August 29, 2005


Oops, I forgot to mention that my husband, Danny, passed his comps!!! This is an awesome thing because now he is officially in the Ph.D. program, and we have a bit of security. So next summer can be a real summer, maybe.

First day of school

Well, today is the first day of school. I only have one class on Mondays, and it is statistics. I went, and it seems OK. It might actually be interesting because I have data. I want to think up my own ways of analyzing my data. Or at least something new. So I'm looking forward to learning some statistics.

I had a meeting with my advisor this morning (whoa!). We had to talk about the lab I'm TAing for her. Plus we talked a little about my project. I guess it seems to be going OK at this point. I told her I'm going back out in the field this weekend, and I'm coring one lake... either Swan or Heron. I made up my mind, and she seemed to take it well. She was really not bitchy or confrontational. She thinks I'll finish this year (meaning by May). I'm not so sure, because I still have all my pollen to work up, and data analysis and writing to do. She thinks I'm efficient. Interesting.

Today the department here had a huge meeting of new grad students, old grad students and faculty. There are 11 new grads, which is a lot for this department! So many people! A bunch of the older grad student's weren't there, but most of the second-year's were. It's interesting to see all the new people and hear what they're working on. There's just so many! And I've been displaced from the department because I don't have a desk there anymore. I have to have a specific reason to head over there now. It feels a bit strange. Over the weekend Danny and I also met some of the new physics grad students. They seem fairly normal.

So, this weekend: the Teton's! Mucking around in lakes! Ahh well, at least I'm fully funded now. Yes, the Park Service found some end-of-year money for my project. So, where before I had $5k (which didn't cover my project in the least, because I need lead-210 and radiocarbon dates) I now have $13k. Whoa! Weird! That means this time the grant is paying for the gas to get there. It's not that much anyway.

August 26, 2005

Super Monkey Ball 2

The last week-day of summer. We had ham and eggs benedict this morning to "celebrate". Now D's playing Super Monkey Ball 2. We just bought it as an "end of comps" thing. We are the only people we know around here that play video games. I miss playing Mario Party with our old friends. Anyway, this is all there is to write about today. Just enjoy the end of summer!

August 24, 2005

Last week of summer

This week is the last week of summer. Classes start on Monday. So I've been taking advantage of a little bit more laziness. Last week I was in the pollen lab all week trying to figure out how to process pollen. We're trying something we've never done before - using a Schulze's solution instead of performing acetolysis. This means nitric acid instead of sulfuric acid and acetic anhydride. I'm not sure which one I'd enjoy doing more. Using Schulze's solution is easy though. But we were trying to come up with new standardized lab methods for this new procedure. So it took me all week to process 9 samples. (You should be able to process at least 12 in 2 days, normally)

Actually, this week I have been using my birthday present (a sewing machine). I have been sewing a shirt for my husband! I just finished it about half an hour ago. It turned out pretty nice! Sorry no pictures yet... My next project is a bag for my patterns that they will fit in properly, and then I'm going to make an easy skirt for myself and then on to the first pair of pants. I'm very excited about sewing.

So, like I said, school starts Monday. I'm taking 2 classes and 4 thesis credits. The classes are statistics and a vegetation history class. I'm TAing half time for one of my advisor's classes. We have talked about it, but nothing in detail yet. She doesn't seem too worried about this. But I just know I'll have to write a bunch of labs overnight. I think it is going to be pretty easy on me though. We're encouraging a lot of class participation, and I'm not sure how that will go over in a class dominated by freshmen and sophomore's who aren't majoring in Earth Sciences (the class is about Yellowstone "as a scientific laboratory" or something). I had quite a lot of trouble getting people to participate in my teeny geology labs last June. I had 2 labs, one had 4 people and one had 6. At the first lab I said, "I want you all to work together, and talk to each other. Because if nobody's talking it's going to be really quiet in here and it's going to get really boring." Well, in the lab of 6, nobody talked. In the lab of 4, everyone followed my suggestion and worked together. The smaller lab consistently did better, because they would discuss the questions and inevitably someone would know something about it and they got to "teach" everyone else. I had to work a lot harder (I don't mind that though) in the class with 6, answering questions all the time, and they consistently got lower grades. They didn't care to talk about the material with one another. And they had a real problem with creative thinking. Finally on the last lab I had to write a question that said something like, "Just think about this and give me a creative answer, don't worry so much about whether or not it is exactly correct!" They always just wanted to get the right answer, and not care about why or how it was right. So I had to force them to be creative. That was tough!

Anyway, so the Yellowstone lab this semester is going to be interesting. I'll have 2 labs of 15 kids each. Not too bad. I hope some learning goes on.

August 17, 2005

Bad about posting

I've been bad about posting in the last couple of weeks, I know. The funny thing is I could have sworn that I posted after August 2nd, but I guess not! Strange. Now I have only a couple minutes to catch up...

Last week my mom was in town visiting! That was fun. We didn't actually "do" too much, but we hung out and talked quite a bit. She and my husband bought me a sewing machine for my birthday, which I am very excited about. I have already sewn two bags to get started (I haven't sewn any big things since I was about 13). My next project is a shirt for D. So while my mom was here she was also helping me get started with my sewing machine, which was nice. I have to admit I was a little intimidated at first. But once I got started with my first bag, it all got easier. I am super excited about sewing all kinds of things. It'll be great!

Otherwise I finished my charcoal counting of all the samples I had. I still have some more to do but not too much, and I'm not sure which core I'll be using yet. This week I am learning to process pollen. It is a long process involving many acids and bases. Real nitty-gritty labwork. Hopefully by tomorrow or Friday I'll be ready to do it on my own. I feel bad for Christy, who has to teach me all this labwork. She's trying to finish her Ph.D., and I know she'd like to be doing her own work. I don't want to add to her stresses too much.

School starts a week from Monday. I have yet to register. I was thinking about doing that today... We also have to buy a new parking sticker. And I have to make sure I will get paid and all that. And I have to write a blurb about myself for the new lab I'm teaching. I suppose I have a lot to do.

August 02, 2005

Uh oh...

So I feel really bad right now. I just spent a couple hours with the new grad student Mariana. She is pretty cool. At one point I was trying to warn her about the department politics here, and she started asking questions. Anyway, I just feel bad because I feel like I scared her. She came here thinking everything would be super, and it was for a couple of days, and then she talks to me and I freak her out. I really didn't want to do that. I wanted to gently talk to her about a few things, but I didn't want to make her think it's the end of the world. I just feel like I depressed her for no good reason. On the other hand, I wish that someone here had told me a thing or two before I started. I would have made some changes to my plan. I wouldn't have left, but I wouldn't be doing the same thing. Definitely. So in one way I really, really, didn't want to scare her or depress her, but on the other hand she is going to find this stuff out at some point. Maybe better now than in 4 months when she's stuck with something she hates.
I don't know. Did I do completely the wrong thing? I don't know.

The amazing charcoal counting machine

I am the amazing charcoal counting machine! Yesterday I prepped 40 samples of charcoal to count today, thinking that it would take me the better part of the day. Well, I got here before 8, and I finshed my charcoal counting about 15 minutes ago. Whoa! Plus, I wasn't counting for that entire time! I was continuing some LOI work, and I even went over to the other building with the new grad student to get the dept. credit card. I kick some major ass! And that means that I don't have to sit around here all afternoon counting charcoal, which is a huge drag. Nice.

Instead, Mariana (the new grad) and I are going to buy wood for core-boxes. Yay. Mariana is going to get paid to make them, something I couldn't say, so she is happy to do it. I am happy to work my other job. I suppose it is a good trade. It is very interesting to get to know a new grad student who is in a similar position to what I was in only a year ago. For some reason even a year can make you feel like the old expert. I'm a little worried for her, since she has had no experience in this field (which I hadn't either). I'm just worried that she'll get stuck with a project that sucks and she won't like it either. I don't wish that on other people. On the whole though Mariana seems really cool. I have only talked to her for about an hour so far though. There will be plenty of time to get to know her.

I'm way excited for next week because my mom is coming to visit! I'm really looking forward to it. I've been sort of thinking of stuff to do for a while now, but I don't have any concrete plans. We'll just see what we want to do. But it will be fun. And in 23 days Danny's comp will be over!!! That is going to be a big change. Hopefully for the better.

August 01, 2005

Sad Partings

Life is changing for everyone this summer. I just got back from a visit to the grad office where I used to have my desk. I finally got to see my friend Falene, who I haven't seen since the end of June! She is still alive, about as much as I am. She is moving out of her desk, and moving across the pass to the Paradise Valley. Bonde already moved out of his desk and is working at home. I already moved out of my desk too, but I'm stationed at my two other desks on campus. Soon those other grad students who are finishing field seasons will have to move out of their desks too. Only a very few grad students are staying in there. The desks will be filled with all new first-years. Wow. It'll be like a whole different world.

There is a bunch of crummy politics going on in my department. I guess I just wanted to mention that - I don't want to go into any detail. It stinks for us grad students though, who often get caught in the midst of politics. I was chatting with my friend online this morning and mentioning that I don't like my project and I wish I could do something else, and she asked me if there is someone else I could work with here. I thought about it and decided that it is a possibility, but the department is so bad that I'm not sure I want to stay. However, crummy politics happens everywhere, so at some point you just have to deal.

While I was visiting I found out that the department now has a small collection of plant fossils - all identified and catalogged! Cool! This might be a good thing. I looked at a couple, and they're pretty nice. Bonde is catalogging them, and I told him if he needs some help with the plants he should tell me. I looove plant fossils. Paleobotany is my real passion, I only wish I was working on that instead of icky lake sediment. I like real rocks. And real fossils.