Wednesday, March 10, 2010


There are many, many different ways to get involved on the Southern Miss campus. In fact the Southern Miss website states that there are "Over 270 Ways to get involved on campus." That site is such a great resource to find clubs to join whether they are department related or independent of academia. It's a great way to meet new people, network professionally, and make life-long friends. Two of the organizations that I am involved with are the Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) and United Students Against Sweatshops/Student-Farmworker Alliance (USAS/SFA).

GSA: The Gay Straight Alliance of USM is meant to establish and maintain a safe and welcoming environment on campus and throughout Hattiesburg for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender individuals, allies, and gay affirming organizations.

USAS/SFA: United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) is part of a national movement of student groups and individual students fighting in solidarity with workers for sweatshop-free labor conditions and workers' rights.

FIND SOMETHING TO DO!! It's fun and something to add to your resume.

Monday, February 22, 2010

They say whatever you're looking for, you will find here.

" [voiceover] I can't say what made me fall in love with Vietnam - that a woman's voice can drug you; that everything is so intense. The colors, the taste, even the rain. Nothing like the filthy rain in London. They say whatever you're looking for, you will find here. They say you come to Vietnam and you understand a lot in a few minutes, but the rest has got to be lived. The smell: that's the first thing that hits you, promising everything in exchange for your soul. And the heat. Your shirt is straightaway a rag. You can hardly remember your name, or what you came to escape from. But at night, there's a breeze. The river is beautiful. You could be forgiven for thinking there was no war; that the gunshots were fireworks; that only pleasure matters. A pipe of opium, or the touch of a girl who might tell you she loves you. And then, something happens, as you knew it would. And nothing can ever be the same again."

-Thomas Fowler, The Quiet American

Four hours ago, I learned that the son (Joe W. Morgan, Jr.) of the Vietnam Veteran (Joe W. Morgan, Sr.) that went with my group to 'Nam passed away. I got the news; there was nothing I could do. Life goes on, yeah? Yeah, especially when one is in school. There's always work to be done. I was trying to think of another entry to make, when I began reminiscing about Joey. Study Abroad is very much a cultural experience, an experience USM facilitates. Click on the link to find out more about where you can go, the cost, and what classes you can take.

This is a photolog of some of my time in Vietnam:

Those are not even my best shots; it's not even a fraction of the number of pictures I took. Everyone on the trip each took over 2,000 photographs. Ronald even filmed the entire trip; he has posted a few clips on YouTube:

In every study abroad class you take, I daresay, you will be required to keep a journal. Even if you are not required to, writing everyday about events or your life is a good skill to learn. It's more difficult than you think, sometimes you forget. Other times, there's so much to write you can't possibly jot it all down. Vietnam 2009 was a life changing experience. I loved it more than words can say. Here is an excerpt from my final assignment:


There is really so much more to write and even more no words could express. There is so much to tell about the beauty and the people of Vietnam. There were so many things I was interested in that I did not write about but very much appreciated having the opportunity to experience. The class was mainly about the war, and I did learn about it and its effects. Not all the effects were negative. The war pushed Vietnam prematurely into the Technological Era, and now they are developing. Mr. Morgan is a treasure. I am honored to have met him, and to have travelled to Vietnam with him. The trip was the most enjoyable thing and the best decision I have made in my life, so far. I did many things I never imagined I would do or even have the courage to do. It is easy to simultaneously lose and find yourself there. I shed tears as Hanoi disappeared underneath the clouds because not only was I leaving the most wonderful professor behind but also because I was leaving the precious gift he offered us. I will return to Vietnam."

I will return one day. This place is a shell you can safely leave a piece of your soul, and I did. It happened unintentionally. I didn't know my spirit was connecting with the land. There's so much to say about this experience, but there's is little time and not enough beautiful words in our language.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Friday Morning in the Garden Room

Basically, the other posts that I've posted are not really related to USM. They concentrate more on my life in general. These next two posts will concern USM and me.

February 12, 2009, a Friday morning, the Southern Miss Department of Anthropology and Sociology participated in two symposiums: Research in Reconstructing Mississippi's Past and the Symposium of Forensics. Many departments participated in the Mississippi Academy of Sciences conference, which was in the Hattiesburg Convention Center on North 49. However, I did not attend all of their presentations. My friends and I participated in the two symposiums mentioned above. These are our titles:
  • EFFECTS OF CREMATION ON ANALYSIS OF CRANIAL GUNSHOT WOUNDS by Jessica Manrriquez and Stacy Scott presented by Me

All of the presenting Southern Miss people did great! As I said, there were many more departments that participated. However, I am associated with the Anthropology department.
Here is my published abstract:

This paper examines the effects of differential exposure to burning on the appearance and interpretation of cranial gunshot trauma. Two fleshed, untreated, and decapitated skulls were exposed to projectile trauma, one using a shotgun and the other a Meridian Police Department standard issue Glock. They were then placed in a recent model car with a high plastic composition, the former skull on the floor of the front passenger area and the latter skull on the back seat. The car was then set afire and allowed to burn out naturally. Skull #1, which had been shot in the right parietal, had an entrance wound measuring about 30mm in diameter located above the tip of the mastoid. Surrounding the wound were the classic concentric rings of unburned bone, partially burned bone, and charred bone. It ended in calcinated bone of the right parietal. Skull #2 had an entrance wound approximately 17 mm in diameter in the occipital. The wound exhibited radiating fractures from the trauma along with some heat fractures but showed no color banding. There was notable delamination present on the internal surface of the skull surrounding the entrance wound that was a result of the charring affects from the fire. It will be discussed how the damage seen in each of the skulls reflects not only the damage done by the type of projectile used, but also how various placements within the car, and thus degree and length of exposure to the fire, affected the projectile truama.

Click Here for the PDF version of the program, so you can see all the participants' titles and abstracts.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Life as of Late

Oh, where to begin? Mostly, I have a few concerns, thoughts. I really love the people I'm around: Dr. Danforth, Stacy, Michelle, and Lynn. Plus the new kids Morgan and Nicole. They are amazing people to look up to and learn from. It seems we have all evolved; we've changed. We've become more and more like the us of the future, the people we are meant to become. I hate that we won't be able to be the future us together, though.

On the other hand, there are those around me that absolutely piss me off. You can't wake up one morning and decide to be an archaeologist. Stop trampling on my turf. Also, there are those "internet friends" that annoy me. Stop being such smart ass jerk faces. They're not going to read my blog, though, so I'm just venting.

I'm really "feeling" one with my discipline. I'm talking about bioarchaeology and forensic anthropology, not anthropology. Anthropology is still a source of confusion. What is it? It's supposed to be a science. Yet, as hard as I try, it always becomes a tool to use for fighting for the things I believe. I love anthropology, though, whatever it is.

Speaking of my discipline, I have a conference presentation Friday. I'm just short of vomiting as of now. Today, I had my second run through of the presentation. The first time, I could not even finish. I did today. I don't know how to get the fear and shakiness out of my voice. I don't know how to stop my face from burning, the sweat from literally dripping, or how to control my breathing. Besides creating extreme anxiety, this project has me reeling. I'm unintentionally neglecting my classes. I have assignments due, but I also have the first paper of my career to write and deliver. This is a great opportunity for me, an undergraduate, but it is also a great responsibility. I can't disappoint my professor, my friends, or myself. I can feel a crushing pressure and my hair turning grey from stress. I can't keep missing class or forgetting my class assignments. I can't fail. Period.

There are some upsides to this paper, though. I get to spend time with the people I absolutely adore and respect. I've never been so tired (in recent memory) that I fall asleep immediately after my head hits my pillow. I've always had problems with sleeping, but this work is making me so tired I actually sleep.

This isn't an upside, but it kind of is: For some reason, this work, this stress, this strain makes me feel alive, like I have a purpose. Secretly, I don't want it to be over. What am I going to do after this? It's like an extreme high; the inevitable 'next' is a fall from the top. It'll be fine, though. I still have my senior research project to do, and tonight, I secured my project. It's going to be hellacious; but, hell, look at what I'm doing now.

The image is from a manga (a Japanese comic book) called Naruto. After posting this, I'm going to take a mental break and read the new chapters. Trust me, these chapters can be read in less than an hour, which is kind of sad. I don't know if I can afford to take a break for recreational reading; I almost feel dirty for it.

To-do-before-tomorrow list:
finish paper editing: MARK BREATHING/SLIDES
finish slide show: FIND PICS!!!
practice: BE CONFIDENT!
catch up in LIS 201, ANT 401, ANT 221, Zooarch, and Religion: totals - READING: 12 ch.s WRITING: 20 pg.s - OH DAMN!
read syllabus for each class to make sure I'm covering everything
set alarms for 7A.M.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Oh, Wayne, Be My Muse

"and I know, I'm solid like an elbow cast.
And my future will be better than my past. Weezy!
You could love me or hate me,
I swear it won't make me or break me.
I'm goin' where ever the money take me,
until they funeral and wake me, and don't wake me.
Cause I'm sleepin', I'm dreamin',
I know that there's a better way cause I've seen it, lord,
but this faster money is so convenient.
And I need it, say I need it."

Humans of many times and places have been cremating the dead for thousands of years. Archaeologists, therefore, have encountered many situations in which societies practiced both inhumation and cremation. From a bioarchaeological perspective, only studying the non-cremated remains leaves a void in understanding the entirety of that society. The same questions being asked and answered about the inhumation burials need to be asked about cremated burials. Surprisingly, little research has been done on identifying and understanding fire-related changes to a skeleton outside of the archaeological context. This is the concern of my paper.

Mississippi Academy of Sciences is going to be held in Hattiesburg this year. I'm giving my first conference paper. I'm really very happy about this opportunity, but I'm more afraid right now. Especially, since I'm still writing the paper and working on the PowerPoint. Elayne Pope is going to be in the same symposium as me. She is the Dame of Flames and the scholar on whose work EVERYTHING I'm writing about is based. The lady who is a forefront forensic anthropologist, a pioneer in studying gunshot trauma and fire trauma on the skeleton and I'm delivering a paper before her based on her work! I'm one of two undergraduates from Southern Miss giving a paper; this is a rare opportunity for us. It can be done, yes, but it doesn't happen very often.

I turn to music, like many others, to inspire me. I spend 20 minutes trying to create the perfect playlist for the mood I'm in before I begin to write. Without a doubt, Lil Wayne's The Carter III is going to be on my list. He has such confidence, such strength, that it helps me write. He's not the only one, just the main one. Bob Marley is another: "It was a buffalo soldier in the heart of America. Stolen from Africa, brought to America. Fighting on arrival; fighting for survival." Jacqueline Du Pré's rendition of Sir Elgar's Cello Concerto in E Minor is the greatest work to ever reach my ears. She is the greatest without words. I have various playlists from various times and places by various artists and various genres. Music keeps me going, even at 3:30 A.M.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Beginning

January 25, 2010

Culture in the Least Likely Form

As an anthropology major, I am taught that culture is everywhere and everything. Humans live in a never-ending cycle of culture; we use, eat, create, and are affected by culture. Culture can be written, seen, or experienced. That is why, for my essay, I am choosing to write about the quote in the atrium of the Liberal Arts Building. Firstly, it serves to define the purpose of a liberal arts college. The quote is in large gold letters and is visible as soon as one walks into the building from the main entrance. It is the Socratic quote: “There is only one good knowledge and one evil ignorance.” It can be considered art, or decoration. Mainly, it is a literally spelled out symbol of the college. The purpose is to educate wholly, from many perspectives. Socrates was a philosopher of Ancient Greece; he is considered a founder of Western philosophy. Although Socrates represents Western ideas, he also represents classical knowledge and inquiry into the sciences and humanities. Each floor, containing two or more academic departments, in the Liberal Arts Building has its own quote concerning the disciplines housed on the floor. However, as a whole, Liberal Arts majors are being taught that all knowledge is good and to stay, willingly or not, ignorant is evil. In a sense, it is evil because one lives socially, interacting with this culture.