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 Beds.net

Bad News...

My domain, selfdesignedstudent.com, 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: selfdesignedstudent.blogspot.com. (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 (YEAH....UNH....it 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 pass...it'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