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Wednesday night I dragged myself to Tai Chi class, despite feeling tired and grumpy and blegh, because it's good for me and I usually feel better afterwards.  And in the middle of the set, with everyone all silently, meditatively going through the moves, someone who I think lives in the building that the class meets in started singing in the next room.  Possibly in the shower?  To Bohemian Rhapsody.  Really enthusiastically.  Including the guitar solos.  It was fantastic. All the Tai Chi people were trying to ignore it and be serious Taoists while she was all "BeELzebub has a devil put aside for meeeeeeeee!"  Totally made my night.  Especially when she did an encore of David Bowie's "Space Oddity." 

Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: The Wyrd Sisters

It snowed yesterday. Went to harvest corn today in slush . Had pleasant political conversation with Republican workstudy student, in which we ended up agreeing on pretty much everything. Took this as further evidence that party labels are unhelpful. If she can agree that an industry that gets itself exempted from the clean water act (I'm looking at you hydrofracturing) is not giving off particularly convincing "trust me" vibes, and I can agree that GMOs are not inherently evil and "unnatural" (Which, by the way, is possibly the most ineffective argument used against anything by anyone. What does unnatural even mean? Shoes are unnatural.), then... then... I don't know what exactly, but it is profound and hopeful and people should stop shouting at each other so much and actually listen to each other a bit.

And then I went to put the samples in the drying oven, and it was not on. It is important to note that this time of year the ovens are full of drying samples belonging to scientists who are bigger and more important and scarier than me. Called up the man in charge of the ovens. Conversation went something like this.

"Hi. I'm really sorry to be calling you after hours on a Friday, but I just went to put some samples in the ovens and they're not on."
"Are they supposed to be turned off?"
"[The sigh a supervisor sighs when he finds out someone didn't do something he'd told them to do. Probably repeatedly.] No.  I sent someone to fix the engine."

And so I ended up waiting to let the campus late-shift mechanic in, watched him poke around for a bit, and realized that our drying oven building is incredibly decrepit. And it's not just that it smells like pee. So far as I can tell, all agricultural buildings smell like pee. There are wires in that fuse room that look older than my father. You know, the kind that are wrapped up in frayed cloth like this.  The kind that makes you really nervous once you realize it's in the same building as a gas furnace.  The back door I shouldered shut so things wouldn't freeze overnight has only two of three hinges still attached.  It's the kind of building you routinely chase birds out of when you work in it.  The word "decrepit" was made for buildings like this.  Why does this make me happy?

Anyway, an electrician was sent for, and he apparently had a key, so I left and will see whether it's working tomorrow, so I'll know if I can get working again. 

And it's supposed to snow again tomorrow.

Current Mood: amusedamused

"Why?" you might ask. 

Well, you see, on Sunday, it snowed.  A lot.  So much so that on Monday morning the Sheriff officially closed every road in the county.  Which meant that when I woke up on Monday I was faced with legally impassible roads, a morning of cancelled meetings, and a burning desire to acquire a whiteboard. 

Actually, that last was more a result of exasperation with myself for having forgotten something important the week before. I thus concluded that my post-it-note to-do list system just wasn't cutting the mustard anymore, and hiking through the snow to the office supplies store to upgrade to a whiteboard seemed like the perfect use of the morning.  And indeed, it was a grand adventure. I strapped on my enormous purple snow boots and struggled through slush and snow-drifts to the shopping plaza.  What I had forgotten is that the strip mall isn't exactly pedestrian friendly at the best of times.  And in this of times, there was so much snow that I couldn't tell the difference between sidewalks and median strips.  There side-walk on the bridge was a sand-pit of slush. The intersection by the grocery store was accessible only over a mountain of snow-plow leavings. The best description of my "walk in" the snow was more accurately a "wade through."

So the upshot of this was that I did get my whiteboard, and about two hours of good, cheering exercise, but that by the end of the day my legs were very angry with me.  They might have tolerated just the epic whiteboard quest, but then I also of course had to dig out my car.  Twice, because the snow-plow re-buried it after I had almost finished the first time.  Which involved actually climbing under the car to pull out huge chunks of ice-slush that had formed a kind of arctic glacier field underneath my car overnight. And then I decided to get back to my real work, which meant there was some struggling with a bag of fertilizer, which only weighed 25 lbs, which isn't really that much, unless you're attempting to carry it through knee-deep snow. In which case, if you're me, you fall down at least once during the attempt. 

So anyway, by bedtime my knees and ankles were complaining.  Loudly. So I dug out this thing my mom made, that's like a beanbag filled with rice that you heat up in the microwave.  It may be an extravagant use of rice, but it feels amazing on achy joints.  Looking forward to drifting off to sleep with warm happy knees, I grabbed the rice-bag-thing and a pair of dry socks to put on while it heated up and headed off to the microwave.  On the way, I decided it would be a good idea to brush my teeth, so I set my pile of stuff down and engaged in a preventative battle with tooth decay. The important thing to remember here is that I am easily distracted and also forget to turn lights on sometimes.

Chompers defended for another day, I grabbed the rice-bag-thing and limped down the stairs as quickly as I could, looking forward to the blissful departure of knee-pain. I threw the bag in the microwave, set the timer, and started poking at the cookbooks, looking for something to read while I waited. I then realized, simultaneously with a growing feeling that I had forgotten something, that my feet were cold.

I ran over to the microwave and sure enough, there, on top of the rice-bag, were my socks, rotating around on that lazy Susan thing like those slices of eternal pizza in a gas station.  Only socks. 

They were nice and warm, though. 

Current Mood: amusedamused

1. Taking a break from weighing out soil to watch the last launch of the space shuttle Discovery. Sat in an empty classroom (the only place nearby that I could get internet) with one blue glove on, watching it on my laptop. 

2. Walking home with a bunch of plant breeding grad students.  Apparently someone in the squash lab mail-ordered a battle-axe with which to split open squash in the field this summer.  To get their seeds of course.

Current Mood: amusedamused

Just when I think I've got a handle on how weird plants are, I learn something new that kind of blows my mind.  So ok.  Plants are often polyploid.  That means they can have many sets of chromosomes.  We're diploid; we get one set of chromosomes from each parent. But plants have a tendency to collect sets of chromosomes like your grandmother collect sets of china.  Arctic plants in particular seem to be chromosome packrats: some of them have nine complete sets.  Corn sometimes freaks out when it's making endosperm (which is another super-cool thing plants do), and ends up with ninety-six sets of chromosomes.  Ninety-six. 

So I'd learned this a while ago.  I thought it was cool.  And then I was reading a paper today and discovered that there is a word (allopolyploid) that means an organism having sets of chromosomes from two different species.  There are plants that have complete sets of DNA from two different species.  There are apparently a lot of them.  Admittedly, species is kind of an arbitrary concept, but still.  Whoah.  

This winter was saddening.  This summer has been frustrating.  At this point, I need to get my head back in the right place to enjoy my life.  I ended up reading through some of my entries from the past year or so, and it reminded me how valuable it is to me to have a record of what seemed important or interesting to me at various times.  It gives me good perspective to look back and realize, hey, I didn't always feel like this.  And, like hearing a note and then being able to sing it, remembering what it felt like to have a better attitude sort of clicks me back into place.  So I ought to get back to recording the interesting moments, so I don't forget them. 

And in the spirit of recording fun things and being a frighteningly forgetful person, here is an entry that at the time I kept in private mode but now cannot remember why I thought should be kept hidden.  Oh yeah, because I was too sleepy to come up with a clever pseudonym for the friend featured.  Still true. 

1) Originally from March 2009, back when I was living in the Golden Girls apartment.

Housemate IP's definition of sweaters vs. shirts:
Sweaters are made of pieces that are knitted into shapes and sewn together.Shirts are made of pieces that are cut out and sewn together.

My definition of sweaters vs. shirts:
Sweaters are things you wear to make the top half of your body not cold. Shirts are things you wear to make the top half of your body not naked.

- Final-checking data against the data sheets before I try to analyze it.  Aside from melting my eyes and brain, I just realized that repetitively reading "K" as "potassium" makes the word in my head sound something like kpotassium.  Possibly this is just a subset of brain-melting

- Got to use a scythe last week.  To harvest overgrown lettuce.  Great fun.  Highly recommend it. 

- Also got to drive a tractor a few weeks before that.  Just a little bit, but still.  Very cool.

- Also went to a garlic-harvesting party where they had a folksy band playing in the back of a wagon that we pulled throughout the field whenever we ran out of garlic in the part of the field where they were parked.  Aside from generic Eastern European music they also played the Mario theme.  This made me very happy. 

is the laundry song
that I sing
while hanging up my laundry

I sing it
to warn the skunk
that I think
lives under my porch

it won't be startled
and thus
won't skunk me
and all my laundry.

Hey there
buddy skunk
am not your enemy.
can be neighbors,
and live
in harmony.
la la la.

Current Mood: artisticartistic
Current Music: Sleigh Bells--Infinity Guitars

...and I'm studying for the plant physiology exam, and grant proposal is done!  Well, mostly.  The adviser who says things like "This abstract is terrible.  It's ok because you're new at this, but go rewrite it entirely." has ok-ed it.  Now I just need to get the ok from the ridiculously busy adviser who says things like "change these six words and it's fine."  So basically grant proposal is done. 

I am a new and much more relaxed person, with time to study for exams.  Which at this point means writing long, detailed answers to practice questions from previous years' exams.  The structure of the lectures has been the professor walking us through all sorts of experiments people did to try to answer questions about how plants work.  This is cool and interesting and has forced me to learn more about how to understand graphs (there are some really wacky graphs in plant physiology).  I am not very good with graphs.  So an exam question along the lines of "Here's a graph, tell me what it means" is perfectly reasonable, A-OK, I will learn this somehow.

But one of the practice questions reads "Explain a study from an article by an Australian group (presented in class) that supported the leaching hypothesis."  And ok, I should be able to remember what the experiment was about from the information that nutrient leaching was involved.  But I really don't think the information that the scientists were Australian is a helpful hint unless the experiment was about wallabies.  

Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Vampire Weeked--Walcott

It's finals week.  I have a statistics exam tomorrow and a grant proposal shuttling back and forth between me and my advisers.  And my attention span seems to have shrunk to about the size of a very small thing.  So.  I have fallen back on my old tactic of writing things amusing only to me whenever my mind wanders, in the hopes of getting it back on task.  I don't particularly recommend anyone read 

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