Life as a falconer, insect systematist, and double Masters Student (or a look into the mind of someone who is questionably sane).

11 December 2006

Conference- aka being paid to go hang out with 1,000 people just like me

I spent the last week up north in Illinois and Indiana. The days leading up to that were pretty crazy, i took 4 finals in about 18 hrs. Before starting that I was trying to study, finish up the IDs and get ready for the meeting. We did have dinner gatherings- the first night Maria and I went over to Daisy and Stevens for supper and some Super Smash Brothers fun. Daisy cooked cornish game hens which were excellent. Next they came over to our house for dinner, Maria cooked Pork Roast. Then we went back over to their house for supoer smash brothers a couple nights later. The finals went ok, it was nice to get them over with although I was running back and forth constantly. I took one at A&M then ran to Blinn and took another one. The next day I took one at Blinn at about 8 then took my last one at A&M a couple hrs later. Between the two was a feverish packing attempt at 2am and clearing leafhopper genitilia. Cammack's laptop broke so we took it apart and tried to pull files off of it with no luck. After taking all my finals it was back to the lab and trying to get bugs packed up to take to Illinois. I pulled the genitilia out of the KOH (caustic, used to disolve nonscleritized tissue) and put it in the microvials. Only issue was that I didnt have any and Oz and Ed were already in route to ESA. I got into Eds office and dug around but for the life of me couldnt find the stuff so I grabbed the vials from Ozs stash and tried mostly unsuccessfully to get glicyerin in them without a syringe. Eventually I got enough made to pack up the ones i needed and finished preparing the specimens. I also talked to Teal, im offiically TAing 311 next semester. Cammack and I went and grabbed lunch at Ag Cafe before he took me to the airport. On arrivial I realized I didnt have my checkbook, so cammack dropped me off and went to get it. I checked in and sat around for a bit unti Cammack pulled back up with my checkbook. I went up to security and they made me go through a couple times then searched my backpack. They finally found my epi pen and they decided that that was what set it off. As they were pulling everything out I told the guy to be careful with the box since it was fragile, so he took it out all carefully then proceeded to shake it. Nothing rattled and so he wrapped it back up without opening it and handed it back to me to put away in my backpack. Luckily the bugs were ok. Once I was at the gate Cammack called to make sure he could leave (I needed him to wait and make sure my bugs got through). My plane was a few min late but not too bad. On the plane to DFW I took a short nap since the flights less than an hour long. Once in dallas I found the business lounge deal and pulled out my laptop. It was time to start working on my presentation. I was there for a couple hrs waiting on the next flight which was running a bit late. I slept a bit more on the plane then did somemore work on the presentation. Id been sick all week and that last part of the plane was torture. I was pretty sure that my ears were going to explode but I landed in Champaign without anything rupturing. The airport was a bit bigger than the one at A&M but not substantially. I made my way down to the lobby and met up with Chris. Apparently preparing your presentation on the plane is more the norm than exception since when i told chris i was concerned about it he told me get use to it, it doesnt get any better. Not exactly what i was expecting based off the profs im around at A&M but definatly more my style. Grabbed my bag and went outside. It was insanely cold, and i left my gloves and hoodie in college station. Must have been in the 20s or so, with some ice on the ground. On the way to Chris's house I got to see a good chunk of Champaign, looks like a nice town. Very similar to A&M although a lot more brick. The building the survey is in is kinda cool, the biology side of it is in champaign while the geology side of it is in urbana. Theres a 31 flavors and mcdonalds, thats all i need in life. The houses were so different looking, they were square, no brick and with porches (either inclosed or not). They just looked cold. We got to Chris's house and I stuck all my stuff upstairs then met his wife, susan, and daughter claire. We ate some soup, nice and warm, then talked leafhoppers for a bit. I pulled out my B-tray of bugs from Dominica and gave those to him so we could ID them when we got back from ESA. Went to bed pretty early since we needed to be on the road by 430 to get to ECN on time.

Saturday started at 420 when Chris woke me up. I grabbed my stuff and we went to Jamies house. Jamie appeared a few min later and said he needed finish packing. After a few min he came down and we were back on the road to Dimetrivs. Dimetriv was ready so he loaded up and it was off to Indianapolis. I was asleep again pretty much instantly and didnt wake up until we were approaching Indianapolis. We found their hotel- right by this staduim that was being built, there must have been 30 cranes working on it, definatly exciting. We walked over to the Hotel where the ECN meeting was being held. The morning presentations were interesting, they were almost all relating to computerizing collections either by databasing (done by Ed), online librarys (by Oz) or online interactive keys (Dimetriv). There were also a couple about projects being undertaken at various collections and that sort of thing. Dani showed up a bit after we did and for lunch we all went to the mall, along with Ed, Cheryl Barr, Dave Furth, and a couple others. The most exciting part was that Dave Furth (smisonian guy) remembered me from last meeting, and Cheryl knew me from my Abachrysa e-mails. The afternoon presentations were also pretty good, then I met up with Lois and talked to her some about the papers I'm working on. There was a dinner social at the hotel, sat with an eclectic group- the grad students from chris's lab plus the new curator at AK Fairbanks, a lep systemitist, and some beetle people. After dinner finished up my presentation- it came together pretty nice I think then went to the hotel bar where most of the grad students went. We were all pretty exhasted though so I think we left around 10. One of the guys from NC state had a van and since they were staying at the holiday inn they gave me and Jamie a ride back there to pick up my stuff then they dropped me off at the Hyatt where I was staying for the 1st night. I checked in and found my room on the 14th story. I love tall buildings. Andrea wasn’t there yet so I messed with my presentation for a bit longer by which point she had arrived. After talking for a while we called it a night since I had to be at the convention center at 630 to do my volunteer hours.

610 came way too early and I made my way to the convention center. Indianapolis is kinda cool in that a lot of the stuff downtown is connected by enclosed raised passages so you don’t have to go out into the cold. I was working the presentation preview room like last year, but rather than having to deal with presenters who didn’t know how to upload their presentations or who were waiting until the last possible moment to do so. Instead I got to sit at the table, look official and hand out stuff for moderators. I even got to hang onto a walktakie to contact Grayson incase there were major issues and he wasn’t around. It was quite nice. Then ever 45 min or so I would walk down to the wireless internet room and make sure only ESA people were using it. Pretty easy job. Presenters would come in and look at me so id point them to a computer then be like if you have any trouble one of these people would be happy to help you. It was exquisite as my favorite Romanian would say. At 7am I went and got my registration packet and the 5 of us volunteers discovered that there was a scavenger hunt to win a prize. It was finding various types of people like worked in CA entomology, or someone from a different branch than you were. Well being in the preview room we had a lot of options to get signatures. I decided to wait on the governing board so it would be an excuse to harass heraty. After finishing up in the projection room I ran into David and we went to lunch with Dr. Harris and Robert. Had the best but most overpriced burger I’ve had in a while. Went to a few presentations then back to the hotel for a bit to figure out the plan for the night. I was suppose to go to the Embassy Sweets, but I couldn’t get ahold of Jill or the other girls. Also I kinda wanted to stay where I was until after the presentation since it was closer and quieter than the student hotel was. The 1st real even was the plenary session. I ran into heraty on my way over there, and figured he knew where he was going being on the governing board and all. Well he didn’t, but we eventually got there. I was early so I left again and wandered around alittle. I ran into Norm Penny a neuropterist who was talking with Lois and Charlie. Lois and Charlie went to eat and Norm and I went to the plenary session. After the first business meeting the speaker started his presentation. It was on Wigglesworth, an insect physiologist. It was pretty interesting, just wish all insect phys was as cool. One of his experiments involved writing his initials in juvenile hormone on a plant bugs abdomen to see if it would change the make up of the cuticle (which it did). So his initials were written in juvenile cuticle while the rest of the bug was adult. Next was the reception for everyone at esa. Found some food and a place to sit with lois and dani. Then it was time to wander the room. I needed to find Heraty to get the scavenger hunt form signed and Alma to ask her some questions on collecting in mexico. Finding people was virtually impossible you could see someone you needed to talk to and by the time you fought through the crowd they were gone. I ran into Demetiv and talked to him for a while. Then it was back to looking for Heraty and Alma. Eventually I found Heraty. He introduced me to some people and signed my paper. I realized I was going to be in LA over Christmas and that it might be nice to go out to riverside. I told him and got his e-mail address and phone numbers. I handed him back his pen but didn’t have his pen cap. Turned out he didn’t either. After both of us taking all the stuff out of all our pockets and still not finding it I finally spotted it on the floor a few feet away. As to how it got there no idea. I wandered off after a while and found Michelle and a few of the other A&M grad students. Talked to them then saw Alma. We apparently spotted eachother at the same time so I didn’t even have to chase her down. I like this whole 2nd conference recognition thing, makes life so much easier. She thinks mexico should be workable, need to find someone with a collecting permit then just get on theirs as a collaborator. Hopefully I should be able to find someone without too much trouble. Cammack and I have been talking about collecting down in Tamalipas for a couple years. Julio had told me about Rancho del Cielo, the northernmost cloudforest and since then I’ve been trying to figure out how to get down there. Alma and I parted ways and I went back to talking to the grad students. Then I saw ed talking to a bunch of beetle guys so I went over there and after a while Ed, one of the curators at BYU, and I decided we needed to get some more substantial food. We tried a bunch of different places which were all closed or no longer serving food. Finally someone said the steak and shake was still open so the 3 of us went there for dinner. It was a nice dinner listening to collecting stories and occasionally getting to add one of my own. Seems like everyone has a getting horribly lost in the woods and and dang I wish I had a flashlight story. The best lost story I've ever heard was a guy who got lost in the woods and ended up curling up in a malaise trap for the night. After dinner I walked back to the hotel with some other people staying there and went up to my room. Amanda (one of Andreas friends from randys lab) was staying in the Hyatt with us and so I met her. She works on leafhoppers also, looking at glasswing sharpshooter behavior. We were both presenting in the morning so we ran through the talks once each then called it a night. I slept on the floor in a sea of pillows and blankets.

I dont get why people dont belive me when I say I sleep on the floor. Been doing it nightly since high school and even before anytime i could id sleep on the ground somewhere. I think its because when I was really young my parents would have me sleep on the couch when we went up to the cabin. They would then surround the couch with chairs until I was totally barricaded in. I got so use to being barricaded that I guess i just figured i needed to be contained. For most of my life i've been afraid of beds since i figure ill fall out and theyre not containing enough. When I was 7 or 8 i got a loft bed which had rails on all sides so that was nice and containing. After the move to TX i stayed in the loft bed until one day we took the sheets off to get washed and i never put them back on, just started sleeping on a pile of blankets on the floor. Much more confortable, and I've never gone back.

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