Monday, December 31, 2007

Miss Emily's Munchie Madness Monday (Posted on a Tuesday...)

Julia has made a resolution to eat food that is organic or local and I'm going to kick off MEMMM with one of my favorite local meals.

My favorite meal of any weekend day is breakfast. There's nothing quite like the taste of a warm, runny egg yolk or a maple syrup drenched piece of whole grain pancake. Of course, I often forget that eggs, bacon, sausage, grapefruit, orange juice, waffles, pancakes and the like aren't solely breakfast foods and it's rare that I really take the time to eat a nice breakfast.

So, as was customary in my home as a child, I sometimes have breakfast for dinner. And not just any breakfast, but a locally-grown/raised and organic breakfast. J and I had breakfast for lunch the other day and here's what we made:

  • Whole grain blueberry pancakes-locally made pancake mix and local, organic blueberries and local syrup
  • Over-medium fried eggs-local, free-range eggs
  • Maple sausage-local, "all natural" sausages

Miss Emily, who has proven to love tasty human snacks such as Smartfood popcorn, took a peculiar interest in J's sausage links. As a test, we fed her a tiny piece and she just wouldn't leave us alone afterward! She was so persistent that J finally gave in and offered her an entire link.

She was a rabid little thing...

Overall, Emily gives this meal a 7 out of 10. While it could be healthier, it's local farm friendly and tastes great!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

New stuff and a teaser...sorta...

On New Year’s Eve, I’ll be posting the first edition of Miss Emily’s Munchie Madness Monday. It will be the first in a new line of posts that are food-related, probably containing recipes and meal ideas. Really, though, the posts will be a vehicle for me to use my new camera and capture my little Persian, Emily, showing her love of people-food. While the theme isn’t really paleo-related, I think it’ll be entertaining and interesting. Also, while I have low confidence when it comes to writing about paleontology, I have all the confidence in the world that I can write a decent post about my cat.

And what’s a blog without the occasional cat post?

What’s this about a new camera, you ask? Well, little did I know as I was lurking about the American Museum of Natural History and experiencing serious camera inadequacy, J had a little Squidmas surprise brewing. A gorgeous new digital camera! It’s a Sony Cybershot DSC-T2 and it’s packed with weird features that may or may not fall into the category of “useful,” like a smile sensor, face detector and “beach” setting. Really, though, the camera is great. It’s got 8.1 megapixels, a seriously long-lasting battery, shoots video in full HD and has a 4 GB internal memory, which means I don’t have to ever worry about filling my memory card. And the best part is the size; it fits easily into my coat pocket so I can carry it everywhere, unlike my last camera, which fit easily into a backpack and was quite cumbersome. I still wouldn’t let my new little toy get into a bare fist fight with Brian’s, but I couldn’t be happier with it.

J's Squidmas wrapping paper.

I got some other nice things for Squidmas as well, all quite nerdy but quite useful, such as the Planet Earth series on DVD, a TI-83 calculator and a tee-shirt featuring Tuojiangosaurus. The tee shirt was a perfect gift, given my history with the dinosaur. *story below

Anyway, today I decided that I just needed more stuff and I took a little trip to Borders and bought myself the following:

· Mozart’s Requiem
· Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World
· Stephen Jay Gould’s Ever Since Darwin
· Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion

I’ve spent a large portion of the day listening to the Mozart album and reading Not in Our Classrooms, which is a collection of essays on Intelligent Design and why it’s not appropriate for our nation’s schools. I’m hoping to finish it soon so I can move on to the books I bought today.

*When J and I went to the Miami Science Museum, I took a lot of pictures of fossils with accompanying voice recordings, so I could correctly label the pictures at home. When it came time to pronounce Tuojiangosaurus’s name, I had a hard time. When I put the pictures on my computer, the voice recordings got saved into Windows Media Player. One night, during dinner with J and a few friends, my voice came on, loud and clear, saying “Tu…Two…Two…Tuo-jango…” It was embarrassing. In a hunt to find me a nice dino shirt, J happened upon Tuojiangosaurus and now I’m forced to pronounce it every time someone looks at the shirt and asks, “How do you say that.” What a clever gift. Ha ha ha. Really, though…it was quite funny.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Okay, okay...

Sorry about the lack of posting. I've been out-of-town this past week on holiday and while I've had access to the internet, I've also had a lot of stuff to do and people to see and a short amount of time to fit it all into! But I'm home now and have a few days off, so I'll try and catch up.

Vacation was (and is) great. I went to NYC for a few days to visit my father, and to Connecticut to visit my mother. While in NYC, I got a chance to meet fellow paleoblogger, Brian "Laelaps" Switek, at the American Museum of Natural History. He was excellent company (and a good tour guide, as he knows vastly more about paleo-stuff, especially related to AMNH, than I do). J and I had a great time lurking the halls of the 4th floor with Brian. We were really happy with the whole experience, which was nice, given that we both tend to have a high level of social anxiety and were afraid we'd be really shy and awkward).

I experienced a lot of camera envy as Brian's camera was scores cooler than mine, but my trusty little Canon held up well, and I got a lot of neat pictures. Here are a few:

From the top...J gaping at some extinct mammal that I can't remember the name of (yes, he's embellishing a bit...he wasn't that amazed), a mammoth skull, Brian checking out Triceratops, and the hips of Apatosaurus.

There's more to come,'s funny...the less I have to do, the busier I seem to be.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Florida has been touched by His Noodly Appendage!

Looks like the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has carried out His Noodly Appendage's work well!


Hopefully the good work will continue and we can keep our scientific standards afloat.

(Hat-tip to Pharyngula)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Check out this blog...

I'm adding this blog to my blogroll. It's so funny that I decided I needed to also let you know in a post. Oh, ouch...the hurts.

Oh, it's just all so funny...

Here's what AIG's blog had to say about the creation museum's appearance in Mad magazine's list of "20 Dumbest People, Events and Things of 2007" :
The satirists at this magazine may mock the Creation Museum, but this shows clearly that the museum has made a significant impact in the secular culture. No wonder the secularists are worried about this one-of-a-kind museum.
And about making Time magazine's "10 Biggest Religion Stories of 2007" :
For one museum, privately funded, to make such an impact is significant. There is no doubt the Lord raised up this museum as a witness to the world—no wonder we get the opposition we do, even from certain Christian quarters.
Hahahahahahaha! Oh...hee...heh...HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Merry Squidmas!

I love that there's a thing called "Squidmas" and that it's associated with atheism and science. I love how it rolls off the tongue.

This Squidmas, I'm going to see my family, like I always do this time of year. I've got a bunch of great stuff planned:
  • Leave work early on Friday and drive to NYC to see my dad. Possibly meet up with my friend Jayme that night for mischief.
  • Get up without an alarm on Saturday (which still means 7 a.m.) and have coffee. Walk to the American Museum of Natural History and meet up with Mr. Brian "Laelaps" Switek. More mischief.
  • Leave AMNH and go to MOMA, this time for real. *
  • Spend the rest of Saturday night doing whatever I please.
  • Get up without an alarm on Sunday. Laze around. Get coffee. Go to a matinee showing of Avenue Q with J and maybe my brother.
  • Spend Sunday night opening Squidmas presents with my brother, J, my dad and his boyfriend.
  • Get up Monday without an alarm, get coffee and drive to my mother's house in Connecticut.
  • Wake up on Squidmas morning and exchange gifts with my mom, brother and J.
  • Spend the rest of Squidmas doing whatever I please.
  • Wake up on Wednesday morning, laze around, get coffee and eventually head back home.

So lots of great stuff planned...I'll be sure to post photos from AMNH...I have a plan that involves art and paleoblogging and SVP and people that read my blog regularly. But that won't be revealed for another nine months or so.

Really, I'm just excited to have time off, especially with J, since we don't get to wake up and be lazy together EVER. And I'm totally excited to see my folks, my friends, my brother and to meet Brian.

*The last time we went to NYC, J and I walked to MOMA. But we actually walked past it, looked at it and said "oh, there's a sign for MOMA," and then continued on to the Met, which we thought was MOMA. We looked at ancient horse armor, pyramids and medievil art and still somehow though we were at the Museum of Modern Art. It wasn't until we left and looked at a map of Central Park that we realized how dumb we were. So we have this little's not really a joke...we just laugh about it. A lot.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

In which I get my first copy of JVP...

Me: "Oh...this is so exciting! It's like paleontologist pornography!"

J: pointing to a figure in the journal..."Is that a coprolite?"

Me: "No...that's part of a skull."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

In which I get taken advantage of...

Last night, J, my friend Jamie and I went out to eat at a local restaurant. A half hour or so into our meal, we heard the sound of bagpipes. They got louder and louder and finally, a group of people, clad in red and white clothes came into the dining area. One of them was dressed as Santa, the rest dressed as elves. They announced that they were there to raise money for the local respite house and then sang "Here Comes Santa Clause" while holding over-turned hats under our noses.

After collecting donations, the group filed out and on the way, one of the guys asked us how we were. We were obviously annoyed... J said "We're just trying to eat here" to which the guy responded, "Well, we're just trying to raise money here, selfish."

Note to annoying carol-singing money-raisers:

We do not have to give you money. The fact that we don't want to give you money does not make us selfish. We also do not need to be interrupted in the middle of a dinner we're paying for by a bunch of people who think it's okay to solicit from people in a private establishment. It is not okay to corner us in a small restaurant, damage our ears with your insanely loud music, stand right in front of our table and stick hats right under our noses. It's especially not okay to call us "selfish" if, after you do all those inappropriate things, we decline to give you money. You ruined our dinner. Happy fricken holidays.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Semester Wrap-up...

So all the grades are in and it was an AWESOME semester.

Here're the final grades:

Chemistry final exam: 97%
Chemistry final grade: A

Calculus final exam: 101%
Calculus final grade: A+

My GPA was a 2.0 at the start of the semester...this was due completely to a semester in 2001 in which I did nothing but drink, smoke pot and skip class. Now, after these two classes, it's a 2.71. If I get all A's next semester, I'll have a 3.08.

Then, if I take Geography over again (one of those classes from that first crappy semester) and get an A, I'll have a 3.40. I think I'm going to do that...I just hate that I've got that scar on my transcript. Bad choices...bad consequences.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In which J does something sciency...

(I've been trying to get J to do a guest post for a while and last night he came up with a great this is his first guest post...sorta...I mean, I'm writing it (and I added in my own little bit with the cat)...but it's totally his idea)

Last night, among the dirty dishes, laundry and cat hair tumbleweeds of the Self-designed Student Household Formation, we found a fossil. It took us several hundred nanoseconds to remove it from the bedroom matrix, but eventually, we had a beautifully-preserved specimen. After some final cleaning and field note-taking we tried to find out where, exactly, the bone belonged. J called the process a "common paleontological game."
Was it part of the mental protuberance?

Perhaps a tooth?
In the end, J decided that the bone was actually a nose spike. However, he had a nagging suspicion that he might someday be proven wrong.

Emily slept through the whole thing. What a sexy little creature...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A is for Academic Awesomeness

Well, school's over for the semester. I'm pretty sad about it since it means not having an hour class-break in my work day. However, it does mean I can do more of the following:
  • paint
  • lay in bed
  • read
  • spend time with friends (though now I have very few...a semester of full-time work plus school will do that)
  • cook healthy meals (versus

Anyway, the real reason for this post is that I wanted to brag about the A I got in my chemistry class. Yup...the professor emailed me today and congratulated me on it. I got 97% on my final and my final grade was 95.7%...

I can die now.*

*But not really. I still have an undergraduate degree to get, a master's to get, a phd to get...and I want to take J to London and Florence before I die. Plus, I still need to read a bunch of books I got from the library, seethe 4th Jurassic Park movie (if it ever comes out), go to the SVP conference and win the lottery. And I can't very well die having never been on a dig...

Evolution as fact...

Okay. I had a disagreement with J the other day about whether or not evolution is a fact. He supports evolution, but claimed that the fact that something is happening doesn't make it a fact. His example was, "if you call someone and tell them I'm at the pizza place, then it's not necessarily a fact to them." (But that doesn't matter because regardless of whether or not that person believed he was at the pizza place, he'd still be at the pizza place)

Another person I talked to agreed with him, stating that the definition of fact mentioned the word truth and she argued that evolution cannot be proven to be an ultimate truth. (But what can? Can't we even argue our own non-existence under this assumption?)

According to Wikipedia, a fact is "something that is the case, something that actually exists, or something that can be verified according to an established standard of evaluation." It goes on to say, "Just as in philosophy, the scientific concept of fact is central to fundamental questions regarding the nature, methods, scope and validity of scientific reasoning. In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation."

Evolution is a fact in both cases; generally and scientifically. It is the case. It exists. It can be verified. We have mountains of evidence to support it.

The logic isn't too different from that of gravity. Wikipedia says, " is a fact that an apple dropped on earth has been observed to fall towards the center of the planet, and the theories commonly used to describe and explain this behaviour are Newton's theory of universal gravitation (see also gravitation), and general relativity."

Likewise, it is a fact that a process (evolution) occurs that results in heritable changes in a population spread over many generations. The theory commonly used to describe and explain this is the theory of evolution, which includes Darwinian theory.

I call evolution a fact because it is...but also because calling it a theory leads to statements like "it's just a theory."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Seven Things About Me Meme mememememe...

Just when I thought I'd have to quit blogging... *

It's been one of those weeks where I want to post something but then I read everyone else's blogs and I feel totally inadequate so I just don't post. But Brian has tagged me for a meme, so now I have an excuse to post something less-than-sciency; something I know a lot! Here's my lineage...

Father: Laelaps
Grandfather: Greg Laden
Great Grandmother: The Ridger
Great Great Grandmother: Grrl Scientist
Great Great Great Grandmother: Tabor
Great Great Great Great Grandmother: Maya's Granny
Great Great Great Great Great Grandmother: Busha Full of Grace

1. Up until recently, I had a 1979 Honda CM400T motorcycle. I learned to ride about 4 years ago after I got sick of riding on the back of my ex's bike. It got towed about six months ago and I couldn't afford to get it back.

2. I was a model for a few years. I didn't do anything big...just some fashion shows and some promotional jobs. Once Abercrombie and Fitch invited me to a go-see, but then they realized that I'm an old fart (for their purposes) and they smiled politely and thanked me for coming while not-so-secretly judging the crap out of me. Here's one of my portfolio pics:

3. When I was five, I told everyone that my name was Hank. It all started when a women asked, "Oh, what a cute little boy, what's his name?" I asked my dad what to say and he said, "Anything you want." And so I became Hank.

4. I haven't had any alcohol or drugs in almost six years. I do this on purpose. Mostly because once I start doing them I can't stop.

5. I love Mystery Science Theater 3000 movies. My favorites are Pod People, Overdrawn at the Memory Bank and Time Travelers. And of course, I love the shorts as well. I have a Crow T. Robot tee shirt that says "Bite Me." I can't ever make it through an entire movie (I fall asleep), but I just love them...

6. Last January I got really upset at the amount of thought I put into my appearance. I made a resolution to stop wearing makeup, stop shaving, and to stop smoking. So far, I've successfully upheld those resolutions, though I get really self-conscious about the not-shaving thing and it took me a few months to quit smoking. I don't think about how I look nearly as much as I used to.

7. I was a Civil War reenactor in middle school. My friend, Matt, got me into it and we formed the 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. We enlisted about ten other kids between the ages of seven and twelve. At our peak, we had authentic uniforms, real muskets/rifles and participated in reenactments . We marched in parades, put on mock encampments and did the 21-gun salute on Memorial Day in my hometown. I think we were the youngest regiment around...and we were good, considering!

Photo from
And that's plenty, I think...perhaps too much. Anyway, for taggees, here are the rules...

Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
I tag:
I'm not going to put a comment on your blog...just do the meme if you want to (or are struggling for content, as I am).
*UPDATE* I am not going to quit blogging! I only mean to convey my frustration! I pretty much can't breathe without blogging. That's also not true...but I love it and don't want to stop.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Pteranodon Jeebus and the Triceratops...

I've been promising pictures of my triceratops painting so, last night, I pulled out the camera and took some teaser pictures. The painting is not, by any means, original. It's actually a painting of a photograph by Chad Shier of the Royal Tyrrell Museum that appears in John Acorn's Deep Alberta. Either way, a lot of time has gone into it (maybe 15-20 hours) and I'm pretty happy with it so far.

Also, below are some photos of J's painting, which I from now on dub "Pteranodon jeebus." J is in an oil-painting class this semester and he had to make a shadow box and use it to paint something abstract. He used our Pteranodon toy and our LED Jesus statue in the shadow box, as well as a bowl and a piece of wood, which you can see in the lower right and left-hand corners. It's rad.

And of course, I couldn't resist posting this fun photo of me as a little girl. I was so cool back then...*sigh* That chubby little hand trying to steal my video game belongs to my little brother, Tyler.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Time for myself, thank you...

As a fledgling scientist...very very fledgling...I find it is sometimes overwhelming to take on the task of writing sciency posts. I don't feel qualified, I don't feel like I have much to offer and I certainly don't feel like I can do anything new and interesting. Those, of course, are all feelings that kept me from initially pursuing a science career so I do my best to work through them and forge ahead. But today I want to just write about whatever comes to mind. I need a post without expectation. I need to write with no end in sight. So that's what I'm doing.

Here's what's going on in my corner of the world (and by "my corner" I mean "my life"):
  • Shopping... Holiday season is here and I'm running around trying to find interesting, personal and meaningful gifts for the people I love. It involves spending lots of money, fighting other drivers for the parking space closest to the downtown area and generally arguing with myself over the fact that I highly dislike religion and still seem to love Christmas.
  • Debating... I'm slowly...okay, quickly...getting drawn into the ID/Evolution debate. I really love it. It's something I feel very passionate about that I also understand and am fairly well-informed on. I've been spending a lot of time reading blog posts about the debate, visiting atheist websites and reading up on Intelligent Design (know thy enemy).
  • Chillaxing... That's J's word for "chilling" and "relaxing." I've been watching movies, mainly "Flock of Dodos" and "Shrek 3." And I've done some more work on my Triceratops painting. It's really coming to life...very 3-dimensional and highly textured. I promise to post some pictures of it soon.
  • Studying... I have a final on Friday and one on Tuesday! Study study study!!!
  • Play-fighting... I get into these wrestling matches with J...they're fun, but then I get hurt and I get all "how could you hurt me?" for a moment (I usually get hurt on the offensive, which is a bit embarrassing and totally my fault). I'm pretty sure my thumb needs a cast. I can't even hit the space bar with it and certainly can't use it to grab anything.
  • Getting worked up over the gender gap... Check out this post at Shakesville. It's pretty interesting. I showed it to a few guys and their reactions were "well, at least they make one for girls" and "but the blue one costs more." I thought that was interesting, too.
  • Battling rashes... Well, not really. The steroid creams have mostly cleared up the eczema, but the dermatographia is alive and well. I was taking antihistamines every night for a few weeks and moved on to the "take as necessary" stage. Unfortunately, it seems they're necessary every night, since one missed night results in weird, puffy red rashes. The clincher: the antihistamines sometimes make me feel like I'm on drugs. And for a recovering drug addict, that's not good.

That's enough from me. Tomorrow I'll post something more sciency. Promise.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Flock of Dodos

I saw Flock of Dodos last night and it brought up a lot of interesting points and prompted some interesting discussion between me and J. I believe this stuff is best dealt with in bullet form:
  • Communication: Randy Olson brought up the point that scientists/academics do not communicate well to the public. The poker game in his documentary backed up his idea; though, as a nerd, I secretly wished I could be part of that game Unfortunately, I don't think that this issue is really as simple as it was presented to be. The question is, how much responsibility does the scientific community have in ensuring public understanding of evolution? We could argue that the responsibility lies solely within the scientific community. Or, we could argue that the public should take a more active role in understanding. Of course, depending on the public to do so would be dangerous; we live in a fairly lazy society that likes easy answers. It takes work to understand evolution and most people just aren't up to the task. Part of the problem is that evolution has remained largely marginalized in textbooks and classrooms. I cannot remember studying evolution in any detail in high school or middle school. Even my biology course for my bachelor's degree didn't include anything. Can we expect the public to know anything in light of the absence of evolution from education? Unfortunately, no. Should scientists then pick up the slack and work extra hard to promote understanding? We need better education when it comes to evolution and science...and unfortunately, that's the debated issue.

  • Anger: There's a lot of anger on the evolution side of the debate. Is this anger detracting from the argument? I've been wondering how this anger comes across to someone neutral on the debate. Is it seen as condescending? Is it justifiable? There's a great post on it at Greta Christina's blog. She gives a ton of reasons to be angry and explains why the anger is not a negative thing and I agree with her that anger is often the single instigator of action and that it is necessary and not unhealthy. I also believe that it can be misdirected, especially when using it to argue a point in a debate. It seems that the anger evident in the Creationism/ID/Evolution debate is also the reason that the argument goes from one of "this doesn't belong in science education" to "you're wrong, I'm right." What we're debating is the teaching of it in public schools, in science classrooms. Our emotions, namely our anger, lead us to engage in debate that borders on the real issue and therefore weakens our argument.
  • Philosophy: J brought up an interesting question about philosophy. His question was, "why do we place more value on science than on philosophy?" I'm not entirely sure what he meant by this, but I think it's something like, "why do we think evolution is correct because it's science and think ID is wrong because it's based in philosophy?" Or, furthermore, "don't humans assign value to science and philosophy?...and if so, how can we say one is more valuable than another?" Perhaps we do value science more (though evidence in this country shows that science isn't necessarily valued by most). If so, I'm inclined to say it's because of the tangible evidence. Where philosophy is pure thought, science is based on the natural world. Regardless, I think his point was that the value we assign is based entirely on our beliefs. This is a slippery-slope. If we can't support one over the other because we can't trust our value-assignments, then what else can we marginalize? In the context of philosophy, we can completely deny our own existence. So what, then, does anything matter? J did bring up the point that philosophy and science are partners more than separate entities, that is has been the precursor for many scientific ideas. So, I do not mean to discount the importance of philosophy.

In all, I thought the movie was pretty fair. It gave a lot of camera time to both sides. It was definitely skewed toward the evolution side, but hell, that's the side that's right. If anything, it made me feel responsibility for eradicating the immense amount of ignorance surrounding the debate. Unfortunately, I've just recently learned enough myself, and I don't feel qualified quite yet to do so.