Friday, July 28, 2006
Instead of a productive Friday, I get Laptop Deathwatch. I think my laptop's video card is slowly dying, but of course it stopped doing the thing just before I called tech support. The techie's solution? To wait for it to die so I can prove beyond all doubt that something is wrong. ARGH. So I guess I just keep using it, back up new files frequently, and hope for the worst.
On the plus side: full warranties are a good thing.
So it's been more than two weeks since I got my armada of bug bites. I've fretted about the possibility of chicken pox, lyme disease, and blood poisoning, but finally - finally!!!! - the itching and burning are easing, and some of the red smears around the bites are fading. A couple still itch and hurt like hell but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. If there had been any fever, I would have gone to the doctor, but going to a doctor for some itchiness seems so...superficial. Suck it up!! Nobody ever said science was easy!!! I still don't know what bit me, though. I'm assuming it was at the prairie but I was wearing pants that day... wasn't I??
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
I did a 12-sample DNA extraction yesterday, ran it out on a gel today... and ALL TWELVE WORKED. Woo!! I am the World's Greatest Evolutionary Biologist!!
Also: some PCRs are working well, and the ones that are not...well, we're just not talking about those. Somebody else's problem (with that somebody being myself in a few days, poor sucker). I'm trying to figure out how to use trnC/D on my species - trnC/D bands come out at around 800 bp, while trnC/petN2 comes out at 1000. Figure that one out!! Tomorrow I go sampling at a nifty place but am reluctant to mention where just yet. Potentially publishable cageyness, in case some academic competition stumbles across this. Annoying but true! Thursday I may also get some samples, but more importantly I'll get some information. I'm slowly putting together an interesting story, one geographic location at a time, and tracking down the people who know the pieces is a big but entertaining job.
Got my TA assignment for the fall - I'll be doing Homeostasis with a P(rofessor)TBNL. Not that I have a burning desire to teach that subject, but it fits my schedule and apparently you have to bribe someone (or worse!) to get a genetics class around here. On the plus side, I'll finally learn some plant phys. On the minus side, endocrine systems! Ugh!!!
Friday, July 21, 2006
Oh yeah... that's why I'm doing this
Just when I start to get bogged down in mind-numbing details about primers and PCR and does this additive work? and what temperature should I use? and blah blah blah, I take a moment to play with some GIS data and remember why I love biogeography in the first place. It was such a simple thing: the supplemental data from a paper on beech phylogeography, with lat-long coordinates and haplotypes for each accession. I muddle around in ArcView, trying to remember how to get point data into the map, and suddenly it worked and the haplotype patterns just leaped out at me in shades from the lovely "mineral" color scheme. Now imagine that map with way more data, way more markers. Imagine a single picture that shows in an instant where my pretty trees came from, and whether they share their history with their compatriots. Imagine me at my defense several years hence, putting up that picture and watching my audience's eyes light up with understanding and appreciation for a story well told.
I am ending the week on a positive note. Now if only that new PCR works!!
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
I keep getting hiccups for no reason. They don't go away no matter what tricks I try. They also give me headaches. Please let the phone not ring until I've recovered kthx.
Am training my pandora.com radio station. I don't think it's as customizable as Yahoo Launch, but it doesn't have audio ads. I'm still not sure what to do sometimes: if Pandora plays a terrible song by a great artist, do I say yay or nay?
I've grown tired of my horrible note-keeping w/r/t the primers I use in the lab, so a grand scheme for an Access database has been hatched. Not that my note-keeping will be any better, but it'll be so much prettier! Added bonus: my mad Access skillz won't get rusty.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
New! and Improved!!
Comments have been implemented, thanks to the brilliance of Zya, who has more patience and know-how than I do when it comes to Blogger templates. So now my two or three readers can feel free to respond to my pointless rants! Aren't you lucky?
Now I'm attempting to implement the RSS feed. The xml file exists...I just can't seem to add it to my reader. I can't wait to get it fixed so I'll know if I've updated lately.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Hell is for binties
I made good use of my non-teaching summer this week. Met with a guy from the Arboretum and another guy from the Botanic Garden about my project, and spent a morning at the Great Lakes Naval Base hunting for the beech trees that used to exist there. Then I paid an impromptu visit to a friend's field site, which was interesting. But then! Thursday! I had so many itchy painful infected bug bites on my legs I thought I was going to go insane! And they're only worse today. Definitely not mosquitos, but I have no idea what they are. My pants are driving me crazy. I'm fantasizing about submersing myself in a vat of calamine lotion.
A major heat wave is ramping up; we've had a wonderfully temperate summer so far, but the forecast for the next week contains words like "dangerous" and "miserable" and "don't bother with clothing". At this rate, the garden is never going to get weeded. And let us take a moment to pay tribute to Willis Haviland Carrier, the inventor of air conditioning. My hero!
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Q. Do they have a 4th of July in England?
A. No, their calendars skip right from the 3rd to the 5th.
This weekend, I came in 40th out of 1250 in a JetSet freeroll and won *30 whole cents*. Really!! That exceeds my goal by 20%, and is the first time I've ever won money playing poker. I probably could have won a few more cents but it was midnight and I was sleepy.
Long 4th of July weekend. Didn't do much. Washed the dogs, rode my bike for the first time in over 10 years, blah blah blah. Libby's been turning inside out because of all the fireworks going off. I'm a little sick of them myself, frankly.
We had lunch at one of the forest preserves today, which was *hopping* with family parties. We got food at Superdawg and fed fries to some ground squirrels. One of the squirrels was so bold it practically climbed into my lap.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
Ran lots of errands this morning, and got my blood drawn for a cholesterol test. The woman was good; I barely felt it. The *tape*, though - OWWWWW! Used nail polish remover to get it off.
Bought a hibiscus for the big pot on the patio. No idea what color it is, but it was 8 bucks so what the hey. When I rearranged the little pots of portulaca, I found that the accursed earwigs are living under them. Ugh!!! I am declaring jihad on the little buggers. I'm armed with the information that they will drown in a dish of molasses and vegetable oil. Only trick is keeping the dogs from also partaking.