepted pending revisions after only about 6 months. The review process for the revisions took another year. So far, this seems about par for the course to me, although it is probably a little on the long side for the revisions. One of the two reviewers hadn't cared for the article and probably wasn't very interested in reading it a second time around knowing that it had already been accepted over their initial objections. Journals rely on the kindness of faculty to serve as referees and this is exactly the sort of work that is easy for professors to put in the "doesn't have to be done today pile" on the corner of their desk which can then be safely left to gather dust for a year. Still, after 18 months the article had finished its sojourn through the hands of reviewers and the revision process and been given final acceptance for publication.

I truly wasn't concerned that I didn't hear anything more from the journal over the next year.

I did finally send a polite email query about the status of the article. Six months later I received a somewhat chagrined reply apologizing for the delay. It seems they had lost my article, and then lost my email query about the article. Then they were both found again. Then it took close to another year for the article to find its way into print.

Not very graceful, but it worked.

Are there other stories out there about interminable time to publication? I'm guessing I'm not alone.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


When this was put on the table, the waiter made sure to make eye contact with me, the obvious gringo, and say very seriously, "Pica."

Yucatecan food is typically not terribly hot as compared to say Northern Mexican cuisine (or Southern Texas food for that matter). The one exception to this rule, though, seems to be Yucatecan salsas. This particular batch of salsa was basically just shredded habanero chiles and is among the more ferociously hot things I have ever put in my mouth. I imagine the stern warning was directed at me because once upon a time some poor unsuspecting German tourist mistook the small dish for carrots or coleslaw and ate a big forkful. It does look mostly harmless. I liked the heat, but I also appreciated the warning too.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


This is one of the most fascinating news photos I've seen in a long time:

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Writing Technologies

This is just a quick note about the new word processor I've been using while on sabbatical. I really like it. It's called Bean and it's a free, open-source word processor for Macs. Microsoft Word has gotten so large and slow and complicated that it makes me sad just to click on its icon these days. This word processor makes me happy. I find that's important since there are so many other ways for writing to make me sad it seems silly to start down that path just by opening the word processor.

I will date myself here by confessing that I started writing my dissertation using Microsoft Word 1.0 on a MacPlus. That sounds ancient. No doubt it is ancient. In human years, that would be about 1990. I remember really liking Word 1.0 though. It was very simple and very easy to use. Bean takes me back to those halcyon days of my youth when word processors were easy to use. I like this, and not purely for reasons of nostalgia. Time spent wandering through menus is not helpful to the creative process, nor are crashes and freezes. Bean is also easy on the eyes. Literally. One feature that my recently bifocaled eyes appreciate is the simple slider at the bottom of the window that changes the size of the text in the display. Brilliant! I can read what I'm writing again. I'm sure this is an important step forward in the quality of my writing as well. Bean is also free. I like free. If you drive a Mac, check out Bean. It may make you happy too.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

By Special Request

Another soothing, stress-free beach pic. Plus, a bonus iguana shot.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Lumpen Cats

I've decided to stop blogging about Marx, academic labor and the state of higher education. It's all just too stressful. Instead, until further notice, I will be blogging exclusively about cats.