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

Monday, September 26, 2005

I'm Stupid

today i had a very depressing meeting with dr. v. (my Ph.D. advisor, in case you've forgotten). this little conference should not have been depressing at all. we discussed the results of the totally screwed up field experiment i ran this summer, and despite all of the crazy tropical activity (tropical storms arlene and cindy and hurricane dennis) that confounded said experiment, the results actually made a little bit of sense. allow me to emphasize "a little bit." dr. v. seems disappointed with the little bit of sense the results made.

before walking into the marine sciences department at 10:00 this morning, i was an intelligent young graduate student perfectly capable of reasoning out the statistics and making them tell me a perfectly plausible story. yet, after speaking with dr. v. and working through some additional comparisons, i walked out of the marine sciences department office feeling shell-shocked and completely unable to grasp the concept of "a new project idea." those four teeny tiny itty bitty little words have been haunting me all day. a new project. *clutches heart and falls to the floor*

dr. v. totally hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that i am "probably getting antsy" and "ready to really go at it." i haven't even written a prospectus, for crying out loud! i am going certifiably insane. i am never going to graduate. i will become one of those wierd old people who hangs out with 20-somethings because they're still in school with the youngsters! i will absolutely curl myself up into the fetal position and sob for days if i have to come up with a new project. a negative result is still a result! isn't it important to find out that condensed tannins aren't effective defenses against herbivory and publish it so that some other grad student in the far far future doesn't waste an entire year of her precious grad school career discovering this fact that never gets published because it's a negative result, and so that this hypothetical grad student isn't subsequently forced to drown herself in a toilet or some other completely off-putting, vomit-inducing receptacle??? see? totally off my rocker.

anyway, so after listening to dr. v. make suggestions on how to broaden my project and make it dissertation-worthy i felt nothing less than stupid. i am stupid. i am not with stupid. i am stupid. his thought processes are so far beyond mine, it does not even come close to funny. the hamster inside my head has been temporarily crippled by the Ph.D-mafia, who do not find me worthy and so are preventing the hamster from turning those little wheels of intelligence, thus assuring my failure to join the ranks of those we adress as "doctor." breaking my legs instead of the hamster's would have been way too obvious.

i should just give it all up right now and go teach biology to a bunch of belligerent, apathetic, delinquent high school punks who don't really give a rat's bum about science.

i guess if anything should make me feel a tad better about life, it's the fact that dr. v. seems quite determined to make sure that i make it through this whole ordeal alive and relatively happy... though he remains entirely unaware of how stupid his superior thinking makes me feel.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

It's Like a Present

...a present from someone who recognizes the sheer magnitude of the numerous tasks that i have oh-so-skillfully put off over the past couple of weeks. this generous gift of which i speak is an unexpectedly free afternoon. my freshwater ecology lab has been cancelled for this afternoon for a couple of reasons: 1) mccreadie has food poisoning and a kidney stone and 2) he felt that sending someone out on the water in a metal boat when there is a high probablility of thunderstorms is probably not the best idea. so, here i am procrastinating once again despite this perfect opportunity to get some studying done. i do, after all, have an ecotox exam next week... and some homework... and some data to analyze... and a report to write... and some reading to do... and some library research for a proposal... and a freshwater ecology exam the day after hockey season starts... and a lab exam... and the list goes on. so, i can be like lindsey and go shopping or i can be a good grad student and do some work. seeing as how the next few days are filled with plans, i should probably do some work. but isn't it nice to have the time?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Finally, Something's Hitting Texas!

forgive my little happy dance at the fairly constant path of hurricane rita. or don't... i don't care. i'm just excited that rita doesn't appear to be heading my way at all. it looks as if this hurricane will do what i've asked all the other tropical systems over the past two years to do: hit texas. and i don't feel so bad about wishing things on the lone star state anymore. i recently learned (from the weather channel, of course) that the houston/galveston area has not been hit by a hurricane since 1989! they are so due for a hit. i wouldn't mind at all getting hit by a hurricane every 16 years. anyway, as long as rita doesn't change her mind, i'm feeling ok about the weather... even if we are experiencing august heat three weeks into september... and it hasn't rained here for three weeks. that's way strange for mobile... so all the hurricane debris is nice and crunchy.

moving on, i think i like rugby. the main reason i don't like football is that it's incredibly slow. they stop play all the freakin' time. rugby is pretty much non-stop action. chad and i went to his game saturday in fairhope, and i discovered that rugby is pretty cool and totally spectator-friendly. they're playing at springhill college on october 14, which coincides with the first ice pilot preseason game, and chad's definitely playing in that game. so, we won't be at the first preseason game, but those of you who will also be in attendance at the hangar on saturday the 15th will see us there.

anyway, life is pretty uneventful (still). we're poisoning tadpoles for the sake of learning in ecotox, and lindsey and i have plans to go collecting in all the random water holes around campus on friday. our goal is to get some mayfly larvae and other critters we haven't killed in ethanol yet. we're going to hit the pond next to the library, the ravine by the frat houses, and the swamp near the med school. maybe we'll get some good stuff for our freshwater ecology collections.

all righty... i've rambled enough for one afternoon.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sweater Success...and other stuff

so, yesterday i finished knitting the sweater i was working on. i'm quite proud of myself. it looks like a real sweater and everything. it was surprisingly easy. it makes me want to make another one. have a look...

anyway, on to more exciting things. chad managed to dislocate his shoulder at rugby practice yesterday. not fun. one of the guys on the team is a chiropractor, and he popped it back in. chad was supposed to play in his first real game tomorrow. sad, huh? we're still going to go and watch. it's in fairhope. anyway, prep for the game is the reason chad sustained his injury. usually, practices aren't that rough so no one gets hurt, but since there's a game saturday, they decided to make practice as game-like as possible last night. rugby's pretty hard-core. you know, with the total lack of protective gear and such.

otherwise, my life has been fairly uneventful as of late. went out to this little ravine by the stonehedge neighborhood on grelot rd. yesterday afternoon for freshwater ecology lab. that was kind of fun, even though i cut my ankle all up on a bunch of briars. that kind of sucks. i got a teeny little catfish for my collection, though. lindsey and i stayed behind after the lab was technically over to build our collections. we didn't get very much stuff, but we have plans to visit some other sites around town over the next couple of weeks.

something that may actually interest some of you is that i've added a couple of photo albums to my links. i posted the pictures from my adventures at the johnson space center during hurricane dennis, as well as the pics from my birthday celebration at big kahuna's and some wedding photos. enjoy!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Shedding a Tear

*sniff* so the damn sea wolves won't be playing this season. that really blows sticky green snot. how can i hate them if they don't play, huh? it sucks more because, as it turns out, they could have played here in mobile. they could have found some sort of player housing here. the folks in charge of the mobile civic center and the current (but not for long) mayor of mobile were perfectly willing to rearrange schedules to accomodate the sea wolves and the current ECHL schedule. however, the sea wolves organization decided that they didn't have time to get their shit together for this season. dammit. i'm more pissed now that i know that mobile was ready and willing to take on this hockey team than when i thought they just wouldn't have a place to play for a while.

anyway, perhaps we can get louis back now? he seems to like the area... then i wouldn't want them to play the "louie louie" song when he got sent to the sin bin. they could play it when he scores instead. i can only hope. so, perhaps we'll get some of their players. i don't hate all of them, you know. we shall see.

Monday, September 12, 2005

No Freddy For Us

so, freddy managed to get himself signed with an AHL team. while i'm happy for him, i'm sad for pensacola. can todd ford carry the load for us? we shall see, i guess. the most interesting tidbit about this particular signing to me is that he signed with the AHL affiliate of the (damn) sea wolves. so, if mississippi manages to play somewhere this season, we could maybe possibly by some chance see freddy in goal for our hated rivals. damn. but they already have louis dumont, so it won't be the first time something like this has happened. anyway, perhaps freddy will spend the entire season with the bigger boys in the AHL. he deserves it.

in other latina-news, i recently heard from a close childhood friend i sort of lost touch with over the years. she just got married and is now living in australia. wow, huh? man, was it ever great to hear from her, though. i have the address to her online journal, so expect a link on my sidebar soon (heather's melo). i look forward to keeping tabs on her again.

today will be my first trip to dauphin island since the dreaded hurricane katrina made her mark on the gulf coast two weeks ago. they finally got their electricity restored over the weekend, and the sea lab is re-opening for business today. i just hope that the road out there is fixed. last year after hurricane ivan, there were parts of that causeway where you had to slow way down to drive over the parts that had been washed away and filled in with gravel. it didn't take too long to get it repaved, though, so maybe it's fixed now. things seem to be getting back to normal here (for the most part). gas prices are still way more expensive here than they are in the surrounding counties, which sucks big-time, but most stations actually have gas now, and there are no more hellacious lines (which i never had to wait in, anyway, since i haven't bought gas since the week before katrina hit). anyway, it's about time for me to start making my way out to the island for my seminar class. adios!

UPDATE: the road is so not fixed. there is much gravel. must drive at a snail's pace. much more of the causeway is washed out now than after ivan. yuck.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Awwww, Maaaaannnn

dude, this blows. USA has extended classes for an extra week this semester, meaning that i won't be finished for the semester until december 19 (i think - my last final might actually be on the 16th). and do you want to know the reason? their official announcement says it's because of the week we missed due to katrina. but the story the big boys are spreading to the professors is that we might have to miss more days this semester because we might get hit by another hurricane sometime before hurricane season ends on november 30. we are just now entering the peak of the season, after all... and already we have reached the O name. anyway, at least that means that if, by chance (and i hope and pray this doesn't happen), another tropical system makes its way to the northern gulf coast, USA will not extend the semester again. just the one week. but this area just can't handle another one... for, like, a decade or so. if another hurricane hits us this year, i, lover of the gulf coast, beaches, and warm tropcial weather, just might be forced to consider the possibility of maybe moving somewhere further inland - like philadelphia. maybe. but i would so freeze there... but i'd get to see the flyers, so freezing has its upside. but let's hope that the tropics don't target us again so i won't be forced to entertain such an atrocious possibility. i shiver just thinking about it.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Praise God, We Have a New Coach!

just checked the ol' email and discovered that the ice pilots have FINALLY announced the new coach, rick adduono. he's not todd gordon, and he's been pretty successful in this league in the past, so i'm a happy little camper. now perhaps they will make an announcement about all the new players they've signed... and the old ones, too (like nick lindberg). we might actually get to see a pretty good hockey team this season after all. dare we hope for a championship?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Screaming Imbeciles

what i'm about to write will probably make me look like a heartless bitch, so if you want to preserve your current image of me as a sweet, wonderful, humanitarian chica, you should stop reading immediately. yes, it has to do with the current katrina disaster. our local news here in mobile is still doing nearly-non-stop disaster coverage (they've been taking a little break for three hours during prime time since friday), and the local stories are much better than the chaos being shoved in our faces by the national news media. unlike the national media, which just want ratings, and let me tell you, people getting help and supplies don't get nearly the ratings of people who are stranded and starving, the local media are showing the people who are getting help. so many people seem to blame the president for this. how is this his fault? i may not be bush's biggest fan, but i disagree with all of the criticism he has faced over this disaster. it takes a long time to put together such a massive relief effort. everyone compares this to the tsunami or other hurricanes that have hit the U.S. but does no one recall that it is normal for relief supplies to take a couple of days to arrive in areas that need them? we didn't send supplies and relief teams to tsunami victims for about a week. it is normal for disaster relief to arrive in an area two to three days after a hurricane. you can't have them waiting in the disaster area itself, and it takes a bit of time to figure out which areas need the supplies the most and which places are safe to act as distribution sites. that's why they tell potential hurricane victims to collect essential supplies to last for at least three days after the storm. no one had to tell me these things. common sense allowed me to figure this out. so why is everyone bitching about the slow response? the scope of this disaster is so much larger than anything we've ever had to deal with in this country, how can we blame the people who organize relief for being a little slow? yes, it's bad and will cost lives to waste time, but it's not as if they aren't trying to get supplies to the hardest hit areas. and let's not forget how many local groups from all over the country are sending in supplies. let's also not forget that some of the assholes trapped in new orleans and the surrounding area hijacked supply trucks. so the people who are there are just making it harder to help them. when a small group of people steals and hordes all of the supplies, no wonder it's been nearly impossible to get food, water, and medicine to the people who really need and deserve it (no i don't think the assholes who are shooting at the people who are trying to help them deserve the help).

this brings me to a different point. the more i see people screaming on the national news about how no one is helping them, the more i see reporters eating it up like a big banana split, the more people talk about how high the death toll will rise, the more people scream about how their babies aren't being fed or changed, the more pissed off i get. does no one realize that these people are in their current situation through no one's fault but their own? every single person in the city of new orleans had the opportunity to leave it. they were ordered to leave it. buses were sent in and pick-up sites and times announced to take the poor, sick, and elderly to shelters outside the city. this simple fact makes it very hard for me to feel sorry for the irresponsible jerks who refused to leave and are now screaming about how no one is helping them. all of this could have been prevented. not one single person had to die because of hurricane katrina. now this has become a terrible tragedy. this hurricane was not like the tsunami. the major difference? people knew it was coming. they knew that new orleans would flood. yet still people refused to leave. at the very least, they could have gone to the superdome (where, contrary to some reports, they did have food and water for at least a few days). the people who are trapped there now with infants and toddlers piss me off the most. where is their sense of parental responsibility? where was the instinct to protect their children? it is one thing for an adult to decide to stay in the danger zone and risk his/her own life. it is quite another to risk the life of a child who had no way to make the decision to get out of harm's way. one story in particular involving parents pissed me off. this one couple had a baby just 9 days ago - prematurely. so, the infant was in intensive care in a children's hospital that was due to be evacuated. and what did this premie's parents do? they left. they evacuated and left their baby in the hospital, not knowing where he would end up. wtf? i'm sure that the hospital staff would have allowed the parents to stay with the child. how could they just go off and leave their baby, especially not knowing what city he would end up in?

tourists are locked in their hotels because they couldn't get out of new orleans. at least they tried to leave. however, they shouldn't have been in the hotels. they should have gone to the superdome, as many tourists who couldn't leave new orleans managed to do. if all of these people were in one place, it would be much easier to get everyone out of new orleans now.

i feel exactly the same way about all of the people who died in coastal mississippi. officially, reporters are not supposed to be given death tolls until there is a final body count. my alabama state trooper friend is one of many who have been assigned to the recovery effort in harrison and jackson counties in mississippi. chad talked to him last night and was informed that his unit alone has recovered 100 bodies from gulfport and 40 from ocean springs and pascagoula. now, they have been removed from the body search and assigned to police coastal mississippi due to the large number of rowdy looters. a group of people recently attacked one of the unit's police car. the situation is completely out of hand. my pal in law enforcement says he wishes martial law would be declared in mississippi as well, because they can't control the looters. he sounds very unhappy, and who could blame him?

so, yesterday i heard president bush say he's surprised that katrina didn't kill a million people. wtf??? how he could he be so stupid? and why do i seem to be the only one who realizes that no one had to die or that the people who did are dead through their own actions?

Friday, September 02, 2005

DISL Status

so, yesterday i got an email from some of the big boys at the dauphin island sea lab with an update on the status of the lab post-katrina. there was minimal damage compared to other parts of the island, and most of the boats were ok (even though i think they'll have to rebuild the dock again)... but they moved the two large boats (the ancient r.v. verrill from the woods hole oceanographic institute and the brand new conoco-phillips funded r.v. wilson) up the pascagoula river. as in mississippi. so, i'm just wondering why they didn't move them up the mobile river. they knew that the storm was going to hit to our west, so the mobile river couldn't have been any worse, right? anyway, all of the small boats at the lab are fine. the wilson is fine. but as of yesterday they could not find the verrill. that is a classic sea lab boat. hell, it was classic when it was at woods hole. the thing is nearly 40 years old, but it's a hell of a research vessel. i have many fond memories of the verrill. it was the first large boat i ever experienced. sure, it moves slower than a snail, but it would be a shame to lose it. so, dr. dindo said he was going out yesterday to look for the verrill, which sounds funny in itself. you know, having to go out and search for a pretty big boat when the smaller r.v. wilson stayed put.

anyway, dindo sent another update email this morning saying that they found the verrill, still attached to its tugboat, about 80 feet into a marsh near the pascagoula river. this is not a small boat by any means. it's nearly twice the size of our new and already beloved r.v. wilson. it amazes me that it got moved when it was up the river, supposedly far enough to be safe from katrina's surge. there is no word on how the verrill fared, and it might not be functional, but at least they found it.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Natural Selection in Action?

and the aftermath of hurricane katrina continues... let me tell you, folks, it does not make me feel special to be a part of the biggest natural disaster to ever hit the united states. the damage that hurricane katrina caused here in the mobile area is much worse than the damage caused by hurricane ivan last september. along the coastline and waterways, homes and buildings have been destroyed, including apartment buildings along dog river, tons of houses in bayou la batre (yes, the forrest gump city actually exists, for those who may not be familiar with this area), and approximately 80% of the houses on dauphin island, where i work. fortunately, dauphin island is not entirely a barrier island. the east end of the island, where the dauphin island sea lab is located, is an actual land mass with rocks and soil and forests and all, while the west end, where the majority of the beach houses were located, is just sand. the landscape of the west end has completely changed. most of the houses are just not there anymore. a barrier island is just about the dumbest place you could ever put a house, yet still i feel for the people who lost their homes. downtown mobile was completely flooded by katrina's massive storm surge, and the causeway that runs across mobile bay suffered massive damage, as did the one that runs out to the dauphin island bridge. i'm sure you've seen the pictures of the oil platform that slammed into the cochrane-africatown bridge across the mobile river. trees are down all over the place, including one that fell on the fence around our pool. there are tons of trees on power lines, of course, but chad and i were fortunate enough to have our electricity returned last night around 9:00 after three days and two nights dealing with the heat and humidity. at least our neighbor let us plug in our fridge, a fan, and a tv to his generator. things could have been much worse for us. practically every building in our apartment complex had the vents torn off the roof, so there are all these metal vents strewn everywhere. there are also many shingles missing, but no major damage so i feel very lucky.

outside, there is pandemonium. gasoline is in short supply, and many stations don't have electricity, so very few gas stations are open. this makes for gas lines that stretch for blocks with no guarantees that those in the back of the lines will arrive at the pumps before the gas runs out. the long lines are not limited to gas stations, either. the red cross distribution sites for ice, water, and MRE's (military food) are also drawing huge crowds and long lines. all of this is causing major traffic jams for the many people who have had to return to work (including chad - he had to go back to work this morning) and are just trying to get through, as if the many non-functional traffic lights at major intersections weren't causing enough back-ups. it now takes forever to go even the mile and a half to the centralite office where chad works. many people are losing money because they have not been able to work, so the rapidly rising price of gas is really hitting hard. this morning in mobile, gas is going for $3.25 a gallon. last week i paid $2.46 per gallon. and this is what the gas stations can charge despite the strict anti-price-gouging policies. i shudder to think what i'll be paying when i have to buy gas in a couple of weeks. i am refusing to drive anywhere unless it is absolutely unavoidable. my tiny car has a full tank of gas, and USA does not resume classes until next tuesday (due to the gas shortages, power outages, and curfews in place from dusk to dawn), so i should be able to stretch it for a long time. the university is about 4 miles from my apartment, and i will probably be having my seminar class there instead of dauphin island (which is 32 miles from my apartment), so i shouldn't have to buy gas until things settle down.

grocery stores are another source of madness here. the bruno's that chad and i went into yesterday wasn't actually that crazy, but many of its shelves were bare. another of our neighbors works security at wal-mart, and he told us that the number of shoplifters has increased dramatically. people are shooting their relatives over ice in mississippi, so i guess things really aren't as bad as they could be here. we have power again, so we can cook now. we have food and clean water, both of our gas tanks are full, so i feel pretty good about our situation personally. it's really bad for some people, though. especially in coastal mississippi (biloxi and gulfport) and new orleans.

i have mixed feelings about the human suffering that is being broadcast nationally (worldwide?) out of biloxi, gulfport, and new orleans. my initial reaction is absolute heartbreak at what these people are going through. i almost cried when i saw local reporter jennifer mayerle's interview with hardy jackson (which has been broadcast nationally on msnbc and fox news channel), the biloxi man who rode out the storm in his home, which split in two when it flooded, causing him to lose his wife. she told him to let her go so he could take care of their two grandchildren, who were with hardy when he was interviewed. i see this over and over, and then the reports of people who stayed in apartment buildings right on the beach. and they died. because they didn't heed evacuation orders. and it is very depressing to see. then logic kicks in, and i think that these people did this to themselves. there is absolutely no way that they did not know that this enormous and immensely powerful hurricane was headed their way. they were ordered to evacuate. here in mobile, buses were sent into the areas where mandatory evacuations were ordered to move the poor, sick, and elderly to shelters on safer ground. here, there was no excuse for staying in the danger zone. i just cannot make myself believe that the people who stayed and tried to ride out katrina in places like new orleans, biloxi, and gulfport didn't have the means to get to a safer place. in some cases, i truly believe that the flight instincts in these people, which would have saved their lives, were overpowered by a sense of complacence, a feeling that the government would take care of them rather than feeling that they could take care of themselves. i see this woman screaming on the news that if they die there in new orleans, it's because the state of lousiana let them die. but it just isn't true. they were ordered to leave the city, for crying out loud. looters abound, keeping what help is there from being effective as national guard members are diverted to stop looters. officials are trying valiantly to get everyone out of the drowning city of new orleans, and people don't seem to be helping the national guard help them by cooperating. i feel terrible for thinking this, but maybe they should just let these people go and get the people out that they can. let the looters have the city. it's mostly under water anyway. if they want to die for a bit of jewelry and electronics, let them. those businesses are mostly ruined already, as water continues to pour into new orleans. all of the people who are now dying in new orleans had the chance to save themselves. they could have gone to the superdome (which really wasn't a very effective shelter) or fled the city, but they sat back and claimed that they couldn't get there. i don't know if places other than mobile mobilized public transportation to get people out, but i still don't believe that the people who stayed and died in the areas destroyed by katrina just couldn't go anywhere else. could this be natural selection in action? getting rid of the people who are too lazy and dependent on the government to save themselves?

the people that i truly feel for are those who did evacuate and are now stuck in shelters because they've lost everything. i see all of this destruction in biloxi, where i have spent a fair amount of time in the past. the mississippi sea wolves, biloxi's local hockey team, have always been a great rival for the pensacola ice pilots, a team i've supported for many years, although this is my first season having a full season ticket package. now, i doubt that the sea wolves will play this season. their arena, the mississippi coast coliseum, is one of the few buildings still standing along the biloxi coast, but i just don't see how they're going to play. over the summer, deva and i went to biloxi for a showing of cats at the grand theater. the grand casino, which was basically attached to the grand theater, is no longer there. it was carried about a half mile from it's original location. the brand spankin' new hard rock hotel and casino, which was slated to become "our place" in biloxi this hockey season (you know, the place we went after hockey games), is totally smashed. only the guitar sign out front survived. there is a mcdonald's on the coast there where chad and i stopped almost every time we went to biloxi, and it is completely hollowed out - just a few posts holding up pieces of the roof. the landscape will never be the same. the city basically has to be completely rebuilt. biloxi is losing half a million dollars a day in revenue because none of the casinos are operational. this area is going to be very poor for a long time, i think, and it makes me very sad.

i also made a trip over to new orleans this summer, and that city will also never be the same. there is all this talk of pumping out the water and fixing the levees, but what's to stop something like this from happening again? the place is below sea level. the vast majority of the city is destroyed. why rebuild in a place like that? it marshland, for god's sake. these people already have to start over. why not do it in on more stable land? my heart goes out to these people. i don't know what i would do in their situation. sure my life has been disrupted by hurricane katrina, but no matter how much worse the damage in mobile is from katrina than from ivan, it is nowhere near as bad as that just to our west.