October 27, 2005

Nothing to write about

I'm trying to come up with something, but it looks like I won't make it.

I've got to count some charcoal this weekend. And make sure the rest of the data I've already collected is in order. Next week I have to really start scheduling a committee meeting. And several other things I've been putting off. I should have radiocarbon dates in a week.

Last weekend my friend Marianne and I made pumpkin pies. We made them from pie pumpkins, which is really fun! You just boil the pumpkin until it's soft and scoop it out of the skin with a spoon. Then blend it until smooth and use like you would canned pumpkin. Makes really yummy pies. We made 5, which took all afternoon.

October 24, 2005

Yet another new template

I just changed the colors this time. I couldn't even stand looking at all that purple! I hope this is more aesthetically pleasing. If you missed the purple, you're probably better off.

Veg history answer

Like I mentioned before, here is a post of an answer for my vegetation history class.  The question: Does history matter?  In other words, do we need to know about events in the past to understand the present?
     History matters.  We do need to know about events in the past to understand the present, but even more, we need to understand the past to understand the present, and the future.  Understanding sequences of events that shaped the past or variables that interacted to cause events in the past will help us better understand the present.  
     The diversity of the Amazon rainforest is a pertinent question that involves the understanding of history.  If we can understand what caused the Amazon to become so diverse, then we understand the present condition better and can possibly plan for the future.  Adams and Woodward (1989) assert that diversity is controlled by modern-day net primary productivity.  However, they state in their introduction that, “ differences in species richness between three northern temperate regions, Europe, eastern North America and eastern Asia, can be mainly explained in terms of present-day climate factors … without the need to invoke the historical explanation.”     They conclude that history does not matter, because strikingly similar patterns in the productivity-richness pattern occur on various continents, separated by vast oceans.  Therefore whatever happened in these various places in the past certainly did not make any difference in what we see there now.
     McGlone (1996) has another argument.  He argues that, “A close relationship between climate and species richness is observable only at regional scales and results mainly from the influence of glacial-interglacial climatic cycles in determining the regional species pool.”  In other words, McGlone refutes Adams and Woodward’s hypothesis by saying that it is important what plants existed on each continent in the past, and what happened to those plants as climate changed.  McGlone argues that both the plants you start out with and the type of climatic changes they have to deal with all help to give us our modern-day assemblages.  He also reminds us that, “Ecological and biogeographical processes work continuously through time, and the current situation must reflect past ecologies.”
     Another author who advocates for the past is Retallack (2001).  In his paper, Retallack poses a lofty argument that Cenozoic climate change was driven by the expansion of the grasslands and the co-evolution of grasslands and grazers.  Throughout his paper, Retallack argues that grasslands have the ability to control global climate by being carbon sinks, fertilizers, dehumidifiers, and fire starters.  Besides his point that grasslands are important to climate change, Retallack reinforces the argument that understanding history is important for understanding the present.  An underlying point of his paper is that we need to understand what caused the Cenozoic global cooling that lead to the recent ice ages in order to understand our present situation, and what might happen in the future.  
     Leopold and Denton (1987) use grassland development to make a strong argument that history is important.  They study the development of grasslands in western North America, and the differences between the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains and Columbia Plateaus grasslands through time.  They state that, “The biogeographic, physical, and climatic contrasts of these regions imply that their historical development must have been very different.”  In comparing the evolution of grasslands over the western U.S., they found stark differences between the three regions over time.  Their conclusion: the regions had to have something different happen to them in the past, and that past affected what we see in those areas today.  
     Lastly, Whitlock and Bartlein (1993) show that history matters in the paleoecologic record of the northern Rocky Mountains.  They conclude that vegetation and climate changes in the northern Rockies during the Holocene were due, at least in part, to changes in summer insolation.  Knowing things like this about the past can help us understand why conditions are as they are today.  

October 21, 2005

New template

I've finally finished a new template. PLEASE let me know if you think it is the ugliest thing you've ever seen, and if it will make you stop reading my blog. Purple isn't my favorite color, but I wanted a cool-colored blog. Something relaxing. But if purple will cause me to lose readers, then I'll change it. :)

I've been combating the sleepy bug today. It seems to happen especially on Friday afternoons. I have statistics class at 1, in a warm room, right after lunch. That always makes me sleepy, and it seems I can't shake it on Fridays. I had some LOI analysis to finish (crucibles to take out of the oven) after class today, and that seemed to wake me up a bit. I was seriously considering going home at about 3 and napping, but I'm still here. I'm hanging on as long as I can today. I think I will go to the physics colloquium at 4. It's a nice change of scenery. Today's talk is, "The Compact Light Source: A Miniature Synchrotron Light Source for the Homelab". Maybe I won't go.

In the interest of something scientific, my next post will probably be from one of the questions we had to answer in my veg history class. I'm finishing them up for Monday, and some are interesting questions. We're learning about ecology, but I"m sure you ecologists out there know way more than I ever will. Maybe it'll encourage thinking. Next time...

October 20, 2005

The Salt Lake story

I've been back from GSA for a day now, and I finally have time to write. Sciencewoman asked what my favorite talks were, and how the conference went in general. So here is the story:

The conference started Sunday morning, with the student breakfast at 7. We got to SLC on Saturday afternoon, so we had a bit of time to relax, which was very nice! Sunday noon I had a meeting - and I got a free lunch out of it! Sunday afternoon I looked at the paleontology posters, and I met a couple grad students in paleobotany. They were all very nice. Later Sunday afternoon my husband and I actually got together with one of my friends from high school, who is at BYU. That was fun. We walked around the city and looked at the Temple, and then ate some really, really good indian food. Mmmmm.

Monday morning I saw some paleontology talks. My favorite was "Comparison of museum and published relative abundances reveals a consistent publication bias" by Edward Davis. But other talks were also really cool, like Dan Peppe's "Magnetostratigraphy and megaflora of the lower Paleocene Fort Union Formation along the southwestern margin of the Williston Basin, North Dakota".

Monday for lunch my husband and I went to this quaint little tearoom and had sandwiches and tea. That's where I realized my email problem, and wrote my last blog entry. Later that afternoon I went to some talks in the "Causes and effects of the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum and other Paleogene hyperthermal events" session. I think my favorite from that session was Victoriano Pujalte's "Abrupt climatic and sea level changes across the Paleocene-Eocene boundary, as recorded in an ancient coastal plain setting (Pyrenees, Spain)". But all the talks were great. After that session I had another meeting, and then the grad students that I met on Sunday afternoon invited me to dinner with them. We had empanadas, which were yummy and cheap. Monday night there were alumni receptions, and my husband and I went to the "Rio Grande Rift" reception (it was all NM schools plus UTEP) and saw some people we haven't seen in a while.

Tuesday morning I went to more paleontology posters and talked with Lael Vetter (Spider) about her "The Gilcrease Ranch mammoth site, Las Vegas Valley". I had yet another meeting that morning, and another at 1. We left SLC at about 2 that afternoon.

I didn't go to talks the whole time, but the ones I saw were really interesting. I also really enjoyed talking with the people presenting posters, and meeting new grad students doing what I want to do. It was good all around, I think.

Now that I'm back I have to get my butt in gear! I have a 10 page paper and presentation to write by Thanksgiving, I have stats homework, and I have to get my committee figured out! I'm still waiting for radiocarbon dates so that I can figure out my committee and re-write my proposal. I'm not worried about the writing, that will go quickly. I am getting a little antsy about my committee, since I need to have a meeting this semester and schedule comps for late January or early February. Argh!

October 17, 2005

In the midst of silliness

I'm in the middle of GSA in Salt Lake City. Very exciting. Geologists EVERYWHERE! I came here to meet people doing what I want to do, and so far I have had one success.

I am one of the few left without a cell phone. So I told the people that I wanted to meet with that I would be checking my email often. I have been checking it fairly often, several times a day, but I seemed to not be getting anything! The webmail I am using from my university has recently been changed, so I was trying to use the new system. And just a few minutes ago I realized that I wasn't seeing new emails because for some reason, I wasn't sorting by date... *sigh* I had a couple of emails from the people I wanted to meet with, all suggesting times or places. One was this morning, which I completely missed because of my email faux pas. Oops.

Hopefully, all will work out well. Yesterday was really productive actually. My meeting went very well, and I *maybe* found some potential projects (PhD or just work, either is good). I have seen some great talks and met some really cool people doing cool things. I'm just a bit angry with myself for being such a dork. And, it is very difficult for me to just walk up to people and introduce myself, especially when they're talking to other people. I haven't got that level of self-confidence I guess. I'm learning to be more assertive though. It just takes some time.

October 14, 2005

Anonymous thoughts

BotanicalGirl has recently written a very thought-provoking post about anonymous blogging, and what or what not to write. This got me thinking a lot (as I'm sure it got most people thinking) about my own blog and how anonymous I am.

I've thought about this a little before. I changed my "name" to just K (before it was my first name). I don't have much in the way of a profile. I have made my geographical location clear in previous posts, and my university. I have talked about my department a couple of times, nothing very specific. I have talked a little about my research, but not in any great detail either. This is different for me than BotanicalGirl, because I'm not afraid of getting scooped, I just think it would bore all my potential readers to death! I try not to complain about specific things, such as university policies, my advisor, department, labmates, etc. Because I don't want them to find my blog and potentially read what I think about them, of course. So I try to keep that to a minimum. Except that I have expressed the fact that I don't particularly love my research and I'm looking for something new. But my advisor knows that already anyway.

Very few people I know personally read my blog. I think my husband reads occasionally, and my mom reads maybe once a month. My *constant* reader is my father-in-law (hi dad!). I really love the fact that he reads my blog on a regular basis. I love it because I know at least someone will read what I write (and that's always a good feeling). But I also love it because I feel that by reading whatever I write, he is getting to know me a little better, and with that I feel closer to him. We get along well already(which is fairly lucky I think), but we don't get to talk much, so this is a way of keeping mentally in-touch.

Sometimes I would like to post more about my research (when it is interesting), but I do feel like it is boring to the average reader. A few readers of BotanicalGirl's blog commented that they enjoy her more personal posts. I enjoy them too! I feel that we're all sort of getting to know one another in the blog-world, however anonymously. And it is always soooo nice to find out that someone else is going through similar things in their life. Whether you read about it on someone else's blog, or post something personal yourself and get comments, you're pretty much assured that someone out there can empathize. I love that about blogging. It's almost like group therapy. I know that sounds totally corny!

Getting things together

I spent this morning getting ready for my trip to Salt Lake city, where I'm going for the Geological Society of America conference. I'm not presenting a poster or giving a talk - I'm going to meet some people doing what I really want to do. I want to get to know more people in the paleobotanical field, maybe to find some PhD research or just other research in general. I'm really looking forward to this.

The weather should be nice for the trip too. My husband is driving down with me. It should be a nice break from school here, for a couple days.

October 11, 2005


More time-wasting quizzes! What else is the internet good for?
You Should Get a PhD in Science (like chemistry, math, or engineering)

You're both smart and innovative when it comes to ideas.
Maybe you'll find a cure for cancer - or develop the latest underground drug.

October 07, 2005

I just did something extraordinary

For me that is.

I was having a misunderstanding with my advisor. And what I did was clear it up right away. I told her exactly what I meant and what I was thinking. The whole story is too complicated for me to write right now, but the point is that I did something I haven't done before. I didn't let this thing stew in my mind, I just made myself clear. That was so nice. Now I don't have to be annoyed or angry or anything. Whew!

This weekend - two field trips to Yellowstone. Saturday it's for the Yellowstone class (that I'm TAing), and Sunday it's for the Veg History class I'm in. On Sunday Danny's going with, which I'm super glad about. And I rigged it so we don't have to core (which we've done enough times, thank you very much), but we're going to hike up on the hills above the lake they're coring and take pictures! Heheh.

October 06, 2005

Changes to comps

Right now in the Earth sciences department here the faculty are discussing changes to the comprehensive exams. Here at MSU, the graduate college requires all Master's students be given a comprehensive examination before graduation. Previously in the department there were significant differences between the "geology" and "geography" comps. Your distinction as "geology" or "geography" was based on your committee and your project. I've been struggling with this since I got here, because I don't really fit in to either. I would rather be a geologist, but I can't escape the fact that my research is much more geographical than geological. I'm studying the last 1000 years! To a geologist that's practically nothing. They would all probably laugh in my face if I told them I'm a geologist. And I've got no training as a geographer, I've taken one geography class in my whole life. The paleoecological research I'm doing is definitely on the line between geology and geography. So I'm actually relieved that they're changing the comps.

Now the comps are going to involve an agreement between student and committee on 3 areas of depth that the student will be tested on. These areas will most likely have a lot to do with the specific project the student is working on. This is probably a good thing for the geologists, because previously they could be tested on any facet of geology imaginable. Whatever the people testing them wanted to ask. And it wasn't just your committee, no, any geology professor in the department could come and ask you questions. Your committee decided whether or not you passed. It's also probably good for the geography students. They used to have to decide on 2 areas of depth with their committee. This meant you had to know those two areas in fairly great detail. So it might be better for them because now they have to focus on 3 areas a little more "lightly".

I think these changes are great. They're super for me, because now I don't have to worry about being on the line. I can just exist. That's nice. I think they're good for everyone else too. It just makes more sense. I'll be taking my comps in late January or early February. I still haven't solidified on a committee. I'm waiting for my radiocarbon dates. *sigh*

October 04, 2005

It is way too late for me

I'm sitting in the "physics library" at school with my husband who is frantically working on a quantum assignment for tomorrow (I think). He's been in here since 5. I've been here since 7. We're not doing so well. It's past my bed-time.

I want to write a really long complain-y post about the huge hole in our front yard. And about how I hate Bozeman. I feel like I'm the only person in the whole world who hates this place. People flock here! To ski! Or snowboard! Whatever! I'm really going to try not to write that though. I want to try to have a positive outlook.

I suppose I'll use the rest of the laptop batteries for looking for a new apartment.

October 03, 2005

Yay for time-wasting quizzes!

I just spent a few minutes taking these tests:

You are Schroeder!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

You are a

Social Liberal
(66% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(30% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on Ok Cupid
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test