Sunday, October 14, 2007

Southern Hemispheres

I'm off for a bit of vacation. This will be my first venture into the Southern Hemishere - so exciting!!! Talk to you all in a few weeks!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Quality time weekend

Sorry, been meaning to post this but things have been busy.

I had a fabulous weekend. Tim and I watched "Knocked Up" on Friday night. It's a pretty funny movie though some of the humor was definitely male-oriented humiliation and toilet humor.

On Saturday, I dragged Tim out early for a special sale on outdoor gear. I'm headed to Africa and need to get some last goodies. I was especially excited to get some carbon trekking poles that normally cost a bundle. I already have the standard aluminum poles, but there's nothing like lightening the load a little. Afterwards we head out for a day in the city. It was really relaxing to sit on our travel chairs in the park and enjoy all the goings-on. To test out my new camping pillow, Tim suggested we "camp" on the living room floor for the night with the windows open to simulate the cold. So cute.

On Sunday, I met up with Is and Ci. This was our chance to catch up on some girl talk. I'm not totally close with them, but having very similar family backgrounds makes it easy for us to empathize with each other.

The morning could not have started out more crazy than people ending up in the wrong places. I thought specifying downtown would have made it clear but apparently not. Ten minutes after the meeting time, I was still waiting. I called Ci and she said she was already sitting at a booth. The hostess overheard my reaction and immediately suggested that she might be at another location. The local breakfast place, I forgot, has multiple locations.

Sure enough, Ci was sitting at the mall. That's the newest diner, one that I always forget exists. I immediately thought of Is. She tends to get lost easily. When Ci called her, it sounded like she was headed for downtown. But on a whim, I called her to double check. As soon as she answered the phone, she said, "Where are you guys? The place is closed."

Yup, she went to the original diner, which is three blocks away and only open on weekdays. After giving them both directions and waiting for a booth, we finally sat down to brunch. What a stressful morning!

We had the usual catching up over minor dramas such as Ci's husband running into his ex-girlfriend. I told them about Tim. The biggest topic of conversation that day was exploring how our attitudes about dating and marriage have evolved over the years. Naturally, they were curious about my change of heart with Tim. Is is having her own issues with Irish as she's unsure about the next step after almost two years.

At some point, I asked Ci how she knew that Cy was someone she wanted to marry. She explained that while he may not be the love of her life, he's what she's looking for at this point in her life. She mirrored some of her mother's choices at that age with her own priorities. Her honesty was refreshing to me.

I know some people would be aghast at that kind of comment. After all, we grow up with fairy tales about love and how it's the only reason to be with someone. But let's face it, love isn't everything, not in today's frantic world. If we all lived in bubbles, sure, it would always work out, but we live in a constantly changing environment.

Ci talked about how the two of them fight, maybe more than what she perceives to be normal. But then, he's intelligent and stable. Perhaps ten years ago she would have looked for someone more "wild." We all agreed that when you're in your twenties, it's easy to say "let's see what happens."

We talked about how we all have been programmed to believe we want this perfect Asian man that will also please our mothers. Subconsciously, we know we are still trying to please our parents even though we constantly struggle against their wishes. They'll never be happy with our choices whether it be the jobs we take, the money we spend, or the men we date.

Is is dealing with her own issues. She been dating Irish for some time now. Generally, the impression is that he's a good guy who wants to be with her for the long-term. She, however, is struggling with what's lacking in him. He's tall, self-sufficient, caring, and funny. What he lacks is a college education, a well-paying job, and a stable family background. Maybe this doesn't make sense to some people, but that's what you learn to look for and know that you're parents will be looking for if you have a background like ours.

While she finds it empowering to have to take the initiative with financial decisions and other practicalities, I know it's not the image she envisioned for herself. She is a bit of a princess type and has previously dated guys who always took care of her. I think she's struggling with the idea of being the one who wears the pants for the family if she marries Irish. She knows he's a good match for her despite those challenges.

Probably the telling question Ci offered was this, "Can you envision that your man will be there to push your wheelchair when you're old?" She laughed with a bit of fear that Cy would not be good about that. On the other hand, Is and I were confident that our men would support us through anything. It's a good feeling I suppose.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The end of the tunnel

Rumors are swirling. People are coming late and leaving early. My boss came to me this morning and ask, "Hypothetically, if responsibilities are moved to the East Coast, would you be interested in taking a transitional role with the [parallel to here] department?"

"What does that mean? Do I need to move to NJ or would I simply be traveling there each week for six months to a year?" I wanted to make sure I understood my options.

"No, you'd move to NJ and be managing a group of people and taking on larger projects and responsibilities."

Wow, I thought. That would be such a great career move, but I don't want to leave. My response came pretty quick though I was slow find the words, "N - o... I know it's a great opportunity but I don't want to move."

"Okay. That's what I expected to hear." My boss got up and started to turn towards the door.

"What about you? You wouldn't consider leaving?" I asked because he just moved his family to a new house. His kids range 6-14 years of age.

As he closed the door, he confided in me, "they've asked me to interview for a VP position in [sister company]. It'd have to been a pretty strong reason for me to consider it. I don't want to move; my wife doesn't want to move. It'd be pretty tough." His head shaking told me that it would have to be an incredible offer.

So if this discussion of our operations is "theoretical" and yet to be determined, how come he's already been asked to interview elsewhere in the organization?

I appreciate the fact that my boss has tried to be as transparent and open as possible about what is going on. Everyone is on pins and needles. The layoffs and downsizing has worn morale down to a threadbare state. We don't care and yet we want to know if we should continue to do our jobs. This is just torture.

It seems many friends I've talked to are going through the challenge of refocusing their careers. I like what I do, but I know it's time for a change. The opportunity to be in a bigger group and manage others is tempting. I could simply put my stuff in storage, move East, and rent an apartment for year to give it a go. But what happens to everything else? What about Tim? What about my friends? What about my life? And if this is a "transitional" job, what happens when the term is complete? Am I out on the street or is that time also meant to be used to find a permanent role in a new group?

Am I being stupid in not considering the opportunity? If it weren't for Tim, would it be more appealing? It could be tough, the cultural difference between East and West Coasts can be striking. That would be another challenge. I might hate it after three months, but still the experience would be good to have. I could learn from others, learn different ways companies and groups operate, make connections.

But then, there's also the temptation of waiting for the layoff. After all, I'd get a several weeks severance and be able to just have to some time off to relax and revise my career goals. Taking on this job would delay that opportunity and I'd lose that nice little severance.

Argh, why does this all have to happen weeks before I'm off for vacation?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How low can you go?

I have to admit, this is a minor factor in my attraction to men. It's one of the things that can make a bad first impression. There are several men I've met from online dating who seemed likeable in e-mail but went downhill once I talked to them.

Sadly, it's one of the things that is not so exciting about Tim. His voice is somewhat childlike. Even he acknowledges that he does not like his voice because it is higher pitched than he prefers. There were definitely former boyfriends' voice that I loved hearing when I talked with them on the phone or listened to their voicemail messages.

So is there some parallel rule with women? I can imagine how a very low voice would scare some men. I know of a few women who have particularly high voices. They either sound like they are little girls or have sucked a bit of helium. It's like listening to nails on a chalkboard at times.

I wonder what these native peoples think of us foreigners running all these "odd" experiments with them?

Deep-voiced men 'have more kids'
Men with deep voices tend to have more children than those who speak at a higher pitch, scientists say.
Their finding is based on a group of hunter-gatherers in Tanzania known as the Hadza, who can be studied without bias because they use no birth control.

Males who hit lower notes as they talked had about two more children on average than squeaky speakers.

It fits with observations that women find masculine voices more attractive, the team reports in Biology Letters.

"There are a lot of reasons why lower pitch and reproductive success could be linked," said Coren Apicella, from the Department of Anthropology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, US.

Deep tones are suggestive of increased testosterone levels, which could lead females to perceive such men as better hunters and therefore better providers, she told the BBC.

"Or it could be that men with deeper voices simply start reproducing earlier. We really don't know what is behind this yet."

Sound system

Apicella's group studied the Hadza because "they provide a window into our past" - they live their lives much as our ancestors did, and their behaviours could illustrate key facets of evolution that might otherwise be swamped by modern culture.

Hadza females gather berries and dig for tubers, while the males hunt animals and collect honey. Marriages are not arranged, so that men and women choose their own spouses.

The Hadza are monogamous, but extra-marital affairs are common, and the divorce rate is high.

For the study, voice recordings were collected from 49 men and 52 women between the ages of 18 and 55.

"The experiment was really simple," said Ms Apicella. "I went to nine different camps and I'd just get them to come into my Land Rover and record them saying the word 'hujambo', which means 'hello', into a microphone.

"I then analysed the voice and pitch, and compared it with the person's reproductive history - how many children they had had and how many were still surviving."

The results indicated the deeper the man's voice, the more likely he was to have fathered more children, she said. She added that voice pitch was not linked to child mortality.

"We found that for women, the voice pitch was not connected to reproduction."

'Hadza Olympics'

Because of the similarity which their hunter-gatherer lifestyle bears to that of our ancestors, the reproductive success of the Hadza could be indicative of the way that human beings evolved.

If females are drawn to deeper voices, this would drive selection in the population towards that trait. In other words, lower-pitched male speakers would become dominant over time.

"It's possible that vocal dimorphism has evolved over thousands of years, partly due to mate selection," explained Ms Apicella. "Perhaps at one time, men and women's voices were closer in pitch than they are today."
Her group has plans to extend its study. It is analysing data gathered from an experiment designed to test whether lower voice pitch in Hadza men really is any kind of indicator of performance.

"I set up the 'Hadza Olympics'," she said. "The tribesmen participated in lots of activities, like archery competitions, racing, hunting, etc.

"I'm going to look now at these to see if there is a link between hunting success, reproductive performance and voice pitch."

The research was undertaken with David Feinberg of McMaster University and Frank Marlowe of Florida State University.