Sunday, January 29, 2012

Am I Sick?

I'm still coughing, and now I'm starting to wonder if it's allergies and not illness, or some combination. In the past when I've had this happen a week on Mucinex did the trick. I haven't taken it for a couple days, because I felt like it was getting better. I also used my netti pot last week and was really starting to feel better. Then yesterday I started coughing again. This is either a really persistent respiratory thing, or something in the air is trying to kill me.

I hope it's not the cat. There are several reasons I don't think it's the kitty though. I WAS beginning to feel better. It didn't start getting worse again until the other night where I was out at a loud bar yelling/talking a lot. The yelling seemed to bother my throat and I started having trouble breathing and the coughing picked up. Last night I was hanging around a bonfire and the smoke also seemed to really be bothering me. I don't feel any different when I'm away from the cat, and he's always in my face when I'm home. I feel like if it was the cat I'd feel worse during those time. So I have no idea. This is really beginning to be annoying.

The good news is that this doesn't appear to be affecting my ability to do my Nia class or run, provided I do it inside. I've been religiously using my inhaler for those activities too.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sick Start to the Semester

Well no sooner did classes begin did I catch a cold. I've been coughing up a lung all week. I've noticed a lot of people around me coughing, so I think there is probably something going around. At first I was worried that it was my allergies (new kitty), but then Matt started having a sore throat and post nasal drip too. I feel pretty confident now that I've been actually sick all week.

Aside from this minor health setback, the first week of school went pretty well. I like my classes so far, although I'm already anxious about Macroecology. We have two assignments, the first being a class project with very little guidance from the instructors. I'm a little nervous trying to work on something with 25 people, but it isn't due until April. The class is already trying to organize itself, and if we can pull it off we'll hopefully finish the semester with a paper we can submit to a journal for publication.

The rest of my classes just seem like they're going to be fun. My working group is also trying to reorganize ourselves to get back to writing our paper. We got an extension, and I've been trying to do more background reading. At the moment I don't feel competent enough to do much writing, but that will come eventually.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Introducing... Donut the Kitty Cat!

On Tuesday we finally brought home our new kitty from the lady who's been fostering him. Yes, I'm allergic to cats, but I'm more or less permanently on allergy medication because a) I'm allergic to a bunch of other things I can't avoid and b) most people I know have a cat or some kind of pet that would bother me if I wasn't on meds. I've always had a cat, or had room mates that have cats, and I just enjoy having one so much.

I've never owned a kitten before. Donut is about 7 months old and despite starting to get big, he's still very much a baby. You can tell he still had a lot of growing to do, his paws seem big and his tail is super long, about the length of his body. His behavior is also still very kitten like; his eyes have been dilated ever since we brought him home, and he is almost constantly in play mode (I've missed most of his cuddly moments because they seem to always happen when I'm at school). I will say, though, that he sat in my lap first. He adjusted remarkably quick, and seemed comfortable after only a few hours. He hasn't tried hiding from us or anything.

This is Donut back in December when we first saw him at PetCo, and before we decided we were definitely going to adopt him. He was already pretty big then, but I swear he seems smaller now.

Taken with the web cam on my new computer. Bad quality, but I'll try to get additional pictures of us together.

Matt took this one while I was at school. That's one content looking cat!
Like most cats, Donut has been waking us up at 5am. Between wanting to suck on my fingers, kneading, purring loudly, and climbing around he is both adorable and frustrating. I know he'll probably grow out  of the cuddlier behavior, and I'll miss it. I also realize this is just part of having a kitten and teaching it to behave in a certain way. Matt has been looking up ways to try and get him to not play bite or attack our feet while we're trying to sleep. As fun as I find under the blanket chase games, I prefer sleeping. He also seems to prefer sucking (nursing?) my hand, and hasn't really done that to Matt since we got him home.

Over all he's a sweet little boy, and I'm already pretty attached. He's absolutely adorable and a ton of fun. I'd say he's good about 90% of the time, and hasn't been destructive really. We're still trying to gauge how he's going to be with Allen the guinea pig, and we don't trust him yet. I think he was used to playing rough with other cats, and that would just be too much. I'm afraid he'd hurt Allen unintentionally, I don't necessarily think he would try and eat him. He does seem very curious about the guinea pig, and is a little freaked out by him too. That's pretty much to same reaction that my room mates' cats had in the past.

I'll try to keep my blog posts more PhD oriented, but my personal life I a huge part of my time here in NM. We'll see how having a new furry room mate will affect it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Another Beginning

I have a week until the semester starts. It's funny, I don't really see it coming anymore until right before it happens; my life revolves around so many different things that the beginning of classes just isn't as important to me anymore. I am looking forward to what's coming up, though. I'm registered for some really interesting courses, and I'm hoping to make this my most productive semester yet.

Over the next few days I'll be settling in before all the chaos starts and students return in droves. The fact that I'm not teaching means I don't have that anxiety associated with wondering what I'm going to teach, what my students will be like, and if I'll be able to manage it in addition to my own life. They really give the TA assignments too late to let the TAs prepare. I don't think the biology undergrads realize this. Sometimes we don't find out what class we're leading until only a couple days before hand. If we seem freaked out, it's probably because we are a little.

 Another new beginning is my resolution to take better care of myself from now on. I'm not so sure I accomplished that today: I went running, but my asthma started bothering me. I'm still coughing some, I think the cold air really is going to be a problem for a while. I didn't, however, have my inhaler so I'm going to try again next time by taking it a little before hand. That's what I would have normally done anyway. It was actually a pretty nice afternoon to be outside, in the mid 40's or so. I had lunch outside with a new friend, and it was pretty comfortable. Hopefully the next time I go running I won't end up coughing my lungs out. When school starts I'll be taking a dance class for exercise, and that will be inside. I'm hoping I can get a break from the end of winter and get into better shape, then when I do more outside my breathing will feel better. We'll see how that goes.

I'm trying to get things settled at home before my schedule gets too busy around here. I'm nearly unpacked from my trip. Allen is back from Socorro, and Dave did a very good job of taking care of him. I'm glad to have him back, I missed the little furball. Allen will also be getting a new friend tomorrow; Matt and I adopted a cat before break, and we're finally bringing him home. We were having him fostered until we got back so he wouldn't feel abandoned. We've decided to rename the him Donut. Right now the adoption agency is calling him Isaac, but we want to give him a brand new start. New home, new family, new name. I'm so excited to finally have him coming home.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ten Years?

I suppose the math works. I was reminded yesterday that this year will mark the 10th anniversary of my high school graduation. It doesn't seem possible, but sure enough, yeah that happened that long ago.

The whole reason I was reminded of this was that some folks are starting to plan the reunion. We didn't have a 5th year, so there is some anxiety about having this one be good. Here are my thoughts on the whole thing.

Will I go? I'm not sure yet. I graduated high school, kept in touch with the people I cared to, and moved on with my life. Only in very few instances did I ever look back: wishing I hadn't swooned so much over certain people, wishing I had paid more attention in math and history (I especially wish this now), wishing that I had practiced my instrument more... I know some people who LOVED high school, and it was the time of their lives. I have no particular affection for where I went to school, or for that time in my life, and frankly my life now is pretty good. My friendships were spread over many graduating years, so it's not like it will be a grand reunion of all my old buddies. Sure, I graduated with some of my friends, but many of the more lasting relationships I have now are with people who were a year or two ahead of or behind me. My favorite teacher is dead, although I know that few teachers would 1) be invited to this thing or 2) want to go to it.

Maybe it will be fun. Maybe it will be amusing. Or maybe I'll see that girl who was unkind to me, married with children to some rich doctor/lawyer/engineer. Where am I in life right now? I don't feel like I've been unsuccessful, I'm just taking longer to get to where I want and need to be. I can't relate to these people. I'm not married. I want kids, but not for another 4 years or so. Is it weird I'm still in school? I'm surrounded every day by people who are in the same "place" as me, but I realize this maybe isn't normal in the global population. This isn't how everyone else does it. I go on Facebook and see that a lot of people my age are married (some divorced) and have kids. Some are working on their second or third baby. I have two degrees, and I'm working on a third one. My plans have just been different.

I graduated from a class of about 330 people. Honestly, I would estimate that I've only interacted with about 3% of them in some form or another over the past 10 years, max. The rest I either don't know (in a school that big you just don't meet everyone) or am indifferent about. And it's not like I'm a snob, either. I have nothing to be snobby about. I know how some people viewed me back then, as sarcastic, loud, and opinionated. I have news for them: not much has changed, except that my opinions are now more developed, and I have an even lower tolerance for other peoples' BS. I suppose I'm slightly better about my own volume control.

I guess I'll see how this whole reunion thing develops, and then I'll make my decision. Timing would be a major determining factor. It would actually make me happy to see some people I've missed over the last decade.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Done? Really?

Seriously, this just in! The only thing standing between me and my book chapter is the consent form.
25 pages, 158 references, and 4 figures have been completed, corrected, and sent off to the editor as of this evening.

To celebrate, I bought a new laptop. My current one has been dying a slow death for the past two years, and it recently started sending me error messages about not recognizing the power adapter. That was the last straw. Just for the record, writing a book on a stodgy computer is hard. I don't recommend it.

I won't be making any money from this book, but the sense of accomplishment feels pretty good anyway. It's also not indexed, so the publication "technically" doesn't have the weight of a peer reviewed pub. But it's still something I can put on my CV. The blank area for publications will now have something there, and I'm relieved for that.

The name of the book is Paleoecology in Ecology and Conservation, my chapter (Ch. 6) is Paleoecology in an era of climate change: how the past can provide insights into the future

That's all I can say about it for now. Springer is publishing it, and I have no idea when it will come out in print, but rest assured that I will post that information as soon as I know it!

Cheers everyone. I'm off to enjoy the remainder of my break.