Month: February 2011

Mind-Mapping & Social Sciences

Mind map

Image by Squallwc via Flickr

If I’m ever feeling impulsive, I’m going to buy Tinderbox software.  For now, I’ve downloaded the trial version. If you ever have the need to mind-map (i.e. organize/network multiple ideas), this software is amazing. If you’re looking for something free, some folks at have created a great visual list of software tools, including lots of free choices (so far I like Cacoo).  So why on earth would I need this?

Today I sat in a professor’s office for an hour. I gave him my list of 31 potential paper topics and we used Tinderbox to organize it into categories and network specific concepts between thoughts. I walked out of there with a pretty clear idea of where I need to go next with these ideas – specifically for my thesis topic. It will be a great way to organize potential paper topics (if you’re like me, you have a giant list), or to create a chronology of them.

I can also see the potential for this kind of software during fieldwork, specifically if you don’t have access to the qualitative research database software that’s out there. It’s like Christmas over here – time to play with my new toy!  Go check them out if you have time!

P.S. This particular professor rocks.. our Music of India class is having an Indian cooking lesson & Bollywood watching event tonight @ his place 🙂

NOLA Notes Pt. 1: Amzie

We were at a cafe on Saturday morning. Amzie’s black top hat was dusty around the rim – you’d leave a starkly contrasted trail with any finger swipe.  He had his winter jacket on; rust-colored with gold buttons – it reminded me of the jacket Bette Midler wore in her “Oh Industry” scene from Beaches shown below – without the frilly shoulder cuffs.

(Note that my favorite quote from this movie is also in this clip – can you guess which one? When I was young I had this entire scene choreographed and my dorkiness came through over this past holiday season when I accidentally remembered it)

His pants were tight black leather with alternating black & red star cut-outs from ankle to knee.  On his right thigh, a weathered black leather fanny pack.  He wore red doc martens which looked like they’d been traipsing the Quarter for months. His thick white beard wrapped from ear to ear – mustache to match.

I dumped copious amounts of honey into my tea as I glanced over at him reading the “A Section” of the Times Picayune while Om Lounge soared over the cafe space, complete with scratch beats.  As for the rest of the soundscape? Tips (change) being counted behind the counter, a barista ripping receipts as he takes orders, coffee chatter, the cappuccino machine frothing, two dogs barking at each other from opposing sides of the room, and a calliope from the steamboat Natchez announcing its lunch voyage on the river.  A tall thin black guy in his late twenties leaks a sonic glimpse from his headphones as he checks Facebook on his Sony Vaio.

This Week's Ambush Cover

I glanced over and Amzie was perusing the front page of Ambush, a local queer publication.  On the cover was a giant advertisement for “Big Freedia’s Big Gay Birthday Bash”, a Sissy Bounce show I had plans on attending later that evening (and did). He squirted ketchup on his hash browns.

It was good to see Amzie (my partner calls him ‘The Wizard’). One of my facebook posts over the weekend involved a metaphor of my soul as a wilted fleur de lis (the symbol of New Orleans) – Amzie is one of those characters that rehydrates it.  Several months ago I made a post about him and the homemade bass he brought in my living room while I was having a yard sale.

After breakfast at the cafe, I was walking down Decatur and my partner and I did a double-take when we saw a homeless guy picking through the trash. Normally, people do a double-take when they’re not used to seeing them, when they’re culture-shocked, or when they’re doing something “odd”. We did one and simultaneously said “he’s new”. That’s a good reminder for me that New Orleans is home. We can be in a neighborhood crawling with thousands of residents and tourists and still distinguish when new migrants/homeless folks are in the area – it means they aren’t part of  the group that we [as a neighborhood] collectively watch over. That reminds me – I didn’t see Bill or James this weekend (my two homeless friends). I hope they’re both okay.