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

25 February 2012

Lots of updates

1 34 watching TV
7 30 sleeping
10 0 sleeping
17 54 at Steak and Shake with Mikey

The majority (75%) of nocturnal nest predations on Golden Cheeked Warblers by snakes resulted in the adult female getting eaten also (Reidy et al. 2009).

Lunch- Salami
Dinner- Cheesy Cheddar Steak Burger

My little sister arrived this evening from Alabama bringing boxes of girl scout cookies and Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake.  Before she arrived however I met mikey for dinner at Steak and Shake since he was on his way to TN.  Other than that though I spent my day in the lab other than a brief excursion to the Bird Lab meeting (predicting changes in nest predation by snakes with climate change).  Apparently bird lab really should be snake lab since most of the discussion was about designing experiments to test snake hunting skills (captive snakes become bad hunters even after a few months of captivity was one take home message).  Guess bird people really are all herp people at heart...

18 ii 2012
0356- sleeping
0910- sleeping
1421- picking up Eddie in a post apocolyptic wasteland
1756- vortexing

Random Fact- On 1 October 1908, Chicago Heights, IL installed telephones at 2 schools, some of the first in the nation.  Additionally, in 1912 tuition for non-resident students was $2 a month.

Lunch- bagel at Einsteins
Dinner- tacos at Chipolte

My little brother came to visit for the weekend, so we had to go pick him up at the train outside of Chicago.  Driving there was an adventure, we passed a place where parade floats go to die, a place where fair rides go to die, and a bunch of scrap places, all within a few miles of eachother.  Urban decay is so fascinating.  Once we got back down here we ate dinner and hung around the house while I did my WoW study session.  Then we ate cake, Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake rocks my world.

19 ii 2012
0019- watching TV with Maria and Eddie
0441- sleeping
0621- sleeping
1905- waiting for PCRs to be done and getting gels ready for said reactions

Random fact- Foldit is a computer game that allowed people to try and figure out the structure of various proteins and enzymes.  It took players just 3 weeks to solve an HIV protein structure problem after 15 years of research.

Lunch- lucky charms with chocolate ice cream
Dinner- burger and milkshake

Sadly my brother had to go back to Notre Dame today, Maria took him to Chicago by herself since I really needed to set up reactions.  Luckily she managed to safely deal with the post apocalyptic zombie wasteland without me.  We met up at Mass and then went back to the lab so I could pull my reactions.  I was hungry so rather than running the gels we decided to call it a night and left to get dinner.  For a college town everything sure closes down early here...

20 ii 2012
0251- watching TV
1727- eating Chinese
1948- setting up the sequencing reaction
2117- at Massimos eating Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake

Random Fact- Alcock's Arabian is thought to be the ancestor of all gray Thoroughbreds. 
Lunch/Dinner- Sweet and Sour Shrimp

My sister rocks at decorating cakes, and my mom rocks and pretty much everything.  My mom made a cake for Massimo's birthday and sent it up with Maria, along with cake decorating supplies.  So while I was setting up my sequencing reaction she drew a motorcycle and the stars and bars on it, then we all went to Massimos, sang happy birthday, and ate cake.  The best part though was watching Brendan go crazy when Massimo put Little Mermaid on the play piano, it was pretty intense.  Also of interest was getting 28s to work for a bunch of taxa I'd previously had no success with, hopefully the product is good enough for sequencing.

21 ii 2012
0223- watching TV with Maria
0649- sleeping
1629- at the lab
2220- Getting hot chocolate with Maria

Random Fact- Home Depot has a microwave that sells for over 1,000 dollars. 

Lunch/Dinner- leftover Sweet and Sour Shrimp

Maria and I spent the evening wandering around town, specifically the furniture store, Home Depot, and then a coffee shop in downtown  At Home Depot I found a desk top washer (maria claims it was a demo piece to show the high powered water jets) that I really wanted, and contractor packs of CFL bulbs (seriously, 12 for 7 bucks hell yeah).  At the furniture shop we identified a good couch for my dude room, and I found coffee tables that fold out into normal tables.  Before the fun though, I actually got some work done including submitting my plate first thing this morning and a multi hour long lab meeting.  We learned treehopper ID, but I think it can really be summarized as higher level treehopper taxonomy is a disaster, there are no good characters, and really you should just learn genera.

22 ii 2012
0508- watching TV with Maria
0926- sleeping
1211- eating some lucky charms before my biogeography discussion group
1817- at home with Maria watching Dr. G. medical examiner

Random Fact- When chicks from one species were moved into a nest (of the same species) but in a different region, ticks on the transplanted bird did poorly compared to the ticks on the bird in the region where it belonged.

Lunch- lucky charms
Dinner- pizza at Jupiter's with Maria

I managed to convince Maria to stay another day, she was feeling sickly, but we still managed to try a bakery and eat pizza.  At Jupiter's we discussed our most memorable beers- her's was at Lechner between finals while eating Antonio's and mine was probably in Argentina after carting these beers around for weeks (pulling them out at a light sheet earned me a "you'll be a good gradstudent" from Chris).  I also got the sequence data back this morning, I love waking up to sequences.  So far they look pretty good, even the 28s's with the faint bands seem to be golden.

23 ii 2012
0040- watching TV with Maria
1016- sleeping
1407- at systematics discussion group a KJ paper on phylogenomics from Illumina sequencing
2335- working with my sequences

Random Fact-  The Hawaiian Hawk is found on the island of Hawaii and as a vagrant to a couple of the other islands in the chain.  Unlike most other endemic Hawaiian avifauna, its population appears to be stable.

Lunch- left over pizza from Jupiter's
Dinner- pizza at Jupiter's with Massimo, Brendan, and a prospective student

Spent much of the day working with the sequence alignments from my most recent plate (my 10th one so far). I also got my abstract submitted for the ICE meeting (I think, the submission process was rather wierd), so now I can apply for yet another grant to help pay for the meeting.  I also discovered I either 1) learned more in genomics than I thought I did or 2) (and much more likely I think) KJ can explain next generation sequencing simply enough anyone can understand it.  I love the idea of millions of reads to play with, not so much the multiple months it takes to get sequence data back from the biotech center.  I think the highlight though was looking up hazmat placards that Maria saw on her drive home- the most exciting was 1859, SILICON TETRAFLUORIDE, which shall we say is bad, bad news.

24 ii 2012
0152- Working on the 12s alignment
0250- Getting my nexus file ready to run
0643- sleeping
1453- at the lab reading a paper

Random Fact- William Payne, a merchant in Massachusetts left 35 acres of seafront property to public school children in his will 351 years ago.  The trust that manages it is one of the oldest charitable trusts in the US.

Lunch- steak and shake
Dinner- Rockfish and lucky charms

I let the Hecalini analyses (both the straight concatenated and one with gappy regions removed) run overnight and woke up to find one was done and the other had 2 minutes left to run (talk about perfect timing).  I got the distributions coded and loaded it and the trees into RASP then did a Bayesian MCMC analysis.  The results were a bit different then the last time, but overall the relationships between groups and biogeographic history were not in conflict with the last run.  I also started some extractions and helped Brendan since he's going to learn how to do molecular work.  Now I'm waiting for the DEL+PARA analysis to finish... 17 more hours...

17 February 2012

A week's worth of data

9 ii 2012
0632- sleeping
1002- getting my motorcycle loaded
1521- driving
2000- driving

Random Fact- when tying down a bike, you want the front shocks compressed about 1/3 the way down- enough when it bounces there isn't slack, but not so much you screw your bike up.
Lunch/dinner- tortillas and bluebell 

Markus and I met up shortly before 10 and got my bike loaded and strapped down.  Checked my email and found out I needed to be back by 1125, not 1500... I ran a couple of errands and headed north.  I left a bit before noon, and by the time I got to Tyler found out Mikey was leaving Austin today also.  The weather was great, no rain and some sun.  About 1900 I got a text from Mikey saying he missed his plane so we coordinated to meet up in St. Louis about 0100 Friday.

10 ii 2012
0847- sleeping
1233- at Bird Lab
1410- waiting for Drew to get done talking to the admissions committee
1724- at the PEEC mixer

Random Fact- Carotenoids cannot be synthesized by animals, so are thought to be an honest marker where as animals can produce melanin so its possible for them to "cheat" and be more attractive then they really are.

Lunch- pizza  at Bird Lab
Dinner- shiner and random finger foods at the mixer  then nachos at Murphys

Today was incredibly long- I picked Mikey up, and then we took turns driving the rest of the way to Urbana, finally getting in a bit after 0500.  Unloaded and got a few hours of sleep before I had to walk a prospective student between meetings on campus.  The afternoon got complicated as recruit schedules kept changing but the recruit I was helping with was pretty cool so it worked out ok.  The highlight of the recruiting things today though was the free Shiner at the mixer (I wasn't excited about mixing so only talked to people I knew).  I also found out Chris took my data comment to heart- while we were talking about my DDIG he made a comment about the fact I'm only interested in the data.

11 ii 2012
0505- sleeping
0747- sleeping
1904- home playing WoW
2220- playing WoW

Random Fact- Male three spined sticklebacks provide all parental care including fanning the eggs to provide fresh oxygenated water and guarding the eggs and young.

Lunch- McDonalds 
Dinner- pizza (sausage, peperoni, extra cheese, and tomatoes) and beer (ordered an Anchor Steam, but mikey didn’t like his beer so we traded casue I'm nice like that) at Jupiter's  

As part of the recruiting weekend there is a research symposium where grad students present their work and then a mixer afterwards.  As usual, I didn't present anything so enjoyed sleeping until almost 11 at which time I figured I should attend.  Caught a couple presentations then met up with Mikey and Massimo for lunch after giving up waiting for the recruiting people to get their act together.  After lunch I sat through another 3 hrs of presentations, then to the mixer/poster session.  I was way over my limit on crowds, talking to people, and socialization in general so when KJ told me I looked bored I took that as a sign it was time to go home.

12 ii 2012
0433- sleeping
0743- sleeping
1917- Skyping with Eddie trying to fix my Nexus conversion program

2138- playing WoW

Random Fact- Unix and dos use different protocols for dealing with the ends of lines.  My brother and I spent 3 hours trying to make something work before realizing that was the problem...

Lunch- eggs at IHOP 
Dinner- fish sticks  

I had big plans of PCRing today, but instead spent a big part of the day skying with Eddie trying to get a program he wrote for me to work.  Taxonomy programs all want slightly different files, so he made me something to convert files from the alignment program I use to the nexus files.  It worked fine for him, but wasn't working for me.  After 3+ hours he realized it was the conversion issue mentioned above so that problem was solved.  Now I get to actually do the data analysis on the sequences I got last week.

13 ii 2012
0043- playing online
0720- sleeping
1641- reading the paper for biogeography discussion
2318- home playing WoW

Random Fact- Excluding captive bred animals, 2008 was the first time in over 200 years a Tuatara successfully bred on mainland New Zealand.
Lunch- corned beef 
Dinner- lingcod and rice  

Ran a bunch of PCRs today, and did some purification.  Assuming everything goes well I can submit my plate tomorrow- mostly 28s, but some 12s and Histone too. I added a bunch of outgroups from Jamie's extractions, so hopefully this will help with the kinda weird trees I've been getting.  I also sent Chris a new copy of my DDIG- not sure if it was better or worse than the old one but it was different (he said it was better).  The highlight though was free hot chocolate- my reward for keeping the recruit from getting too lost on Friday.

14 ii 2012
0555- sleeping
1027- purifying sequencing reactions
1411- tea time
2211- talking online

Random fact- In some species female parrotfish can become male if the male leading the harem dies.

Lunch- lingcod and rice 
Dinner- Mas Amigas  

Submitting a plate is never easy, pipetting 96 reactions is enough to fry anyone's brain.  Couple that with having to purify a bunch of reactions before you even start and it's no surprise I had a bruised hand by the time I was done.  It took so long we even had to push lab meeting back an hour so I could get the SEQ reaction started by 1400 (the cut off for submission to the Keck Center since they close at 1700).  Looks like I'll be getting a new office- I'm not sure where yet but there is going to be a bunch of shifting around in the NRB and our office is way to crowded with 3 people.  Hopefully I'll get the one on the 3rd floor, its got sloped ceiling and a nice view...

15 ii 2012
1024- sleeping
1559- PEEC seminar on grass vs corn decomposition
1714- back at the lab clearing specimens
2102- at home reading a paper

Tundra peregrines often won't molt primaries 8-10 until sometime in January, when they are on the wintering grounds. 

Lunch- salami 
Dinner- salami and honey nut Cheerios  

At my biogeography discussion group I think I traumatized some first year grad students by telling them primers don't always work even, in fact, even when they work for closely related things they still may not work.  Oh to be young and full of hope for easy sequencing...  I also got the comments fixed on my DDIG and sent it back, so hopefully this round will be the last (excluding the preliminary results since I'm waiting for the sequences from yesterday's plate still).  I tried convincing Chris to send me to Australia but then he started finding the leafhoppers I needed so there went that plan.  He claims I need to work in the lab sometime, life can't only be field work, although I disagree.  Speaking of field work apparently I didn't tell KJ I was going to the Philippines, so now he's jealous- its 4th on his list (they have endemic families of birds), yeah the life of a grad student is amazing.

16 ii 2012
0257- playing World of Warcraft
1726- getting extractions set up
2016- eatting dinner
2359- working on the alignments

Random Fact-  AIC favors overparameterization of models.

Lunch- salami 
Dinner- cheesy cheddar steak burger  

I almost had a heart attack today since the first group of sequences I looked at were not the right lengths for the genes they should have been.  After BLASTing to discover they were in fact leafhoppers I figured out they were the sequences from my old plate and redownloaded the data (correct this time).  Overall they look fine, although the alignments are a bit strange on the Caliscelidae.  Systematics Discussion group was pretty good (once we got in the room, no climbing through the ceiling required), with plenty of laughter and random arguments about models (that's not a model, that's reality).  I also started some extractions of 10 leafhoppers from Australia- the last of the continents I needed represented. 

09 February 2012

Published and more

5ii 2012
0116- playing WoW
0310- playing online
0444- sleeping
2036- watching the super bowl

Random Fact- The Giants set a record of having the poorest season record of any Superbowl champion

Lunch- rice and sausage 
Dinner-burgers and brownies 

Brad and I went to Lowes to buy the supplies we needed for our various bird encloses.  We had to race home at 2 so I could do the WoW study I had signed up for, only to discover it had been canceled due to technical difficulties.  So instead we cut the lumber and assembled the long sides and decided we could start a custom budget construction company if the whole academia thing didn't work out.  About 1730 we went over to Chris's to watch the Super Bowl and have dinner.  I was happy the Giant's won and thought it was a great game- its always fun when a game where you don't have strong feelings about who you want to win goes down to the wire like that...

6 ii 2012
0434- sleeping
1057- on my way to campus
2024- at Mad Hatters with Eric
2233- setting up a quick BEAST analysis

Random Fact- Newfoundland didn't become part of Canada until 1949

Lunch- Freebirds steak, cheese, and sour cream burito 
Dinner- rice and sausage  

Eric and I had decided to meet up and make Ira take us to lunch which worked out quite nicely.  I found out Eric is considered a faculty member, a fact I find frightening.  I managed to get a tray of Xyphon databased, I'm getting close to the end finally.  The only really exciting thing I did today was some basic BEAST analyses with the new data.  I split out the Hecalus and so far it looks like there are two clades of Hecalus- a New World and an Old World group. 

7 ii 2012
0317- sleeping
0454- sleeping
1420- driving around trying to trap hawks
1950- dinner with Eric

Random Fact- You have to be on the graduate faculty to be on graduate committees, just being a faculty member isn't enough.
Lunch- Sausage plate and potato salad at J Cody's 
Dinner- chunky steak at Pho John's  

Had an unsuccessful trapping trip- saw a bunch of birds but they were all either uninterested or interested enough to come down but not hungry enough to land on the trap- rather they would land next to it and foot it from the side.  It was a really pretty day out though, with the sun shining it was a typical Texas spring day.  The big news though was that The Wildlife Techniques book is officially published, can't wait to actually get my copy of it.  I had a momentary scary though at dinner- since Eric is a faculty member now maybe he could also be on graduate committees, so I texted Ira and found out luckily that he can't.  As Ira said, the world is still safe. 

8 ii 2012
0159- reading a Victoria Thompson book
0240- sleeping
1539- databasing leafhoppers- 1 more drawer left
1720- at home watching TV

Random Fact- DIVA tends to infer ancestral ranges to include all the daughter taxa ranges because it treats vicariance as the null model (with a 0 cost) while disbursal and extinction have costs of 1.

Dinner- a pastry with ground beef and potatoes that Kira made  

Today I led the systematics discussion group meeting on Bayes-DIVA.  It went pretty well, and the fact 1/3 of the paper was spent bashing one of the profs who was in the group made it pretty amusing.  I think the paper was a bit advanced for some of the students, but it went well overall.  Amazingly, I found out the Jen in the group was the same Jen I went to High School with- she recognized me when I came in and I had been wondering about it myself...  Other than that spent the evening playing worms with Brad and Kira and doing some work in the lab.

05 February 2012

Good to be back home

0149- on the internet
0952- getting ready to go into work
1446- tea time
1742- packing up the truck

Random Fact- the size of hybrid zones in birds varies widely- in the tropics some zones are only a mile or so wide while in the central US zone can be hundreds of miles wide.

Lunch- Cheesy Cheddar steak burger
Dinner- lots of salami

The best part of today was (as it always is) getting sequences back.  Even awesomer was the fact only 5 of the 86 reactions I did failed (less awesome was getting a parking ticket while waiting for sequencer to open the files).  I also had my Skype discussion today, which went well except for that when I asked a question my computer crashed and by the time I got it up and running again they had moved on to a different topic.  Luckily I had tea with Kevin right after so I got to ask him about avian hybrid zones.  Loading up the truck took forever- it seemed like my stuff was scattered more than usual but I eventually got on the road about 1930.  Since I don't have a real phone charger the drive was kinda lame- I couldn't talk on the phone or listen to an audio book, but I made it work.

0451- sleeping
0937- getting ready to head off again
1323- driving
1940- hanging out with Brad

Random Fact- Traveling to Hong Kong does not have the same visa requirements as China itself- as long as you stay on the island you can just pick up a tourist visa when you arrive.

Lunch- the rest of the salami
Dinner- Plate at Layne's

After sleeping at a truckstop in Little Rock I drove the rest of the way to CS arriving about 1630 after 100+ miles of rain.  It was amazing seeing some green grass and the lake levels starting to come up after the awful drought we've had the past year.  Brad and I got dinner at Layne's, and went to Best Buy so I could get a phone charger.  I almost lost the charger though because I dropped part of it in the store, luckily I checked before we drove off and I was able to relocate it.  Today's excitement though was finally getting my Philippines tickets purchased.  Now we just have to come up with the itinerary so I know what gear to bring.

0601- sleeping
0721- getting ready to head in to the lab
1131- at work
1944- at Sodalaks with Eric

Random Fact- The Schmidt Sting Pain Index rates the relative pain/sensations caused by hymenopteran stings.  The descriptions are rather amusing...

Lunch- Lamb Kebabs
Dinner- steak and potato salad at Sodalaks

We had an amazing thunderstorm this evening, it featured tornado warnings, hail, strong winds, and a couple inches of rain.  Eric and I met up for dinner at the new Sodalaks (the one in the hole, as everyone apparently identifies it) and when the hail started a waitress opened a door to see if it was hail or not (it was).  Only problem was the door got stuck open, she got soaked and ran away, and by the time they got the door closed again there was a pretty nice flood going on.  At this point they closed the restaurant (but we had already placed our orders) and the entertainment portion of the night started- 6 waitresses trying to push all the water back out the door.  Ironically the 12 year old helper had the right idea of using 1 squeegee perpendicular to the door while the others parallel, but the older waitresses didn't like the idea and went back to pushing 3/4 of the water into the walls with every swipe. 

0423- sleeping
0939- still sleeping
1052- starting to wake up
1706- playing WoW

Random fact- Midland, TX has gotten more snow than Chicago, IL this year.

Lunch/Dinner- chili and bread

Took the birds out about noon, but both of them were being kinda pissy, they're still a bit heavy from the trip, so nothing too exciting today in that regard.  After dropping them off back home I went over to Jim Cathey's so we could try and figure out why Betsy's hazard lights don't work.  We ruled out all the easy things, so now it's going to be a major challenge, unless I get really, really lucky and it turns out to be a missing relay (which doesn't appear to be located where the diagrams say it is).  I spent the rest of the day playing WoW and working on my sequences.  I got everything aligned, even the 12s wasn't too difficult to fit into place.  

01 February 2012

lots of updates

27 i 2012
0039- playing online
0702- sleeping
1956- at the rec
2226- playing with Boo

Random Fact- Today is the day the National Geographic Society was founded (in 1888)

lunch- Steak and Shake
dinner- shrimp and rice  

Worked all day- the morning was spent finishing the extractions and the afternoon was taken up with doing PCRs and running a gel.  It's always good to see things light up when you flip the UV light on.  Assuming all goes well I'll be able to submit a plate before I head to Texas.  Not a whole lot else going on, just sat around and watched some TV while drinking Amarula and then quested.  Not a bad way to spend the evening.

28 i 2012
0229- trying to sleep
0619- sleeping
1055- driving to Charleston to deposit a check
1851- running PCRs

Random Fact-on this day in 1922 the roof of the Knickerbocker Theater in Washington DC collapsed due to a massive blizzard, killing 98 people watching a silent movie.
lunch- roast and pizza with Massimo and Brendan
dinner- steak  

I had to drive down to Charleston today and deposit a check.  This in itself isn't too bad, its only 45 minutes away, but I missed my exit and had to drive an additional 15 miles, which was super lame.  When I got home though Massimo and lunch waiting- Roast and pizza both of which were quite good.  Then it was off to the lab where I spent the day running PCRs, such fun.  I came home about 2100 and quested for the rest of the night.  I don't know what I did for the last 6 months without WoW to play.

29 i 2012
0056- playing WoW
0947- sleeping
1329- eating lunch with Mikey and Massimo
1713- purifying PCRs

Random Fact- The Santa Fe Opera house burnt down in the 1960's.  According to Santa Fe lore they really wanted to build a new one and coincidentally all the costumes etc had been sent out for washing the day before...

lunch- enchiladas verdes
dinner- fish sticks  

Mikey came into town briefly today- he was suppose to catch a 700 flight, missed it and then missed the next one out so instead he got lunch with Massimo and I and then Massimo took him to the airport.  I spent most of the day in the molecular lab running gels- looks like I have enough for my plate.  I also coded some morphology while waiting for the gels to run, so I was quite productive.  Excluding work it was a pretty quiet day, went and played with Boo for a while and then came home and harassed my dog.  Eddie and I also got our plane tickets for Egypt- we're leaving 7 March and getting back on the 18th, I can't wait [HRE]

30 i 2012
0228- wishing I could sleep
0537- sleeping
1037- taking out Boo
2140- eating dinner and working on the puzzle with Massimo and Brendan

Random Fact- Giza is only 20km from Cairo

lunch- salami
dinner- halibut and potatoes  

I got a sequencing plate ready to go today- ended up having to do a few more purifications and then Jamie and I loaded up the plate.  The sequencing reaction finished a bit after 1700 so Jamie will take it in first thing in the morning (and figure out the new submission protocol).  Other highlights of the day included getting an assigned tea time (1345 or so), finding a bunch of interesting biogeography papers, and going through some more morphology with Chris.  However, as Chris pointed out at the rate we're going it'll take us 20 years to do all the genera we need to score.  Massimo, Brendan, and I made substantial progress on the puzzle- most of the sky is done, I guess now it's time to work on the snow.

31 i 2012
0331- actually sleeping for once
0530- sleeping
1727- meeting John for dinner
2129- hanging around with Massimo and Brendan

Random Fact- Red imported fire ant has been found on a number of Caribbean Islands over the last 10 years, although so far not Dominica

lunch- the rest of the halibut and potato from last night
dinner- fish and chips  

My big accomplishment for the day as reading a ton of pdfs about biogeography.  These were mostly papers looking at various biogeographic analysis techniques, but a few looking at historical vs. current environmental factors in species assemblages, and one really interesting paper comparing RIFA introduced vs. native (and predicted vs. actual) ranges.  I also got a bunch of images extracted from Paralimnini pdfs and Jamie submitted the plate that we'd been working on.  We also had our lab meeting where we decided to start working our way through the Auch. subfamilies and talked about creating a new lab website.  I capped off my super productive day with a trip to the Rec with Massimo and while I only walked a mile instead of run (I'd eaten to close to when we went) I did up my weight for most of the strength training stuff...

27 January 2012

Back to Warcraft

24 i 2012
1845-  Driving back from picking up quail
1906-  eating
2116-  reading the paper for tomorrow's discussion
2134-  playing with Boo

Random fact- The first pinewood derby was held on 15 May 1953 in Manhattan Beach, CA.
Lunch- chili 
Dinner- tamales  

My major accomplishment was picking up the quail from out near Bloomington.  It's apparently pinewood derby season, which brought back memories of having a track stretching from one side of the house to the other.  Other than that, I'm happy to report John finally trapped his bird using a different BC and a pigeon.  He's now out of town so I'm watching the falcon and dog.  I also spent the evening fighting with Blizzard- by the time I was able to get into my account they decided I was a hacker and locked it down so now I have to call them tomorrow...

25 i 2012
0220- bout to go to sleep
0759- sleeping
1206- meeting with chris to get some leafhoppers IDed
2240- playing with Boo

Random fact- to unlock your account you have to call them and practically verify your life or mail them copies of your drivers liscence, passport, or some other legal document proving you are who you say you are.  People take this game pretty damn seriously...
Lunch- steak 
Dinner- fish sticks  

I had my A&M systematics discussion group today- Skype went much better this time, I could hear most everyone talking and there wasn't the strange background humming going on.  I also got my WoW account reactivated so spent a few hours wandering around the forest.  Massimo and I went to the gym, ran our mile in 8 minutes 50 seconds and lifted for a while also. When we got done I was starving so I had Brendan throw my fish sticks (turned out to be a bad choice since I'd burnt my tounge on today's hot chocolate) in the oven while I went to take care of Boo.  Shes so much clamer than Dumas, its crazy to watch her in comparision to him.

26 i 2012
0219- bout to go to sleep
0856- sleeping
1216- rereading the paper for todays discussion
2132- questing with a new toon I'm playing

Random fact- bird systematists are splitters (which is old news).  What I didn't know is mammal and herp people are lumppers by comparision

Lunch- steak 
Dinner- shrimp and rice  

Systematics discussion group turned out to be quite interesting.  As usual we ended up talking about species concepts, and I got to mention Aubrey and her reaction to species delimination in fish.  I vortexed my 22 extractions throughout the day but otherwise spent it just working on image extractions.  Once I was home I spent a couple hours playing WoW- I started a new night elf hunter to try and remember how to best play my main.  Lastly, Dumas was incredibly sweet this evening, and even managed to sneak up on the couch and stay calm enough not to get thrown off- I skyped Is as proof it happened.

24 January 2012

Always running

0136- working on my Calculus0455- sleeping
0726- still sleeping
1559- out looking for John's red tail

Random fact- the ShotSpotter is able to identify gunshots, and identify where they originated, sometimes to within 5 feet, then alert the police to where they occurred.  It can also tell if the shooter was stationary or moving.  This technology was first deployed in Redwood City, CA, and is now found in 80 cities world wide including Los Angeles and Washington DC.

Lunch- 10 piece chicken nugget
Dinner- pizza

Seems like all I did today was run around.  I met with Chris a couple of times, met with the language study people, and met up with John to try and trap the bird again (unsuccessfully).  In all that running around though I did manage to get some work done and should be set to do a bunch of extractions tomorrow.  Chris has been going through some Mexico samples and pulled out a bunch of genera I don't currently have in my data set, always good to fill in gaps.  Lastly, I filled out my travel and leave for for the Philippines , hopefully I can get my ticket purchased soon...

23 January 2012

More adventures

21 i 2012
0621- sleeping
1035- working up the motivation to go get my battery checked
1731- at the lab
2125- eating dinner with Massimo, Mikey, Brendan, and Tom

Random fact- in winter weather the transmitted frequency of a crystalline transmitter can be up to 1khz lower than at normal air temperatures

Lunch- subway steak sandwich with tomatoes and pickles 
Dinner- sweet and sour shrimp  

Most of the day was spent chasing around a red tail hawk who while not wanting to be caught also wasn't too upset with our presence.  We even tried getting her in the dark, which only resulted in us getting very, very cold, and questioned by the cops.  Luckily I was with a cop and the fact we were using night vision while wandering around on the side of an interstate was not an issue.  Mikey came down for the weekend also, in hopes we can go to the farm tomorrow and shoot, but from the looks of the weather this isn't going to work out.  At least one lucky thing happened- my truck started this morning, and according to the mostly clueless guy at Auto zone the battery itself was dead but didn't need to be replaced.

22 i 2012
0900- sleeping
1702- on my way home from Mass
2045- leaving Massimo's after dinner
2250- working on my Calculus

Random fact- T-mobile had copyrighted the magenta color it uses in its logo, so no other telecom or related company can use it.  However, blue (my favorite color) is the the most popular part of the spectrum for logos. 

Lunch- burger at the cafe
Dinner- chili

My accomplishment today was making a pot of chili (although as my mom likes to point out, my chili doesn't include any chile, and hardly any vegetables).  It turned out pretty good and hit the spot on this cold, wet, and dreary day.  I also started working on my calculus assignment, and have been highly amused by the text, which includes statements about how Mathematica is not like a drug (so always say yes) and calling problems math kittys.  Eddie and I decided as long as the math kitties aren't evil like GGK it'll be fine.  We also had a really nice thunderstorm tonight, and from the weather map it looks like the parentals, Maria, and Eddie are also being hit by the same band of storms...

21 January 2012

the Texas truck rebellion

0221- just about to fall asleep
0813- sleeping
1021- still sleeping- I woke up at 1032, exactly 8 hrs after I went to sleep.  At this time I was dreaming about a BBQ beef sandwich…
1834- about to go pick up Massimo so we can head to the rec

Random fact- Indoor plumbing (with hot and cold water even) was available for the very wealthy even in the 1850s.  Hot water was heated in the basement, and both hot and cold water was stored in the attic for use.

Lunch- steak and shake
Dinner- tacos

Well my poor Red Devil's battery gave up the ghost this morning, so I caught a ride in with Brendan (who's car stalled 3 times on his first trip into work... guess our vehicles are as Texan as we are).  Work was pretty uneventful- sorted some samples for Argentina, extracted some images, had hot chocolate, and went to the 3rd session of the language study I'm doing.  Brendan, Massimo, and I went to the rec- ran a mile (9.30), rowed for 1015m (5.35), and lifted.  It started snowing sometime while we were in the rec, so we walked outside to a pretty decent layer of snow, sadness.  Then we grabbed dinner and went back to my place to work on the puzzle, drink wine, and eat cobbler. 

20 January 2012

uncooperative hawk, luckily she isn't mine...

0237- sleeping
0734- still sleeping
1825- helping John figure out how to get his RT back
2248- eating dinner

Random fact- CERT is a civilian program where members are trained in disaster response targeting their local areas.  The one in Brazos county has responded to 6 actual events including fires, search and rescue, and floods.

Lunch- tacos from Chipolte 
Dinner- fish sticks 

We had our planning meeting for discussion group today, looks like we'll cover 3 different topics with some programs thrown in.  It was snowing when it we were finished, and KJ and I got hot chocolate and talked about lice (and birds).  Speaking of birds I spent the afternoon/evening first trying to help John get his bird back, and then when that was unsuccessful making him a quail harness.  Hopefully he can get her back tomorrow, she's been out since yesterday and shows no interest so far in coming back, although she's also not leaving the area.  I tried a different style of noose (double nooses), they seemed more efficient for the limited space on the harness, we'll see what happens. 

19 January 2012

Been a few days...

16 i 2012
0123- at C-street for the Drag Show
0451- finally asleep
1121- leaving the house to head into the lab
2300- playing online

Random fact- The Alpine Salamander (Salamadra atra) gives birth to two fully formed young after a pregnancy of about a year.  Each oviduct contains 20 or more eggs all but one in each oviduct go to feed the developing embryo.  A similar species (Salamandra lanzai) found only in the Italian and French Alps has a gestation period of up to 6 years.

Lunch- steak and shake
Dinner- roast Massimo made

Massimo and I introduced Brendan to the beauty of Steak and Shake, Houstonions are so deprived.  The three of us decided to start working out, effective immediatly.  Then it was off to the lab where I did some PCRs and organized my vouchers.  We went to the rec after work where we ran a mile, did some free weights, and played on the rowing machine Massimo and I picked up some Mango Boing at Mas Amgios then went home for roast.  As Massimo put the cobbler in the oven Alice texted and asked why he wasnt at the bar- turns out he was suppose to meet her there so we went to Crane Alley for a beer.

17 i 2012
0644- sleeping
1035- on our way to the lab
1112- working on my vouchers
2340- at Massimos playing with the player piano

Random fact- the Eli Young Band was formed while the members were attending UNT. 

Lunch- left over pizza
Dinner- red rockfish and rice

Brendan and I went in about 1130 and I continuted working on my voucher specimens while running the gel for the PCR I did yesterday (5+ positive control worked out of 15).  Lab meeting only lasted about 15 minutes, I think thats a record.  Afterward Chris and I went through my genus list and picked out some additional genera to add, then I went and talked to KJ for a while.  Went home and worked on some stuff there before going to Massimos at 9 for cobbler.  We watched some southpark, ate our cobbler with chocolate ice cream, and then listened to a bunch of songs on the player piano.

18 i 2012
0913- sleeping
1115- at the lab
1609- at the PEEC seminar- on shell assembelage
1952- at the Rec finishing the workout

Random Fact- some shells on the sea floor are over 5,000 years old, but the average age at the sites examined by todays seminar speaker was about 120 years old.

Lunch- left over fish/rice 
Dinner- fish sticks  

Met with Chris this morning, he wants me to extract images from Mike Stiller's African delt papers so we can try and identify the specimens we have.  I Skyped in to my first systematics dicussion group meeting at A&M the process worked out pretty well, and Ms. Shirely called me a problem child for making them set up the Smart Board for the class.  I also went to my first session with the language learning research people.  I think I impressed her with my vocabluary skills on the pretest- apparenlty not many people can quickly figure out maritime = boats...  We went to the rec for about an hour tonight, ran our mile in about 10 minutes, lifted weights, and did some other random things. 

16 January 2012

Frozen northland

0729- sleeping
1047- on our way to Mass
1426- showing Eddie how to check/fill the coolent in Bertha
2228- driving, about an hour from urbana

Random fact- The Coca-Cola company (at the time Pemberton Medicine Company) was first incorporated in Atlanta, Georgia 15 Jan 1889

Lunch-eggs, baccon, and sausage
Dinner-pizza Brendan made for me

Today was yet another marathon drive, this time to the frozen northland.  Eddie and I delayed leaving as long as we could (I guess in hopes a disaster would wipe out that part of the continent) but no luck.  I left shortly after 1600 and arrived about 7 hours later after an uneventful drive.  I had to get diesel in just before crossing the border into Illinois, it was 3.71 for diesel, oddly enough, that was much more expensive then in Illinois, never seen that before.  On the drive I talked to Ms. Aubrey Colvin (we're planning a collecting trip this spring), my grandpa George (he was still reading today's paper), and John (tales of work and taking a day to build a door for one cabinet). 

15 January 2012

Work day

0106- watching Scrubs on netflix
1102- eating Eggo's with my brother
1529- at Panera working and eating bread
2056- watching Big Bang Theory and working on my DDIG

Random fact- Chevy introduced its new midsize truck, the Colorado, in Thailand is the world's largest market for midsized pickups.  The suburban is also the vehicle in longest continuous production (since 1935)

Lunch-Eggo with butter, strawberry jam, brown sugar, and powdered sugar
Dinner- Ham, yogurt, and pudding

With my parents out of town for the weekend we spent the afternoon at Panera working and eating bread.  I worked on the DDIG corrections, incorporating the comments from my committee has been a bit of a challenge at points, especially when they contradict each other... It was nice and sunny today so I let the dogs hang out outside for most of the morning.  Dumas is funny, he just stands there in the middle of the yard staring at me the whole time hes outside.  Goofy dog, if there aren't birds to find he's completely uninterested in doing anything.

14 January 2012

Oh Alabama

0547- sleeping
1002- trying to not wake up while my parents made breakfast/lunch
1325- talking around the table, while my brother and dad draw diagrams on the windows
2004- watching TV with the family while trying (and succeeding) to locate the subject of the HHI episode in Windhoek. We found out Kasper J. is a software engineer, and crazily enough is working on something my brother proposed doing in his Goldwater scholar application. I suggested he skype Kasper using the skype ID we found on his personal webpage and suggest collaboration. No we aren't creepy.

Random fact- The political, cultural, and geographic center of Namibia is Windhoek. It also is where they brew a beer with the same name which is one of the most widespread beers in southern Africa. Their commercials can be rather amusing, or quite stupid depending on your mood.

Lunch- French toast, bacon
Dinner- Bratwurst, kraut, and fried potatoes at a German restaurant

Today can be summarized with a story. At the German place, the waitress came over and asked us to look up on our phones how to spell "Caribbean". Instead, I pulled out a 5 EC bill (the currency in Dominica and various other islands) and handed it to her to copy from. She ran around showing everyone else in the place, and I'm pretty sure it was the most exciting thing to happen in Huntsville all month (gotta love Alabama). Other than that we took a short walk but discovered 36 degrees is not conducive to walks at all, and watched a few episodes of Big Bang Theory (the new one and the football one) and House Hunters International (Simon and Fiona, plus Kasper).

13 January 2012

Fulfilled a childhood dream

0659- on the road to the CDC, a place I've dreamed of going since I was a kid
1041- Meeting with Andres to discuss a rabies phylogeography project
1947- back in Alabama eating tacos (it's snowing here...)
2020- watching TV and eating a banana split

Random fact- Ondine's Curse is a syndrome that causes respiratory arrests during sleep.  While usually identified shortly after birth (and fatal if untreated) it can be caused by traumatic brain or spinal injuries.  It got it's name from a myth in which one character is cursed (if you fall asleep you forget to breath) by the other.

Lunch- crunchy tacos at Chiplote
Dinner- tacos my madre made

Back when I was in middle school I got a book called Mad Dogs at Half Price Books starting a fascination with rabies (and other infectious diseases).  A couple years ago I took a spatial epidemiology class which required a class project for which I got some Texas fox rabies sequence data, do a BEAST analysis, then map the results.  In the process I made contact with a rabies researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and after exchanging e-mails and phone calls for the last couple of years we arranged to meet today and discuss a project we could collaborate on.  I won't go into details yet but its a really neat phylogeographic study that will require knowledge of wildlife ecology the findings of which will have management implications. I can't wait to get my paperwork processed and get moving on it.  

12 January 2012

Lazy day

0250- getitng files ready for BEAST
0944- sleep
1759- running errands in Decatur
2016- playing with the dogs

Random fact- The tanker heading to Nome to deliver fuel (the first winter fuel deliver to western Alaska) is loaded with 1 million gallons of diesel and 300,000 gallons of unleaded gas.

Dinner- friend catfish, potato salad, pickles, tomato, and sweet tea 

Hung around the house most of the day working on my Bayes and BEAST analyses.  We went into town for a little bit to check out the National Championship tshirts (still not many options in medium) and get groceries.  It rained all day so the dogs spent the day inside rotating 2 dogs in the house one dog in the sunroom/bed room.  It was also too wet to do anything outside with the falcons so I just called them to the lure in the garage.  Both had instant responses with easy trade offs, not bad for being on the block for a month...

11 January 2012

The falcons return

0300- sleeping
0647- sleeping
1447- at Bobs picking up the falcons
1852- driving back from getting the falcons

Random Fact- Today in 1901 the first Spindletop (the first big gusher in Texas) was discovered near Beaumont.

Lunch- McDonald's 10 piece chicken nugget
Dinner- grilled cheese sandwich, potato salad, and grapefruit

Today I finally got my falcons back [HRE].  What was suppose to be a quick two week separation while I was in New Zealand became a month long due to my truck issues.  Luckily Bob brought them down to weight for me over the last few days so I'm pretty much ready to get going again.  Since my mom came with me and drove there and back I was able to work for most of the way on my analyses.  I tried all kinds of variations in gene combinations and taxon sampling, but I'm still coming up with 4 clades (PARA, DELT, HEC, and  small clade including 2 each of PARA and DELT), need to look at the raw sequence data again...

10 January 2012

Lots of days

5 i 2012
0526 sleeping
0732 sleeping
1814 on the way back to College Station from Sawdust Ranch
2208 drinking on northgate
Random fact- 40% of all lab acquired infections are bacteria caused.
Lunch- lamb kebabs 
Dinner- Freddy burger at the Chicken 

Met up with Shawn and we went out to his father-in-laws ranch near Carlos.  First I resighted in my rifle, (shooting off sticks is harder then the truck), and then headed to the blind.  Saw one doe for a few seconds (but no way to get a shot off), and had a really good view of a young buck, but its an antlerless permit so no go.  Seeing that buck though really helped my confidence level because that was defiantly a shot I could have made.  Met up with Maria and Courtney at Northgate, and found out Courtney's been getting emails for a friend of mine who has an almost identical e-mail address it's a small world. 

6 i 2012
0130 building my lego house
0814 sleeping
1937 eating dinner with Maria
2150 getting internet at Nagle
Random Fact- Hendra virus is transmitted by flying fox that is currently circulating in Australia.  It's killed about 20 horses this past year.

Lunch- leftover Hakiu
Dinner- sweet and sour shrimp 

Poor Maria was sick today, so we ended up not heading to Alabama so instead I went into Nagle and told Jim Cathey about the email confusion with Courtney.  Then I went and sat on the steps of Nagle to eat my lunch.  Talked to a bunch of physical plant guys as they walked by (offered them some California rolls when they asked if I had enough for them, they declined).  Its one of the big differences I notice between A&M and UIUC- there isn't nearly the "class" divide here at A&M between staff and students.  Overall it was a perfect day in Aggieland, with great weather and I even got some work done...

7 i 2012
1005- trying to get the energy to get out of bed
1148- at Target
1721- driving
1959- still driving

Random fact- There are 8 extant species of pangolin

Lunch- leftover sweet and sour shrimp

Spent the day driving from College Station to my parents place in Trinity, AL.  We also picked up my truck in Demopolis, AL which is truly a classy town.  While sitting at the gas station a woman flipped out screaming her boyfriend was going to kill her over the mess her dog made in his car while she was inside buying a coke.  What was the mess you may ask? A sudden litter of puppies...  Looks like I bought some bad diesel as there was a ton of water in my tanks, now that that's been filtered and the injectors cleaned Betsy runs better than ever.

8 i 2012
1208- eating breakfast
1421- at Costco
2005- waiting for my little brother to appear while finishing up dinner
2339- watching TV

Random fact- Piperton, TN is a huge speed trap, ask my poor brother...

Dinner- burgers

My sister and I arrived around 0300 and after getting the dogs settled in and a quick snack we went to bed.  The last 100 miles were really foggy and while there wasn't much traffic there was a bus on the road which was driving pretty erratically.  We spent the day mostly lounging around, although we did go to Costco and Mass in the afternoon.  Dumas and Schubert get along great, as do Dumas and Daphers, but Daphers and Schubert aren't exactly buddies, it made TV watching a bit of a challenge this evening, but it worked out.  Its always nice having all of us back together [HRE]

9 i 2012
0926- sleeping
1126- eating breakfast- apple crepes
1725- watching TV and waiting for my dad to get home
2206- watching the national championship game (Roll Tide)

Random fact- The game today was the first shut out in a BCS national championship game. The Alabama coach, Nick Saban, was also the first coach to win the BCS championship 3 times (2x with Bama and once with LSU).

Dinner- Steak and potato salad with a Shiner

Spent the day tweaking various analyses- my Deltocephalini clade isn't coming out monophyletic.  We also let the dogs run around most of the day, which mostly consisted of Daphers barking constantly, Shubert hiding on the couch, and Dumas running around the house.  The highlight of the day though was watching bama win the national championship over LSU.  We decided to recreate steak sales- my dad and brother (being both Knights, by brother even wearing his steak sale shirt) cooked up the steaks, which we finished eating just as the game started.  To celebrate the victory my sister and I went into Decatur to buy t-shirts at Martins (which seemed to be where half the town was), but they were already sold out of mediums. 

04 January 2012

On the road again

3 i 2012

0130- talking on skype
0324- sleeping
1539- driving from Santa Fe to Amarillo
1726- Driving from Amarillo to Allen

Lunch/dinner- sonic burger with tomatos, pickles, and mustard on toast

Random fact- In 1981 there were 731 robbereies in Central Park, in 2011 only 17.

Drove from Santa Fe to College Station today with a detour through Allen to drop off Eddie at Zach's house.  We listened to podcasts most of the way including some interesting ones on sanitation, diseases, facebook privacy, and aquaculture.  Apparenlty the winners of some MIT business award this past year was to build pay toilets in Kenya.  I disagreed with the aquaculture one- they talked about issues caused by farmraised fish on wild stocks, but I think they could have done a much better job talking about these effects along with pointing out that well managed fisheries are possible (such as various Alaskan fisheries).  Along the way, we also discussed environmental policy and came to the conclusion my brother is purely a theordical person with no understanding of reality. 

4 i 2012

0018- driving from Allen to College Station
0355- sleeping, after finally getting the animals settled in
1138- feeding the horses
1414- talking to Jim Cathey

Lunch- Lanes chicken plate
Dinner- Haiku bento box (beef), all california rolls

Random fact- Rinderpest has become the second disease in history to be erradicated (the first being small pox)

This morning we got the dog, cat, and Silvy's horses/donkey situated then went into work.  First I went and talked to Jim Cathey about hunting, trucks, and falconry.  Then I talked to Ms. Shirely and Shawn before heading over to Heep for more databasing fun.  Finished off the social visits of the day by going to Brad and Kira's (and Simon's) and drinking rye whiskey.  Then it was dinner and back to the lab for more work while my sister applied for a job with Homeland Security (scary thought).

03 January 2012

New dog [HRE]

0420- sleeping
1913- driving from Kingman to Santa Fe
2035- eating pizza
2104- driving from Kingman to Santa Fe

Lunch- pork and potatoes
Dinner- sausage and peperoni pizza

Random fact- Airplanes dim the lights during take off and landing so your eyes are adjusted in case of emergency.  They also have you turn off all electronics so there are fewer distractions.

The morning was spent getting a new rim for the trailer and having the old tire patched- seeing the guys work on the tires reminded me of the summer of 2006 when practically every afternoon was spent having a tire repaired.  The exciting news is I am taking Schubert, Harry's treeing fiest he uses to flush and re find quail) home with me, I'm really excited since I've wanted to steal her since she was a puppy.  Since Harry and Jamaica were going hawking at the same time Maria and Eddie were arriving in Kingman, Beth took me down to town to meet them.  It's always sad leaving Harry and Beth's, they are truly fun to spend time with, between the hawking, stories, and food I always look forward to my visits.   Uneventful drive to Santa Fe, the kitten didn't even try and drive this time, and we established lap giraffes, kangaroos, and Komodo dragons would be amazing pets...

02 January 2012

Tire changing (tines two)

0725- sleeping
1551- loading up the horses
1821- on our way home from the field
2201- talking to Harry

Lunch- beef enchilada at a taco place in town
Dinner- spaghetti

Random fact- The collared forest falcon (Micrastur semitorquatus) is a rare vagrant to the lower Rio Grande Valley. Only one record has been accepted by the Texas Rare Birds Committee, in 1994, although others have been reported and not accepted.

Nothing brings in the New Year quite like a flat tire, especially when that flat tire is on a trailer and the spare rubs so it has to be replaced (and the tire re changed).  Luckily the weather was pleasant and we got it done just in time to load the birds up.  No Jamaica today, so we just had Harry's gos and HH, both of which took quail in nice flights.  We had a close call with a RT that came in on the gos while we were trying to locate him on a kill, but between the dogs and my more or less failed attempts to make Dancer run the RT decided not to mess with the gos.  It was a bit cooler today and you could really see a difference in the gos's flight style, he was really turning on the heat and chased the quail with gusto before nailing it.

01 January 2012

Happy New Year [HRE]

0855- eating breakfast- bacon and hard boiled eggs
1342- watching the A&M game
1448- loading up the horses
2041- Talking falconry with Harry

Lunch- turkey pot pie
Dinner- casserole, tamales, single malt, and wine

Random fact-Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy, first detected in 1994 (in bald eagles), is diagnosed by microscopic examination of very fresh brain  tissue and is caused by exotic hydrilla and associated epiphytic cyanobacteria.

My rifle is now sighted in, almost by accident.  I thought I was adjusting the elevation when I was actually adjusting the left/right- figured it out when the left/right went from dead on to off target without any move in elevation.  Had another successful hawking trip- both the aplo and the gos caught quail, but due to some telemetry fun the Harris Hawks didn't get flown.  The other exciting news for the day was A&M's victory over Northwestern- no matter how hard A&M tried to loose it Northwestern tried harder.  Brought in the New Year with some single malt scotch and a bowl of ice cream, this past year was amazing, here's to hoping 2012 is just as great.