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Man, Santa never brought me a Sword... [21 Dec 2005|11:27am]
[ mood | thoughtful ]

Interesting few days...

Went in to Tom's, saw Jeff and Carrie, at work again. Carrie starts her student teaching in January up here. Wow...everyone is getting old. Saw a guy from my graduating class, dragging two little ones behind him into an arcade.

Also saw Georgie, AKA the Wicked Witch of the West. I mentioned my dad's predictament and her response was something along the line of "Well, it's God sending a sign he needs to change his life"


cause, I thought it was 30 years of smoking and 5 years of eating nothing but fast food or boxed/canned food. I didn't know God used his divine might to block arteries.

on the Dad front, he looks like he has aged 10 years in the last week. I dunno...it's possible dad won't be able to return to work at all when he gets out of the hospital. At this point, I am really skeptical on whether he will be alive by the time I get my Phd.

Saw the Chronicles of Narnia. Santa's random appearance...very weird, but I think it did happen in the book. who needs Elrond giving you a magic sword when Santa can do it. The effects were really cool...Sauron would be pretty proud of the army of Jadis, though elements of the movie (and book) stretch credibility a bit too far.

And I am glad to see Liam Neeson gets to play ANOTHER mentor figure. Cause he doesn't play enough of those as is.

Hung out with Terra...that was fun. Also...to ring in the season...RED HAIR!


Ok...a long random post...need to eat lunch now

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Once more, with feeling [19 Dec 2005|10:22am]
Man, I had several paragraphs written when my mom's dial up died last night

Anyway...after many aggravations in the past week, personal, financial, and academic, I am back "home" in Northern Michigan for a couple of weeks. Still need to finish Biostats, as well as try to get some writing done in my thesis.

Dad has been moved out of critical care, which is a good thing of course. He had a quadrupel heart bypass surgery on Friday. There was a bit of a worry for a little bit, as they had to keep him on respirators longer then expected. Doctors guestimate he will be in the hospital for another 5 days at least.

Staying at Mom's right now...I have to say, Dial up sucks balls.

Errands for the day/tomorrow: xmas shopping, getting sunglasses fixed, and returning bottles

Oh, and not dying of boredom

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ahh...the zesty smell of dead orca [10 Dec 2005|02:42pm]
[ mood | busy ]

emanating from across the hall...

Anyway...I am faced with the final week of hell this semester. (yeah...seems alot of weeks of hell this year).

Just finished with the phylogenetics paper/talk. Do not have time to partition by codon, but will do that next semester. What sucks is that I really intended my phylogenetics project to be the complete molecular portion of my thesis, but it really has just turned into the pilot test. I need to better clean up these sequences, start thinking about how I really can approach Eubalaena with what I have got, as well as generate some max likelyhood trees. Also this week is grading (can't start that till some people actually take the test) and Biostats, all of which has to be due by Friday, due to my imiminent departure to Michigan. Also have to present a poster and generally spend my time at the marine mammal conference this week, which will heavily cut into the time I have for the previous things. Also, gather another literature and getting enough stuff done that I can competently start writing my thesis in the next two weeks

Hopefully, I will be able to get some decent amount of writing done in the next few weeks in MI, as well as just generally cooling off. This has been a intense semester for me, and some quiet time with a book or catching up on missed movies is what I really need right now.

Ok...so now that a LJ update is finished, I can go back to work. Ciao

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Since Josh wants me to post about birds.... [04 Dec 2005|07:11pm]

This past weekend was spent in the Salton Sea area, with Palomar Audubon. The trip began with me leaving a hour late due to the meeting that wouldn't end. THANK YOU Cranford for dragging that meeting into the meeting that just wouldn't end. So I showed up at Finney Lake (Yay for free camping...beats 140 bucks for a hotel.) at sunset, and had to set up my tent by car headlight. Oh well...thank god my tent is idiot proof, so I was able to set it up with no difficulties.

Headed back into town for food...where I proceeded to get lost to and from the fast food restaurant. Spent a quarter of a tank of gas just wandering around. Roads bisecting agricultural field...very confusing. Crashed at 8:30, to wake up at 5 the next morning.

Arrived at the hotel on time, and studied phylo for about a hour as people arrived. Eventually we all headed out to Cattle Call Park in Brawley, where we picked up the vagrant Dusky-capped Flycatcher (6th Imperial county record, and a lifer), as well as Gila Woodpeckers, Eurasian and Ringed Turtle Doves, Gray Flycatcher, and Vermillion Flycatchers. After this we headed to New River Wetlands.

The Wetlands yielded Sora, and a couple of people glimpsed Least Bittern. I was not one of those said people unfortunately.

After that we headed out to pick up lunch and some stragglers that were arriving at 10:00 a.m. From there we headed to the Salton Sea.

Obsidian Butte was less birding then hoped for. Hunters had dispersed alot of the waterfowl, and unfortunately this included the Ruff and YF Gull. Still a drive around the Sea here yielded several Peregrines as well as a lifer Mew Gull (so at least one lifer gull was had from this trip).

Ate lunch at the NWR headquarters, then headed drove around some more, looking at Burrowing Owls and assorted Ducks. Watched over 400 Sandhill Cranes fly over our head at Sunset. Dinner was in Brawley, after a unsuccessful attempt at Western Screech Owl in town.

Next morning was alot slower. Watched over a thousand Snow and Ross' Geese fly in the Vindal unit of the refuge, then drove around a little more, scaring up some Prairie Falcons and Mountain Plovers. Highlight of the day was a Tundra Swan with assorted ducks on a nearby reservoir. Finally, ended the morning with a unsuccessful hunt for Ruddy Ground-dove at Sperry-Eddins, before heading back home.
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[ mood | productive ]


anyway...got to play with petrosals today, this time of eschrichtius and I presume a fossil balaenopterid. I think I have the anatomy down, or at least enough of it to be dangerous. Ear bones are vital to whale systematics, in that they are not directly correlated to feeding styles like much of the cranial anatomy. Lots of good information can be had from them, they are easy to investigate (since they are small), and are fairly abundant in the fossil record. So hopefully I will have some time to start adding new petrosal characters to my matrix sometime next week.

Also been thinking about how my project will eventually get published. Right now, I am thinking the most useful idea would be to get two phylogenetic papers out of this project. One paper would focus on the placement of the Caperea and Balaenoid monophyly. A second paper would deal with Fossil Balaenid systematics. I am still not sure how much resolution I will get on the fossil balaenids...alot of them are based on very fragmentary remains, but I guess I will find out soon. Other possible directions are possible after this project. Their are the excellent undescribed San Diego Formation Balaenids, Morenocetus is crying out for a redescription, and tackling Balaenopterid systematics next might be a good goal. If I have Balaenopterid and Balaenid systematics down, I have the framework needed to start tackling the whole "cetothere" mess.

In other news...birded this morning. Managed to score the Thick-billed Kingbird at Lake Hodges, as well as a pair of Cackling Goose at Mission Bay. So that is 2 lifers for me today. The TB Kingbird is the 6th record for San Diego County and the 16th for all of California. This puts it as the 3rd "best" bird I have ever seen, behind Lazuli Bunting (2nd MI State record), and Greater Pewee (1st Summer CA record)

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More geeky meme-age [21 Nov 2005|03:36pm]
Stolen from Winnett

Bold the ones you have read:

Top 20 Geek Novels from The Guardian:

1. The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Douglas Adams
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four -- George Orwell
3. Brave New World -- Aldous Huxley
4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? -- Philip Dick
5. Neuromancer -- William Gibson
6. Dune -- Frank Herbert
7. I, Robot -- Isaac Asimov
8. Foundation -- Isaac Asimov
9. The Colour of Magic -- Terry Pratchett
10. Microserfs -- Douglas Coupland
11. Snow Crash -- Neal Stephenson
12. Watchmen -- Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
13. Cryptonomicon -- Neal Stephenson
14. Consider Phlebas -- Iain M Banks
15. Stranger in a Strange Land -- Robert Heinlein
16. The Man in the High Castle -- Philip K Dick
17. American Gods -- Neil Gaiman
18. The Diamond Age -- Neal Stephenson
19. The Illuminatus! Trilogy -- Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson
20. Trouble with Lichen -- John Wyndham
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Ack...sick again [12 Nov 2005|09:45pm]
blah...coming down with a cold again...so very tired right now. Was somewhat productive today...my poster is almost done, and I booked ONE of the hotels for my trip. Still need to book my NY stay, but the excelsior is being a bitch and giving me difficulties in making reservations. Also need to change that pesky train ticket Monday.

Great day of Birding this morning. First stop was the Prothonotary Warbler stake out on Point Loma. Nailed that bird in 5 minutes, making it bird number 500 on my life list! So glad I got a cool bird...it would have been anti-climatic if Lincolns sparrow was #500 (though I still need that bird. But anyway, I made my 500 bird goal with a month and a half to go, so I am happy.

Afterward, traveled to Lindo Lake where a host of rare or unusual birds had been spotted this week, including 3 different species of Sapsucker, a Gray Flycatcher, and some other goodies. Got species #501 (Red-naped Sapsucker) as well as several county/state birds (Lark Sparrow, Gray Flycatcher, Vermillion Flycatcher, and the rare Yellow-bellied Sapsucker) The YB sapsucker was the reason so many birders had converged on the park, and by the time me and Rachel left, we had accumulated some 10+ birders.

Anyway...productive morning (And snagged my copy of Feast for Crows...Woot)

Trip list as follows:
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Man-dates...with women [06 Nov 2005|10:16am]
Yesterday I had a fun time procrastinating/hanging out with Rachel...Figured I would be back at campus by 1 or 2, and instead reached campus at 5. ouch. But in the process I did find some really sweet used bookstores, had a delicous Quesadilla, and picked up a stats book.

No luck with meeting up with Tod Reeder or Richard Etheridge for birding, so me and Rachel covered San Elijo alone. Had a decent day list which follows.

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Whoohooo! [29 Oct 2005|11:30am]
You're Ash, baby.
Gimme some sugar baby.

Which B-Movie Badass Are You?
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Birding Update - 499th bird [29 Oct 2005|11:06am]
[ mood | accomplished ]

Tod's party was fun last night, and I will probably make a post about that sometime later this weekend.

First off though...just got my 499th "Legal" Bird on my Life List!

Parasitic Jaegar (Sterocarius parasiticus)

Along the La Jolla coastline, seen by the sheer luck of watching terns, and suddenly noticing one dive bomb a brown gull like bird. Anyway...not great looks, but sufficient to tell it apart from normal gulls. Probably wouldn't not have been able to name sp. on my own however. (So I owe a thanks to the experienced seawatcher that explained the behavioral differences, and id'ed the bird in the first place).

Did my first seawatch today at La Jolla...kind of sucked since the weather was clear and the wind was wrong. Me and Rachel left early, since she had errands to do, and a unproductive seawatch is not the funnest activity in the world. Did see distant flocks of Black-vented Shearwater, as well as a few parasitics, and someone spotted a probable Pomarine Jaegar. No alcids that I am aware of, and the fulmar sightings seemed a bit sketchy.

Anyway, since Rachel is a big fan of trip lists, (which I should be keeping better track of, but have been too lazy to do.), here's today list. (Oh...and the group later spotted a Eastern Phoebe...arrghh)

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whoops...wrong community. Here's the SVP post :P [24 Oct 2005|10:53am]
[ mood | amused ]

Well, for another year it is over, the annual Society of Vertebrae Paleontology conference. This year it was held in Mesa, Arizona. I am not going to give a day by day summary; My incoming Phylogenetics test as well as teaching and launching my data collection trip over winter break has effectively killed my free time this week, and to be honest, I am exhausted from the conference and being ill for most of it.

First off, the general pro's and con's:
Overall...the talks this year seemed to be a little bit underwhelming. While they were a few talks which revealed some suprising data, overall the talks were just less exciting. This is no doubt also affected by the bad scheduling of the talks. For instance, the marine mammal talks were randomly broken up into two segments, which made them less convienent in general. Also...the hotel was just too crowded. We really needed a bigger venue. The auction and the dinner dragged on too long, another bad thing.

The Pro's? Well, the reprint exchange was alot better this year. There were more contributers, as well as more copies of each contribution. Last year I walked away with 1 reprint, which I later gave to Rachel. This year I walked away with somewhere between 15-20, most of which were either methodology or marine mammal/reptile related. Also, I have to admit, the number of attractive females at SVP this year rose, not that they are not still a minority at the conference.

The talks that I did enjoy included Walter Joyce's turtle phylogeny talk, which one the Romer prize. Basically, his phylogenetic analysis finds that turtles most likely had a terrestrial ancestor, and that many fossil turtles once thought of as being crown group, are in fact outside of this division (including the Pleistocene Meiolania...wierd). Ewan Fordyce gave a good talk on the fossil whale Mauicetus parkeri, and basically calls it a stem-balaenopterid. This puts stem balaenopterids and stem-balaenids back in the Oligocene, which supports molecular data. Brian Beatty gave a good sirenian talk (the only dental wear one I attended, which was this years "fad") that suggested that Desmostylians got there ass kicked by sea cows because they weren't able to go far enough out to sea to eat kelp. Lastly, Chris Brochu gave a great talk on african cenozoic croc diversity, and how (again) things are a lot more complicated then previously thought.

This was also my first experience presenting at a conference. My poster overall went well, despite my later smearing of it and harsh mistreatment of it. I recieved favorable recomendations and advice, and other than a few random questions I got burned on, it was a favorable experience. I also acquired alot of literature too...besides the reprints at the exchange, I purchased several old reprints, 3 books, a needed SVP ruler, and I won another publication at the auction (Pissing off Peter Adams in the process...oh well.) I also birded Saturday morning, but I will make a separate post on that.

Overall...would have been nice to party it up and not be consigned to my room and 0% alcohol for SVP, but it was still a fun time, and Ottawa should be fun next year (where I will be presenting...EEK!!)

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Arrghh [24 Oct 2005|09:01am]
[ mood | aggravated ]

My ginormous summary of SVP that I posted last night is MIA. I am not amused.

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Possible 500th birds [23 Oct 2005|09:42pm]
So, what else do I have left to see in San Diego before New Years to reach my goal?

Cut to spare the non birders...
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498...two to go! [23 Oct 2005|09:30pm]
As previously mentioned, Saturday I finally had a opportunity to meet and bird with Miwasatoshi (AKA...Carlos). Carlos showed me around to some of the good local birding spots, and I am grateful for his aid, without which I would have never tracked down the 4 lifers, 3 of which I can't typically get in San Diego.

First we headed to Gilbert Water Ranch. Tame burrowing owls were common, and we saw a varied assortment of typical water birds. I got my Lifer Peach-faced Lovebird, which isn't countable by ABA area standards since it has not been formally recognized as established. Hence, while I am at 499 lifers at this moment, I still need "2" to hit 500. Regardless, they were cool birds.

After this, we headed to the mall

Seriously...Scottsdale Pavilions is a large outdoor mall, whose palm trees and water apparently attract rare birds. One not very rare bird was my target. Gilded Flicker, a bird which eluded me all last spring break. Finally saw one after a little walking around, perched on a Petco store. Weird.

Next we hit up the sod farms, where I scored another lifer, American Pipit, which isn't a difficult bird in San Diego but one which only winters here. Sadly, I didn't have a vehicle to visit any sod farms last winter to get it. Not much else to report there.

Next we tried Papago Park, for Prairie Falcon, which managed to elude us all day. (though I almost certainly saw one or two today driving home, but it's not very easy to id falcon at 100mph :( ) After this we tried for Chuckawallas, which again were absent, but a stop at Octillo lakes yield the most wanted bird for me of the morning, a pair of black-bellied whistling duck.

So again, I want to thank Carlos for the fun morning, and we will have to see about hitting SE arizona in June or something to try for some more specialities.
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humor from grading [13 Oct 2005|11:30pm]
[ mood | amused ]

Various answers I so far have received from the three classes I am finished grading:

1. For the sacrum, someone wrote down "scrotum"

2. For the Body of the Mandible, someone mistook the pointer as pointing at the Mandibular foramen. Which is no big deal. However they also wrote it as "Menstrual Foramen"

3. For the Vertebral foramen, best answer yet: "Fillamon monigula" WTF? What does that even mean?

4. In response to the Essay question on sliding filament theory, this is one response I received. Spelling and word choice is exactly as written out. Also this person got a 0 on this question :P

"moto nuron sends AtP to neuromusculur junction; myosin don't conect to Actin; Atp composts then myosin conects to endomatic binding of Actin"

Sweet Jesus...is that even English?

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Oh, to be back in Idyllwild [03 Oct 2005|09:57am]
[ mood | happy ]

Idyllwild was really fun, and I had a blast.

The morning started out with me picking up Ben and Rachel and hitting the 15 north, stopping along the way for supplies and muffins. We then hit Hurkey Creek Campground in the morning. Sadly, the Pinyon Jays were not frequenting the campground recently; They are nomadic and it's always pretty difficult to pin down a good spot for this species. But other birds were present, including Lawrence's Goldfinch. However, the day would be much better for herps.

First herp of the day were California Chorus-frogs...they were everywhere in the creek, and you had to be careful not to step on them. Also, the nearby trail yield a Night Snake as well as 4 juvenile Coast Horned Lizards in 20 feet.

Meeting up with the rest of our friends at Idyllwild, we did a hike (scramble might be more appropriate a term) behind our campground. Granite Spiny lizards were spotted, and I caught a MOUNTAIN KINGSNAKE! YAY! Ben also produced a adult Pacific chorus-frog, as well as an Alligator Lizard before he headed back home with Cory, Heather, and Robert Palmer.

Later on that day, we walked around Idyllwild and also went on the nature center trail. We managed over the course of the weekend to get most of the "typical" high elevation birds, like Chickadees, juncos, Hairy woodpeckers, ect, but sadly we were not able to find a single White-headed woodpecker or any of the other montane species I was hoping for. However, I did add one lifer, as we stumbled on a couple of very confiding Mountain Quail. The campfire was fun that night, and it was really sad to leave the next morning. Oh well...guess we just have more reasons to go back.

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Proposal...SUCCESSFUL! [30 Sep 2005|04:15pm]

Anyway...the proposal went decent. I passed, but only after enduring 40 minutes of questions. Good thing Rachel was after me, or who knows how much longer it would have taken. But I apparently did really really well at least with the public speaking. Which is always an issue for me.

So yeah...Proposal down, just have to make my poster for SVP.

In addition, Going camping tomorrow, after I celebrate tonight. Should be fun times. Nature wise, I have a good chance at adding White-headed Woodpecker and Pinyon Jay to my lifelist, and possibly Townsend's Solitaire and Clarks Nutcracker. And Ben is hoping for California Mountain King, Southern Rubber boa, and Mountain Yellow-legged frog. Beyond that, it should be good fun
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Wow...I got the person who is the exacto OPPOSITE of me! [29 Sep 2005|09:10pm]
You scored as Zoe Alleyne Washburne. The Soldier. You are the second in command, and that is fine. You like a chain of command, but only when the one in charge has earnt your respect. Those who earn your love or loyalty will find no one better to guard their back.


Zoe Alleyne Washburne


The Operative


Inara Serra


River Tam


Kaylee Frye


Simon Tam


Shepherd Derrial Book


Capt. Mal Reynolds


Hoban 'Wash' Washburne


Jayne Cobb


Which Serenity character are you?
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My life...converted to 1 and 0's [28 Sep 2005|08:21pm]
[ mood | nervous ]

Between my proposal, stats, and phylogenetics...

I swear to god I am going to start just gibbering in Binary soon

Anyway...for those of my friends who I don't live with (either literally or via spending too much time at school), if you have been wondering about my scarcity in recent weeks online, it's because this friday I am (FINALLY!) giving my thesis proposal, the Systematics and Biogeography of the Balaenoidea. Where I have 20 minutes to show off I know what I am doing and what I have actually accomplished with my time so far. Because of that, I have been endlessly in the office trying to cover all the bases of things I can be asked, as well as rehearsing so I don't make a complete ass of myself.

So anyway...If you do see me online...Wish me Luck!

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Lightning Bolt! [26 Sep 2005|10:25am]
[ mood | thoughtful ]

ack...things to do today

See a man about a fullbright

See a Schellenberg about a area cladogram

See a Dave about any of his comments

Finish my thrice damned phylogenetics homework and proposal presentation

Attempt to decipher how to use Illustrator to start work on my poster for SVP if I can steal the Racicot at some point

Arrghh...survive today and the rest of this week

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