Thursday, July 29, 2010

Beer, and All is Well

Today and tonight have been shaping up alright. Becky came over this morning and took 2+ giant bags of food with her, so there is less in that department to deal with. I was shocked last night when I saw how much food was in our house that we weren't going to use: two big sets of plastic 3-drawer storage bins. Absolutely nuts. I guess that's what happens when you are the last person to move out of a place, you get left with everyone's unwanted stuff to deal with, and they get off not having to worry about it. At any rate, all the Asian-type foods have found a good home, but I'm still trying to pass off two bags of brown sugar, some liquor, and oils and vinegars, amongst other things.

I'm STILL trying to sell some furniture. My travels around the country came at a horrible time, because I could have really used that time to try and par down my belongings. But, I'm glad I went out to SoDak, so I can't complain.

Dinner tonight should be good. It's a good restaurant, and we'll have a party of 8. I'm bummed most people couldn't make it, but in reality, any more people than that gets a little ridiculous and it's hard to have conversations. Lunch with Jess today was great, I'll miss her a lot. But, she hopes she can get out to visit which would be awesome. Tomorrow I have another lunch date scheduled with a few people, and it'll be good to see them before I go as well.

I'm about to start the daunting task of clearing out my book cases. I have beer in hand, and some smaller boxes, so I'm ready.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Back To Civilization, Back To Packing

Yesterday evening I returned from our annual field season in the Black Hills. We got in rather later than I expected, in part because we spent the night further away than initially planned, and we had troubles getting on the road early and keeping our gear strapped to the roof of the van. Getting in late interfered with my evening plans a bit. One of my good friends moved to Alabama this morning, and last night was her last in State College. I initially had plans to have dinner with her, but that fell through once I realized I wouldn't be able to go out until after 8pm. So, instead of dinner, I had to settle for meeting her for a drink, which wasn't a bad thing, I would have just liked to spend more time with her before she took off.

The ride back from South Dakota was long and tiring, but I'm pretty well satisfied with how the field season went as a whole. We had more stuff and more people coming back than it did going out, and we worked some kind of magic that defied basic principles of physics and packed in more stuff than should ever go into a maxi van. If you consider the fact that some dead animals came back with us (they rode on the roof) along with a few hundred pounds of sediment and gear, it's a miracle we fit people in there.

I'm realizing more and more that it is well enough time for me to be moving on. My adviser has a new student that requires more attention than me, there new undergrads who are getting all the new and exciting experiences, and I feel like an old fart who has hung around for too long. I need something fresh and new, and I'm ready to move.

I'm excited, anxious, and yet somewhat sad about moving. I'm trying to coordinate a group dinner before I leave, but it doesn't seem to be working out. Apparently the only good night for me to have dinner is terrible for everyone I know. I've gotten no positive responses on dinner for Thursday, but I do have some alternate lunch plans that will hopefully make up for it. I realize people are busy and have a lot going on, and I'm trying to be mature about it and not take it personally. On the other hand, I am moving across the country and won't be seen for a very long time. Some people get surprise going away parties, or dinners thrown for them, etc. etc. Not me. I'm the kind of friend who organizes nice things for others, not the other way around.

I'm trying really hard to not let disappointment get the better of me. I don't want to leave any loose ends with friends, so to speak. Maybe dinner plans will work out, and tomorrow night I'll feel much better, and I'll be more positive about moving on.

Tonight's goal is a fairly straight forward one. I need to get the food in my pantry sorted out into one of the following categories: not mine (and let the owner of said food deal with it), eat this now, give away, or throw away.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Field Work, Glorious Field Work

Once again, I found myself spending a large chunk of my summer in South Dakota. Over the past six years, I've been coming out looking for fossils in caves, which involves climbing around in the dark, trecking through hot nothingless, screen washing, and countless hours of staring at tiny little bones.

This years trip involved less caving on my part, and more screen washing and bone picking. Which is fine as far as I'm concerned. I also spent some time sight seeing and saw some really neat stuff: prong horn, prairie dogs, bison, various snakes, and burrowing owls. I don't have any pictures of the owls or me holding a snake, but I can get them from people eventually and put them up here.

I did manage to get very close to some bison (from the safety of my vehicle). Now, let me add a caveat: under no circumstances should anyone approach bison. They are NOT cows, and will pummel you if you get too close. The number one cause of death in many parks are a result of people making this mistake. However, I was in a car, and they were all over the road, and you can't really help that. I saw two young males sparring, and several calves, so it was a really cool experience.

The road went right by a wallow, hence the large number of bison. This was also the location I saw a family of burrowing owls (2 adults, 3 chicks). These owls, contrary to their name, don't actually burrow into the ground. Rather, they live in old prairie dog dens, so the best way to find them is to look for prairie dog towns.

During my South Dakota adventures, we (the students and other researchers) usually give a presentation that is open to the public so we can tell them about what we've been up to. This year we had 5 people give mini talks on the Black Hills and our current research. Three of the talks were directly about the Black Hills and the cave excavations. Another was on how animals become fossils in cold climates. The last talk was on sloth teeth and what they ate. This talk had nothing to do with our field work, but was interesting none-the-less.


The night of the presentations came at the end of a very exciting day; however, exciting isn't always a good thing. We had gotten some rain the night before, the road up to the cave was muddy and our van wouldn't make it. We turned back, went into town, and tried to contact the people already up at the cave. When we finally did get ahold of them, we learned that the generator opperating the winch had broken down, and one of the volunteers was stuck down in the big cave (40ft under ground). Other people at the site did pull him out, which just proves that our emergency system for extracting people does, in fact, work.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I have An Apartment, Yay!

The apartment search was successful!

We ended up looking at four places, but the place we ended up picking had most of what we were looking for, and fit best into our budget. My share of the rent will be less than 1/3 of my income, I can keep my guinea pig, and Tim the manager (also the property owner) lives in the complex (as does the maintenance guy). 50% of the residents are graduate students, so hopefully it will be pretty quiet. I'm also on a bus line that takes me to school, and it is free to students.

I'm also pleased because the apartments are clean and Tim is serious about keeping things nice looking and keeping troublesome people out.

I don't have any pictures, but when we move in I'll take some shots once our stuff is situated. Matt and I are committed to making the place cozy and comfortable, like a home. I'm sick of bare walls!

Our next stop is the field, so my next post will be all about South Dakota.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Apartment Hunting: The Arrival

The one hour flight to Baltimore followed by the four hour flight to Albuquerque went smooth enough. No hickups what-so-ever. The only thing that got me concerned was when I checked in at the e-Ticket kiosk, I didn't get a boarding pass and had to get it at the gate. I also got confused and thought my flight was at 7:20, when actually it was at 7. No worries though, I got a boarding pass and a seat, no problem. Despite not being able to sit next to Matt, we were near each other enough to talk and share food, so that wasn't a big deal either.

Car rental, also no problems there. By the way: I hate the Chevy Cobalt, it makes a disconcerting ticking noise outside when you turn off the car. Also, I don't know why, but every time I've rented one of these cars, the seat and steering wheel are perfectly aligned so that you can't see the gas gauge OR the speedometer. The price is right however, <$80 for 4 days.

Hotel: no problems there either. Got it on Priceline, and it was already paid for.

Upon picking up the rental car, Matt and I promptly got New Mexican food at El Patio (that is Spanish for "the patio"). I had a sopapilla stuffed with carne adovada (dubbed a carne adovada stuffie). By 2:30, my mouth was happily burning with the flavors of NM green chili sauce and meat marinated in spicy peppers.

Then I took a much needed nap and looked at rental properties.

More adventures to come.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Moving/Making a Mess

There's one week left before I figure out where I'm living in August, followed by a long trek to the field. Mouse and Dave get back some time tomorrow or Monday, and I'm praying the house is in better shape than it is currently.

I have a lot of things in boxes already: most of my clothes, some books, dishes, most of my glassware. I posted my second item for sale on Craigslist this evening, a large storage cabinet, and more things will follow. My Craigslist posting. I wanted to have a yard sale this weekend, but that didn't work out. I have a few large items that need to be sold, but those will probably do better on Craigslist anyway. The major thing is the china cabinet, there's no way I'm lugging that that New Mexico, I don't even know why it is still here in the first place. I'll also need to come up with a creative way to get rid of some old clothing (mostly sweaters).

Tomorrow is another day filled with packing and cleaning. Right after church and Mexican food.