Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Problem Solvers

We now have too many posters from professional meetings for the wall space in the lab, so we have to pack some of 'em up. I foolishly put the packing tubes on top of our circular files. Trouble is, they rolled into the gap behind the files, with no side access, and jammed the files.

Until Shannon and Mary came to the rescue. I thought they'd have to lower something (such as Mary ;-) from above, but as you can see, they came up with a more inventive solution. Talk about trust on Mary's part!


Today a man won several million dollars playing the nickel slots.

Today I drove thru Starbucks and they made two grande black ice teas lightly sweetened by mistake...and gave me the second one free. Almost the same thing!!
1789 -- George Washington inaugurated 1st President
1803 -- US doubles in size w/Louisiana Purchase
1900 -- USA annexes Hawaii
1904 -- Ice cream cone makes its debut
1945 -- Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun commit suicide
1975 -- The Vietnam War ends with South Vietnam's surrender
1993 -- Richard Guise retires

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Here We Go Again...and Again...and Again

I've got to stop listening to Morning Edition on NPR. When I hear stories like the one below, it doesn't start the day off on the best foot. Although this did make a "nice" ending for my evolution class today...

Bills Let Fla. Schools Teach Evolution Alternatives

by Greg Allen

Happy Days are Here Again!!

Last day of class for me!! This semester can't come to a close quickly enough. Good riddance. This one ranks right up there with the Fall 96 semester, I'll be happy to but it far behind me!

I'm taking the month of May to just sit and write, and write, and write. Won't be particularly fun, but is necessary.
1429 -- Joan of Arc leads Orleans France to victory over English
1834 -- Charles Darwin's expedition sees top of Andes from Patagonia
1862 -- New Orleans falls to Union forces
1945 -- American soldiers liberated Dachau
1946 -- John Waters was born (Hairspray)
1997 -- The first joint U.S.-Russian space walk

Monday, April 28, 2008

News That Matters

Whew, thank goodness Katie & Shannon explained the whole Hannah Montana thing to me, so I could understand tonight's newscast. Otherwise I'd have been sitting there wondering "why is she blonde, now brunette, now blonde?", "who's this Miley Cyrus chick?", "why is Hannah Montana in a photo shoot with that doofy country star guy who lost on Dancing with the Stars?", and "why would anyone give a rat's ass about this story??" Okay, so the last question remains...

Miley Cyrus’ embarrassing photo shoot
By Courtney Hazlett, April. 28, 2008

If you'd like to see a story from tonight's news that actually matters, here's a good one on some Congo gorillas:

Saving the gorillas
By Justin Balding, April 28, 2008
1686 -- 1st volume of Newton's "Principia" published
1788 -- Maryland became the 7th state
1789 -- Fletcher Christian led the mutiny on the Bounty
1926 -- Harper Lee is born (To Kill a Mockingbird)
1947 -- Thor Heyerdahl sails "Kon-Tiki" to Polynesia
1967 -- Muhammad Ali refuses induction into army & stripped of boxing title
2004 -- The Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal first comes to light on CBS's 60 Minutes II.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Happy Homemaker

Big excitement today. Slept in, fed the cats, cleaned the house, did laundry, worked on school stuff. Made some yummy homemade spaghetti sauce. Watched a bad movie. That's about it. Try to keep pace if you can.

Oh, and I rolled coins. I used to have a big plastic gorilla bank full of quarters saved for years for a trip to Antarctica. Since I've now lived that dream, it's been reassigned for the Galapagos.
1521 -- Ferdinand Magellan was killed by Filipino natives
1667 -- John Milton sold the copyright to "Paradise Lost" for 10 pounds (less than $30)
1870 -- Heinrich Schliemann discovers Troy
1965 -- Edward R Murrow newscaster, dies at 57
1983 -- Nolan Ryan becomes strikeout king (3509)
1993 -- Eritrea declared itself independent.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mary Doria Russell

At the AAPAs, we held an auction to raise money for graduate students to attend the national meetings. I bid on a few items and 'won' a signed copy of Mary Doria Russell's newest book "Dreamers of the Day." She received her degree in biological anthropology at the University of Michigan in 1983, hence the offering at these meetings. It was quite kind of her to give us items to offer, and I was the lucky benefactor of her munificence!

She is the author of my favorite book: "The Sparrow". "Dreamers" is quite enjoyable - fast paced and very interesting historically - I recommend it to any of her fans, particularly those with a penchant for the Middle East.

Just Because

I miss the "Antarctica Fun Facts" addendum to my posts, and haven't found enough unique "green" posts to do daily. So, I'm going to start "This Day in History" additions, with a different skull calendar each month. Pretty exciting, eh?? (Humor me ;-)
1865 -- John Wilkes Booth was shot in a Virginia barn, either by the soldiers or by his own hand.

1964 -- Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined to form Tanzania.

1986 -- The worst nuclear power plant accident in history occurred at Chernobyl, near Kiev, U.S.S.R.

Random Bytes

Hmmmmm, I wonder which story will get the most hits???

Boy or Girl? The Answer May Depend on Mom’s Eating Habits
April 23, 2008

Penis theft panic hits Kinshasa
by Joe Bavier, April 24, 2008

Mystery Of Ancient Supercontinent's Demise Revealed
Apr. 24, 2008

Infant Carrying Ruled Out As Reason Why Early Humans Walked Upright, According To New Research
Apr. 23, 2008

Are Big Brains Smarter?
April 18, 2008

1,500 Belgians Break Coke-And-Mentos Explosion Record
By Alexis Madrigal; April 25, 2008

Intelligent design film far worse than stupid: Ben Stein's so-called documentary ‘Expelled’ isn't just bad, it's immoral
By Arthur Caplan, Ph.D.;; April. 23, 2008

World's Rarest Gorillas Gain New Refuge
Dan Morrison
National Geographic News; April 22, 2008

Did Lincoln's assassin escape? Science may finally lay debate to rest
By Edward Colimore
PhiladelphiaInquirer, April 26, 2008
This one is from response to the post above about the anniversary of Booth's death. Thanks Tanya! (I added it after the fact, hence the out-of-order chronological sequence).

Friday, April 25, 2008


NBC just had a special on texting, and has provided a 'translation' page. I definitely need it, tho' don't text much because I'm quite literally all thumbs. The ratio of keypad to thumb size feels much like the picture to the right....

One of my students brought in an article on Thursday talking about the future of human evolution and changes in our thumbs as a result of texting. Clearly I'll be left behind.

Darwin in His Own Words

There was a very interesting piece on NPRs Morning Edition about the new Darwin Online Project. They have made all of his writings, notes, letters, etc. available for free. Including free downloads of his books. Pretty cool. Apparently the site has been swamped with hits. Take that creationists!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Matzel Tov & Mabruke

Congratulations to Jim McKenna for winning the Sheedy Teaching Award. It isn't posted yet, but I'm sure you'll be able to find information about it shortly at the ND News & Information page. He also won the Freshman Year teaching award (I can't remember the name). Quite the year!!

For those I didn't follow up with for a you know why. Who could compete??

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Delta Fan

Our flight from DC to Cincinnati was about 2 hours late, making the connection to South Bend really really tight. I made it, but my luggage didn't. I knew better than to check it but was tired and didn't feel like lugging it around. I grabbed some dinner in the DC airport...which about midnight became a mistake. So in the end, my bag is in limbo, and my 'system' is quite cleaned out compliments of some food poisoning.

But I have to say, the folks at Delta were GREAT. The late flight was because the plane had to turn around due to a heart attack (the guy was okay in the end), but regardless, Delta was willing to pay for a hotel if I got stuck in Cincinnati. The luggage thing, guess I could get mad, but since they're delivering it tomorrow and I'm at home, it's not a big deal.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day

Another one down

After two days in humid DC, I bear a frightening resemblance to the image on the left (...yep, when my hair totally frizzes out, my lower facial prognathism and supraorbital torus become much more obvious).

I was supposed to cycle off the NSF committee this year, but in truth I really like doing this. It's an amazing amount of work, but it has caused a real transformation in my teaching and research ideas. So, when they asked, I said yes to re-upping.

Monday, April 21, 2008

DC Downpour

We had a long trip into DC yesterday. From our vantage point, we just saw clouds, as we circled the airport for 20 hours (in 20 minutes blocks of time). By the time the 4th round of a 20-minute hold came along, we were told that if a 5th were ordered, we'd have to go to Dulles to refuel. Didn't happen, fortunately. It was pouring...and I wisely packed both my hooded jacket and umbrella in the roller bag that was sitting out on the tarmac, so got drenched.

The good news, it got me a really nice room at the Holiday Inn. Pretty swanky. Watching the news last night, turns out the weather had been quite bad, two airplanes were struck by lightning, the roof ripped off a church.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Random Bytes

The Paranoid Style in American Science
by Daniel Engber
April 17,2008

My Life in a Polygamist Compound
By Torie Bosch, April 16, 2008

The More We Know About Genes, the Less We Understand
Carl Zimmer; April 18, 2008

Gauging a Collider’s Odds of Creating a Black Hole
By Dennis Overbye, April 15, 2008

Record $500,000 paid for 27 bottles of red wine
April 18, 2008

Inside Story of Galactica's Crazy Closers

By Sonia Zjawinski; April 18.2008

The Costs of Meat and Fish: The animal protein in our diets can have a high environmental cost
by Janet Raloff; April 12, 2008

Case Closed for Free Will?

By Elsa Youngsteadt
ScienceNOW; 14 April 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008


Spent the day reading grant proposals. Spent part of it outside with the cats, they had a good ole time. All of 'em curled up in my lap while I watched Battlestar apparently quite happy with their surrogate 'mother' - very cute.

And that, in a nutshell, was pretty much my day.

On a different note - pretty funny bit on the Colbert Report by Jon Edwards. Colbert managed to get Edwards, Clinton and Obama on last night's show. Not bad.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tuckered out

Gave exams in both classes today. And yet, came home bone tired. Can't really explain it - maybe an empathic connection to the students??


Now in a complete non-sequitur -- what's up with this polygamy case? Isn't it illegal to have more than one wife (at a time) in America?? And don't we have a legal age for marriage?? The kids seem to be brainwashed into buying the misogynistic angle for god-sanctioned multiple underage sex partners, but do we ignore the reality?? And the women?? I watched an interview with 3 of them yesterday and I don't think they could put together a complete or marginally complex thought between them. It was really quite sad to watch. I admit grabbing 400+ kids in one felled swoop with paramilitary 'efficiency' may have been an overstep -- but some of the arguments against said tactics sure seem to be shifting focus from glaring issues about the treatment of women and girls.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Smells of Summer

It was so sunny and nice when I got home,the boys and I sat out back for awhile. I worked on an exam for tomorrow, Maz ate grass that he will no-doubt throw up on some item of my clothing this evening; Wiley laid down on the picnic table next to me and watched the world go by; and Lemur chased every single thing in the yard that moved. It is amazing how utterly happy being outside makes these little tykes. Guess I need a wet rhinarium to fully appreciate the sensation.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dim-Witted ??

I've noticed Lemur is a little slow in learning his name. He seems quite intelligent in other ways, so this didn't make much sense. Until I realized last night that during the evening I referred to him as: snugglebutt, stinky-Mcdinkus, Mr. Big Head, megashedder, cutie-pie, bossy-mouth, and fatty-fatty-two-by-four.

Perhaps this has something to do with his seeming learning disability...


...and taxes. 'Tis the day. My mother got me back a nice chunk o' change this year, due in part to the fact that I have too much withheld each year. But it works as a 'savings plan' of sorts, so I've never changed the paperwork.

And this is why, the little 'present' from Uncle Sam each Spring.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dutiful Daughter

Long but productive day. I had a good meeting with the department chair about some recent unpleasantness in the lab, informed all the NSF-REU students of their fellowships (and got back some very enthusiastic responses), and managed to get things reorganized in the lab. Makes for a boring blog entry tho' -- but my father complained that I'm not writing enough lately, so this is what you get ;-)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Random Bytes

Here's an extra long, and early 'Random Bytes' since I was delinquent last week:
Fish Are Jumpin'Why do stingrays and other aquatic creatures leap through the air?
By Michelle Tsai; March 21, 2008

Creationist act passes another hurdle, April 09, 2008

How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse
By David Hambling;
April 03, 2008

April Fool! The Purpose of Pranks
By Benedict Carey;, April 1, 2008

Apple to New York City: Bite Me
By Bryan Gardiner
April 3, 2008

5th-grader finds mistake at Smithsonian

Wed Apr 2,

Oldest Recorded Song is Heard
by Ira Flatow
April 4th, 2008

Amber spider-glass, April 09, 2008

Scientists Flesh Out Plans to Grow (and Sell) Test Tube Meat
By Alexis Madrigal, 04.11.08

Vanished: A Pueblo Mystery

By George Johnson;, April 8, 2008

What's Wrong With All Those Planes?And why didn't anyone notice at some point in the past 28 years?
By Chris Wilson, April 11, 2008

Flat, flat, and more flat

Back from the AAPAs, where the students did a nice job with their posters -- really held their own with some of the top names in skeletal biology and bioarchaeology. One professor took Shannon's picture with her poster to show her undergraduates. That's a first. Positive feedback, very well attended.

The drive home yesterday was long and flat but VERY pleasant. It was a nice affirmation that working with students is both a fun, and worthwhile, endeavor. I forget sometimes, but shouldn't.

Shannon did most of the driving (hence the Bug figure above). We learned that Katie has apparently angered the storm gods (the driving rain moved out pretty much the moment Shannon got behind the wheel). Plus, I got two songs for my iPod, learned some ND dorm lingo, found out how MySpace works, and perhaps most importantly...finally understood Hannah Montana.

And...we got home in time to see BSG - which was excellent this week (sorry Alicia).

Friday, April 11, 2008

German munchies

Today Sarah, Laura, Shannon and Katie gave their first professional presentations. Pictures of each follow. Afterwards we went to a GREAT German restaurant for some Bavarian eats. Tast-ee. Issa joined us, as did Robin (fresh in from Germany as it turns out). Tomorrow we attend a few talks, a luncheon, and then make the drive home. And then sleep, alot!