the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Heat Has Fried My Brain

so, my goal for the past few days has been to avoid the oven-on -wheels that is my car. yesterday actually wasn't bad. it rained on me three times, so the heat index was only around 100, instead of the 110 it was on monday. monday sucked. bright sun (which i usually like), the highest humidty possible without clouds, and zero rain all combined to create a sweltering heat that made my car unbearable until the AC had run full blast for about ten minutes. and i had to go out to the marsh in that crap (a trip i've already described in my last hockey player post).

compared to monday, yesterday was heaven. well, i spent most of the day working in anne's lab in the biology department, so of course i wasn't as hot. but it also rained three times, and there were plenty of trees to park under on campus. my car didn't feel at all like an oven yesterday. oh, and i got free ice cream. i have good timing. i picked a great day to go and work in anne's lab, and it just so happened that during my one free half hour (other than lunch) there was free ice cream in the conference room. the ice cream was part of a send-off for emily, a former bio dept grad student who now works at a college in virginia, who is returning to virginia this weekend after spending the summer with anne here in mobile. so, while i was enjoying a free frozen treat, i caught up with lindsey (my biometry buddy, for those who have been reading my blog long enough to remember her). that was the first time i'd seen her all summer, since we've both been busy with our respective field work. she's doing research on gopher toroises, romping in the woods, while (as you all know) i am working with seagrass and urchins in port st. joe. needless to say, our research doesn't really bring us together. anyway, that was fun. lindsey and i will once again be harassing mccreadie (our former biometry prof) in the fall during our freshwater ecology class, and we had to compare schedules to be sure we'd signed up for the same lab.

anyway, so it rained late yesterday afternoon, then the sun came out again, which made for something interesting while i was walking to my car from the bio dept yesterday. when i stepped out of the life sciences building, i felt like i'd walked into a sauna. you could literally see the steam rolling off the pavement and sidewalks. it was weird. and hot. and... well, steamy. like, from the ground up to about three or four feet, all you could see was steam. pretty crazy, eh?

today, my car was once again a killer. there really aren't many trees to park under at the sea lab, so i really had to prepare myself for the blast of hot air that pounded me whenever i opened my car door to get in. anyway, with all this murderous heat, my brain has been feeling a tad slow. so, when i was supposed to be coaching gretchen in the statistical tests we need to do on our data, my brain was not as speedy as usual. that is so not cool. i've been forgetting things all day, and i've been racking my brain trying to figure out what TA duties need to be fulfilled tomorrow...

all right, you have my apologies if this post isn't up to my usual witty standards. i blame it on the heat. the highs for the rest of the week are only in the low 90's. sweet!

Monday, July 25, 2005

Raise Your Hand if You're Bleeding

i actually had to use that phrase this morning due to the large number of injuries on this morning's field trip into the marsh while i passed out antiseptic wipes and band-aids from the first aid kit. it was quite sad. why can't those students just stop hurting themselves? *shakes head* it could've been worse. i just had to deal with scrapes. nancy had to deal with a stingray wound on friday... at the place i'm going this coming friday. yippee. in case you were wondering, a stingray hit means a visit to the nearest emergency room.

among the morning's injuries was a student i've been pondering since friday. the reason for this pondering was a snippet of conversation i overheard on the boat friday. i was reading harry potter and not really following the buzz of conversation around me when my attention was piqued by the following: "...when i played juniors. i hear there's a team in fairbanks." and this was spoken by a male student with an accent that is definitely not southern. i'm thinking really freakin' far north. canadian, perhaps? there was a bit of dwayne hay in that voice, for those who know what dwayne hay sounds like (and who dwayne hay is). anyway, i didn't butt in and say, "juniors? do you play hockey?" i just let it go and returned my attention to my book. but i was still wondering... anyway, this morning (prior to the injury) this toothpick of a guy was trying to help the possibly canadian out of the water and onto this concrete wall, and one of the girls in the class said something like, "yeah, let the skinniest guy out here help out the hockey player." anyway, then all these people started cutting themselves, and as the marsh is not the place you want to get injured (it's just teeming with crap), i had to see to the various cuts and scrapes. then the hockey player scraped his leg all up and was whining about it getting infected, so i had to get him some alcohol wipes. i think that the hockey player goes to auburn university... which doesn't have a hockey team. so i don't know if his hockey playing is current. perhaps i can corner him on friday when we go to panama city and ask him. i'm intrigued. oh, and in case you're interested, the hockey player's pretty cute and seems to have an aversion to wearing a shirt (not that i was checking him out or anything - that would be wrong on so many levels). oh, and he doesn't know his fish very well. sadly, i don't know the hockey player's name. i actually don't know very many of my students' names, so that's not really that odd. well, i know the name he goes by (which is not his first name, and i have been unable to determine his first and last names based on my class list)... so much for checking out his hockey status online.

now, all this pondering over the hockey player in my class has put me in the mood for some hockey action. the start of the season still seems so far away... and pensacola has yet to sign anyone. dammit. at least there are some interesting happenings in the NHL. like leclair and amonte getting bought out. so, they are two guys i won't see with the flyers this season. i'm not that surprised. neither of them really stood out the year before last, and leclair just had back surgery a couple months ago. that's not the kind of hockey action i want to see, but i guess it will do until there's some on-ice action to amuse me.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

I Thought You Were a Yankee

apparently, folks, i articulate too well to be from the south. at least, that's what i was told by a student yesterday on the boat. for some reason, a discussion was started about florida not really being The South, and i disagreed. until you get to extreme south florida (where it becomes largely hispanic), the state is just as southern as its neighbors. i think that most people who grew up in almost any part of florida, as opposed to migrating there from another (northern) state, sound just as southern as people who grew up in alabama or georgia. really, i was a little surprised when i discovered this. but just listen to the people reporters interview after a hurricane in florida - the southern accents abound, folks. i had one person agree with me. she's from california but has lived pretty much all over the U.S., and she agrees that a large proportion of floridians have southern accents. and then someone asked where i'm from. so, i gave them the whole "born in tennesee, moved to pensacola before i could walk, went to high school in alabama" spiel. then came the "wow, i thought you were a yankee" comment from one of the guys in my class. i guess my raised eyebrows invited further explanation because the student felt the need to explain himself with, "you articulate too much, um, er... you just don't sound like you're from the south." this was after he'd made some comments about speaking "american," after which i just said, "american, huh?"

the whole yankee thing sort of caught me off guard. a couple of years ago when i went to a conference at georgia tech, i was checking in, and i was wearing a university of south alabama t-shirt, and the girl who gave me my meeting agenda, abstract book, name tag, etc. said, "you sound like you're from south alabama." at the time, that sort of caught me off guard, too. but i accepted the fact that, since i've lived in the south (really the extreme south - if i lived much further south, i'd be in the gulf of mexico) my entire life, i probably do have a southern accent. but anyway, some of you can't really make a judgement on that, since my accent (whatever it may be) can't really come through on a blog.

yesterday's full day out on the boat was really quite interesting. many fish were killed (which bothered some), much fishing (like, with a rod and reel) was done (and this one jack crevalle was pulling three boys around and around the boat, like, they were doing laps trying to reel the thing in, and they eventually had to cut it loose), and i was able to offer much assistance with the critter identification. many people were reading harry potter and the half-blood prince (including moi), and i was able to finish the book yesterday. oh my god, i just couldn't believe it. i knew that someone major would die, but i didn't think it would be... the person who kicked the bucket. in that respect, i totally agree with deva. but, unlike her, i think that everything can be and should be wrapped up in one final book. i refrained from making any assumptions at all while i was reading (that's not to say i didn't imagine several possibilities - i just didn't think that any of my ideas seemed any more likely than any of the others). how much does it suck that we'll have to wait two years to find out how it all ends?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


so, deva and i went to biloxi last night for a much-needed taste of culture. we dressed up a bit and headed out to see cats at the grand theater. chad tagged along (actually, he drove), too, but not for the play. he of course went for the gambling. while deva and i were watching the show, chad wandered over to the isle of capri casino to play some slots, which turned out pretty well. he came out $100 ahead, so after subtracting the cost of my ticket, that trip to mississippi actually made us $75 richer. sweet.

the show was good and not something that i do very often. deva and i found it highly entertaining, especially mungojerrie, the curious cat. that guy was funny... and he had good moves. the only bad thing about the theater was the loud and incredibly annoying family in the row behind us. they had three small children (like, all under the age of 5), who of course couldn't sit still during the play, and their mother (well, i assumed she was their mother) kept talking to them very loudly in an asian languange i couldn't identify. she'd get up and take the kids to the end of the row, then take them back and sit down again, so not only were they talking incessantly and loudly, but they were also moving around - double the distractions. a woman sitting next to them got up to complain to an usher, and one came over and told them to be quiet... but they so didn't. i think that everyone in the general area asked them to be quiet, but they just kept talking. it wouldn't have been as bad if they'd make some small effort to whisper, but they were just so loud. when the music got louder, so did they. a woman in front of deva and me finally got up to find another usher. as soon as the loud family saw this, the woman took the three children and left. so when the usher arrived, the only member of the loud family left was one girl, who the usher also asked to leave. finally, we could watch the show in peace, and it was a good experience.

today, i am finally starting harry potter and the half-blood prince. my copy was delivered on saturday afternoon, but as i was already into dean koontz's dark rivers of the heart (which was really good, btw), i decided to finish it before starting on the new harry potter. i don't have a solid day to dedicate to reading the new book, so it will probably take me a little while to finish it... so no spoiling it for me, dudes (and dudettes).

Sunday, July 17, 2005


all right. so i'm having sort of a bad day. well, it could be much worse, but i'm in sort of a funky mood. i'm at the lab right now, grinding seagrass samples (yes, on a sunday), and i'm pretty much the only person here. well, every now and again someone comes through for something. craig came in for a chat earlier when we were the only people in the building. but now i'm all by myself, listening to some tunes.

anyway, allow me to explain the source of my present funk. it stems from a couple of things. most recently, i managed to lock the keys to my lab's storage area in the storage area. and of course, our friendly neighborhood maintenance men aren't here to cut off the padlock so i can get in to retrieve the keys. this is only a problem because gretchen and i left some very stinky items in there when we returned from port st joe (PSJ) friday night (hey, it was late, like 11:20, and we didn't have the energy to scrub the algae-encoated pvc), and they're stinking up the whole storage building. i went in to get some gloves so i don't burn my hands with liquid nitrogen while i'm using it to grind seagrass in, and when i exited the storage area (aka the cage) i had my lab keys in my hand, so i assumed that i also had the keys to the cage and proceeded to secure the padlock. then, i realized that, no, i did not have the cage keys after all. i peeked through the wire fencing that separates our cage from the others in the storage building, hoping to spot the keys so that i might find something to fish them out, but alas, they were nowhere in sight. so, while i have the required gloves, i will be unable to return to the cage later this afternoon to remove and clean the smelly pvc. i guess it won't kill anyone to have a stinky storage building for one more day. i'll take care of the lock situation first thing in the morning.

ok, on to the second source of this major funk. this is really a couple of things wrapped up in one. i've mentioned that it was late when gretchen and i arrived at DISL from PSJ on friday, and it took us a while to unload everything and return the car and stuff, so it was after 12:30 a.m. when i finally got home. and that was after waking up at 6:30, driving the 40 minutes to st. joseph peninsula state park from our hotel, working in the field for over 8 hours, driving the 5 1/2 hours from PSJ to dauphin island, then making the 45 minute trip home from the island. so, when i finally went to bed around 1:30, i was really freakin' exhausted. now, just imagine my intense irritation when chad's cell phone rings at 6:30 saturday morning. i don't like being called that early in the morning when i'm not absolutely exhausted, and i was especially annoyed then. of course, by the time we woke up to answer, it stopped ringing so we went back to sleep. then our apartment phone rang a little before 9, and again, i didn't really wake up until right before the answering machine picked up, but no one left a message. anyway, i decided that sleeping in any later was not going to happen at that point in time, so i just got up. about an hour later, chad's cell phone rang again, and this time i was awake. it was his mother. she had been the person calling repeatedly early on a saturday morning when she knows that we will be sleeping - when she knew that i wouldn't be getting home until after midnight on friday night/saturday morning. yet she still felt the urgent need to call us at freakin' 6:30 on a saturday morning. i sort of felt bad for being so pissed when i found out why she called so many times instead of just leaving a message to call her back asap. but i was still pissed. anyway, she had just gotten their morning paper when she called at 6:30, and on the front page was an article proclaiming the tragic death of one of our high school classmates. so she felt the need to call and let us know as soon as she read it, which i really didn't think was necessary. and then i felt like the biggest bitch in the world for thinking that she so could have waited to tell us that. so chris winchester, a guy who was in my graduating class in high school (and i went to a very small school, so of course i knew him) was killed by a roadside bomb in iraq. i don't really know how i feel about it. of course, i feel bad about it. it's a very sad thing to have happen to someone you know. but we weren't close or anything. to tell the truth, i hardly ever talked to the guy. i never actively disliked him or anything, we just traveled in different social circles. so in a way, yeah, i feel sad. i feel for his family and the people who were close to him. but it feels wrong to feel any sort of really intense grief over it because we weren't friends. i didn't really know him that well. i don't want to be one of those people who acts like someone was his/her best friend after they've died when they really weren't close. people like that always piss me off. the last funeral i went to was when i was a sophomore in high school. my friend shari's mom had cancer, and when she passed away, shari asked if i would go to the funeral with her. of course i couldn't refuse, even though i really hate funerals. then, i really did feel sad. mostly i felt really bad for shari, losing her mother and all. but i'd hung out at her house before, and her mom had always been really sweet to me. i'd also been to visit her in the hospital with shari, so i also saw how hard the whole cancer situation was on their whole family. i never felt like i was intruding, though. i just felt like shari needed me, so when she asked me to go to the hospital with her, i went. we drifted apart in the couple of years after that, and that kind of makes me sad too.

anyway, hearing about chris also made me think about the war in general. chad and i have talked about it a lot, actually, and i know how i feel about it. i don't agree with the reasons that were given for going into iraq. i think that we were egregiously misinformed and that we were effectively lied to about the reasons for invading and for remaining there for so long. i don't think that it is our place as americans to interfere there. i think that we should have left after finding that there were no WMD, if that was the real reason we were there. i always hear arguments that they killed people on american soil and that's why we're over there, and i want to shake those people. we went into afghanistan because of 9/11. no one seemed opposed to that. i've seen no evidence that it was iraqis who were responsible, and i think that the 9/11 argument for the war in iraq is totally invalid. i don't have a problem with ridding the world of saddam hussein, but if that was the goal, we should have been told that. if we're there to "save" the iraqi people, we should be told that. personally, i don't think it's our place to "save" iraq, but that would be a more valid reason for americans to be there than "we were looking for WMD, and even though we didn't find them, we think iraq is bad, so we're going to set up a new government there." even though i don't think we should have been in iraq in the first place, i think that now that we are there, we have to finish what was started. it would be wrong of us to go in and throw their lives into disarray, disrupt their government, and walk away saying, "whoa, my bad. we'll leave you to clean this mess up now." i agree that terrorists need to be fought against, but i think that a lot of people have died needlessly in iraq because of bad information. i also think that this whole iraq thing has actually taken away from the war on terror. we've been concentrating on getting things settled in iraq rather than combating terrorists elsewhere. my final verdict: we should never have been in iraq and we should leave as soon as humanly possible.

all right, i'm still in a major funk, but i have work to do so i can go home. lay-tah.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Off to Port St. Joe

so, i'm finally making that trip to port st. joe tomorrow. i'm a little concerned about the state of the roads, though. i called the florida dept of transportation yesterday to ask about road conditions between pensacola and PSJ (that's a lot of roads, i know) and found out that i'm probably going to have issues with hwy 98. i called the park, though, and they say it's passable. nancy will be taking over my TA duties on friday when the class takes a trip over to perdido key.

i'm not looking forward to the drive back from PSJ on friday. this weekend is the dauphin island fishing rodeo, a huge fishing tournament that takes place every summer on the island. traffic is always hell that weekend, with the two-lane road heading onto the island and the huge number of boats being pulled in on trailers.

but anyway, gretchen and i will be heading out tomorrow afternoon and returning friday.

and now, a bit on the tropics (that's become a pretty regular topic of conversation for me). t.s. emily is out there, about to enter the caribbean and then the gulf of mexico. i have a good feeling about this one, though. my prediction is that it's going to hit texas and leave us here on the northern gulf coast alone. here's hoping i'm right.

Monday, July 11, 2005


so, we really dodged a bullet with hurricane dennis, guys. my power never even went out. when i returned home from houston today, my alarm clock still had the right time. thank heaven for fast-moving storms. it could have been so much worse. mobile has basically no damage (and neither does dauphin island) and only a few power outages. i know that pensacola and navarre beaches have some pretty bad damage, as does flomaton (i'm never riding out another storm there b/c of ivan) and the rest of escambia county, alabama. my mom and little sis stayed at my granny's house in bratt, fl (~40 miles north of pensacola, for those who are unfamiliar with the area), and there are trees down all over the place there. they don't have power or phones, and there are two big trees blocking the road (and laying on the power and phone lines), so they can't get out with the cars. thank heaven for cell phones or i'd have no idea what was going on with them.

anyway, while many of you were in the area riding out hurricane dennis without the luxury of air conditioning, chad and i were having a lovely time in houston. this was our first visit to texas, and i must say, it's pretty nice. for a big city, houston isn't that hard to get around in. it's much better (in my humble opinion) than atlanta. i'm not a fan of atlanta. it scares me. but houston doesn't. it was nice. while hurricane dennis was making landfall yesterday, chad and i were at the johnson space center taking a tour of NASA. it was really cool. we got to sit in the viewing area of the historic mission control center (which was used up until 1996) and listen to the tapes of such historic phrases as, "houston, we have a problem" from apollo 13 and "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" from the first moon landing. apparently, "houston" was the first word spoken on the moon. we also got to see the astronaut training facility and mock-ups (which are life-sized, sometimes even working versions) of the international space station, its components, and the space shuttles. along with the tour, we saw all that the johnson space center has to offer tourists, including samples of moon rocks and soil, various presentations, and exhibits. and we did it all for the price of one admission ($17.95), thanks to the coupon books offered at the texas welcome center, with which i was very impressed. they had free (very detailed) texas maps with all of the major tourist attractions marked, which came in handy for finding our way around town, along with coupons and information for most of the tourist attractions in nearly every city in texas. the houston coupon book also included a coupon for buy one, get one free tickets (and not just the nosebleeds) for the houston aeros for any game in the 2005-2006 season (hint, hint). chad and i picked up 4 coupon books, in case anyone wants to catch some ahl hockey action (and possibly see some former ice pilots?) this season. chad and i have already thought this out. houston is about an hour and a half from beaumont, tx, where the echl's texas wildcatters play. we figure we could really make a trip of it, and catch an ice pilots game in beaumont and an aeros game in houston. to get to houston, we had to drive through beaumont, and let me tell you, it's pretty big. we scoped out the ford arena, the wildcatters' home building, and it looks really awesome from the outside. it is conveniently located right on I-10 on the outskirts of the city, so there's no confusing traffic getting in. we should check out the schedules and make plans for this. chad and i are excited about it.

something i'm less than excited about is tropical depression #5 out in the atlantic. chad thinks i'm a crazy weather channel addict (and perhaps i am) and that i shouldn't worry about this, but i like to be informed. anyway, t.d. #5 is expected to become a tropical storm soon, to be named emily. then, it is expected to continue on a westward track into the northern caribbean, where it is expected to affect hispanola and cuba as a hurricane sometime this weekend or early next week. from there, no one knows, but there could be the danger of another hurricane heading for the U.S., according to the weather channel. if that happens, it has to hit texas, right? they're due for a hurricane. another tropical system can't head for the northern gulf coast in july, right? i hope not. i've been told not to worry, but you can bet your sweet asses i'll be keeping an eye on t.d. #5.

in other latina-news, my port st. joe (PSJ) trip has been rescheduled for this thursday. whether i will be going alone with gretchen or with the marine ecology class remains to be seen. dr. v. and i have been having an email discussion about this. we have a floating TA for summer school who can handle my duties if gretchen and i go alone (dr. v. will also make charlie help nancy [the floating TA] out). the results will depend on what i can find out from the officials at the park in PSJ and at st. andrew's park in panama city. either way, i'm going to PSJ on thursday.

all righty, folks. i've updated you on my life (i know you were just dying to know how my weekend went), and now i must go and live it some more so that i may regale you with tales of my many adventures.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Gettin' the Heck Outta Dodge

yeah, so i'm a big fat chicken. i think that hurricane dennis will probably hit east of mobile, but i've defintively decided to leave. chad and i will be headed for houston for the weekend, to return to mobile on monday. we're planning to leave in the middle of the night to (hopefully) avoid the worst of the traffic. this group of computer models predicting the path of dennis is pretty freakin' scary to me. none of the models predict that dennis will actually hit mobile, but all of them take it pretty freakin' close. the two that have it hitting mississippi scare me most, as the east side of the storm gets the worst of it.

DISL and USA are officially closed until tuesday, possibly even later in the week than that. when these two places close, i know things are bad. the only thing that's really bothering me about evacuating right now is the possibility that chad's mom will come with us. don't get me wrong, she's a sweet lady. she's just so smothering. chad was definitely babied until he moved in with me, and i just can't take it when she acts like he can't do anything for himself (and treats me the same way). but she may head north with their neighbors (which i think would be the most convenient thing for all involved), so i might not have to worry about it. chad's dad has to work (he's a correctional officer at holman prison, which is where they put the really bad criminals in alabama), and he doesn't want her to be alone, which i totally understand. it's just that being in close quarters with her for long periods of time kind of makes me crazy. my mother was very different with me than judy was with chad. i was raised to be a self-reliant individual (that's not to say that my mom wasn't there for me, she definitely was), and he definitely wasn't.

anyway, i've got a few last-minute preparations to do, like a load of laundry before we lose power, so i'm off. i'll have a post-dennis entry as soon as i can.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Hurricane Plans

yeah, i'm sure you are all sick to death of posts about hurricane dennis, but i just can't help it. i'm completely consumed with hurricane-related thoughts. i can't seem to change the channel and stop watching the weather. to ease everyone's minds, i will not be going to port st. joe this weekend. i don't give a damn what anyone else thinks. i am absolutely scared to death of the approaching hurricane (which is now expected to make landfall early sunday afternoon), and i refuse to go driving off 300 miles east (and still in the path of the storm). gretchen tried talking me into going this morning, but i held my ground. she's from maine. what the hell does she know about hurricanes? i'm not taking any chances. dr. crozier (the sea lab director) has ordered an evacuation of DISL, anyway. all the students in the dorms have to leave this weekend. there's still a small chance that the storm could miss us (*fingers crossed*), but as they're preparing to order an evacuation of mobile if necessary, i won't hold my breath. apparently, the shelters in mobile can't withstand a category 3 hurricane, and if it looks like dennis will hit us as a category 3, mobile will be evacuated, with shelters open along the evacuation route.

since dennis is now a category 3 (but a weak one, with winds of 115 mph), and it is very possible for it to reach category 4 strength despite still having to pass over cuba, it is looking more and more likely that chad and i will be getting the hell out of here on saturday. we still haven't made up our minds yet, though. some of the current projections seem to take the hurricane east of us (in the navarre/ft. walton beach area), so we might stick around mobile if it still looks that way tomorrow and into saturday morning. if we decide to leave, we're heading for tuscaloosa. at least we have a plan, even if i'm having a bit of a breakdown in nerves.

i guess for now, it's sort of business as usual - i taught a lab this afternoon (and it went fine), and i'll be teaching another one tomorrow afternoon. but first, i have to go out and collect 200 hermit crabs. that sounds like a lot, i know, but they're absolutely rampant on dauphin island, so it shouldn't take too long. then, it's decision-making time. i'll let everyone know if chad and i leave mobile.

Not About Dennis, I Swear

ok, here's a post that's not about the tropics. it's about hockey. i just read that the players and the league have reached a (tentative) agreement, to be approved by the players today. *yay* so there will be NHL hockey this season. i'm so happy about that! now the ahl and the echl can make decisions that don't end with "depending on what happens in the NHL." good stuff. on the downside, since ahl teams will inevitably be losing players to their NHL clubs, some of the (awesome) guys we had last year in pensacola probably won't be returning. *sniff* perhaps we will get cam keith back, though, for nessa's sake.

all righty. i've got things to do and people to teach.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Glued to the Weather Channel

yeah, more bitching about the tropics... but i've seen the same graphic several times today, and no one on the weather channel talks about dauphin island. they're like, "what the hell is dauphin island?" anyway, they keep showing the wind speeds for the areas affected by tropical storm cindy, and they include dauphin island on the graphic (68 mph winds last night/this morning, in case you were wondering), but they skip it and only talk about mobile, biloxi, cities people may have heard of. it's weird to me because all of the local stations focus on dauphin island, as it is a barrier island and sees the brunt of any storm before it makes its way to land. yet the weather channel seems to pretend the island where i spend so much of my precious time doesn't exist, even though they put it on my tv screen.

...and now they're comparing dennis and ivan. yeah, we remember ivan. it takes more than 10 months to forget something so many people are still recovering from. i don't think i'll ever forget ivan, unfortunately. yeah, dennis is pretty much taking the exact same path ivan did, so far (and probably when it makes landfall, too). one positive difference is that ivan was a category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds at the same location, whereas dennis is a category 1 with 80 mph winds. i'm not letting that fool me, though. dennis still has most of the caribbean and all of the gulf of mexico to strengthen. there is still a (faint) hope for me that it will decide it doesn't really want to hit me and will go after texas instead. i say it's a faint hope, though, because according to USA's meteorology dept (which had the most accurate hurricane models i'd seen for past hurricanes - it was better than the weather channel's model for ivan), dennis is headed for mobile, baby. mobile. dammit.

for the benefit of my reader(s) who may or may not be very familiar with tropical activity, this season is not normal. we don't usually have this many named storms by early july (it's only been hurricane season for a little more than a month, for crying out loud!), and they don't usually all enter the gulf of mexico, and three out of the first four named storms certainly don't usually make a beeline for the central northern gulf coast (i.e., my territory) all within a few weeks of each other. this is especially out of the ordinary since we took such a hard hit from ivan last season. i really didn't expect to get targeted this much this year. i thought maybe we'd see a tropical storm, but two tropical storms and a hurricane??? by early july??? hell no. ugh. at this rate, i'm not going to make it to the end of hurricane season at the end of november... that's so far away.

hmm. dennis is now expected to reach category 2-3 strength tomorrow. how much does that suck? its winds are now at 85 mph, if anyone was wondering, and it hasn't even hit jamaica yet. all right, i'm totally in hurricane mode now. i can't make myself stop watching the weather channel... and i have to teach tomorrow afternoon (*yay*). i'm not sure how effective i'll be, since i didn't get much sleep last night, or the night before (but that was not due to anything tropical). now, with all the worrying over hurricane dennis, i'm too nervous and wound up to sleep very much. i think we'll go to st. joe this weekend, but i don't want to get stuck in all the "getting the hell out of town" traffic that i'm sure to encounter sunday from every town between port st. joe and dauphin island. then i'll have my own "getting the hell out of town before this thing kicks my ass" driving to do. *sigh* if only i could just take off friday afternoon and beat the mad rush out of here. it took three hours to make the (usually) hour and fifteen minute drive from mobile to flomaton in september when i was running (unsuccessfully and not very far away) from ivan.

grr. ok. taking my dennis frustrations elsewhere now. good night, all.


my current feelings can be summed up by that one word. stupid tropics. i want to act like i'm three again and lay in the floor throwing the worst tantrum anyone's ever seen. tropical storm cindy was a little worse to us here in mobile than t.s. arlene was a couple of weeks ago... and dennis looks like it's coming straight for us - using the same damn path ivan did back in september. damn damn damn. damn (soon to be) hurricane! here, have a look at dennis's projected path for yourself. what's right in the middle of the path? mobile, of course, because the tropics hate me.

but this post isn't really about t.s. (for now) dennis. it's about t.s. cindy, which is technically not a tropical storm anymore. i was rudely awakened at 3:30 this morning by blinding flashes of light and a mega loud buzzing/whining sound to find that our power was out and cindy had arrived in mobile. the sound i'd heard was a nearby transformer trying to come back on and give us our precious AC back. but no dice - the power stayed off. after setting the alarm on my cell phone, i was wide awake and could only lie in the bed, listening to the storm and remembering ivan. needless to say, it was not a pleasant night. cindy was a much more tame storm than ivan, which was obvious from the lack of the freight train death sound of the wind in the eye wall of a major hurricane. during ivan, i sat huddled in a hallway surrounded by pillows listening to that awful sound for 6 hours (we never got a break - from the movement of the storm, the eye never passed over us - instead flomaton was in ivan's eye wall for 6 hours). and that was after having a tree fall on my in-laws' house, where chad and i were staying (for the record, i wanted to run away and get a hotel in louisiana but was talked into staying in flomaton instead - that won't happen again) and driving out in the middle of the freakin' hurricane to a nearby friend's house that was fully intact (stupid, i know - again, not my decision, and it won't happen again). we emerged from the house the next morning (with tropical storm force winds still whipping all around us) to find that nearly every tree (and there were lots of them - flomaton's pretty back-woods, folks) in the surrounding area was snapped. power and phones (including cell phones) were out for quite some time in that area, and trees were down everywhere, many of them on top of houses. back in mobile, however, things were fine. our power had only been out for about a day or so here, and my cell phone worked again. so, i guess most of my bad night last night was really just recalling everything that happened in september. regardless, i got very little sleep.

and now, here comes dennis to ruin my weekend and my research. maybe it will slow down and not be so close to land by sunday. i know that gives it time to strengthen, but i really need to get to port st. joe and collect samples this weekend. it's already been put off once because of the holiday. i really feel bad for gretchen. she's leaving august 5th to return to maine, and if we wait longer to collect samples, she won't have time to analyze all of them before her presentation. if it were just me, i would wait and get the hell out of town this weekend (and not just farther east on the florida coastline - i'd head inland). after ivan, i'm taking no more chances with hurricanes. chad and i already have a plan - we're going to stay with zach in camden (which isn't actually that far inland, but it's far enough for us not to have to worry about the worst of the storm). with the power being out this morning, i went to wal-mart and stocked up on batteries, touch lights, an oil lamp, and a portable fan, so we're totally prepared to be without power for a while (our stock of non-perishables is pretty good already). anyway, the power's back now, and i'm freaking out about the state of the upcoming weekend. i need a break from tropical activity, but it looks like dennis isn't going to cooperate and hit texas. damn.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Targeted by the Tropics

what do i get for failing to watch the news for three days while enjoying my holiday weekend? i get to wake up at the butt crack of dawn this morning to find that i will be feeling the effects of another tropical storm this afternoon. yuck. but t.s. cindy doesn't really bother me. it looks like it's going to pretty much make a direct hit on new orleans (maybe all the rain will wash some of the filth from the streets - wait, no. being below sea level, the filth will just float around in the flood). so, mobile is on the bad side of the storm, which means we'll get 6" of rain and a little wind, but pensacola will most likely be spared all but a little rain.

as i was making my way home from dauphin island around lunchtime (just a half day of work today), i passed vans from all three of the mobile news stations heading for the island to provide us with storm coverage. what's funny is that it wasn't even raining. it still isn't - just cloudy, which is holding the temp to the relatively mild mid-80's, but the humidity is killer.

anyway, like i said, i'm not worried about cindy. it's just going to rain a lot. what worries me is t.s. dennis. with my luck, and the target on my back that says, "hey, you! tropical system! nah-nah-nah, bet you can't get me!", dennis will probably become a major hurricane on its way into the gulf of mexico, head north, and hit one of two places - 1) the mobile/pensacola area or 2) port st. joe/apalachicola. why? because dennis hitting either of these places will totally screw up my weekend. gretchen and i are heading over to port st. joe (again) this weekend to do some sampling, and a big ass hurricane is just what we don't need. *sigh* i really thought that after ivan, the tropics would give us a break this season - and it's so early...

i'm going to say the same thing about dennis that i said about ivan - maybe it will go hit texas. sorry to wish that on the texans, but i'm certainly not going to wish dennis on florida for a couple of reasons - 1) if it hits the panhandle, it's probably going to affect me and 2) they had enough tropical activity last year to last them decades. and of course i don't want a huge hurricane hitting louisiana/mississippi/alabama because that would also put a big fat kink in my plans. but if dennis does head my way, i'm going to decide that it's time to go and see my nephew... in tennessee.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Carded for Cold Meds

ok, i know that no one really wants to hear about my sinus ailments, but that being said, i'm going to tell you a little about them anyway. for the past couple of days, my sinuses have been retaliating against me - the disgusting back of the throat draining thing, intense pressure making my eyes want to pop out of my head, and the worst freaking sinus headaches ever. when i awoke this morning to find that my sinuses were still on the offensive, i decided to fight back with a decongestant, which required a trip to walmart. so, i picked up some off-brand sinus/pain relief stuff and headed for the register to check out. i had heard about the new regulations on pseudoephedrine and such since idiots are out there buying them in massive quantities and using them to make illegal substances, but i was still a little peeved at being carded for buying cold medicine. but i was only upset because it reminded me of the time i was carded for an R-rated movie (i was 21 at the time). cold medicines containing pseudoephedrine can now only be purchased by folks over the age of 18. so, the little thing beeped when the cashier swiped the box, and a little screen popped up asking if the customer is over 18. and what does the cashier do? she demands to see some id (politely, of course). i don't mind getting carded for buying alcohol. i expect that. but to think that someone could think i'm under the tender age of 18 makes me very frustrated. oh well. the same thing would have happened if i'd bought cigarrettes, so i guess i shouldn't be upset. but i had a headache that was threatening to blow off the top of my skull, and i viewed the carding thing as a hinderance to relief of the pressure.

now, all that ranting aside, i think that the new decongestant regulations are totoally warranted, and i probably wouldn't have minded the carding quite so much if they'd been making some kind of record of how much cold medicine i buy to make sure i'm not a drug manufacturer. but no, i was just being carded to make sure i am of legal age to be treating my own ailments with over the counter medications.


as promised, here's the link to the marine ecology progress series 'forthcoming publications' page, where you will find my paper listed. it is manuscript #5890 (M 5890)... steele, l. that's me! i recommend scrolling all the way down to the bottom and going up to find it. and, in case you're interested, i also know the folks on M 5896, M5783, and M 5582. matt johnson - he's the graduate student organization president, and heck jr. kl is ken. there are all sorts of articles coming out of DISL these days.