Sunday, April 30, 2006

arizona wildlife

My parents went on a trip to Arizona over Easter, the first time in many years they'd taken a vacation without me, actually. Among the photos they brought back were a couple pretty nice ones of wildlife I thought I'd share.



My dad's description of this was essentially, "Look! We saw a bird on a cactus and took a picture for you!" I managed to identify it as a gila woodpecker. I guess it makes sense that woodpeckers would live in saguaro cacti, but it hadn't occurred to me before.




This little guy is a chuckwalla (a sort of medium-sized lizard with a fat tail) that my dad saved from being tormented by some kid. My dad didn't say how old the kid was - he could have been my age for all I know - but my dad told the guy the chuckwalla would probably bite him if he didn't leave it alone, and that scared him off. I have no idea how likely the lizard actually would have been to bite him, but it doesn't matter as long as this person stopped chasing it.

Anyway, these make me look forward to traveling again... we're planning a family trip to Colorado sometime this summer, and I'll need to get a field guide for the birds of that part of the country before we go!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

hooray for chemical fumes

In my chemistry lab this morning we were working with diethyl ether, and I kept thinking of that M*A*S*H episode where they run out of their regular anesthetic and have to use ether, and all the patients are gagging and everyone in the OR keeps passing out. Oh yeah, what a lovely smell... not. I spent most of the morning trying to breathe as little as possible.

Then I spent the entire afternoon hanging around the avian microbiology lab, helping make media for bird banding this weekend and talking to my advisor about my paper on sparrow preening. And I got to thinking.

For the past year I've been telling everyone (friends, professors, parents) that I know exactly what I want to do, and that's get my PhD in zoology and do research. So after telling everyone this with such certainty, what do I do if I change my mind? If I decide that I don't think I'm going to be able to handle the pressure and the competition of being a research scientist? If I want to do a less rigorous track of classes within my zoology major so I can focus on what I'm actually interested instead of the physics and organic chemistry I'll need to get into grad school?

Arrrggghhhh. Maybe it's just that I'm stressed out or that the ether fumes affected my brain, but suddenly I'm all topsy-turvy. I ranted to my roommates for a little while and they calmed me down and convinced my that for the time being I should just keep on the way I am and keep my options open.

Monday, April 24, 2006

pigeonholes

(because being an ornithologist, I like bird metaphors...)

I'm only a couple weeks away from finishing my first year of college (God, already? where did the time go?), and it's still amazing me. At my high school, most people were easy to categorize. Druggies, band geeks, jocks, you know the sort of slots teenagers fit into. I don't know category I myself was, maybe none at all, because I tended to have friends from all of them.

College is completely different. Every time you think you've gotten someone pegged, they surprise you. There's a guy in my avian microbiology tutorial who's double majoring in zoology and French, a very articulate, well-informed guy. In high school, I could have predicted that someone like this would be something of a geek. However, outside the classroom this guy is a huge womanizer and partier. And yet he's genuinely nice and intelligent and I have a lot of respect for him.

At the other end of the spectrum is one of the guys I was recently assigned to work with on a project for my music class, the kind of beer-drinking jock that makes you think "oh, please no" when you find out you're assigned to work with him. For our project we had to analyze a piece of music by Claude Debussy. Wonder of wonders, this guy ACTUALLY LIKES CLASSICAL MUSIC, and did a good job on his part of the assignment.

So yeah. People keep surprising me. I wonder if I'll ever get used to it.

Friday, April 21, 2006

ok, i probably shouldn't be this excited, but...

THERE'S GOING TO BE ANOTHER STAR TREK MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!

I could have sworn they said Nemesis was supposed to be the last one, which was a pity. That was a really sucky movie, not a good note to end on. I mean, they killed off my favorite character, but it wasn't a very good movie even overlooking that fact. It was just silly.

But huzzah! I checked the Star Trek website today and the big headline was STAR TREK XI, tentatively planned to be released in 2008!

According to the article, it's not going to be a continuation of the Next Generation characters, but something completely different - sort of "Kirk and Spock: The Early Years," about their time at Starfleet Academy and their first mission together. I wonder who the heck will play Kirk and Spock, because it sure can't be the Shatman and Nimoy, they're way too old. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Ah, wow, this is a great day for geeks everywhere!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

high drama, college style

The last week or so here has been full of a lot of drama as everyone figures out their living situation and course schedule for next fall. I have enough credits that I got to register for next fall's courses as a rising junior, even though this is only my first year, and I ended up with more or less the classes I wanted: I'm going to be taking Environmental Plant Biology, Environmental Alteration, Applied Statistics, and Music of the Middle Ages, Rennaissance, and Baroque. I also applied for a student fellowship to do a research project involving the affect of development (like, construction, housing developments) on avian abundance and diversity. Woo. I wonder if I'll get it.

Then tonight was the big housing lottery thing where we all get to pick where we're going to live next year. MH, SR, my previously unmentioned friend MJ, and I were planning on sharing a quad next year, and we really wanted to be in the same dorm we're all in now, which is the all women's dorm. The problem was that our lottery number, which determined our place in the pecking order for selecting rooms, was really low. We watched in dismay as the rooms in our preferred dorm were taken one by one... we started to accept the fact that we'd have to take a pair of double rooms in an inferior dorm with communal bathrooms... when our number was called! We made fools of ourselves by jumping up and down and squealing because we got THE LAST AVAILABLE ROOM IN OUR DORM, the last quad on campus. It was very exciting.

And I'll stop with all the college drama dorkiness now.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

the grand opening

Hello Patrice, Jen, and whoever else followed the link from my old blog. This post constitutes the official grand opening of the new site. The last two posts were just for later reference.

If this isn't coherent it's because it's 12:15 AM and I am not a night owl. Happy Tuesday.

the cast of characters

MH. My roommate and a good friend. She's from Sri Lanka and is Buddhist.

SM. Another close friend, a Muslim girl from Pakistan, who I'm planning on rooming with next year.

MJ. The third of my intended roommates for next year, a plain ol' Ohio girl like me, unlike the other two.

SR. The person I'm generally referring to when I mention my "best" friend. I've known her since elementary school.

The parentals. Yeah. I mention them every once in a while.

More to be added as they pop up in blog entries...

Monday, April 17, 2006

100 things about me

  1. I have no idea what to put as the number one thing about me. I mean, that's pretty defining, isn't it? Incidentally the items that follow are in no particular order.
  2. I do not handle stress at all well.
  3. I prefer dark chocolate.
  4. I was in love once.
  5. I am neurotic about organizing the files on my computer; for example, papers for school are arranged into folders by class, and further by semester, with the file names matching their titles, etc. etc. etc.
  6. I rarely ever drank coffee before I started college. Now I'm an addict.
  7. I can say "bless you" (like what you say when someone sneezed) in Arabic.
  8. When I'm nervous, I have a variety of odd ticks like pushing my glasses up my nose and constantly adjusting my watch.
  9. I play the trombone. Quite well, actually, if I say so myself.
  10. I am aware that hardly anyone reads this blog and yet I keep it up anyway.
  11. My two favorite-ever novels are The Beekeeper's Apprentice and Life of Pi, both of which are sitting on my desk next to me as I write this.
  12. My favorite play is Inherit the Wind, and one of the people who co-wrote it graduated from my school.
  13. I am a Trekkie.
  14. I never used to get fangirlish about movie stars, but I'm in loooooooove with Ewan McGregor.
  15. I have a half-sister and a half-brother who are much older than me (sixteen and eighteen years older, respectively, as I recall).
  16. I was one of those girls who made friendship bracelets out of embroidery floss, but I eventually moved on from that to making actually jewelry with beads and beading wire and clasps and whatnot, and now I'm glad I did because I have the ability to repair my own jewelry when clasps and stuff break.
  17. I was also one of those girls who drew pictures of horses in elementary school.
  18. And I used to be really into different alphabets and stuff -- Egyptian hieroglyphics, Elvish runes, Shavian, I tried my hand at all of them at some point or another.
  19. The most times I've ever gone to a single movie when it was in theaters is three. It was Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
  20. I was in second grade when I decided I wanted to be a writer. I'd written a mystery that year about a family of rabbits whose carrots were stolen by a fox, and it made it into the school district's literary journal.
  21. I have an extremely eclectic music collection. Classical, jazz, oldies, pop, movie soundtracks, Harry Potter fan music (a.k.a. "wizard rock")... yeah.
  22. My fingers are double-jointed; I can bend them back about ninety degrees.
  23. I am utterly incapable of touching my tongue to my nose. I have a really short tongue, I guess.
  24. I don't like tomatoes.
  25. I hate spending money. I got this from my parents, who are very cheap.
  26. I don't wear make-up. Hardly ever. The last time I wore make-up was for my senior prom.
  27. My favorite colors are blue and purple.
  28. I'm more of a cat person than a dog person.
  29. I used to speak German pretty fluently, but since I stopped actually taking German classes I've gotten extremely rusty.
  30. I went to see John Kerry during the 2004 presidential election.
  31. I have never owned a cell phone.
  32. I have four pairs of earrings and two pairs of socks with frogs on them.
  33. I got red highlights in my hair a couple times in high school, but for the most part I pretty much leave my hair alone. Wash it, dry it, put it up if it looks crappy down, and get it trimmed whenever it starts getting ratty.
  34. I don't really like to swim.
  35. I know the constellations (you know, the stars, in the sky) pretty well, but not as well as I used to.
  36. I'm not religious.
  37. I am very well traveled, especially for someone my age.
  38. When people give me backrubs it tickles. I squirm around and giggle.
  39. My high school graduating class voted me "Most Likely to Become a Politician."
  40. My first car was a silver Ford Taurus. I think the year was... '94? I have no head for such things. It used to be my dad's.
  41. I used to think it was immoral to burn CDs because it's, you know, illegal. I'm not that naive anymore. I burn CDs all the time.
  42. I don't think drinking is immoral, either; I don't even think underage drinking is necessarily immoral. But I'm not a drinker myself.
  43. I love ice cream. And cheesecake, though I didn't use to. And chocolate cake.
  44. I like coconut, and mushrooms, two thing that many people don't like.
  45. I've eaten sushi, but (as of this writing) only the sushi they have here on campus, and I have no idea how authentic it is.
  46. I was definitely a PBS kid. I watched all those PBS kids shows. (Though there were some different ones then than now. What happened to Kratt's Kreatures? I can seriously trace my interest in zoology right back to watching that show when I was six or so.)
  47. I have trouble working in a group if I'm not in charge. Usually. If I'm intimidated by other people in the group, then it just freaks me out, like when I had to lead a trombone sectional and my section included several music majors.
  48. If I were to ever get a flat tire while driving by myself, I would really be screwed. I couldn't change a tire to save my life.
  49. I can be very insecure about my friends. I always hate it when my friends do anything fun without me. I feel like I'm being left out of the loop or something.
  50. For an English project in my senior year of high school, we had to pick the four adjectives we felt best described ourselves. Mine were intelligent, creative, contemplative, and I forget what else. Out of curiosity I asked my best friend what adjective she would use to describe me, and all she could come up with was "musical," which I found rather irritating.
  51. People confided secrets in me surprisingly often in high school, and I didn't handle it well. Probably a good thing that no one at college has shown this tendency.
  52. I had braces, but only on the bottom.
  53. My only piercings are a single hole in each ear.
  54. I secretly think it would be cool to get my nose pierced. But I'm too chicken.
  55. I like reading the ends of books before I actually get to the end. I get more out of reading a novel if I know where the plot is heading. (For the same reason I like reading really good novels for the second time even more than the first.) My best friend thinks this is heresy.
  56. I cried when Dumbledore died in the sixth Harry Potter book, but not when my grandmother died.
  57. I can't decide whether or not I like the fact that I grew up in a small town in Ohio. It was cool to grow up somewhere where everyone knew everyone else, but on the other hand it was a pretty narrow-minded little place.
  58. I consider myself a feminist.
  59. I spent three and a half weeks in Germany without my parents when I was sixteen and I didn't try beer once.
  60. I think Katharine Hepburn is the greatest actress ever.
  61. I keep a paper-and-ink journal in addition to my blog, but I don't write in it nearly as much as I should.
  62. I finally made the switch from old-school pencils to mechanical pencils when I started college.
  63. My favorite word is "defenestration."
  64. My favorite city I have been to is San Francisco, probably closely followed by Berlin and Munich.
  65. I love Walt Whitman's poetry.
  66. The only computer game I own is The Sims 2.
  67. I've never taken piano lessons, but I borrowed a friend's piano books and taught myself the basics.
  68. I'm having a lot of trouble coming up with 100 things about myself.
  69. When I was little I thought Karl Marx was one of the Marx brothers.
  70. I'm a browncoat.
  71. I never spend change. I save it up in a jar, and when I have enough I put it in rolls and deposit it in the bank.
  72. I have never once in my life plucked or waxed or otherwise manipulated my eyebrows. It's just not a skill I've ever acquired. Maybe I should ask MH to teach me.
  73. I've grown to like doing laundry, but I've never ironed anything by myself.
  74. I can bake some things, but not actually cook.
  75. I've been to all three American coasts (East, West, and Gulf).
  76. The first time I rode in a plane was at Kitty Hawk.
  77. I played with Barbies when I was little, but now I think they are evil and if I ever have a daughter she will NOT be allowed to have Barbies. Barbie clearly suffers from anorexia.
  78. I like dangly earrings, but not really heavy ones, because I'm afraid of getting my lobes all stretched out.
  79. I can tell a red-bellied woodpecker apart from a pileated woodpecker by sound alone. (That one's for Jen...)
  80. I know two people who got perfect 1600s on the SAT test (before they changed the scoring and made it out of 2400).
  81. One of them is the person I was in love with the single aforementioned time that I have ever been in love.
  82. I myself only got a 1450. Stupid math score brought me down.
  83. MH got me hooked on Friends, but I can't pick a single favorite character: it's a toss-up between Joey, Chandler, and Phoebe.
  84. I learn the words to songs really quickly. My albums that I own and listen to regularly, I know all the lyrics to all the songs, and I do tend to sing along with them out loud when I play them. My roommates are amused by this. (All my lovin... I will send to you-oo-oooo... All my lovin... darlin i'll be truuuuuue...)
  85. I can also memorize things on the trombone pretty easily. I can still play all of the solo I did last year from memory, and most of the one from the year before that.
  86. My best friend and I have known each other since first grade. Now we're going to college together, which is pretty cool.
  87. My parents don't know I have a blog. Well, actually, my mom might suspect but she's discrete about such things, thankfully.
  88. I live in an all women's dorm.
  89. The quotes on my Facebook profile consist mostly of things I myself have said, because strange things come out of my mouth sometimes, such as "So if God didn't want us to make obscene gestures we wouldn't have been born with middle fingers?" and "I need to marry a former Pakistani cricket star so I can divorce him and date Hugh Grant."
  90. I have scoliosis - not bad enough to have ever needed a brace, but I do have it. (It means my spine is kind of curvy. You can't really tell unless you run your hand across my back, though.)
  91. When I was in sixth grade I had pneumonia and missed two weeks of school.
  92. Never once, all through middle school and high school, was I ever marked tardy for a single class.
  93. My very first "real" job was at a McDonald's; before that I'd gotten paid for giving trombone lessons and for playing trombone at a church, though.
  94. I sometimes filch things like staplers and paper from my roommates.
  95. I generally get along with people very well. There are a few people who extremely get on my nerves, but they tend to get on everyone else's nerves, too.
  96. I took a yoga class a couple years ago and loved it, and I wish I had time to take yoga now.
  97. I used to be afraid of thunderstorms, but now I think they're really cool.
  98. The movie Shawshank Redemption was filmed in the area around my hometown, as were a few scenes from Air Force One.
  99. I'm trying to think of something really definitive for number 100.
  100. Um... I hate sauerkraut. (Wow, Rebecca, really definitive.)