Friday, November 20, 2009

The semester is almost over.

This has been the hardest semester so far, no contest. Organic chemistry is not easy. I have done well, with an exam average of 93.5, but it hasn't come easily and I've spent a lot of time reading and re-reading the textbook, doing practice problems, attending reviews and taking practice exams. I am not sure how I have done in the lab portion of the class. For the most part, I've gotten decent grades on my lab reports; however, I have failed at least two lab quizzes (with 1 out of 3 possible points). My TA does not hand out perfect grades - he claims that it is nearly impossible to get a perfect grade, and so he just doesn't assign them. At the end of the semester, all of the lab grades will be scaled in case one TA is easier than another. I believe that my lab grade will be scaled up. The lab is worth 1/4 of my grade. Two midterm exams make up 50% of my grade. The final is worth 25%.

I have done extremely well in my Ecology and Evolution class. I am pretty confident that I will end the semester with an A.

A couple of weeks ago, my Eco & Evo professor gave an interesting lecture on creationism. He recorded it, so I will try to get a copy of the video to post.

On Tuesday, I signed up for classes for the spring semester. I'll be taking the second half of organic chemistry and a course called Earth, Life and Environment Throughout Time through the geology department. We have a weekend trip to NYC to visit the AMNH. I think I'm going to like that class!

Sometimes, my job is highly entertaining...

We received this email in regard to a manuscript we published last year about the correlation between teen pregnancy and sex on television:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Help my friends!

This summer, my friends JP and Meghan took off for Thailand and India. Meghan is working on her thesis there and both of them have found themselves fighting hard for a small colony of folks in Nellore, India. The colony is the Seva Jyothi Leprosy colony; the folks that live there have been provided with a small amount of land and cement houses, but are extremely poor and have to beg for their food. They do not have the resources to grow their own food. Their children are often orphaned or too poor to attend school.

Meghan and JP are project coordinators for the Seva Life Project - they are trying to raise $3500 to fund "The Garden Project," which will help develop the land for agriculture and be the first step in making the Seva Jyothi colony a sustainable, self-sufficient community.

Any amount that you can donate - even just a couple of dollars - will help! Instead of having a latte this week, send three dollars to the Seva Life Project. If a hundred people did that - they'd have an additional $300 to put towards their project!

Click here to go to the Seva Life Project webpage. Read more about it and donate what you can!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


This is my new roomate, Danielle. She was nice enough to let me take some pictures of her on Sunday.

I haven't been photographing much of anything lately and on Sunday, I just had to get out and do some shooting. It was beautiful out and I'd spent the whole day inside with my nose in a book or in front of a computer screen.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October love....

Good times at the SDS household. And by "good times" I mean "no time to have a bad time."

This semester has been SO trying. I am busier than I've ever been - taking two 4-credit classes and working. Go in to work at 7:00, get out of school at 7:30. I have just an couple of hours at night to eat and relax. Notice that that doesn't include homework? That's right - now I only have time to do homework on the weekend. So far, it's worked out okay, but I have a feeling things are about to get crazy. J's having a rough time, too.

Organic chem is not as scary as everyone made it out to be. I like it a whole lot more than general chem - it's more concepts-based and I like that. The teacher is pretty fantastic, which is helpful. The lab has been relatively easy, as well. I got a 95 on my first exam, and we only have two graded exams besides the final, so even if I crap out on the next one, I'll be in decent shape.

Ecology and Evolution is awesome. My professor is fantastic. He's brilliant, available and interesting. I really really enjoy his lectures. So far, we've covered population and community ecology. We're approaching concepts mathematically and I find it really helpful. I'm excited to get to the next half of the class, which focuses on evolution. We were also promised one lecture on evolution and creationism, so as to not ignore the elephant in the room.

I will, eventually, tell you all about the Westboro Baptist Church picket and the sweet field trip I went on a couple of weeks ago. But that will have to wait until a day when I have some time...and that might mean sometime in December.

I leave you with some love from Emily. She's a bit limpy lately, so we're taking her to the vet tomorrow to make sure she's not hiding some huge lung tumor or something. Wish us luck...or whatever.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Contest Update

I was keeping an eye out for the results of the "What's Your Favorite Toy" Brickfish contest but I got tired of waiting. The results were supposed to be posted a month after the deadline, but months after the deadline they still weren't posted. So I gave up.

Anyway, today I got curious and I checked and, not surprisingly, I didn't win. These people did.

Oh well. I really appreciated all of your votes and comments.

I had my first Organic Chem class today. My professor seems like he'll be a fantastic teacher. He immediately had the respect of the class, even though it was clear that he won't take any b.s.

I am not nervous about the class. I've heard horror stories and I know that the subject is notoriously difficult. But I've gained a good deal of confidence in my abilities as a student and I am sure I'll be fine.

I have Ecology and Evolution in an hour and a half. The professor for that class has a reputation for being a great teacher.

I think I have a great course load this semester.

J also started today. It's his first time at a big university. He's taking 17 credits: two philosophy courses, calculus, chemistry and biology. So far, he seems really excited and happy about the classes he's attended. I'm SO excited for him. And proud.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fred Phelps in Vermont

I learned the other day that Fred Phelps has Vermont on his picket schedule. On September 1st, the day that the new marriage equality law goes into effect, he and about 9 others will picket in Montpelier and Burlington. Phelps is planning on picketing in Vermont for about 3 hours. The RU12? Community Center is countering the picketing by holding a pledge drive.

I urge you to donate even a penny a minute (that's just $1.80!).

I'm going to take the day off from work and spend my day living as peacefully as own little protest. Maybe I'll protest in person...but I don't know...I don't want to give the crazy too much attention. It's a tough call with people as crazy as Phelps.

How would you protest? Would you protest at all?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Things I have/haven't doen this summer: list edition.

Have done:

  • learned to use my new camera (and now I have a newer one to learn!)
  • read books (except I haven't finished "The Link" - I'm finding it to be quite dry)
  • ran around barefoot in the woods
  • swam in my clothes
  • picked strawberries (and tonight - blueberries!)
  • seen Lucy and Ida (and Brian!)
  • read numerous poems by Mary Oliver
  • listened to the first bunch of episodes of Radiolab (please please listen if you haven't!)
  • gone on 3 or more 5k runs each week
  • started doing yoga
  • reached a goal of 5 pull ups and am on my way to 10
  • worked many hours of overtime because a colleague quit
  • been really really lazy when I was home and enjoyed having nothing to do

Have not done:

  • written on this blog

I bought my school books yesterday - looks like my Ecology and Evolution class will be very math-heavy (at least in the beginning). They don't even have my organic chem book in...but I'm sure that'll be very, well, organic chem-heavy.

Since I'm not taking a geology class this semester, I thought I would try and get myself signed up for the New England Intercollegiate Geological Conference. The conference is in Lyndonville, Vermont and there are a couple of interesting field trips. I'd like to go on any one of the following:

  • Road to the Kingdom: A Bedrock Transect Across the Pre-Silurian Rowe-Hawley Belt in Central Vermont
  • Glacial Geology, Climate History, and Late-Glacial Archaeology of the Northern White Mountains, New Hampshire
  • Bedrock Geology of the Montpelier Area, Central Vermont

I've also decided to try and fit the following classes into my course of study:

  • Prehistoric Archaeology
  • Biological Anthropology
  • Primates and Anthropology

Some of the stuff I've read this summer has really piqued my interest in the role evolution plays in behavior - especially human behavior.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

We're all moved in!!!

And it's awesome!
The new apartment is huge - or at least much bigger than the last. It's got TONS of natural light and windows. The first night we spent there, it was so quiet that I could hear the wind rustling the leaves on the trees. The breeze comes straight into our bedroom window and I wake up to the sound of birds (cardinals!). This morning, it took me five minutes to get to work. I can now go home on my lunch break and read for an hour.


The prints that are hanging up in the picture with J are two that I got at the SVP annual meeting. I've been meaning to matte and frame them for a year and just finally got around to it. I love them!

On a walk yesterday, J found a dead pileated woodpecker. I want to clean it and mount the skeleton, but I'm 98% sure that I won't find the time and that I'll just end up with a ton of bones, stuffed in a baggie somewhere in my closet. I haven't totally nixed the idea, though - I would love to have the skull with the little hyoid apparatus.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sweet Crap

I'm busy! One of my co-workers quit a week ago and there's only two of us in this office, running this journal. On top of being one person down, we're also putting in close to eight hours of overtime each week...and moving! On Monday, our office is being moved (to a place with no windows about half the size of our office now), so we're juggling packing and trying to keep the manuscript submission, review and decision process moving smoothly.

On the home front, J's mom has been visiting. She leaves tonight and then we start packing because, on top of moving my office, I'm also moving myself. We are moving all the big stuff this weekend, but we'll probably be moving a bit and cleaning all next week.

I haven't had time to myself. I haven't had time to play with my camera or read my books or post my pictures and blog from my visit to see Lucy and Ida.

Eventually, when this all quiets down, I will return to having a normal summer. Hopefully by then, all this rain will have stopped.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I can't believe

that Michael Jackson is dead. It's so weird.

My first album ever was Bad. I got it when I was six years old.

My brother and I used to put on dance shows for our parents to Dangerous and Thriller.

I started a club in fifth grade to save the endangered species and used "Heal the World" as my theme song.

Some Saturdays, for the last couple of years, I've gone to 80's night at the local club and made sure to be on the dance floor for "Billy Jean."


Monday, June 22, 2009


I spent this past weekend doing things I don't like doing - packing, throwing away stuff, running all over the place trying to get rid of things that I don't want to lug to the new apartment.

But I did some pleasant stuff, too. On Saturday, my friend Danielle and I went hunting for clay in the Winooski River. Danielle is a potter and she's been dying to find some local clay to work with. We drove to a couple of spots and waded around a bit, but we didn't really find anything, so next Saturday we're maybe going to rent a canoe and paddle around so that we can get to the hard-to-reach-by-land spots.

After searching for clay, we spent some time picking strawberries on the most beautiful little plot of land I've ever seen. There were arches made of tree limbs and rows of berry bushes. All of the cedar waxwings that hang out by my apartment in early spring? They live on the berry farm in the summer! It was 70 degrees out and overcast and the berries smelled so sweet and were so delicious!

Yesterday, J and I scouted out a new run - a 5K jaunt starting at our new apartment and circling the university. In the middle of our run, it started pouring rain - it was insanely refreshing!

This weekend, J and I are going to NYC to see Lucy and Ida! We're going to meet up with Brian for some lunch in Times Square. I'm so excited!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Apartment

I've lived in my current apartment for two years now, which is longer than I've ever lived at any place other than my childhood home. It's a nice place; it burned down a few years ago so by the time I moved in, it had been completely rebuilt. It's modern and clean (sort of - nothing is ever really clean with two cats). There are a couple of problems with it, though.

First, the apartment is on a very busy street next to a rotary. People in Vermont don't know how to use rotaries and this rotary is pretty unusual, hence the large number of accidents that happen right in front of our place. People honk early in the morning and late at night. In the summer, we can't sleep with our windows open because the traffic noise wakes us up and drowns out the sound of the television.

Our landlord has been pretty decent, but he's in no hurry to get things fixed when the break or to plow when a foot of snow has fallen. Our lawn (a tiny tiny patch of grass) was just mowed for the first time this spring and the landscaping has been neglected for years.

Our apartment is a 25- to 30-minute walk from the university. This wouldn't be a big deal, but J and I don't have a car and the only bus that went directly to the university from near our house is being cancelled this month, so we don't have any quick way to get to and from in the winter. I don't mind long walks - I do them often - but when biology lab gets out at 9:00 pm on a Monday night it's just nice to not have to trudge two miles in the snow and ice to get home.

Anyway, we've been on the hunt for a new place and yesterday, we put a security deposit down on an apartment! It's a 10-15-minute walk from the apartment to my office and a stone's throw from the apartment to the university gym. It's also got a much more open floor plan than the apartment we're in now:

Old Apartment:

New Apartment:

The apartment we're in now is 1/3 hallway, and while the rooms are pretty private, it feels a bit cramped.

I have to admit that part of me is wondering if the new place is going to turn out to be a good thing. It's really charming, but it's not as modern as the place we're in now. The bedrooms are a bit smaller (I think - it's hard to tell), as are the kitchen and bathroom. The living room, though, is quite a bit larger. There's no porch, but there is a decent little strip of lawn to hang out on. There's also a storage unit in the basement.

If it's as quiet as I'm hoping, I think the location of the new apartment will make the move totally worth it. I'm excited about being able to keep my windows open at night, waking up the the sound of birds, and falling asleep to the sound of crickets.

The only thing that makes me sad to leave our current building is that I have a lot of memories tied to it - my first year with J, little memories of Echo sleeping on the couch and racing through the hallway.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I have a really beautiful friend named Christy. She's a mom, an aikidoka, an artist and an all-around awesome gal. She's opening a studio/collective here in town and I have an opportunity to rent some studio space from her! I don't know if I can afford to do it, but if I can, it would mean that I could have my very own photo studio, which would be very nice, if I ever want to try my hand at professional portraiture.

This past weekend, I got to spend some time with Christy and her boyfriend, Alex, at the studio. It's in the first stages right now - it's just a big room with some heavy equipment. It needs to be cleaned and organized and some walls need to be built, but it's a cool space.

I don't know if I'll do it - I barely have time during the school year to even watch a movie - but the idea is really exciting.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


In my building, there's a "Medical Photography" office. I think one person works in it. He takes photos - of medical stuff. And the school buys him his equipment, so he's got two Nikon D3s with $6,000 lenses mounted on them. He carries both around at the same time, one over each shoulder. I bump into him occasionally and I'm always a bit star struck for some reason, even though he's by no means famous.

I've wanted to do photography for a long time. I got into it, originally, in high school, when my parents gave me their old Canon AE-1 Program and some lenses for my birthday. Alas, I didn't know how to use the camera, nor did I seem to have the mind for learning at the time, so it sat, in my closet, until my first year of college.

I took a black and white photography class in 2002. We used film only, so I learned how to develop and manipulate film film photos. I didn't produce any great work during that time, but I did learn all of those technical things that my high school brain couldn't handle when I first got the AE-1. Unfortunately, once the class ended, so did my shooting. I got a couple of digital point and shoots and all of the sudden, film seemed like too much work - too pricey. (I've changed my mind about film. I think it's fantastic and I plan on getting myself a nice film camera once I've leanred the ins and outs of photography)

Anyway, I've realized lately that I spend a lot of time wanting to do things and very little time actually doing things. I'm sure, on my death bed, I'll have a lot of regrets - so I'd like to start doing those things that I've always wanted to do, not matter how scary they are. And while photography in itself isn't scary, the idea that I might invest some money in it and turn out to be a terrible photographer is.

So I bought myself a nice digital SLR camera and I've invested in some fantastic lenses. I got the Nikon D70. It's a great little tool and it has the capacity, coupled with nice lenses and good technique, to take beautiful pictures. Plus, it was cheaper than the more recent $1,000 bodies.

So far, I'm working with the following:

  • Nikon d70, Digital SLR
  • AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D lens
  • AF Nikkor 20-35mm f/2.8D zoom lens
  • Tamron SP AF28-300/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro lens
I'd like to pick up an external flash and a better tripod and eventually, I'd like to get a faster telephoto lens, though they run in the thousands of dollars, so that may never actually happen.

I'm having a lot of fun experimenting. Eventually, once I get a bit more familiar with the camera and the pictures I produce, I might even develop some kind of unique style. Right now, most of what I've done has been an imitation of several other people's style, though it's definitely helping me learn how to use the camera and the editing software (Nikon Capture).

I think I might be an okay photographer, if I stick with it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hole in the Wall

I grew up in Ashford -a tiny little town in Connecticut. It's a beautiful place with only a couple thousand residents. The house I spent most of my life in had a little stream in the back yard. There are two gas stations and one Dunkin Donuts. Otherwise, the town is just a school, some local restaurants, a dairy bar and lots and lots of woods.

And there's the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, founded by Paul Newman. You may have seen him in a movie or two, or bought his delicious dressings.

The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp does fantastic work. It "provides children with cancer and other serious illnesses and conditions a camping experience of the highest quality, while extending year-round support to their families and health care providers."

When you grow up in a small town like Ashford, you get to know people pretty well. My brother had a friend, Ray. Ray was a kid that we all knew would grow up to be a decent man. He was a sweet kid - really polite and kind. I got to do some Civil War reenacting with Ray when he and his father joined the local (and tiny, but awesome) civial war reenacting regiment. By the powers of Facebook, I've gotten to reconnect a bit with Ray. And, as we expected, Ray is doing great things - and working with Team Hole in the Wall to raise money for the Hole in the Wall Camps.

On August 16th, Ray will be running in the NYC Half-Marathon. He's committed to raising $1,500. Help Ray reach his goal by donating some money. Even if it's just $5, it'll help!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Guess which one of my boyfriends got into UVM?

If you guessed this one:

then you are correct.

Congrats to J! He's now a double major in biology and philosophy. And extra congrats to him for making Presidents List this past semester!

I'm so lucky to have such a smart, hardworking and handsome partner in crime.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fairbanks Museum

This weekend, J and I drove up to St. Johnsbury - a quaint little town in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. St. Jay, as the locals say, has a beautiful historic district with old brick buildings and a lovely little museum. We've been wanting to go to the Fairbanks Museum for quite some time, but since neither of us have a car it was only this past weekend, when J's sister was out of town and we had her car, that we could get there.

The Fairbanks Museum opened in 1891, though before that, Franklin Fairbanks invited folks to view his "cabinet of curiosities" in home where, on the third floor, he had a collection of natural objects.
I was pretty impressed by the museum. It had one of the most extensive collections of birds (dead ones) that I've seen, though many of them are so old that the colors are starting to fade from their feathers. almost the whole first floor of the museum, which was one gigantic room, was devoted to birds. There were also some stuffed bears, a moose, a tiger and some small mammals.

The second floor of the museum had a mishmash of items and themes. There were minerals, dolls, historical artifacts from around the world and a little display of the history of life through time. The mineral collection was impressive, not in size, but in specimen quality. The dinosaur display emphasized the historical aspects of paleontology but was lacking in anything modern. Besides casts of T. rex and Styracosaurus albertiensis, the only visuals were replicas of Mantell's statues and illustrations of lumbering sauropods with their tails dragging on the ground. Though the display information acknowledged recent advances in paleontology, any child running through the museum probably wouldn't pick that up.

Regardless, the museum was defininely fun to visit and I would recommend it to anyone as a stop on a day trip.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Monkey's Uncle

Every once in a while, my life will take on some kind of theme. Lately, primates have been it.

I recently picked up a copy of Our Inner Ape by Frans de Waal. When I say "recently," I actually mean "months ago." I finished it on my trip to Florida earlier this month. It's a fantastic read and I encourage anyone with an interest in primatology, human behavior or anyone with opposable thumbs to read it. In the book, de Waal describes years' worth of experience working with chimpanzees and bonobos that offers insight into our own species' behavior - conflict resolution, sex, power, motivation.

So, after reading Our Inner Ape, I was really excited to visit the Miami MetroZoo and see the chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans. Unfortunately, the orang display was closed because they had just introduced two new orangs to the zoo and had them in quarantine. The chimps were not very active when we arrived at their enclosure. I don't really blame them - it was almost 94 degrees. A couple of them - a male and female - were sitting in full view, but they were far away and I didn't get any good shots of them.

The 94 degree heat was getting to us and we decided, after seeing about 2/3 of the zoo, to call it quits. But, we were passing near the gorilla enclosure and I convinced J and his mom to put up with the heat (and my picture-taking) just a bit longer.

The gorillas were really spectacular. Several females were lounging in the shade and a huge male, I think his name is JJ, was stalking around. I got some great shots of the gorillas and was about to pack up my camera when I saw JJ head to the gorilla viewing cave. I rushed into the cave and got there in time to watch JJ approach. He was moving so fast for such a big animal and he was heading right toward the two inches of glass separating us. I have never, in my life, had such a physical reaction to fear and excitement. My legs started to go numb, my heart was pounding and I immediately broke into a sweat. JJ sped up when he saw he had an audience. He plunked down on his butt and looked right at me, for a second, before averting his eyes. At one point, he opened his mouth to show off his canines. He was magnificient. Beautiful and powerful. Words can't do it justice.

I was so taken with JJ that I spent a couple of bucks on a key chain, which seemed like a totally inadequate token.

And of course, now that I'm back in Vermont and have some free time, I've picked up a copy of The Link: Uncovering Our Earliest Ancestor. I'm curious about the book and how it's going to frame the discovery of Ida - given all of the recent hype. Speaking of the hype, go read Brian's take on it!

More to come when I finish reading the book...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I'm thinking

that I need to shift the focus of this blog slightly. I have not had any motivation to write for a very long time. It's not that I'm bored by what I'm writing or reading or learning about, but that when the day is done and I've spent hours studying, I don't feel like putting a lot of time into posting something journalistic or complicated. And I don't know that that's really my style, anyway. Maybe it's just something that I decided I should do rather than something I wanted to do. I do that often.

I'm sure that what I've done is create an idea of what my blog should be. And I'm holding myself to that idea, even though I haven't actually been producing any work in sync with that idea. You're probably thinking, journalistic and complicated? I've been reading this blog for a while and there's nothing journalistic or complicated about the post content! And you are right. But in my head, I'm under the gun to produce those things. I've set up standards that I don't have the desire to live up to and as a result, I don't enjoy writing anymore. So, I'm changing my expectations. This blog is going to be something - but I'm not going to say what that something is because I don't want to set myself up to stay within certain boundaries until I'm sure about what it is that I want to be writing about.

So, I know I haven't really written about paleo in a long time, but there's a nagging feeling that I should, so I'm going to take that pressure off of myself. Accordingly, I'm not going to expect to remain on anyone's "paleo blogs" blogroll (or any blogroll for that matter). That's not to say that I will stop writing about paleo as a rule. I'm just going to write about what I want to write about, when I want to write about it. And hopefully, once I've stopped telling myself I have to write about paleo, I'll find that I want to.

So, I hope you'll still visit this place. I know that there are a lot of people out there that like to read a nice coherent, sciency blog. I'm just not in a place where I can devote myself to that. I'm still devoted to school, still devoted to all things ancient, still devoted to rocks and wildlife and all of those awesome things. But I'm also learning something about myself that I think I need to address: I tend to decide who I am and what I should be doing so rigidly that I mark any deviance from that as a failure. I'd like to be more flexible than that.

You can expect some changes here. I will still keep the same html address (which is though I will likely make some template changes. I might even change the name of the blog. I will probably post more photos. I expect that school will remain a central focus, since it's the most exciting and consuming part of my life. And hopefully, I'll be writing more often.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


It's been way too long since I've written on this blog. Sorry.

Tomorrow I have the last two classes of the semester and then on Monday and Wednesday, I have finals. I'm in really good shape and could afford to blow off the finals a bit, but I won't (and I'm not sure that I'm even capable of that, anyway).

I had my first mineral identification test, so now I feel like a real geologist. I did well - though I'm not entirely sure that that means I know my minerals. We were given eight thin sections and had 15 minutes to identify and describe 4 minerals in each. So, for example, even if I described olivine, and there was olivine in the thin section, it may not have actually been olivine that I was looking at.

I leave for Florida in a week and three days. I bought myself a new camera to take with me. I've been wanting a digital SLR for a long time and last Saturday I went to the local awesome camera shop and tested out a couple of cameras. In the end, I left with a used Nikon D70, a 28-300mm Tamron lens (no image stabilization, though), a monopod, a camera bag and a memory card for under $700. I don't know if it was a good deal or not, and I'm wondering if it would have made more sense to get a package from Best Buy (Nikon D80 with a kit lens and extra lens for $700), but I think it'll do for now, considering I barely know how to use the thing.

I'm probably going to annoy everyone because I want to photograph everything. Last night, J and I took a walk and I ended up taking a couple of nice shots of him.

I'm planning on taking a class so that I can really get the most out of the camera.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stuff from the last week...

I had to register for classes this morning, so the last week I've been in a panic, trying to figure out what the hell I'm doing with my education. Last Monday, I declared a double major in biology and geology, which has me fairly stressed out, but also sort of excited. I will have to take something like 4 lab courses a semester for a couple of semesters, but I think I can do it. Right now, I'm taking 2 lab courses a semester, working 40 hours a week and still maintaining a 4.0, so maybe my GPA will suffer a little, but it doesn't seem impossible.

Also, last week I was told I won an award in the geology department (yay!) for having the "highest grade point average in the Introductory Geology class." I will receive a set of geology field gear (hammer, compass, hand lens, field notebook) and my name will be engraved on a plaque that hangs in the Department Seminar room. So that is cool...because I've gotten awards for things I've not worked hard for, but never for something I have worked hard for.

I also set some new goals with my personal trainer. I have to do 10 "perfect" push-ups and at least one "perfect" dip within the next 6 weeks. And I have to keep working on the pull-ups. I reached my goal of 5, but now I have to do 10 by August.

So this morning, I enrolled in two courses for the fall: Organic Chemistry and Ecology and Evolution. Then, if it works out next spring, I'll take the second half of Organic Chemistry and Earth, Environments and Life Through Time, which is a lab course taken through the geology department.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Overheard in my biology class...

"Dude, we've been reading these books in my French class and I haven't been reading, so, like, I haven't really had anything to contribute to the class. So, I think I'm going to just skip French class today, since I didn't do the reading."

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Apparently, Obama likes BSG, too...

A lot.

New Paleo Blog

Anthony Maltese, Curator for the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource center is starting a blog! You can find it here. Check it out!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Look at that face!

My coworker thinks that Emily looks like she's in love:

But this picture makes it pretty obvious that she's not:

Intro Bio

My introductory biology course is fairly intense. Rather than cramming a lot of information into a single semester, the class is broken into two semesters; during the first semester we covered the tiny stuff: cells, macromolecules, cell division, etc. This semester, we're going macro; we're studying ecology and evolution, as well as animal development and physiology. The class meets three times a week, for an hour each meeting and there is a 3-hour lab component that meets weekly. We have done several studies/experiments and written lab reports for each. I don't particularly enjoy writing the lab reports, but I understand the relevance of writing to a career involving research, so I put my best effort in.

So far, our labs have been pretty straightforward. The first week, we mated some Drosophila melanogaster flies and predicted the phenotypes of their offspring. In the second week, we studied the effects of population density on Paramecium multimicronucleatum. In the third week, we tested the effects of various common pollutants on Daphnia magna. In the fourth week, we looked at interpecific competition between Paramecium multimicronucleatum and Paramecium tetraurelia. I semi-enjoyed all of those labs, though I was a bit unmotivated when it came to sharing the studies via written reports. Why did you conduct this study? Because I was told to. Why did you use the procedure that you did? Because I was told to.

The last couple of weeks, I've really started to enjoy the lab section. Last week, we gave 10-minute oral presentations in which we had to present the findings of any peer-reviewed, published study. I presented the Maiacetus inuus paper to my class and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was so much fun to take something that I find fascinating and teach people about it. I was actually disappointed when, at the end of the presentation, nobody had any questions!

We've also started doing our winter bird studies. It's the first lab assignment I've had where I get to design my own study; of course, there are some limitations. I've been recording the various species of birds that visit two feeder types: feed and suet feeders. So, I've spent at least six hours in the last two weeks in the field, studying the feeding habits of birds, and I have pretty much fallen in love with birdwatching. I bought myself a pair of binoculars (10X50) and an I.D. book for Eastern birds and every sunny day, I try to squeeze in a bit of time in the woods. There's something about being outside, with no noise other than bird songs (which I'm starting to recognize!), in the sun, just watching. And I love the challenge of trying to add to the list of species that I've seen. There's one species, in particular, that I have never seen, but have heard, that I'm dying to identify. I thought it was a cardinal...but it isn't.

I'm hoping there's someone at the university who studies birds, because I'd love to hop on board with some research.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Seasonal Stuff

This time of year is really hard. It's been dark out for months and the weather is doing it's usual thing - the thing where it gets warm, but summer is still months away, the sun is MIA and mud season is looming.

I am sure that I get seasonal depression. The last week or so, I've really been feeling it - I feel flat, unmotivated, disinterested and generally miserable. When I feel that way, I stop thinking that school is a good idea because I lose perspective. I have a hard time doing stuff that isn't mandatory (like the reading assignments that probably are the reason I do well in my classes). Generally, I just don't see the point of working so hard - because I have already decided I'm going to fail.

This week, I've just soldiered on. I've done stuff I really didn't want to do, like outline the chapters we're reading in my Mineralogy textbook (instead of just reading them) and spent extra time in the geology lab with thin sections and the microscope. I've cooked dinner instead of just ordering take-out, even though I just wanted to get in bed. I've done my best to be kind to the people around me - the construction worker that's been drilling outside my office all week and the coworker who finds a problem with everything - even if I've just felt like being a huge jerk.

Last year, this time, I was pretty depressed. Then one day J and I were walking with some friends by the lake and while the sun was setting, some ducks flew over the water and for some reason, I just felt better. Something about how gracefully the ducks glided just inches from the surface made me so happy - it reminded me of all of the amazing things I have around me. That experience, and a cardinal that began singing outside of our front door ushered in a new season and I experience a little bit of a rebirth, as I do after every winter.

This morning, J sent me a sweet message that gave me just the little boost I needed to have a positive outlook. I don't feel quite as terrible and some part of me is actually hopeful. Later today, I have a date with some birds. As part of a study I'm conducting (for a lab assignment - this is not research) I have to go sit for an hour in the woods and observe birds at three sets of bird feeders. It's not that warm out today, but it's sunny and I think that my time outside will be another boost.

I am a big advocate of taking care of myself. I don't like to rely on other people to make me feel okay and I don't think that it's healthy to do; however, some days I just don't have what it takes to pull myself out of a funk. It's those days that I'll take all the help I can get.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Battlestar Gallactica Grinds to a Halt

(do not read this if you haven't seen the last episode of will ruin things for you)

Okay, Will, here it is: I confess - I was not all that happy with BSG's ending.

First, let me just say that at the beginning of the last 3-part episode I was like, "okay...that's more like it!" and by the second part I was like, "Sweet! I've missed you, Battlestar Gallactica."
The last episode had some awesome BSG drama and it truly matched the tone of the rest of the series - in most parts. There were a couple of times that I turned to Jordan and we groaned because something horribly cheesy happened (like when Baltar and Caprica were talking in unison because they could both see the angels), but for the most part, we were pretty into it. I loved that they brought back all the prophecy stuff - that was something they just left out in the last season and it was the backbone of the show.

But the last part of the 3-part episode? Meh. I'm sick of the "robots will take over the Earth if we let the crazy scientists do what they want" theme. We did that in I Robot and a billion other movies. And Hera as Mitochondrial Eve? I don't know...seems like a bit of a stretch. I mean, if there was already a tribe of advanced hominids on earth that, according to Baltar, we could breed with, why would Hera be Eve?

Really, I was so turned off by the Baltar/Caprica team of angels. They just seemed so, er, not real - so not in sync with the rest of the show. And the montage at the end of all of the robots? Ugh.

I did like what they did with Kara - how she brought them to Earth by typing in a code that corresponded with the song that her father taught her as a child. That was neat and it was right in line with the series - a bit of prophecy and a bit of mystery. She needed to do something cool, because they basically turned Kara into a washout by the last episode.

Basically, I think that Moore had a great idea and he developed some AWESOME characters and the middle of the series was SO AMAZING. But he didn't know where he was going with anything. You can tell. The show was just floundering at the end. It probably would have worked out better if the show had gotten cancelled before the final season. Not that I would have been happy about that, either, but I would have been left thinking that BSG had one of the most ineresting plots, ever.

A lot of people are saying, "how could they ended it any other way?" and I think there are plenty of ways that BSG could have ended that wouldn't have turned it into a fable. Do we really need to drill it down the audience's throat that technology could overcome the human race? No! The whole show was based on that! We get it! We started drawing parallels between the Caprican-Cylon relationship and the Human-Technology relationship as soon as the show started. For heaven's sake - your viewers are not idiots!

It could have ended at Earth. It could have ended at the scene with Adama sitting by Roslin's grave and that would have been awesome (though nothing could have redeemed the last disgrace that was the last season). In fact, I thought it was ending then and I was pretty happy with it.

But then Baltar/Caprica angels fake conversation that really was a lecture to the audience happened and I lost the warm fuzzy feeling I had.

BSG is over and it didn't go out kicking and screaming - it just sorta ground to a halt.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I'm going on a tropical vacation!!!

In early May, J and I are going to Fort Lauderdale to visit his mom, relax and unwind a bit after a difficult and long semester. We're leaving on the last day of finals, in the evening, so it'll truly be a "finish and run away" sort of thing.

J's mom surprised us last week with some news: she's going to take us to Sanibel for three nights! I've never been on the Gulf coast - nor have I ever been to an island with white sandy beaches - but I am really really excited! I hear there are some really beautiful bike trails and lots of beautiful birds and shells.

On top of going to a gorgeous island, we're also staying in a gorgeous condo with king-size beds and a patio that overlooks the ocean:

I am REALLY excited. So much so that I want the next month and a half to fly by. I'm sure it will...but right now, it just doesn't seem to be going fast enough!

An easy grader?

I did just fine on that mineralogy midterm. In fact, with the extra-credit points I racked up in the beginning of the semester, I got over 100% on the exam. So, I spent a week and a half being a miserable jerk for no good reason.

It happens.

I think that I studied too hard for the exam, which barely scratched the surface of the details in our textbook. In class, we just sorta skimmed over ideas - not going into detail - but our reading was pretty in-depth. Having no idea what to expect or, better yet, what was expected of me, I just studied everything in a ton of detail.

The exam was very long - but it required very broad answers. I spent too much time answering the first 10 questions (in as much detail as I thought was expected) and then panicked when I realized that I still had half an exam to complete within 10 minutes. So, I rushed through the last half of the exam, spending very little time and attention on the details. I did just as fine on those questions as I did on the first few.

Lesson: For the final, I should really try to give broader, less specific answers. I could study less, too, but what would be the point of that?

Monday, March 16, 2009


It's been sunny out for, like, two whole days! And warm! So, in the spirit of Spring, I've decided to apply for a community garden plot. If I get the plot I want, it will be just a two minute bike ride from my house and all summer, I can eat fresh veggies!

I haven't decided just what I'm going to plant, though certainly I will have lettuce and tomatoes and peppers. I'd like to grow beans, too...

The plot is only going to be about 350 square feet, but I think it'll be more than enough - especially since I've never done this before and don't really know how it'll work out. It only cost 37$ and two volunteer days, so it won't be a big loss if it doesn't work out.

I love gardening - I worked in greenhouses and for landscaping companies for years. Best jobs I've ever had.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dear Battlestar Gallactica writers,

WTF are you doing??? You left us all at the end of season 4.0 with so many questions...promising us exciting answers and another fantastic season.

And season 4.5 SUCKS. It's terrible.

What was with that entire soap-opera-ish episode in which you decided to tell everything all at once? And why is there so much romantic drama? The last couple of episodes have made me want to take a nap.

Please, please, please stop this crap and bring back your old writing style. And while you're at it, whip the actors into shape, too.

Monday, March 9, 2009

If you want to laugh until you cry...

go see Louis C.K. live. J and I went on Saturday night and I laughed the whole time. It was one of the best shows I have ever seen in my entire life. Funny, brilliant, honest and true.

Well worth the 25$.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


It's officially "mid-term" and while for most people that means TONS of work, I'm looking at a fairly light load. I have a chapter or two to read and a lab report to start on. And I have to prepare a presentation on my choice of journal article (I'm doing Maiacetus because it's cool and will allow me to talk about paleo AND sexual selection).

I took my mineralogy midterm yesterday and it was really awful. I didn't answer a good chunk of the questions and didn't do very well, despite all of my hard work. I know that working really hard doesn't guarantee success in college - but I feel like I knew the answers to the test questions and just didn't have time to answer them, not because I had to think for a really long time before writing down my answers - but because the test itself was REALLY long. There were about 30, multi-part questions, half of which were essay-type questions that asked really really broad things - like what happens to light as it goes through a petrographic microscope and thin section?. Um...lots of things...

We had 50 minutes to complete the exam. I did as much as I could in the 50-minute allotted time and then handed in my unfinished exam because I had to run to my next class. People who didn't have a class right after got to stay a little late and finish up - something I'm pretty upset about.

I don't know how the grading will go. Perhaps the test was designed to be unfinishable and there will be a considerable curve. Or, I'll get a D on something worth 20% of my grade.

Friday, February 27, 2009


I'm having a problem. Every time I take a new class, I get entirely engrossed in the subject and decide that I want to devote my life to studying it. Except for the subject that is my current major.

So, right now....geology is neat. And I have a special place in my heart for paleontology. But studying hominid evolution....even more neat. And studying evolution and ecology? Awesome.

I can't seem to stick with one thing...every semester I freak out and change my major and it's getting really close to being a problem, since sooner or later, I won't be taking intro courses and what classes I do take will start counting toward a specific area of study.

That, and I have this "should I go to school in the fall" dilemma. That was the plan...until I found out that I need another CT scan next winter and possibly surgery on my freaking brain (which isn't such a big deal, really, but I bet it will be $$$). So, quitting my job and giving up my amazing health care in exchange for student health care seems silly - especially since there's a chance that they could label my head problem a "pre-existing condition."

If I work another year, I'll be four courses closer to a degree and will have time to save up more money for school. But what if next year they tell me I need a CT scan in another year...and maybe surgery in another year?

J is probably looking at 3 years of school after this one, so it makes sense to work another year if that's the case.

GAH! Can someone else figure this out for me, because the amount of time I spend worrying about it is getting ridiculous.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You know what today is???

It's Brian's birthday! Make sure to stop in and wish him a happy day!


It's pretty crazy over here at the SDS household. I have a lab report due Monday and a midterm in my mineralogy class on Wednesday. I also have a potential modeling job on Tuesday (I find out today - fingers crossed!) and a ton of reading to do for both of my classes.

I bought some tickets to see the comedian, Louis C.K., at a local venue in early March and tickets to see Ani Difranco in April - two shows I'm really looking forward to! It'll be nice to do something other than schoolwork!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Best Valentine's Day cookie, ever...

Okay, I know that Valentine's Day was, like, nine days ago, but this had to be posted:

There was a female cookie, too, but I ate that one before I got the idea to photograph it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

We're tired of doing homework...

Emily and I are sick of doing homework this morning. I have something resembling the flu. I'm kinda sore and my throat is raw and my chest feels tight and congested. I had the chills last night. I feel like poo.

I saw a personal trainer last weekend and I only have six weeks to whip myself into good enough shape to do 5 pull ups. It's been one week and I've only made it to the gym twice. I was hoping to go today and tomorrow so that I could claim 4 workouts per week, but I think it's wiser to stay home and relax.

Maybe tomorrow I'll feel better. Thankfully, I have hours and hours of work to do at home, including a lab report on Drosophila melanogastor that I REALLY do not want to do. My goal is to get the Methods and Introduction sections finished today. I can't do the Discussion, Results or Abstract sections yet because there's some confusion about what data I'm supposed to be using.

And in the first week in March, I have my mineralogy midterm. I honestly don't even know what I should be studying because we've approached things so randomly in the class. Thankfully, the professor is providing us with a review outline.

I suppose I should end this post, since it's a procrastination tool. Back to work. *cough*cough*

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I'm sick of winter, but this is beautiful...

Not having a car has been pretty sweet. I take a bus to work and the walk to the bus stop is really pleasant in the morning (unless I'm running late). Last night, we got a couple of inches of snow and this morning, everything was whitish blue - even the sky.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Today is Charles Darwin's birthday...though I'm sure you know that already. There are lots of things going on in celebration around the country (though not much around here except for a short 10-minute cake-eating session before a geology class). And there's also a lot going on in the blogosphere.

Tom Holtz has composed "The Twelve Days of Darwin"
Julia has written a post about Darwin's Image
Neil has tempted us with some awesome cupcakes!
Larry Moran shares an excerpt from Janet Browne's biography of Darwin
Dave Hone offers us "Darwin in Beijing"
Chris tells us all about Darwin in Australia
Micheal shares some links
ReBecca has, like, a ton of posts :)
The Panda's Thumb has lots 'o' links and posts

I'm sure there's more (and if you'd like me to list yours...let me know!) and it's fairly early in the keep checking your favorite blogs!

Darwin probably would have freaked out from all this attention, were he still alive - so I think I'm going to celebrate his birthday as quietly as possible. I have a geology lab tonight and we're going to the Barre granite quarry to do some mineral identification (um....granite???). Darwin's ideas were largely influenced by the geologists of his time and Darwin made some of his own important geological observations - namely that geological processes implied a very long Earth history.

So, a little geology for Darwin Day...and then, at 7, I have an exam covering evolution!

I plan to end the day on the couch, eating ice cream. And then tomorrow, it's J's birthday (and Julia's!!!), so the celebrations will continue.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Things Get Crazy

School this semester has been all over the place. My classes are great. I'm really enjoying my biology class because we're covering evolution and all things related. I'm also enjoying my mineralogy class, even if some of the material is not all that interesting (it's hard for me to make it through a chapter about microscopes and various spectroscopic techniques when the reading is quite technical and I don't understand it). Still, I like it and find it fascinating and I've been constantly reminding myself that there's plenty of time to learn and that I'm not required to know everything about minerals this semester.

So, things are going well and my only complaint this semester...okay, it's not the only one, but it's the that there's no structure to my schedule. My biology class was going by effortlessly. I read a chapter from a book every couple of days and did some in-lab exercises and answered really easy questions like "Is it okay to omit data from your lab report?" I was beginning to think it would be smooth-sailing this semester. And then BAM! Yesterday, I got two lab reports dumped in my lap - I have an exam on Thursday night and a decent-sized homework assignment due next Monday. All within the next two weeks. It's doable...but I'm a little stressed out.

My geology class is fairly unstructured, too. We've had one homework assignment and almost no assigned reading. I've been reading from the book, anyway, but up until a week ago, I had to guess at which chapters the information we covered in class was found. We have two exams in the class - a midterm and a final. Since we don't have any other tests/quizzes, I don't know what to expect on the midterm, which makes up a lot of the grade. I'm not sure at this point what it is I should know and in what detail I should know it. We've really just skimmed a bunch of topics; spectroscopy, definition of a mineral, symmetry, and what influences mineral formation.

I'm sure I'll survive. If I can make it through the next two weeks without freaking out, I'll be pretty proud of myself!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


This is hilarious, but if you're going to watch it in a public place, I have to warn you that it's not light on the expletives!

Pretty sure I bought one of those last year and that it doesn't work anymore.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I've been engaging in an argument about evolution in the comment section of the local newspaper (due to recent local events involving a propagandist and an honorary degree) for the last few mornings and this morning, I got really, really tired of it. I've been called a "libtard," been accused of only being interested in listening to people who share my worldview, been accused of loving Micheal Moore (are you serious? not even close!). And I've seen people rail on other people for being religious. It's ugly - lots of hate and irrational finger-pointing. Everyone is talking at each other with their fingers in their ears. It's a battle between liberalism and conservatism. It's a battle between religious and non-religious. Except I don't believe that's the truth.

I believe that the people who are most aggressively arguing are also the most extreme. Extreme liberals, extreme conservatives. It's a public display of the most extreme types of people around. I'm willing to bet that there are many people out there, completely disinterested in arguing, or thinking there's a better way, who are religious, liberal people that understand evolution and its contributions to our understanding of the world. And there are atheist conservatives who feel the same way. It's not as black and white as it seems. I refuse to believe that.

What I do notice is that the majority of people I've come into contact with arguing that evolution is full of holes seem to have a very very poor understanding of how evolution works. And it angers me that there are people out there that are so willing to call it a lie, when their understanding of evolution doesn't even go beyond the high school level.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dear faithful readers,

A few posts ago, I promised to write about redox boundaries. Except it dawned on me that I don't really know what they are. I mean, I do, but not well enough to write about them publicly.

Instead, I give you a summary of a lecture I went to that spurred the unkept promise. And perhaps you could explain this redox boundary thing to me.

Bjorn Sundby’s lecture, “What can we learn from metals in the environment: A tale of two oceans” included highlights from research projects involving two bodies of water– the Arctic Ocean and Lake Matano.

In the Artic Ocean, Dr. Sundby’s research team used redox tracers such as manganese, rhenium and AVS (acid-volatile sulfides) to determine the location of the redox boundary in the ocean-floor sediment at several stations in the Arctic Ocean basin. At about 10 cm of depth, ocean-wide, there was an enrichment of AVS, but no
enrichment of rhenium. Organic carbon was found in the top 10 centimeters. Dr. Sundby’s team concluded that recent global warming has reduced the volume of ice in the arctic and caused a huge flux in organic carbon to the ocean floor, which is supported by the position of the redox boundary.

At Lake Matano, the presence of banded iron formations suggests that organisms
inhabiting Earth’s early oceans metabolized Fe2+. Dr. Sundby and his colleagues
studied the chemistry and fauna of the lake and found that at 100m deep, the
environment became anoxic; however, there was photosynthetic activity occurring
below that depth. They determined that between 110 and 120 meters, a mixed community of Chlorobiaceae inhabits the waters. Because the levels of sulfates in the deep waters of Lake Matano are low and the waters are iron-rich, Dr. Sundby’s team concluded that there are ferrophototrophs in the lake and that Lake Matano is a modern analog of the oceans of the Archaean.

On being a pushover...

I like to think I'm a nice person. Sure, I have mean, terrible thoughts and I quietly hate on a lot of the world, but I don't usually act on those thoughts. I try to be kind, compassionate and if I wouldn't want you to do something to me, I try not to do it to you. I try hard - key word being try- to improve my outlook and attitude. I do it actively, every day. In fact, sometimes I spend so much time thinking about it that I cause myself heaps of anxiety.

I like avoiding controversy when possible. But, every time that somebody takes advantage of my tendency to avoid controversy, a little bit of me dies. Today, two manuscript authors called me with, um, concerns about their papers. Both of them treated me like I was a child - telling me how to do my job, treating me like I was a disinterested customer service representative. Both of them, when I explained the status of their papers and why they weren't ready, fed me the "that's not okay" line, which is really annoying, because, well, it's going to have to be okay. If you want us to publish your paper, you're going to have to be okay with the process.

I am not a complaint department. My job is not to compensate for other people's technology retardation. It is not to make excuses and grovel and apologize. My job is to make sure that your manuscript gets reviewed by other professionals and that the publisher knows what and when to publish.

Did I say this to the two angry callers? NO. And I wish I had, because now I feel like I didn't take care of myself when I was being attacked. I let someone else (2 someone elses!) walk all over me and I was polite and quiet because was afraid I'd lose my job if I wasn't. Except now I've lost a bit of my dignity.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I just stumbled across this poll on my university's website:

I'd Rather Do Anything Than...

a) clean
b) exercise
c) study
d) balance my checkbook

I'll give you  one guess at which one is the most popular choice.  For the record, I chose "balance my checkbook."  

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The state of my carotid...

I went to see a neurosurgeon last Tuesday and he told me a little more about my aneurysm. It's in the cavernous carotid, which is a good thing because if it were to rupture, it would probably not bleed into my brain. So, not fatal, really. But, if it ruptures, it could cause my eye to swell and pop out a bit from the socket. Think final scene from Total Recall:

So, in a year, they do another CT angiogram to determine if it's growing. And if it is, they want to consider doing a minimally invasive surgery called Coil Embolization, in which they will snake a catheter into my leg and into my blood vessels and then, through that, insert a small coil into the aneurysm. Blood clots will form around the coil, preventing blood from flowing into the aneurysm and therefore releasing the pressure on it.

I'm hoping the aneurysm just stays nice and small. I don't want to have something foreign snaked into my brain through my leg. That sounds horrible. And apparently something like 7% of the procedures require additional surgery or treatment. Not great.

But it could be worse, so I'm pretty happy about the news.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Back to school...

The Spring semester officially started this past Monday and so far, so good. I started off my first day with the second half of a year-long introductory biology course. This semester, we're covering Mendelian genetics, evolution, ecology and some physiology. The course is pretty centered around humans and disease, which I find rather disappointing. Every topic, whether it's cell reproduction, metabolism, evolution, or genetics, is somehow connected back to human beings and medicine. It makes sense, since most of the biology majors at the university are actually pre-med students and since there's a hospital connected with the university that has a decent med program.

I'm running into a lot of interesting problems this semester already. For one, I am in smaller classes, which is fantastic!, but I really feel like the weird old lady and I know that people have noticed that I'm not a traditional student. Often, I get asked how old I am by other students, which doesn't bother me, but it is a little strange. Students are much more likely to start conversations with other students in their peer group, so I feel like it's a little hard for me to make connections, which is unusual - I usually am pretty good at meeting people and socializing.

Another problem I've run into is my own ego, which somehow has convinced me that because I'm older than my classmates, that I should be smarter. Yesterday, we were solving a simple genetics problem using simple probability rules and I just couldn't do it without drawing a Punnett Square. All around me, I could hear people saying "Oh! I get it!" and I was getting so annoyed with myself. Why wasn't I getting it? In the end, I left the class a little shaken up - partly because I struggled with the material, but mostly because I don't want to be the kind of person who thinks their age is related to their intelligence. I don't want to feel competitive with my least not in that way.

My geology class went a bit more smoothly. In fact, I'm enjoying the class so much that it's going by way too fast. Every day, when the professor says "That's all the time we have for today," I get so disappointed. His class is really interesting and he is very engaging. I felt comfortable with him the first day I stepped into the classroom and I think that that comfort will allow me to open up to asking more questions.

Anyway, things are going well and I'm excited to be back. More to come on the following:

-how I went to the wrong class, twice
-the state of my carotid
-redox boundaries

Friday, January 9, 2009

I know, I know...but it's almost over!

This contest is over in a month and you have all been SO SO SO helpful and I really appreciate it a lot! I'm currently in 4th place and I need another round of votes to boost me up again!

Also, if anyone can figure out how to make the photo show up in the above box, I'd appreciate the advice...I'm not great with html code.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Just make my eggs, dude...

There's this old cranky racist that works in the cafeteria in my building. He's the short order cook in the morning and every time I order scrambled eggs, he peeks through this little window (the one they use to pass plates of food from the kitchen to the serving area) to see who's ordering the eggs.

One day, my co-worker ordered eggs. The woman in front of her, a young black girl, had also ordered eggs. The cranky cook peeked out to see who was ordering. The black girl got a tiny pile of eggs while my co-worker got a heaping pile.

This morning, I decided I was sick of having to look at this guy's face. When I ordered my eggs, I ordered them at the register and stayed out of the line of sight of the window. He never saw who ordered the eggs and I got the biggest pile of eggs I've ever gotten.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year's Meme

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? I attended my first academic conference and traveled alone for the first time.
2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? For the most part, yes. I didn't wear makeup all year (except for photo shoots...but that's different) and I quit smoking.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth? My friend Alison gave birth to a beautiful little girl named Emma.
4. Did anyone close to you die? My cat, Echo, died of lung cancer. It was and still is pretty horrible.
5. What countries did you visit? I went to Canada...
6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? More time to read non-school books.
7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? August 14th - I put my sweet little teddy bear cat to sleep. November 4th - I gained some hope for my country.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? I had two 4.0 semesters, despite J's illness, my cat's death and my enrollment in the most difficult course I've ever taken.
9. What was your biggest failure? I neglected my blog.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I had a cold and a stomach bug...and now I have an aneurysm.
11. What was the best thing you bought? An SVP membership and two plane tickets to Cleveland.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration? J and the blogosphere...I got so much support from you all...
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? George Bush and Ben Stein. I'm sure there are more.
14. Where did most of your money go? The SVP annual meeting and Echo's vet bills.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? SVP. I was excited for, like, six months straight!
16. What song will always remind you of 2008? "Walk the Dinosaur" with accompanying images of Tom Holtz and Julia dancing around at the after-hours party.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer? I am happier, fatter and poorer.
18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Reading, writing, spending time alone.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Worrying.
20. How will you be spending Christmas? Oh...was I supposed to do this before Christmas? I spent it with my family and a very sick J. It was lovely.
21. Did you fall in love in 2008? I was already in love. But I guess I fell in love with geology...and sloths.
22. How many one-night stands? Nada
23. What was your favorite TV program? So hard to choose from...but probably Battlestar Gallactica with Dr. Who running a very close second.
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? No...I hated them all last year, too :)
25. What was the best book you read? I really liked "The Secret Life of Bees" and "Wonderful Life."
26. What was your greatest musical discovery? Morphine. I know it's not new music, but the song "I'm Free Now" just blew me away.
27. What did you want and get? Big stuff: I wanted to meet people in the paleo world and I met some amazing amazing people. Small stuff: I really wanted a nice rock hammer and some long johns. I got those, too :)
28. What did you want and not get? I really really wanted some magical fairy to come down and say, "'s some money for college...don't worry about it." But that didn't happen, and I suspect it won't.
29. What was your favorite film of this year? I loved The Dark Knight. And if they never make the Watchmen movie, then I'm declaring the trailer as my favorite film.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I worked, but then I went home and had dinner and opened gifts and just spent some time with my roommates, which was nice. I turned 26.
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Being in school full-time.
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Jeans and tee shirts.
33. What kept you sane? I don't know that I was sane.
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I don't know...I guess Obama got my attention the most.
35. What political issue stirred you the most? The election! And some evolution/creationism stuff.
36. Who did you miss? My family and my close girl friends that I haven't seen in too long.
37. Who was the best new person you met? Any of those paleo blogger people...and the non-blogger paleo people.
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. I can do things and do them successfully if I stop quitting out of fear before I've even started.
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year. Bah..I can't think of one. It would contain the words hope and fear.