Sunday, December 28, 2008

Engagement news

Just wanted to share my big news-- brian and I have decided to get married this summer! Some of you may remember him from sp sq and her mister's wedding.
Hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday wishes

Happy holidays and safe travels to everyone! May 2009 bring you peace and adventure!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


* African village by Sally's Sis.
* Bob Marley by Bridgett (as envisioned by Scott). Sorry it loads sideways.
* Carousel by Cathy.
* Barn by Lisa.
You can see more on Cathy's facebook.

Monday, December 15, 2008

travels to Hangzhou

Hi everybody,
I just returned from a really short trip to Hangzhou with Brian. I literally spent as much time in China as I did in airports, mainly because of flight cancellations and delays resulting in missed connections. Nonetheless, I had a pretty good time. I learned that even so called "second-tier" cities are enormous, and still fairly polluted. Cigarrette smoke is unavoidable, even in the hotels as it comes through common ductwork. There is a huge lake in Hangzhou, called West Lake, and it is really beautiful. A few years back they rebuilt a tall pagoda that is situated on a hill overlooking the lake and it is pretty spectacular. The food is much tastier than what you typically find in Beijing, but despite it's relative proximity to Shanghai, the "Shanghai dumplings" are no where as good as what you can find there.
Well, I guess that's it for the travel log of my trip. Sadly I have no cool pictures like TT. Just thinking of you all, and hoping that you're about to have or are having a wonderful holiday.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The London Eye and random images from Holland.

Random images from Holland...
Us with my cousin Tony and his wife Jane in the London Eye.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lawrence Art Center

I'm an official artist of the Lawrence Art Center gallery! Though only about one card every other month sells.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Late fall in Tucson

Our neato cacti and agaves are happy that there was rain over Thanksgiving. It wasn't enough to put leaves back on the baby ocotillo.

The yard is very pleasant with a few things blooming for the resident hummingbirds.

It is finally comfortable to be outside all day!

The tomatoes are going gang busters. Pomegranates are past it for humans (although the birds and assassin bugs are having a heyday)

The grapefruits are ripe, yum!

Why can't we have this?

How come Ben and Jerry's doesn't sell this in the U.S??? It was a real treat in Holland. The name wouldn't fly in English speaking countries, but it is yummy, yummy, yummy! Chocolate raspberry ice cream.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Conservation Books, Cases and Ideas

I'm teaching conservation biology in the spring (to a class of about 10, 3 days a week, no lab), and want to use lots of case studies and current info.

I'm thinking about assigning some sort of popular book review, but I need help with book recommendations (telling my students to find one will not work). Top choice is current conservation biology paperbacks, preferably specific to a species or a system with a good story. Also considered would be general conservation (An Inconvient Truth, Cadalliac Desert, Notes from a Catastrophe) and historical conservation (Silent Spring, Sand County Almanac). Any suggestions?

I'm also wanting each student to follow a cons bio issue that is likely to be in the news throughout the spring (wolf de-listing and controversy comes to mind, bats are a big issue here) but I also need some suggestions. Will pollinators make the news in the spring? Coral bleaching? Wetlands and hurricanes? Are polar bears passe or will they still be in the news cycle?

Good case studies that aren't in the news also accepted.

Friday, November 21, 2008

New horizons

A not so little bird mentioned that Cathy and Jenny's mister have recently landed great jobs, but this bird was in a hurry and didn't fill in the details. Please dish so we can join in your excitement!

I am giving myself some homework to get going on the blog this weekend. I have been bad about correspondence in general. On a related note, do you think it is too late to send thank yous for my graduation gifts (from May)? I have been totally lame about this but really want to do it. Will people think it's weird or do I get a year like for a wedding? Please help the etiquette challenged!

And again, congrats to the job getters!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Birthday Lumps

Upcoming in the next two weeks: the birthdays of Jennifer, Irene and Jenny. I hate lumping their birthdays together, because three such dear friends deserve their own posts, their own good wishes and not to be lumped in with the birthdays of their mothers, sisters, friends or Thanksgiving. But if I don't lump, I will forget, and that would be far worse. So. . .
Happy Birthday Irene!
Happy Birthday Jennifer!
Happy Birthday Jenny!
Take some time and celebrate.

Smoky Mountain Natl Park

Here are a few photos from my family trip to the Smokies. We drove by some people playing bluegrass at one of the historic homes, went around Cades Cove and went up to the tallest point in the Park. We actually did see a black bear cub on our last day there - it was quite exciting! Alas, it was too quick for a picture...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Monotremes give birth to dead young"

Yes, its test time again in my world. I had two versions of the above as a response to the difference between monotremes and placental mammals, which made me giggle, well actually guffaw.

In other class news, I have totally been busted. Once again this semester I asked my students to make a list of pressing environmental concerns. I apparently used the same phrasing that I used in the spring when I asked you for your opinions in this post. It turns out that when you google that particular phrase (top 5 and facing being part of it) the GBKD is the first thing that pops up. I'm frankly amazed. I think my student only suspected it was me until I announced the family f---- format of the future discussions, then she felt certain. Ack. I have no idea how many of them stopped by our blog, but their answers do seem to be more sensible this year.

On the list of what's disturbing me this week: I checked the population clock in preparation for my population lecture this year and learned that the current world population is 6.7 some billion. Which is not that big of a deal, except I had the exact figure from April 22 on my slide (6.6 some billion). 73 million people have been added to the planet between April 22 and Nov. 11. That's 40 times the entire population of my state in 6 months.

On the list of irrational behavior: despite the above I am still hoping to have children.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ecology Books

Hey gorgeous biologist knitters, I have some ecology books that I want to get rid of. Is anyone interested in the following titles? If so, let me know and I'll ship them to you.

How to Identify Grasses and Grasslike Plants - Harrington
Applied Population Ecology - Akcakaya et al.
Invertebrate Surveys for Conservation - T. R. New
The Tallgrass Restoration Handbook - S. Packard and C. F. Mutel
Borror and Delong's Introduction to the Study of Insects
The Handicap Principle - A. Zahavi
Stream Ecology - J. D. Allan
The Insects - Chapman
Insect Diversity Conservation - M. J. Samways
Conservation and Biodiversity - A. P. Dobson
Principles of Population Genetics - Hartl and Clark
Perspectives on Plant Competition - Grace and Tilman
Restoration Ecology and Sustainable Development - Ubanska et al.
Principles of Insect Morphology - Snodgrass
Geographic Information Systems and Science - Longley et al.
Herbivores, Their Interactions with Secondary Plant Metabolites - Rosenthal and Berenbaum
Insects on Plants - Community patterns and mechanisms - Strong, Lawton, Southwood
Chance in Biology - Denny and Gaines
Ornithology - Gill

Thursday, November 6, 2008

GBDK Mini-Retreat in March

I just learned I will be in Lawrence March 30 for a Board Deal for that fellowship. Without diminishing the need for a full-scale retreat some other time, I was wondering who'd be interested in getting together the weekend of March 28-29 somewhere near Lawrence. I'm asking now so that 1) we can plan to get a cabin or something so that everybody can "get away" (I'm sure that we could get together at Sal Sis' or Jennifer's place and have a great time, but that wouldn't be quite the same) 2) we put it on our calendars so that it is a done deal and 3) I start telling my colleagues that I won't be around for the State Academy of Science meeting, which we are hosting here that day (eek-- probably shouldn't miss them, but would far rather be spending time with some of you).

Let us know.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Election Day

Election Day totally makes me miss knitting. I'm tense and excited and very very hopeful that we wouldn't need something like Tim proposing to Jenny to cheer us up.

I voted early and its not really very exciting here (all the local elections were only contested in the primaries, so there were very few decisions to be made), but I'm still nervous and giddy because I love the process. Miss you all. Don't forget to vote.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

November! Ack!

How is already November?!? I'm currently posting as a procrastination technique (my annual report is due tomorrow), but I've found that this semester is flying by at a high rate of speed. On my end, life is good but way too busy.

We had our annual Joshoween this weekend and it was lots of fun. We transform our house into a haunted house (on the first floor and the basement). It's lots of fun but it has killed my weekend with clean-up all day yesterday. And now today I don't want to grade or work on this report. sigh.

My class on Tuesday got canceled because of the rally. There are supposed to be lots of people downtown so all classes starting after 3 pm are canceled. I have to say that I'm not all that unhappy but it really isn't the best time in the semester to miss a week.

Anyway, I'm going to get back to work but I was thinking of everyone and wanted to say hi. How's everyone else doing?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thanks for the Birthday Wishes!

Hi Everyone!

I want to thank everyone for their birthday wishes, Happy Birthday to Abby and good luck to Cathy on her interview. I feel very much like I've been on hiatus and have been meaning to give everyone a brief update on what I've been doing. 

Well, in case you didn't know, I'm back in Chattanooga for the rest of the semester. I was able to score a little space to process my soils (which basically is picking out roots) - so that's what I've been doing since September. I'm really glad that I can do this here because then I don't have to spend that time away from Stelios. Although the room I'm in is a bit like a closet - no windows, brick on 3 sides and the 4th is painted with things like spider man, the cat in the hat and has a bunch of writings. It used to be the smoking room for the building and based on the painting, I don't think it was necessarily tobacco based smoking.

My entire family was just here for the week (and we managed to find places for everyone to sleep in the house!). My parents were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. Because they spent part of their honeymoon in Smoky Natl Park, we had to go there for a few days. And since my younger brother loves Civil War History, we spent a good day and a half on the battlefields around here. It was kind of fun though. We have a distant relative that fought in the battle here and so we followed where his infantry was during the two days of the battle. Definitely made the experience a bit more personal. It was a really nice visit. When I finally download some scenic vista pics, I will try to post them.

Stelios and I spent my birthday hiking. There is part of the Cumberland Trail just a few miles north of our house so we went there. It was very pretty as the trail was up a gorge and the leaves are turning colors - Stelios was even happier because there were still a few beetles that he could collect. Other than that, he got me some flowers and a wonderful chocolate cake and we spent the rest of the day relaxing and recovering from all the family.

Hopefully I will get some pics posted soon! Thanks again for the Happy Birthdays!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Cheryl!

Wishing you a great day of celebrating and a year (and many more) of joy, laughter and learning.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Happy Mole Day!

One of my seniors brought us cupcakes for Mole Day. Apparently chemists always celebrate it on 10/23 (at 6:02, officially). It makes me happy that there are at least a few real geeks around, although she hadn't heard of pi day (March 14), so I volunteered that she should come back with some pie in a few months.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Abby!

I may be off by a day or two (?) but I think today is Abby's birthday. Happy Birthday, Abby!

Friday, October 17, 2008


Here's a fascinating link I stumbled across. It's from the Onion, in 2001, as W took office for his first term. Then, it was silly satire. Now, it's straddling that uncomfortable line between hilarious and too-true-to-be-funny.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Back in Blonde

So, over a year ago, I admitted my vanity and desire to have blond hair, although it was darkening and there was nothing I was willing to do about it.

I have no idea exactly how I pulled it off (I didn't dye it and I didn't do field work this summer), but I am back as a blonde for a while.
I'm embarrassed by how happy this makes me, but it does.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Molly, I think madrones might be the tree you are thinking of. One of my favorite parts of Northern California. I also love manzanitas and their peely red bark.

Imade from the town of Fairfax, California.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Joe Biden is coming to My School

Holy Moley, I just found out and the school is abuzz. Tomorrow at 2:30 Joe Biden will be here at Jewell at my school. I have sent Steve out to get tickets. I hope we get to go.

Yesterday we had an e-mail that some of the homecoming events were being moved around - I thought that was strange, but had no idea what it meant. Now we all know.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Happy 1 Month Anniversary!

Cathy and Scott!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Little Joys

It's been a year since we started the afternoon gratitude box, and it occurs to me that its time to resurrect it. I know everyone is busy. I know many of us have nothing really eventful in our lives. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, I particularly like keeping in touch via little bits on news or non-news.

My joy of the day: a beaver apparently built a dam across the river in town over the weekend. Amazing how quickly it went up. But my real joy is that there is a football built into it. I don't know why, but it really makes me giggle.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rowan was found! :-)

So my Dad found Rowan under a shedd in the yard of a neighbor two lots down (it's the next house down but there's a wooded lot between them). I guess she was hiding underneath and it took about an hour to coax her out even with treats. But when I talked to them last, Rowan was fast asleep on my Dad's lap while they were watching SNL. phew. They've been taking down/apart a downed tree in the wooded lot so I'm guessing that it was just too far and too scary for her to get back to the house. Now, to convince them to put a bell on her....


Friday, September 26, 2008


So, Rowan, my old cat, who now lives with my folks got out on Wednesday night. She's still missing but we hope she gets hungry and returns. I'll let everyone know when I hear anything else and if you have any ideas/suggestions for my folks to lure a kitty back home please share.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

She's way bigger now.

And just as cute, but the photos were all overexposed.

Monday, September 15, 2008

They keep thinking of new ways to confound me

I keep trying to make it impossible to misunderstand directions and students keep showing me new ways it is possible. Another prof. who teaches cell bio and covers one section of my 101 lab was frustrated because he had two well-done labs for a student he could not find on his cell bio roster. Turns out she's in my 101 class. We have no idea how long she's been going to the cell bio lab, why she bought a lab book for a class she's not in, and how crazy she thinks I am when I talk about what we are doing in lab every week during lecture.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Volunteering for Change and life

I just got back from volunteering at the local Obama Campaign office. It is the first time I have ever done any political volunteering, and it feels really good. I did some data entry and - gasp - calling from the phone bank. Oh man - I don't really like calling people on the phone, but it was not too bad. Most of the people I called were not home, several people did not want to respond, but most of the other people we for Obama. We are not talking big numbers here - I think I actually talked to 11 people and most did not want to tell me who they were going to vote for. I am planning to go back on Thursday night.

Otherwise - things are doing fine here in Independence. School started last week, so far so good. Oh and the best news - I found out today that they are turning my position into a tenure track position without doing another search. Yeah - I don't have to reapply for my job.

Hope all is well with all of you.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Peaches and what I love about now

The end of summer is a weird time. Those of us caught up in the school calendar associate it with the dreaded "going back to work" (I've had students for two weeks already, but I still dread going back tomorrow) and sometimes early September feels like summer is over, but the bad parts (heat, humidity, mosquitos) haven' t gone away.
In order to combat my mournful mood, I offer this week's gratitude box. Drop in and write something about what you are grateful for this time of year.
Some of mine: peaches. We are at the height of the West Viriginia peach crop at the moment and I love, love, love really good peaches (I also won't buy grocery store peaches so it's only a short time I get to indulge my love.
Asters, goldenrod, wingstem, iron weed, joe-pye weed, sunflowers, sweet autumn clematis. . . not all are in full force right now, but they soon will be.
Basil and tomatoes (pesto, salad caprese, gazpacho, fresh spaghetti sauce)
Foggy mornings and glistening spider webs-- this time of year I walk to work in the fog almost every day.
The monarch caterpillars have destroyed our swamp milkweed. I hope the milkweed can take it, but I'm hopeful about more monarchs.
Butterflies love our butterfly bush. The morning glories look great, my hibiscus has the foofiest pink flowers I've seen, the fennel is starting a forest . . .
New pens and new lipstick. I always buy both for back to school. Of course the lipstick is not a great shade, but alas.
How about you?

Monday, August 25, 2008


Unaware that Sal Sis had the same inclination, I thought it was high time for a post. Someone in the marketing department here must be up to some good, because I'm really surprised that my college is being mentioned by name in the trayless dining phenom.

10 days since a blog & Haiti update

Since it's been 10 days & Maddy is better, I thought I'd post. I'm going back to Haiti in February! And bringing 3 - 6 people with me! I'll focus on teaching some residents about birding and get them started on a ecotourism business, and the other people may help with improving the rain collection setup that waters a garden that feeds kids in the town. I am selling cards with my Haiti pictures on them to raise money for bird books and binoculars (see former post, let me know if you want any!). Also I am going to take Heifer International workshop at their ranch near Little Rock. And Nadine my scooter has surpassed 300 miles, with only 2 people inappropriately passing me, and one person pulling out in front of me (I was able to stop in time since I expect people to not see me, though the 2 passers sure surprised me).

Friday, August 15, 2008

bunny vibes

Would you send healthy thoughts in the direction of our rabbits? Our normally spunky, exuberant (i.e. somewhat bratty) Maddy is ill, and her bunny partner in life and crime is consequently a bit distressed.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A River in North Africa

There's lots of summer left. I will still somehow submit papers for publication, go to the dentist, go to the eye doctor; make a grand research plan; re-do my syllabi, hang a clothesline; install a ceiling fan and write lots of personal letters before school starts, even though I officially started back at work this morning. Yep, plenty of time to do things this summer. And my cat has fruit flies. And denial is de river in Egypt.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

What's Going in your corner of the world

I don't have anything exciting or interesting to say. I just miss all of my friends and wonder what you are up to.

I am slowing gearing up for the start of school in Sept., but have not been that motivated. We are going to Springfield for the weekend, and will be back on Tuesday morning. Wednesday represent the end of my summer vacation, as I plan on going back to work full time. I just wish it were not so cold in my office. I think I need to knit some leg warmers and an afghan. Had some dental work today (see, not very exciting). More in the future. Lily is back to her usual self.

So what's new and how are you doing?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mr. Splashy Pants

If you must know how this adorably little female cat became Mr. Splashy pants, check out the Sparkling Squirrel Blog.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Lily cat is fine, let me just say that first.

We noticed she has not been eating or running around as she usually does. I thought she was still mad about her routine being upset by my nephew's visit last week. But last night I watched her closely - she sat down very slowly and she kept licking a place on her upper leg. When I looked, she had a sore by her anus.

So we took her to the vet this morning and the diagnosis was an anal abyss. They pierced and drained it (having first shaved her leg and taken her temperature). She will be fine.

Steve and I, well we will be fine to, but we are a bit traumatized . They took her to another room to deal with the abyss, but we could hear her yowls and hiss (I have never heard her hiss before). Right now, she is under the bed and won't have anything to do with us. I don't blame her, but I am wondering how we are going to get her out when it is time to put ointment on the wound.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"Open state land for haying, grazing"

Iowa is approximately 93% agricultural land, with only 4% of natural areas, privately protected or state-protected. Although I know the flooding has had a terrible impact on the state, it kind of breaks my heart to think of cattle grazing that little bit of land isn't already devoted to agriculture or to cities.,0,3187433.story
Am I just overreacting? I know state parks aren't exactly pristine habitat, but COME ON, don't we have any limits?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Lying to 5-Year-Olds

I just gave an insect presentation to kick off the summer "Catch the reading bug" program at the public library. I took interesting insect specimens, we counted parts, we sang my original "dragon the fly" song: it was all good. Or mostly good. Or at least it satisfied the librarians.
Except that I made up insect names when kids asked. "Oh, that's an emerald beetle. That's a green beetle. That's a saw back beetle. It's a wooly caterpillar" I know that five year olds love to name things, so I'm not sure why I didn't look them up (except lots were beetles and I'm lazy). How bad is that?
It was a green colored beetle, anyway.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Summer Celebrations and Nerdiness

Happy Birthday to Jennifer's Mister (Tuesday?), Jenny's Mister (late in July) and 3 month to Annika (today).
We just passed Beth's Anniversary, mine is this week, and Tucson's is next week.
But no birthdays among GBKs.
So, I was washing dishes and thinking that between Bridgett and Cathy (late May) and Cheryl and Abby (October), we have no birthdays*. On the other hand, all of the Misters' birthdays I know fall in that gap. Nate is late May, Mario June, Stephen and Tim July and Jeff September. What's up with summer men and late autumn-winter-spring women?
And, while I am washing dishes, I was thinking about whether or not this is statistically significant. And, more to the point, would it be an interesting enough problem for my techniques of science classes to do. I think the answer is no to both (although I haven't worked it out yet) but I am intrigued by the different tests one could do depending on what the null hypothesis is.

*Sorry if I somehow missed someone.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


The latest trend - EpMotion


Thursday, July 3, 2008

dehumidifier water safe for pets?

Does anyone know about giving dehumidifier water to pets to drink? I started putting it out in the bird bath, then because it rained last night and everything was watered or filled with water, I poured it in the water bowl inside. I suppose I should drink it too if I'm giving it to them!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

J. K. Rowling at Harvard: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination

I found this commencement speech interesting, funny, and inspiring, and I know several of you are JK Rowling fans so I thought I'd share.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Blog Roll

I just added a blog roll on the side. I figure that generally we want each other to read our blogs and that we don't necessarily want random on-line friends navigating here (thus no direct link from my blog to the GBKD). In any case, if you don't want your blog included, move it, and if you want a blog added, add it.
On a side note, my parents just returned from a wedding and their 45th high school reunion and returned to a cat-less house for the first time in 30+ years. They are pretty upset but were moved to tears by the kind notes on my blog. Thanks. (complete aside, Mom asked if I had any thoughts about going to me 10th. I had to laugh because well, it was 8 years ago and I broke my ankle in many places that day, so my parents had to wait outside my apartment for the friends who were taking me. I hadn't thought about 20 until she mentioned it. Anyway, at 18 years out of high school I have spent almost exactly half of my life as an "adult".)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Update from Irene-world

Annika is 12 weeks old today, which is arguably the same as 3 months... except if she was born on April 6th, shouldn't her 3-month "birthday" be July 6th? Unsolved mysteries.

She has a blog:

We started it at the suggestion of Gloria, Vlad's cousin, who thought it would be nice if there was an easy way to keep up-to-date on what she is doing, and see photos of her.

Speaking of photos, yesterday I bought a new camera. I wanted something more portable and user-friendly than Vlad's cameras, which each weigh approximately a ton. So now I have a fancy new toy for taking pictures of Annika, and whatever else strikes my fancy. But mainly, it's for pictures of Annika; before she arrived, I didn't have much interest in taking photos.

We're off to Oregon in a few days, to visit family for the 4th of July weekend. Annika will get her first plane ride, and get to meet more people who will make a big fuss over her. She's getting to be quite the social butterfly, so I think she will enjoy it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The teaching is over... For now

I just finished teaching my 5-week intensive summer course yesterday! Holy Shit ... I don't know how you real professors do it. Granted it was 18-22 hours of contact time a week, not very well organized by the lab staff (but at least I DID have lab staff!) and something I've never taught before. I was seriously working 14 hours a day nearly 7 days a week. Nate nearly mutinied because I never had time to spend with him. How DO you guys stay sane???

It was a biotechnology summer college course for high school students. Highlights were when they drew pictures on petri plates with glowing bacteria and got to see glowing pictures the next day, when one of the students told me she came in to the class thinking biotech was probably something she'd like and left the class knowing for sure that she really loved it, and when my students gave a series of (generally) excellent powerpoint presentations. Low points were when I couldn't lecture because they wouldn't settle the hell down (never put it that way to them but wanted to), when they got frustrated and angry trying to do the sequence editing lab I had stayed up til' two to prepare, and when I caught two of them in blatant plagiarism on the written project. They swore right and left that it was an ACCIDENT that 2/3 of a page was word for word the same as websites that they hadn't even cited. Man! When I didn't love them I hated them and when I didn't hate them I loved them, but they were all basically really neat kids. All 15 or 16 with one 14 yr old.

One cool thing is that I talked a local lab into sequencing our mitochondrial HVR1 genes for free. The cool as shit thing is that I have haplogroup A, which came out of Africa through Asia and across the Bering Land Bridge and into the Americas about 20,000 yrs ago. I had no idea that I had a single ancestor that wasn't European all the way, but apparently I do (and in the direct maternal line). My mom's side of the family has been in America for at least 250 years and probably more (maybe 20,000 or so), so I'm betting that one of those great grandmothers was Native American (as opposed to Asian, which is also possible). Absolutely no family record of it, though! Kinda gives me tingles to think I have native mitochondria. Well, OK, I'm romanticising a little!

Wikipedia has a cool map of haplotype migrations.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I'm finally now in Shirahama, the place I will stay for most of my time in Japan. I'm way behind, but I am trying to keep a blog about what is going on with me in Japan. The site is I don't know how good I will be about it (I'm like two posts behind right now) but I'm trying.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Large Data Set Reunion?

I was investigating scientific meetings we might reune at (Conservation Bio 2009 is in Beijing and probably out) when I came across an ESA/NSF workshop to use NEON Continental Scale Data in undergraduate classrooms. It's a 3 day workshop, Oct 2-4, NSF pays for the whole thing, and they are particularly looking for people from small, undergraduate institutions. I'm not sure we're what they're looking for, but I'd love to meet up with some of you and talk ecology.

Nadine the scooter

I'm loving my scooter! I haven't driven my car since Friday. The seat holds 2 gallons of milk! Check out the koi decals I got for her. Her name is Nadine, after the woman in The Stand who rode a scooter (someone here at work said he was going to start calling me that).

Monday, June 16, 2008

GBKD Reunion Weekend?

Wow, reading SS's last post really strikes home just how dispersed we really are. In our recent travels in Appalachia (which I have been chronicling on my blog), we had a discussion about a larger reunion sometime in the next year or so. Of course there would be a lot to figure out: where, when, what will we do?

Next Summer - easier for those of us who teach
Groundhog Day Weekend - continue the Groundhog Day Party Tradition
An Autumn Weekend - it just sounds cozy! and in the spring, so many times we are setting up field work

This is a bit more difficult, in my perfect world, we would continue with reunions every year, every other year? and the location would circulate amongst different areas of the country. Ideas we had for one in the next year or so

Kansas City Area - Central Location, still the one location with the most people
Hawaii - we would have a local guide!
Chicago Area - Again a central location, and it would probably be easy for everyone to get there.
Any other region where one of us is located would also be great.
Really cool "retreat"-like location - beach house, cabin in the mountains, etc.

What would we do?
This is not so hard. Obviously there would be a lot of catching up. I imagine one evening we order pizza, eat brownies, and do the traditional "knitting night". I think it would also be cool to have a slightly more formal science or education "round table" discussion - in the view towards creating collaborative works (can you plan such a thing?) How about a short "Fun Run/Walk"? Game Night?

So what do you think? Is this viable? Please put in your 2 cents! I am willing to take the lead on this if there is interest. I really miss you all and our weekly support system.

Bon Voyage

The GBK has just expanded our range westward*. Abby is off for Japan for the summer today and Erin is, I believe, already in Hawai'i, with Mario to follow soon.
*Technically, I suppose, Abby is now the furthest east of us. Japan, BlueBell, D.C., Glenville, Chatanooga, Chicago, Ames**, Liberty, Lawrence, Lincoln, Tucson***, Hilo.
**Speaking of Iowa, Jenny, are you underwater?
***Spearking of Arizona, TT are you there or off on another adventure?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Flood Fun, and a Mole!

I've just added the photos of our flood to sparkling squirrel (Beth, the pictures from the air were nothing), along with a new mole. If our carport were a boat ramp, it would have been terribly picturesque.

Scooter woman!

I bought a scooter today! I need to practice a lot, but will ride it around town whenever I don't have the dogs with me. The salesman took this picture. He's a hoot. Sold 20 of these in 2 days. This is a Rocketa which I've since found some poor reviews on, but hey, it's my 1st one. I'll upgrade in a couple years if I want to go out on the bigger roads (like 23rd). Now I'll only need a gallon of gas every other week!

Childhood Books

Now that I have my very own young mind to corrupt... I mean educate.... I am suddenly obsessed with children's books. Especially the books that I loved when I was little. At this point, I'm mainly interested in picture books; the books-without-pictures will come later. As I mentioned on Fractal Metamorphosis, I've been treasure-hunting in thrift shops for "vintage" children's books, with some success.

What were your favorites as a child, or for those of you who have any experience reading books to youngsters, what are your favorites to read to little ones?

So far, most of my attempts to read to Annika have not met with much enthusiasm, but 2 days ago I did manage to catch her in just the right mood. I put her on our bed, and laid down next to her, and held a book above her while I read it. She was actually very enthusiastic - paying attention to the pictures, and cooing a lot while I read. It was such a success that I read "At the Zoo" twice, "Happy Baby Alphabet" once, and "A Color of His Own" once before she finally got bored and started fussing.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

marathon interview

Remember that feeling of total freedom that came the last day of the school year in elementary school, when the summer was just beginning? I actually felt that way yesterday, and it was soooo wonderful to remember that feeling :)
And what prompted it was the fact that I survived the interview process at the museum for a curator position. Here was the schedule: Friday, 8 am: interview with head of department. 9: interview with collections manager. 10: interview with search committee. 11: give departmental seminar. 12:30: lunch with search committee. 2: interview with USDA staff at museum. 3-5: interviews with individual curators. 5: interview with posdocs and students. 6-9: dinner with search committee. Monday, 7:30 am: breakfast with search committee. 9: interview with head of research at museum.
Boy oh boy am I glad to be done! I've been thinking so hard about the interview, now I have to remember what it was I was actually doing in my research before this all began! (But not today. Today I'm going to be as lazy as possible, while also doing stuff I've ignored for way too long, like laundry and groceries...)
Hope all is well with everyone and hope the flood clean up is going ok over there one state to the west. We lost electricity and one of our pine trees toppled, taking down a large part of a chestnut tree in the process. Luckily no damage to the house.

Monday, June 9, 2008

No time to gloat

Jennifer and I had what turned out to be an all-around great trip to North Carolina together last week (with plenty of "issues" that made it an adventure: sitting through bad talks, roads on the map that didn't exist, poor tea selection) and we kept thinking that we needed to post and gloat about how much fun we were having (in part to encourage a bigger reunion at a conference in future years). We were deterred from gloating by having a good time (see Jennifer's pictures of gardens and Raleigh over on the road to somewhere), by being part of the crowd that hangs out ourside drinking wine and playing instruments late into the night on the last night of the conference, and driving way too far to see plants that were not in bloom. While we were gone, my town (and my house) flooded and we returned to help the Mister replace raised beds that had floated away and clean a thin layer of mud off of everything in the basement in 90 degree heat (more on the flood on sparkling squirrel soon). Then it was time to take Jennifer to Pittsburgh (via brunch and a Pirates game) and for me to get back to work. But, while we haven't had time to tell you what a good time we were having, know that we were having one and that it would be even more fun if more of us were together for the next GBK reunion!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Haiti cards to raise ecotourism funds

Hey Knitters and eavesdroppers to this blog, I'm selling cards of my Haiti photos to raise funds to buy bird guides and binoculars to take back to the town of Pignon to equip the locals to lead bird watching tours for the various nonprofit groups that go there. The cards are $20 donation for a pack of 5 (includes shipping), or if I see you around town and can deliver the cards in person there will be 6 cards in the pack. The pack will contain a variety of scenes (cultural, nature, livestock) and a variety of sizes and colors with envelopes. If you'd like to order a pack, just email me (, or my work address if you know it) and include your address if they need to be shipped. I'll take cash or checks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Cathy!

What a gorgeous day to have a birthday. I hope you got to spend some time outside doing something fun!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Blog

I've started a blog that I'm going to try to update regularly and I just posted pictures of our puppy. This one doesn't appear on my blog but gives some scale of Gavin at 30ish lbs. And yes it is a sleepy puppy and a sleepy hubby in the picture.

So for more pictures go to:

Jennifer wanted me to add that Gavin is now about 130 lbs...

Monday, May 19, 2008


I'm sorry if you received that spam about the electronics store from me. Of course it was not me, but I guess the hotmail account I had got messed up some how. I have deleted that account so no one should receive anything from me from that account. Sorry for the trouble.

Happy Birthday Squirrel of the Sparkles!

To celebrate, here are some tropical mammals. And I loved the shrew pictures! Hey Abby - I've gotten a couple spam-like emails from you about an online electronics store. Is that really you?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Shrews, Laurels and New States

Over on sparkling squirrel you can see the pictures of a super-cute shrew (not a rodent) that wandered around for us on one of our hikes in the Great Smoky Mountains last week. Here's an image of a mountain laurel which have spring-loaded stamens and crazy shaped buds and are all around cool. I picked up two new states (and wineries, but not capitols) during the week, as I had never been to Tennessee or North Carolina before. I returned home to find out I was not the only Democrat to vote for someone other than Clinton in the primary. 33% of the dems in my county did-- although 14% voted for Edwards. Ack. Anyway, happy late spring.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Konferons Agrikol en Haiti

I just attended the 1st agriculture conference in Pignon, Haiti! A man named Saul taught about 50 men about how trees a important in the watercycle, how Haitians need to stop cutting them down for no reason, crop rotation, etc. I was the guest attendee - they introduced me and I piped up about how in the US they plant crops right up to the streams and that's bad, and that people travel to see birds and they could get jobs as guides if they had trees and birds. The I left before it was over and took a 3 hour nap. I have a horrible cold which came on the day before, I was up last night coughing - didn't get into the miami hotel until 1am on Mon. and got up at 5:15am to catch the plane to Haiti. But other than that this is really a cool place, and the couple live in a cool house and I'll post pictures when I get back. Everyone here is so pleasant, and the language creole is like french spelled pheonetically - easy to figure out main topics. Sound this out: Anviwonman (environment). la grann vizyon = vizyon + aksyon + avalyasyon (the grand vision = vision + action + evaluation). The men were really into the discussions. And the mayor of Pignon (a woman) was ther to give them a pep talk. Tomorrow we go to Hencle so the Mompremiers can register their truck (with Iowa plates) - a get local food! Don't miss Jennifer's blog below!

Monday, May 5, 2008

All we lost was sleep

As those of you who are in the KC area know (and perhaps the rest of you know as well?), Thursday night very strong storms blew through the area between 1 and 2 am. Here in Independence, we had 82 mile per hour winds blow through ahead of what they are calling a bow echo.

At about 2 am, Steve and I woke up to the loudest, scariest winds I have ever heard. The walls and the windows were shaking. I turned the TV in the bedroom on, saw a huge line of red on the radar, and said "Steve I think we need to go to the basement". My job - to grab the cat. Steve's job - find the flashlight (the power had at some time during these few instances gone out) and take our basket of important stuff into the basement.* Lily, our cat, of course ran away as I tried to grab her. As I was looking to see where she went, I heard a noise I can't even describe - a crack and a thud all at once. Then a split second later - a more solid thud and crash. Then I hear Steve say - "The tree is in the living room". I look in to see a scene much like this (it was much wetter then, and darker, though Steve had found the flashlights and lantern).

After that, thing were a blur for a few minutes. The winds had died down, so we did not feel in danger any longer. They lasted about as long as the microburst did in Lawrence a few years back. But in the next few minutes, I found Lily hiding under the bed, we moved the CD's that were directly under the hole, I put towels down to mop up the water (ha - that was useful), and called the landlords. We then began moving the rest of the DVD's and CD's, the TV, the TV stand, and one small bookcase (and the books in it). Somehow we did all of this in about 45 minutes in the dark. Adrenaline rushes are amazing. Oh - and I also found old pots and things to catch drip of water in.

Our landlords came over about 3:30 that morning, bringing more lanterns, tarps, and buckets. They were amazing, and I feel lucky to be renting from them.

In fact, our luck in this incident was amazing.

1. If the branch had hit almost anywhere else in the house, we would have had damaged furniture, books, yarn, etc. As it was, only a few of our DVD's and CD's that have cardboard cases have water spots on them.

2. If the branch had hit our bedroom, we could have been hurt.

3. If the branch had blown towards our house a few more inches, the windows would have been busted.

4. Our landlords already have the holes patched and the debris cleaned up. The insurance adjuster is coming out Wed. to have a look.

5. We did not suffer the type of damage they had in Gladstone or North KC - there roofs were blown off, or in some cases, the whole house was blown off of its foundation.

So all in all, we lost a night of sleep. And we are both grateful that was all.

Here are some additional photos. The tree was a Silver Maple. I will never have one close to my house, they are notorious for breaking in high winds. In fact, the majority of the branches down in our neighborhood were from Silver Maples.

We were also lucky that the car was put in the garage (though we knew it was supposed to storm). If not, the car would have been smashed.
* A 9 pm that evening, the tornado sirens had gone off. Since we were not in immediate danger from that storm (the sited tornado was well to our south, but still in our county), I took to time to grab some important items in a laundry basket: my purse, the digital camera, some of what I thought were Steve's rare CD's, and my recently completed handspun yarn.