Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Haskel Run at Woodlake Field Station: First Hike of the Season!

First hike!  Got my feet wet!  Came home covered in mud!  Wooo!

I love field work.  For the stream ecology class we have four weeks of field work.  Four wonderful weeks surrounded by beauty and science and the most incredible creatures.  

Today I held various stream-critters in my hands.  Including crayfish, caddisfly larvae, two-line salamanders, dusky salamanders, dragonfly nymphs and many many more.  There will be pictures up in the next couple days.

Monday, May 17, 2010

To the moon and back . . .

I don’t quite know what I want to do with the rest of my life. 
Here’s what I know:
I like insects.  I like catching them: going out for a nice hike and setting traps or using a net to catch these incredible critters that have been around for more than 410 million years.   I like pickling them: filling up jars with little bodies with such beautiful structural complexity.  I like identifying them:  those that are exceptionally difficult to identify, with only minor structural differences between species are especially satisfying.  I like pinning them:  lined up neatly in nice boxes that will sit in a museum somewhere for the rest of eternity, there for all of history to look back on, giving a glimpse of the world we live in now. 
I like school.  Maybe more importantly, I like the concept of sharing ideas and spreading knowledge, especially when that knowledge can be used for good.  I like having classes and research.  I like to surround myself with interesting people. 
I like to teach.  I like to teach.  I LOVE it when I see one of my students become excited about the subject.   I’ll be happy if I influence just one student to make better choices for their future, to become active in their community and to start actively thinking about ways to better the world.  (Although, If all of them decided to do this, that’d be pretty awesome, too.)
I want a stable, steady and secure job, doing something that I love.  This is a tough one, really.  I’m scraping my way by, paying for school and building up my student loans.  A reliable income is important, but I would never be happy with myself if I settled for a job that I hate. 
The list of jobs I would love, from “most loved” to “eh, not perfect but I wouldn’t be miserable”: 
Government research scientist,
                    living on a remote park outpost. 
Museum scientist. 
Museum curator of invertebrate zoology (curators have to deal with all the bureaucratic headaches, which doesn’t really appeal to me.) 
University professor (at a school with a good entomology department, where I could spend my summers doing research.)  
High school biology teacher. 
Wow, the list is shorter than I thought it would be.  Huh. 
I want to travel. I’ve been to Australia.  That was pretty cool, I’ll never forget it.  But I want to see everything!  I want to go on safari in Africa, I want to wander though Europe, I want to see the pyramids, the rainforest, a glacier and a volcano.  I want to go whale watching.  I want to explore the world, different cultures and ecosystems.  Hell, if it was somehow possible for me to go to space I would do it, even if it was just to the moon and back. 
I want kids.  Yes, someday I would like to raise a child.  If I do eventually meet someone I want to procreate with, I will.  But if I’m forty and things aren’t looking good in the man department, I’m adopting.  There are so many kids out there that need homes.  I’ve always figured why make more when there are so many already?  I don’t care if they aren’t infants—That just means we can skip the diapers/not sleeping thing, and any kid that can talk and tell you what they want seems a lot easier than trying to interpret the shrieks of an unhappy little person who doesn’t yet grasp the language (even though they may try.) 

A year from now I hope to graduate with my master’s degree in environmental science.  Right now, I don’t know what I’m going to do after that.  But I’ve got a year to decide.  Maybe I’ll start a doctorate program in entomology.  Maybe I’ll get a job, halfway around the world.  Right now, the possibilities are endless.  I just have to make up my mind.  

Friday, May 7, 2010

It's been a year. . .

I've just about finished my first year of graduate school.

I have a research project.
I have an advisor and an almost complete committee.
I'm going to start research very very soon.

I'm excited and terrified all at once.  If I mess up I'll have to take another year.  I won't mess up.  I've got a lot of work ahead of me.  It should be fun.  Field days for my stream ecology class start May 25th.

I'll be doing all this and working two jobs.  Still looking for scholarships.  Hopefully going to get a car in the next few weeks.  Hopefully.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010


hellish week.

Between the funeral, classes, interviews, meetings and getting hit by "the sick" again, this week has been quite hellish.

Lets start with school.

Ah.  Graduate school.  Its a love hate relationship, really.  I've effectively buried myself in student loans, spend hours in the library studying stream ecology and the finer points of technical writing, I've read over 400 research papers on parasitoid wasps and am now trying to organize that information into a sort of review paper (more for my own good at this point than anything.)  I don't have a stipend or a scholarship, (not for a lack of trying here though.)

This summer I'm planning on getting some actual data, but I can't do that without a car.

So I'm planning on purchasing a car.  Probably a very used, not always reliable, inefficient one at that.  (see note about no stipend and student loans above)

What I WANT is a smart car.  (of course)  As I'm struggling to make rent as it is, that's highly unlikely.

Funeral:  A close family friend passed, peacefully, this past week.  The service was Wednesday, at the church I grew up in.    It was the first Catholic funeral I've ever been at, surprisingly enough.

Thursday I went to an on-campus employment fair held by the new tutoring center (TASC.)  Interestingly, it was the first job fair of any sort I've been to.  There was an hour long presentation about the tutoring center, then an initial interview.  If you did well there (and I did) you were asked to evaluate your interviewers and wait for a second interview with someone higher-up in the department.  So I waited, and was then interviewed by the director of the program!  That went well too, I'm hopeful.  I may have good news sometime tomorrow or Tuesday.

Friday I sat in on a board meeting.  It was long and tedious and I came out of it feeling a bit defeated.  I'll leave it at that.

And now I've got "the sick" again.  I don't know if I have some recurring sort of flu or I've got perpetual food poisoning or what, either way, I've got a bit of a fever and can't keep anything down.  Maybe it's the stress, or some combination of stress and bad luck.  Either way, I've got to get over it soon, I've got too much to do!

Here's to hoping--