Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all my cool gorgeous biologist friends. I hope that you all have a wonderful time and safe travels.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

TT baby

According to Facebook, TT & hubby have welcomed Andrew David into the world "born 12:06pm PDT Dec. 16, 6 lbs 12 ounces. Everyone's doing well, although barely getting by on little sleep."


Congrats to TT!

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Year's Eve party?

Sparkling Squirrel will be in Lawrence New Year's Eve. I'm not sure what our plans will be, but I could have a party at my house that night. Will anyone else happen to be in Lawrence? Or want to drive to Lawrence for it and you can sleep over?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cool science cookies I wish I could display the cookie photos here.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Plant Photos and Ideas

I'm teaching a small Plant Anatomy and Morphology class in the spring. One activity I would like to have my students do is to tag plant photos so they have ample experience with the terminology before spring comes (I have dried plants and herbarium specimens as well, of course) the secondary purpose is, of course, to have a collection of tagged plant photos that I could use for future classes. Tags could range from ID to leaf shape to fruit type . . . depending on the plant and the photo.
1) Any suggestions for how to do this-- set up a web page, flickr, blog, something else?
2) Have any photos to contribute (of course collection of tagged would be available to you as well)?

(simple, lobed, crenate)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Jenny!

Today one of our favorite ecological entomologists has her golden birthday. Hope it is a great one, Jenny!

(and yes, that means that we missed Irene's on the actual date on Friday)

Science education funding

Has anyone come across funding opportunities for science education in developing countries? Or have an idea of where to start looking? I'm combing through NSF right now. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Jennifer!

I hope I can post for everyone but thanks to Facebook I know that today is Jennifer's birthday!

So Happy Birthday!

Hope everyone is having a great November.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Transcript Codes

I was just looking at my KU transcript (I'm hoping to do the paperwork to get a diploma since they incinerated the first one) and noticed two numbers at the top I never previously paid attention to: CEEB and ACT.
I just now learned that CEEB is not some internal code, but rather College Entrance Examination Board. I'm now wondering a) where exactly these numbers are coming from and b) if people other than me automatically know how to interpret them.
The "ACT" reads 1470 which in not an ACT score (which is probably why I never previously thought they were scores) but I think it is my combined SAT score. The CEEB is 006871. It's not my GRE scores. Anyone know?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Small Haitian World

I attended a Heifer International Workshop in Arkansas 2 weeks ago and met a guy from Haiti who was volunteering at the Heifer Ranch*. Yesterday I met a woman at my church who has gone on many trips to Haiti and visits the couple I stay with. I mentioned the Heifer Haitian to her and told her his 1st name, and she said '1st name last name?' Lo and behold it's the same guy. Small world. My new church friend is going to teach me Kreyol! I've got my plane tickets for Jan 4 - 30 and am putting together 4 page bird guides that I'd like to give to each child I meet. Reality is that there are a gazzillion kids so I will just give one page of the guide to each kid, and they can share. I'm sure I'll run out of guides.

*I highly recommend the workshops. If you have a student showing promise in international work consider sending him to one - I can hook you up with the Heifer college liason.
**I've also discovered the secret of finding books written in French - searching by French words & titles. On Abebooks I found a bunch of children's bird books written in French.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thirty and Thirtysomething

Every year I think that Jennifer, Jenny and Irene deserve their own happy birthday posts and every year I know that I'll forget in the hubbub of Thanksgiving (which is normal for their lives, which is why they deserve individual attention all the more). In any case, before Nov. 31* Irene and Jenny will each begin the fourth decade of their lives and Jennifer will turn a different "thirtysomething". Here's wishing them great celebrations and joyful future trips around the sun.

This makes all of us but Abby past the three-oh point. In my experience, thirties beat out twenties by a long way, maybe because I've known all of you in my thirties : )

*Yes, I know there isn't a Nov. 31.

Monday, November 2, 2009

My Mother is Ozzy

From my brother. I thought it was scary enough to post, even though I don't usually post faces of adults.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Some pics from Logan

The bottom photo is the results of my wattle-fence building experiment. I've always wanted to make a wattle fence, but never had willow branches to try. At the end of this fall's yard clean-up, I found I had several lengths of really long branches (I don't know of what kind of plant). Alas, it is not the tightly-woven little fence of my imagination, but it was a lot of fun to try.

We have already had two snowfalls this Fall! Right now the snow is gone and the weather is crisp and beautiful. I am waiting for our trick-or-treaters to arrive, with a mountain of candy in hand. We were told that last year our block received 600 kids!

Friday, October 30, 2009


Here's what the knitting group would look like if we still met. It's turned into a roller derby group - we're in our Halloween costumes (notice #42's derby name, yes another knitting baby is on its way!). And Rusty in the luchador mask I won at the El Santo movie fest at Liberty Hall Plus the newest knitting baby.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Birthday Cheryl!

I always forget the date, but know that our favorite soccer-playing, Tennessee home-owning ecologist is officially a year older sometime about now.
Happy Birthday Cheryl! Wishing you a wonderful next trip around the sun and many more to follow.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Good advice I received too late

One of my mother friends gave me this sound advice when I was seven months pregnant, so it was too late for me. When pregnant when your regular clothes stop fitting, don't spend lots of effort making them fit and don't jump into maternity clothes. Buy some clothes two sizes bigger than you normally wear.

The big advantage to this comes a few months after giving birth. At that time, one is sick of maternity clothes, sick of looking pregnant and not yet fitting into one's regular clothes. At that point, one absolutely doesn't want to go out and pay for new "fat" clothes since one is intending to fit back into one's normal size. If one had normal (i.e. non-maternity), but larger clothes sitting around, it would be psychologically much better ("hey, I fit into some non-maternity clothes) than giving in and going and buying them new ("I can't believe I have nothing to wear so I need to go pay full price for stuff in the "women's" department.")
I'm in Colorado where it was 80 degrees on Sunday for my croquet tournament (I could still wear my maternity capris, which I love) and is currently snowing, and I'm glad I went and bought a pair of big jeans yesterday-- but I actually could have used them last March.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Birthday wishes

Happy birthday to our favorite cnidarian biologist! Wishing you a wonderful day, Abby!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Our New Home!

I finally have a moment to post some pics of our new house! Sorry for double posting if you have already seen these on Facebook, but for those who haven't...

We are really enjoying our new place, the house was built in 1941 (Stelios found what we believe are the blueprints in the attic - who knows what other treasures are there!) and once you start looking around the place, it has a lot of interesting features to it. The hardwood floors are beautiful, we are enjoying the sun room a lot and I finally have a yard to play around in! I will be trying to send out our address when I have a chance between pcr's and I hope that all can come and visit us soon!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I thought twice about posting this picture. The koala is so over-the-top adorable it seems like showing off to share the photo. But it illustrates some important changes in my life that I want you all to know about. Notice the double chin, pornstar boobs, bulging tummy, and greasy complexion? This picture sums up perfectly what my first trimester of pregnancy was like. It was exciting, emotional, puffy, full of travel, and pretty uncomfortable. For a month I actually felt green (think bugs bunny feeling queasy). But that has passed, and I’m getting to the part where it starts to feel real. We’re getting really excited now and happy to start sharing the news. I just wish I could tell you all in person!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Where I Belong?

Ever since Irene posted on my blog about her missed calling (or in another life followed her calling) as a literature prof. "writing treatises on the foundations of modern fantasy literature" I've been contemplating alternative fantasy careers (What were you meant to do?).
Then a job posting came across ecolog to teach writing here. And I so wanted to apply. I'm not sure why-- sure, the job pays as much as my current job, but, instead of teaching 3 different lectures and three different labs each semester, I'd be teaching 5 sections (with twelve or fewer students each) of what would likely be the same or similar classes each year. But it wasn't that. Somehow I want to teach science through writing and writing through science. I feel I was meant to be someone who excites students about links between nutrition, ecology, plants, cooking, community and social wellness and writing through food.
And I was going to post about it and ask you if I should apply and what alternative careers you are missing.
Then the replacement ecology prof. brought his labs to my garden for a ecological garden lab and about half of the students loved it. Then I guest lectured on stats to the "Techniques of Science" class and am still thinking of better ways to introduce biostats. Then I started (gulp!) finding papers on harvest and matrix models that were published since my dissertation so that I can (gulp!) actually submit pieces of the darned thing and I found I was fascinated by the process (gulp! gulp!).
Crazy as it seems, maybe this is the job I was meant to be doing.
What fits you about your current position?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bat Baby

I'll let the mother post the details when she is up tp it, but rumor has it that our favorite bat biologist and her beekeeping hubby now have a litte Zoey to keep them company (i.e. awake).

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Econundrums, maybe?

Situations in which you might want to make the ecologically "right" choice, but it's not very clear what that is.

Here are a few of my recent ones.

1) I think on my own blog, I already mentioned the Norway maple trees in my yard. They're an invasive species, so maybe I should cut them down and plant native trees instead. But on the other hand, they're performing a variety of ecological functions that their hypothetical replacement trees would take a good many years to grow into. My decision here was that if money was no issue I would probably replace them, but money is definitely an issue - so for now, they stay.

2) Inspired by some very pleasant fall weather lately, I started thinking about riding a bike instead of taking the train to work. There is a bike trail that more or less follows the train tracks along the Schuylkill River, and to reach it, I would probably drive to the same train station at which I currently board the train. There are too many huge, bike-unfriendly roads between our house and the Schuylkill trail for me to bike all the way from our house. If I drive then bike, instead of drive then ride the train, I personally get some benefits - I'd save money and get more exercise. But environmentally speaking? The train will run whether I use it or not, and I presume that my presence on the train is negligible in terms of energy cost to run the train. Maybe the extra calories I would eat to make up for all that strenuous biking would have a higher ecological cost than my contribution to the ecological cost of public transit? Not to mention that by using public transit, I'm helping to create demand for it and ensure its continued operation/improvement so that it can be a viable alternative to driving. The lazy option might be the greener one here.

What econundrums have you thought about lately?

Monday, September 28, 2009

At least my hair hasn't fallen out

Before the birth of my son, I spent a long time talking with many of you about physical effects postpartum and how, considering the lengthy list of potential problems, it's odd how little they are discussed.

For the curious, here's my experience. I don't claim that it is typical in any fashion.

Pain down there-- achy three days and then serious stinging on the toilet for about 5 days, much less bad than I imagined.
Boobs- sore cracked nipples for about three weeks; needing to wear a bra all the time, including sleeping for 5 weeks; itchy, sweaty and generally uncomfortable all the time still. Leakage when my "milk came in" and minor since, mostly at night. Did have an infection at a week and a half-- didn't take antibiotics and it went away.
Bleeding- very very heavy first two days, like a heavy period for another week, like a normal period for the next week, spotting for a while and then starting up again heavy around my four week appointment. Actually stopped at five weeks. Might have been longer since I was on blood thinners. Never had any clots the size of a fist or larger (you're supposed to call your doctor with these) but definitely passed some doozies.
Temperature control-- horrible when my milk came in (freezing and sweating simultaneously) and off for a full five weeks, including bad night sweats.
Contracting uterus-- one of the freakiest things I've experienced is the draining of my uterus by a nice nurse pushing on it, followed by direct links between dianthus sucking and tingling in my tummy region. It was very weird while still at the hospital my tummy was still so large and hard. By two weeks it was soft and now it looks like I'm just carrying excess fat around the stomach rather than recently pregnant. I'm still wearing my maternity capris but really want to lose some weight before it gets much colder so I don't need to wear my maternity pants (all of which are dress pants for work with fairly wide spandex tops and no pockets.
Post partum depression-- my crying all the time for most of the first five weeks felt more like a physical than a psychological symptom, if that makes any sense. I never thought that I was going to hurt myself or my child and I always thought that exercise and time would make it better (and I thought that it would get better), so it may not "really" have been PPD, but many books label "regular" baby blues as lasting a week or less and PPD lasting longer. I didn't stop crying daily until sometime after I stopped bleeding, about five weeks. I feel much better now.
Incontinence-- Never had any fecal incontinence, thank goodness, and urine hasn't been bad-- just when I sneeze or cough, and it's less of a problem than when I was pregnant. Still, should have done more kegels.
Hair loss- One doesn't lose much hair while pregnant (mine looked great, I might add) so sometime after the baby is born, hormones shift and one can lose six months worth of normal hair loss at once. This has not happened to me and my hair is lovely when it is down. Of course it is never down because Dianthus can grab, so I didn't really realize how long and blond it currently is until I brushed it out over the weekend. 'Cause I'm vain and want somebody to see it, I thought I'd post a picture for all of you to admire.

Oh, as to why the physical aspects are so little discussed, I suspect it is because the emotional issues overwhelm the physical or there are just too many other things to do (unlike pregnancy, which is largely waiting, so you can think about and talk about your body). Or that people need to forget quickly.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gift ideas for a new mom

I'm going to a baby shower this weekend for someone I don't know that well. Since it is her second baby, most people are getting gifts for her since she has most of the baby things covered. Anyone have suggestions for gifts that would be good? I thought about a gift certificate for pedicure...but will she have time to actually use it? Thanks for any ideas!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

solar chargers for laptops

Anyone have experience with solar chargers for laptops? Know anyone who uses them for fieldwork in remote places? Thought I'd check with you guys before researching them on the web. Maybe I should email some of the people at the museum. I was thinking of getting a laptop and charger for Haiti since I'll be there a month. Though a charger isn't necessary since I can tap into my hosts' electricity while their solar/generator runs a couple hours each night. But they often have trouble with it and plugging in an extra device makes a difference in how much electricity is available. A side note - our tall flamboyant knitter is due next week! I gave a Haiti talk in her seminar today.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Final Report Haiku

Report due panic.

Where did all the data go?

Report due Friday!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Glad Somebody Wasn't At Her Window

At bus ran into the Kansas Biological Survey today. From the image at the Journal World, it looks like it went straight into the office of one of our beloved members (or to the office next door). Said member, can you confirm that you are okay?
Image with the bus from twitter.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Nursing Miscalculations

My son is expected to be (and is, I think), growing at a rate of about an ounce a day (or half a pound a week). Milk from me is his only source of food.
If 90% of his energy inputs go to metabolism, rather than growth, he should need the caloric equivalent of 10 ounces a day.
Because energy is lost at every step, it must take me more than 10 ounces worth of calories to make the milk that is providing him 10 ounces of calories.
If I am eating only the amount of calories needed to maintain my basic non-nursing metabolism, I should be losing more than 10 ounces a day.
In total, I have lost 2 pounds since the original big loss.
Ecological theory, logic problem, life question. . . where are the calculations off?
I can think of several places but would like to hear other hypotheses.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Vampire moth help

Hi all,

Gearing up for my evolution course, I need a semi-simple and hopefully interesting or even fun article on phylogeny and its uses. I have vague memories from undergrad 12 years ago of a neat discussion of the origin of blood-sucking behavior in moths in just such a context but have had no luck finding it. Another example I know of (which I also can't find) is the origin of color vision pigments in primates. Anyone have access to these (or other) articles/book sections that would fit this bill. I would also love a nice reading on evolutionary transition in a group (such as whales reentering the water and that physical transformation). I don't seem to be keyed into how to find less-technical, interesting, undergrad-level readings!


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Friday, August 28, 2009


Krameria ixine

When I first saw this shrub in Guanica, I was struck with how beautiful it was; I had no idea how interesting the ecology would turn out to be.

I love the unusual color of these flowers. It is a rich maroonish-pink, with a silvery sheen that gives the flowers a velvety appearance. That silver sheen continues onto the vegetation.

Upon closer investigation of the floral structure, I saw these three petaloid appendages, which I first took to be modified anthers (I had foolishly left my hand lens at home and did not have a microscope available with me at this stage of the trip. These things make a big difference). I really did not have a clue as to what family this plant belonged in. Those of you familiar with the flora of the western US, may recognize some of the characteristics of this plant, as there are Krameria sp. throughout the western US.

It turns out that Krameria is the only genus in the family Krameriaceae, and there are only apporximately 19 - 25 species in that genus. So not a family you learn in a botany class in Missouri.

What about the cool ecology? Two things have peaked my interest.
(1) These plants are hemiparasitic.
(2) Those petaloid structures aren't modified anthers, but modified petals that are called elaiophores. Elaiophores contain oil-secreting glands that produce oil as rewards for pollinators. (I just found all of this out yesterday, and I am pretty jazzed about it). I haven't found out much yet, like - what are the bees using the oil for. Other species of are pollinated by Centris bees. I found one vague reference to these bees using the oil to provision their nests. Are any of our resident bee experts familiar with this genus of bees?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cool Puerto Rican Plants - Jatropha gossypiifolia

One of my favorite plants from Puerto Rico was Jatropha gossypiifolia (also known as bellyache bush). I haven't done much research into it, but a quick search tells me this plant is in the Euphorbiaceae and is being investigated for use as a biofuel. Apparently the seeds are rich in oil. While native to Puerto Rico, J. gossypiifolia is invasive to Australia, and there are some studies done there looking at the effects of fire on this plant. I am not sure why it is called belly-ache bush, but there must be some nasty chemicals found in this plant.

What is so cool about J. gossypiifolia?
Look at the trichomes on the nodes of the stems. Craaaazy. Not sure what is in these glandular hairs, but they do make the plant sticky.

It also has these beautiful little red flowers.

And - the seeds are awesome, it appears that they have explosive seed dispersal (one of the fruits exploded while I was trying to ID other plants) and eliasomes for ant secondary dispersal. Eliasomes are fatty bodies produced by some seeds to encourage ants to carry them away.

I found this plant in the dry forest of Guanica, in the southern part of the island. Guanica was my favorite forest we visited.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Ladies, check your nipples

So, having done it once, I am now an expert on giving birth. :-)

Anyway, the first piece of advice I have that might do someone some good is to find out in advance if you have flat nipples. Having spent a good portion of my time worrying about my nipples showing through when I teach, I had absolutely no idea that they were flat until after Dianthus* had arrived and was trying ineffectively to drink from them.

Secondly, if you are planning on breastfeeding, make sure that ALL of the nurses, particularly the night nurses, know and understand that you do not want your baby fed anything else and that you need help (particularly if you are still attached to IVs) getting the baby breast fed. This may not be a big deal at birthing centers or more progressive hospitals, but at a small hospital in WV where most patients are on medicaid and don't end up breast feeding, the night nurses are all to happy to feed and play with the babies while letting new moms sleep.

Third, if you think that you want to have a "natural" delivery (especially if on pitocin) I suggest having a better plan with your partner than just trying relaxation from yoga. It apparently worked in my case, but somehow doesn't seem like fully adequate planning.

Finally, if you somehow manage to find a nursing bra that is simultaneously cotton, supportive, non-underwire and comfortable, buy a bunch. If it happens to come in a 42F, let me know.

I'm not suggesting that I wouldn't have spent some part of every day for the last three weeks crying if I had done all of this, or that I would have gotten any more sleep, but I likely wouldn't have stressed as much about my baby not gaining enough weight or whined about my boobs quite so much. Both would have been good things.

*From the common name for Dianthus barbatus.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Finally here are photos! I learned not to make shower games complicated at all even if the group consists of very educated women. And that I prefer a whacky mom over a picky mom.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Decor style: Nouveau Box!

So we arrived in Thousand Oaks about two weeks ago and our stuff arrived in our house yesterday. Somehow yesterday was the first time it hit me just what moving into a place 1/2 the size of your old one really means. Anyone want some books or furniture??

The kitchen and bedroom are fairly functional, and we've only been putting 'baby stuff' in the baby's room, so that's not too bad. The rest of the house is a jungle of boxes that looks more like the warehouse from hell than anywhere you'd like to actually spend time! Sheesh!! I'd love to post pictures but I have NO IDEA where the camera is! This is AFTER the helpful movers agreed to take two desks, two bookshelves, a recliner, and a large suitcase off our hands! And we did get rid of a lot of stuff before leaving Tucson! I'm impressed and jealous of the cat's ability to power sleep through it all! The other series of pics I'd love to post is her position and location on the bed hourly throughout the day!

OK, I'm going to wear out my exclamation point key...

TO does have a nice climate and we're right next to a large park with hiking trails. Come visit if you dare.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Between a rock and a hard place?

After months of not posting despite several life changes, for the moment I'm going to gloss right over those changes and skip right to the potential new one. Several days ago I got a surprise job offer from an organization I really respect. I'm excited about the prospect and saddened at the same time. Several months ago Tim got a job in the beer capital of the US and I came with him. Unfortunately since then my confidence has slowly been seeping away, and I think this new offer in part seems more exciting because I've been so discouraged and unsure of where I belong. But my offer would necessitate a move to another city eight hours away, and although I wouldn't need to make the move for ~6 months, Tim and I would still be separated for some time. I like living in the same place as him, and remember struggling in the past when I did not.

I would really appreciate hearing from you how you go about making difficult decisions.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Krazy KGS

Hey Kansas folks, did you hear this on NPR this morning? This is what's been up at the KGS the past few days. I can say I was actually glad I had the stomach flu and missed all of the excitement. Sheesh. Some people are just nutters. It's been like Alcatraz over here and we all get to go to a variety of safety and preventing workplace violence seminars.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Plumber poem

Liz made this up about me waiting for the plumber all morning and then getting irrationally miffed about a shower suggestion.

Little Miss Feeling Beastly
Sat on her keestly
Waiting for the plumber all day.
Then one more silly demand
Made her hop up and say
Enough! I am done! No whey!

Follow up the next day (by Liz) see the comments to follow the story:

Plumbing hell

The shady after-hours plumber

Took away Debbie’s john

And made an infernal racket

Until the break of dawn.

The plumber was on his knees

All covered in sweat and tears

Finally gave up and left, no charge,

Leaving Debbie with just her fears.

Then out from the pipe popped Beelzebub.

Completely covered in poo

He left a big invoice, covered in filth,

And said “the joke’s on you!”

So Debbie made a call or two

And finally realized this: it

Is better to choose the devil you know

When you’re dealing with horrible sh*t!


Floyd's! He'll move your toilet!

Floyd's! Won't let anything spoil't.

In 25 minutes, he's got it all cleaned out.

Only 105 dollars, let the people shout!

For Floyd's!

Friday, July 31, 2009

You are invited to Anna's baby shower

Hi Knitters - Anna wanted me to invite all of you to her shower! Sunday Aug. 9 at 10:30am. It's at her mom-in-law's house in Lawrence. Please email me at my ku address if you are able to be there and I'll send you directions & other details that I don't want to post to the world. I don't have everyone's emails so am mass inviting you.

Please join Pat (Anna's mom), Juanita (Anna's mom-in-law) and me in celebrating Anna's baby boy! We will have a brunch with Anna while she is in Lawrence.

Since Anna is in the process of moving to California, rather than overwhelming her with more items to pack and move, if you would like to give a gift, please arrange for your present to be shipped to Anna & Nate's new address: (I'll send you this)

Anna is registered at
(click on the links, she's registered under Anna + her new last name):

We will shower her with pictures of her gifts, so bring a picture of the gift to share at the shower!

GBKD offspring

Congratulations, SS! I haven't checked this blog in ages, having been swallowed completely by fieldwork recently....and what timing; I'm so glad I checked it today (I'm procrastinating working on my ESA talk, which, relative to giving birth, seems incredibly uninteresting and inconsequential).

Woohoo! I'm guessing SS is no longer *bored*, and hope that all went well with the delivery. Sending you warm wishes and lots of zzzzzzz's!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Happenings of the Greater GBKD

Maybe because I'm not on Facebook (sorry, I still might someday, but another student just tried to convince me to join which reminds me of how little I want to think about students and co-workers as "friends". Somehow I'm much better about publicly anonymously posting about my life for readers who have to seek it out rather than worrying about friends and privacy settings), or maybe because somehow I'm a social-networking "node" (this idea makes me giggle), or maybe 'cause I don't pay enough attention: I've noticed that a lot of momentous things are happening that haven't been fully noted. So, here's a partial list of things that I understand have, will or were going to happen this year and that I desire more information about.
Babies: 4 new ones-- one of undetermined sex to be induced on Wednesday, a girl to Heather due in Sept. and a girl due in October and a boy due in December; plus one one year old.
Moves: Jenny to St. Louis, Cathy to St. Louis, Jennifer to Liberty (from Independence), Molly to Utah (and a marriage), Juls to Lawrence (all completed), TT to California (in progress?), and Beth to a different place (hoped for?).
Travels: Jenny to New Zealand, Erin to Palau, Cathy to Australia, SpSq to Italy, Abby to Britain (?), Jennifer to Puerto Rico (?), Sal Sis to the Grand Canyon and Haiti (?) and many others I don't know about.
Research and Jobs: Cathy fantastic finish, Cheryl almost done, Beth closer to tenure, Juls back in grad school and with a possible new project, Abby taking great pictures and making crazy dives, Jennifer fumigating a greenhouse, TT and Irene involved with all kinds of projects, Sal Sis becomming a stricter boss . . .
On-going Stuff: beekeeping, reading, knitting, commuting, house repairs, house painting, cool crafty mobiles, pets, hiking, canoeing, gardening, fascination with mosses, summer science camps . . .
Anyway, I don't think I'm the only reader who wants more details!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

(wild) Life in Utah

Heather inspired me to catch up, too (thanks, Heather!) I'm not sure where to start, but in the past two weeks, Brian and I have driven the 40 minutes up to Tony Grove, a beautiful drive up Logan Canyon that leads to Bear Lake and Wyoming. The first time I went, Brian went off biking and I walked with Lucy around a small lake. This is seriously one of the most beautiful, amazing places I have ever been, right up there with seeing the stars out in the middle of nowhere in Kenya. We have had a very wet spring (although, not a drop of water for the past month or so), but up at 8,000 ft there at Tony Grove it is still spring time, and I have never before seen so many kinds of wildflowers in such abundance. It is breathtaking. The lake itself is near the trailhead to the tallest peak in Cache Valley (Naomi Peak, around 10,000 ft). Haven't done this hike yet, but yesterday Brian and I returned and I accompanied him biking up the road that leads up to the lake. All along the way, ground squirrels darted back and forth, a breeze made the aspens flutter their leaves, and dotting the side of the road were geraniums, columbines, and lupines (and lots of other plants I can't name)... it almost made me forget that I was dying from the altitude!
Sp Sq and her Mister have been on my mind a lot lately-- aforementioned ground squirrels, plus the most adorable "regular" squirrels here in Logan, plus the beaver in the canal that's half a block away from our house. Actually, I can't say for sure that the squirrels in Logan and the ones at Tony Grove are really different, but they superficially seem different. I've only had a good look at the ones down here-- they're similar to the dudes in Arlington, but much smaller in size and they have really distinct white marks around the eyes. They're also much less abundant here. An added bonus are the little duck families in the canals, and watching momma duck and her progeny crossing the roads. Thankfully the cars all seem to watch out for them...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wha. . .Changing Projects and Advisors?!

Ok--I warned you all that if you let me play I was going to hit you up for advice.

I've got an RA for a project that is similar to what I did for my master's. I've been hitting some snags in cooperation from the quarries for access not to mention that the government has drastically changed the safety protocols for working on these field sites. My masters had funding from the state and they basically HAD to be compliant with allowing me access because they were't going to get any results if they didn't, that is now apparently not the case. I will not only have to get more cooperation from more people to even access sites than for my masters but I have to persuade them to babysit me and bring equipment for me to use along with people to run it for me. This project is quite industry-based and since I've had a mouthfull of industry enough to assuage my appetite for the next geologic time period I think I need to do something "more academic" (not to mention a heck of a lot more interesting). I've got an opportunity from a new prof to possibly work with them and I'm seriously considering it.

I can't remember if any of you ladies switched, but do you have any advice about how to break it to my old advisors? I doubt it will be too big of an issue because they are pretty frusterated with the restrictions we are under--but I would rather avoid the "Hi--I'm back, thanks for the funding. . .and Oh--bye--I'm going to go work on something else" animosity. Any experiences, suggestions, anecdotes. . .cookies?!

Monday, July 13, 2009

knitting pets

The Lawrence paper has a section featuring the cats & dogs that live in the downtown stores, which made me think we should have the same for knitter blog. So post your pet photos here with an update! (feel free to edit this blog rather than posting by comment).

Sally and Rusty are cattle dog mixes adopted from Lawrence Humane Society (these are their shelter pics). Sally is around 6yrs old and really turning gray. The shelter got her from Topeka when she was 3 mon. old and had her for 6 more mon. before I adopted her. She's still shy of new people and fearful of paper and feet. Rusty may be 5 yrs old. He was found in Baldwin with a leather studded collar, and is way over protective of me and slinks around like a coyote. Guaba is the 1st cat I got while living on my own. He is 13 (wow). I got him as a kitten in Nebraska, and he's traveled all over NE with me. He's always had a heart arythmia, but seems to be aging well. Yoda is from Red Cloud NE and is 11 (holy cow) but I still think of him as the kitten and he acts like it. His mom was Siamese, which my explain why he's so chattery and likes to play in water.

Mister Splashy Pants
was a drop-off from a young woman I'd never seen before (or since) last July. We named her after the famous greenpeace whale . Since turning one (May 1) she has not become any less kitten-like. She's very cute, pampered, and completely unaware of how her world is going to turn upside down in a few weeks.

Benjamin (grey and white) was a gift from my sister in 2001. His world changed when I inherited Maddy (with the floppy ears) two years later from another graduate student who thought her personality was obnoxious. Benjamin and Maddy were far from friends at first sight, but are now devoted to each other.

A mutual friend gave us Franny the guinea pig. When she was small she was particularly shrill and squeaky, and so was named after Fran Drescher. Franny would hear the rustle of a sack or the refrigerator door open, and would squeal for food. She would chirp quietly when contented, and sometimes while I worked we'd chat back and forth. I miss her. She died while we were in New Zealand this past February.

Lucy, a Jack Russell Terrier, was originially a temporary foster pet, just until my sister and I could find a new home for her. She was two years old and sick with heartworms when we first got her, and her rabies vaccination tag was from Kentucky. Other than that, her past is a mystery. She stayed with us for a couple months before she was first placed in a "real" home--in Richmond, with an older woman who realized that Lucy was much too high-energy for her, returning her to us after only a week. I was mopey and sad the whole week she was gone, and overjoyed when we found out she was coming back home. She's been my dog (and now Brian's) ever since.

Friday, July 3, 2009


I have been lightly and only partially admonished for not keeping up with this blog and, therefore, having heard from Lisa (and others of you) only a handful of times since I left KU two years ago. The few times I've jumped on the blog, I tried to piece together everyone's recent histories, got overwhelmed, and disappeared. I will do better.

It would be good to see Lisa on Facebook. This summer is an exception (see below), but during the busy school year, I find it's a great way to take 30 seconds every few days to see what everyone's up to, with histories that are easy enough to follow should you fall behind. This comes, of course, at the expense of having all kinds of peripherals and tangentials able to see various amounts of your personal life (although you do have a fair amount of control), as well as it asks you to condense your life events into tiny snippets.

This blog is great because it allows posters to elaborate in their own way. I try to make my Facebook entries somewhat amusing and blog-like, and a small minority of my friends there seem to take the time to read and respond. Just like this forum, but it seems like the virtual equivalent of Lisa's and my parties: the Hostess with the Mostest has a better attended blog than I ever will and seems to throw it together and maintain it with much more ease than I ever could if I were to start one.

This summer has been an exception to my typical sporadic Facebook behavior because I'm bored and like to see others’ updates. I'm about 6 months pregnant and generally have been avoiding being outdoors because the prairie heat is much harder on me than usual. We continue to do home improvements, but in my state and with my limited skills, there are many things I can't do, especially when home alone during the day. I've passed on opportunities to go to Costa Rica (for research advising) and to Alaska (for meetings) because they needed too much pre-planning, and early on I had no idea how functional I'd be throughout pregnancy.

So far, the process has gone absolutely as smoothly as could be hoped. No problems, complications, concerns, or risk factors. At last measure, baby girl was 60th percentile for size (this is one of those things about which you want your child to be average). I've had very by-the-books nausea, fatigue, and general misery during the first trimester, a pretty good second trimester, and a third trimester that promises to be filled with tiny, frequent meals.

Walter and I finished a breastfeeding class (it turns out this is not a process covered during any part of one's preparation as a mammalogist, but yet it needs covering) and we are now in the midst of a natural childbirth class. I would like to go 100% natural and am leaning towards water birth but still reserve the right to request drugs if "necessary" at some point. I almost feel silly talking about all the classes and research we've been doing, but it's really hard to gain real-life experience before the event actually happens. To be honest, I'm pretty confident about the next 18+ years but am freaked out by giving birth. I'm slowly getting to the point where I'm just waiting for it to happen.

Our home improvements include a brand-new kitchen, done mostly by ourselves, that needs only grout between the tiles and new floor trim, which is waiting in a pile of unfinished wood because the kitchen shares a "logical" space with the dining room and living room, both of which are in earlier stages of improvement. I'd like them done before the baby is due in late September, as they seem to form a self-contained home-improvement unit. But also, we've got to finish the baby's room! Walls and closet are painted bright green, but we're at a stopping point because we need to replace the closet and hallway doors (and there's only so much you can fit into a Prius) and are 95% likely to commit to new windows in the house, which means that baby's room will remain without trim for another 6 weeks. Oh, and the wood floors need either to be seriously redone or covered with carpet. Not sure what we're waiting for on that one.

I'll end my essay here. I really do plan to be better about lurking on the blog and look forward to hearing more from Lisa and the rest of you! I hope everyone has an enjoyable 4th of July!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dishwasher Thoughts

I was recently talking to Tus. Trek. about the dishwasher that The Mister is getting me for my birthday (my 36th-- in 2008) and she wanted to know why I wanted one.
I was thinking it was rather obvious: I don't like doing dishes, I don't like dishes piled on the counter, dishwashers get some things really much cleaner than the Mister and I do, when used properly they save water, and I anticipate the dish load will go up with a larger family, but TT was truly surprised that I would want one.
Upon further discussion I learned that she has really only lived with crappy dishwashers; the kind that do waste water and time because things need to go in clean in order to come out clean and even then they might have big soap globs on them.
I know from experience that there are dishwashers into one can put unrinsed or barely rinsed dishes and expect really clean dishes to emerge, and there are those that are useless. But, I realized, I don't know if I could spot the difference before I buy.
So, I'd like your thoughts on brands and/or features of dishwashers that have worked well for you and thoughts on brands and/or features that were useless or worse. Thanks.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

canoeing on a closed river

Oops, for work we canoed a river we later found out was closed for high water. The upstream site we canoed the next day was open, but on the verge of being unsafe to sample when you have to suddenly pull to the bank to evaluate habitat and collect samples. Two people went overboard at 2 different times and in different canoes, resulting in a loss of 3/4 of our datasheets, a clipboard, and GPS. The fun canoeing quickly turned into not fun and shook us all up. But we did complete the site! The motorized boat took someone back to all the transects to redo the data. I'm not going to mention the river in case someone like a park ranger comes across this! I'll post photos when I get them uploaded. We did enjoy a cave tour the 1st day when it was pouring rain, and staying in cabins for 2 nights and grilling out.

Update: I posted more photos on facebook. See Jenny's blog about canoeing high waters:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Things NOT to do three days before moving

Well, one thing anyway.

Don't sprain your ankle. But that is what I did this morning. It it not a bad sprain. I am trying to stay off of it as much as possible. Why is it that knitting and reading and watching movies seems so boring when I am forced to be still.

We close on Friday morning and plan to move on Saturday. Hopefully we will all remain injury free until then.

I have to say - I am so looking forward to the changes in our life this move will make. Finally, a place where I can begin my dream garden. We will feel more a part of the community of friends that I have made through WJC. No more 20 minute drives to work. Less money spent on energy - both via the car and the leaky windows in the house.

I am hoping that this move will also spur us on to making changes we have talked about making for a long time: furniture we pick out and is not hand-me-down, getting more exercise (there is a great green-ways walking/biking trail that starts in our neighborhood and we are walking distance to the community center, post-office, grocery store, post office), eating better.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Deciding Vote, Baby Classes and Student Success

My vote (or my vote and My Mister's vote) truly counted in my town's recent mayoral election. A former student running for mayor won 56 to 55 to 43 as a write-in candidate. While I'm glad I voted and think that it is pretty cool to have a vote that definitely mattered, it makes me feel uncomfortably responsible for the fate of my town over the next several years.
In other news, the Mister and I attended an all-day child birth class on Saturday. Two of the three other future mothers have been my students (and one of the dads), including the one I kicked out of class and who ate the poisonous plant in lab (and was well enough to play softball that night but not take my test the next morning). The Mister has had two of these students also and will likely have the other two in the future. Frankly it's weird to be practicing breast feeding positions in front of students, whether recent graduates or future students. It also made me very glad it was not a multi-week course (because it's not an insignificant drive to the hospital), which I had been sorta hoping for as a means of befriending other expectant parents. While I had figured that the it was much more likely that attendees would be my students' age, I didn't actually expect them to be my students.
Oh the "success" part is that even though the mayor-elect dropped my class, she is now mayor and even though the texting-poisonous plant eating student was a complete idiot in my class, she appears to be handling expectant pregnancy as a competent adult.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lucky Brian

Assuming all went well, Brian just became lucky on the beach in Southern California and married to GBK Molly (who is getting quite a catch out of the deal herself).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Outstanding Employee

I'm happy to point out that somene we know is the KU unclassified employee of the month. This is exciting not only because someone at KU is finally recognizing the great work done by a member of the GBK, but also includes a monetary award which will allow her to extend her work in Haiti. Congrats!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dissertation Printing

Do any of you recommend a printer for a dissertation? I have procrastinated long enough! I am thinking of going with the HF group (recommended by KU library). Anyone have any good or bad experiences with them or other printers? I think this came up on the blog before, but I can't find it in the archives. Thanks!

Teaching evolution

OK, so I am kinda in denial about this CA thing in general and it's making me a horrible procrastinator. Anyone out there who has taught Evolution (or even taken it) do you have a text you would either recommend or warn against?


Sunday, May 31, 2009

I discovered hulu

I discovered and am now watching 2 great sci-fi series that were canceled from network tv.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer plans

Hi All...

I'm kinda out of touch these days, but I thought I'd let you all know what I'm up to. I'll be in Lawrence in mid-July for a week (9th to 17th) and in the end of July Nate and I are moving to Ventura County, CA (don't know where, exactly). Nate got a job at a small university there (is it OK to say the name on a blog?). We'll go look for a house to rent sometime in June. Meanwhile, I'm doing full-time lab work trying to wrap up 3 different projects here in Tucson. I'm very sad to leave Tucson, although right now the heat is really bugging me. What's everyone else up to for the summer?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Not that she'll ever see it here, but...

Happy Birthday Bridgett!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Happy birthday!

I hope you're having a wonderful day, Sparkling Squirrell.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ahh Bureaucracy:A plea for help with soils lab

As you may or may not have heard, WJC Biology and Chemistry Departments were awarded $190,000 in appropriations money in the last budget. Since, oh March or Feb. we have been waiting to find out exactly what we can spend it on and when we could spend it. Today I find out that we have to have a final list by Friday. Did I mention it is finals week and I have two finals to finish writing, not to mention grading.

Luckily for me, we can use the money to purchase any equipment as long as students will be using it in class or in research. I say luckily, because the original request for monies was written specifically for biomedical research studies.

I would like to set up a soils lab, but have never done this before. I did not take soils class, nor do I have much experience analyzing soils. So I hope my wonderful friends might be able to help: GBKD to the rescue!

What do you need to set up a soils lab? What equipment, chemical, glasswear etc?
Is there a good resource or textbook or lab manual for soil analysis?
Thanks so much!!!!

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Just wanted to spread the news that Cathy won the prestigious Argersinger Award for Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation at KU. Congrats, Cathy!

Monday, April 27, 2009

5-7 Minutes

Just so you know, neither speaking for 2.5 minutes nor for 10 minutes constitutes giving a 5-7 minute talk.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Happy Birthday Beth!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thermonastic Freaks

These tulips were all from the same group of bulbs. The indoor ones were picked on Sunday morning and brought into a warm (but much cooler than 70 degree) house. The photos (indoor and out) were taken on Thursday morning. It was cold but bright outside on Thursday. Thermonasty at work.
The up-close photo I took to show how the tulip is the classic monocot: parts in threes. Darned 7 tepaled, 7 stamened flower! Go hang out with the 5 petaled lily I photographed last summer and just showed my botany class as a classic 6 parted monocot.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More Student Tragedy

I'm afraid I'm going to write this as if it is funny. It is not. But a matter-of-fact list-y tone is all a can muster at the moment before I go home and cry, pet my cat and eat ice cream because I can't freakin' DO anything that will be of any help to anyone except prepare my lectures for tomorrow and I'm not just up to that.
So far this semester, I have had a student die, a student with probable ovarian cancer, a student with acknowledged painkiller addiction, a student's whose wife miscarried, a student with brain surgery and the usual quantity of student's with family members in various kinds of trouble (sick kids, nasty divorces, grandparents dying) and romantic ailments. Then today I received the call from my senior who just found both of her parents murdered. Okay, now I'm crying again. Aaaaaagh.

Monday, April 13, 2009


For lots of reasons (I don't need any more on-line time wasters, I don't want to try and figure out if my colleagues are "friends" . . . ) I am not on facebook and don't particularly want to be. However, I am being encouraged to join from various forces and wanted to know 1) who is on facebook? and 2) how often those of you who are on are on? Let me know.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

It's a party in my mind!

I hope I don't sound like I am gloating, but I am so happy about the fact that
(1) I have a four day weekend coming up
(2) After today, I am done teaching in one of my classes.

What this means is that I do not have to give another lecture until next Wed.
And tomorrow, for lab, we are going to a place with the largest population of Blood Root I have ever seen. Even if spring weather is not here the spring ephemerals are out.

What are you happy about today?
Thanks for letting me share.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

An email from a student

Here's the entire thing:

'was that the percentage of our grade on the garde to date?

i didnt really get it or its base on how many points i have'

Sheesh! Need I say more?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Earth Hour (and baby) celebrated by knitters

For the second time the knitting group participated in Earth Hour, while throwing a baby shower for Sparkling Squirrel. Well, we kept on a lamp for those knitting, but turned off all other lights. Here's the group at Indian Palace, and lounging in bed Sunday morning. Tucson Trekker & Rusty had some aura going on where I couldn't get a photo of both of them in focus.