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

Presentations and way too many good times

As seems to be typical for this conference Monday started way to early. My presentation was one of the 1st ones so I went over to the convention center shortly after 730. I needed up upload a more recent version of my presentation since when I attempted to do it the day before the server crashed and since it was time for the room to close anyway the confex people decided not to mess with it. Got my new version up with plenty of time and went over to my room to check and make sure it got refreshed so the newest version was what would come up when I opened my presentation. This new set up is so nice, basically there is a centralized server that holds everything and each room computer is linked to that. Any changes in the preview room are instantly put on the server and the moderator just refreshes the computer to get the latest presentation. Now things can be loaded minuets before the session starts or even during the session (although authors are told to do it the day before or we cant guarantee itll work). I wandered the halls looking for people I knew until it was time to start the session. This year was a bit different than last since none of my profs could come. Woolley and Wharton skipped the meeting all together and Oz was judging presentations in on of the other sessions. A&M was still well represented though since Medina, David, Andrea, and some of the other grad students showed up. Chris and his lab were there (minus Dani who though I was at 940 not 840) along with all the Fulgoroid people and some additional grad students from Champaign. There were also a bunch of random people who came, so there were probably 30-40 people, not too bad for an early talk. My presentation went pretty well I think, didn’t talk too fast although I butchered the pronunciations of a fair number of names I don’t think it was too big of a deal. The goal is just sound like you know how to say them and most people won’t realize you got it wrong and most of the ones that do are people you know. I didn’t get any questions right away, but after I sat down a couple of the people around me had some comments or questions. There was a break shortly after mine and one of the people in the audience came up and said that she worked with one of the ex ministers of ag in Dominica so he might be able to help us get our bugs out. I went and asked Chris how he though it went then talked to Jamie and Demetiv. Lois came over and I talked to her about one of the cixiids that I mentioned and then it was time for the other presentations. I was surprised that there were actually a fair number of people who had just come for my presentation and then left (and that weren’t my friends coming to watch me) maybe some of these people actually cared what I said. All in all not my best presentation- I was using notes which I hate doing, but I just had too hard of a time keeping track of which species and genera were known only from Dominica etc- but it didn’t go too bad. My session got done a bit earlier than the others since we had a cancellation, so I was able to go to Amandas leafhopper one. The only problem was that there were 3 presentations all at that time that I wanted to see, but I decided to go with the leafhoppers even though I had seen it the night before. I got there just as she was starting, her presentation went really well even though her audio didn’t work right. There weren’t speakers in the room so she had to use the speakers that Andrea had but wernt very loud so you couldn’t really hear it too well. She got a couple of questions and answered them pretty well. After hers I went down to the exhibit hall to see what things I could find to spend money on along with check out the posters. I ran into Lois and she was going to lunch with Charles (Fulgoroid guy at Connecticut) and one of his grad students. So we walked over to the mall and got our food. I decided on California rolls. It was strange having to use my own utensils to remove the avocados since the only time I ever eat them is with Cammack and its become tradition to use his chopsticks for the avocado extradition. The California rolls were ok, pretty expensive though- so glad I got that travel grant.After lunch caught a few more presentations then just found oz and those guys and talked to them. Chris came and told me the Auchenorrhyncha people were going out so I went with them. We went to buffalo wild wings for happy hour. Julie, Chris, and I were talking about why we got into entomology. Both chris and I had started young me at the Heard doing actual work in high school and playing around before that and one of his early memories was putting a matid ootheca (egg case) under the dinning room table which hatched while he was at school. Julie was saying that those of us who started early had a huge advantage over others and that in many ways this couldn’t be made up. To some extent I think that’s true- when your learning languages etc its thought the earlier you start the easier it is to learn. I defiantly noticed that with leafhoppers. The stuff I learned in high school stuck with me even though I didn’t use parts of it for years after a quick refresher it came back. There were some downsides to learning it early though. The traditional way of learning taxonomy is to start at higher levels and go down. Well I learned how to tell a leafhopper from everything else and then jumped straight to genus. So first off I had no clue what the rest of the bugs were in my samples and secondly now I’m having to go back and figure out where the stuff I learned 6 years ago goes. The genus part of it isn’t too bad since as Chris said that levels more stable especially now that hes moving a bunch of stuff around. Its just kind of frustrating sometimes to hear people talking subfamilies or tribes and I for the life of me don’t know what it is even though once they say a genus or 2 I realize there are at least some members that I am quite familiar with. Hopefully this semester will help with that since I’ll be spending a big chunk of time learning and sorting subfamilies. Turns out A&M has one of the best collections of Australian leafhoppers outside of Australia along with a good general collection so there’s a lot of material. Australia has a lot of endemic (found only there) groups and so a good collection from there means I can learn those along with the more typical subfamilies. It really worked out well having Chris come to A&M over the summer while I was there. While working in our collection he sorted stuff with the idea that I could then use that material to learn subfamilies and so organized it as such.After a while Dani and Jamie got to the bar and we had another round. The beer there was pretty good, I had dark beer of course. We all left around 7 or so and headed to the school receptions. A&M’s was in the Hyett as was the NC State so Chris, Charles and I wandered around until we found the right rooms. The A&M one was pretty big, I saw Andrea at one of the tables so I went and talked to her for a while before deciding I should probably go back to the hotel to study somemore for my physiology test so I walked back to the embassy sweets. This time I didn’t get horribly lost like on my first attempt to find the hotel when I ended up in some art gallery. Back at the hotel I studied for my phys test until I fell asleep with my book still open.

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