rndmcnlly (rndmcnlly) wrote,

my my, what an interesting anthropological find

I don't often post links to things I just happen to find on the internet, certainly not highschoolers' blogs (let alone eight at a time!). However, consider this find: (well, not just yet)


The important content of that site, to me, is the event-by-event record of a two-week youth scientific program thingy. This is the first primary souce I've read myself that has so many individuals documenting the same events (notably, experiences I can usefully compare to my own own).

My general interest in in understanding other human beings and the spontaneous development of shared culture aside, there are many reasons this collection grabs me. Upon my own initial arrival in Los Alamos (to the local Best Western) I noticed a collection of giggly highschoolers in the lobby with their airline-tagged equipaje. Later that night I passed more in the hall. I wondered if they were other student coming to work at the lab like myself (though certainly not grad students). Something about my brief observation of them gave me the feel that, while they must have only met earlier that day, they were very comfortable with each other and were fast becoming a cohesive group. This feeling weakened support for my idea that they had come to work. Later on (almost two weeks later), I attended an lecture open to the community about Sgr A* and its interesting properties. These same kids were at that event, even manging to ask some intelligent (tough only tangentially related) questions of the lecturer who happened to be in one of the weapons divisions at the lab. Their eye contact and body language suggested they knew some of the sciency adult types present quite well, and weren't simply everyday, science-oriented citizens dropping in (like myself). Things started to fit together when one of the science museum affiliates (possibly a much more impressive title is due) announced that the Earthwatch students (who? what?) would be presenting their findings and reporting on their experience this summer at the same time/place the following day. My best other social offering for that time slot was hanging out at a smoky bar with a coworker I didn't really know then. The presentation was clear, informative, and quite engaging. This is not to say that it in any way felt professional, it was certainly very authentic and I liked that. The science was on par with what you might expect in highschool level physics (although I think they could have worked these "best and brightest" types a little harder). The presentation was rich with references to the students new shared culture. While they came from quite diverse backrounds, not two sentences would go by without revealing (however subtle) another detail about the social aspect of their summer experience. Having gone away on the middle school "DC trip" and off to a ymca summer camp on several occasions (for three different types of program) I had a lot of intense-relationship-building-in-a-short-temporal-window-with-peers-of-widely-warying-backrounds-at-a-roughly-highschool-age experience to compare and contrast with. I wondered what it would have been like for me to have had this same experience. All these ideas, still during their presentation.

It was not until tonight that I came across the blogs linked above and things really started to get interesting. They all describe the same geography, equipment, people, food, events, etc. From reading all of their accounts (consuming a considerable amount of time) one can really start to piece together a view of what took place that is far clearer than any single account. Furthermore, to be able to to fill in details from my own experience goes a long way. I've eaten at the same local places: China Moon, Bobs Bodacious BBQ, Hill Diner, El Parasol, Sonic, Central Avenue Grill, Quizno's, Smith's (grocery), TA-31 (Baskin Robbins), Lemongrass, Santa Fe Plaza (mall), Reel Deal (theater), and some others -- the places they ate where I haven't yet were already in my plan: Trinity Beverage Co, De Colores, Nuke City Foodworks, etc (they missed out on Chiliworks though). They hiked at Bandelier National Monument, with an exciting geology education provided by the same person who lead my hike there a week later (also the same person who got me hired at the lab). They hiked to Soda Dam -- the first waypoint on a hike I planned for tomorrow before finding their blogs this evening. They were given a talk about the history of Los Alamos by the same person who gave it during my own orientation. It might just be my own projection, but I see hints of the original words spoken to them by people I also happen to know through other means. The very distinct personalities that I observed in their presentation which I had thereafter forgot popped clearly back into myhead as I read their blogs. They were each clearly identifiable by their writing, even without a captioned picture to make it official.

Before planning my hike this evening, I had considered writing something about all of these places that make up the landscape of Los Alamos to me. I realized that I actually think eating and hiking a here a lot. I won't go into big descriptions now, but for anyone else who might end up in Los Alamos for some amount of time, the other places (aside from those listed in the paragraph above) that I could tell a little story about are: Mesa Public Library, LA Cafe, LA Subs / Daylight Donuts, Ashley Pond Pond (a pond), Chiliworks, Ruby K's Bagel Cafe, China Palace, Blue Window Bistro, Hot Rocks Cafe, Otowi Cafeteria (in LANL), Otowi Station (bookstore), Taco Bell Express (on NM502), Mitchell trail, Quemazon trail, Guaje Ridge trail, Anniversary Trail, Pipeline road (trail), Acid Canyon (and many many other canyon trails down there), Pajarito Mountain Ski Area, Overlook Park (in White Rock) .... I hope this entry gets picked up by google and helps a newcomer get familiar with names before they get here. I did some reading about Los Alamos (spanish for "the cottonwoods") before I got here and the only names I recognized were Chiliworks and Otowi Station.

Hmm, didn't I start writing about those highschoolers?
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