Thursday, July 31, 2008
Running hundreds of searches on GenBank does not make for riveting blog material. So instead, here's a picture of my dog:
Friday, July 18, 2008
So it turns out the weird little bump on the edge of my right ear has a name: Darwin's tubercle. It's supposedly an atavistic character, a remnant of more pointy mammalian ears.
The internet knows EVERYTHING, even things you didn't realize were available for knowing. I discovered that bit of trivia while wandering this site:
Where the hell is Matt?
Watch his videos. They will make you happy.
And yay for being somewhere where Friday actually means something!
Let's celebrate by doing the Dance of Joy!
Saturday, July 12, 2008
East, west, home is best
Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park
I am SO glad to be home. I am very tired and I have poison ivy and mosquito bites galore. I have two more trips to make, a short one to IN and KY and a tiny one to the southwest suburbs. I've spent two days sending very diplomatic emails and begging for leaves from places I missed, and hooray for scientists because everyone's being very agreeable.
Checklist at the "nearly-finished" point:
Sites visited: 29
Basswood samples collected: 243
Millipedes collected (for labmate): 1
Miles driven: ~9200
Souvenir t-shirts purchased: 3
Weight: N+1 (booooooo!)
Cubs record: 56-37 (still best in baseball! woo!)
Bears seen: 1
Deer seen: 1,344,221,073
Dairy Queen blizzards consumed: 1 (Thin Mint... *drool*)
Pictures as always are here: http://flickr.com/photos/bintie/sets/72157605437297532/
Bonus picture and inspirational message of the day!
Saturday, July 05, 2008
It's like Where's Waldo, but with a baseball cap.
Someone at the Smoky Mountains today mistook me for a park ranger. I was amused.
So I am sitting in a motel in Chattanooga, not because I didn't want to camp but because yet again my atlas misled me about the existence of camping in this area and I am so tired of aimless driving. I had the bad luck of arriving at the Smoky Mountains on July 4, mid-afternoon. I knew there was no chance of finding a campsite but I tried anyway, and of course they were full. The road into and out of the park was bumper-to-bumper for *miles* because every single person in the U.S. went to the Smokies for the holiday weekend, so it took me over an hour just to get out of Cherokee, NC and onto a road that, according to my atlas (which of course is never wrong!), would lead to a campground in the Pisgah National Forest. On the plus side, the Blue Ridge Parkway is amazingly gorgeous. On the minus side, I think it took me 90 minutes to find the campground. When I arrived, there was *one* site left, which I snagged. Other cars arrived soon after, and were SOL. I flopped onto my sleeping bag, listened to the dozens of bumblebees that shared my site (!), and was vastly relieved at my luck. And it was cheap, too!
This morning, the park was still crowded but the road wasn't so bad, and I managed to find some reasonable samples. It also rained and was very foggy. The supposedly stunning views from 441 as I crossed the ridge looked like this: guard rail, then *nothingness*. Eerie and underwhelming.
Gatlinburg, which must be traversed in order to get back into Tennessee, cracks me up. Pigeon Forge, next town out, is similar. Miles and miles of hotels and tourist traps, Fastest Go-Carts in Town and Salt-Water Taffy and Ripley's Believe It or Not. It's actually a lot of fun as long as you've stashed the car somewhere first.
Tourist at Smoky Mtns. gift shop: Is there a way to go *around* Gatlinburg?
Cashier/ranger: Hahahaha! I mean, no.
For sale at the same gift shop: a book intended for small children, about the Trail of Tears. I didn't open it, but I wonder what it could possibly say. What next, My First Holocaust Reader?
I spent some time in Cherokee studying the faces of the locals, looking for some hint of features that I might share. I saw nothing... three generations have blended them away. Too bad; I would have liked to have the black hair, like my dad and grandma have.
Alabama tomorrow, then either TN or GA during the week when I have to actually meet with people. I want to go home. Can I please go home now?
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Where in the world is Bintie from Chicago?
Staunton, VA. I'm hoteling it tonight, not due to weather (which has been lovely) but due to desperate need for a real shower, one in which I don't have to wear shoes or try to get dressed in a 2x3 space without letting my clothes touch any surface. Also need space to press some plants. The cooler is SO full of plants, there is no way I'm getting any more in there until I can offload some.
It's becoming clear to me how rare it is for a person to be traveling alone, at least outside of the world of airports and business-class hotels. Sit-down restaurants and campground hosts give me strange, even sympathetic looks when I arrive. This is why I prefer fast-food and self-registration sites. Their anonymity suits me. I've gone off-grid in a sense, left the human family for a few weeks. Except for the internet access and credit card charges, of course!
Nice places to visit: Patapsco River SP (Maryland), Shenandoah NP (Virginia). Saw my first wild bear! Deer thundered through my campsite this morning but grew wary and sidled away when I poked my head out from the tent. It might have been my hair. Trees have been everywhere I needed them to be so far; hence the superabundance in the cooler, and the already-full plant press. I may have to reconsider my population sizes for purely logistical reasons. There are still a LOT of purple (uncollected) sites on my map, though it feels good to convert them to gray (finished) as I go. GIS is great for instant gratification.
I have pictures but don't feel like uploading them. Instead I have "pressing" business to attend to (ha! ha! botany humor).
4th of July is coming. Where will I be?