Can you stay fit in the field?

by Asher on October 4, 2017

Asher doing a standard pull-up on gymnastic rings during fieldwork in Bolivian Amazonia.


When I was in graduate school, fellow students would often tell me they didn’t have time to work out because they felt they needed to constantly be reading/studying/working in the lab. However, my response was “you don’t have the time not to work out.” Sitting in front of the computer all day and being sedentary can harm productivity. Those exercise breaks, even if it’s just a walk, can help ideas solidify, relieve stress, and provide a much needed break for personal time, which can bring you back to your work more refreshed.

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Freakonomics just posted a great interview with the physician-anthropologist president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim. In it, he talks about changes in the bank’s approach to encouraging development. He also talks about how he used to want to shut down the bank (before it shifted mission and he became president) and their current foci on automatic thinking, social pressure and mental models to encourage change that leads to better overall well-being. It’s based on the great new WBG report, Mind, Society and Behavior. Check out their info graphic below for a nice summary introduction.


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Just four days ago kraftwerk launched a half-million dollar Kickstarter campaign–that has already surpassed half its goal–to fund final development and production of a portable butane fuel cell for consumer electronics. It’s one of the first of a new breed of fuel cell technology with widespread consumer applications. For travelers (and field researchers) it promises to provide 11 charges of an iPhone with each butane fluid refill.  And it does this while weighing just 7 oz.  Compare that to the Energizer/XPAL XP18000 100WH lithium battery with a similar charging capacity that weighs 2.3x as much. The kraftwerk also beats lithium ion batteries on refill time requiring just a couple of seconds while the XP18000 takes at least a couple of hours to charge from the mains. But there are sacrifices too.  For now, the kraftwerk can only provide 2 amps maximum at 5 volts, which is well under the XP18000 that can be used to charge most (powered off) laptops.

Coming on the heels of news about Toyota’s forthcoming Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car, it seems we may be close to a shift in use and thinking about direct power generation via fuel cells versus traditional battery charging—now even at the scale of USB chargers.  Check out more at kraftwerk’s kickstarter page.

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Getting sponsored for fieldwork

June 27, 2014

Anthropology is known for its harsh living conditions for fieldwork. Conducting fieldwork in a remote desert, rainforest, mountaintop, or arctic conditions is commonplace and a seeming hazing ritual that each anthropology graduate student must undergo to be considered “in the club”. In fact, I’ve heard professors joking before that if you’re not suffering while conducting […]

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KoBo—Mobile Data Collection in the Field

December 9, 2012
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This post is an introduction to the KoBo Toolbox, a suite of software programs which allows the user to create and complete survey and other data collection using cellular phones and mobile (Android) devices.  I used  KoBo for my research, and my goal for this post is to talk about why anthropologists should use it, […]

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Food & Fieldwork: Bolivian Amazon

December 3, 2012
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After the novelty of what I do (medical anthropology) and where I do it (the Bolivian Amazon) wears off, people frequently ask me about the challenges.  And one of the foremost topics in these discussions is what I eat. “Whoa. But what are you going to eat there?” is a direct quote from a well-meaning friend. […]

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Laptops and Solar Power in the Field

May 25, 2012

I live and do research in the Bolivian Amazon where there is a brutal mix of intense sun, heat, humidity, dust and rain mixed with a consistent lack of reliable electricity and potable running water.  I’ve been here for a year now and have learned many lessons along-the-way about how to do shoe-leather ethnographic research […]

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How to Ship to Yourself Abroad: Does Any U.S. Bank Allow an International Address?

August 25, 2011

I’m an iPhone 4 user.  And whether you’re a fan of this brand or loyal to another smart phone and OS, you can understand my frustration at not being able to use my pricey—and useful—toy while living abroad.  Well, I solved that problem with a little piece of nifty technology (i.e. the Gevey Ultra SIM), […]

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Review of Livescribe Pen – for Interviews and Fieldnotes

July 18, 2011

This post is a review of how the Livescribe Pen can be useful to social scientists recording formal interviews and informal conversations in the field. Essentially, it is a pen that records what you hear and what your write – and it syncs the two together! You can upload the audio and the graphic files […]

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Introduction to GIS for Social Scientists

May 6, 2011

This is the first screencast in a series meant to provide an introduction to geographic information systems. It is primarily intended for social scientists, but should be relevant to anyone with an interest in GIS. The screencast was originally produced for and posted on Placing Culture.

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