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: