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And you're just sitting there....
Sunday, 7 October 2007

Back from the Grand Canyon...hopelessly behind in my statistics class...and suddenly tired all the fucking time.  At least my time away was good!  Now I just need to send off my samples so I have more isotope data to pretend like I know what to do with.

I think I'm pretty much done with this thing for awhile.  No one actually talks about anything I know or care about anymore (if they're talking at all).  I’m assuming this shit is the same.  If you really want to know what's going on with my life you can always call, email, or wait until we’re together in person again.


Posted by E at 07:25 MDT
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Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Getting ready to head out for 2+ weeks of research on the Colorado River!  I'm really looking forward to seeing the other side of the Grand Canyon.  Of course this means I'll be away from the "real" world (although I think the canyon is much more real than anything else I'd experience in our society today) until the end of the month.  So...stay safe.  I'll try to do the same.

Posted by E at 08:22 MDT
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Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Yeah, I'm still alive.  I'm having a hard time convincing myself that anyone still reads this thing and/or cares about what's going on.  Anyway, enough of that.  I'm putting off sorting my samples, so I guess that means it's time to update!

I'm a master!!!  It's been this ongoing process of little advances (thesis written, defended, edits, more edits, etc.) but I finally got the email from the graduate school that everything is complete and I should be expecting my diploma and bound thesis in the mail within the next month or so.  Now: more edits!  I'm getting ready to submit my thesis to a journal for publication, so that will take a little more tweaking before it's ready to go. 

Field work went well even though my summer tech was lacking a sense of personal safety that made things a bit too stressful.  I spent a week in Lander (near the Wind River Range) in Sinks and Red Canyons...most of this work was in collaboration with a larger project but I did collect some of my own data as well.  The nice thing is that I should be on lots of papers because of this project!  And I met some more great graduate students and professors in my field.  The field sites were full of rattlesnakes and I had to take my tech to the ER after he had a run-in with a cattle grate while on roller skis...but those were really the only low points.  I’ve been asked to visit the crew in Syracuse this spring and give a talk on some of work as well.  Not bad, eh?

The Tetons were amazing again, of course.  It’s great to go back each year and seeing old friends at the research station.  I did a lot of 24-hour sampling which left me very tired by the end of the month, but hopefully I'll have some interesting data to talk about and start thinking about my Ph.D. project this year.  I'm heading back to the Tetons with Robin tomorrow for  the last bit of my summer research.  Turns out I'll also be heading down to the Grand Canyon this September for a research float trip down the Colorado River!  I've been hoping for the chance to work on this project, so I'm super-excited about this opportunity.  Even if it does mean I'll miss 2 1/2 weeks of classes. 

So I just got back from the ESA (Ecological Society of America) Conference in San Jose, CA.  It was great to go to a non-aquatic meeting, and I couldn't believe how many people I ran into from old research projects at Emory, in Costa Rica, the IES FEE course, etc.  That was really cool.  I also got to run up to San Francisco to visit Kile - he was training with a dance company out there for the summer. 

As for other trips this fall: I'll be back in the Ridge to party hard the first weekend in November.  Thanksgiving will be in Madison, WI this year with Robin's family (his brother is a graduate student there).  And of course I'll be back for Xmas/NYEE/NYE goodness in TN!  I also have a $400 airline voucher to spend within the year (I opted to crash in Salt Lake City the other night on my way back from CA instead of driving up to Laramie at 2am thanks to cancelled, late and oversold flights) so I'm trying to think of where else I need to visit...any ideas?


Posted by E at 09:40 MDT
Updated: Wednesday, 15 August 2007 09:44 MDT
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Sunday, 10 June 2007

I survived my first NABS talk...I think I was probably more nervous about that presentation than I am about my MS defense! It makes it a little more high-pressure when all of the "rock stars" of aquatic biogeochemistry are sitting there in front of you. Even though I can't really remember giving my talk, everyone says it went really well, so I guess I'll just have to trust them on that! I'm pretty sure most of the people in my department won't even understand what I am talking about. Anyway, I met some amazing people, drank a lot of beer, and actually learned a few things about science before going out to drink more beer! And I remembered how much I don't miss the south in the summertime. Sure, the people are amazing and the magnolias and lilies were in bloom...but the humidity is just too damn much for me after living out west.

So I'm back in Wyoming now. Final edits go into the thesis goes back to my advisor for a last read-through on Monday...and then to my committee. I defend next Monday, and at this point I'm just ready for it to be over with! I still have masses of paperwork to deal with before leaving. What a pain in the ass. I just hope I'll be ready to leave for the field on the 22nd!

Posted by E at 08:44 MDT
Updated: Sunday, 10 June 2007 08:56 MDT
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Monday, 7 May 2007

Graduated? Yes. Master in Science? No.

Went through all of the crazy get-ups and processions since Mom decided to come in town and take lots of pictures. Seems kind of silly to do it before I'm actually finished, but I guess everyone assuming that there will be no problems with the defense is a good sign, right? Kicked off the graduation events with a gathering at our apartment and ended things with 6 inches of snow and a barn party. I love Wyoming....

Anyway, the big thesis defense date is 18 June. I'm missing my Oxford 5 year reunion and a trip back to the Ridge, but I guess I had to grow up sometime. I'll probably be laying low until I'm done with the defense, 2 conferences, and 2 research projects towards the end of August. Hopefully a trip up to Glacier will make its way in there somehow as well. Keep the good thoughts coming my way, something tells me this summer will require many.

Posted by E at 14:54 MDT
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Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Happy belated Earth Day! The "Cool City" campaign is off to a great start and I think the Mayor's Climate Agreement might actually get signed next week.... Not bad, for Laramie.

And I finally set a date! For the M.S. defense. So now I can at least have an end goal (instead of "sometime this summer"). So yeah, June 18th. Hopefully it'll go well. In the meantime, I have a lot of writing and bug-picking and graph-making to do.

I'm also planning a short collaboration with a few scientists from SUNY (I somehow became the metabolism expert, but I'll just thank my advisor and not complain). It's still in Wyoming...but the Wind River range instead of the Tetons. It'll be really nice to get involved with a new project in a different place. Now I just have to make sure that I hire someone ASAP so I can get all of my work done!

Eh, I think that's about it for now. Robin's out of town for the next few days so hopefully I'll get a good chunk of things finished up. Wish me luck (but hopefully I won't need it)!

Posted by E at 21:57 MDT
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Saturday, 14 April 2007

Peace Be With You, Kurt Vonnegut
by Harvey Wasserman

As the media fills with whimsical good-byes to one of America’s greatest writers, lets not forget one of the great engines driving this wonderful man—he HATED war. Including this one in Iraq. And he had utter contempt for the men who brought it about.Kurt Vonnegut was a divine spark of liberating genius for an entire generation. His brilliant, beautiful, loving and utterly unfettered novels helped us redefine ourselves in leaving the corporate America in the 1950s and the Vietnam war that followed.

Having seen the worst of World War II from a meatlocker in fire-bombed Dresden, Kurt’s Sirens of Titan, Cat’s Cradle, Slaughterhouse Five and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, cut us the intellectual and spiritual slack to seek out a new reality. It took a breathtaking psychic freedom to merge the interstellar worlds he created from whole cloth with the social imperatives of a changing age. It was that combination of talent, heart and liberation that gave Vonnegut a cutting edge he never lost.

Leaving us in his eighties, Kurt also leaves us decades of anecdotes and volumes of writings—and doodlings—about which to write. But lost in the mainstream obituaries—including the one in the New York Times—is the ferocity with which he opposed this latest claque of vicious war-mongers.

Vonnegut gave his last campus speech in Columbus. He and I met here many years ago, after another speech. Not knowing me from Adam, he was gracious enough to give me his home address.

Out of the blue, I sent him a book-length poem about the passing of my parents. I was shocked when he called me on the phone about it. I asked for his help in finding a publisher. He said to publish it on my own, and gave me advice on how to do it, along with a blurb for the cover.

From then on we talked by phone. His conversation was always friendly, funny, insightful. When last I asked him how he was, he replied: “Too fucking old!”

Last year, apparently on the spur of the moment, he agreed to speak again at Ohio State. It would be his last campus lecture.

When word spread, a line four thousand students long instantly formed at a university otherwise known only for its addiction to football.

Anyone expecting a safe, whimsical opener from this grand old man of sixties rebellion was in for a shock. “Can I speak frankly?” he asked Professor Manuel Luis Martinez, the poet and writing teacher who would “interview” him. “The only difference between George W. Bush and Adolph Hitler is that Hitler was actually elected.”

Holding up a book about Ohio 2004, he said: “You all know, of course, that the election was stolen. Right here.”

Explaining that this would he his “last speech for money,” Vonnegut said he couldn’t remember his first one. But it was “long long ago.

“I’m lucky enough to have known a great president, one who really cared about ALL the people, rich and poor. That was Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was rich himself, and his class considered him a traitor.

“We have people in this country who are richer than whole countries,” he said. “They run everything.

“We have no Democratic Party. It’s financed by the same millionaires and billionaires as the Republicans.

“So we have no representatives in Washington. Working people have no leverage whatsoever.

“I’m trying to write a novel about the end of the world. But the world is really ending! It’s becoming more and more uninhabitable because of our addiction to oil.

“Bush used that line recently,” Vonnegut added. “I should sue him for plagiarism.”

Things have gotten so bad, he said, “people are in revolt against life itself.”

Our economy has been making money, but “all the money that should have gone into research and development has gone into executive compensation. If people insist on living as if there’s no tomorrow, there really won’t be one.

“As the world is ending, I’m always glad to be entertained for a few moments. The best way to do that is with music. You should practice once a night.

“If you want really want to hurt your parents, go into the arts.” He then broke into song, with a passable, tender rendition of “Stardust Memories.”

By this time, the packed hall was reverential. The sound system, appropriately tenuous, forced us all to strain to hear every word.

“To hell with the advances in computers,” he said after he finished singing. “YOU are supposed to advance and become, not the computers. Find out what’s inside you. And don’t kill anybody.

“There are no factories any more. Where are the jobs supposed to come from? There’s nothing for people to do anymore. We need to ask the Seminoles: ‘what the hell did you do?” after the tribe’s traditional livelihood was taken away.

Answering questions written in by students, he explained the meaning of life. “We should be kind to each other. Be civil. And appreciate the good moments by saying ‘If this isn’t nice, what is?’

“You’re awful cute” he said to someone in the front row. He grinned and looked around. “If this isn’t nice, what is?

“You’re all perfectly safe, by the way. I took off my shoes at the airport. The terrorists hate the smell of feet.

“We are here on Earth to fart around,” he explained, and then embarked on a soliloquy about the joys of going to the store to buy an envelope. One talks to the people there, comments on the “silly-looking dog,” finds all sorts of adventures along the way.

As for being a Midwesterner, he recalled his roots in nearby Indianapolis, a heartland town, the next one west of here. “I’m a fresh water person. When I swim in the ocean, I feel like I’m swimming in chicken soup. Who wants to swim in flavored water?”

A key to great writing, he added, is to “never use semi-colons. What are they good for? What are you supposed to do with them? You’re reading along, and then suddenly, there it is. What does it mean? All semi-colons do is suggest you’ve been to college.”

Make sure, he added, “that your reader is having a good time. Get to the who, when, where, what right away, so the reader knows what is going on.”

As for making money, “war is a very profitable thing for a few people. Jesus used to be so merciful and loving of the poor. But now he’s a Republican.

“Our economy today is not capitalism. It’s casino-ism. That’s all the stock market is about. Gambling.

“Live one day at a time. Say ‘if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is!’

“You meet saints everywhere. They can be anywhere. They are people behaving decently in an indecent society.”

The greatest peace, Vonnegut wraps up, “comes from the knowledge that I have enough. Joe Heller told me that.

“I began writing because I found myself possessed. I looked at what I wrote and I said ‘How the hell did I do that?’

“We may all be possessed. I hope so.”

We were joined for after-speech drinks by the professor and several awe-struck graduate students. Kurt expressed an interest in renewable energy, so I sent him another book, and he called back with another blurb, and more advice on how to publish it.

We planned to have dinner. I wanted more than anything to introduce my daughters to him. But when I finally made it to New York, he was too ill. Now he’s gone. When a national treasure and a being of beauty like Kurt Vonnegut invites you to dinner, don’t make plans, hop on the next plane.

The mainstream obituaries are emphasizing Kurt’s “off-beat” career and the “mixed reviews” for his books. Don’t believe a word of them.

Kurt Vonnegut was a force of nature, with a heart the size of Titan, an unfettered genius who changed us all for the better. He was possessed of a sense of fairness and morality capable of inventing religions that could actually work.

Now he’s having dinner with our beloved siren of social justice, Molly Ivins, sharing a Manhattan, scorching this goddam war and this latest batch of fucking idiots.

It hurts to think about it. But we should be grateful for what we got, and all they gave us. So it goes.

Harvey Wasserman read Cat’s Cradle, Sirens of Titan and Slaughterhouse Five in college, sought Boku-Maru, and has never been the same. He writes at and

Published on Friday, April 13, 2007 by

Posted by E at 08:37 MDT
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Sunday, 1 April 2007

Sale Ends Today!
Wal-Mart pulls the plug on green initiatives

Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott, who announced a high-profile series of green corporate initiatives last year, has now ... taken them back. Citing high costs, Scott yesterday announced that Wal-Mart is canceling most of its sustainability programs, shifting its truck fleet back to diesel (from biofuels), shuttering its experimental hyper-efficient stores, and pulling organic products from its shelves. The only remaining evidence of Wal-Mart's much-ballyhooed green makeover will be -- you guessed it -- light bulbs. "We're keeping the compact fluorescents. Those are pretty cheap," said Scott. "The rest of the stuff we tried was too expensive. In the end, our customers value low prices more than sustainability, and at Wal-Mart, we listen to our customers."

straight to the source: The Wall Street Journal, Kevin Ryan, 01 Apr 2007

straight to the source: The New York Times, Dan Bogden, 01 Apr 2007

Posted by E at 17:44 MDT
Updated: Sunday, 1 April 2007 17:45 MDT
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Well, the Cowgirls won the WNIT championship, I restrained myself from buying a kayak at the outdoor gear swap, and I just had breakfast with fresh eggs obtained during chicken-sitting! Sushi night was a hit and we've been asked to make it a tradition. We consumed mountains of sushi last night (I knew Robin's 15+ pounds of sushi rice that he ordered through a work bonus would come in handy sooner or later)!

Now I just have to get back to work....

Posted by E at 10:16 MDT
Updated: Sunday, 1 April 2007 10:33 MDT
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Thursday, 29 March 2007

Ok, I lied. The university just closed. But considering I was knee-deep in snow during portions of my walk to school after lunch, I think it might make sense. Time to break out the snowshoes!

Posted by E at 16:14 MDT
Updated: Thursday, 29 March 2007 16:14 MDT
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