July 28, 2005


Friends are a wonderful thing. They have the tendency to make you feel better when something is wrong. I have some cool friends.

July 27, 2005


There have been two earthquakes above magnitude 4 here in western Montana in the past 2 days. They have all been centered just north of Dillon, and about 5km underground. Check out the USGS website... Danny felt the quake at 10:08pm on July 25. I was already asleep! That's what I get for sleeping. There was another quake this morning at 9:51am, magnitude 4.2. We didn't feel that here in Bozeman. But the seismographs picked it up.

I have to take another blood test in a few weeks. Everything was normal except that my iron levels were a bit high. So my doctor wants me to take another blood test to make sure that nothing is wrong with me. She suggested the possibility of hemochromatosis. I'm not really worried though. I just don't like getting my blood drawn. Even just thinking about it makes my elbow tingle. Heh.

This is the logo of the satellite that Danny is managing. It is called Electra - A Barnacle Satellite. I'm getting T-shirts made with the logo at some point soon.

July 25, 2005


Today I am allergic. I'm really not sure what I am allergic to, but it is definitely something. Something that makes me feel crummy. The weather today is kind of crummy too. It is overcast and a little chilly. Normally I wouldn't enjoy dreary weather like this, but it has been so hot for the past few weeks that this is welcome cool! And I want to go home and bake something, since turning on the oven wouldn't make the house too hot to live in today. No such luck though. I get to stay here and feel crummy.

Yesterday we went to have dinner with my lab-mate and her new boyfriend at her apartment. He made really yummy shrimp fajitas, and we had fresh blueberry-peach cobbler! They were just in Oregon, and they picked a bunch of blueberries and blackberries. They gave us a bag of blueberries, so I'm looking forward to making muffins and whatever else I can think of.

I have been reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince since Friday. I will finish it today, since I only have about 100 pages left. It is a very good book. I like all the books, and I'm looking forward to the next movie that comes out in November.

Well, tomorrow I will be taking care of baking crucibles again in the lab. Right now they are warming at 90 degrees C (for 24 hours). Tomorrow we'll get to see the beautiful glowing furnace again. I love that muffle furnace.

July 21, 2005

Ahh, blogs

Reading other blogs is fun. Especially when there are a few people like me out there. Grad students with the normal grad student problems. Ahh. Not that these problems are good. But it is so nice to realize that you aren't the only person in the world with your problems.

Today was "Taco Thursday", where a few of us girls in the department (currently only 3 of us) get together to sort of study for comps. The other two girls will have "normal" comps, meaning the standard geology comp from the department here. I, however, will not. I will have a comp more directed to my current work. In a lot of ways this is really, really nice. At least I know what to study, and I have a much better idea of the type of questions I will be asked. In the study group we're just going over a general undergrad textbook right now. Erin is using Geology by Tarbuck and Lutgens, and Trish and I are using Earth by Tarbuck and Lutgens. They are essentially the same books. They're pretty good. We're going to start going over some of the concepts in my favorite book, Plate Tectonics. I want the new edition, and I'll probably get it in August. That was my favorite geology class is college, which I took from Condie. It was very comprehensive and I learned a lot. It'll be super fun to use that book to study for comps. The big problem is that the material in that book won't be covered on my comps, at least on a large scale. So I'm doing this studying for no reason, except that I love the material and would love to have it more cemented in my head. The books I'm using for my comp studying are about the geologic and glacial history of Grand Teton National Park and the settlement history of the valley. Also good books (I don't have links for them right this second), but a little less comprehensive. I need to know how glaciers work, why the Tetons are there, what settlement was like, and how the vegetation of North America has changed in the past 5000 or so years. Pretty specific.

July 20, 2005

LOI and stuff

Today I am working on more LOI analysis. I took a cool picture for all of you...
This is the furnace where we ash our samples at both 550 and 900 degrees C. This is what 900 degrees C looks like, and there are all my little crucibles enjoying the blistering heat. Now, as I write, they are relaxing in the dessicator before I weigh them. They have to be cool before weighing. I like the 900 degree step because all the crucibles come out a different color than when they are cool. They aren't glowing like the inside of the furnace, but they are a different cream color.

This morning I had a little extra time while the furnace was heating up, so I got a chance to look around for more blogs I should be reading. I actually found quite a few! I will put up links, of course. I haven't found much related to geology. No geology journals that I know of publish an RSS feed. I am signed up for email notices when new journals come out. That is OK, but my husband is subscribed to 5 or so physics journal RSS feeds. I'm jealous.

I am doing my labwork for my thesis this summer, but I also have another job sort of in the physics department. I absolutely LOVE my "other" job! I am working as a quasi-administrative assistant. I've always been big on organizing, and that helped me get this job. But I've been learning a lot about things that I guess I wouldn't normally learn about. The best is the website stuff that I've learned. I am way behind the times but I recently learned how to use Cascading Style Sheets, and I have worked a bit with designing a website and maintaining another. And even when I'm not learning new stuff I love going to that job. I enjoy having a job that is different from what I am researching. That way I'm not overly focused on one thing, and getting lost in the details. I suppose some would say that doesn't bode well for an academic career, but I don't care. I appreciate learning, and learning about many things. Too many people focus on one thing and can't even remember things from basic undergraduate classes. Gone are the days of the "naturalist" who knew many sciences, which is good in some respects and bad in others.

Ever since I read Dune I wanted to be a planetologist like Liet. That's what I'm going for.

July 19, 2005

Hubba hubba

Remember that Simpsons?

I bought the 101ers re-release, Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited. Cool. I also bought Danny a Mark Farina cd. Also very cool.

More tomorrow. Right now I'm too braindead.

July 16, 2005

Techno, reggae, labwork...

Today I've been in and out of the lab, working on some Loss On Ignition analysis. LOI involves burning a bit of sediment in a crucible at three different temperatures. The last burn is at 900 degrees C for 2 hours. That furnace is hot!! It is a little difficult to grab the crucible tongs with giant gloves on too.

While I'm in the lab I love to listen to music. Today my music of choice has been techno. Some London techno, and European trance. Now I'm listening to reggae, also wonderful. Earlier today I was looking at the local Zebra lounge show schedule, and I found this guy. He's great! I might stop by there tonight. I read that his live shows are kick ass.

Now I have to go weigh my little crucibles.

July 13, 2005


Last night Sean had a party at Plonk to celebrate his getting a job in Dulles. We had never been to Plonk before. It is a pretty neat place. The atmosphere is really laid back which I thought was cool. It is kind of like one of those nice coffee shops where there are plush chairs and couches to hang out on, except you're not drinking coffee, you're drinking wine! It was fun. And congrats, Sean!

I was just seeing if Plonk has a website, which it appears they don't. But I came across this forum with a lot of heated talk. I started reading all the posts and it gets a little strange. I don't think that you should withdraw your business from someplace that you happen to enjoy just because the owners aren't moral people in your view. I guess you could argue that by giving them your business you are supporting their lifestyle and their morality, but that is a bit of a stretch. Everybody needs to make a living. And everybody has morals that are just a bit different from yours.

I don't necessarily think that a bunch of big-city people are moving to small cities in the west and polluting them with their big-city preferences (such as wine bars or fancy places to eat). I moved here recently, less than a year ago still. Granted, I'm not a rich city dweller, but I'm still new here. And being new here one thing I have to say is that I feel much more comfortable walking into a place like Plonk as opposed to a dark bar full of locals. Even though I'm not rich! Those dark bars where locals hang out are always a bit sketchy.

Before my husband and I moved here we lived in Socorro, New Mexico. We loved it. The town has about 9000 residents. Definitely smaller than Bozeman. And it is not a place that is particularly attractive to rich city dwellers, so there weren't all these rich people moving in and putting up fancy restaurants and boutiques. So it wasn't being "ruined" that way. What did happen was a Wal Mart. Previously you had to drive about 45 miles to the nearest Wal Mart. An interesting trip. Now, you just have to drive across the street, practically. In my mind, those kind of big-box stores are what degrade a community, not small fancy places where only a few people shop. Like someone said on the forum, look at 19th avenue in Bozeman now. Ick. What caused all that traffic and congestion? Not Plonk.

July 11, 2005

Lazy summer

I guess it's that time of year. I've been feeling lazy all weekend. Of course now I'm at work (Monday morning you know) and I've been here since 8 and I've gotten a bunch of work done. So I'm not completely lazy, but I felt like it this weekend. Maybe because we watched almost all the extras on the Return of the King extended edition. We did sit in front of the TV for a while. I also took a nap, which often makes me feel lazy. I did get the house nice and clean and a bit organized.

This isn't much of a post but I'd better get back to work. I've got to get over to the department office to get a reimbursement, then I've got to head over to my other desk and get a bit of work done before this afternoon. Busy, busy.

July 08, 2005


In the past few years I have seen too many short articles giving advice about graduate school. Sometimes they are titled, "Is graduate school right for you?" Or how about, "Finding the right graduate school." I've read so many of these articles *after* getting in to graduate school that it has really started to bother me. People can only give so much advice. I'm starting to doubt that the advice really helps in most situations.

The advice always goes something like this: You have to think carefully about your future and what you want out of your schooling. Consider whether or not you really want to be in school for another few years. Are you burned out? If so, grad school is probably not for you, at least right away. So think about your ambitions, and plan out some of your life. Next, figure out exactly what you want to do. If you decide on graduate school, choose a specific area of interest that you wish to base your career on. Choose something that you think you'll love doing for the rest of your life. Then go out and find professors that research in this area and talk to them, get to know them, and get them to want you in their program. Really sell yourself. Additionally, you don't want to be stuck with an advisor that you don't get along with. So get to know your potential advisors well before deciding to attend their institution. This is always a very important point. And sometimes, additionally, another point of advice is to consider where you want to attend school, meaning what part of the country, or climate, or city you want to live in for the next few years of your life. Some people think that this is an essential consideration when thinking about graduate schools, because if you're a city kid you might get really restless and bored in a small town, or if you're from the country you might get a little overwhelmed in the city. Or you might not want to live in Louisiana, or Texas, or Washington state. Some others consider this to be secondary to the education you will be concentrating on while you're in school. Theoretically you shouldn't have time for much of a life while you are in grad school, so why choose the school based on the surroundings? What does that matter? And last but not least, apply to as many schools as possible.

I've been in graduate school for an entire academic year and half a summer. I got here somehow. I think I read some of the advice before applying to graduate school, but most of it I found after applying and being accepted. After that there is not much to change. When I was an undergrad I had my advisor for a class, and she took a whole class one day to talk about applying for graduate school. I was a junior at the time, and I was already thinking about what I wanted to do in grad school, and where I could go. I found her lecture helpful, but of course it didn't address everything. My first problem was that my real area of interest - paleobotany - is researched at but a handful of schools in the U.S. So that already brought my selection down. And then, nobody was researching the kinds of things that I wanted to research. This was a roadblock when I first started looking for schools. My second problem was that I was already married. Having a significant other is a big problem in grad school. We wanted to stay together. Otherwise, what is the point of being married? So we applied to several of the same schools. But that brought our pool of possible schools down even more. Try to find a school that has paleobotanical research AND gravitiation or relativity research. It gets a little more difficult. We were just happy that we weren't trying to apply to the same departments and competing with one another for the selected spots. And the third problem was actually applying. You are supposed to apply to as many schools as possible. The more the better! Well, that adds up to quite a lot of money, when almost every application costs $50. If you're independantly wealthy, I guess you're lucky! But when you are working for your money and trying to complete your senior year at college, a bunch of expensive applications become difficult to deal with.

So, we made it somehow, right? Well, we only both got accepted at one school, MSU. I was accepted at quite a few of the schools I applied to. But we wanted to stay together, right? So here we both are. Now I'm not doing what I wanted to do, but at least I'm only in it for a masters degree. Then I'll move on. But we're here for 7 or so years while my husband gets his Ph.D. We tried to follow all the great advice, but it just didn't work out for us. But we're making it.

So, after all that, my great advice is do your best if you're looking for grad schools. You might get lucky, or you might not. But try to follow the advice, and while you're at it you might come up with some great advice of your own to share with the world.

July 07, 2005

Long time ... no see

Yep. I'm not a real blogger. I haven't had the discipline to sit down and write about anything. To tell you the truth, I do have quite a lot to write about, but I've been too afraid because I think someone I might be writing about might read my blog and then they'd be angry with me or whatever. So there have been a couple of changes in the last day or so. Like I took my name off. Anyway, no big deal. But now I wish to write more often. And now I feel a little bit more comfortable doing so. I guess still if I talk about people and they read my blog they'll still know I'm talking about them.

Example: I just read the blog of one of my husband's office mates. We "secretly" discovered that she had a blog -- my husband saw her writing in it and looked at the address. So now we read it. Anyway, she wrote two sentences about us today. I guess it's just weird to know someone else is talking about you.

I got my new office key today, and therefore my new desk! I have one real "job" at the Space Satellite and Engineering Laboratory. It is so nice to not be working for my advisor!! I refuse to be a grad student slave. I did it for a semester and found out that it is the worst possible situation. So no more of that for me. Now I *work* somewhere different from where I *research*. This is the distinction that I like. When I was an undergrad I had the same sort of thing worked out. I did research on fossils, and I worked in the mass spectrometry lab in the geology department. Two things almost unrelated. I enjoyed both, and I liked having a distinction between work and research. And this past semester I found out that I still like having that distinction. I feel like I am always learning that way, especially when I enjoy both my work and my research. At this point, work is much more interesting and exciting than my research. But soon I will be finished with my Masters and then we'll go from there. But I'm NOT coring anymore lakes. NO.