Wednesday, December 17, 2008

When I say I'm a little messed up in the head, I totally mean it.

So, I don't know why I haven't blogged about this, but I've been having some medical issues. A couple of months ago, I found out that I had a nerve-fiber layer infarct in my eye. The usual causes are diabetes, HIV and hypertension; three things I am 99% sure I don't have. Since mine was an unusual case (most people have multiple infarcts and are unhealthy), the doctor figured that it was idiopathic, but he left me the option of having any tests done that I felt I needed done.

I have a family history of mother had one in her brain stem that ruptured when I was 15, nearly killing her. My grandfather had some as well. In the week before the follow-up with the eye doctor, I had been having headaches; not big headaches...just sinus-y headaches. So, when the doc offered to refer me for any tests, I told him I wanted an MRA. He managed to get my insurance company to cover it! 100%! Here are the results:

That arrow? It's pointing at one of my aneurysms. I guess I have two; two tiny aneurysms.

I'm not really nervous, at least not consciously. They're small enough that they're not really in any danger of rupturing and hell, it's better to know they're there. But still, sometimes when I get a headache or bend over to pick something up, I worry just a little bit.

I had a CT angiogram yesterday. They injected me with an iodine-based dye which will act as a contrast. They had to put an IV in my arm and that was horrible. I'm TERRIFIED of needles. When I was six, I had ITP (basically all of my platelets disappeared) and I had to have blood drawn for months. The nurses and doctors threatened to tie me down often, because I would kick and scream and cry. I've gotten a bit better since then, but the whole time that the IV was in my arm, I was really tense. I could feel the dye entering my blood stream and as soon as it did, I could tasted metal in my mouth. Then, my eyes and head got really hot and as the dye traveled through the rest of me, I felt like I peed myself. Very very strange...

So, I'll learn more when the CT scan results come back (and I'll totally post those pictures, too, because I'm sure they'll be awesome!!!). I have an appointment with a neurosurgeon in the beginning of January. I don't think they'll recommend surgery of any kind, but it'll be interesting to see what they want to do about it all.

Me, I'm just going to wait to freak out until I know there's something to freak out about.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The "How did you meet ___?" meme

I post about Vermont geology to come. But first, something less time-consuming during this week after the end of the semester (in which my brain is mushy and NOT into writing about anything sciency):
(I guess I copied this incorrectly, because it doesn't include the title that explains the whole thing...but it's about J)

Where did you meet? At an Aikido weapons seminar. I was trying to find a place to sneak a cigarette and I snuck off behind a barn and J was there with his friend, Greg. This might not be the first time we met, but it's the first time I remember meeting.
What was the first thought that went through your head when you met? I was really intimidated by him, actually. He seemed kinda sarcastic and I was SO insecure at that point in my life. Sarcasm and insecurity don't mix well, y'know?
Do you remember what he/she was wearing? No, I don't. But J sorta has a I bet he was wearing some Carhartt pants and a red, grey, blue or brown tee shirt.
Where was the first time you kissed this person? This is a story that I cannot in good conscience put up on this blog. I'm pretty sure it's more embarrassing to him than it is to me :)

Where did you go for your first date? Alone, I think it was this little restaurant called the Shed in a town about 40 minutes away from ours. We had dinner and then walked around town and then drove home, listening to the Dresden Dolls. In fact, I have a picture:

How long did you know this person before you became a couple? I don't know. Maybe 8 months or something close to that?
How did he/she ask you out? That never really happened. I just introduced him as my boyfriend to someone one day and then we talked about that and decided we both were interested.
Has this person ever proposed to you? No. I think once he asked me if I wanted to get married, but that wasn't a proposal, really. He was just wondering.
Do you and this person have kids together? Nope.

Have you ever broken the law with this person? I think so. I mean, speeding...I'm sure we've trespassed, too.

When was the first time you realized that you liked this person? We were sitting on the couch one night with our roommates and one of them said something kinda mean to me and J stood up for me and I realized that I had gotten him all wrong and all the sudden I saw him for who he was and I was like, "sweet...this guy is so funny and caring and I totally wanna be with him."
Do you trust this person? Yes. He's got a heart of gold and he's as honest as they come.

Do you see him as your partner in your future? Yes. The thought of anyone else makes me actually feel sick.
What is the best gift he gave you? Well, when we first got together he made me a mixed CD and it had all of these songs that reminded me of him and I listened to it every day at work for hours and had that giddy happy glow for weeks.
What is one thing He does that gets on your nerves? He puts dirty dishes on the right side of the sink instead of the left. And there are some more things, too. But they never outweigh the good.

Where do you see each other 15 years from now? I'm hoping we're both finished with school and settled into our careers and still happy with each other. That's all.

What causes the most arguments? We're both ultra sensitive and neither one of us tolerate the other being upset very well.
How long have you been together? Two years this February.

Are you Married? Nope.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Vote often :)

Thanks to everyone who voted for me in the Brickfish "My Favorite Toy" contest. It's not over yet...another month or two, but you've managed to get me into 11th place and I'm the 2nd "most viral" meaning people are linking to my entry from all over.

I just learned that you can vote every 2 hours, so if you feel like popping over there a few more times over the next couple of months, that would be awesome.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm your teacher, not your friend...

One of the biggest challenges I've run into in my classes has been maintaining professional relationships with my TAs. As an undergraduate taking introductory courses, my TAs are usually first-year graduate students, closer to my age than the majority of my classmates. They are more mature than my classmates (usually) and they're pretty much guaranteed to be interested in the the same things I am. I like them. A lot. They're the kinds of people I want to be friends with; interested in science, passionate about something, intelligent and mature, but not too mature.

Except they're my teachers and certain boundaries have to be maintained. I'm not talking about romantic relationships here, which are certainly out of the question for a multitude of reasons; just friendships.

Now that the lab section for my biology course has ended, I find that the "we can't be friends" thing that my TA and I have maintained has slipped away. We have plans to go dancing some night soon. And it's exciting...she's a cool girl and I have been wanting to form more friendships with women. But there's still that weirdness and while I'm sure I will get over it, I'm not entirely sure that I should.

Who's to say that some semester in the future, she might not be my TA again?

What do you think? Have you had this experience?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Help me win some $ for school...

So, I'm planning on going to school full-time this fall, but I'm totally terrified of it. I'll be quitting a job at a time when people are losing theirs like crazy. I'll be selectively putting myself in debt during a recession. And I'm scared.

But I'm also scared to give up on school. And I think I could live with myself if I were poor, but not if I quit this school thing.

So, I'm going for as many little scholarships as I can and I need your help with this one. I've posted a box on the right - it's for the Brickfish "My Favorite Toy" scholarship. Click on the vote button and vote for me. I would appreciate it more than you know.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I've come to a conclusion. Not a life-shattering one or anything...but this:

I don't have a very interesting life.

I mean, I do. I find it interesting because I'm living it. But you might not be so interested in it.

I also don't have much time. I'm constantly doing something. Work has picked up because we have a new editor and he's like a tornado and is constantly coming up with new things for us to do here in the office. School is quite crazy this semester because I'm fitting in 2 lab courses besides work...and it will be that way next semester, too.

So, I don't really know how to fit in this whole blogging thing. I could write about paleo and geology and biology and zoology, but I dont' have time to do any research. I could write about my life, but that's mostly just interesting to me and also, my life is literally just eat, sleep, poop, study and work. And who cares about that?

I'm in a rut. And I apologize for a) not posting and b) posting about not posting.

I think I need a new direction. Perhaps I could explore the basics of science with illustrations or something. Hand-write my blog posts and post them as pictures - use the time I have on the bus-ride to and from work to write them.

Or I could stop writing. But I don't actually want to do that.

So, I'm working on it...this rut. I'm mostly just worried about losing connections. This blog has helped me meet so so so many awesome people and I don't want to ruin that.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Boneyard is coming!

Traumador is hosting the next version of The Boneyard and needs your posts! You don't have to be a paleontologist or a dinosaur connoisseur to contribute - this month's theme is "My favorite museum." So, wax poetic about the AMNH, profess your love for the Smithsonian or the Peabody. And then send your posts to our favorite Tyrannosaur.

Friday, November 21, 2008

New Blog: Paleo Errata

Check out Jeff Martz's new blog, Paleo Errata!

Carless in the 21st Century

So I chose the geology class because I found out that it's a prerequisite for a required course that is only offered in the Spring of 2010.

And my car broke down. It happened last Sunday and I decided that I don't want and can't afford to fix it. The car's only worth $1000 and it's going to cost close to $900 to fix it. Plus, the bus system here is pretty decent and I can get to and from work and school within twenty minutes. Because I'm a student and employee of the university, I ride the bus for free. Even if I got a car again, I would never drive to work knowing how simple and fast it is to take the bus.

Of course, traveling home to CT for the holidays is going to be difficult...I'll have to rent a car for the week.

Overall, I'll be saving money, reducing my carbon footprint and getting more exercise. So far, I'm enjoying not having a car.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I can't decide...

I need some help.

I have to choose my classes for next semester. I definitely have to take the second half of the introductory biology course I took this semester, which makes 1/2 of the decision making easy. But, I need to choose a second course.

My employer allows me to take 15 credits for free each year. I've taken 8 so far and the bio course will be another 4. So, I have 3 free credits.

I can either take a statistics course...basic statistical methods, or I can take another geology course...basically mineralogy.

The stat course is 3 credits, so it would be totally free. The geology course is 4 credits, so if I take that course, I pay for 1 credit, which is $460. The $460 will come out of grant money but it will still be less money in my pocket at a time when I'm pretty strapped for cash (post to follow).

Also, if I take the geology course, that will give me another semester with 2 lab courses, which are a lot of work, on top of my full-time job. Stats will likely be much less work. And because the stats class meets only three hours a week versus the geology's six hours a week, I wouldn't have to go to work at 7 am (instead of 8) every morning if I took stats.

But...I really really love geology. And if I don't take the geology course now, I will have to take it when I'm full-time next fall. It's a required course that is only offered in the spring and stats is offered every semester. Also, once I go full-time, I'll be taking four or five lab courses every semester, since I already took the fluff courses during my last degree. It would be nice to take stats during a full-time semester in place of geology so that I'd at least have some variation in the courses.

I don't' know...this is probably not an end-of-the-world decision, but it feels like one. Any suggestions?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Shooting the moon...

I'm no Dr. Vector, but I'm working on it.

Last night, I took out the telescope and aimed it at the moon. Now, I've had the scope since September 22nd, but I haven't had a good chance to see the moon until last night. Not that last night was a great chance...the moon was glaringly bright...but it was a chance.

I'm having some problems with focus. The telescope focuses fine and the camera focuses fine, but the two combined don't focus very well. I think the problem is that the camera is touching the eyepiece, which in turn moves the telescope out of focus. Unfortunately, I can't get a good picture if the camera lens isn't right up against the eyepiece. I'm going to try my old camera next time, which has a lens that pops out from the camera body. The one I used last night has a lens that is flush with the body.

Anyway, here's my first feeble attempt at shooting the moon:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thank you, aikido!

I could survive for 1 minute, 35 seconds chained to a bunk bed with a velociraptor

Created by Bunk

Bad News...

My domain,, expired and GoDaddy is now auctioning it off. It has 13 bids and the price is up to 103$, so I just can't afford to buy it back.

I'm going to have to go with my old address: (If you try to go there right now, it won't work because nobody is using it...) Please please please update your blogrolls/whatevers so that I continue to get traffic from your sites. I will start using the old address tomorrow or Friday, so if you switch the address today, you may not be able to get to the site right away.

Sorry for the fuss :(

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Brian Switek Meme

I know I already put up a "vote for Brian" post, but I just gotta jump on this meme bandwagon.

Here's a pic of me and Brian at the AMNH last year:

If you haven't already, head on over to the poll and cast your vote for Brian! He's done an amazing job of communicating science over the last few years and I can't think of anyone more deserving of the 2008 College Blogging Scholarship!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Vote for Brian!

Brian is in the final 20 for the College Blogging Scholarship! The grand prize is $10,000 and Brian sure could use the money to finish off his degree in Ecology and Evolution.

I strongly urge you to head over to Brian's blog, Laelaps, and take a look at the amazing pieces of writing he has posted there. Brian most definitely deserves this award for the time, effort and energy he has put into bringing us interesting information that is inteligently presented.

There aren't many bloggers whose work I admire more than Brian's. Plus, he's a super-nice guy.

Go vote for him!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I almost peed my pants but instead I just cried

I fell asleep last night around 10 o'clock with my computer right next to my bed, displaying automatic updates of the electoral map. At 11:30, I woke up and thinking it was much much later, checked the computer, anxiously. The blue-colored swing states were an indicator that Obama had become president-elect ( feels AWESOME to say that!!!). I woke up J and told him the news and then I fell back asleep.

At 12:30 am, McCain's voice blared his concession through my computer speakers. I don't know how that happened...I didn't have any live streaming programs open. It was eerie...but it was beautiful. I do not hate that man, but I am glad that he's out and that the Republican reign is over, for now.
Obama's speech moved me to tears. I am not under and illusion that his election has changed anything, but I have hope for the first time in 8 years (1/3 of my life!!!). He has one hell of a mess to clean up, but his election is a step in the right direction. I feel energized and ready to join in the fight in any way I can.

Sadly, the U.S. hasn't hidden its bigotry. Though we've elected the first black president, we've denied homosexual citizens in Florida, California and Arizona the right to marry. In Arkansas, an initiative has passed (or will's not close) that bans gay couples from adopting children. This country has taken a big step forward some steps back.

So today I am ecstatic...elated. I have hope and some pride in my country. And I am also deeply saddened and disappointed.

But I'm going to hold on to my hope and allow my sadness and disappointment motivate me, remembering that there's work to do and that it's done through action.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

So that's what they're thinking....

The woman who used the computer in my cubicle before I was hired was a real piece of work. I've heard horror stories about her and I got my job despite her; she did not want someone young and "inexperienced" replacing her and she tried her best to keep me from being hired, indirectly.

She also had some weird internet searches. I know this because she never cleared her search history, and everything she ever typed into the Google search box is still in there.

Today, while I was looking for a good political argument, I typed in "Obama is"... and here's what popped up automatically in the search box:

-Obama is a Muslim
-Obama is the Antichrist
-Obama is a terrorist
-Obama is an arab
-Obama is a socialist
-Obama is an idiot

Ugh. Despite all the fear and hate, there was this, my personal favorite:

-Obama is my homeboy

Did you?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Eyes are scary, no?

So it's Halloween and that means that I have to do something festive like give out candy or carve pumpkins or something. Except I don't have time for all of that, so I'm going to post a gross picture of an eye. At least, most people seem to think it's gross. I think it is astoundingly cool.

Check this out:

That is my eye!!!...or really my optic nerve.

Notice the little white spot...looks kinda fuzzy? That's Mr. Fuzzle. He's a cotton wool spot, or a nerve-fiber layer infarct. It's often a symptom of diabetes, HIV and hypertension; three things that I have been tested for and that I'm sure I don't have.

I started having weird spots in my vision the other day and I paid a visit to the ophthalmologist. He did all sorts of cool tests and dilated my pupils, which I've never had done before. One of the tests showed two little blind spots in my left eye, besides the normal big-arse blind spot. Upon closer inspection, the doc noticed Mr. Fuzzle.

I need to go to another specialist (I'm kinda confused about this. I thought that the specialist was sorta an "end of the line" thing...) next Friday so they can decide if this is really weird and whether or not I should get some blood work done. I guess most healthy, young adults don't get these...though mine is an isolated one and they usually occur in bunches when some horrible disease is underlying.

Anyway, that's my addition to this crazy holiday. I'll be donning my costume in less than an hour and heading over to a friend's house to see her son's costume and her decorations. Then, it's off to volunteer at the co-op for an hour and then on to Friendly's to have sundaes with J and my friend Franky.

What are you doing tonight?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Halloween Teaser

Since J and I have no social lives, we didn't plan on doing anything on Halloween night and consequently didn't bother finding costumes this year.

And then we signed up to do member work at our local co-op, which does a themed costume thingy every year. This year's theme: TV/movie characters.

So, last minute, I rushed out and got us some costumes. I tried mine on today.

It's just about the dorkiest thing I've ever done.

You'll have to wait for pictures.

Monday, October 27, 2008


I put a new blog, Ediacaran, on my blog roll. It's new, so there are only a couple of posts so far, but they're pretty fantastic.



I saw Religuous the other day and I laughed my arse off. Not really because of the movie, though. More because J was being hilarious.

I agree with my father that Maher didn't need to make people sound like idiots...the people did it themselves.

I didn't like the Jewish jokes scattered throughout the movie. All of the other jokes were directed towards specific religous beliefs and the Jewish jokes seemed to be directed at the Jewish people, or a sterotype, rather than the beliefs.

My favorite part: the Vatican. You know what I'm talking about (if you don't...go see the movie!).

I'm feeling a bit worn down on all this religion/science stuff...thought it's often on my mind. Just today, in biology class, we were talking about cell communication and I was just blown away by how many things need to be in place in order for a living thing to operate as it does. I thought, I could understand if someone were to see a place for god there.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Tale of a Triceratops

Jerry made me this very very cool Triceratops and gave it to me at the annual meeting:

Sweet, huh?

I was a little worried about how I was going to get it back home on two flights without ruining it, but it worked out okay. Despite being placed in a pocket, mixed up with luggage and being squeezed onto two tiny planes, the only real threat to the little guy was the US Airways attendant.

As I approached the desk to check in, the attendant asked for my driver's license, which I had stashed in my pocket. The Triceratops was in the same pocket, so I took him out and put him on the counter while I dug around for my license, so as not to squish him any more than he'd already been squished.

The attendant must have mistaken him for a crumpled up piece of paper (which he DOES NOT look like) because she asked, "Would you like me to throw that trash out for you?"

I snatched up the Triceratops as fast as I could and got really flustered, muttering something like, "he's not trash" or "get the hell away from my origami masterpiece." (I actually muttered something closer to "unnnnhhhhh ummmm.....")

So, Jerry's cool gift almost didn't make it.

Now he's resting comfortably on the table near my bed, with all my other little dino trinkets (the gift, not Jerry!).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dear Cleveland Police Officer,

Thanks for making my first venture out into Cleveland the deciding factor in whether or not I'll ever go to Cleveland again.

I'm from a small, rural state, so I recognize that it's possible that I don't know how to cross the street in a big city; however, I think that the large crosswalk sign with the yellow flashing lights was a pretty good indicator to oncoming traffic that pedestrians had the right of way.

I didn't just "jump out in front of the bus," like you seem to think I did. I did indicate to the bus driver that I was planning on crossing the street by standing on the curb and making eye contact with him. He even managed to come to an almost complete stop before I ever set foot in the road. And that's when you lost your shit.

My new friend had already started to cross when I stepped out into the road. You yelled "HEY! What the fuck do you think you're doing!" and started to go after him. When you got to my side, you stopped and said, "What is your fat-ass friend's problem, jumping out in front of a bus like that?" Let me remind you, ma'am, that the bus had already stopped. I know this because you wouldn't have been able to do what you did next if it hadn't.

I didn't want to be anywhere near your crazy ass, so I started to cross. You abruptly put your arm in front of my chest and screamed something incoherent. And then, while stopping me, the pedestrian, with your meaty arm (who were you to call my friend fat???), in the zone where I obviously had the right of way, you motioned for the bus to move on. You actually physically stopped me so that you could get your way.

I was glad to get away from you, finally, until I realized that I had left my nametag in the restaurant I'd just eaten at. So, I had to go back across the street and cross it yet again. And wouldn't you know, you pulled the same thing again.

Ma'am, you have a duty. To protect and serve. That's why we pay you, with our tax dollars. If you want to act like a 15 year-old high school whiner in a cat-fight, I suggest you give up your badge and find a new vocation.

Calling people "fat-ass" and being physical with people who aren't posing a threat to you are totally unacceptable actions. I wish I'd gotten your name and followed through with my verbal threats to get you fired. If everyone in power acted as you did, this country would downright suck.

Thanks for being such an asshat.

Hugs and kisses,


A Few Good Blogs....

Jerry has recently directed me to a new blog, Sarah at KU. It's written by paleo grad student, Sarah Spears. She started it as a way to study - to retain the masses of information that she needs to know. We'll see where it takes her!

Also, check out Dave Lovelace's blog, Sedline News. It's just in its early stages, but so far so good! I expect great things from a sauropod & evo devo lover!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

SVP '08

Oh! The annual meeting was so much fun! I'm still getting used to being's like being in a totally different world with different friends, different styles. Here at home, there are relatively few people who have the same interests...and very few people who are comfortable being a little geeky. I live in a college town and everyone is too cool for school, if you know what I mean. It was so nice being surrounded by people who think dinosaurs/fossils are cool.

I'm also still catching up on my sleep and my assignments, both of which I neglected at the meeting. There were talks from 8 to 4 every day, poster sessions from 4 to 6 and various evening activities that went until my normal bedtime. And of course, everyone crowded into the lobby after the scheduled stuff and socialized/drank/partied until well past my bedtime. I got just a few hours of sleep each night...and I'm used to a solid 7 or 8.

The talks were really interesting, though many of them went over my head. I especially enjoyed the talks about dinosaur sinuses, ankylosaur tail clubs and mamenchisaurid limbs. Assuming that all that information was embargoed, I'm going to wait to go into more detail.

The best thing about the meeting, by far, was getting to meet everyone in person. Some of the fantastic people I got to spend time with: Zach, Julia, Paul, Lorin, Thomas and Thomas, Wayne, Jerry , Lisa, Matt and Matt, Neil, Dave, Andy, Patty, ReBecca and Scott. There were many many more, but I just can't name everyone!

Since pictures might do more justice that this shoddy summary, I'll post a few and leave it at that:

From left to right, top to bottom:
1) Paul, Julia and Lorin with Nanotyrannus at the welcome reception at the CMNH.
2) Matt Celeskey (HMNH) and Zach at the welcome reception at the CMNH.
3) Julia, Matt (Ask Dr. Vector), me and Neil with "Happy" the Haplocanthosaurus at the welcome reception at the CMNH.
4) Jerry Harris and I at the after-hours party.
5) Thomas Adams and Lisa Babilonia at the after-hours party.
6) Darrin Pagnac and Wayne Thompson at the after-hours party.
7) Lorin, Paul and Julia in the "cool kids" section at the back of the bus on the way to the CMNH.
8) Bloggers lunch crew: Thomas Holtz, Matt Wedel, Patty Ralrick, Andy Farke, Nick Gardner, Alton Dooley, J, me, Julia "Heathercote" Anderson, Jerry Harris, Matt Celeskey, Zach Miller, Scott Elyard and Neil Kelley.
9) Me and J at the awards banquet.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Me Meme

Julia tagged me for what she calls the "WORST meme ever." Here's whatcha gotta do:

1. Take a picture of yourself right now.
2. Don't change your clothes, don't fix your hair...just take a picture.
3. Post that picture with NO editing.
4. Post these instructions with your picture.

Okay. Here I am, sitting at my desk in my office:

Now I tag Zach, Brian and Rebecca.

The Question, Part II

I got the question wrong (it was "the velocity of the current when the sediment settled to the bottom"). In fact, I got a lot of questions wrong! This is the first time that I've put 100% of the effort I can afford to put in to studying for a test and still gotten a marginal grade. Oh well. There's always the next exam.

In my biology class yesterday, the professor had us fill out a mid-term evaluation. We had to evaluate the lectures, homework, tests and material. At the end, there was a space for us to put our own participation level.

I hadn't considered how much time I put into my classes before. I go to every lecture, read every assigned chapter, and probably spend 1 to 2 hours a day doing homework/studying for each class I take. Total, I put about 32 hours a week into my biology and geology classes (3 hours of class, 3 hours of lab, 10 hours of homework for each class). Consequently, the lectures are very clear, the tests are relatively easy and the homework is not that difficult.

I got to peek at some of the evaluations being passed down to the front of the class. A lot of people had admitted that they didn't put much time into the class. Those were the same people who thought that the lectures moved too fast, the tests were too difficult and the homework was too time-consuming. And all the kids in the class are biology majors.

It made me think about my freshman year of college and how "the college experience" was so important to me. I wasn't going to school to learn; I was going to experience freedom. I knew that if I didn't go to college, I would have to get a job and start being responsible for myself. If I went to college, I would just have to do a little more school (I'd been doing it for 14 years, how hard could it be?) in exchange for a nearly responsibility-free life for 4 years.

I wonder if the kids in my bio class are doing the same thing - just going to school because it sounded cool/because they felt they had to. Or are they just adjusting to their first semesters in college, not realizing how much time and effort are required to do well? Perhaps they don't care how they perform academically. Or, maybe they do care, but they don't want to have to put in the effort. Did they do well in high school with minimal effort and are expecting the same thing in college?

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Question

If water is the transport medium of sediment, the grain size of sedimentary deposits most closely indicates the _______.

I've narrowed down the possible choices to these two (the other two were obviously wrong):

1. Average velocity of the water from the time of erosion until deposition.

2. Velocity of the water at the moment the sediment settled to the bottom.

Either one makes sense to me, in light of what we talked about in class. The Hjulstrom diagram, which was sort of the basis for this lesson, has both erosion and deposition values, so my initial instinct was to go with the first answer. Also, sediment can reach the bottom and still move along it, so it seems that the velocity of the water at the moment the sediment settled to the bottom would only account for grains that were actually picked up and dropped to the bottom. Of course, that is only one way in which sediment moves due to current. Once dropped to the bottom, grains can continue to roll along the bottom and be transported.

Hmmm...I may have just figured this one out. Yay, blog!

NOTE: This is a take-home test in which I have been given full permission to consult books/other people. I'd prefer it if I wasn't given the answer...just some discussion that might help me come to it on my own. Thanks!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bah (I seriously can't think of good titles...I'm gonna start writing really long ones that have nothing to do with my posts)

School continues to be really really interesting this semester! In biology, we've gone over really basic stuff; chemistry, carbon, water, the cell, metabolism. I got my first test back and I got a 98, which confirmed that my method of studying is working. I was afraid I was going about it all wrong because I've never really taken a science course where most of the information had to be memorized. Of course, I have found out that it isn't all just memorization - things fit together in a way that makes sense. It's more like learning a new language when you don't know the words but understand how the sentences are structured.

Geology has been great. After the first lab where we went to the beach and measured sand ripples and grain size, we went to a gorge and made a profile of the river by wading waist-deep in the water and using electronic flowmeters to measure the velocity of the currents at the top and bottom of the river in 2-foot intervals. Using the data, we calculated the river's discharge and also calculated the recurrence interval of a flood of that discharge's magnitude. Very fun.

Last night, in the rain, we hiked out to an ancient tidal flat (Cambrian) and measured ripple marks, grain size and bed thickness. We used dilute HCl to determine what kind of rocks were present (Dolostone!). We also looked at some mud cracks and trace fossils. Using our data, we're supposed to determine what kind of sedimentary environment the sediments were laid down in.

My first geology test was yesterday. I didn't do as well as I hoped ( I think...haven't gotten it back yet), though I've been studying an insane amount. Part of the test we did in class, which counts for 75% of the grade. The other 25% comes from the same test, which we took home and can complete with the help of the book and/or friends/TA's/whoever. I'm pretty frustrated with it. The questions I know I got wrong/was unsure about during the in-class portion are not easily answered with the help of the book or a TA. In fact, I have been unable to answer one question at all, even after talking to my TA and consulting the textbook and searching online.

Anyway, the annual meeting is coming up and I'm really excited. I've got to buckle down a lot and get my homework done before that week, so I don't fall behind. It's going to be hard, though, because the weekend before, I'll be in Connecticut for my cousin's wedding. And that Sunday, I'll be meeting up with Julia and Paul for some Ben and Jerry's ice cream!

Speaking of weddings, J and I went to my best friend Jayme's wedding this past weekend. It was a blast! Here are some photos:

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Yeah, my birthday rocked. Like, it was great. After I got out of class at 9 pm, I went straight home and this was waiting for me:

Yeah, my cake say "Yeah buddy happy." That's right. And those are Smooth 'n' Melty mints and that card does say "Happy Birthday Buddy."

J made me tacos for dinner, which was awesome. Because tacos are awesome.

And then we all retired to the living room and I opened my gifts, which were also awesome.

The telescope: Celestron Astromaster 114az
The shoes: sweet Gore-Tex trail running shoes. Green.

Guess what I'm trying to do with the telescope? Here's three hints (or two hints and one shot of J just because):

The bird was in the top of the tree to the left of the house in the first picture!

So I'm not too good at it yet, as you can tell from the grainy and out-of-focus last picture, but I figure some more practice and I'll have at least something I'm proud of.

I've been wanting to try this ever since I read this post over at Ask Dr. Vector.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A long long time ago...

I attempted to emerge from my mom's womb, ass-first.

I've don't a lot of things backwards since then and today marks the anniversary of that first attempt of ass-backwardsness. I'm now 26 and to mark the occasion, by body has produced this:

My first grey hair!

It's been a fantastic day so far. Not crazy remarkable, but nice and sweet and normal with a lot of birthday wishes coming to me in every way imaginable: text messages, phone calls, facebook comments, mail, email.

Tonight, J and his sister and I are going to have cake when I get home (I have lab until 9:30, so it's a LONG day for me) and I'll open my gifts. Hopefully, I'll have enough time to watch some Battlestar Gallactica and relax before bedtime.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Belated Greetings!

From the Ben and Jerry's factory!


Amanda and J

Thursday, September 18, 2008

After the Cut

So, I DON'T have to burn $90 in a video for you. Maybe only $30.

The haircut was great. Is great. Whatever.

It doesn't look all that different in a photograph, but it looks much nicer in real life - it's curlier, has more body, has less zingers (those little flyaway things), and just generally looks healthier. Plus, it weighs at least 20 pounds less.

The hairstylist thinned it out with thinning shears and halfway through, he was like "Hey...can someone come help me???" I thought he was maybe doing to do some crazy clipping maneuver that required another person holding him up or something, but I guess he just wanted someone to sweep up all of my hair, because he was up to his ankles in it. Seriously. The girl who swept it up looked like she was sweeping up a large capybarra that wouldn't let go of the broom. TONS of hair. And I still have more than enough.

I rode my bike to the salon because I'm on a save money and the environment kick, so I also had to ride the bike home. By the time I got there, all the styling was gone and my hair looked

And of course, I didn't have 1,000 hair products to put into my hair this morning, so it doesn't look half as nice as it did last night. But, I'm 75% happy with it, and that's WAY more than usual.

Haircuts and Majors

It's almost my birthday. I'll be 26 on the 22nd...that's on Monday, if you were wondering when to send my gift.

As a present to myself, I'm getting a haircut. And not just any haircut, but a REALLY expensive haircut.


Well, I suppose it's because the hair stylist in town that I've only heard positive things about charges that much. He'd better be good. I mean, REALLY good. I'd better leave there feeling like I've got the sexiest hair ever. Or with a new car or something.

I have to be in a wedding in a week, so I need to look presentable. Plus, I only get my hair cut, like, once a year, so I'm going to stop feeling guilty right NOW. Or now.

Nope...not working.

I'm actually going to buy myself two gifts this year. The haircut and these shoes:

J swears by these things...they're waterproof and green...what else could anyone ask for?

I'm not really rolling in the dough right now, but I have finally caught up with my fiances* since Echo died. Finally, I have just a little money in the bank and a little in savings.


I'm thinking about switching my major back to geology and possibly scrapping this whole "oh my gawsh I really need to be an expert on everything by grad school" thing. I'm taking a fantastic geology course and I'm totally in love with it. While my professor is new and awkward and not so hot at keeping control of the classroom, the information is enough to keep me engaged. And the labs are really really cool. We spent last week at the beach measuring wave ripples and grain size and talking about the energy of the environment and how we might determine the velocity of the waves in an ancient beach. This week we went to a gorge and made a profile of the river there, determining the probability of flooding and identifying the components of the river (like the point bars and floodplain). It's very hands-on. So, I'm thinking that I still want to study paleo, but that I might actually be more interested in the geology part of paleo...

The only problem is, our geology department is small and there aren't enough people to teach all the courses that are listed in the university catalogue. So, I could plan out the next two years of courses, but at any point, the courses I want to take could just fail to exist; most specifically Sedimentary/Metamorphic Petrology, which I think is kinda important.

Anyway...for the record, here's a BEFORE shot of my hair (and my dad...he came to visit this past weekend):

I'll post an AFTER shot tomorrow. Hopefully my hair will look different. If not, I'll make a video of me burning $90 and post it the day after.

*I'm not engaged...I meant "finances"...but it's too funny to fix.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


Check out this new blog! It's about Triassic vertebrate paleontology.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Good morning!

I woke up at six yesterday morning; an hour earlier than usual. Not by chance, no, but because I had to. It was still pretty dark and I don't know about you, but nothing about the dark makes me want to hop out of bed and skip to the shower or anything like that.

I emerged from my bed like Dracula - arms crossed over my chest, body unmoving, feet planted on the bed and serving as an axis of rotation. Only when completely vertical did I open my eyes. Since my mattress is now on the floor, thanks to my recent poverty and a certain friend who really needed her bed frame back, I literally stepped out of bed.

The vibrations created by my first footsteps apparently also woke up one of our resident house centipedes, though he did more of a snake-like wiggle than a Dracula maneuver. He, with all his gross little legs and his silvery body and his side-to-side undulations, shot out from under J's bureau and charged at me, full-speed. Emily, good for nothing, watched on as if she were in a 3D movie - batting at the bug while remaining several feet away from it.

I let out a shriek, grabbed the nearest crossword puzzle (thankfully I never throw them out unless they're 100% finished and have 30 at my disposal) and slammed it down on Mr. Pedie. I slowly lifted the paper and BAM, he went dashing back toward the bureau, hoping to escape with at least 99 limbs still intact. But I was too quick for him, in my adrenaline-induced panic, and caught him again, making sure to slam on every square inch of the newspaper.
After ensuring Mr. Pedie's death (HA! I almost wrote "full death" which is redundant, eh?) I left him, exposed, on the floor while I got dressed. No sense in making two trips to the bathroom, right?

It was then that Emily decided to take more than just a lazy swat's interest in Mr. Pedie. She circled the smooshed carcass and just as she was about to give him a little nibble, I realized that I didn't want my cat breathing centipede breath on me. So I swatted her lightly with my shirt.

Apparently, Emily was also pretty terrified of Mr. Pedie, because when the the shirt touched her, that little stinker jumped straight up in the air - so high that I could have pet her without bending over (and I'm tall for a woman).
I don't normally kill bugs I find in my apartment. I usually let them out and hope they stay out. But, I draw the line at house centipedes...and spiders...and ticks...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First Day of Classes

Was yesterday...but MY first day was today. I had both classes, back to back, during lunch time (10-12). I'm glad I decided to eat before going to the first class because even after a snack, my stomach was SCREAMING after the second class. I rushed back to my office and ate my lunch in three seconds and I'm still really hungry. *gurgle*

It was a good first day. I mean, as first days go: syllabus review, academic honesty policies, accessing Blackboard and course expectations. We did get to some of the material in my Bio class, but just a brief introduction.

My biology professor is pretty great. He's a research assistant professor who specializes in evolutionary biology and ecological genetics. He's confident, friendly and seems really interested in instructor/student communication. He also seems determined to keep us up on the latest research and to use it to teach the basic principles of biology. Today we discussed monogamy/promiscuity of voles and how research surrounding hormones and receptors involved in those behaviors is being extended to human beings - all as a means of comparing hypothesis driven science with discovery science.

My geology professor can't be much older than I am. He is a newly minted PhD and is teaching his first class ever as an instructor and not a TA. He is nervous and not very confident, though I suppose that will change as the semester progresses.

The geology course is going to have some interesting labs, many of which are field trips. Unfortunately, because I'll be missing two days to attend the SVP meeting, I will also miss a field trip. Those can't be made up, so I'll have to deal with the consequences of missing the lab (which is worth 35% of my grade!!!). I'm hoping that someone will switch lab sections with me for that week or that if I just show up for another lab section there will be room for me in the department van.

It'll be an interesting semester...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Airlines Need to Work on the Whole Customer Service Thing

When I bought the plane tickets for the SVP annual meeting, I booked my flight a day before booking J's flight because I wasn't sure if J would be able to come. I booked my departure flight from home for the 14th and J's for the 16th. Though we're traveling on different flights to the conference, we'll be leaving on the same day, so I booked us the same return flights.

Last night I got an email from US Airways saying that they had changed J's itinerary. After comparing his return flight information with mine, I realized that that we would no longer be on the same return flight, so I called the company to see if we could arrange to fly together.

The woman on the phone assured me that J and I were on the same return flight. I was looking at our itineraries and could see that she was wrong. We had different flights, different times, different flight numbers. I told her this.

Her response? Apparently they also changed my itinerary, but had neglected to tell me. And they changed my departing flight from home so that I would arrive in the connecting flight airport two hours AFTER my connecting flight was scheduled to leave.

The US Airways woman told me that she would fix my itinerary so that I wouldn't miss my connecting flight. "I can get you to Cleveland at 9:45 pm," she said. I was originally scheduled to arrive in Cleveland at 3:30.

"That won't work," I told her. "I'm attending a conference and I need to be in Cleveland at 3:30 or earlier." I REALLY want to go to Neil Shubin's talk, which is at 8:00 pm.

After being INCREDIBLY firm for a while, the woman finally contacted her "superior" and got me on an early flight.

I'm unsettled, though. What if my itinerary changes again? How would I know?

I hate flying and it seems like it's just becoming more and more of a hassle.

Monday, August 18, 2008


This coming semester, I'll be taking two introductory lab science courses - biology and geology. I got my geology textbook the other day and started reading it right away because

1) I am a dork.
2) I love school and can't wait for it to start.
3) I have a RIDICULOUSLY busy fall, not counting school, and I want to get ahead so that I don't actually get behind.

I barely remember anything that I read, which is pretty normal for me...I have a terrible memory, especially when I am expected to memorize facts. I learn much much more when I experience something or have something tangible to associate it with. For example, I know how the first measurement of the Earth's circumference was made...but I can't remember who made it or when they made it. The reason being that I could relate to the process of measuring shadows finding out angles and multiplying distances by the numbers of angles. But remembering a name, with nothing to relate it to? Nope. Not happening.

For people like me, reading about science can be very frustrating. I know that I have read about the Cambrian critters found in the Burgess Shale, but I can't remember which is which. I can't remember what makes an Arthropod and Arthropod.

For me, it is very important to research why we know the things we know. When I understand how the Sonic Hedgehog gene was discovered, I can remember, rather easily, what it is.

If I had more time, I would start a blog just about the research that backs the knowledge we have.

Speaking of, has anyone read Dinosaurs: The Science Behind the Stories?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Life goes on...

I'm in the kitchen on the phone with Norton's Symantec, trying to get some help with my Internet Security program. About five months ago, my subscription ran out and Norton began telling me I had to activate the product again, even though I still had a good seven months left on my subscription. When I try to activate the product, I keep getting an error message from Windows that says "symlcsvc.exe stopped working and was closed." I have been on hold for twenty minutes and still have not spoken to a single human being. The computer-voice operator told me that I could pay to get priority over all the other calls...but damned if I'm going to pay Norton to fix a problem that is their fault. When my subscription is up, I will NOT be renewing. I refuse to ever buy a product again if I can't reach a human in customer service within ten minutes.

I'm pretty cranky. I miss Echo and it's really empty here without her. It feels like there's this little hole somewhere where stuff is leaking out of and I don't know how to plug it, or if I even should try. I expect to see her on my bed when I walk past my bedroom and in the nook in the hallway when I walk to the bathroom. Petting Emily reminds me of petting Echo and I keep having these terrible thoughts, like Emily is so great, but she's not Echo. The two of them balanced each other out completely; opposites. Emily is timid, skittish, quirky. Echo was confident, snuggly, predictable.

I just spent an hour on the phone with a woman named Oliver from the Philippines. I was planning on giving her a piece of my mind because Norton has pissed me off royally. But it isn't Oliver's fault, so I was polite instead. She fixed the problem. My computer is working fine now.

Every time I hear the word "sleepyhead" I imagine my tiny little Echo, asleep in her bed. I imagine a sick, unhappy cat. I imagine telling her, "sleepyhead, wake up," as she lies, limp and not breathing on the exam table at the animal hospital. My favorite folk artist has a song with those words and I am afraid to listen to the CD because I know that hearing "sleepyhead, wake up" set to sweet music will tip me over and spill out all that hurt.

I know this will get easier with time. I know that when school starts, I'll have less time to think about Echo, though I will miss her homework-interrupting presence.

At least I'll have a laptop that's entirely protected from viruses.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bad News...

We're euthanizing Echo tomorrow. She's just deteriorating and the vet said at the rate she's losing weight, she'll starve to death. She sits in one spot all day and the smell of food causes her to vomit. She doesn't want to eat or be touched and she barely looks up when I talk to her. It's the right thing to do. The decision wasn't difficult to make, given her condition.

The worst part is knowing that she won't be here this weekend and having to make it through today, knowing what will happen tomorrow.

The love I have for Echo is simple. I love her flaws - how she can be a mega bitch when she's jealous, how she ignores me if she's upset with me, how she claims my pillow at night as if she pays the rent. I love her quirks - how she licks herself if you touch that spot on her chest, how she falls off the bed when she grooms herself. I love the good stuff - how she resembles a teddy bear when she's playing, how she says goodbye to me by the front door every morning, how she snuggles up with me when I'm in bed or trying to do homework. There's nothing about her that I don't love. I am going to miss her immensely.

Thanks for all your support throughout this, blog world. It means a whole hell of a lot to me.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Really cool science!

Will of The Dragon's Tales and his team, Team Phoenicia, are attempting to win the Google Lunar X Prize! Any donations would help significantly with the project. Even just a dollar or two. You can donate from the team's home page. Just click "donate."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Answers to Zach's Questions

Zach asked: "Does the modeling gig pay well? Is it a tedious process? Is it fun? This is something you have to blog about sometime!"

Yes, it does pay well, depending on the job. Sometimes the job takes three hours and you make $150 bucks. Other times, you work for a day (10 hours or so) and make 700 bucks. People with more experience than me make maybe twice or three times that amount. The agency, if you work through one, takes about 20% of your pay. So, it does pay well, if you're used to making less than $20 an hour, which I am. The only real downside is that you have to handle your own taxes, and that can be a bit stressful.

I really enjoy the work. It can be extremely intimidating, but you meet interesting people. I'm pretty social so I don't mind meeting new people and I'm relatively good at getting to know them and getting comfortable with them in a short amount of time. It feels like an adventure. Of course, I also have a lot of insecurity, so it's hard to get over that initially.

The work itself is a lot harder than you'd think. It's hard to smile and relax with people staring at you and a camera in your face. You have to change poses after every camera click, so you have to constantly be thinking ahead. I have to make squinty faces and do facial acrobatics to stretch my face and let it relax.

If you're shooting for a clothing line, you end up changing a lot. For the Life is Good shoot, I probably tried on thirty or so tee shirts, several backpacks, four or five sets of mittens and gloves and various vests, sweatshirts and pants. I often had to change in really cold weather; there was snow on the ground and I posed in tee shirts. My fingers were freezing and the worst was changing from one shirt to another and being in 10 degree weather with a tank top on. The shots with me in the backpacks and hats were all taken in the rain and it was hard to keep my eyes open. When I did, I got pelted in the eyes with icy raindrops.

It's also hard to shoot in public places. Some of the photos for the Life is Good shoot were done in a supermarket and a cafe. People got pretty curious about what was going on and would watch, which made me pretty self-conscious.

I really love it. I mean, it's definitely hard...after a full day of smiling, your face hurts and you just want to scowl, but it's fun. And it pays well. A couple of jobs a year would be a real help, say, if I were in school full time.

I'm on teh internets!

They finally put up the new fall stuff at the Life is Good website, which means that somewhere, buried in the the mittens and gloves section, are some pictures of me.

I'll link to the individual pages so you don't have to go searching everywhere:

Here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Last night, Echo started eating food off of my fingers. This is GREAT! I no longer have to use a syringe to get food into her mouth. She is much happier now. The only problem is, I have to feed her every hour or so, which makes going anywhere kinda tough. She's still not eating a lot and she's still just chillaxing in her little bed all day, but she doesn't seem miserable and her grooming tells me that she hasn't lost the will to live.

I'm starting to think about textbooks again, since school is rolling up on me quite quickly. I would like to buy them as early as possible to avoid having to buy them in the bookstore, just in case I can get a better deal elsewhere. Of course, I can't do anything until my next paycheck gets deposited.

It's strange going from a place of financial comfort to living paycheck-to-paycheck. It's not all that long ago that I was only making $11,000 a year, so you'd think I'd be used to it. I'm going to have to get used to it again, I'm sure, when I start school full-time.

It's early: 7 am. I got up an hour earlier than usual to feed Echo and will feed her again in a half hour. I love being up before everyone else. It's so quiet and I really need that right now.

In an hour, I'll leave for work and drop J off at Starbucks. The last time we were there, we made everyone smile when we serenaded each other with that Willy Nelson version of "You are Always on My Mind." He's a good dude, that J.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Batman Parody

I loved The Dark Knight and I had only two complaints. One was that the movie had a false ending, and it was hard to get geared up for another full hour of film afterward. The second complaint has to do with Batman's voice, and that has yielded one of the funniest videos I've ever seen, so I'll forgive it:

Interrogative Scene from "The Dark Knight" Funny Jokes at JibJab

Blue Collar Scientist

Jeff, the Blue Collar Scientist, has passed away. Keep his family and loved ones in your thoughts.

I'm so sorry

I really am. I haven't done a great job of keeping up with this blog this summer.

A quick update: Echo is still alive. She has lung cancer but the vet doesn't know if she's sick right now because of the cancer or something else. She has stopped eating for the most part, so J and I are "assist feeding" her, which is just a euphamism for force-feeding. She perks up a lot when she eats, which is a good sign. The vet said I should consider a feeding tube, but I really don't want to do that. I'd rather force-feed her. I've spent all my SVP annual meeting savings on her - at least the money I had saved for the hotel. I'm doing my best to save it up again before October, but it's going to be hard! My father has offered to lend me some money if I need it, so I'll definitely be able to go.

I'm going to be really busy for the next couple of months with weddings, birthdays, school and the cat, but I'll try to get some stuff posted. I'm sure once school starts I'll be posting like crazy. Funny how that works. guys are great and I can't wait to meet some of you this fall.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Evolve - Eyes Live Bloggin'

I'm going to attempt to blog while watching "Evolve," the new History Channel show. This one is about the evolution of the eye.

So far, the previews have been pretty hyped up; the evolution of the eye is the fight for survival and of course, the eye is the weapon.

Intro about eye diversity. There's a really interesting description of eagle's eyes compared to human eyes focusing on the anatomy and how the anatomy of the eye changes vision. Not too bad. Then there's some talk of evolution as something that another thing does, specifically, "the eagle evolved" its eyes. Ouchie.

There's a segway with an animation timeline that displays evolution as linear.

We move on to the origin of eyes and use Polyorchis, the Bell Jelly, which has eye spots lining its base to talk about simple light receptors. The narrator describes an experiment where jellies are exposed to different light waves. The experiment is used to demonstrate how the eye aids in survival. In green light the jellyfish drift to bottom of tank, relaxed (the green light is the same wavelength as the ocean floor). In purple light the jellies become very active, pulsating (short wave light is higher energy - damaging to transparent organisms).


Narrator takes us back 500 million years ago (using that darn linear evolution animation). He describes the Cambrian explosion as an evolutionary arms race , the weapons being jaws, claws, body armor and eyes. In the Cambrian, we see the first evidence of compound eyes. There's some musing as to whether or not eyes were the reason for the explosion of life.

Little bit about insect eyes. Complex, compound eye. 29,000 lenses in Dragonfly eye. Poor focusing power, but rapid processing. Leave us with the idea that insect eyes and vertebrate eyes evolve from different ancestors.


Now we're talking about the vertebrate eye. It's a single lens camera of soft tissue. Someone talks about the vertebrate eye and it's history of being used to demonstrate the idea of an intelligent designer. There's a great animation showing Darwin's refutation of intelligent design of the eye, showing possible intermediate steps. I'm pretty impressed with's not described in too much depth, but the average person could see it and get a pretty good idea of what's going on.

Okay...some dinosaurs and some really bad dino CGI. The narrator introduces Kent Stevens, who researches dinosaur vision. He made scale models and used lasers to plot the line of sight of both eyes. He then calculated degree of overlap (binocular field of vision). There's some talk about the advantages of binocular vision - mainly that it allows for judging depth and 3D vision. T. rex has 55 degrees overlap and therefore, like modern predators with similar overlap, probably hunted actively. Allosaurus had only 20 degrees of overlap and was therefore probably an ambush predators, like modern animals with lateral-facing eyes.

The narrator moves on to prey animals and how their eyes moved further and further apart over time, laterally. Rabbit eyes have 360 degree vision which allows them to see predators approaching from all angles, but see in 2 dimensions.


We begin with the evolution of night vision and how it may have aided in mammal survival during the Mesozoic. The narrator touches on the difference between eyes of nocturnals vs non-nocturnals; the cornea size. Larger corneas allow in more light. A really cool demonstration of Tarsier eyes and how they compare to human eyes.

Eyeshine. What is it? It seems that we won't ever know, but then tapetum lucidum, a layer of tissue behind the retina, is mentioned. Light bounces off the tapetum lucidum, giving a greater chance of absorption and causing some of the light to shine back out of the eye.


Color vision! Dinos out, mammals in. One group, the primates, settle into tree living. Somewhere along the line, there is an advantage to seeing more than just blue and green hues and the ability to see reds as well prevails. Why reds? Nate Dominy's research, which involves gathering the food of primates and using a spectrometer to analyze the colors of leaves that primates were eating, shows that red leaves composed most of the diets of tree-dwelling primates. Turns out red leaves are younger and more nutritious.

The narrator explains that binocular vision in primates, though they are not predators, comes in handy because the increased depth perception is compatible with arboreal living. Primates have 60 degrees binocular vision but that makes them vulnerable, so they live in groups to be safer, and therefore need larger brains?


So...I really liked the show. It was quite good. It had some fluff and there was a lot of hype, but I really feel that they did a good job of explaining why and how the eye evolved. To a layman, this show was neither too dumbed-down nor too technical.

What did you think?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Echo is Sick

So Echo is really really sick. When I said that I hoped surgery wasn't in the future, I meant surgery on her ACL. Well...her ACL is fine...but surgery isn't out of the question.

Let me start at the beginning of this week.

Echo hurt her leg. I took her to the vet. She got some Buprenorphin for the pain and she sat around for the next two days looking really stoned and sitting in the same spot being really lethargic. Well, she never really got more active. Instead, she continued to be lethargic and she wasn't eating well. On Friday we took her to the emergency vet service because she started throwing up. A lot. I mean, what looked like her body weight in bile. They gave her I.V. fluids and we went home, hoping the fluids would help and that everything else would subside. After a full day of not eating at all on Saturday, we took her back to the emergency vet. They gave her more fluids, some kitty Pepto Bismol and did blood tests, thyroid tests and took x-rays.

Her blood tests came back okay, except for some liver level which was 3 times the normal level. That, the vet said, could be explained by infection, inflammation, or other things. Not too conclusive. He gave me so meClavamox, which is an oral antibiotic, for Echo to take. If she's not eating by Monday morning (it's 7:30 p.m. on Sunday as I write), I may have to take her back and have her hospitalized. So far, I've spent about $900 on Echo this past week.

Anyway, the real zinger is this: the vet said that he was concerned about Echo's x-rays (posted below). It looks like she has a "mass" in her lung (maybe lung area....I dunno, I heard the word "mass" and I kinda freaked out). He thinks I should have it looked at more closely with an ultrasound or biopsy. He couldn't give me any more than that, but he said that it could be cancer and he didn't bother to sugar-coat it. this point, my cat won't eat, she looks like hell, and she may be brewing a nice little malignant tumor (not so little). I feel utterly powerless. I can't really do anything but provide the care she needs, and I'm worried that if she needs much more, I won't be able to afford it.

She's such a sweet little pooper. I hate to see her uncomfortable. I'm not ready for her to get really wasn't part of my plan.

Echo's x-rays. The "mass" is circled in red.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Wanting What I Have

It's getting dark out and J and I are retiring for the night in the same fashion that we have for the last year or so we've been together; we climb into bed and put on an episode of some television show we're addicted to.

A breeze leads the gauzy curtains in a dance and the star mobile hanging from the ceiling turns slowly in circles.

The sheets are cool against my skin and soft on my bare feet; they feel like spring air on a perfect day - the kind where the air is elusive and so well matched to the temperature of my skin that I just don't notice it's there until the wind reminds me.

The cats hop onto the bed and settle into their favorite places.

Emily curls up at my feet, facing the door like a little guardian gargoyle. Her face is so flat that from the side, all I can see of her face is the glassy orb of her right eye. She turns to me and lazily winks at me. I hear this is a sign of trust and love. I blink back.

Echo leaps gracefully over my body to the narrow space between me and J. She lowers her body slowly to the bed and begins her usual grooming routine, starting with her little bulgy tummy. The pink pads of her feet match her tiny pink nose. I interrupt her grooming by stroking the back of her head. She leans back and pushes into my hand, purring loudly. I curl up around her, putting my head on J's belly. The television lulls me to sleep and I sleep soundly; a solid, warm human body next to me and two tiny goddesses at my side.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I miss school. I really really miss school. It used to be that summer was a great time; swimming, camping, hiking, the beach, biking, outdoor concerts! This summer isn't so bad, really, but between working full time and the rain, it hasn't been very summer-like.

And did I mention I miss school? I miss having a goal in mind, a challenge. I miss leaving class and nearly skipping back to my office with excitement over the stuff I just learned. I miss getting back tests and plugging the numbers into my calculator and finding out that all my hard work paid off. I miss almost all of it.

It's been really hard for me to keep up this blog this summer. I think it's because I'm not taking classes and I'm falling into a bit of a thinking rut. I don't feel like writing anything I have to research at the moment.

Anyway, here's what's been going on:

- I took a leave from Aikido. I just won't have the time come fall and I can't afford to pay 80$ a month to only take one or two classes.

- My cat's ACL seems to be mending just fine. But now she won't eat. I think it's just because she's been getting into Zeus's wet food and she's being snotty. I hope. Otherwise, it's back to the vet.

- I have a bazillion plans coming up: J's mom is visiting this weekend, my aunt turns 70 after that and then I have two weddings to go to (and I'm in one of them as a bridesmaid). Then school starts and the annual meeting follows!

- I've been reading Stephen Jay Gould's Wonderful Life and I'm loving it. It's really quite fascinating and it's also making me want to go to Alberta to visit the Burgess Shale.

- I've been going to the gym. Like, pumping iron. I love it! My goal is to be able to do a single pull-up and ten push-ups (the kind where your arms are under your shoulders and your elbows are tight against your side). So far, I can do almost 3/5 of a pull-up and 1 push-up.

And here are a few paleo pics, just to stay on topic:

The original head from the Brontosaurus mount at the Peabody Museum. Ick.

Some Ceratopsian skulls at the Peabody Museum