Monday, December 24, 2007

Resolution Beyond the Rodents

It's time to start thinking about resolutions for 2008 (and time that we had a more upbeat top post). Over on Sparkling Squirrel Year we're discussing what fun resolution can follow up sparkling wine, pink and rodents. I'd love your comments and I'd love to find out what you are going to do to have a consciously joyful 2008.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sad News

In a fairly routine visit yesterday we found out that Ewaldina has no heartbeat and stopped growing a week or so ago. I'm having surgery today. While fully aware that miscarriages are common (sadly even among my dear friends), and that many couples later have healthy babies, which the Mister and I plan to do, at the moment I'm nothing but sad.

In other news, the floodwaters are rising here to the extent that they let out schools early yesterday so kids could get home, my in-laws in central Kansas have no power and there's a good chance they won't have it by the time we arrive for Christmas, and my cousins in Oklahoma have power, but still might not be able to leave their neighborhood because of down branches. How are all of you faring from the storm?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

How'd ya do?

Hi All,

The hunger fitness challenge ended Sunday, so it's time to figure out how we all did, how much money we raised, and who gets to choose where we donate. Leave a comment if you're in on this one...

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Hobbies are good for your career

I was wasting time today, and read this column in the NY Times:

Since both our careers and love of knitting (and other crafts) brought us all together, I had to share it with you all. Apparently, pursuing your hobbies not only helps you feel good, but can make you better at your job. So, no more excuses for unfinished projects!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Last Week of Hunger Firtness Challenge

The Fitness for Hunger Challenge was only scheduled for 6 weeks (so that we can make a donation before Christmas), which, shockingly, means that this upcoming week is the LAST WEEK. Make it a good one.
Among those of you participating, who is doing well? What are your causes? I'll be sending TT another $5 at least (having just missed my goal 3 weeks and flagrantly missed it the last 2), so I won't be the one picking the recipient of our money. Will it be TT? Sal Sis? Beth? Molly? Where will our money be going?
If you're not traching your exercise but would like to contribute to hunger alleviation, I'm sure TT would pool your money into the group donation (and, while some of you are way into the electronic commerce, cash can be mailed in a card, despite the postal service not wanting you to do it). TT also kindly made new data sheets. E-mail one of us and we can e-mail it to you if you would like it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Thanksgiving photo - growing tummy

Here is a picture of me that my mom took at "second Thanksgiving" - we spent Thanksgiving itself with Vlad's family and had basically another Thanksgiving dinner with my family on Saturday.

Meet my new wall Trey.

Look what I did all by myself. Another point towards being a grownup. And thanks to Tuscon Trekker and Tall Flamboyance for suggesting the color Trey. I'm going to paint the wall around the window a dusty pinkish tan, once I recover from this. It may be awhile. And the trim is Arizona Sun. I love the painting style in the southwestern homes. Note the crazy-eyed cat in the corner. This was taken with my new digital camera! Sparkling Squirrel should invent a new color called Elwaldino - what would that be?

Happy Birthday Jenny!

It seems like we are in birthday mode these days. So here's one more to celebrate. Have a wonderful day, Jenny! And I'm glad that my evil coral rant made you laugh.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Belated birthday wishes to Jennifer!

It must stink to have your birthday wrapped up in the holidays, because people like me always forget! But on the bright side, I guess you get to spend it with family you may not see regularly. Here's hoping Jennifer had an excellent day. Happy belated birthday!

Better late than never.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Goodbye Skinny Pants

It looks like I'm only going to get another week or two of wear out of my (not-really-very) skinny pants. No, I didn't completely over-indulge at Thanksgiving, although, I did eat cranberry walnut tart for breakfast (a practice I highly recommend). It's just that Ewaldina Cometh and at "8 weeks, 3 days" she's going to start my stomach pooching out before too long. She/he is due to arrive outside in the world in early July.

Happy Birthday Irene!

Happy Birthday to Irene!

Monday, November 26, 2007

less-materialistic xmas ideas

I thought I'd do something radical and donate to Heifer International rather than give xmas presents this year. I think my friends' kids would think it's cool, and my best friend I never see around xmas anyway and end up giving a present late, and another is just discovering ways to be more environmentally friendly so she might think it's cool. And my parents I never know what to get, so if I'm going to get something that flops anyway, at least some needy person will benefit. I'll get them a new game too though, gives us something new to do while sitting around the house. There was a PBS show about Heifer where they traced where the animals went. Ironic for a vegetarian to give the gift of animal food? They have a knitting basket - maybe this would be appropriate for the knitters donation?
This year, instead of another sweater that will end up in the closet unworn, why not honor Dad with a Knitting Basket -four wool-producing animals that will give new hope to families in need?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fun with names

Now that we know the baby's gender, we've starting thinking more seriously about names for her. The "short list" of names we're serious about is here, and I'd love to hear comments about those.

But we can only manage so much seriousness before we get silly. In addition to the "real" names, we keep coming up with names we would never actually use. Some of them are mythological or fictional names that we like, but would be difficult to grow up with. Galadriel. Eowyn. Kitiara. Persephone. Lorelei. Calliope. Galatea. Brigantia. Freya. Andraste. Trillian. Xena. Esmerelda.

My favorite silly names are not even people-names, but rather just sound pretty and have obscure meanings. Amygdala - a part of the brain responsible for processing emotions. Galladoria - a dungeon in an online roleplaying game. Penumbra - a half-shadow or the edge of a shadow. Elytra - the wing coverings of a beetle. Amaranth - a flowering plant named after a mythological Greek hunter, Amaranthus. Mandragora - the mandrake plant, or a type of familiar demon associated with the plant.

What would you name a kid if you didn't have to worry about teasing, mispronunciation, or general societal acceptability?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Fitness update anyone?

How's the fitness going? If you're in Lawrence, better get your week's worth of walking in today and tomorrow! I took a 12 minute walk with a coworker - he's making it a habit so I might be joining him everyday. Let's all walk twice on Thursday! Also - anyone around this weekend to gather with other knitters in town? Tucson Trekker and I are going to arrange something. I'll email the group.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Baby update - it's a girl!

The ultrasound appointment yesterday went well, and it looks like we're having a girl! I'm delighted, since I had a slight preference in that direction (though if it turned out to be a boy, I'd probably convince myself that's what I wanted all along anyway). My husband is already plotting how to intimidate the first boy she brings home. I keep wondering what she'll look like - my money's on brown eyes and dark brown hair, but from her Swedish side there is the possibility that she could be a blue-eyed blonde. Will she be a shy quiet one, or a firecracker? Girly girl, or tomboy?

She is now 11 ounces - as my mom says, nearly the size of a can of Coke. Though some days I could swear that what I'm carrying around is a brick. Of lead.

The ultrasound now shows some very neat details other than the gender-specific ones - toes and fingers, the four chambers of the heart, little specks of kidneys.

Next week is week 20, which marks the halfway point. I know all too well that I should be patient and enjoy the luxury of sleeping through the night while I can, but I want it to be April already!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Scaling Paper

Looks like my scaling paper (the second chapter of my dissertation which in various other iterations has been rejected three times) is going to be published!!!

Grad student research paper woes

So - what do you do when you review a paper written by a grad student that looks like it was thrown together just to get something together? The throwing together part should have been done by the end of the summer. And the student complains about the project and to me seems like he's doing this just to jump through the hoops. It's a non-thesis project. And my boss is the advisor and is the one who tried (I think) to spur the student on to get stuff done. But now I'm editing the paper which is work to fulfill a grant that was over in Sept., so we have to get the paper together by the end of Dec. The paper is more like an outline of what to write. And I kept telling the student to keep track of all the data manipulations b/c they'll have to be documented - I doubt he has - it's not in the 'paper.' For every part I'm saying expand on this, and on the front wrote 'great start, I had to rewrite my 1st thesis draft too.' Criminy. If he at least didn't complain about everything it would be an easier pill to swallow that he struggles with writing. So I guess I can't do anything but say expand on this. How do you profs deal with students???

Monday, November 12, 2007

Leaf raking ponderings - catch them if you can

Doesn't it seem silly to have to catch all the leaves from a tree and move them elsewhere???? [regardless of where they go - compost or landfill (even worse)] Who thought of this and why??? The english royalty with their nice green monoculture grass yards kept by sheep? I mean - look at all the trees out there in residential neighborhoods - ALL those leaves from ALL those trees have to be caught. Well, I'm saying no to raking. Keeping my back yard in pristine grass is futile because of the dogs which made me explore breaking away from societal yard expectations. Now my yard feels and smells like a little forest with all the leaves from my 5 big trees. I love it! And the front yard - well if no one raked and no one kept unnatural grass but let it go to whatever goundcover creeps in on its own, then no one would be keeping up with each other in futile lawn care. What a waste of resources (oil for both lawnmowers and fertilizers). And it all comes back to how silly it seems to me to have to catch all those leaves from all those trees and move them to somewhere else.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Tiara Season

I just learned that Abby wore her tiara for her birthday last month. Way to go Abby, and happy birthday. Which also means that I've missed Cheryl's birthday. Happy Birthday candidate Cheryl!
We're approaching the densest birthday time here on GBKD. Jenny, Jennifer and Irene. . . time to polish your tiaras!
(Jan Erin, Feb Tus T, March Molly + Sal S, April Beth, May Cathy and mysef, no summer birthdays? Oct Cheryl [I hope, I'll feel really foolish if you tell me it's January] + Abby, Nov. Irene, Jennifer, Jenny).

For you Harry Potter fans who also like botany:

I never thought all that much about the type of wood that different wizards' wands were made of, but there are some interesting associations here.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

knitting update

So amongst all the teaching and insanity I have actually finished a baby blanket for my hubby's first cousin's new baby. Here's some pictures of the blanket which is the yarn color carousal but was being called "skittle barf" or "starburst barf" by all those that watched me knit it. It was about 2 feet by 3 feet. Anyone else have ideas on what to call this color. The parents and baby I've been told love the blanket. :-)

The pictures were taken with the blanket on my lap in the car with my cell phone so sorry about the quality.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Great coworkers and other things to be grateful for

I am seething over departmental politics at the moment, but I'm choosing not to write about them because 1) it wouldn't make sense without a huge backstory, 2) it would just make me angrier and 3) posting personal work junk is a bad idea, not to mention that you don't care about the tenure-track status of other professors in my department.

Instead, I am going to focus on what is great about my department. I work with a fabulous secretary who fills lots of roles. Besides doing secretarial stuff, she serves as intitutional memory, constantly rescues professors in jams, can be reliably counted on to notice new outfits or hairstyles, helps students willingly and always tells me that it looks like I'm loosing weight with sincerity.

Our department chair is sympathetic, practical, funny and very much available.

It's great to have two such women to work with. Who do you have a mutualistic work relationship with?

Monday, November 5, 2007

New Feature For Blogger

I don't know how long this feature has been available, but I just noticed that if you leave a comment to a blog post, there is a little box you can click to have comments written in response to a blog post e-mailed to your own e-mail.

Hope all is well for everyone.


Another Dollar for Hunger Alleviation

So I didn't meet my goal last week (only 340 out of 77,000 shy, but as I tell my students, you can't legally drink at 20 and 11 months-- not everything in life rounds up). Anyway, that's another dollar towards hunger relief.

How did everyone else do? What organizations are you rooting for? (I don't feel so bad missing my goal if I know that the money will go to one of your good causes).

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Spooky Halloween Shot

OK, so I'm a little late...

Kingdom Animalia is 97% animals

I learned this from a quiz on which a student was asked to list a similarity and a difference between members of Kingdom Animalia and other groups. Difference for Kingdom Fungi "Kingdom Fungi includes mold. Kingdom Animalia is 97% animals." It happened on Monday and it is still making my week.

Making my day is that I am wearing new skinny pants. They are not, in fact, the skinny jeans that were in last year which would look horrible on my curvy body, but rather a pair of nice deep brown brushed cotton bootcut pants that are long enough and look good on me. I consider them skinny pants because I purchased them on sale last year when I was at my fattest for a future skinny me. I forgot about them for 11 months and put them on this morning and they fit well. Hooray!

What's giving you joy today?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Images from a miserable (yet gorgeous) field trip

Yes, it rained all day except for the few moments when it was just dense fog.

helpful web-link

So I promise that I'll post more on life soon but I just found (while trying to grade a paper) an awesome file type converter online. It will take open office or works documents and convert them to word or something else that you can open. woohoo!

Joshoween went well and Gavin is a very cute puppy who was great at the party! more later post grading.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Challenging End and Beginning

The first GBK Fitness Challenge ended yesterday. Report on your progress in the comments. If I owe you a prize, tell me what you've earned and I'll see what I can do.

The new, improved, for real for real, fitness challenge begins today (because, as we sadly learned from the Rockies, those with momentum need to keep it). If you're in, set your goals for the next six week, send TT five dollars and keep moving.

Look out other non-profits because America's Second Harvest or the Heifer Project or Oxfam is getting our money when I make my goals every week. [That was supposed to be first day of challenge trash talk, but it's really hard when I want everyone to succeed and I want all of these organizations to receive our money.]

I miss you guys

I am writing from a coffee shop on my way to work, since I overslept my alarm and decided to just wait out the morning rush-hour traffic. (I feel so devious!!) Reading all of the entries that I missed makes me wish I could check in more easily... but then I remembered, starting this Friday we will finally have wifi at our house! I am soooo excited :)
Yesterday was gorgeous here-- I spent the past couple of weekends planting the garden in the front of our house (after many other weekends of digging out sod and mixing in compost). The anemones are blooming, one of the camillias that I put in is blooming, and so far only a couple of the bulbs that I planted appear to have been dug out by squirrels. I also planted a few very exciting trees that are making me really happy-- a Magnolia grandiflora, with gorgeous, waxy, bowl-shaped white flowers, a Cornus florida with pretty red berries right now, and a weeping redbud with lovely pond-lilly shaped leaves that contrast with its very dark bark. It is fun to be back in acid soil of Virginia, and in a couple temperature zones different from Lawrence... I guess just fun to be made aware of regional differences and to celebrate them.
I spent the day yesterday at the museum, and am almost ready to resubmit my dissertation for publication. (Well, most of the day at the museum-- the morning was spent trying to recover from a halloween party at my house the night before, which included a karaoke machine and many guests who cannot get enough of singing 80's music... a dangerous combination). Grandma is adjusting really well to her retirement home, and we finally went to the library and checked out some of the books that we're going to start reading together. Lucy is pretty much housebroken and has graduated from her crate to my bedroom during the day. My sister is almost done with rugby season and, although she looks like a punching bag covered with bruises she hasn't yet broken anything, for which I'm grateful. My parents in SD still have a house and are doing fine... I guess those are the big updates. Oh, and I'm still walking twice a day, but have hardly run at all, to say nothing of crunches and everything else! I like Sp Sq's idea for the fitness challenge. And, I miss you guys... can't wait for Friday for the internet connection at home!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fitness for the Hungry

I just came up with what I think is a brilliant prize for the fitness challenge (feel free to disagree) and was feeling bad that it was too late for our current fitness challenge when TT and Beth wanted to keep going with fitness challenge.
So, here's my adjusted good idea.
6 weeks of fitness (Monday until Dec. 9)
New goals (you should know by now what's reasonable for you)
$5 to participate (I nominate TT for treasurer)
$1 per week each week you do not make your weekly goal (so this could cost you up to $11)
Winner(s)- (those with the most week of meeting personal goal) chooses which hunger alleviation non-profit we donate the money to.

So we have new incentive to continue/improve our fitness regimen and we donate money to feed people who need extra food.


Gratitude For the Week

Here at WJ, every MWF we have the block of time from 10:15 - 11:15 with no scheduled classes. On Mondays, this time is reserved for committee and faculty meetings. Chapel is at this time on Wed. On Fridays we have what is called community time or Jewell time. All faculty, staff, and students are invited to come to the lobby of the union, drink coffee, and eat treats (today - brownies with mini MM's). There is usually some short program. Today the concert choir performed. This is one of the small niceties of Jewell and today I am grateful for it.

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, October 25, 2007


An author (Laurell K. Hamilton) whose blog I read and who lives in St. Louis, MO, was bitten by a brown recluse. She's recovering nicely, but it makes me shudder when I think about how many recluses I had in my apartment in Lawrence.

Almost completely unrelated, I went blogsurfing and found the blog of cool geeky scientist/writer whose talents include knitting and juggling fire and knives. The connection is that the name of her blog is Loxosceles.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

digital camera suggestions

I'm ready to buy a digital camera to call my own. Any suggestions? Something kind of small, but doesn't take forever to shoot a picture. If you know how it survives super humid climates like a rainforest, that would be great to know too. The camera Irene gave me konked out, but had a good life.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Last week of fitness challenge

Make it a good one.

Growing up moment

I kicked a student out of lecture today (for texting in my view-- less than 5 minutes after I had given a prepared "no texting, primping or cheating message". Had she quit at first glare I wouldn't have done anything, but she was too busy staring at her thumbs to notice my glare). It was actual my first time. There was plenty of awkwardness but I'm very proud that I just did it between sentences in my talk on fungi and did not raise my voice or change pace much. While she did take her dear sweet time about collecting her belongings, she didn't sigh overly much, which is good, 'cause I might have lost it. Instead, I just went back to fungus.

How have you been a grown up recently? (Yes, Irene, I suppose that making a baby counts)

Maples and Mom in the Snow

This is why I miss Colorado so much (both the snow and my family). These were taken yesterday. By the way, does anyone know the species of maple? I asked mom for photos of silvers, which she also took, but I'm not sure about this one.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Maples of Exceptional Cuteness

Okay, so this is not what I'm looking for (my adorable nieces detract from the maple), but aren't they adorable? While I think I went through a cute phase (age 3-7), I'm pretty sure I was never this cute.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Call for maple photos

If you are out with a digital camera any time in the next week, could you take a picture of a maple for me?
My ecology class is going to be tracking fall phenology changes at different elevations on a field trip this week and I would particularly like them to be able to compare them to other latitudes or elevations.
Info needed: date, photo of tree, estimate of percent of leaves that have dropped, location and species of tree (take a close up of some leaves if you don't know.)
My students will be most grateful (well, not really, but I will be).

15 week ultrasound, lookin' good!

On Thursday we got another ultrasound, and I'm delighted to report that the baby is doing fine, growing right on target for the April 9th due date. It was indescribably cool to get to "peek in" at what's going on in there, but I will try to describe it anyway - details on my blog.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Good news below and attached

If you haven't visited in a while don't let my long rant in the post below keep you from scrolling down and reading Irene's and Cheryl's good news.
Today's gratitude box in the comments.

Bad experiences in the bank

As most of you know, I've been having a tough year. The wonderful bio prof I worked with last year left over the summer and the consequences continue to pile up. Not only did I end up with 18 hours to teach but I also lost my best friend in the area. That her replacement has been less than stellar has made it so that I advise all of the bio majors (who all need to spend substantial time with me every semester), that I will teach an overload again next semester, and that I spend a fair amount of time dealing with his issues or students who have issues with him, and that the toilet seat in the faculty bathroom is now left up. It will likely mean more committees and some real uncomfortableness as his "visiting" position becomes open to a full search. My fabulous teaching assistant (my other friend in the area, and the other person I could discuss biology with) just accepted a full time job and is leaving next week. As of now we have no-one to replace her and we're desperate. Meanwhile, two healthy 34-year-olds in among my friends have been diagnosed with agressive breast cancer in the last month. Ugh.

All of which makes me wonder about last year, which was really really super-hard and which I survived by thinking that no year (work wise) could be harder than my first year teaching 4 different classes I'd never taught before in a place where I knew no-one. But bam, I was wrong. This year is harder (although I am caring substantially less so I am getting considerably more sleep and exercise than I did last year).

But really, while work may be hard and frustrating, I can look back and think that it is nothing at all like the hardest recent year of my life-- the year I was 28 started with a badly broken ankle, included 2 surgeries, 4th of July spent in the hospital with an allegedly life-threatening blood clot, a move to Lawrence in 3 weeks of over 100 weather while wearing a cast, the sudden death of my uncle while running the Chicago marathon, my parents nearly splitting up while being spied upon in China, the people housesitting for my parents abandoning my parents cat and not forwarding bills so that I was being called to court on my parent's behalf, my grandmother dying of a broken heart and improperly cleared sores, and ended with the funeral of a friendly classmate who had been murdered in Costa Rica*.

As I was thinking about this, it occured to me that it was really good to have trying experiences in your past. A bank of bad experiences upon which one can think "I've seen worse." Having survived worse doesn't much make the present better (as my friend Happy Cricket in Ecuador writes about bus rides on her very funny blog.) but it does remind us that it is bearable.

This was miserable. People were everywhere in the aisles. I’m huge and my backpack was huge and I don’t have the Ecuadorian ability to squeeze myself into a manageable ferret-like shape. I kept thinking to myself, “this could be worse, but not by much.” I have had some horrific bus rides, which is kinda nice to have in your past. You think, well, at least I’m not throwing up out the window, or about to fall asleep standing up in the aisle on a night bus, or that they aren’t opening up the back windows to get more people to crawl in the back while I stand in the aisle over the someone who is wrongfully sitting in the seat in which I purchased the ticket. So you can be philosophical about it, thinking, yeah, this isn’t much. But sometimes, sometimes you want to think, “THIS IS TERRIBLE! IT CAN’T GET WORSE!” And then you realize, ahhh, yes, yes, yes it can and I don’t want that. So you’re stuck really. Your past hardship neutralizes the present suffering, yet you are suffering.

Then as I was thinking about bad experience banks, it suddenly dawned on me--- maybe that why we all need to be teenagers!

*Lots good happened that year also, most importantly I met Jennifer, Beth, Tim. TT, SS and many other dear friends.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

I Don't Mind at All :)

I don't mind one bit - it is happy news after all :) Yep, it is SOOOO nice to have it done and overwith, I got to sleep in this morning and take it easy. It was really nice not having to study at all last night! and the best part is, I now get to focus on getting Stelios (and eventually myself) to Chattanooga!

Next week I get to meet Stelios in Chattanooga for the week where we will be looking for a place to live. We are very excited to be looking for our first place together! Although I think I will be doing a lot of the initial looking on my own as Stelios has to decide which book to use for his Invertebrate Zoology class next Spring (any suggestions from those of you who have taught this already?) and he hasn't had a chance to really look at any of the ones that he ordered. And we get to celebrate my birthday together! We haven't been able to do that for toooo long. So when we find our place, I will definitely let everyone know about it....

And congrats to Irene and Vlad! Very exciting news and I can't wait to hear all the updates about the little one.

Oh, BTW, the US Women's team got 3rd place. They lost to Brazil in the semi-finals, from what I saw on the website (unfortunately I didn't get a chance to watch any of the games) the US team fell apart and pretty much got schooled by the Brazilians. Oh well, can't win them all.

New Candidate in the Race

I hope Cheryl won't mind that I am spilling her news, but I just wanted to share with you all and publicly congratulate Cheryl on passing orals yesterday! Woohoo!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

New blog

I decided to start a blog of my own (Fractal Metamorphosis here on Blogger).

I'm not sure how often I'll actually write, but I wanted a spot that's my own. In general, I'd like to have sort of a virtual journal, partly for my friends but also just for myself. And I have to admit that right now, I want to ramble and rant at length about the ups and downs of the pregnant life, without worrying that it's "t.m.i." (too much information) for some of the knitters. This way, such ravings are not being forced on the unsuspecting captive audience!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

How I know I'm a biology teacher

I saw many many piles of scat on the trail last weekend (more about our trip on Sparkling Squirrel Blog) and after deciding that despite it's "plop" nature, it had to be bear (how many deer could have diarrhea at once on the same trail?), I did not think "Oh, the bear is going to get us," or "Oh, I should watch out so I don't walk in all this bear poo." Instead, I thought, "Oh goody, moldy bear scat! That will be a great addition to my fungus and decomposition lecture!"

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Best Excuse

So I've fallen off of the exercise bandwagon - haven't been wearing my pedometer, haven't been going to the gym, and generally haven't been more active than work and life require of me.

But I don't feel especially guilty, because I have The Best Excuse: all my energy resources are going to my uterus right now, and any exercise more strenuous than walking makes me dizzy. I just recently hit the end of the first trimester, and I'm due in early April.

I had always wondered, probably ever since I watched my mom go through the 2 pregnancies that brought my younger brothers, "What does it feel like to be pregnant?" Now I at least know what the first trimester feels like... and honestly, there are only two things I liked about it. On a conceptual level, it's really nifty that there is this little human developing in there, and it's indescribably amazing to actually see it with ultrasound, or hear the heartbeat by Doppler. And on a social level, it's fun to see how people around you react to the news. But the rest of it - the nausea, fatigue, sore breasts, mood swings, headaches, and the tummy that's just sticking out enough that my pants won't fit but not enough to really look "pregnant" yet - all that, I could do without.

On the other hand, there's a lot to look forward to: during the second trimester, energy usually makes a comeback, and the mood swings level out. Next week I have a high-resolution ultrasound appointment, so I get to see how the baby is doing. And the next one, around week 20, will probably tell us whether it will be a boy or a girl. Also around the same time, I should be able to feel it moving.

Now that my news is out, hopefully I'll do more posting here as I give updates on how things are going.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Probably the last rattler of the season

This beauty and another one just like it were in the trail as I hiked back to my car on Wednesday. Blacktail rattlesnake. The other one kept advancing toward me (very unsettling and very un-rattlesnake-like behavior). I couldn't get around it and we did this little dance for 15 minutes before it finally retreated very unhurridly. Now it's cooling off so they're probably thinking about burrows.

How's the fitness challenge going?

Hi all,

We've completed 5 weeks of out 8 week challenge and I'm here to ask you how you are doing...
Have you been swimmingsteppingjogging(buttearly)pedaling? Fall is really nice here and making it a joy to get out and exercise. I hope fall is helping you get out and stay healthy! Let us know how you're doing!

Mossy Oak Cammo Day is Making My Day

. . . and its not until tomorrow!

So, its homecoming week at the place where I work. The theme this year is "The Year of The Greek Games", so today, "Luau Day," there are going to be chariot races in the tennis courts (No, I can't explain the connection, I do not get it at all). Tomorrow is "Mossy Oak Cammo Day". Where else could you show your school spirit by wearing a specific type of cammo for homecoming?

My list of joys also includes a new routine of the Mister's. While hiking with the Mister in the mountains this weekend, he started bopping me over the head (officially clubbing me) every time he sees a club moss. While it has the potential of great annoyance (like poking me every time we see a poke plant), it makes me so very very happy to have a goofy person to spend time with who notices things like the club moss. And there was lots and lots of club moss (locally "ground pine") which makes me happy even if I didn't have someone cool to share it with.

Is there a Mossy Oak Cammo Day where you are at?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Gratitude Box for Oct. 4

1. Anne, the woman I teach labs with, brought me chocolate chip cookies today. Yummmm.

2. Our lab room was full of students today, working independently (i.e. without me telling them what to do) on their group projects.

3. Student's carrying array of sunflowers down the hall. They are testing the effect of floral display on visitation rates. Even more gratifying, their first day's results meet with what we expected.

4. That Sparkling Squirrel has so many great ideas that facilitates our discussions on this blog.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Afternoon Gratitude Box

Having noticed several things recently:

  1. I am not the only one who becomes fed up with her job/body/computer/life mid-afternoon many days.
  2. Study after study are reporting that people who take time to think of the good things in their life, and write them down, are not only happier, healthier, more socially adjusted, etc., but also have more energy.
  3. Energy is in short supply among many of us.
  4. At least some of the studies referred to in #2 suggest that this is causal, not just correlative (Writing blessings makes people happier, not just that happy people are more likely to write blessing).
  5. I check the blog most every afternoon as a post-class pre-grading escape.
  6. Things that make my friends happy make me happy (somehow Irene in her purple gloves and Jennifer with her hole-punched paper just make me smile.

Having made these observations, I am going to make a gratitude box. Feel free to stop by any or every afternoon (or morning or evening) and write something that gives you joy. Even when you don't feel joyful.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

My perhaps not-so-irrational fear is that I will NEVER be done with the manuscript of my dissertation. That, and that I will spend the rest of my life feeling guilty that I haven't yet returned my specimen loans. And that everytime I move to a new place I will be forced to carry thousands of bees that belong to someone else with me. That, and that I will NEVER have another publication again because I will be stuck making minute word changes that the editor wants on my manuscript, each of which seems to be taking an hour to change throughout the entire ms.

Ok, I'm done whining. (For today)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Weekly fitness update

Hello! I hope everyone is doing well.
How are your fitness goals coming? Did you make your goals for last week?

I'm behind with posting my own GBK fitness challenge updates, and will now post a full update in order to alleviate my guilt:
In general having a pedometer has helped me to realize how I am most active. On days that I teach it is easy to meet my step goals, but I now know just how sedentary I am on other days (sigh). On days I walk less I try to ride my bike more, but this week I had trouble meeting my daily goals early in the week due to rainy weather that kept me off my bike. I did some canoeing this weekend and so felt a bit better about the week after that. This coming week, inspired by SpSq, I'd like to add some daily crunches. I'd also like to find a way to compare the distance I travel on my bike to numbers of steps--does anyone have any suggestions?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cubs AND Rockies, for Real

So, they won't be playing against each other unless the stars align, but the Cubs and the Rockies are playing in the post season. For the Rockies, it starts with a one game play-off tomorrow (Monday) night. They've never been near the play-offs before. Go Rockies! Go Cubs!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Cubs vs. Rockies and other Irrational Fears

So I looked at this morning's paper (which did not include the results of yesterday's baseball games) and realized that if the Cubs held on (which seemed likely), and if the Rockies held on and the stars were aligned (which seemed unlikely, but the Rockies were on an 11 game winning streak) then the Cubs would be facing the Rockies in the first series of the play-offs.

I had never envisioned this scenario. It scared me. I have no idea who I would cheer for. I felt paralyzed. Why hadn't I considered this before?

I always thought I had my priorities clearly ranked: Rockies, Cubs, Royals, Mariners and whatever home team I happen to be at, in that order. But Rockies-Cubs in the play-offs? Ack! Home for 30 years vs. family home? Two underdogs! What would I do?

Which leads to a long list of irrational fears-- I'm worried that someday I'll need to do something heroic to save someone and be physically unable to because of some stench. I spent the year I was 19 mentally explaining to Bruce Hornsby how I couldn't date him, so I would have the wording prepared in case the need ever arose. Jennifer needs shoes in which she can outrun psycopaths. What unlikely scenarios are you ready for? Or not?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sad (but hopeful) News

I just received an e-mail from Alex(andra), a knitting group member before any of us were knitters, a founder of stats at the Replay, and a super-cool graduate of the Kindscher-Foster "Labs" now doing environmental consulting in San Fransisco. Alex first illustrated for me that "hip" "fit" "crafty"and "nerdy" were entirely compatible.
Anyway, Alex was recently diagnosed with fairly advanced breast cancer, which will require dramatic surgery and chemo, at a minimum.

I also received messages from friends of Alex who are compiling happy wishes for Alex. One is crocheting an afghan from fragments of yarn from her friends and the other is making a box of cards. I'll be happy to forward the details to anyone who wants to contribute.
In the meantime, please send healing thoughts and prayers her way and do something relaxing for yourself.

I said something funny today . . .

. . .and my students laughed!
While I inadvertently say funny things way to often, and occasionally talk about things that I know are funny (like barnacle penis length), I don't recall ever just embedding a joke into a large lecture power point and having students laugh spontaneously and heartily. I think it made my day even more than electroshocking fish.
One slide was an image of a liger, the next slide, in boring power point fashion, had the liger image on one side and bullet points on the other.

  • Pretty much my favorite animal
  • It's like a tiger and a lion mixed
  • Bred for its skill in magic

The computer programming majors laughed by far the hardest.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Did you make your goal?

I am harassment officer of the week. Let us know how you are doing with your goals! I must admit I only started on Friday (after loosing the 1st pedometer, vacation, being sick, etc.). But now I am measuring various walks with the dogs, and see how easy it is to walk 2000 steps on one our short walks. I seem to walk about 7000 steps a day without much effort, so a longer dog walk is an easy way to bump up to the 10,000 goal.

Update - I just read the older posts, and think my pedometer's overestimating the steps, so I moved it and will redo the dog walk tonight.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Better watch out

Sally's Sister is going to ask next week whether or not you met your fitness goal and Jenny will be asking the week after.
You know how mean they are. Or how nice they are and how they want only the best for you and you'd hate to disappoint them-- whatever works for you. Either way, consider yourself motivated.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

a canada picture

Here's a picture from Nova Scotia. This is the view from the back porch of the house we rented in Lunenburg...

I wish I was still there now :)

Tomorrow I leave for my grandma's house to help her pack up her house (and after 50 years of living in the same house, it is quite a job). She's moving down to Arlington to be close the some of us, which is wonderful. But she's also moving from her 4 bedroom house into a one bedroom apartment. It will be quite an adjustment.

And another week passes...

Abby's swimming, Molly's sea kayaking and T.T. is hiking in Pima Canyon. Meanwhile I'm walking up and down the stairs in my school building and Irene is walking to and from the train and around the lab. How was your fitness week last week?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NYTimes for free

For about 6 years now, I've gotten most of my news from the New York Times website. Until recently, there was a subscription fee to access certain parts of the site - the archives, and many of the opinion pieces. Effective at midnight tonight, it's all free. Apparently, the projected advertising revenues from increased site traffic outweighed the income from subscription fees.

I realize that maybe no one besides me will care, but I figured I would mention it anyway, just in case any of you are occasional NYTimes readers, or have a penchant for looking up old news articles.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Colorado and Santa Fe

Here's some pics from my trip last week with my summer housemate. The car broke down 24 mi. east of Limon on Sat. - we got towed by George from Alaska and his toy poodle Betsy. Then a 'friend' in Denver drove the 87 miles to take us and the camping gear to the Denver airport to rent a Jeep! The 'friend' is really a friend of my best friend - I had met him once at her wedding 11 years ago. Stayed in his posh apt. in downtown Denver, and invited him to horseback ride with us Monday. But his car broke down, so after setting up camp in Rocky Mt Natl Park Sunday night, we drove the 80 miles back to Denver to pick him up & he camped with us. Then Mon. after the ride it poured so we drove him home, got showers, and he gave us rumba lessons. Then set up camp late Mon. night - heard someone outside the tent during the night - elk! Tues. park, Wed. drive to Santa Fe and stop at Sand Dunes, Friday 17 hour day back to Limon to get my car, to airport to return rental, then on to Lawrence. Never did hike in the mountains - a jaunt up to 12,005 ft. from 11,700 ruined us for the day!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Soccer news


I wanted to mention that I heard on the news last week that the William-Jewell men's soccer team was ranked #1 in their division - go cardinals!

Also, the women's world cup started this week in China and the US is off to a good start, they tied with Korea and beat Sweden in the round-robin portion of the tournament. They play Nigeria in a few days - go US!

Hope everyone is doing well!


Wednesday, September 12, 2007


How's everyone doing, anyway? I'd love to hear a little about what's going on if you have time?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

One Week More Neurogenesis

How did the first week of the fitness challenge go? Swim well? Lots of steps? On-going pedometer woes?
Whatever the status, you need to comment (if only "made goal" or "didn't make goal") and keep in mind that we will ask again next week, so don't be idle.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I love pictures

Hi everyone,

Been hiking and taking pictures. I put together some of the best ones from my trips to Pima Canyon (over 200 pictures). I thought I'd post a link here for those of you who want to see them. The first ones are from late March and they progress through yesterday (my most recent trip to Pima). I'm a total Pima Canyon junkie. You can see the season change as you go. In March there was some rain and the ocotillos got leaves. April through July were quite dry and all the ocotillos lost their leaves. Then we had a lot of rain in the July/August monsoon season and you can see the desert got quite lush. Every week it seems like new types of flowers appear.

Here's the link:


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

I shouldn't give blood if I have mad cow disease

To prompt discussion of prions (and reading of the case study in the text) in my 101 class, I told my students that I lived in Scotland 1994-1995 and ate beef and am indefinitely not allowed to give blood because of this. I asked them to answer 1) why living in Scotland has anything to do with giving blood 2) If not being allowed to give blood is a good policy and 3) why or why not.

As I read the responses, I am learning that: It is "more than likely" that I have mad cow disease*, that I could have contracted "who knows what" while living it Scotland (which is apparently rife with communicable diseases), that the policy is bad because "lots of people eat lots of things in other countries" and that the policy is good: "You should not be allowed to give blood if you have mad cow disease".

Alas, some key points are being missed.
*1 confirmed case [ever] in the US- we need to cover a little more probability

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Wise Woman in Frontiers

Highlight* of an otherwise exhausting day was flipping open my new Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment to see a piece "containing much wisdom" (or something of the like) written by one of our very own gorgeous biologist knitters. Way to go, Erin!

The other highlight was when one of the "cap guys" in Ecology (mostly mustached foresters who chew, don't know why they have to be there, and don't say anything) asked about climate change and salt pumps in the Atlantic. Not that it was all that relevant to the main topic, but it was an ecology question from someone who doesn't normally respond. Hoo-ray!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

On your marks, get set

Mark your goals, set out your walking shoes, swimsuit, hiking boots, bike shorts, dance shoes . . . and go!
Monday the GBK Fitness Challenge begins.
We're still taking suggestions for prizes, by the way.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pedometer woes

I've been using the pedometer I bought for about a week. It is definitely making me more conscientious about going to the gym or walking more, but I don't think the step count is very accurate. I was just reading a report in a consumer mag. that said a lot of pedometers are not very accurate when you are walking slow (2.5 mph), but the accuracy increases when you walk 3.5 mph or faster. If you haven't bought your pedometer yet, the article recommended the Omron $35, FreeStyle $20, and LifeWise $20. These cost more than the one I bought, but I think they count calories, too. The other problem I'm having is that I keep bumping the reset button on mine when I'm sitting at my desk. So, I lose track of my steps. I'm having trouble coming up with a goal because I don't really know how many steps I walk in a regular day. Any suggestions? Maybe I should start running everywhere so my steps get counted right...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hello from Tucson

Hi all,

The thing is defended and approved and submitted (don't know yet whether the formatting will be accepted). I just returned to Tucson from my 20th high school reunion up in Washington State. Man, western Washington is paradise in August! Here's a pic of me playing with seaweed off my favorite beach in the world (Clayton Beach, near Bellingham, Washington).

Dumb Science Joke

As heard at the Science Meet and Greet at William Jewell College

What do you get when you cross a mountain climber with a mosquito? (scroll down for the answer)

Nothing - you can't cross a scalar with a vector

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Fitness Challenge in your in-box

The GBK Fitness 2007 sign-up sheet and record sheet were just e-mailed to you (e-mail me if you didn't receive them and want them).

On the sign-up sheet, "overall goal" is for your greater goal outside the GBK FC. You are likely doing this for some reason besides to take more steps. You can be as grand and general as "lead a healthy life" or as specific as "lower blood cholesterol level by 20 points" or "be in shape to run a 10k in December". It's just there to remind you that you aren't doing this just for the sake of doing it (although if you are that's fine too).
Make your goals tough but achievable. You'll probably want your daily goal to be less than your weekly goal divided by 7. Make yourself do something every day, but don't miss your goals because some days are less than others. Combined fitness goals are certainly allowed (I'm going for 77,000 steps/week or 70,000 steps plus lifting or swimming twice). You don't need to share your goals (but you can if it will help). You just need to report if you made them or not.

The "before status" is for anything that you want to track. Your current work-out routine, mile time, weight, blood pressure, whatever.

We officially start Labor Day, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't exercise this week.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Another reason to get a pedometer

According to this article in the New York Times, exercise makes you smarter. It apparently does this by increasing neurogenesis.

But then, chocolate, alcohol (in moderate amounts) and marijuana also have positive effects on neurogenesis.

Draw your own conclusions, I guess!

Here's a picture of one of the roadsides in Turkey. There were many different kinds of poppies in bloom to be found there, but the most common was a shrubby one with bright red flowers. I'll upload more pictures soon.
I have been thinking about Irene lots lately, because they stock her purple gloves here at the molecular lab. I must say, they are really very nice. In the past two weeks I've learned how to extract, amplify, purify, and submit DNA for sequencing. I like how there are set tasks to do, and when they're done, they're done. With morphology, there's always this nagging doubt: "maybe if I just stare at the specimens for another day, I'll have this amazing insight into how they are related to each other". (This has happened just enough to keep me going for days on end without much to show for it-- well, maybe not amazing insight, but at least something I hadn't noticed before). I can also tell, though, that once the novelty of the new protocols wears off I'll be pretty bored with pipetting and calculating molarity.
I'm saving the best news for last: this weekend I went ahead and adopted Lucy-- the Jack Russell Terrier we were fostering for the past several months-- the one who loves, loves, loves people and wags her tail so much that she sometimes has trouble walking. :)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

For Sparkling Squirrel


Friday, August 17, 2007

Bummy week

Hi - I see lots has been posted since I last saw the blog, and bummy stuff has been going on here. My boss had a mini-stroke (blocked for short time, no apparent damage) 2 Fridays ago, then last Wed. my best friend calls to say she's driving back to PA, her brother has been in intensive care for 1.5 weeks and is going downhill. He died Sat., the funeral was Wed., and I felt guilty for not going back to PA. He had pneumonia (legionairres, the dr. had sent him home saying it was the flu, then he ends up in ER and never comes home). But I'll go see her when she's settled back in St. Louis. And now my boss is acting squirrely and his girlfriend just called asking me to drive him home b/c he called her all squirredly, and he was driving away when I went outside and insists he's ok. And a proposal is due Tues. that he hasn't looked at yet, so I might mutiny on Monday and send it as is.

Other than that, I'm going to see the Simpson's tonight, and Harry Potter tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It's the little things

The copier machine in our department has a hole-punch feature. I love it. Sometimes it is the little things that make me happy. Actually, it is most often the little things.

What little thing has made you happy lately?
Hope everyone is doing well.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Entomology Help!

So, some faculty member we know of was already teaching an overload (14 hours- Bio 101, Ecology with lab, Plant Anatomy and Morphology with lab, and Techniques of Science) when something possessed her to agree to teach the Entomology Class and lab rather than cancel it.

As the professor in question is a plant ecologist, this is somewhat of a stretch (not to mention a crazy crazy schedule-- and they took out the line in the faculty handbook that said one could hold fewer than 10 hours of office hours if one is teaching an overload). So I need help.

Irene-- want to give a guest lecture when you come?
Molly-- want to come and give a guest lecture? Would it be worth doing a field trip there?
Jenny-- visits planned?

This class is supposed to be partially web-based (to accomodate the schedule of the guy who's not teaching it-- 4 hours Monday night [1 lecture and 3 lab, with the rest made up by electronically delivered content] Night insect lab!?!). Anyone know any great web resources?

Suggestions of fun activities? Ideas?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Irene has her pedometer

Irene has her pedometer and is stepping lots. Are the other fitness challengers equiped?

There is still plenty of time to join Irene, Jenny, Jennifer, Beth, Molly and myself if the GBDK Fitness Challenge. TT, Abby, Sally's S, are you in? It doesn't have to be a step program (although I think the pedometers are great for lots of reasons, the biggest of which is that it makes exercise an everyday activity, not a went to the gym or not thing). The only requirement is that you set a goal (number of steps, number of times you swim or do yoga, whatever) and keep track of of it.

Here are some places selling pedometers: Bodytronics, PedometersUSA where we can supposedly buy them for less than $1 (if we buy what, 10,000?), Amazon (I have the accusplit eagle 120xl and like it), Rite Aid has them as a free rebate gift this month, REI has them, I bet Target, Wallmart, etc. have them. If you need me to buy one for you, (indebtedness can be a surprisingly effective motivator), let me know soon. (In the state employee program, they gave them to us, but we had to return them if we didn't turn in our final results paperwork, it really made me pay closer attention.)

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Butternut Blonde is a Cow Breed

As I was looking for some images of butternut blondes to accompany the post below, I learned that BB is an unusual Canadian cow breed, or at least the name of the farm where they raise blondes.

Confessions of a Shopping-Happy Butternut Blonde

Okay, I have two confessions to make.
1) There are times I really like to shop. One day last went to the hardware store, dollar store, drug store and natural food store and bought things like deck cleaner, stain, dish soap, shampoo, (and make-up! I so love buying make-up) and quinoa and absolutely loved it. I just really like standing there trying to figure out of the more expensive waterproofing is really worth it. I dislike clothes shopping most of the time, but had another great day this week driving into Charleston, dropping off the recycling, hitting 7 vegetable vendors at the Farmer's Market and pricing fans and back-to-school items at Target. I had to take myself away from the "storage solution" section.
2) I care about my hair color label. My hair continues to darken as I age. This is normal for blondes except white-blonde tow-heads. Sometime in my twenties, I remember reading an essay about blondes in their thirties and how they are all fake and meet with both scorn and envy from people like the author who was a blonde in her twenties but no more. I thought at the time "that won't happen to me", but then, I was a natural blonde in her twenties.
Anyway, I like the color of my hair. I've always liked the color of my hair, including the times when it was a sun-bleached light blonde and the times, like most of high school, when I thought that I could only fairly refer to it as "blondish". I like the color of Jennifer's hair, which is just a touch darker than mine, and I will be proud to have that color next. I am not about dye my hair. But I want to be considered blonde. The actual word is most of the hang-up.

This is weird to me because usually I am a realist. I will buy a piece of clothing that fits well even if it is the larger size, and I've certainly never purchased anything because of vanity sizing. Sizes are just numbers, as are most labels. But I really want to cling to "blonde". Maybe it's because I don't fit in with a four hair color universe (while definitely not black or red, my hair is really not brown or even light brown.) So for now I am calling myself "butternut blonde". I have no idea what butternut blonde is, but they make a shampoo for it so there must be lots of us.

Sorry if I've disappointed you, Sally's Sister.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Electric Boogie

Usually I don't think very much about cars. As long as I have one that gets me from here to there, I'm content.

Until now.

I've fallen in lust... too bad 'he' is way out of my league.

Some say it's mystic
It's electric
(Boogie woogie, woogie)
You can't resist it
It's electric
(Boogie woogie, woogie)
You can't do without it
It's electric
(Boogie woogie, woogie)

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Speaking of books

Since we're talking books (and because I'm so frusturated with my paper right now I don't think I'm going to get much more done today...) I had a question for those in the group that read Inkheart (Jennifer recommended during knitting so I know at least one other person in the group has read it). Did anyone read the second book of the series, Inkspell? Did you like it? Although I enjoyed Inkheart quite a bit, I did not like Inkspell very much and I was wondering if anyone else felt this way or if I was in the minority. I will still read the final book whenever it comes out to see how she ties things up, but I'm not exactly looking forward to it, if you know what I mean.

Also, I find that I really enjoy young adult/teen/children's literature for relaxing reading. Does anyone have anything good to recommend?

Harry Potter Discussion

Harry Potter fans, it is time to "geek out" and discuss the book.

In order not to be a spoiler, the discussion should take place in the comments. If you have not read the book, read the comments at your own risk.

So - What did you think? Where you happy with the ending? Did the book leave you wanting more Harry Potter? What was the most surprising part of the story for you?

More megafauna

I am back from New Mexico and have moved to Independence. We are slowly getting things unpacked and organized.

In the meantime, I wanted to share some of the vertebrate megafauna (or evidence of) I saw in New Mexico.

Hungry Lizard

Rattlesnake - I put my backpack fairly close to this guy, but he did not rattle. Luckily I saw him and was able (with the help of a long stick) to retrieve my bag.

Hummingbirds - I stayed at the Licthy Center (which is run by the Nature Conservancy) and there were about a dozen hummingbirds that visited the feeder. They provided early morning entertainment.

We were doing our work along the Gila River in SW New Mexico. At one of the campgrounds in the Gila National Forest was closed because some guy was bit in the butt by a bear while he was sleeping in his tent. Several miles away, we saw evidence of bears at one of our sampling sites.

A family of turkeys.

Racoon Tracks in the mud
And my favorite - the Gila Monster

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Charismatic Macrofauna

Please visit Sparkling Squirrel in the next few days as I intend to be posting essays and photos from the summer adventures. In the meantime, a few reminder that verts can be attractive.

possible teaching resource?

Jenny probably already knows about this, but the rest of you preparing lectures might find this link interesting. There are some power points about native plants and pollinators that appear to be available to teachers for use in lectures. I also thought they were kind of cool just for general gardening information, although they are probably pretty specific to the midwest.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

back Turkey and Austria

Hi friends,
Just wanted to let you know that I returned from Turkey and Austria yesterday, and just spent a lovely half-hour reading through all the posts and comments that I missed while I was gone. Congratulations to Beth and Josh (wonderful photos! I would love an update on the wedding sometime), Stelios for his inspiring career accomplishments, TT for her amazing defense... I'm certain to be missing something even though I literally just read all the updates... well, and to the rest of you bloggers for your general fabulousness. :)
The trip was good-- I learned a lot and collected some specimens that will help with my postdoctoral research (assuming that I'm successful in sequencing them)-- and also very hard-- physically demanding, conflict of personalities, food poisoning... I DID take a camera for once, and will upload pictures and share stories once my uncle finds his card reader for the camera I borrowed from him. I did absolutely nothing touristy other than see the Hagia Sofia during my 12 hour layover in Istanbul. And I also joined a 'bioblitz' sort of affair at a national park in the alps of Austria, so I got to do some hiking while collecting. Other than that, my trip went like this: either, 1. wake at 6:30, eat breakfast, gather collecting gear, ride in a car around to various country roadsides that had promising flowers in bloom (while praying a bit-- the driver was relearning manual transmission cars and the driving was generally crazy), do this all day except to stop every few hours for a very strong, bitter tea (no lunch stop-- just crushed chips and cherry juice-- did I mention personality conflicts?), return to hotel around 7, shower, eat dinner at 8, collapse into bed around 10. Or, 2. wake at 6:30, eat breakfast, walk to museum or our host's collection, study bees, eat lunch, study bees, eat dinner, walk home, collapse into bed. This we did for an entire month, every day, including weekends... I am VERY glad to be home.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

GBKD Fitness Challenge

I challenge you to challenge yourself in the GBDK fitness challenge!

What: A competitive-with-yourself fitness program
When: Labor Day to Halloween (8 weeks)
Why: To be in better shape

Why expanded: When I wore a pedometer in the spring as part of a state employee fitness program, I took more steps, felt better and lost weight. After a summer of riding in a car and eating hash browns, I need something to prompt me back into shape. I will exercise more regardless, but know that I did more (even though we set our own goals and didn't show anybody) because I was part of a program. Being part of a program also made it easier to explain why I was wearing a pedometer (in ten weeks, only one student noticed, who was also part of the program). Anway, I would like some group support and figure some of you might also.

What expanded: The easiest is to do a stepping program. Set daily, weekly, and 8 week minimums (e.g. my spring goal was a minimum of 7,000 steps every day, but a weekly goal of 70,000 steps and a grand total of 560,000 [at least averaging 10,000 a day] [I did not make all of the daily goals, and missed two weeks, but did make the grand total, by quite a ways--- an interesting look at averages and minimums]). I will pass out score sheets/excel files to record them on. At the end of 8 weeks, turn them in and be eligible for great prizes.
If just plain moving more is not your thing, set your own goals and record them. The month of August is so that you can find a pedometer if your are going to and wear it enough to figure out what reasonable goals are. NO BONUS FOR SETTING LOW GOALS AND MEETING THEM or SETTING UNREASONABLY LOFTY GOALS. 10,000 steps/day is a suggested goal from the AHA or someome similar.

Bonus: I will buy your pedometer if you need the external force, but then I will demand results.

Reward: Wonderful prizes in Novemeber. Suggestions? Oh, and, of course, stress relief, lower blood pressure, better lipid profile, better shot at longevity, fun with friends . . .


Saturday, July 21, 2007

A few New Mexico Photos and HP

I am very excited about the new Harry Potter book, I just know I will not have a chance to read it until I get back from New Mexico. I am afraid that I will hear about the ending before I get to read it. Oh well. Such is life.

New Mexico has been great fun, though the work is really tiring. Long days in the field and long nights keying out plants. We are working along the Gila River, which is great because we can take a swim break if it gets too hot. And it does get hot. Many of the plots that I have worked on are on gravel/cobble bars along the river. I don't even want to know what the temperature there. Well over 100 I am sure. But the plants are cool and the experience is great.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Harry Potter Thoughts

I was hoping to comment on Abby's blog about HP, but somehow couldn't connect. Anyway, Abby, I too am upset about not having anyone to share HP madness with. I'm hoping to buy a Canadian copy before returning to the states (tomorrow) but that is looking unlikely here in Niagra Falls (really a horrible scary place).

I did get to see the movie at in Imax 3-D and is was fabulous and it reminded me about how much I really want to know what does happen next.

Anybody actually going to the celebrations? Happy reading fans.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A thought about GBKD format

So I was thinking today... we never really did find an ideal solution to the issue of making comments easy to keep tabs on. This makes having "conversations" through the blog more difficult. Haloscan looked good but it had some problems... like not being able to see who made the comments, and also making all previous non-Haloscan comments invisible.

One option is to change the format of GBKD from a blog to a messageboard. For anyone who hasn't visited or used messageboards before, it means that instead of posts, you have threads - a thread is like a conversation. One person starts it, then anyone who's registered to use the messageboard can add to the thread. The main difference between a blog and a messageboard is how it's displayed - each thread is shown with an icon or bold text to tell you whether anything new has been posted in that thread since you last checked it.

Messageboards can also be divided into sub-topics: for example, in addition to a section for general news about our lives, a GBKD messageboard might have a Crafting section, a Travelogue section... mmm, what else.... maybe a Recipes section. And whatever else we want, really.

Here's an example:

Of course, there's a lot of customizing that can be done so that it looks pretty and has functions we like.

Is anyone else interested in this idea?

Monday, July 16, 2007

IRENE in the news

I heard this on NPR this morning. Someone has invented something and named it after IRENE.
Pretty cool!

Visit to Kansas

I'm going to be coming into Kansas for field work and a wedding. I'll be there Tuesday night until Monday morning. I'm also going to be heading both to Fitch and Welda looking for snails if anyone wants to help me out looking for them. For some reason the husband will help but doesn't want to go play with ticks if it's not needed. Anyway - I'd love to meet up with all the knitters in the area so email me at elfwren at the lovely G provider of mail or give me a call on my cell (or at home if Monday). Other posters have my cell if needed and the husband (wow that sounds weird to type) and I will be at the Quality Inn for our time in Kansas up on 8th street.

hope to see people. woohoo!

Friday, July 13, 2007


Congratulations to Tucson Trekker for her successful dissertation defense!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Biologist Needed

A small college in West Virginia is looking for a biologist (to teach genetics, micro, A+P and other such classes). If anybody knows someone just finishing who might like to spend a year teaching intensely, they should apply immediately.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


I read "Overheard in New York" fairly religiously, and today I saw a quote that reminded me of myself and at least half of my friends.

So Much Social Awkwardness, So Little Time

By Djlindee

Weird girl: Did you bring the scepter?
Weird boy: No, I forgot.
Weird girl: That's the second time!
Weird boy: I know, I'm sorry! I got the Tetris theme song stuck in my head again!

Friday, June 29, 2007

The work of a leaf cutter

I've got bees on the mind after a neat conference here in Ames the last few days, it happens to be National Pollinator Week, and just because they are way cool, I wanted to share this photo of two cells made by a leaf cutter bee (Megachile) in a potted plant. I've been watching her dig in the dirt recently but only really suspected she was providing for offspring when I saw her go under ground with some pollen. A few days later, these cells lay on top of the soil. I'm not sure whether they were meant to remain under the soil or not; one was later eaten by something that carefully peeled back the leafy layers to get at the pollen mass (or the bee egg?), so it is very possible that same culprit dug them up. It may be hard to tell by the photo, but I think, should the offspring in the remaining cell survive until next summer, this will be one big bee.

On a side note, there could be some interesting national legislation concerning bees at some point ( Hope you all are well, and are getting to spend some time outside enjoying pollinators around the country (and world, for Molly).

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Latest on Tennessee

Well, it's been a while since I posted anything so I thought I would update people what has been going on, mainly it is news about Stelios, but that also means it's my news too :)

So Stelios accepted the faculy position at Univ. Tennessee at Chattanooga and will be starting January 1st. The plan is to move him out there mid-December and I will stay there probably throughout the month of January to get him going with teaching and working while I get everything unpacked, etc. It's going to be a very long cross country road trip but we are both very excited about it. I'm hoping that I will be able to move with him during the Spring (ideally February) and then continue school long distance and come back to Lawrence on various trips and stay throughout the summer for field season. We shall see how that will work in the coming months.

I also have to brag about Stelios a bit...we recently found out that his NSF proposal was funded! He is the lead PI on a grant with Michael Engel, researchers from the Field Museam and a researcher in Europe that will enable him to travel around the world collecting beetles and starting a new collection in Chattanooga - very exciting - I am very proud of him!

As for me, I've been working and working and working - trying to get things done so it will be easier for me to move in later months (fingers crossed) and Stelios will be coming here for the 4th (can't wait) and then I will be seeing him in August right before ESA and then meeting him in Chattanooga after ESA to visit the place - looking forward to that.

Well, that's the bulk of what has been going on...hope all is well with everyone and I will try to keep you updated better at to what plans are evolving - it's going to be an exciting year!


Travel tips - deodorant discovery

I discovered this morning that I don't have to throw away my used up mini deodorant container and buy a new one. I just broke off the appropriate length chunk from my big container and stuck it in the empty container. Ha materialistic world - try to get me to buy another mini deodorant again!

We could start a list of travel tips. Like thong underwear to travel. Tiny and dries fast!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Moving Madness

To continue in the theme of Beth's post, my life has been madness as well. But instead of weddings it is all about finding a new place to live and preparations for a move. All of this on top of a summer job that requires a lot of travelling. But the good news is, we finally found a place and will sign the lease on Monday. It is in Independence (rather than Liberty), but it is in nice area and a terrific neighborhood. It is an older (1960's?) neighborhood across the street from a golf course and surrounded by McMansion neighborhoods (one of which is called The Dominion, which is a bit strange). Which is way better than other parts of the Independence. I will try to remember to get pictures on Monday when we sign the lease.

Oh - and my phone is dead again. It was like it just came back for Father's Day. Weird.


Wedding Madness

I haven't been writing much because life has been crazy with getting ready for the wedding along with field work. However, this morning one of my tasks was to order the pictures for our guestbook, i.e. what goes on the first page, second page, etc. and I thought I'd share a few pictures with all of you. The pictures were taken at the Chicago Botanic Gardens in May.

Other than dealing with lots of wedding details - I've also done field work in Michigan to collect snails. I still need to sort the dirt and ID everything but I'll get to that eventually. I've decided to wait on research until after the wedding so I can take some time to relax.

By the way, my folks are having an open house in Cleveland in August that all knitters are invited to so please drop me a line if you think you might be able to be in the area.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Two (or 5) weeks in and still liking my husband

The Mister and I have now been on the road for two weeks and two days (or 5 weeks and 3 days if you count Ecuador). I am pleased to report that I still like him. Despite my general feeling of laziness, it has been an action packed two weeks-- presenting at Economic Botany in Chicago while seeing Jeff's bro and sister in law, my former advisor and my cousins. Dashing to Lawrence for Jeff's cousin's wedding (and managing to hit the farmer's market, Liberty Hall and New Hampshire St Bistro while we were there for 36 hours). A chicken dinner for Jeff's grandfather's 80th in Abilene. Pie for Jeff's grandfather's 80th the next day. Back to Lawrence for a lovely Woodland Evening (Thanks Sally's Sister!) and time with KBS and Jeff's friends. Back to Jeff's parent's house. To my parent's house. Eating with my family (a major undertaking). Hiking on Father's Day. Throwing the annual croquet tournament. Recovering from the croquet tournament and baking my mother's birthday cake today.
Off to Montana tomorrow, after visiting my friend in the hospital who stopped by the croquet tournament on her way to the hospital for labor to be induced . . .
This does make me wonder if it is possible for me to take a vacation that feels like vacation, or if I would ever want to.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Lazarus - I am not normally a namer of things, but I could call my cell phone Lazarus. It must have dried out enough, because it is now working. I am really glad that I procrastinated getting a new one! Happy Day!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

I didn't mean to . .

But I killed my cell phone. It was left in the pocket of my field pants that went straight into the washer. So if you need to contact me, for now, you will need to e-mail or call my home phone.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Getting biblical in Central Kansas

I haven't been checking the blog regularly and have missed some good stuff! Capsized canoes and existential circuses to name a few. Becca was in town this weekend and we went camping at Wilson lake. It was the most beautiful place I have been in Kansas, even though it is a reservoir. The lake is fed by the Saline River and the water is crystal clear blue (or green or purple or pink depending on the time of day). We took a canoe out, and even though it was pretty rough (from the wind and jet skis) we didn't get too wet. We also made it to the Garden of Eden, which was awesomely creepy. I'm not much for hippie dippy stuff (anymore...) but I really think that this place might be a so-called "vortex". It had a very profound affect on everyone in our group, and the folk art (and artists) there are pretty far out. I recommend this place to everyone. Check out the photos, the last one was the view from our campsite.