Friday, May 25, 2012

...Aaaaaand back again.

This blog has seen a lot of different faces, with only a few posts each. Honestly, it's freakin' hard to find the time to write for fun in graduate school, much less find the time to think about what to write. There's so much writing (and reading) that goes along with school anyways, that by the end of the day when all the work is done (hah! The work is NEVER done) there aren't any more words to put to paper. Frankly, there just isn't anything I wanted to share with the world, let alone with my own fiance. Graduate school is tiring. Those of you out there who are thinking of going back to school, heed this warning: You reap what you sow. Graduate school is a very unique experience, and you truly get out of it what you put in. Take it from someone who is very used to working 11-14 hour days, 6-7 days a week. The work pays off, though, because I'm one of only a handful of people that I know that finished a thesis-based Masters program in 2 years + 1 semester, let alone a hard science thesis-based program. Oh, and we set up a lab, and started our projects from scratch. Damn straight. It can be done, but keep in mind the sacrifices you will have to make.... like hobbies. And sleep.

OK, enough of THAT rant. The reason I'm here writing today is that yesterday, I officially submitted my thesis to the graduate school. YAY! What does that mean? Well, that means 2 years of sweat, blood and tears (literally on all three accounts) and 86 pages later, I am mostly done with my degree. Yes, mostly. There's still a bit of paperwork, and editing the 2 chapters that will be submitted for publication in scientific journals, but it's still mostly done! Now I can sit back, relax, and enjoy a bit of peace and quiet before heading back out into the world.... Yeah, right.

I'm not going to say anything like "I vow to write everyday", because we all know how well that works as a motivator, but I am going to try my VERY BEST to write more often. I miss writing. I miss writing for the fun of it, for expressing my views and opinions with others. I spend most (all) days alone in the house in a new city now, or outside running errands, but when PB comes home from work, all I want to do is TALK to him. I know he doesn't always want to talk after working all day, so I need a new outlet. And so I return to blogging.

I know I have like, zero followers at this point, and I wouldn't follow me either based on my track record of writing, but it would be great to talk to someone (anyone!) again, and here's where I start. :)

OK, now it's off to the gym and grocery shopping to find things to put in our new KitchenAid blender. :) After our GE kicked the bucket the other day ($35 piece of crap), we opted to spend a little more and get some that will (hopefully) last. At least, something that will last long enough that they will make replacement parts for it!


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pizza and beer - nectar of the gods

So now I remember why I don't blog all that often. School is Hellas crazy! Like, this crazy:

Sometimes, we all just need a brain break.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Phone posting - now I never have an excuse again!

Well... I guess I'll learn to post from my phone when I need to. I have to say, though, that I despise the iPhone keyboard. You see, I have very small hands. It is difficult for me to hold he phone sideways to type. The iPhone is just a hair too bid for my hands, and they have to stretch out very far when typing sideways. I find it's easier for me sometimes to just use my pointer fingers to type :(. I know that's wrong and bad etiquette and all that jazz, but it's hard to type like this when you have tiny hands!!

On a side note, I got my oil changed this morning and I was super awake and thoroughly enjoying the day so far.

Ive been dying to use instagram more, but I don't have a whole lot to take pictures of. Here's me in the car on the way to valvoline:

I love instagram. It instantly makes you look more girly and feminine, somehow. :) I've been experimenting with some darker eye makeup lately. What's the word?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Lubbock, TX

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

So yeah..... about that blog....

Firstly, excuse the randomness of this post. I've been typing numbers all day, and sometimes words just need to come out of my fingertips instead of math.

OK, let me level with you. I know I have no readership. No one out there in the real world gives a damn what I say, so I can do or say whatever, right? And I can abandon my blog for months at a time and no one will care, right? Absolutely. Except that I miss writing. Since I've started grad school, I feel like I've done nothing but write. But I write about all of the science-y things that, frankly, no one cares about. I care, maybe a handful of other people care, but realistically, who really cares how cane toads behave? Why should be care about how animals behave at all?

Because. It's. Awesome.

Animal behavior is one of those things that is just so intricate, so complicated and so complex, that it's a little like looking in a broken, colored mirror. Learning about why animals do the things they do makes you (or at least me) think a little more about why we humans do the things we do. What is the motivation? Why bother to move or think or act at all? Why not just lie there and wait for something to happen?

I love to study learning. I really do study learning in all capacities. From teacher to scientist and back to teacher again, learning embodies everything I am and everything I do. Learning in every capacity is exactly what I'm good at, exactly what I'm passionate about. Being able to learn about life, our life, the Earth's life, is what I try to do at every instance of my life. It's the passion that drives us to work crazy long hours, and to spend too much time staring at a computer screen. The passion to know more about a particular topic, a particular brand of identity. Everyone has something that defines them, some ability or goal or achievement that defines them as a person, or by which they have defined themselves to others. Mine is learning. Definitely learning.

I'm at an impasse of my current life. I am nearly done with my Master's degree, about to make a large purchase with my fiance, and later this year, marry that man and call him my husband. 2012 is a big year for me, for us, and it holds many achievements and large life events. Well, at least if the world does end in December, I'll have a graduate degree, own property, and be married. Not too bad for my 27th year on this planet, huh?

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Guide to Bocas del Toro by 2 gringos visiting in the off-season

I really want to write this post for all of you out there considering visiting Panama. I recently took a break from fieldwork for the summer when PB came to visit me for a week. We wanted to do something nice and fun, and I wanted to get the heck out of Gamboa for a little bit, so we planned a 3 day trip to Bocas del Toro. Now, all of the guide websites and tourist information on Panama say that Bocas del Toro has beautiful beaches, a friendly-touristy atmosphere, and is a great place to relax and dance (or drink) the night away. Considering I am from one of the Spring Break capitals of Florida and spent much of my childhood on the beach, this sounded not only appealing but welcoming, and as I said, I was soooo ready for a break. Turns out, Bocas was a huge let down. Here's what definitely didn't go right during our supposed 'vacation':

1) For the love of gawd, BRING YOUR PASSPORT. Apparently no matter where you travel within a foreign country, you are supposed to have your passport on you at all times (even if you're not technically leaving the country). NO WHERE on the web does it say this, nor did any of the 5-10 well-traveled people that we told we were going to Bocas. So imagine my surprise when we were woken up at 2am (we took the overnight bus there from Albrook) by a man loudly calling "Passaportes, passaportes", and immigration stepping onto the bus. Lucky for us, I had my Smithsonian ID and Panamanian drivers licence, and we both had our Texas DLs with us. I was somehow able to talk us out of being detained til morning, and I'd like to think it was a combination of stupid white girl attitude/forlorn look/well-endowedness that got us out of that mess. This was the first, but definitely not the last time someone asked us for a passport. We managed to scrape by in Bocas without them, but 3 separate times we were asked in the airport, trying to fly back. 3 TIMES. Twice before we left Bocas, and immediately after we got off the plane. I mean, seriously, who the hell would try to sneak INTO Panama??? I was somehow able to talk us out of being in trouble each time, but oh. my. lord. we will bring our passports next time, I swear.

NOTE: PB later looked it up online, and apparently the bus company doesn't warn you of this because they charge a huge fare to take a bus back to Panama City once detained (and presumably cleared) by immigration. This country kinda sucks.

2) Don't go to Bocas in the off season. Especially in the middle of the week. The way our vacation was timed, we took the bus out Sunday night and spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on the islands. Now, since it was July 4th weekend, I figured it would be packed with American tourists who were having some R&R in the middle of the summer. Imagine my surprise when we get to Bocas and see locals. And ONLY locals. Occasionally, we saw some backpackers, but they were mostly Spanish or Latin American (a few European) - almost no Americans. Well, so much for there being a plethora of English speakers around. No one spoke any English; thankfully I speak enough Spanish to get by.

3) Make sure to actually call and talk to the tour guides. I really, really wanted to go snorkeling, so I did a lot of research beforehand about what tours were available and who were the best vendors to go through. Turns out the most recommended vendor had sold his shop at the end of the season, and there was a new guy running it who only did dive tours. Drat. He did recommend another shop, who recommended another shop, and so on until we were about 5 shops in and discovering that no one offered snorkeling trips in the off season (again, DON'T go in the middle of the week if you can avoid it!). We signed up for a trip finally, only to find out the morning of that it was cancelled because we were the ONLY people who signed up. The man who ran the shop (which shall remain nameless) gave us our money back, and we went down the street to a hotel whose sign claimed they offered snorkel tours. The woman at the front desk was nice enough to set us up on a last minute tour that was leaving around 10am instead of 9:30 (as our original tour was planned), and we did get to snorkel, but since we had no idea where we were going and signed up last minute, we still aren't quite sure where we went. It would have been nice to have a tour guide who spoke English as well as Spanish, but honestly, we should have just taken our friends' advice and hired a local water taxi driver to take us snorkeling. Next time, we bring our own gear, and go the officionado route.

There were a couple of good things that came about on this trip, one being that both of us learned that PB loves to snorkel (it was his first time!). We have since decided that he will get his Open Water Dive certification too (I got mine last year), and we'll do a diving/snorkeling themed cruise for our honeymoon. Swoon!

We also got to spend a couple of hours on a nice "private" beach; mostly because we were too tired of walking to find the real beach (which happened to be about 5 km from where the guy said it was.... sheesh). It was our own tropical paradise, and not a bad place to spend our anniversary.... you know, apart from all of the other bull crap. Next year, we go somewhere touristy. Like Key West. :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Delays, Delays

So, I'm a horrible blogger because I started this blog, fully committed myself to posting at least every other day, and look what happened.... I haven't posted in at least a week. Argh. But alas, I've realized something now that I'm in grad school... priorities shift, other things come up, and sometimes you have to break promises or commitments because they simply aren't doable anymore. :/

But now I'm back, and stronger than ever! I'm headin' to Austin this weekend (after two+ weeks of crazy school nightmare HELL), and PB and I are driving to Houston on Saturday to finally get my ring sized and the setting tightened (the diamond turns a tiny bit in the setting - EEEK!). Not like this has stopped me from wearing it. I just have a nasty habit of glancing at it every five seconds to make sure it's still in place. I normally take it off when I'm washing dishes, showering, or working in the lab (heaven forbid anything chink my purrrty ring!). I left it down in the lab last week on accident because I was in a rush, and I nearly had a heart attack when I realized it wasn't on my finger. I'm glad this weekend is finally here - it will be nice to have a little sense of security again. :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Longest. Week. EVA.

Wow, is it Saturday already? Thanks be to jeebus! This week was exhausting for everyone I know in my department, including ME! My advisor has a huge grant proposal due this upcoming Monday, so she's been stressin' and working round the clock. We have a fairly major science conference/symposium this next weekend, so all the grad students are prepping posters or lectures for that. I taught ALL WEEK, which was nerve racking on Monday (my first time lecturing to a senior class of 86 students), slightly better on Wednesday (now that they understand me, let's get this thing rolling!), and exhausting on Friday (OMG-I-haven't-slept-is-it-over-yet!?!). But now it's Saturday, I'm back in the ATX, and I made it through in one piece. My advisor even had the great idea to have the students write mini-evaluations of me, so I could change/improve for the next set of lecture (OMG I agreed to do this again what was I thinking?!). I haven't gone through them all, but they are very sweet and encouraging, and overall amazingly supportive. It made me love my students even more!

OK, back to wedding planning stuff. This is what I do for fun in my spare time now. We picked colors this morning, and now I'm working on the invites/envelope and design ideas. Yay!