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Oct. 14th, 2010



Yes! It is mine! I've never had my own apartment before. I signed the lease yesterday, and I am so so so super excited to decorate. I have a lot of stuff to put on the walls... my mounted Goliath beetle and butterfly collection, my beautiful space snail painting by Brian Albert, my naked tree lady, and my Paleontological Alphabet poster from Bird and Moon. Also a lot of glow-in-the-dark stars, and cards and photos.

I don't own any furniture, but I'm sure I can slowly accumulate some. Carl is lending me his futon mattress until I can get a bed. I own a coffee maker. That's kind of like furniture, I guess. I have some deluxe Japanese fabric to make into curtains. One has helicopters, one has matroyshka dolls, and one has the owl and the pussycat.

I have pots and pans, but no dishes or silverware. I have more stuffed animals than a lady of my age really should. Because my rent will be higher, I intend to budget things like a real adult. I spend a lot of money on pre-made food, soft drinks, and beer. I've decided to cook more and drink more tea. One of my first purchases will be a nice tea kettle (the kind that whistles when it's ready) and various boxes of delicious tea. Having some variety will encourage me to actually drink it.

Also in the budget: weekly dinner parties. These will start as soon as I get some chairs and couches. 

Sometimes growing up is fun.

Oct. 12th, 2010


What does serious even mean?

So I was out drinking on Friday, as I usually am, and this other grad student I know was all like, "Where's Carl?" I told him that C was at his house playing Halo with his boys, to which he replied, "Wow, you two don't have a serious relationship." This seriously bothered me for some reason. I think our relationship is plenty serious. But it got me thinking about what "serious" even means, really.

Do you have to live together? Do you have to always go out drinking together? Do you have to go out of your way to inconvenience each other? Do you have to believe with 100% certainty that your partner wouldn't ditch you for a couple of teenagers? Do you have to quit smoking? I don't know. I don't even know that it's a sensible question to ask.

I guess I would say that if you both (or all, if there are more than two of you) feel like it's serious, then it's serious enough. Following that, a wedding ceremony is just a bunch of people getting together and agreeing that it's serious. But it doesn't matter. When one of you decides it's not serious, then it's pretty much over. It's an entirely subjective state of affairs.

I don't think I'll ever live with Carl, and I don't think we'll be married, but I also don't think that means it isn't serious. At the same time, I'm not convinced that it matters whether it is "serious" or not. It certainly doesn't matter if he stays home and plays video games, because I know, when I stagger back to his house, that he will be sweet to me and laugh at my jokes and just be generally awesome like he always does.

If anyone still reads this and cares to offer an opinion, I would be curious. What makes a relationship "serious" or not? Is it a quality that is important?

Sep. 27th, 2010


Shelburne/Jericho recap

I had another lovely weekend. After a solid year of whining, I think I am finally starting to get the hang of this wholesome living thing. I still miss our epic parties, and living with utter disregard for consequences, but it is much easier to get on with things now. There's something really nice about going down to the pub with a couple of friends and playing "Which celebrity would you bone?" over a few too many well-crafted local beers. (In case you wanted to know, I picked Dolph Lundgren, Russell Brand, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.)

Our anniversary dinner at the Bearded Frog was also very nice. We got to Shelburne early, and spent some time in a super cool toy store just down the road. It is the kind of toy store that sells a lot of blocks and wooden toys, and no guns or Barbie dolls or anything really gender-coded. I got a notebook with a holographic cover, with pictures of robots, and some unicorn stickers.

We had something called "venison cigar rolls" which are glorified taquitos with Bambi inside, served with horseradish mayo. And my dinner was chicken stuffed with cheese and pancetta (bacon) with a white bean salad, which was every bit as good as it sounds. And we drank wine. It was red. And then we watched about five episodes of "Twin Peaks" with friends, because we just found out who killed Laura and are just dying to see what happens next.

Sunday, we went to Harvest Market in Jericho, which is a big once-a-year flea market sale thing. I bought some snow boots and a hideous sweater and a nice wool coat for like $3. Also a book about the history of women in rock, because I am a sucker for photos of people who were young and cool before I was born.

I may be moving into my own apartment soon. I still need to talk to my roommate, and arrange my finances, but this is something I've been wanting to do for a while. Maybe I can have parties! Perhaps even start my own Thursday night dinner?

Sep. 22nd, 2010


Tunbridge and Montpelier recap

It was so nice to spend a weekend here in Vermont with my lovely man! We attended the Tunbridge World's Fair in southern Vermont. It was really neat. There were lots of cows (some in costume), sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, and rabbits. There may have been ponies, but I didn't see any. There was an exhibition of antique farm implements, a crafts competition, and of course lots of prize vegetables. My favorite vegetables were the giant pumpkins and pretty much anything in the "Weirdest and Strangest" vegetable competition. And we played Bingo!

The shopping was also excellent. I got this sweet green cowboy hat with rhinestones, and I almost bought a t-shirt picturing a long-haired skeleton playing guitar and smoking a cigarette under a full moon, but I thought better of it. Speaking of rhinestones, I have been on a Dolly Parton kick lately. She's just so entertaining, and classy.

We stopped in Montpelier to visit the Threepenny taproom, and found out that there was a free street festival. The Langdon Street Festival was great fun. There was a puppet show, and delicious beverages, and Anna Perdenik and the Holy Smoke-Off were excellent. I was a little disappointed that we had to leave early, but we were tired after a long day of country-time festivities.

This weekend is the anniversary of Carl and my first date! He is taking me to a fancy restaurant. I am so excited!

Sep. 9th, 2010


DragonCon 2010 recap

DragonCon was awesome. I think the parade was the best I've ever seen. Captain Planet singled me out to receive an "Official Planeteer" iron-on patch! I met Morena Baccarin, who was super nice and ridiculously pretty in person. After I finished crying (really), I said something devastatingly clever like, "I think you are so super cool and I love your new haircut". She signed a photo for me with "We are of awesome. Always!" (That was Kim's brilliant idea.)

I hung out with Elli Mayhem too, and we split a burger called the Double Coronary at the Vortex. It has grilled cheese sandwiches for buns! And cheese and bacon! Even splitting it, we could not finish our fried zucchini. Pimpy the puppet stayed in Atlanta with Elli. Atlanta has more opportunities for a pimp than Burlington does, especially in this economy. Did you know that Pimpy attended the most prestigious pimping university in North America? And that Snoop Dogg and Flava Flav were on his committee? And that he just scraped by with a C in Pimp Cup studies?

So yeah, I talked to lots of crazy people and saw lots of beautiful costumes and dressed up every night. It was so great to see Kim and Chris and Eric and Katie, and to get to know Trish and Kevin. I still think about moving back to Gainesville. I like New England, but I doubt I'll ever really feel like this is somewhere I belong.

I missed Dana a lot, and Gordon. I missed Carl. I even missed stupid old Millsy, who I must admit I called while I was extremely drunk to tell him exactly what I think of him. It was not nice, but it was rather cathartic.

LeVar Burton looks great, and was the nicest and most polite of the TNG cast. During their panel, Jonathan Frakes tried to tease the actress who played Tasha Yar (I forget her name) about making bad career decisions, and she totally took it personally and stormed off! And they were pretty snarky to the fans. They did ask dumb questions, but I thought the actors could have at least acted nice.

Aug. 3rd, 2010


Things That Rock My Socks

1. Star Trek: First Contact is available in its entirety on Hulu.
2. It's raining today, finally. This also means I get to wear my rain boots with the happy little whales on them.
3. Grand Isle vacation is this weekend! I am going to bring a lot of papers and spend a lot of time reading, but it will be so nice to get away for a while.
4. Weekend after that: MGMT.
5. Katie and Ryan are coming to visit that weekend, too!
6. I also have a necklace with a beet on it.

Jul. 26th, 2010


Yet another wholesome Vermont weekend

It has been A Little Too Hot lately. We tried to walk to Oakledge Park on Saturday, but we were sweating too much, so we just played on the swings at the nearby baseball diamond, and then got some coconut water from Fresh Market. Also, learned that Fresh Market does not sell popsicles or anything remotely resembling a popsicle.

Yesterday we went to this Greek food festival at the local Greek Orthodox church. It was delicious, and I am now inspired to learn to make my own tzatziki sauce. That stuff is good on pretty much everything. And then we went to a gem and mineral show at a middle school, and we saw fossils and lots of nifty gems. I got a necklace that is a fossil ammonite, and a piece of peacock ore, and I learned that my new favorite element is Bismuth. It is so pretty! Move over, Antimony. You are so last year.

I still miss everyone. I wish I had a teleporter. Freeze pops are my life now.

Jul. 12th, 2010


Worry plan

When there's not a lot else going on, there's nothing to do but worry about the future. It's starting to look like I might have wasted my whole summer. I have data, but it's probably not going to be statistically robust enough to publish or even present. And I've signed up to present at the entomology meeting this December. It is in San Diego, and Carl is coming with me. I have never been to San Diego.

I'm trying to decide if I should stay in Burlington. It still doesn't feel like I belong here. I am still horribly homesick almost every day. Carl is not going anywhere. My reasons for staying would be 1) I like him and he is good for me, 2) the next place I move might be worse, and 3) maybe eventually I'll like living here. These reasons are kind of stupid, but I think everything is kind of stupid. Prove me wrong.

I mean, why stay somewhere for someone who wouldn't move for you? Or why bother pursuing the best assistantship or job I can find, when so far that operating principle has led mostly to disappointment and discontent? I miss everyone so much, and I wish I could move back to Gainesville. It's so easy for other people to say it is exciting to always move from one place to another, but I find that people who say that either have family that moves with them, or have not actually done much moving.

My conclusion: moving somewhere for a job is not exciting. Going somewhere with friends is exciting, doing something new or dangerous or ill-advised is exciting. Learning something new can be exciting, as long as that thing to learn is not about how most things are not as exciting as you think they are.

Jun. 23rd, 2010



This article sort of falls in with the kind of thing I've been worrying about for the last six months or so. Do I have a point, or is it possible to find an Internet article to agree with pretty much anything? It's all about how there are far too many science students and post-docs with respect to the number of jobs available in academics. I have been afraid that it is unrealistic to aim for a university career, and that even if I do make professor, that the eventual pay-off (in overall quality of life) will not be remotely worth the amount of time and effort I have put into it.

The article also criticizes the culture which trains aspiring scientists to consider all other career options as inferior to academia. This is, I think, a central issue in the conflicts I have been having with my advisor. She is trying to steer me in the best direction from her point of view, and I worry that her point of view is hopelessly outdated. I don't want to be an ecologist, because if academic positions are competitive in entomology, they are many times more so in ecology, and you don't necessarily get to play with bugs. For my PhD, I would like to do research that has dreadfully practical applications. And I don't think that makes it any less noble.

I have been thinking more about what I would really like to do, career-wise. And I have come up with a few things. I present them to you in order of preference. Mostly I have realized that my interests lie in the areas of developing rearing techniques, and producing mass-reared insects for agricultural or aesthetic purposes.
1. Resident entomologist at an insectarium, butterfly house, or greenhouse.
2. Employee or owner of an insectary producing biological control agents.
3. Beekeeper/honey seller/mead maker.
4. Employee of a biological/entomological supply company such as Bioquip.
5. Insect identifier for government agency.
6. Research supervisor for chemical or biotech company.
7. Academic.

In a way, finding out this information is a relief. I always thought that working in an insectarium or apiary was an unrealistic goal, but lately it seems I have just as good a shot at that as I do at the old research track. Maybe better. Maybe if I can use my skills to get a well-paying day job, I can spend my free time drawing things, rearing things, and doing little natural history studies for my own amusement. Maybe it is possible to approximate the lifestyle of the Gentleman Naturalist I always wanted to be, if I don't have to spend all my time clawing desperately for grant dollars.

Jun. 8th, 2010


Adventures in grant writing

Oh, the contrast. I followed up my godless debauchery in Florida with one of the most wholesome weekends I've ever had. Carl and I went to the islands (in Lake Champlain) with a couple of friends and had a blast. We took a 6-mile bike ride around Alburgh Dunes State Park. It has a very pretty sand dune habitat, with a swamp nearby. It reminded me a little of Florida, minus the alligators and hobos. Then we went swimming in the lake and I got to wear my awesome new bikini. And then we went to this cute little minigolf course that was fantastic. It was just in someone's yard, near a pasture with a view of the lake. All the holes were themed after some historical aspect of the islands, AND I got a hole in one! I still lost, but it was cool to get a hole in one.

During the bike ride, I discovered that Bitchin' Betty is not, in fact, bitchin'. She looks cool, but she is actually a remarkably crappy ride. This is good news, in a way. I had assumed this whole time that I was just terrible at riding bikes, and that is why I had trouble pedaling and steering. But I rode someone else's bike and it was so fast and so easy! Carl thinks that the guy at Old Spokes Home pegged me for a hipster and gave me a bike that is older than I am. He said that he would help me fix up his friend's old mountain bike, and transfer over all of my doodads (kickstand, rack, basket, lights, bell).

Now it is all grant writing, all the time. I wrote this grant for $700,000 except that it was only supposed to be for $20,000. Missed that part. Oops.

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