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

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I Had No Idea You Were Such a Big Deal

that's what i told dr. v. in an email this afternoon. his reply? "U DIDN'T KNOW I WAS A BIG DEAL? geesh!" i wrote back saying that i am now suitably awed by his greatness. the whole exchange was pretty funny.

so, it's been quite a while since i last wrote anything on this blog. in my defense, i was in atlanta from wednesday until today at the benthic ecology meeting. i have to say, my talk was a smashing success. i'm not sure if i've mentioned the god of marine chemical defenses, of whom i am very afraid, but i've spent the last week or so obsessing over what he would think of my work. and as it turns out, that son of a bitch didn't even show up to my talk. i was kind of pissed, particularly because dr. v. told him about me and insinuated that the god of marine chemical defenses should come to my talk. but the god of marine chemical defenses is a jerk, which is no surprise. i've heard that from many, many people. which is why i was so damn worried that he would completely rip me apart. he definitely would if he knew that i am planning to do an experiment that questions some of his methods and that i plan on publishing this work. but he doesn't know that. he DOES, however, know that i am terrified of him, thanks to my big shot advisor.

you see, i told dr. v. that i wanted to talk to the god of marine chemical defenses, but i was too scared to do it on my own, so i wanted him to introduce me. after that, i went off to listen to some talks, and when i saw dr. v. later on he informed me that he'd talked to the god of marine chemical defenses and that he'd told this guy that i wanted to talk to him but i was terrified. that's the word he used. terrified. geez.

anyway, i never actually talked to this guy (other than exchanging 'hi's when i passed him in the hall), but kelly did one night while she was drunk. she called him a god. i think he liked it. we both got a chance to tag team another pretty famous marine chemical defense guy, though. he did come to my talk. and he said it was amazing. well, he didn't actually use the word "amazing" but i could tell that's what he really thought ;) actually, he said my talk was really good and that it had crossed his mind to try some of the stuff i am but he hadn't had the time or whatever. he also said that i should contact him if i want to bounce ideas off him or have questions or anything, so that was very cool. i had an intelligent conversation with a guy i've cited more times than i can count, and i was really proud of myself.

i actually knew that dr. p. (the chemical defense guy that i did talk to) had come to my talk because i saw him and a few other famous people there. but instead of freaking me out, seeing all those big names listening to my talk kind of excited me. i was pretty awesome, if i do say so myself.

i saw some really great talks at the conference, and i was really surprised at how young a lot of the big names in marine ecology seem. i went in quite a few absolutely packed rooms to see some of these guys and gals talk about their work. i was also surprised at the number of people who showed up to dr. v.'s and ken's talks. i don't know why, but i never realized how big a deal those guys are until i noticed the sheer numbers of people clamoring to listen to their talks. it was amazing. i guess working so closely with these guys and hanging out (and drinking kind of a lot) with them i never really got the typical big shot jerk vibe, so i never think about the number of publications they have or how many times people have cited them. but now that i recognize how respected these guys are i feel sort of privileged to work with them.

i also met the new master's student who is coming into our lab in the fall. i was the first person to tell him he was accepted, and when i first talked to him he didn't seem so sure he was going to choose DISL for grad school. we hung out for a while, though, and some of my people went to the georgia aquarium (whale sharks, yay!) with him and some of his people from richmond, and then we all went out to dinner. by the end of the night, he was telling me that he hopes he can move down to the island this summer. so i like to tell myself that i had a hand in firming up his decision to join our lab. he's actually a really cool guy, and i had fun hanging out with him... even though we ran into a creepy drunken crazy guy getting on the subway.

see, the georgia aquarium is weird and you have to buy tickets for a certain entrance time, and they tend to sell out early. so nate (my future labmate), nate's friend colin, and i went ahead of everyone else to buy tickets while the rest of the group was listening to some other talks they really wanted to see. we were told that the aquarium was too far from georgia tech (where the conference was) to walk, so we took the subway. well, while we were buying tickets, this old drunk guy came up and started to talking to us. but we could only understand about 25% of what he said. it was creepy. nate kept him busy while colin and i were getting our subway passes, but then he came RIGHT UP BEHIND ME, like uncomfortably close, and squeezed through the subway thing without paying. it was creepy. nate said he was afraid the guy was going to try and follow me onto the train, but thankfully he didn't. when we were safely away from the creepy guy, i told nate and colin that i was really glad that i was with boys and not just alone with my friend molly. anyway, we got there and bought tickets successfully, and it turns out that it takes about 25 minutes just to walk there from GA tech, so the whole uncomfortable subway situation could have been avoided all together. geez.

overall, i think this was a very productive conference for me (even though the banquet i paid $55 for was LAME). some influential people have now seen what i can do, and they seemed suitably impressed. kind of like dr. v. and ken were the first time i gave a talk at this meeting (in 2004). but back then i had no idea that i should be so flattered by their approval. i now realize how fortunate i am to be working with these guys. it seems sort of like a draft to me. like the nhl draft, perhaps. the big name profs are like the teams that are taking the draft picks (students like me who go to conferences young and show off their mad skills). and because dr. v. and ken thought so highly of me in my 'draft year' i wound up in a perfect situation with limitless opportunities. like i'm a top 5 pick or something. yeah, thinking about things that way definitely makes me feel special and appreciate my place in the world of marine ecology.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

A Whirlwind of Messed Up Activity

most of you can tell that my life has been both busy and very stressful for the last week and a half, thus the lack of updates on what's been going on. things have returned to a somewhat normal state for me today, so i have a little time to let the world know what's been going on.

you can tell from my last couple of posts (not 'fuck you, biron!') that i've been a little sad, a little guilty, and a lot stressed out. well, chad and i went to philadelphia (obviously), and i surprised myself by having an amazing time, despite the cloud that's been hanging over my head lately. i felt really bad when we left wednesday morning, but when we arrived in philly i was able to sort of put things out of my mind. of course, i talked to my mom every day we were there (a couple times one day), and i felt a little better when we were able to get an earlier flight home on saturday, so we got into pensacola at 4:00 instead of 6:00. my granny's wake was saturday night, so chad and i went straight there after we picked up my car. the funeral was sunday afternoon in atmore, so we went home saturday night (i had no appropriate clothes with me, just jeans and t-shirts, which mom assured me would be ok for the wake) then drove back to atmore sunday.

sunday turned out to be a huge fiasco. the funeral went off as well as a funeral can, i guess. my mom was really upset, of course, and i'm kind of worried about her because she still seems to be taking all of this very hard. harder than any of her four siblings, particularly her three brothers. after the funeral, we were all going back over to my granny's house (where my uncles are staying because it's the only place with enough room for everyone, and there are things that need to be taken care of) for dinner. people do that, i guess. you know, have a reception after a funeral. i expected to go over there, people would bring food (which they did), we would eat and be sad and remember granny. we were in her house, after all.

that is not what happened. my family is so freakin' screwed up, i can't even believe it. they (meaning my uncles, cousins, and a couple of family friends) acted like whole thing was a huge party. my mom and i (and the rest of my immediate family) were appalled. who does that? seriously. they made a freakin bonfire and bought cases upon cases of beer. my aunt had sent a couple of my teenage cousins out to by ice so we would have enough for everyone for dinner, and when they returned one of my uncles proceeded to pour the ice over the beer, which they'd decided to store in 5-gallon buckets. it was insane, guys, and completely inappropriate. we were absolutely shocked at what was going on, and chad and i took off right after we ate, because i couldn't stand to look at what was going on around me. my aunt jo (my mom's sister) didn't come over there because she wasn't feeling well. shortly after chad and i left, my mom and sister went over to see jo for a while and left the rest of them to their disgusting party. my brother left around the same time chad and i did.

my mom is very stressed right now, not to mention still grieving. my uncle roger is the executor of my granny's will, and he's acting like he's just going to take over the house and all of the land and move right in, which is completely unfair to everyone. my mom's and my aunt jo's names are on all of my granny's bank accounts, and no one but them can take the money out of her checking and savings accounts and her 4 CDs. my uncles keep trying to get them to take the money out right now and divide it up (which is fair), but my mom doesn't want to do that until she knows that the property will be dealt with fairly as well. really, the only fair thing to do is sell the place (for which they can get at least $450,000) and divide the money among the 5 of them. but my uncles are acting like they don't want to do that, and roger is already talking about just moving in and giving the trailer they live in now in central florida to his oldest son. so right now roger and his wife elaine are basically living in my granny's house and expecting my mom to pay all the bills out of granny's accounts. i told mom last night that she needs to call all the utility companies and have everything cut off immediately. then if roger wants to turn everything back on, it will be in his name. they need to do that anyway, no matter what the plans are.

i think mom and jo are going to talk to a lawyer because everything is so screwed up. they are the beneficiaries on granny's life insurance, and my uncles are saying that they have to split that up, too. i told mom not to give them a dime of it because life insurance is not part of the estate, and only the beneficiaries have a claim to it. i hope she does talk to a lawyer today, or she's going to get royally screwed over by her brothers in all of this, particularly if roger thinks he's just going to keep the house and all of the land (about 180 acres or so).

ok. time to stop ranting and do some lab work. i'll try to write a post about the philly trip soon.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Fuck You, Biron!

that's what some guy in our section shouted at the end of the flyers game last night. because the loss was all his fault. i've never seen this before, but he scored on himself. can you believe that? has anyone else ever seen a goalie score in his own net? i can now say that i have. and it was martin biron in philadelphia on march 8, 2007. and to make matters worse, that turned out to be the game winning goal for florida. wtf?

so, other than scoring on himself, biron and the rest of the flyers played a pretty good game. it was entertaining, though the loss was sad. some fans got in a fight in the stands (2nd time i've seen that at a flyers game, though the first time was in atlanta), and r.j. umberger prevented florida from scoring the game-winner on their own (the puck was on the goal line behind biron when umberger swooped in and pushed it back underneath the goalie). chad and i were amused at the intro before the game. when they were announcing florida's starting lineup, the fans shouted "sucks!" after every player's name. that was pretty funny. then at the end when joni pitkanen was skating the puck into the florida end with about 10 seconds left, we were amazed at hearing about 15,000 people all shouting "shoot, goddammit!" in unison. so the game wouldn't have been so bad if biron hadn't scored that goal for florida.

i took hundreds of pictures in philly, and i'll try to post some later. no time at the moment.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What's a Girl Supposed to Do?

phone calls in the middle of the night are never good, and last night when my phone rang at 11:30, i immediately expected bad news. but for some reason it still came as a shock. my granny died last night. she had a major heart attack, and she wasn't strong enough to survive it.

we thought she was getting better. there was talk of releasing her from the hospital soon, and they had moved her out of ICU. my mom returned home sunday night, and now she feels incredibly guilty and is taking this very hard. they're planning to move my granny back down here for the funeral. no word yet on when that will be.

my mom keeps telling me to go ahead and go to philadelphia and not to worry about everything, but i feel so damn guilty about it. i wish i knew something about when the funeral will be. i hate funerals. hate them. but this is one that i feel a strong sense of obligation to go to. my granny has been there my whole life, and she always seemed so strong. i can't really get my ahead around the fact that she's just not going to be there anymore.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

Updates from the Homestead

so, i should be practicing my talk for the conference tomorrow (i ran through it a couple of times yesterday, and i finally got it down to 12-13 minutes), but instead i find myself doing laundry, contemplating my taxes, and of course blogging. i really need to do my taxes today. here's hoping chad and i don't owe $700 like last year.

anyway, my mom ended up driving to south carolina thursday morning because my aunt and uncle up there told her they were moving my granny's surgery up to friday. but the open heart surgery didn't happen friday, and apparently it is not going to happen. because my granny wouldn't make it through the operation. also, they found out that not only are three arteries in her heart blocked, but both her carotid arteries are blocked as well. so instead of risking the bypass surgery, they just put stents in her heart, but they're leaving the carotids alone for at least another two weeks to give her time to recover and regain some strength after the surgery to put the stents in. so right now, because of the blockages in her carotids, she's at high risk for a stroke, but they don't want to put her under anesthesia too many times or for too long because they're afraid she won't come out of it. i talked to mom last night, and she said that the doctors are planning on releasing my granny from the hospital in the next couple of days, even though they have no plans to move her out of intensive care. that seems really weird to me.

but anyway, the doctors in SC said my granny can come home and have the other surgery done down here in a couple of weeks, she can stay and have it done up there, or she can come home and then go back up there and have the other surgery done so that the same doctors will be working on her. i don't know what her plans are yet. my mom said she wasn't really talking that well because of the drugs they've got her on. my uncle is being really insensitive about the whole thing. he keeps on saying things to my mom like, "you need to take her back down with you because i don't want her dying on me." you'd think he'd be concerned about what's best for his mother and not thinking what an inconvenience it would be for him if she died. my mom's kind of pissed about it.

i feel sort of guilty about going to philadelphia in the midst of all of this, and i have to admit that i've thought things over the past couple of days that i'm ashamed of (for example, "i hope granny doesn't die this week because that would screw up my trip to philly." i'm such an ass sometimes.). but at the same time, i'm really excited about going, which makes the guilt worse. and then i find myself thinking about the money (the non-refundable money) we've spent on this trip already, and then i feel even guiltier. ugh.

so, chad and i should be on time for the pilots game tonight (he's working the booth for his company at the home and garden show downtown today), but we'll definitely be late tomorrow. like, arriving in the 2nd period late. see, i have that conference on dauphin island tomorrow, and i can't leave until at least 4:00, which means i'll get home around 5, so we won't get to the game until around 6:15-6:30.

ok, that's all i care to say right about now, so i'm outta here.