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The Sideways Forest

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13th March 2008

10:40am: The first yellowjacket of spring
Nine sandhill cranes flew over me this morning as I was walking to my bus stop. I'd forgotten about their trilling call, somehow, until I heard it again this morning.

On the pavement outside of Birge Hall, I found a yellowjacket. I pushed it onto its side with my foot, curious to see if it were actually alive; it waved its legs sluggishly, then managed to get back onto its feet so that it could resume staring ahead motionlessly.

I feel like that most mornings.
1:51am: People drank a lot of Guiness
Oh, fuck. I haven't updated since January? I completely MISSED February?

During the last two months:

I went to Florida, and for the first time met face to face with people I've only known from WOW for a good two years.

I started a new job, a job that I was freaked out about and did not think I was qualified for, and have made my way through half a semester without losing my cool.

I completed my first six weeks of belly dance class.

I went to see TMBG with my friends, had a grand time, and reconnected with some folks I hadn't spoken with in years.

I have come to some pretty important realizations regarding how much I value my independence and what I want out of relationships.

All these things happened in the last two months, yet they did not provoke me to write an entry, to note their occurrence to you, readers of my LJ. I did not commit any of my reflection upon these events to pixel. So what, you ask, has prompted me to break my silence? What could possibly have happened to inspire me to write again, after all this time?

It's like this:

The Onion's League of Literature & Libations met earlier tonight at an Irish pub to discuss Chuck Palahniuk's Survivor. The League is a moderated book club populated by highly literate 20- and 30- somethings.

There is a contest each month: If this month's book were a drink, what would it be, and why? S/he who submits the best response is awarded a bag of Onion merchandise.

I won the contest. If you're curious, Survivor is a vodka & tonic; the why won't really be funny to you unless you've read the book--at least, it won't be nearly as funny as it could be. If you have, ask me sometime, and I'll tell you. It made a roomful of highly literate 20- and 30- somethings laugh pretty hard.

7th January 2008

11:37am: The Update
It's been ages since I posted, so here's the quick update: I'm essentially done with school, but I still need to get my prelim warrant, get it signed, and turn it in to the grad school in order to get my Master's. No one at the UW seems to doubt that this will happen, however, so I've been offered a position as a lecturer for one semester of a course that I've TA'd a couple times. They were really quite desperate for an instructor, what can I say? I'm still planning on going corporate after this spring. Whoredom pays better than academia, and I think hanging around colleges and universities much longer will just break my heart more. I'm already regretting a little taking this lecturer position; I had an opportunity for a clean break, and I didn't take it because a job fell into my lap. Oh well, I guess.

The holidays were fine. The gifts were neat. I hope that people liked the ones I gave out. There's been a lot of WOW, as always, and not a lot of productivity in general on my part.

The New Year's Party was a great deal of fun, at least for me. I think we were all fucking ecstatic to bid 2007 a hateful fucking farewell. Fuck you, 2007. 2008, try not to suck so hard, okay?

19th November 2007

9:03pm: Alice Goes East, Part 2
The epic tale continues!

Lobsters, eggplant, and shaman, oh my...Collapse )
7:43pm: Alice Goes East, Part 1
So, I went on this trip, and took a lot of photos...

Lobsters, eggplant, and shaman, oh my...Collapse )

5th November 2007

5:23pm: The semi watches.
Jozer, Phys, DefaultLisa, and I went to the local IMAX to see Transformers last night. The movie was a lot of fun; I enjoyed it immensely. My biggest complaint (ignoring various plotholes) was that a lot of the action on screen was difficult to follow visually; Phys agrees with me, so it's not just me. There were so many shots in Autobot vs. Decepticon fights where you could only see part of each robot in frame, and I just wanted them to PULL BACK and show us the action.

Anyway, so Transformers is fun, yadda yadda yadda, but what the hell is up with the Autobots and human sexuality? A friend of mine summed it up when he described Bumblebee as a "pervert superstar." If I were a sentient car, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't encourage the humans to get it on in my back seat. Also, if my car was sentient? I sure as hell wouldn't make out ON ITS HOOD. At the beginning of the last scene of the movie--where the guy and girl are posed to finally begin "mating" on the top of Bumblebee's hood--I started laughing hysterically. And then the camera starts pulling back and....THE REST OF THE AUTOBOTS ARE WATCHING. My brain exploded a little.

DefaultLisa suggested that perhaps this reflected a new fetish--Autoerotica.

A few hours later, I was thinking about it--I couldn't stop thinking about it--and I remembered the part where Bumblebee says outright that he wants to stay with the humans, and how happy the boy and girl looked, which implies that the relationship is fully mutual and consentual. I think that scene provides enough material for me to put together a paper about interspecies polyamory in the Transformers movie. Or at least a fanfic...

1st November 2007

1:07pm: Metabolism
In fifteen or twenty years time, I expect that it will be commonplace, practical, and reasonably affordable to sequence the genome of an unknown microbe, compare the sequences to databases of known and described sequences, and create a computer-generated model of the new organism's metabolism and cellular biology. Given a little time, people will be able to combine this type of information with gene expression profiles to create more sophisticated models.

This is the sort of shit that would make Louis Pasteur's head explode, and I really think it's going to happen. The pieces are falling into place; the AI needs to be constructed, the data collected and annotated, and we'll be ready to roll.

23rd October 2007

2:01pm: On a different note:
Upon pulling up Fark.com a few minutes ago, I read the following headline:

Subaquatic cucurbita moschata ornamentation

and I was rather amused that I not only knew exactly what the submitter was talking about, but that my first thought was, "The genus name really needs to be capitalized, and it and the specific epithet should be italicized."

The headline linked to this article, by the way.

It makes me a little sad sometimes that I'm leaving botany, but at least I have four or five years worth of specialty knowledge to play around with in my head.
12:52pm: I am.
I cut through the chemistry building on the way to Birge Hall today, and as I exited through the main doors, I glanced down and read, in large, chalked, block letters, "ARE YOU AWAKE?" There was no explanation, no further information.

I imagine that if one were to pose that question to me at any (waking) moment in my life, my answer would be "yes," but right now, it is an especially certain, emphatic "YES."

I've had a pretty extensive set of fantasy narratives running in my head for as long as I can remember, lives lived in other worlds, the places I lived in the half hour between laying down in bed and falling asleep, or on long car rides, or whenever I had the time to send my mind...out, I guess. These days, my daydreams are more about me--things I want to do, things I'm going to do. If I'm not daydreaming, I think about how I'll structure stories I want to write. Some of the fantasy worlds are the same, but I'm building them instead of living them.

I feel like I'm spending a lot more time living in my skin than I have in the past. Maybe it's because I like who I am and what I'm doing more than I have for a long time.

In moments where I struggle to learn or recall something, or when I feel particularly thick-headed, I sometimes worry that I'm losing "it," that thing I had that made people think I was special when I was very young, when I was three and they couldn't find the ceiling on my IQ with the tests available. On days like today, though, I don't worry about hitting the ceiling; I know that there are always ways around it. Twenty-five years and one day into my life, and there is still nothing to fear, and in the end, the only thing that can really stop me is me.

I am awake.
Current Mood: quixotic

4th October 2007

10:22am: It's 'cause of these things.
Somehow, getting to campus early to study for my 11am molecular biology exam has turned into scanning the DF forums and Facebook. Granted, I only have two more lectures worth of material left to review, and I knew ~30% of the course content before enrolling...but still, I kinda of fail at time management.

I am so ready to be out of here.

29th September 2007

9:43am: Swan-diving from the Ivory Tower
The thing that frightens me most about academia is that in order to (ostensibly) become what you want to be, you have to first become something else, and I am beginning to suspect that that cycle doesn't really ever end.

25th September 2007

3:06pm: In the morning (late afternoon?) light
I'm feeling a bit more centered today. My head is still spinning just as fast. I'm just as distressed about my realization that my carefully structured web of rationales and motivations for staying where I am in school and work is crumbling. I feel less panicked, though, and I feel good about what I finally put down on paper (pixels?) last night.

I haven't left the Ivory Tower yet, but I know that if I do, it will be okay, and it may very well be for the best. If they were to kick me out, I would be fine with that. Nothing is really dependent on whether or not I finish. I mean....yes, if I finish my degree, then certain jobs will be open to me that would not be otherwise, but...will it really affect me, negatively or positively, in terms of happiness, job satisfaction, impact I make on the world? I'm not convinced so any more.
12:23am: How am I supposed to title this?
This might be a little raw, pretty long, self-absorbed, and possibly slightly incoherrent. I'm certainly feeling raw. The sensitive may wish to avert their eyes.

Read moreCollapse )

25th August 2007

3:10am: 3:11 AM
It's been quite a while since I wrote an entry. I can, at least, say that I've been busy.

I went to Canada to visit my boy. It was good.

I still have my notes about Chicago. I have pictures from there and from Kanadia to post. I'll get around to it someday, I swear.

Work has been alright. I picked up temporary job thingy in the department, and my RAship has kicked in, so I'm busy and getting paid alright. It's nice.

I had a dream the other night that I was talking on the phone to The Boy, as I frequently do. In my dream, I got a second call; in real life, my cell phone was ringing. In my dream I told him, "Sorry, I have to take this, hold on a minute," and I apparently woke up enough to reach over and get the phone. It was The Boy, of course--he calls me in the morning, after he finishes the graveyard shift--and I was very, very confused for about 10 seconds.

I have had a fascination for cake decorating lately. Been watching Ace of Cakes on the Food Network too much. I think I could do it, though; my hands are reasonably steady, and I'm not completely devoid of artistic ability. I'm thinking I'll try and do something silly and botanical for the department holiday party, and try to win the poinsetta for best presentation.

I've quit WOW. I don't know that I'll ever go back, but I imagine I'll probably want to kick around on Bov a little once the next expansion comes out.

I feel good about life.

21st July 2007

8:56pm: Updates
I finished Deathly Hallows at about 3pm this afternoon. It was excellent. I think I'm going to start with Sorcerer's Stone and reread the series now, but I'm not sure how long my motivation will hold out.

Still haven't written up Chicago, but I will.

20th July 2007

8:15am: Diviniation Classes are better with Ms Ecker than with Ms Trelawney
J asked me last night if I had my Harry Potter predictions down in writing somewhere, which I didn't. Since I have five minutes to kill before I have to leave the house...

Harry lives, Voldemort dies.
Snape is loyal, but dies. (He will die doing something redeeming that will make Harry feel horrible, I think.)
Harry is one of the horcruxes, or his scar is, or something like that. He's certainly carrying around part of Voldemort, at any rate.

Things that I think are very good ideas that I am not so sure about, but am optimistic may happen:

RAB is Regulus Black, and the locked mentioned in OotP is the horcrux (this would entail retrieving it from Kreacher, I suppose). Regardless of whether or not it is Regulus, poor Reggie is dead and won't be making an appearance (otherwise, he likely would have inherited the house at 12 Grimmauld Place, due to Black family tradition).

Snape will die defending Harry and crew from Fenrir Greyback, providing some nice symmetry with the werewolf attack! scene in POA.

18th July 2007

10:45am: Teehee!
TIME FOR COFFEE is the best name for a gene, EVER.

17th July 2007

8:13am: Not quite awake, but definately not still sleeping
So, I'm back from Chicago as of last Wednesday evening, and I still haven't written up my trip...maybe tonight after my raids. I took enough notes and photos that I really should write it up.

Went to see Harry Poter & the Order of the Phoenix on the IMAX on Saturday with the roommates and goddess. It was excellent. The last 20 minutes were in 3d, which was very groovy.

Spent Sunday evening helping to move various things and critters with artie and MrGuff to their new place in Madison. I couldn't be happier to have them nearby again.

I'm still publishing on Associated Content, trying to get out at least one or two articles a week. I was pretty proud of how this one turned out.

30th June 2007

12:33am: Occasional failure is to be expected
Today I finished data collection for the stuff I'm writing up as a posted to present in Chicago about a week from now, and the last portion of the stuff I was hoping to present was just....a miserable failure. I'm taking a new tack on the subject matter and forging ahead with the poster, though. Hopefully I'll finish the first draft of all the text this weekend, run it past my advisor on Monday, and be done with the poster by Thursday.

This--the whole last minute poster disaster thing--is exactly what happened last year. Next year, I'm going to write up my summmer poster/presentation on work that's been done and analyzed for six months instead of going through this again.

In other science writing news, I've been sending the occasional article to Associated Content. The website accepts submissions of a wide variety of types of articles, and pays for exclusive rights (and occasionally nonexclusive rights) to publish them. The quality of content on the site is pretty variable, but there are gems here and there. It's not a lot of money to publish with them--I've gotten $5 for each of six short (~400 word) articles summarizing recent research--but it keeps me writing, gives me motivation to keep up with various journals, and it's fun to have a set of articles published somewhere, even if it's just online. Here's a link to my "content producer's" site with them (my list of articles). If any of you are interested in joining, please let me know (drop me a line at mlitiagrl at gmail dot com) so that I can send an email invite with a special link to you. That way, I get a couple bucks if you sign up and publish something with them. Woo!

18th June 2007

1:30pm: Enjoying the painless TA assignment
Things are fine here at Camp Alice, at least so far as I know. Over the last week there was a minor ant invasion in the kitchen, but application of some fine chemical products seems to have eliminated the Ant Threat. I feel a little tired and a little dim-witted at the moment, but not as worried as I have been feeling lately.

I took pictures on the June 8-9 field trip to Kemp Station for the bryophyte class and I posted them on Flickr a week or so ago, but I am only now getting around to putting up a link to them:
Kemp Station Field Trip Photos

31st May 2007

4:01pm: So confused
When I read this line from Cleolinda's most recent blog entry, I was so very confused:

I love the idea of unionized lolcats.

I read it as un-ionized, as opposed to union-ized. I followed the link, and until the picture (which I had already seen earlier today) loaded in, I was vexed--the hell is an un-ionized cat? Why is Cleolinda so excited about them?

Anyway. Lots of things have happened lately, but nothing fatal. I passed my prelims, I start teaching against next week, my summer is pretty much booked solid to the end.

10th May 2007

1:12pm: Slightly surreal
I've been on campus barely two hours so far, and already I've watched a tribal-style storytelling dance, and been climbed on (and poo'd on, but with no damage to my clothing) by a sugarglider. This leaves me wondering what will happen in the next seven hours I spend here...

29th April 2007

10:22pm: I took a few pictures on the mycology class field trip to Picnic Point on April 19th. Today, my lazy ass is finally posting them.

A bit of preamble: Picnic Point is a large chunk of campus which has been set aside as a natural area, thought parts of it are used for recreation. Most of the area has been clear cut at one point or another, but I believe certain small chunks have never been cut. Located deep in the heart of Madison, it is an important area for conservation; forest fragments such as the one at Picnic Point are vital resting points for migrating birds, and serve as refugia for native species that would otherwise be absent from the area.

Picnic Point!Collapse )

11th April 2007

4:43pm: Not quite halfway there, but less than half the alloted time left to go...
I think I have somehow managed to procrastinate both more and less than normal this week. Less, because I finally put my foot down with myself, and decided that I will finish my damn thesis proposal by sometime on Friday. More, because from hour to hour, I am finding so many new and innovative ways to put off writing said thesis proposal. Newest innovation? Updating the much neglected LJ!

In the interests of getting back to aforementioned proposal, then, I will make this quick. Things have been busy. The highlight of spring was a trip to Edmonton to see Alex, from which I returned three days ago. I was very happy while with him, and it was probably the best vacation I've had in a long time. I didn't really want to come back, but at least I've been productive so far this week--teaching, writing, and managing to squeeze a few raids in. Apparently there's nothing like a long distance relationship to encourage me to try to get through grad school faster. Also, I've had some recent triumphs over my plants which I don't terribly feel like trying to explain, but trust me, they're awesome.
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