ru: (victory)
Okay, I totally didn't expect to be able to use this, but now I can. All I need is the Doctor in some jimjams.

By the ancient rites of academia, I forbid the act of stressing out this master's student with testing rituals like oral exams for the rest of time. And when you go back to your hallowed halls and tell others of this master's student, when you tell them of her trials, her sleepless nights, her stressing over tiny bits of morphology, when you talk of her thesis, then make sure you tell them this....


IT. IS. DEFENDED!!!!!!

ru: (EEEEK)
Did I say over nine hundred? I lied. I meant over one thousand.

I'm reminded of a scene from Akira, which, by the way, I should probably see. If nothing else, I've heard that the animation is very good. But anyway, I have seen this one scene from it, where one of the characters is transforming into this huge, monstrous blob thing with weird flesh-blobs coming out every which-way and is growing to insane proportions.

That's what this thesis makes me think of.
ru: (EEEEK)
What does Word currently say about my thesis, namely the number of pages it has?

IT'S OVER NINE HUNDREEEEEEEEEEEEEED.
ru: (Default)
Okay, let's see if I can do this crossposting thing, and how I like it.

I wish I could put together a more complicated post right now, but I am friggin' BEAT. Last night we went to see Jonathan Coulton in concert, which was thoroughly AWESOME. I also found myself really enjoying the opening band, Paul and Storm too. They got some really nice banter going with the audience, which made for hilarity. But basically it was a geek out of epic proportions on all fronts. People were waving their lightsaber apps to some of the ballads, some guy was making Wookie noises in the audience, everyone had WAY too much fun making lots of ARR noises during a song about pirates, and JoCo incorporated the Mario theme into one of his songs. And those are just the things I remember off the top of my head. It was kind of awesome, though, when the entire audience started singing along to some of the more well-known songs, like "Still Alive", and screaming(or zombie-mumbling) ALL WE WANT TO DO IS EAT YOUR BRAINS during "Re: Your Brains". Yep. We were at Geek Factor 9.

And then today Eien-chan and I went tromping out to one of the coastal parks in search of a rare species of Dichanthelium, as my advisor had the idea that we might be able to find some there, and it would be kind of awesome if we did, because I can count the number of global populations for this taxon on one hand. For the most part, it was very hot, and very humid, and we must have gone through something like 4 quarts of water between the two of us. And ultimately we didn't find any on this trip, which was disappointing, but not unexpected. But we did find plenty of other Dichanthelium species, and I got some pictures that might be helpful for when I'm making my defense.

I took about ten billion other pictures too, to the end of making a Kingdom100 contribution with them in the form of a photojournal by Alice. I think I've got enough pictures to make a story. That include paparazzi-hating hermit crabs and fiddler crab hordes! We'll see how that goes!
ru: (Anika)
So, for what I reeeally hope is the last time, I'm going to be heading back to DC to do a bit more work at the Smithsonian. In theory, the hotel I'm staying at has interwebs, although rumors on it have been a bit sketchy. So if I suddenly disappear until Thursday, that would be why! I do hope it works, though. Beyond that it'll help me stay in contact for school things, I'll miss you peoples otherwise!

In addition to doing my Smithsonian work, I'm also hoping that I'll be able to make it to a yarn shop I discovered to be in DC. It's only a few Metro stops away from where I'm going to be staying, too, which is convenient. Whether or not I can make it mostly depends on the train, if I'm going to go tomorrow, or whether or not I can finish work in a decent amount of time on Wednesday. Besides the fact that it's a yarn shop, and that in and of itself is something to look forward to, they apparently have kiviut yarn, which I would love the opportunity to fondle. <3

Overall, I hope this goes well. The next time I go to DC, I want to go as a frickin' tourist. XD
ru: (Default)
On Saturday I went into the woods with my advisor and one of my classmates, a freshly minted master's student who is getting started on his thesis project, and wanted some help. The project itself is kinda neat, and it was nice to be out in the field when it's NOT blazingly hot. However, this was also my first significant encounter with Smilax.

I'm quite convinced that Smilax is the rose's evil twin brother. It's a thin, green, whippy vine, with big, WICKED thorns. Profuse amounts of thorns. That will claw anything they can get their prickles on. And did I mention they are whippy? And also springy? So if you push one away it's gonna come right BACK in your face, clawing and biting like an irate cat.

The research area was COVERED in the stuff. I realized retrospectively that the reason I wore my Wellingtons that day was not because of standing water (it was bone dry), and not because of bug protection (the ticks should be mostly dead by now). It was for protection against the Smilax that would bite and claw at my legs whenever I stepped in a patch of it. I still managed to get scratched up a bit, even with protection. I think it's the closest thing we've got to a man-eating plant here, because it will GRAB YOUR ANKLES AND NOT LET GO. At one point while fighting to escape a swath of it without falling over an image flashed through my mind: The scene in the original Star Wars movie when Luke gets pulled under the water by the tentacle monster in the trash compactor.

You know, it would be awfully silly if my obituary said that I died fighting a patch of Smilax. Still. Vicious.
ru: (Default)
--My sample group for my thesis, it's powerful! I checked the reading! IT'S OVER FIVE HUNDREEEEEEEEED!

Or something to that effect. XD

--I realized today that in about a week I'll be back in school. In less than two weeks I'll be back in front of a class of students. That made my stomach drop out from under me briefly. It still has me pretty nervous. I think I'm better than I was this time last year, though, after coming off a very bad semester and uncertain if I could handle doing it again. It also helps that, barring a massive change of plans, I'll be teaching the same introductory bio class I taught last fall, so I already have notes, and have some sort of idea about what to expect. I also hope it means I can improve on things as well. One can hope.

Although there's still the scariness of getting in front of a group of students, especially the first class. First impressions and all that. Although it really helps to know that one of my fellow TAs is next door doing the same thing, and knowing that if things really go to hell in a handbasket with equipment or whatnot, I can call on the lab manager for help. Deep breath, Ru. You can do this again.

--On a completely different note, thanks to my dad's influence, I've started looking into podcasts. I was thinking they might be a nice thing to have when I don't feel like listening to music, and the radio is being uninteresting at that moment. I was thinking maybe I can find a gardening podcast, or maybe a language one. I wouldn't expect to gain fluency, but it might be fun to be exposed to at least the basics of another language. Like Swahili! <3

Do any of you guys listen to podcasts? Have any particular favorites you'd like to rec? Learning about new and different things is always fun. <3
ru: (Anika)
Okay! I think it's time to do some trip discussion! And show PICTURES! They're pretty much all from Saturday, as that was my free day, but still. Pictures! And other stuff!

I'm quickly becoming train-savvy, with all this train riding I've been doing. One thing I can recommend for anyone considering taking the train after this last trip--if it's practical, book a ride on a train that has an overnight route. We took the Silver Star route (overnight) on the way up, and the Carolinian route (not overnight) on the way back, and I gotta tell you, the Silver Star route was MUCH nicer, for several reasons. They ran on time (apparently the Carolinian is chronically late--we got home an hour later than we should have this time around), you get more space in your seat (and the seats can lay back like a lounge chair, if that's how you like to ride. The space you getb on the Carolinian is comparable to an airplane), and they were MUCH more organized. On the Carolinian they basically said, "Yeah, find a seat wherever," the result being that I had to sit in the seat in front of Eien-chan, making for a rather lonesome trip. On the Silver Star they arranged people by the number of folks traveling together and where they were going, and assigned seats, so there wasn't a fight to try and get two seats next to each other. As I said, it's not always practical (the reason why we didn't take the Silver Star back was because we wouldn't get home until 9PM and would have to bum around the station for 3 hours waiting for it to pick us up), but when it is, overnight routes are the way to go, I think. And since the price seems to be dictated by how far you travel (at least when comparing overnight to day-routes, as I imagine taking one of the trains that allows you to take your car with you would be more expensive), the price for one over the other is about the same. This has been your train information tip of the day. <3

Getting about in DC was a neat trick, weather-wise. I had kenaz with me when I was at the herbarium, and of course it decided to rain just about all week while we were there, so getting him safely there and back again was a neat trick. As much as I hate wearing ponchos, I found the ones the Smithsonian sold were pretty adequate at keeping the backpack I was carting kenaz in dry, although I looked absolutely ridiculous with it on. I was dubbed the Fearsome Turtle Warrior.

There really isn't much to tell for the majority of the trip, at least on my end. I spent most of my time in the herbarium at the Museum of Natural History, in my own little corner of the grass herbarium, measuring my heart out. As AWESOME as it is to say that I worked at the Smithsonian, and that I went into the BACK ROOMS, it's pretty monotonous work most of the time. I did have more fun than I really should going to the cafeteria to get lunch, though (they had JELLY BELLIES. I love Jelly Bellies). And in the evening, when I finished at about, oh, 7:30 or so, Eien-chan would pick me up and we'd go find dinner at someplace awesome.

One night we went to a Scandanavian place called 'Domku', and that was quite a culinary adventure. I can now say that I've had pickled herring and gravlax, both of which I actually kinda liked. I totally want to incorporate them into the Eighth Kingdom, too. I can see Anika waxing poetic about how she misses buried raw fish. XD I also tried rose petal aquavit, which grew on me after a while. <3

Another night we went to a Malaysian place that was REALLY tasty. I had pearl noodles, which are kinda like thick noodles cut up really small. Difficult to eat with chopsticks, but oh so good. And the last night we were there we went to an AWESOME place in Chinatown that had the most delicious stir-fried seafood, served up in potatoes arranged to look like a bird's next. Totally delicious!

On the subject of the last day, that's when I was able to do some exploring of DC with Eien-chan. And that's where most of the pictures come in too! We ended up going to the National Aquarium, to the Botanic Garden near the Capitol, to Chinatown, and also to Union Station (which, apparently, has an Obama store, devoted entirely to all things presidential, including life-size cardboard cutouts). The National Aquarium was neat, if small compared to, say, the Baltimore Aquarium. Each of the exhibits had specimens from a different national preserve, which I think was a neat way to arrange things.

THEN, we went to the Botanic Garden. <3 <3 <3

And here come the pictures! )

I'm looking forward to going back in the fall, when I go to see my cousin get hitched. <3
ru: (science geek)
Oh, I forgot to mention! Next week I'll be on what'll probably be my sole trip this summer. To make a long, jargon-filled story short, I need to go back to the Smithsonian to root around their herbarium collection and measure some of their types (for those of you who came in late, botanical types are kinda like the breed standard for a given taxon. It's the one specimen that the original describer says best emulates his/her concept, so if you want to go to the absolute source for a taxon, for example to figure out what the hell the describer meant when he said the leaves are spotted, you go to the type). That'll be interesting. <3 Kinda also makes me want to go see the new Night at the Museum movie to see how it compares to what I see. XD

And we'll be taking the train up! I love taking the train. Even better, I'll have a free day while I'm up there, so I can actually be TOURISTY. I can go SEE THINGS! I kinda want to go see Chinatown, and because I love them so, I'd like to see the botanical gardens. The aquarium would be fun to see too, if there's time. Both botanical gardens and aquariums have a tendency to send me into SQUEE mode, though. PLANTS! FLOWERS! TURTLES! JELLYFISH!

On a completely different note, I really really REALLY want to stop coughing. Seriously. I'm getting TIRED from it. My chest is sore and I'm pretty sure I'm gonna lose my voice if I don't cut it out. Body, really, it's a little late to be rejecting lungs. You should've registered your complaint 24 years ago.
ru: (sad)
It's bad enough to get one rejection from an agency for funding, but to get TWO, that just makes me feel full of fail. *sigh*

Freakin' researchers with their freakin' exciting and glamorous research on freakin' bioluminescent jellyfish and their freakin' corals and their freakin' blueberries, not letting those of us who are doing freakin' research on freakin' things that aren't glamorous, like wild grass, but are still FREAKIN' IMPORTANT, DARN IT. *muttermutter*
ru: (science geek)
I am hoooooooooooooome! <3 <3 <3

I'm back in my proper time zone, in one piece, and with all my belongings mostly intact. I have given Mum the paper made from elephant poop I got her at a free trade store in Birmingham, and she has heartily approved. I am full up on thoughts and realizations that I now have a ton of work to do to catch up, but mostly a lot of thoughts.

In the end, I'm really glad my advisor convinced me to go. It got me the hell out of dodge for a while, and while I guiltily admit I didn't do as much work as I should have, at least to a certain extent, I got a BREAK, and I think that's helped me recharge. I think it's helped me get some enthusiasm back about what I'm doing. I've been despairing a lot over the lack of funding I've been able to secure, despite my multiple attempts, and have been becoming very convinced that nobody really cares about what I do. Going to this made me realize that at least SOME people do. I had a lot of people express appreciation that I'm working on my grass, because somebody really needs to.

While I was there, I went to the special symposium on Darwin, which featured some awesome speakers about Darwin, his work, and evolution. The last speaker was Ed Wilson, who seems to be comparable to Darwin, at least here in the southeast, to the degree by which he's revered. His speech was really comforting to me. One of his big statements was that, yes, everything is going molecular now. Everyone pours money into the molecular biologists who learn everything about Arabidopsis or some other model organism. But how will they apply to all other organisms? So we still need people that are enthusiastic and willing to learn all they can about a genus/species that they love, so that that leap can be made. That made me go YES. MY EXISTENCE HAS BEEN VALIDATED. <3 <3 <3

I networked a little too, which was good. I got to go about and see Birmingham, which is more urban than around here, so I got to see all sorts of old neat buildings. I saw the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, which were really gorgeous, but they would have been exponentially moreso if we had gone maybe a few weeks later, when everything would be in full bloom.

In any case, though, it was stimulating, gratifying, and comforting, and I've come back feeling better about things. Maybe, just maybe I can do this. <3
ru: (victory)
DONE. I am DONE DONE DONE DONE DONE.

Amazingly, I don't think it went ENTIRELY badly. I still think I flubbed up on some of the questions, but it went better than the symposium talk, I think. What really freaked me out was when it came time for my talk and a TON of people came in to listen. Not the author guy, thankfully, but still. A friggin' TON. That's a little scary. On the other hand, SEE, FUNDING PEOPLE? PEOPLE CARE ABOUT THESE GRASSES, EVEN IF YOU DON'T. People said I thought I did well, so I hope that's worth something. ^_^

I also appear to be getting ill. Sore throat, slightly feverish, occasional hintings that whatever's in my throat wants to check out my ears, which would make me VERY CROSS. On the downside, it's suckitude. But on the up side, since I wasn't feeling 100%, it took the edge off of my nerves when I tried to present. Considering how I was wigging out the night before, that's probably not a bad thing.

Ah well, it's DONE. One less thing. 'course, I still have ten thousand things I need to do, and one more presentation for next week that I've barely started, so I've somehow gotta pull that together, but at least this is a dragon that's been thoroughly slain.
ru: (Default)
So, in preparation for Alabama, my advisor and I held a practice run of my talk with a couple of my classmates in attendance. Over the course of the session, it came out that the author of one of the major works I utilize, whom I QUOTE in my talk, and who is also a big name in the genus I work with, happens to also live in Alabama. Which says to me that the possibility that he's going to show up at the conference, and that he will actually come to listen to ME talk, to see what I'm doing with his genus, and could potentially pick my work apart (or could at least be insulted if I've misinterpreted his material), is much higher.

NO PRESSURE, REALLY.
ru: (Default)
Well, another presentation out of the way, at least.

My classmates have said I did well but...I really don't think so. I talked way too fast, because I was nervous (and I was a little bit over time-wise when I was practicing to myself, and wanted to make sure I stayed under the time limit). I had a very hard time fielding questions too. Twice I misunderstood the question and probably sounded like a dope. I think about the only advantage to all of this was that I got some experience, and it's over now.

Didn't win any funding from it either (there was a bit of funding money for the top two presentations). Considering how I did, I'm not really all that surprised. I'm starting to get used to disappointment.
ru: (Default)
Okay, first presentation OUT OF THE WAY. YAY. Sadly, my poster was not awesome enough to warrant monies, but it was still nice to see somebody from the plant biology department take first place in the life sciences division. GO PLANT BIOLOGY WOO.

It had a lot of similarities to the undergraduate symposium I did in '06 (it was even in the same place), though with a few differences, the fact that it's graduate-level research not-withstanding. One was that there was a guy going around during the set-up period that would help people put up posters, which was a TON of help. Those things can be very unruly if you don't have somebody to hold one end. The second was that we had CHAIRS. OMG CHAIRS. We didn't get chairs at the undergrad symposium, and after spending 3 hours on heels, chairs are a virtual godsend. Yay chairs. <3

Either way, it's done now, and that means one less thing, thank goodness. I have a lot of things to think about after it, but I just can't think about them now. After April 9th. In the meantime, I will have a cookie. Coooooookie. <3

Here we go

Mar. 17th, 2009 09:00 pm
ru: (EEEEK)
Okay, I'll have the first of the presentations over tomorrow--this one's a poster presentation at the graduate school symposium. I have my poster printed, which would be kinda important to have, so that's ready to go. I really hope it goes smoothly. I'm trying not to fret insanely over it, though. I have plenty of other things to fret over right now. This is gonna be more about experience than anything else. I'm hoping that by the end of all these talks, I'll be able to talk about grass in my sleep. Heck, I probably WILL be, because I'll be wiped by the time the last one's done.

What I AM going to fret, over, is Alabama. I got the schedule in the mail today, and there was my name, slated to be talk #7. Oh gods I'm actually going to be doing this.
ru: (Default)
Mmmm, I like today. Today I got stuff DONE.

My funding proposal is IN. Good gods I'm glad that thing is out of here. One less thing.

I made SAUCE. It was delicious and full of herby and tomatoey goodness.

I also planted SEEDS! I'm trying something my grandmother apparently does, which is start them inside in egg cartons. They certainly have handy partitions. I suspect I'm going to need to transfer them at least once before I put them outside, though. There isn't much room in the egg cups.

But I'm planning to plant some lovely things this year! Multiple types of tomatoes, onions, sage, pumpkins, watermelons (one which isn't striped but SPOTTED. It looks so cute), green beans, and poppy seeds. I hope they work well! I'd love to get some decent produce this year. I'll also need to keep a better eye on the pumpkins, I think. Last time they tried to take over the whole yard. They were MUTANT vines.

I'm so looking forward to planting season. <3
ru: (EEEEK)
Aaaagh agh agh agh. This week beat me black and blue. I have a funding proposal due Sunday at 5PM, which will require me to go down to school and spend a good couple of hours banging my head against the herbarium computer trying to make a statistical program work and not commit technicide. I'm tired and discouraged and will be spending most of spring break just trying to catch up on things.

You know what? This weekend really needs it. When I'm at home this weekend, I will be MAKING SAUCE, DAMNIT. XD
ru: (Default)
First, it's now official. ASB accepted my abstract, so come April, I'll be in Alabama staring down a room full of scientists, almost all of which who have had much more experience than I have, trying to give a talk on my research. This'll be the first time I've ever given a real honest to goodness talk to people that aren't my classmates or my students. It's not even March, and I'm already shaking in my shoes. It's gonna be a long road to April.

Second, I came up with a new word yesterday: technicidal (adj. noun: technicide): Harboring murderous tendencies towards technology, usually computers. It popped into my head yesterday as I went into a frustrated rage over a program that wasn't doing what I wanted it to do. It would probably be best used when you feel the need to throw the computer across the room. XD

Finally, I learned of [livejournal.com profile] tw_babiez the other day, a fun webcomic (which starts here). It's what would happen if you stuck Torchwood, Doctor Who, and the Muppet Babies into a blender, and it's fun. It gets a little too cute at times, depending on your tastes, but it's a short and fun read. Come for baby Doctor, stay for Bob the Dalek. <3

And now, I have a funding proposal to edit.
ru: (Default)
*dance of VICTORY* No, seriously, the music I'm listening to is fun and I'm bouncing a bit in my seat. <3

My finals are done! I really don't know how I did on my plant form and function final. The best I could with it, obviously, but the big question is whether or not it was good enough. Right now I'm going to just try to content myself with the fact that I have gotten THROUGH this semester. Good gods it was a busy one, between projects and papers and trying to beg for funding. Oh, and measuring grass. Lots and lots of measuring grass.

I won't be able to completely turn off like I did as an undergrad during winter break. I've still got more measurements to take, and then I need to actually run an analysis on my data so I can hopefully have something to supplement my funding applications other than "My work is IMPORTANT even though it is GRASS". And I need to write permit reports and apply to present at the ASB convention. Oh JOY.

But at least I don't have school and teaching hanging over my head for the next few weeks. That in and of itself is a relief. I think I will reward myself tonight for getting through it with something I've been wanting for quite a while. <3

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