Saturday, June 1, 2013

Birthday giveaway #1

Tommy bowed and Annika curtsied and then they handed Pippi the green package and said, "May we congratulate you and wish you a happy birthday?"  Pippi thanked them and eagerly tore the package open.  And there was a music box!  Pippi was wild with delight.  She patted Tommy and she patted Annika and she patted the music box and she patted the wrapping paper.  She wound up the music box, and with much plinking and plonking out came a melody that was probably supposed to be "Ack, du käre Augustin."

Pippi wound and wound and seemed to forget everything else.  But suddenly she remembered something.  "Oh, my goodness, you must have your birthday presents too!" she said.

"But it isn't our birthday," said Tommy and Annika.

Pippi stared at them in amazement.  "No, but it's my birthday, isn't it?  And so I can give birthday presents, too, can't I?  Or does it say in your schoolbooks that such a thing can't be done?  Is it something to do with that old pluttifikation that makes it impossible?"

"Oh, of course it's possible," said Tommy.  "It just isn't customary.  But for my part, I'd be very glad to have a present."

"Me too," said Annika.

From Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (translated from the Swedish by Florence Lamborn), 1950.
As I continue my travels along The Great Material Continuum, I'm taking a cue from Pippi Longstocking with a series of giveaways to celebrate my birthday.  Actually, my birthday was some days ago, but Q and I have a tradition of a "Birthday Week" -- and I'm still within my birthday week.  Heck, why can't I have a Birthday Month?   (After all, Lyric Kinard has been having blog giveaways throughout her birthday month.) 

I'm going to give away items that reflect the diversity of my interests.  After all, I am a versatile blogger and need to recognize all aspects of my multifaceted life, right?  Psychology, sexuality, feminism, art, sewing, beading, gardening, dance -- there will be something for everyone.

This first giveaway is a copy of Bonk:  The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach.  If you haven't read any of Mary Roach's books yet, you should -- she is an excellent, and very funny, science journalist.  In this book she takes on the science of sexuality in a very approachable and amusing way.  If you've ever wondered about how scientists study sexuality, you'll love this book. You can read reviews and excerpts on Mary Roach's website.  Here is an excerpt from her discussion of early scientific research on human sexual response:
Another way to get around the seeming impropriety of laboratory fornication was to so thoroughly bedeck your participants in the trappings of science that what they were doing no longer looked like sex.  As was the case in R. G. Bartlett, Jr.'s 1956 study "Physiologic Responses During Coitus."  Picture a bed in a small "experimental room."  On the bed are a man and a woman.  They are making the familiar movements made by millions of other couples on a bed that night, yet they look nothing like these couples.  They have EKG wires leading from their thighs and arms, like a pair of lustful marionettes who managed to escape the puppet show and check into a cheap motel.  Their mouths are covered by snorkel-type mouthpieces with valves.  Trailing from each mouthpiece is a length of flexible tubing that runs through the wall to the room next door, where Bartlett is measuring their breathing rate. To ensure that they don't breath through their noses, the noses have been "lightly clamped."  On either side of the bed are buttons for the pair to press, signaling "intromission, orgasm, and withdrawal."  When I first read this I pictured an ATM keypad, with different buttons for each event.  Then I realized it was simply one button, which I imagined as being attached to a buzzer, providing a madcap game show air, as though at any moment a disembodied voice might ask them, for $500, to name Millard Fillmore's vice presidential running mate.

I understand why Bartlett did not include photographs in his Journal of Applied Physiology article, but I have not forgiven him.  (Bonk, p. 30-31)
You can also hear Mary Roach discuss some of her research in her TED talk, "Ten things you didn't know about orgasm", which is worth watching for the pig insemination video, if nothing else. 

If you would like a chance to win this book, just leave a comment on this post by June 8,  2013.  Be sure that I have your email address so that I can notify you if you are the winner.  I'll do a random draw and announce the winner during the following week.

Interested in human sexuality?  Here are some other posts you might enjoy:

How to Build a Satisfying, Long-Lasting Relationship (through Science!)

Linguistic Lacunae:  What Our Sexual Language is (not) Saying 

The Meaning of Moaning

Immersed in Pornographic History

Reading, Reading


  1. Dr. Stearns, belated Happy Birthday! This is so awesome that you have a birthday week!:) I love how you are making your life so active and exciting! Way to go!:)

    1. Thank you for your kind wishes and enthusiastic support! :-)

  2. Pipppppiiiiiii!!!!!! Too bad we translate her sentiment into goody bags filled with small plastic toys that hurt like the dickens to step on. But still. :).

    1. I figured you'd like the Pippi reference. ;-) I hadn't thought of the little toy bags in this context; Pippi gives much better gifts. But still, at least there is some nod to birthday generosity in the Pippi spirit.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. Happy birthday hugs! :)_

  4. Belated happy birthday, Dr. Stearns! I hope you've been having a great birthday week! :)

    1. Thank you for your kind wishes -- and for reading and commenting! I hope you are well and enjoying life.

  5. Happy birthday! I hope you find many reasons to smile and have fun stories to tell about this years passage into the next. I highly encourage celebrating a birthmonth. I've celebrated a birthday month for several years. It is a GREAT plan and is really a win/win. Plus, as one gets older, birthdays can feel like something you want to pass by quietly. But in my experience, when I look for ways to celebrate over a month, and reach out to people that I'd like to share it with, I find I look forward to it much more and the sense of celebration comes alive. With one day, I have gotten caught up in the thought of 'who should I spend it with???? which then just creates anxiety. A birthday month allows me to celebrate it with everyone I really like, without a big party that I might not even enjoy, wondering if people from across my life will connect and help the party come alive. I can choose to risk that or just enjoy some smaller gatherings, even just me and one other person. I LOVE my solution. Thank you for the chance to win, the books sounds very interesting!