Dec. 11th, 2007 09:44 am
hesperornis: (Rogue)
Wow... I'm sure I just did extremely poorly on my multivariate stats final.  *cries*  This class has held my interest surprisingly well for anything related to mathematics, and I'm planning on taking the follow-up course next semester if I can, but I'm just having a hard time processing some of the concepts. 

The only question I know for absolute dead certain that I got right is the definition of "homoscedasticity."  And the only reason I remembered that is because the stupid word has stuck in my head because of it's sheer awesomeness.  The awesomeness of the word, that is, not the concept which is fairly mundane ('equivalent variances'). 

Will someone please tell me why I didn't major in English?  I am so sick to death of all this research crap. 
hesperornis: (Not In Kansas)
During the time I spent in New Zealand, I learned the expression "Have a Chocolate Fish," meaning 'good idea' or 'well done' or somesuch.  I heard this from fellow students, from profs, on TV shows, all over--but never did I once see an actual chocolate fish.  Typically when a 'chocolate fish' was offered in class (once or twice, for correct answers) a small, non-fish shaped chocolate piece was offered, and I came to believe that there was no such confection, merely an old expression that was applied to any small chocolate piece. 

Then today, I did an online search for 'chocolate fish' to see if I might find some cheap fish-shaped or foil-wrapped chocolates in tropical fish patterns or something similar, to use as prizes in an in-class game.  And lo and behold--the Chocolate Fish has a Wikipedia entry.  Turns out it's technically a _marshmallow_ fish that's been covered in a thin coat of chocolate.  And they're pretty big as far as candies go--six to eight inches long, apparently. 

Folks who have been to New Zealand (and I know there are a couple of you)--did you ever see one of these?  I thought I'd integrated into Kiwi culture pretty well, but oh was I wrong...


Nov. 21st, 2007 10:18 am
hesperornis: (Rogue)

I cannot _believe_ this crap.  Oy.
hesperornis: (Rogue)
I found out today (via the VrtPaleo listserver) that Ben Stein is an Intelligent Design supporter.  As if that wasn't irritating enough, he apparently recently came out and said that denying ID equal time in science classrooms constitutes RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION. 

...  Except that the whole arguing point of the ID community is that they're trying very, very hard to convince people that they're OMG "Real Science" and not just a thinly veiled attempt to put religion in science classrooms. 

So is Ben Stein really that stupid or is he pulling a Colbert-esque act?  Too bad it's probably the first one...
hesperornis: (Not In Kansas)
The big Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting was this past week, and I am only just now getting over the severe brain-lag.  Spending a week surrounded by people who all manage to get paid to do stuff like measure the disembowelling ability of a raptor claw (very low, it turns out) is overwhelming in the extreme.  Especially since the only thing most of these people like more than dead things with backbones is consuming large quantities of alcohol and staying out very late partying.  Often _while_ geeking out about dead things with backbones. 

On the up side, I think I might finally have a viable research project.  I'm desperately making contacts and searching the literature, hoping that this will prove to be something that is neither too big nor too small to make a good PhD dissertation.  Wish me luck on that.  I need to get this started rolling before I fall back into the "maybe I'm not cut out for this" funk that I've been in for the past several months. 

On the down side, I am now desperately behind in all of the classes I missed last week.  Soooo the next few days will be spent playing catch-up and trying to comprehend the more and more difficult subject matter we're covering in Multivariate Stats.  Which may be difficult since this weekend I'm going to Dallas to be a COMPLETE AND TOTAL GEEK and watch the live Walking With Dinosaurs show.  Because, wow.  Life-size Brachiosaurs on stage?  I'm there.  Accompanied by Rissa, her sister, and her sister's two small boys, who are really the target audience of the show, but what the hell.  Most paleontologists are still five-year-olds at heart, right? 
hesperornis: (hespersurface)
My family's dog since I was in high school, Gingersnap, was put down this morning at 9:30.  Ginger was a big sweetie with a very expressive face, stubby legs with big paws, and a wagging tail that would beat you half to death.  She was diagnosed with lymphoma last spring, and although she lived well with it for several months, she was starting to obviously suffer for most of the time.  I wasn't there, but my parents and my sister were--the same ones who first picked her out at the animal shelter.  She was the sweetest little pound puppy ever and she will be sorely missed.  
hesperornis: (Not In Kansas)
...But I am nearly two weeks into classes and already feeling overwhelmed.  It's stacking up to be a busy semester. 

I got into the TEACH program ("Teaching Effectiveness And Career enHancement"), so I have a number of small classes to attend for that and a publishable project to produce by the end of the year.  That in addition to _all three_ of my classes requiring a "small project" by the end of the semester.  And those thesis proposals, oral exams, and other things that I've put off for too long (turns out I'm a year behind already--ouch). 

But my new apartment is nice, I still enjoy my teaching, I actually _have_ a couple of thesis ideas for a change, and I've made a commitment to work out regularly this year.  I bought a swimsuit on clearance at Academy so I can join Rissa for swimming workouts, and I've been bribing myself to use the cardio machines at the gym by watching Doctor Who on Fridays on the little cable TVs. 

The most exciting recent development is that I was randomly contacted by an acquisitions editor for a publishing company, looking for a discussion of Historical Geology teaching technique and a possible collaboration.  I wrote back, thanking her for thinking of me but gently letting her know that she _probably_ meant to contact one of the professors who teach the lecture, not a lowly TA without so much as a dissertation proposal under her belt.  I must have been a bit too gentle, though, because now I have an appointment to meet with her next week.  Maybe I should clean my office...

Thank you so much to everyone I got to see in Seattle!  I had a blast, and I can't wait to go back to visit again!
hesperornis: (hespersurface)
Well, I finished the Harry Potter book, and no-one spoiled it for me.  As a matter of fact, it didn't even really come up.  Once again, I stressed entirely too much about something which really, really didn't matter all that much. 

The book was good.  It left me wanting a bit, but that's really just to be expected.  I am both vaguely annoyed and extremely pleased that J.K. Rowling has expressed no desire to continue the series.  It finished well... I just crave further details. 

And that's all I'm going to say about that, despite the fact that most people who care will have already read the book cover-to-cover by now. 

In other news, my apartment is infested with small black beetles (at least they're not cockroaches), the politics around here are driving me nuts, and I am very much done with this place.  Two weeks to go... 

Oh yes, and my lip is bleeding from where I re-bit the same spot that I've bitten at least three previous times in the past week.  I may swear off chewing gum for good...
hesperornis: (Rogue)
I can't believe I'm starting to stress out over a book.

Yes, I like the Harry Potter books.  I'm not exactly a die-hard fan.  But I'm enough of a fan that I want to be able to read the book for myself and not have it spoiled. 

I resent the fact that I'm starting to consider and arrange my plans and schedule around the release date.  I won't be waiting in line at midnight Friday, and I won't be spending all weekend reading, but I will be changing my plans so I can go to see the new movie _before_ the book comes out.  I don't want to hang around Harry Potter fans after the book is released, at least until I've had a chance to read it. 

I resent the fact that, the instant Chris leaves for home, I will be sequestering myself with the new book and reading it as fast as I am able, so that I may experience it for myself rather than having it spoiled by some bratty kid visiting the Field Station.  I resent that I may have to stay up all night Monday in order to do so.  I've considered taking Tuesday off, and I resent that I even have to think about that. 

I don't like that the media are so all over this book that I may have to cut myself off from the outside world for at least an entire weekend.  No newspapers or TV, and definitely no internet, because some jackass will be sure to ruin something for those of us who have a life that doesn't entirely revolve around fictional characters.

I resent all of this, but of course I'm going to do it anyway.  *sigh*  Now I just have to somehow put it out of my head until I'm able to read the damn book.

So tired

Jul. 15th, 2007 05:36 pm
hesperornis: (Not In Kansas)
I returned to Malta yesterday after a week in the field in 90+ degree temperatures.  Blah.  I found nothing of consequence, but I did have fun and I puzzle-pieced part of a stegosaur plate.  There was also much amusement, cool people and some pretty decent food.  Oh, and respectable camp showers, which, though cold, made the sweaty, sunscreeny and dusty muck of the field much more bearable.  The only thing I could really complain about was the leafy spurge, which I am apparently violently allergic to.  I had to resort to taking my once-a-day allergy pill twice a day just to be able to breathe at night. 

I really do enjoy the camping and even the hot and dusty fieldwork, but it's always nice to come home to a real bed and air conditioning. 
hesperornis: (Rogue)
I've been reading one of the Clive Cussler books that my dad recently lent me, and I was reminded of something that I noticed when I started reading this author's stuff way back in middle school or so--Cussler sucks at writing strong women.  Actually, he kind of sucks at writing women just generally.  The more I think about it, the more I notice it, and the more annoying it gets.

....Wow, this has gotten really long, rambly, and frankly irrelevant to pretty much anyone who'd read this casually.  I've put most of the rant behind the LJ cut.  You have been warned. 

I debated whether to use my Rogue or Kaylee icon for this post.  Both are awesome strong fictional women, imho.  I opted for Rogue because Kaylee just looked too happy for the slightly annoyed tone of the post. 

... And because Rogue can throw cars.  Throwing cars is cool. 
hesperornis: (hespersurface)
I just met the Miss Montana Outstanding Teen Pageant winner... and she's a dinosaur geek.  She's on a tour of the Montana Dinosaur Trail, and was happily admiring, discussing, and getting in amongst the fossils here while wearing her heels, crown, and adorable dress.  She told us sheepishly how she has to have makeup on her back because she got sunburnt on the week-long dig she went on last week (right after being crowned--she wanted to escape the stress).  She's planning on using the scholarship money from her win to attend MSU and study paleontology.  She spoke intelligently of microsites and bonebeds. 

I suddenly find myself with much more respect for the 'scholarship pageant' concept. 
hesperornis: (hespersurface)
It has been some time since I posted, partially because my carpal tunnel is acting up something fierce due to spending extensive time on the computer at work cataloging, and partially because there has been DRAMA at the field station to the tune of the person who offered me my job being asked to resign. It's all been a huge mess, and I don't know the details, but it has only increased my frustration with the politics and gossip inherent in the paleo community. It seems to take distressingly little to send a lifetime's career crashing down in flames.

On the plus side, although there are still rumors and gossip galore, overall things seem to be evening out, digs will still occur, I will still get the field experience I was hoping for, and I still have a job. (Yes, that was in question.) On the downside, there is a very real possibility that the star fossil at the Field Station, a Brachylophosaurus named Leonardo which is in the Guiness book of world records as being the world's most complete dinosaur, will be sold out from under us.

On a better note... 

Finding myself living in a place with easy access to a passenger train station for the first time... um, ever, I wish to take advantage of this unique opportunity.  In other words, I want to ride the train out to Seattle.  It's a 22 hour trip, but my schedule is flexible and I'm dying to see people!!!! 

For those of you Seattleites and/or former Whitties in the Seattle vicinity:  Will people be around/available/willing to put me up in your homes sometime around the first weekend of August?  Those of you who still participate in LJ, do you have current email addresses for the ones who don't?  Also, I'm considering the first weekend of August partially because it's the first weekend of the Gig Harbor Faire... would anyone be interested in getting together to attend?  (Or is that something that's been planned already?)  It's been two years since I went to/participated in a Renaissance Faire, and I miss it sorely. 

I'll send out an email as soon as I can compile some moderately up-to-date addresses, but please comment or email me if you have ideas or know of some reason that the first weekend of August would be bad timing for a visit!


May. 25th, 2007 05:10 pm
hesperornis: (Kaylee)
Yesterday I turned one-quarter-century old. Weird.

And I got an iPod, which is shiny and can play solitaire. I have yet to listen to music on it, but I have the solitaire application down pat, let me tell you.
hesperornis: (Kaylee)
Today, while browsing the wedding guidelines from my church, I learned that it is not only acceptable, but encouraged for brides to actively greet their guests in the foyer before the wedding ceremony.

What, so I don't have to hide out in the old confessional until the music starts? Wow! I always had a very hard time picturing myself as the elegant bride revealed dramatically to the guests and the groom anyway. I'm not really built for elegant and dramatic.

That, and I think the old superstition about the bride and groom not seeing each other before the ceremony is silly, and probably just adds stress all around.

I'm so happy with the idea of being an active participant in my own wedding... and not just a showpiece in a fluffy white dress. :-)
hesperornis: (Not In Kansas)

I'm home for Easter due to a fluke of scheduling. Tech gets Easter Monday off, which meant two of the three classes I teach every week weren't meeting anyway, so I offered my Thursday class the week off too... not surprisingly, they accepted. Then, the only class that I actually have to attend on a weekly basis (that isn't a sparsely-meeting seminar or whatever) is canceled this week for a conference that I'm not interested in. So, yay, I'm home.

Easter was nice, and mostly involved lots and lots of food. But this Lent has been truly bizarre. I had barely washed the ashes off my forehead when I completely dropped my lenten resolution, I missed mass for two weeks in a row due to travel around spring break, I failed at being meatless for at least one Friday, and then on Good Friday, I got so involved greeting all the various people in the entryway at church who know me but can never remember what I do ("you're in New York, right? working on archaeology?") that I laughed out loud. Cackled, really, or perhaps guffawed. Then, of course, I clamped my hand over my mouth and became utterly mortified that I'd just made a very, very loud and inappropriate noise at what amounts to Jesus's funeral. Fortunately, Fr. Steve is really laid back and just grinned quietly as I buried my face in my hat and went past into the sanctuary... I had the hardest time getting focused on the service after that.

Of course, then I started thinking about how this is all very lovely, but in some ways it has become very routine. I wonder sometimes how it feels to be one of the newly initiated at Easter Vigil, who considered their options and chose Catholicism. I suspect they have a certain amount of enthusiasm for faith and religion that perhaps I lack. But at the same time, it's not like I'd switch churches or faiths just to 'feel' something. Maybe I spend so much time analyzing stuff--because of my school and profession, or because it's the way I think--that it's OK, or even refreshing, to have something that just is, without analysis.

Who knows. That sounded a lot more profound during the vigil last night, and I'm tired. Good night. Hope everyone had a good Easter!


Mar. 22nd, 2007 12:21 pm
hesperornis: (Default)
My shower is on the fritz, both in that the hot water has become annoyingly unreliable and also in that it is now spitting black sooty or inky lumps at me that stain my skin and remind me of nothing so much as the black oil from the X-Files. I don't know if it's the water or the showerhead that's the culprit, but either way I'm going to go complain to my landlady this afternoon and see if I can't get it fixed. Because there's something very wrong about emerging from a shower visibly dirtier than when I entered it. :-P
hesperornis: (Default)
Does anyone remember when we sang Chichester Psalms? The one in Hebrew? I don't seem to have a recording of that concert, but I'm sure I remember rehearsing it. I sat in on a choir rehearsal when I was at Fort Hays last week, and they're singing Chichester Psalms... and I totally still remembered my part. It was odd. I was hoping to be able to play a recording for Chris, but I don't have one. Anyone out there have the Whitman Choir recording?
hesperornis: (Default)
I feel somewhat less ashamed for having just regaled the campus with my horrible rendition of variations on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, because immediately following my lesson, while walking back to the science building, I heard the discordant strains of an even worse rendition of Variations on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star played by the girl whose lesson is after mine.

I kind of feel bad for our instructor.
hesperornis: (Not In Kansas)
While doing some basic research for my thesis proposals, I ran into the following very short article in _The Complete Dinosaur_:

"Some irreverent thoughts about dinosaur metabolic physiology: Jurisphagous food consumption rates of _Tyrannosaurus rex_" by M. K. Brett-Surman and James O. Farlow.

They take two properly-cited pages to determine how many lawyers per year it would take to keep a T-rex fed. This requires them to find out "(A) The food requirements of a _T. rex_ for one year" and "(B) The food value of one lawyer".

The concept of Jurisphagy and the food value of a lawyer make me laugh so much. Hee!

...and, Rissa just called me a nerd. I suppose I deserved that. :-)
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