Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Need something weird for your experiment?

Ecologists often have to design some of their equipment for experiments and get creative with materials. I'm in the process of tracking down a few particular items for my next trip, and just found the most amazing website: http://www.mcmaster.com/
If you're like me, you might often have a picture in your mind of what type of thingamabob you need, but don't know what to call it. This website is full of pictures! Need something that looks like a u-bolt? Or special screws? Wire? Cable ties? Plastic mesh? Oh my gosh, this place has everything. This is waaaay better than wandering through Home Depot.
Thanks to Jon for tipping me off to this great resource. I love being married to such a handy man :-)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'm home

I made it home from Ukenzagapia in time for Thanksgiving, and had my first two completely work-free days since September! I'm basically back in the right time zone now.
I'm pleased with how things went this time, but I have so. much. work. to do here before I go back again... soon. Eek.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Step by step

Tomorrow three students from SFC will arrive and stay for 5 days. They'll each spend at least a day in the field with me, a day with Cam, and a day with Ian to get a taste of the different kinds of research. When they leave, I'll have six days left in the field, and then I'll leave the following morning for the city, where I'll spend 2 nights before I get a on plane to go home. Ai! I feel like I can barely keep up with everything that needs to be done in the field, yet I still have a long list of other things to deal with. Sometimes it's overwhelming. I just keep trying to do one thing at a time. What is the most important thing that I need to be doing now? Step by step...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Some stories from the field

-Through some kind of error in some database somewhere, by some omission or addition of zeros, I am paying less than $2 for 400 mb of internet. Normally this should cost at least $30.  As a result, I've been much more liberal with my internet use, averaging a whopping 18 mb per day. I'm so up on facebook. It's kinda weird.

-It has hardly rained since I arrived. This is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, it means that the roads are relatively fantastic. On the other hand, the rains are late, and that's not good for life in general.

-I saw a big gecko try to eat a small gecko. OMG geckos, please eat the insects in our house instead of cannibalizing your babies (and if you could not poop on my things I'd appreciate that too).

-Recently we had to go over a bridge under construction. They had laid down some big logs but hadn't put the planks on yet, so we had to walk the motorbike across the logs. Then we had to carefully maneuver past the trailer that was blocking the entire road. It's days like that when I am thankful to be on a motorbike instead of in a car, because we would've been SOL in a car. 

-I saw Mommy Dog get stuck butt to butt with Loverboy (her dog boyfriend) after what I thought was a failed attempt at mating. They were stuck together for at least 10 minutes. I didn't even know this was possible. My kind veterinarian friend explained it to me over email. Apparently it happens all the time- after a successful mating. I guess I haven't seen enough dogs mate.

-I think the likelihood of a person arriving late is correlated with the number of children they have at home. B has 4 kids at home (not 3 like he's been telling me all along) and T has 6 kids at home (and one more nearby in her own home with a child- which makes him a grandpa at 38!). T is late much more often than B, and it's usually related to a child being sick.

-I'm at the point now where I'm starting to think about the logistics of going home. What am I going to leave here in Ukenzagapia? Where will I leave it? What do I need to bring next time?

-I've barely gotten any rash at all from poison tree (knock on wood). Let's see how I hold up.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I'm so sick of writing grants

The title says it all. The summer before I started grad school, someone told me, "If you just apply for as many small grants as you can, you're bound to get something eventually." I took the advice to heart. I applied for a whole bunch of small grants and I got a bunch of small grants (and some fellowships). That's awesome. I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing without that support. What I regret now is not trying to apply for bigger money about a year ago. I've funded everything with a couple thousand dollars here and there, totally piecemeal. I've spent an inordinate amount of time keeping track of all of the expenses from the different pots of money (and then trying to get my university to actually give me the money...). Unfortunately, I'm not quite finished. I sent out a grant last week that will cover almost everything, but even if I get that I'll need a little bit more, and if I don't get that I'm not sure what I'll do.

If I'd known when I was applying to grad school what I know now, I think I might have tried harder to find an advisor who already had a big grant that could support at least some of my research. I guess I could've gotten in on Herb's big project, but I chose to strike out on my own. What was I thinking? I'm so sick of writing grants.