Thursday, December 27, 2007

Where I am

Nothing I really want to talk about--I've become convinced, through recent occurrences, that the universe is really in favor of me growing a backbone. If you're one of the people in the know on stuff, then don't post comments with tidbits of information. Everyone, I hope you enjoy these pictures...


This one is of a canyon near my mom's house.



My mom and Flash, my dog.



Snow outlining contours on red cliffs.


More of the same snow and red rocks.



Junipers against the sunset.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Impeaching Cheney...

Dennis Kucinich, that belovedly leftist and totally unelectable political maverick, has issued a call to the House of Representatives: Impeach Cheney! Pressure, of course, must come from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has allegedly said that she will do so only if she receives 10,000 handwritten letters. I can't find anything other than rumors online, but if you believe it matters greatly, then hey, it's worth a shot, and if you believe it doesn't matter in the least (based on your political stance, how long the bugger has left in office, etc), then why not do it and see if we can stir up some interesting, mudslinging partisan news? Poke it, see if it jumps. Why not?

Address:
Rep. Nancy Pelosi,
U.S. Congress/District Office,
450 Golden Gate Ave., 14th Floor -
San Francisco, CA 94102

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Worth it? I think not.

I'm tired of it.

I'm tired of betrayal upon betrayal, tired of being taken for granted, tired of keeping the peace, keeping a level head, keeping other people's secrets. Tired of being considered a Great Person, if this is where it gets me. I don't want to be a person someone feels blessed to have as an acquaintance; I want to be a passable person, someone for whom you don't need to pour out regard, affection, concern, and enthusiasm. I want to be base enough to be allowed to slither in and out of acquaintanceship without any large-amplitude emotional anything. I don't want to have to reciprocate this level of regard and intensity in a situation that only tightens my throat and leaves me almost shaking with repressed sharpness. This wish extrapolates nicely.

I don't want to be the one who cleans up the puke from the drunken asshole because I'm that Good of a Person, doing it because I really believe it's the Right Thing. I don't want to be the one who loves people in general so much that I am totally willing (even pleased) to stay up with a person I don't know and have only neutral feelings for just to empty the puke bucket and say kind words. So why did I do it? Well, because I don't like being sick alone, because I don't like feeling alone and forgotten, and because it seemed like the good thing to do--but the truth is, I wouldn't accept the same thing from any of them.

If I were drunk and sick, I would chase them away and crawl under a bush to prove to myself exactly how miserable it could get, and then hold it against them that I do not trust them enough to let them (hypothetically) care for me. And I'd say I liked the cold air, that it made me feel better, refuse even a blanket. Judge me for my stubbornness--I dare you. Better to be too fierce, shivering under a bush in the rain than inside letting yourself get emotionally ripped to pieces by someone who is the spiritual equivalent of what comes out from the sewer when it rains.

I'm tired of making an effort to be Honorable and Trust People, tired of the high road (or striving for it), tired of being a moderate, respected. Tired of being Listened To, but frustrated that people don't actually Listen. They just argue. Or they discount. They profess to listen, tell me they're hearing what I say...I do not want to be the world's confidante, and I have not the courage (?) to turn some of them away.

I'm tired of striving to be the Good Kid and the One Who Rises Above It All, because what does it get me? It doesn't acquit me of blame in situations where I honestly hold myself blameless--I can expend as much effort as I want, and it won't matter, because I still won't be Good Enough, because I won't be able to slip through life without reacting emotionally to words meant to hurt me. I'm tired of feeling like I'm at some sort of fault for permitting myself to feel hurt, or put-upon, or anything but calm. Tired of this impossible standard of maturity--no matter how much I work at it, every time I succeed, the bar just ups to the sky. I've already grappled my way up--but there's this heinous double-standard that automatically equates me with the least mature, least kind person simply because, for example, he's my brother. He hasn't bothered to learn to be a human being, he hasn't bothered to learn to be kind, or compassionate, or honorable, and yet somehow it's me, equally culpable, that is to blame for him chasing me out of the house with ugliness and shouting.

Tired of trusting people in general, because when I do, invariably, the people who are most important to me decide that because I am plastic, organic, I somehow must be an invertebrate. And when I demonstrate myself to have a backbone in a way other than theoretical, it's not a Good Thing--it's a reason for them to throw me away. If I take the moral high road and respond to vague, unbased ad hominem attacks, responding with affection and apology, then suddenly I've Admitted that I Am In The Wrong. If I don't, then instead of the garbage bin via ensuing discussion, it's just the garbage bin, pronto.

For some reason, I continue to love people, and I hate that I do. I'm emasculated from saying most things in this stupid blog simply because of Who Might Read It. I'm tired of not being able to count on people, tired of this stupid, stupid University, tired even of my House. I do not want to be the Secret Keeper, the Strong Person. I want to be left Alone, under my bush, until I'm good and damn ready to come out. I want to wait until everyone stops training their missiles and rotten tomatoes on me, and I want to be taken at face value for the crabby, crochety, ass that I try to be simply so that they will all leave me Alone. I want to have people find me valuable when they are in something other than crisis situations, and I want to have a reason to believe that there are people who can actually be counted on to not always say the wrong thing during a crisis of mine. People who can be counted on to not eternally mess up the art of interaction. People who not only understand the basic precepts of Listening, but who can employ them without seeming stuffed, and don't make me feel like I'm therapisting myself with their face on it.

And I want my roommate to stop trying to mother me every chance she gets. I have obviously made it this far feeding, clothing, and caring for myself. If I do risky things, clearly I still possess all my limbs and various accoutrements...in short, I obviously have some modicum of good judgment. And it's so frustrating to feel like people think they can just get in my life and tell me what to do; I know they care, but I just want SPACE!!!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Winter Where- and Whenabouts

Hi, all.

So I've got a flight home for Christmas, a flight back ON New Year's Eve, and then also flights to and from Kenya. All that remains is to get bus tickets for sometime to get off (and then back on) campus.

My winter schedule looks like this:

12/14---get ride down to NYC, stay with Andrew (yay!)

..........US Airways Flight 17
..........Departs JFK 5:52 pm
..........Arrives PHX 9:54 pm

..........US Airways Flight 2926
..........OPERATED BY US AIRWAYS EXPRESS-MESA AIRLINES
..........Departs PHX 10:49 pm
..........Arrives DEN 12:40 am

12/16-12/29---in Grand Juction with Parental Units, Sibling Unit and Pet Units
12/30: back in Denver with Dad
12/31:

..........Continental Airlines Flight 1510
..........Departs DEN 6:00 am
..........Arrives IAH 9:23 am

..........Continental Airlines Flight 730
..........Departs IAH 10:30 am
..........Arrives JFK 2:59 pm

Stay with Kaitlin!!!!!! Hanging out with Kate and Miriam!!!

1/1/08---Fly to Kenya via Amsterdam!!!

KLM Flight 642 JFK to AMS (New York to Amsterdam)
..........Depart JFK 6:00pm 1/1/08
..........Arrive AMS 7:45am 1/2/08

KLM Flight 4141 AMS to NBO (Amsterdam to Nairobi) OPERATED BY KENYA AIRWAYS
..........Depart AMS 8:45pm 1/2/08
..........Arrive NBO 7:20am 1/3/08

1/3-1/18---In Kenya, doing and learning wonderful, wonderful things!

1/18---
..........KLM Flight 566 NBO to AMS (Nairobi to Amsterdam)
..........Depart NBO 11:10pm 1/18/08
..........Arrive AMS 5:30am 1/19/08

1/19---
..........KLM Flight 643 AMS to JFK (Amsterdam to New York)
..........Depart AMS 6:10pm 1/19/08
..........Arrive JFK 8:10pm 1/19/08

Staying with Andrew the Stalwart, unless I'm too smelly.

1/20---bussing or getting a ride? back to Cornell Campus
1/21---classes start again (oof)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Greetings from the Other Side

I made it through the week--not sure how well (or poorly) I performed on the prelims, but the paper came through just shining, so that's all right.

Yesterday was a wonderful day, because:

*It was Friday

*It was sunny, for part of the day, and rainy for another part (yay weather!)

*I had a really great Peace Corps interview
*to which I wore my own business casual clothing
*and to which I rode my bike wearing high heels (yeah, that's right)

*I fixed the brakes on my bicycle

*I went to the nice grocery store with my housemate named Kate
*and we got nice things with which

*We made four awesome pizzas and

*A lot of green (Ask Ding and Emily why) whipped cream with which we

*Ate Famous Tar Cake

*We then had a small singing party that was truncated by the fact that

*We had an awesome rough-housing / wrestling match all over the downstairs for about an hour (some of us are really sore, now).

*I talked to both of my parents on the phone


Peace Corps Interview went really well (as in, quite well), and here is where things stand, now:

My last recommender has to submit his letter, and I have to fill out two addendum forms (one for being in a relationship and one for being a vegetarian, that the first won't become problematic over the Peace Corps, and that the second can change based on where I serve) which I will receive via e-mail and return via e-mail to the recruiter here. Then, all of my papers will go to the NYS regional office, and we will wait for November.

November is when Nomination can start happening--for those of you who don't know (so basically, everyone but my parents) is when they assign you to a program. The rest of the process goes like this:

* Your recruiter looks at the programs you're eligible for (region, sector, and leave-date), and then gives you a single option.

* You either "take" or "leave" the option. In the case of "leave", the recruiter then picks a different one, and this loop continues until you either become such a thorn in their side that they put you on the back burner (that takes a lonnng time), or you find a program in which you'd like to serve.

* You accept your nomination ("taking" the option), they send your paperwork down to Washington D.C., and they send you a big packet of medical forms to fill out, dotting every "i" and crossing every "t". This is often the most delay-full part of the process.

* Once your medical stuff is in and processed, as far as I know, they then send you the Big Fat Envelope with the country of your assignment and the exact thing you'll be doing [if you're a teacher, which sciences you'll be teaching--Life (Bio, Geography, Basic-Geology-type stuff), or Physical (Chemistry, Physics, and Math)], and what level of education you'll be teaching, and you will also then know your leave date to within a couple days (they reserve the right to move it around on you within a few days).

After that, it's a matter of getting ready to go, and finishing up school.

So, some answers you might want:

Why November?
Because I'm applying so early, they don't actually know the availability and etc. of the programs they'll have in January, 2009--they will know these things in November, which is why it is very cool that I am applying so early--my application will be front-loaded (my term for being totally ready to be processed as soon as programs become available)--which ultimately means I'll have first choice of programs (or, rather, my recruiter will have first choice when he chooses the one he thinks is 'best' for me).


What's a Sector, and what's a Region?

A Sector is what I'll be doing. This is what the Peace Corps has to say about sectors on their website: "[Sectors are] education, youth outreach, and community development; business development; agriculture and environment; health and HIV/AIDS; and information technology. Within these areas, the specific duties and responsibilities of each Volunteer can vary widely." My possible sectors that I could work in are (in order): Education (ED), Agriculture (AG), and Environment (EN).

A Region is a general area of the world--on the application, it is possible to specify three preferences, in prioritized order. The options are: The Caribbean, Central America & Mexico, South America, The Pacific Islands, Eastern Europe & Central Asia, Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, and Africa. My preferences (in order) are

Africa (extremely likely):
Francophone: Benin (ED, EN), Mali (AG, EN), Mauritania (AG, ED), Burkina Faso (ED), Cameroon (ED, EN), Niger (AG, EN, ED), Senegal (AG, EN), Guinea (ED, EN), Togo (ED, EN), Madagascar (ED, EN)
English: Botswana, Namibia, Ghana, South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia

North Africa (very unlikely):
Jordan, Morocco (Arabic)

The Pacific Islands (very unlikely):
Fiji, Samoa, Kiribati, Tonga, Micronesia and Palau, Vanuatu

Given what I know, I'm expecting to be sent to an African Francophone country (that's why I listed them) to teach science or to be an Agricultural or AgroForestry volunteer. I don't expect to be sent to a country without French as a language there, because why not make use of a language I speak? I'm expecting to be sent as a science teacher because there is a dire need for French-speaking science teachers in Africa (or so I hear). If I had to guess at which four countries I'm most likely to go to (based on French and Science backgrounds), I'd guess: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Guinea. I guess we'll see, hey?

In the meantime, there is homework.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Seriously, people.

Those signs in women's bathrooms that say "Deposit Sanitary Items Here".

Isn't it the unsanitary "items" that we are worried about? And also, since everyone in there is aware of menstruation (and the consequences thereof), why not just say "Pads and Tampons in the trash"? Seriously.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

On insults of various kinds

So there's this guy in my lab section who is...a real pain. He was in my last semester's lab section, too, so we know each other...and we constantly butt heads. His name is Marc. The height of the hostility last semester included him trying to (a) usurp my glassware and (b) getting nearly thrown out of lab for it after he (c) called me a f****** c*** when I told him to get the holy hell out of my glassware drawers. We have quite a rapport. Through it all, though, there is a little bit of sibling-like ... I dunno. Suffice to say that I don't actually hate him. Most of the time. I just wish he'd go away. Far away.

When we were turning in our lab reports on Wednesday, and Marc (of course) says to me "That's totally an abnormally thick lab report, yo. That's like, ridiiiiiculous." My response (pretty good for right off the bat, I think) was "Yeah, well it's better than me being abnormally thick, isn't it, Marc?" (Rest of the lab: "ooooooooooooooooooooooo")

And then I felt a little bad for escalating it so early in the year--I mean, we're in the third week of class here, folks. And I felt bad because I wanted to reassure him "Not that I'm calling you fat, or anything."

What? I live in a culture in which I consider it a worse insult to be called fat than to be called stupid?! To me, being called stupid is much worse (if it's from someone whose opinion matters)--but maybe that's because I identify first of all as an intellectual. In any case, it was a bit disturbing to note that I only felt bad about calling him fat (maybe because he is, a little? Maybe because I actually think he is stupid?). Stupid, he deserves. Fat, I dunno. Weird.

Had a conversation with Rumi a few days later about the nature of "that's so gay". She thinks that because you can choose to be offended or not, people should just get over it and stop giving the people who would say something like that the power to hurt them. My position (much less sound-byte friendly) is that there is no reason to say something like that because if you're saying it because you're bigoted, then it's hate speech, and that's not ok. And if you're saying it because you're not bigoted, then why are you perpetuating a culture of bigotry? In either case, you shouldn't be saying it also because it cripples your vocabulary quite harshly. It surprised me that she thought that it shouldn't matter. It also surprised me because a part of her argument was "I don't say anything because I don't want people to worry about having to walk on eggshells (sic) around me--is that really what you want? For people to walk on eggshells (sic) around you?" Actually, yes, it is. I don't want to hear racist, chauvinist, misogynist, sexist, or bigoted jokes. I don't find them funny, and I don't want to give people an audience for that sort of unacceptable behavior. It astounds me that some people regard that as an extreme action. To me, not tolerating asshole jokes is simple, it's failing to join an activist organization that makes me class myself as tame. But that's beyond tame. It's permissive, and it's one big reason why there's so much discrimination.

(When they came for the Jews, I did not say anything, because I was not a Jew. When they came for the Blacks, I did not say anything, because I was not Black. When they came for the Muslims, I did not say anything, because I was not a Muslim. When they came for the gays, I did not say anything, because I was not gay. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak for me; they had all gone before.) (<---That's a paraphrase of a much more eloquent quotation.)

It's your fault, people!!!! All of you! All of us!

There again, though, many people (even some of them semi-friends--including Rumi) had a pretty tame reaction to the Physics 208 prelim cheating thing. "It doesn't affect your grade, so why do you care?" "I care about the principle--it doesn't bother you that ethics are not being upheld at all here?" "Well, why do you care? It doesn't affect your grade." etc.

I am falling asleep, but I have in my draft-list of things to include in this entry:
"satisfaction of doing math with lots of variables on clean unwrinkled lined paper with mechanical pencil" which I really think is pretty self-explanatory.

Paper batteries (check it out--they can be printed are cool. And I will probably write about the new winner-not-take-all electoral college fiasco currently underway in California.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's too early to say that it's over

Since finishing my Peace Corps application ("finishing" meaning I'm now in the wait-for-them-to-contact-me-for-an-interview phase) I have discovered that I'm in another one of those "I cannot wait to get out of here" phases. You know you're desperate when you think "Well, when this semester is over, I will only have a year more, and that is not all that long at all!!!" I mean, true, it's not.

But still.

This week has really shown me what this semester will be like--Stressful.

If anyone has any good ideas for a political article for me to write, please let me know. It's for The Centrist.

Not much is going on...Mathematica is really amazing, and really hard.

That is all.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Et tu, Whitby?

A few nights ago, a bunch (about 7) of us were sitting on the roof (no, parents, don't you worry, it's a big, safe, flat roof) and some of us were drinking beers. I wasn't, because it was Tuesday night, and ... this is not a blog about my drinking habits (or lack thereof).

Something happened, and someone (to protect the innocent, we won't say who) said "That's SO gay!!"

Damn. Really? My house really has people who will say that? The first thing, obviously, is that he was slightly drunk. Not really drunk, but he'd had a few. The overweening college attitude seems to be that "If someone was drinking and was crude/rude/disgusting/inappropriate, then it doesn't count, because they shouldn't be held responsible for the things they do when drunk". I tend to look at things in the opposite way, thinking more along the lines that "When someone is drunk, they are obeying less of the rules they impose upon themselves, and so if they are crude/rude/etc, they are and should be held completely culpable, being as that's the way they really are." The question, then, is whether the person said it because he had been drinking.

If he did say it only because he'd been drinking, then I guess that's better because it means that perhaps normally (i.e. when he's obeying his internal 'rules') he wouldn't say something like that. If the fact that he said it was not influenced by the fact that he'd been drinking, then that's not so good. Either way, what he did was not cool.

The second thing is that nobody else said anything about it. I mean, not a peep was heard about "Dude, don't say that". I said nothing, that's true. The reason I said nothing at the time is because I was the definite outsider of the group, and did not want to hijack the conversation. Besides, people were drinking. When was the last time you had a satisfactorily meaningful conversation on the nature of bigotry with a bunch of people who'd been drinking? 'Snever worked all that well for me.

So I have an agenda slot up on the board in the hallway, now, for subject "that's so gay". Was approached by the house manager (who is a wonderful person) because the officers wanted to make sure that I wasn't about to attack anyone, or single anyone out in front of the group. I'm not planning to, so it was fine. I did tell her that if someone appeared to want to fight about it, then I would fight with 'em. Which is true. I'm not looking for a fight--I just want to tell the community that I'm (a) disappointed that someone in the community would say something like that, (b) surprised that nobody would protest when something like that is said, and (c) please don't say things like that because (d) in case someone missed the memo, I'm bi, and (e) shockingly, things like that are really upsetting to hear in my home.

But if someone (especially the loud, bossy housemate) wants to take issue with the fact that I'm taking issue, then watch out, man, 'cuz the fireworks will start. To be honest, I'm actually spoiling for a fight about this kind of stuff...which is why I have to be extra careful to not come off as looking for a fight. I'd like to not fight with my housemates, but about something like this I'll do it at the drop of a hat.

What I have found out, though, is that the person who said the thing will not be at the meeting. Which means I'll have to talk to him personally about it...the kind thing to do would be to approach him and ask to talk privately. What I'm tempted to do is to confront him in a common area not in front of people, but when people are around. Because it honestly wouldn't surprise me much if he came back with one of the stupid following:
(1) It doesn't mean that anymore, so why don't you get a life and move on?
(2) I didn't say that
(3) Whatever
(4) If it bothers you so much, why didn't you say anything at the time?
(5) more than one of the above

Which will be all the excuse I'll need to tear him limb from limb. But he'll probably say something like "Oh wow I'm really sorry I didn't realize I said it and I'll try not to let it happen again".

Something that really bothers me is people who go around waiting for someone to be mildly unPC and then have cats when someone is imperfectly non-neutral. Like "I am Queer/Female/a Minority, hear me roar!" Just roar, already, and don't set people up to get their throats jumped down. Puh-leeze. I think that this looking-for-a-fight business is partly that. This bugs me, because I don't want to become that person who blows everything out of proportion. At the same time, though, I think the strong meaning of "that's so gay" has been vastly diminished by apologists like me, who minimize stuff when they confront bigots about it. The alternative is to speak strongly, but without Free King Owt.

Et tu, Whitby?

Monday, September 3, 2007

As long as I'm procrastinating...

Hi!

So, since I last wrote, I have:

*spent a couple weeks seeing my family in Grand Junction, Colorado. We went hiking, and made a scarecrow, and talked about my heritage, and had a Game Night (Apples to Apples!!!), saw a cool Goodwill store, read good books, and watched a lot of movies.

*flew hectically back to school and moved in (have a roommate named Sara this year--more on her later).

*started classes:

Honors Physical Chemistry (4 credits)
Honors Experimental Chemistry II (4 credits)
Calculus III (4 credits)
Shakespeare in Europe (4 credits)

*made a bunch of peace leather and other dried fruit to send to Africa
*nb also bought a food dehydrator!!!!

*had a huge long house-cleaning day about a week ago (oof)

*have decided I LOVE my housemates (even the crabby ones...of which there are about 1.5, and the aloof ones, of which there are about 3--there is some overlap between those categories)

*have considered rushing AXE (professional Chem frat) just to have the resume connection with possible grad school and employers (yes, I know...shallow)

*have been reunited with my snake, who has grown a LOT

*have wanted to shoot many people in the face with a squirt gun

*have lined up my recommenders for my Peace Corps Application, and nearly finished the first part of said application.

*have become increasingly frantic about work

The commentary on those bullets:

*Sara--very nice person who has a great sense of humor. She is a devout Roman Catholic, the only two downsides to that are that (a) I'm reasonably sure that she is anti-gay-rights (i.e. gay marriage) and (b) she really wants the Lesbians (Google "Tanya Chalkin Kiss Poster") poster to not be on the wall. (b) is ok--Carol has it for the year. (a) makes it a bit awkward, but she is way smarter than some of the people I had to be in close quarters with over the summer--and she is so good-natured that unless I think directly about this issue, it usually doesn't bug me that much.

*Classes--Pchem is HARD and the professor is AWESOME (she is a role model of mine). Chem Lab is AWESOME because the professor is amazing and the material is cool and nonabstract, mostly. And he has managed to teach us more E&M than Fulbright ever did in Physics. Yeah, what now, jerk? English is incredibly retarded--mostly, I try not to say that about things, because I think it is silly and unimaginative (but not discriminatory; "retarded" means literally slower and underdeveloped...which this class is to excess), but in this case...it's so retarded that sometimes I nearly cry. I may have to switch out of the class. If I can find a better one at an ok time. Math is frustrating because the professor talks about everything but the concepts. Everything. Or else he says things like "a shopping cart is a vector"....I bet he knows how a raven is like a writing desk, too. Today I asked him if he'd mind doing more examples, and he said he'd think about it, but that he didn't enjoy that "teaching method" as much. As much as .... not teaching? The other thing he does is assigns really stupid "optional" assignments every weekend. "Measure something five ways" or "Find a thing that has linear data". It's almost enough to make me opt for TWO more semesters of math just to get into a class taught in a competent way. I guess I'm just spoiled, having had Matt last semester. Go Matt.

*No, literally over 20sq feet of fruit leather. And over 16sq ft of other dried fruit. And the food dehydrator rocks.

*Housecleaning day: 9-5:30 with a 15 min lunch break. Nuff said, cuz...just, ouch. But when was the last time you know of that 20 college students got up on a Saturday and cleaned all day because they on some level wanted to? Ok, now answer that when the place they're living is actually not *that* dirty, by college student standards.

*Not writing about housemates, except that they are wonderful people to live with. Senses of humor, silliness, intelligence, social and environmental consciousness, and responsibility. What more could you ask for? Why did I find Whitby so late in my Cornell time?

*Pretty much covered AXE, snake, and squirt gun (see classes for squirt gun ness)

*Not talking about work, because as we can see, I'm procrastinating.

*Peace Corps application going really well--I only need to write my two essays for this part. For those of you who are interested, the application process goes like this:

1. Do the application
1a. They look at the application and decide if they even want to bother with the
2. Interview--I go to talk to my campus Peace Corps recruiter who asks me questions about my motivation, any iffy parts of my application, and answers all my questions about applying (the main one of which right now is "what kinds of volunteers leave at what times of the year for where?")
2a. If they like my interview, then they send me a huge packet of medical stuff to fill out and I
3. Make a big long series of appointments with Gannett to get every i dotted and every t crossed, because most people have a lot of delay (either 75% of applicants or 75% of delays) because their doctor forgot to fill in EVERY QUESTION. I'm hoping Gannett is good at this because they do it rather often.
4. I send the medical stuff in, and a letter saying I've discussed my service with my Significant Other (yes, they do make you do this) and in a few weeks (or months)
5. They send me three possible assignments
6. I pick my assignment of preference
7. They (after another month or so...I think...though I'm applying so early that this might stretch out a little) send me my assignment country and stuff, and I start to shop for supplies and prepare myself mentally for going into the Peace Corps.
8. I go.
9. I come back.


Thanks to my recommenders for doing those letters!!!!!

*in other news, I'm trying to publish my comic on the web somehow, since the Cornell Daily Sun's taste in comics really sucks and refused it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Quick Update

I'll be heading back to the states on August 4th (evening departure) or August 5th (morning departure). NAPIRE has extra money, so they're taking us sightseeing up to the Guanacaste province where we will see:

The Palo Verde biological station
Rincon de la Viaje (active volcano)
Cloud Forest
Hot Springs
Boiling Mud
Other Amazing and Beautiful Things To Be Later Reported

So, for those of you planning to call me ASAP after I arrive in the states...holdja horses.

And for those of you with whom I made plans for the first week of August, I'm very sorry, but I won't be heading through California at all. I'm really sorry, but logistically, it just doesn't make any sense.

That is all.

Friday, July 20, 2007

And then Costa Rica was washed away



Today I went out into the field by myself, and that was fun. For a while the sun was out, and then it rained and rained. It downpoured, according to Tracy. So, I sat there for 20 minutes on my piece of plastic bag, huddled with my backpack (which contained my camera--in a ziploc) under my umbrella. It was raining so hard that there were solid streams of water coming off the corners. I saw a furry caterpillar climb up a stem and lift its head and tail and just wait...it had drops caught in its fur.

On the way back, the river had risen so high that it was difficult to get across--I zipped off my pantlegs (hooray for convertible pants!!!!), took off my socks, and waded across with my boots absolutely full of water. I saw a beautiful butterfly, and realized when I was back at the gardens that I'd forgotten my umbrella somewhere.



I also saw some amazing ginger flowers. This is just one of several.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ari gets the comments prize

Thank you for commenting!!!!!

Also, the scabies meds we're taking are the exact same thing (different dosage) that people in the US give their dogs in heartworm pills.

Resistance is futile: you will be fumigated!!!!!!

It is really, really cold in the tropics, did you know that?



It's really cold. That's me at Cuerici.




That is me at Las Cruces...this afternoon. And yes, that's a fleece hat and scarf you see me wearing. And I'm wearing jeans and socks and a sweatshirt, and sitting under a warm computer and three blankets. 2400m at Cuerici. 1200m at Las Cruces...what's wrong with this picture (these pictures)?





So, for comparison, that is me at La Selva...completely soaked from the humidity and the temperature.





And just for fun, this is where I slept at Cuerici. I was the only one who wanted to sleep on boards instead of a bed, even though boards meant a personal fireplace that four people could sit in (if there were no fire. I also, consequently, got my own room--the lab. But you can go read about it in the actual entry if you want more detail than this.

Tonight there was a wonderful concert...by one man and his son. Allegedly, I'll write more about it later, but I've gotten pretty bad about blog updates, so we'll see.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Incompetence Club

The club is having a meeting over to my left. That'd be the admin for this program.

Melissa (bless her heart) got pretty in-your-face to Doug today about the fact that his kid is playing computer games all day. Instead of confronting the issue, he said he "wasn't aware of specific policy yet". That is to say, he's not going to try to find out about it. Interestingly, most people started taking the side *against* her, although she's really got a point. If we're not allowed to use Skype, then why is he allowed to play games? Honestly, I don't know why they don't just firewall sites like "addictinggames.com" and "slinkycity.com" etc. Not That Hard. Steerike one.

Allegedly, yesterday at the doctor's, the doctor offered to tell him the details of scabies, but he asserted that he knew about it. And now he has no information to offer us regarding any of the details of treatment (is it fumigation or immunity-conferring?). Just that NAPIRE will pay for the pills, since it's an epidemic. Steerike two!

Tracy and Melissa and I also approached them about communication in general--for example, nobody got told that Sammie was leaving until after she left. Some people knew (like me), and some people got told (like Jeremy, who seems to be enchanted by her inaccessibility--myself, I consider it merely wonder at the incomprehensible)...but most people had no idea that she was gone until she'd left. Then, Melissa started talking about how nobody'd been really informed about scabies ("You guys just said 'one, or two, or maybe six people might have scabies. You should all take medicine'"), Doug said "Well that was all the information I had--would you rather that I had waited until I had all the information?" (see strike 2 above) She said no, but it *would* be nice to have it taken seriously. And then she said "and we just have really bad communication in general...like, nobody knows what's going on." And THEN he said (in his I'm-a-snob-and-you-are-dumb/unreasonable voice) "Can you give me examples?" Scabies. Sammie leaving.

And Marcela tried to say that it was because of the short notice for Sammie leaving (and other people leaving, too...as they have, throughout the summer)...and then I said that they'd manage to call meetings with about 6 hours notice, so 24 or 36 hours notice shouldn't be a problem...and so they got on their high horses about how "calling a meeting like that really inconveniences everyone". Strikes 3-6 right there.

Send those suckers outta here. Incompetence.

Every now and again at Cornell, I get to the point in a course where in order to stay on the civil side of a screaming, swearing fit (during class), I fantasize about exactly how vitriolic my Course Evaluation will be. I think about phrases like "total ineptitude" "lack of preparation" "unwilling to help students or become interested in their work" and "inability to communicate clearly". I think of words like "incompetence" "uninspiring" and "unprofessional". And then I try to think of meaner ones...It's gone beyond "Do not talk to, around, or about ___".

This is war.

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Beatings will Continue until Morale Improves

Well, let's see.

First, my first project was infeasible. And I contend that I could've been told that three weeks (or a couple months) before I realized it, the night before we were going to start the projects. But that's ok. We can put the reading, research, and planning I did down to general educational experience, right? And the fact that I got a little hung out to dry...that's what mentors are supposed to do, right? It helps you learn. Learn by Doing.

So then, my second project didn't work because we caught no lizards. We caught and starved a shrew to death, which saddens me a lot, because...shrews are just off limits. Any animal that has to eat at least every 15 minutes or starve...you just have to feel bad for it. And messing with them is not cool. So that project didn't work.

So then I was supposed to...study...squirrels. Yeah. I went to Costa Rica for the summer to do some reasearch. Really? What did you study? Squirrels. Um...you are aware that Cornell is full of squirrels? Yes...shut up. Ok, ok, but what did you look at with the squirrels? I timed how long it took them to eat different things. With a stopwatch? Yes...stop laughing. 24 hours later, I switched mentors...at the suggestion of my first mentor.

First project with Karin was going to be looking at whether ants that are used to spiders react differently to ants that aren't used to them. But the plants died.

So the second (current) project is to see if ants smell spiders or if they learn that the spiders are there in a different way.

Found out that people are getting scabies left and right. So...some people have been told the options about that, and some people haven't. Good thing they keep us so informed.

Found out that They (that'd be OTS people in San Jose, or possibly Duke University) are pulling certain Internet abilities. Among them: Skype, Instant Messenger, GoogleTalk, and all audio/video. Why? Well, because there have been people playing online games nonstop all day, and downloading music and movies to the extent that it makes it difficult for researchers to get stuff done. I can see banning high-bandwidth programs like Skype or even Instant Messenger during "Research Hours" or something, but what about before 6:30am and after 9:00pm? I mean, it's not like I NEED to talk to my girlfriend in Africa every week (and God knows, I'll save money if I don't)...but I'd like to be able to call her. Or my parents, ya know? I'd like to be able to call them every so often without paying through the nose. And again, it's not like I NEED to talk to some of my U.S. friends online (via IM)...but I'd <like to be able to talk to them. And honestly, being able to call Africa and talk with my U.S. friends...that's what's keeping me here, instead of ETing.

Found out that my ex-mentor, Doug, has told at least one of the other mentors a Nasty Lie about me. There's nothing I can do about it, because he's coordinator of the program, and I'm not stupid enough to make him completely hate me before I'm out from under his authority. It's not such a Nasty Lie that I can't deal with it; the Nastiness comes from (a) it's a Lie and (b) it implies that it's All My Fault that we Didn't Get Along as mentor/mentee. Actually, my reason for switching mentors was (ostensibly) that he didn't have a project that I could be interested in at all. Lots of other reasons, but that's the official one. Or it was. It really enrages me that I'm in a position where I can't fight back at all.

Sammie is ETing (that's Peace Corps (PC) slang for Early Terminating, which basically means Going Home Early)...leaving in about an hour.

My project data are completely random in their distribution.

There are 20 days left.

I had hoped that this summer would not end up being a "count the days until it's over" situation, but so far, it has been headed that direction. I can't remember feeling this trapped in futility for a long time. Also, they make us do all kinds of stupid hoop-jumping behavior...and since they can't decide not to pay me, and since they can't *fail* me, I think I might just happen to be out in the field (deep in the jungle) during the times they've scheduled for their idiotic "group project write-ups"...we did those projects a long time ago. Remember Cuerici? Remember La Selva? THOSE are the write-ups they still haven't had us do. I stayed up late the night before I left for the U.S. to finish my "methods" section for the frogs project. Some other people haven't yet turned theirs in...and then we're supposed to get them back and finish writing the paper together, all in the next three weeks. This is a time period when, let me remind you, we're all trying to finish gathering our data, write up our major project, make and give a presentation about our major project, and pack to go back home. The attitude among the capable here is pretty much "Eff that!". Of course I group myself in that category.

In other news, it's only 26 months until August, 2009. Also, I saw whitefaced capuchin monkeys when I was hiking, the day before yesterday. And if I'm not online or posting, assume it's because of the Internet ban. I think they'd be unhappy if they knew I was using blogger, but...what're they gonna do, fail me?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Catsup V

So...on 6/24 I'm a little blank about what we did. Probably just settled in...that was the day that we had free time and nobody knew what to do with it. Yep. So, I spent my afternoon (5h) first taping duct tape over the holes in 125 plastic gallon flower pots. And then I spent 2 hours the next day with a soldering iron, putting smaller holes back into the bottoms of the pots. Yep. That's right.

Because the original holes were too big, and if I only covered part of them, the lizards we were planning to catch in the pit traps would shred their cute lil' noses trying to get out...so smaller holes were the smart way to go, that's why. Uh-huh. That's what I thought.

The two hours I spent putting the holes back were during a mentor symposium, where most of the mentors (all but Doug) kinda told us what they did. Interesting, long.

That afternoon, Doug and I went out and put in two 9-pot grids (3x3, of course)...the procedure for pit traps is so not complex that it's actually boring. You dig a hole, put the pot in it, and pack the dirt around it so things don't fall between the pot and the edge of the hole. And that was all, as far as I can remember.

I believe it was the next afternoon (we put out more traps that morning...big woop) that I called Liz and also my parents, and found out that my grandfather died. So...things got crazy...I fought with Doug about him being an uninformed yet self-defined omniscient pain about the same thing I wrote about recently (a couple entries ago), and ultimately decided to go back to the States for the service. I'm really abridging here, but...that was what that schedule was about, back there.

At some point I'll chronicle the USA trip...maybe tomorrow night. I'm almost caught up.

Catsup IV

So...the day after that (6/20, I believe), we took the same boats and the same bumpy bus ride but this time we went to a place where we had a killer long hike to a good swimming river. Carlos said there was very little hiking involved, but he lied. So nobody participated in the soccer game he'd tried to arrange for us. I felt pretty bad about that, but also pretty annoyed.

The truck that rescued us from part of the hike looked like it was pretty much held together with bailing twine. Which is funny. But to get up some of the hills, we really had to build up speed...very exciting. I was glad I was riding somewhere that would allow me to bail if I had to...fall out of enough tractors, and you always look for that possibility, I guess.

One lovely thing that happened was that a veritable tornado (maybe 20) bright yellow butterflies came and swarmed around me for a few minutes. It was...amazing, and sort of...life-affirming. But don't worry--I still managed to be crabby.

Javier, Frank, and some other great people jumped out of trees into the river. It really was a great swimming hole.

After that, we came back to where we were staying, and had a meeting with Carlos telling us about his organization. Then we had a test to see what Bribri trivia we'd managed to remember...I was one of the top three scorers (not my fault), and so I won an embarrassing number of prizes--three CDs and 3 books. I gave two of the books to Sammie because she really...will use them much more than I will. The third book is in Spanish, and I'll offer it to Rodo for the Las Cruces library. The CDs I'm keeping, though.

After that...well....nothing really happened.


The next day, I felt kinda icky. We were on our way back to San Jose...so we made it, and some of us went downtown. I was looking for a nice hammock (didn't find one, but I'll keep looking)...I rescued Carol from a pickpocket, though. That was exciting. We were walking along, and Carol is this really white-haired lady who looks like she's a little helpless...so I was walking slightly behind her to keep an eye on her bag. It seemed a little ridiculous to me, but I felt dumb not doing it because I felt silly. So this macho looking guy in sunglasses began walking right in front of her (non-crowded sidewalk), and then he drastically slowed down, while this girl that had been walking with him put out her hands and grabbed Carol's bag. I grabbed her arms and threw them off and put my body between Carol and her...I may have just scared the crap out of an honest mistake, but there was a LOT of room on that sidewalk, and there was no reason for them to surround us like that. Any case, she bought me (Carol, not the pickpocket) an ice cream to thank me. We went all around the covered market, and I bought way too many mamones.

Then we went back to meet the Eiflers at the Gold museum. While I was waiting outside (Carol went in to see the gift shop), eating mamones, a girl with bright red hair (natural) walked by and looked funny at my bag of mamones. So I asked her if she wanted to try one...and she did, so we sat together on the bench and ate mamones and talked about her study abroad in Columbia and my NAPIRE. I don't remember her name, but she was pretty neat.

It rained on us while we walked back. We went to dinner at a place that had HORRIBLE (ZOMG) pesto....and then people went "out". I didn't go out because I was starting to feel ill...partly because of the pesto, and partly just eww.

So I stayed behind and within a few hours I was very, very sick. I ended up spending the night alone, because one of my roommates fell asleep with her key, and the other one didn't want to wake me up. Just as well, because the toilet and I made good friends--people, I was SICK.

The next day (6/22), people went to some reservation or something, and I stayed in bed trying to keep tylenol in and moaning and wishing that someone was there. And sleeping. Maria took really good care of me, actually. Kudos and thanks to her...she was great. They were doing construction exactly through the wall, though...so I got to experience the Zen of sleeping through pounding on the wall next to me and chainsaws etc....

The next day (6/23), I could walk. Barely. And we...brought the bus back to Las Cruces. Pretty uneventful. I got good Karma by carrying Carol's bag full of (rocks? Jeez, it was HEAVY!!!!!!) and then by switching rooms with Charlene so that she could be with Melissa and Tracy and I could be with Tanika and Sammie. Which has been turning out better than I expected.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Ketchup III

6/19

* Crossed river to Bribri reservation in big wooden canoes with motors on the back, and a black plastic duct-tape-esque canopy for the guy steering

* Very bumpy ride in bus. Bus had sticker on window: "Cree usted en Alberto? Yo tampoco" (Do you believe in Alberto? Me neither)...I don't know if it was political, but it was funny.

* We passed the nicest restaurant (perhaps the only restaurant) on the reservation...it's built in a tree. Partly in a tree and partly on the side of the hill next to the road.

* We went on "a short hike" to the holy river and I swam in my clothes.

* We met this ancient man named Enrique who is the keeper of the river, pretty much. He lives in this amazing house with no walls, just walls up to...about waist height, and then a wonderful thatched roof....it's all held together with rope. He has a tilapia pond, with a water supply that comes through pipes of split palm or bamboo trunks.

* We tried the fruit that is on the outside of cocoa beans.

* We went to have lunch at the "cultural house"...lunch was cooked by the granddaughter of the last king of Talamanca...so, the princess. She owns the tree restaurant.

* I bought a beautiful water gourd, that is actually a cocoa nut of some sort hollowed out.

* We took part in a ceremony to welcome and purify us. They had us breathe vapors from a pot (smelled like a tea and was pretty relaxing...the same way that too much chamomile is relaxing) and then wiped us gently with a singed leaf.

* We tried to shoot traditional arrows...not fletched and as long as my armspan, almost.

* On the busride back, we had a tire blow out. I had a coke in a glass bottle for less than a dollar.

* Mentioned to Jeremy that it would be pretty funny if the Bribri were just making it all up, and we were totally serious about all of it. I don't actually think they were, but if I were them, I might be tempted. Stupid whities.

* Had a discussion about who's a "Good Indian". I told everyone that I was sick of stupid racism and putting Indigenous cultures above others categorically. Sick of hypocrisy. Said that I didn't know much about my tribe, but what my father had taught me about being an Indian was that you try to be kind and compassionate, and give people slack, and don't judge them, and accept them. And that really is, as far as I'm concerned, what it's all about. There wasn't really a good refutation of my calling out of specific people... I did mildly call a specific person out, but Doug deflected that. But that's ok, because the question ("So is the best way to educate people to intimidate them and act like they're stupid if they don't know as much as you?") was the important part, not the answer. Hooray for pointed, rhetorical questions. Charlene was a lovely person afterwards, though. Doug was an asshole afterwards, but honestly. It's kind of what I've come to expect.

As of July 3, he hasn't made much effort to understand me. He's told me he doesn't wanna hear about my issues with other people, and says I'm too negative. But he doesn't see the times I am kind to them, go out of my way for them, and so on...he doesn't see any of it, partly because he doesn't look for it. And I think part of the reason he doesn't look for it is because he doesn't expect it to be there. In any case, there isn't a single person here I haven't made an effort with, and repeated those efforts. In fact, I'm so nice here that most people wouldn't recognize me. Doug makes basically no effort with me, and he's not....fair or helpful. Erin, it just occurred to me that you may read this, and I hope that you can either forget it or not take it personally...because I don't want to delete it, but I also don't want to hurt or offend you.

In any case. It's past my bedtime here. More ketchup at some point.

Ketchup II

6/18:

* Talked with Doug about racism, and his response was that (basically) when people do that, and try to raise ALL indigenous cultures above ALL white cultures, it's them trying to raise themselves up instead of put you down. Which is the same thing, but the focus is important.

* Left La Selva...saw Andon, and he just gave me a big ol' hug when I left, so that was nice.

* Slept on Charlene's shoulder (which was touching and nice and overall pretty sweet of her, since my seat had no back, and I was getting pretty extreme sleep-whiplash)

* After we arrived, we turned around and went to the beach. I can now say that I have waded in the Caribbean. It was warm. And itchy.

* Dinner was uneventful...I fell asleep pretty much right away.

Another series of ketchup

6/15 (La Selva)

We got up extra early, went out and stuck pushpins into trees/logs/leaves where we saw bluejeans frogs singing from. In the afternoon, we measured about eight things about each perch. This day, I was pretty annoyed by Sammie, and complained about stuff to Andon. I broke down at lunch, and just started crying and couldn't talk about why I was so upset, which boiled down to:

(a) I was correct about a measurement we were supposed to take. In fact, taking that measurement according to a parameter (as opposed to indefinitely) was Doug's idea. When he found out that my group was taking measurements that way he challenged me and said that if it'd been his idea then he must've been not thinking very well. Then when I showed him where I wrote it down that he'd said it, he got snippy with me and told us to change what we were doing, "because everyone else has been doing it a different way". Huh. So that pushed my first big button (getting in my way when I'm doing a competent job).

(b) Sammie was excessively negative and judgmental...I took a thumb-sized piece of bread to go feed the machacas (those fish I wrote about) and instead of being neutral, ignoring it, or anything else, she decided to say "Dude, weren't you paying attention when they said we were giving all the animals diabetes?"....Ok, first of all, she's got a larger point. But (i) Not all the animals have diabetes, just monkeys and so (ii) if she's not even going to pay attention to the science lectures, then she's got no cause to jump in and get on my case. She also was in my measuring group and was ... basically no help. In fact, she was antihelpful.

(c) Maria was the other person in my group, and she pulled Doug into every little discussion of stuff...which although totally not her fault, ended up with me upset at her because I was upset at Doug...

But that day we also saw: a two-toed sloth, a three-toed sloth, lesser anteater, turtle (I found it!), an armadillo, and some white-faced capuchins (monkeys).

The next day was our "Tourist Day"...that's my word for it. We went whitewater rafting in the morning...which was fun. It was paddle boats, which was new for me...but it wasn't very exciting. At all. I didn't say anything, and I didn't want to, because I really don't wanna be that person who ruins it for everyone by saying "This is soooo tame". But there were about two holes (2h or 3h trip) that were mildly exciting. We're talking...riffles. And I haven't been rafting for a while, but honestly, the scariest part for me was when they started playing the "let's have the customers fall into the water" games. I hate falling into the water.

Later that day, we went canopying...which I thought would be scarier than it was. Especially because I have a strong and irrational (sometimes) fear of falling. It was just great fun...the idea of "canopying" is a little misleading because what we actually did was just go through the...forest. I was really glad that we did it...although I felt bad that Natasha and Faiane didn't go...it didn't seem like there were as strict of number requirements as we thought. It mildly annoyed me that nobody really stood up and said thanks...I mean, I didn't do it to be thanked. But still. Oh well. I'm over it.

That night, Carlos, our guide for the Bribri reservation (we'd thought he was fluent in Bribri...turns out, he's not.) came and talked to us. I learned several things about the Bribri, Carlos, and our group:
(a) Carlos has the kind of enthusiasm for the Bribri culture that your scaryotype born again Christian has for Christianity.
(b) White people don't own the market in the racism department
(c) There's lots of racism in our group
(d) Even though I know very little of my tribe's culture and traditions, I have just as strong an idea of how to be a "good Indian" as everyone else, and although it goes directly against my beliefs as stated, I have strong ideas about who is and who isn't a "good Indian".
(e) Carlos does not know when to shut up
(f) The people in charge of this program aren't capable of keeping him or the racists in line.
(g) Some people think that simply because you're part of an Indigenous Culture, that makes you/your beliefs categorically better than those of us who are of White Cultures (I haven't asked them yet what if you're from France or something...which means that you're kind of...white and also indigenous...somehow that doesn't strike me as a useful conversation to have).

So there's a lot of ranting that goes along with that...but that's the basic 4-1-1 on the talk. Later that night I hung out with Javez and Natasha and Faiane...who weren't any more tolerant of vegetarianism as a valid (as valid as indigenous ideas, for example)...but I enjoyed hanging out with Andon more. We talked about lots of things...I really like him, because there's no crap. We just converse, and there's not awkwardness about male-female (I hate that), there's not drama about disagreeing because we're both able to chill out, and we have a similar sense of humor.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The schedule

Wednesday, June 28, 2007

US Airways flight 1852
Depart San Jose 2:20 pm
Arrive Charlotte 8:29pm

US Airways flight 1505
Depart Charlotte 7:45am
Arrive Phoenix 8:59am

US Airways flight 2748
Depart Phoenix 10:07am
Arrive SLO 11:46 am

Sunday, July 1, 2007

US Airways flight 7160
Depart San Luis Obispo 7:49pm
Arrive San Francisco 8:47pm

US Airways flight 784
Depart San Francisco 10:40pm
Arrive Charlotte 6:35am

Monday, July 2, 2007

US Airways flight 1773
Depart Charlotte 11:17am
Arrive San Jose 1:21pm

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fifth in a series of catch-ups

La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica
June 15, 2007, 10:15pm

Howler monkeys woke me up about 4 times this morning—they sound a little like a lion with a cold. There were a million birds singing, so I got up and went to breakfast at 6:30. It’s funny how that’s so easy to do in this latitude—everything else is up and going, so it is easy to do the same. After breakfast (which wasn’t all that exciting), we went out on our intro hike. It is much easier than at Cuerici for several reasons—the fact that we’re only a double-digit number of meters above sea level is certainly one of them. For instance, there’s enough oxygen that you don’t have to nearly black out every 30 feet. Also, it’s so hot and sticky…it’s actually not all that hot…but the stickiness makes me pour off sweat.

So, before we even left the patio in front of the dining hall, we saw some parrots flying overhead. We also saw—this was last night and I forgot to tell you—this beautiful bright green arboreal iguanoid type thing on Tracy and Melissa’s screen. I picked it up, and it tried to bite me, but I didn’t let it. So we put it on the ground, and it walked like a drunkard because it has such long toes that it kinda has to…paddle on the ground…and it has to move its legs about 4x too fast for how fast it moves. So, I put it outside, and chased it away from the door once, and then went back in. About 8 minutes later (or less—maybe five minutes later), we opened the door to go do laundry, and the lizard ran (drunkenly) into the room. We almost died laughing…so I tried to pick it up, and it tried to kill me…but it didn’t. I put it back on the window screen…and today it is gone. Nobody knows what happened to it.

Anyway. This morning we saw a pretty yellow bird, some toucans (chestnut mandibled, not the bright bright billed ones, although if I get up early tomorrow morning, I will see those, too), and a cayman (you know, the small alligators?). We also saw (from a distance) several iguanas lying on big old branches of trees way far up. One of them was probably 2m long. No kidding. They look like they should be related to rhinos, because they are so…rocky looking.

As soon as we got across the river (in which we saw some fish), we saw the howler monkeys! Males have white testicles. (that was about how relevant it was when the guide told us that, too…just sharing the experience…) They were all acrobatting around in a tree, and some of them howled a little bit at us. Others tried to throw their poo at us when we got too close. They were up in a rubber tree (the latex tree; not a tree made of rubber), eating the fruits, which kind of look like the small, flat kind of persimmon, but are softer. After we all ran around being totally amazed for a bit, the guide took us over closer to the edge of the forest (this was just in the clearing near some of the cabins), and we saw a 2m long boa constrictor. He (?) was so beautiful…red and yellow and browns…we didn’t see his head, although I came back later and rustled the leaves until he poked his head out and did some tongue flicks at me. He kind of looked just like a big Kokumuo…but he wouldn’t have been as cuddly if he bit me. His head was a deep cream color, with some brown speckles on it, and it definitely had that…shape. The one that is kinda in common with the boids and the pythons. His tongue was long and slithery and black, and I backed off after taking a few pictures of him. That is my second wild (and biggest) snake, now…but the black one was a bigger adrenaline jolt, probably because I wasn’t expecting it.

After we tore ourselves away from the boa, we saw a bunch of leafcutter ants carrying pretty purple blossoms…and their highways, man, they’re like that bike path that goes down the hill next to the west side of Corson-Mudd Hall…you know, about 5 or 6 in wide, and totally cleared. Leafcutters are completely common and mundane here, although we all are still impressed by them…kinda like giraffes in Africa. Turns out, they are more like giraffes than I thought…some people estimate that they cut 17% of the foliage of the forest every day!!!!!! So they’re like, the most important pruners of the forest ever. Kinda like giraffes are…in Africa.

We saw a huuuuge harlequin beetle (maybe 5 in long, with antennae at least that long, all patterned in sorta…tribal face paint type patterns..in cream and brown and black). We saw the “blue jeans” poison dart frog—a little red froggie with dark back legs that look black but are actually blue. They are endemic to this part of the world (although I’m not sure how big “this part” means. They’re the ones we’re gonna do our project on tomorrow morning at 6. woo. The adults aren’t (and don’t have to be) worried about predation, since they taste gross, but the tadpoles—that’s pretty cool. When the male mates with the female, she lays her eggs in the leaf litter. Then, when they hatch, she comes back, and carries them one by one to a little water container (usually a bromeliad…which is a plant that kinda looks like an artichoke with long long leaves) and puts them there. THEN she comes back periodically, solicits a response from her tadpoles, and if they are still alive, she’ll lay unfertilized eggs in the little pool of water for them to eat. And these frogs somehow keep straight which bromeliad and which tadpoles are theirs. But monkeys, toucans, possums…lots of things like to eat the tadpoles. So if you’re a blue jeans, and you make it past tadpole, you’re home free. Another interesting thing about them is that the toxicity of their secretions varies by region—all are toxic, but some places it’ll knock you out much more strongly than other places. They aren’t sure why, but some researcher here is working on it by mildly shocking the frogs (electrically, not with surprising news) to be able to collect secretions…and stuff.

We heard some white crowned parrots…more as pets in the US than wild in CR…and of every one in captivity, maybe 10 or 15 died in transit. Sad.

We saw a lot of cool flowers and bugs…and trees…learned about lots of trees that are nearly extinct because they’re such gorgeous wood…that trees slough (exfoliate) their bark sometimes to get rid of strangler figs and other plants…saw a tree that makes a leaf you can write on…allegedly, pirates used to use them for playing cards.
I found a tiny Norops (not sure the species—just an anole type lizard) that wasn’t more than two inches from nose to tail tip. And it was nearly full grown!

And THEN we saw spider monkeys. They were even cooler than the howlers, because they are so…graceful, and yet they are so completely clumsy. We got to see a mom make a bridge with her body for her baby, and then heard her call it to cross…we saw them eating the rubber fruits (again), and saw them throw things at us because they didn’t like us. They climbed all around in the tree, and the two mothers took their two babies away, and hid them, and then ate a little more, and then got their babies and went and made big branch-cracking noises to frighten us away…I got some really cruddy videos and pictures, but it was just amazing. Did you know that they have no opposable thumb? We saw one hang just by her tail, though…the way they use the tail is truly amazing. Spider monkeys are one of the best barometers for how healthy the forest is, because if your forest isn’t really healthy, they won’t be around.

In one swamp we went through, when it is wet (not today), the canta rana (song of frogs, or frogsong) is so loud that you can’t hear yourself talk.

We saw a damselfly that had blue (dark and then light, two stripes together) wingtips…it looked like two helicopters on their sides, with their feet tied together. And in spite of the fact that the wing motion looked totally drunken and random, it was incredibly precise in how it could hover just above a flower to drink the nectar…if that’s what it was doing.

We saw the kind of tree, “wild almond” that the great green macaws love to eat, and saw the way they split the thick thick nutshells to get to the nutmeat inside. Great green macaws…are in the same situation as those parrots, only worse. We heard some, but didn’t see any.

The bullet ants are about an inch long and look as deadly as they sound. In reality, they’ll give you a sting like a wasp that lasts for longer than a wasp sting will…narsty little buggars.

We saw a bright blue cicada, and heard it sing while our guide was holding it. They drink the sap from trees, and in swarming season, if enough of them are on a tree, they can kill it through dehydration. Yikes.

We saw a totally unpolluted stream with a lot of fish in it.

We saw a lot of other things, but I’m fading kinda fast, especially because of that 4.5 hour hike…I think I covered all the amazing points, though.

After that, we had lunch, and I straightened more stuff out with Anden. I really am considering applying to the REU program in La Selva for next summer, if I can’t find something in Africa (I seem to be unintentionally heading for hardcore tropical field ecology…suddenly)…although I sweat what feels like gallons, it’s not actually uncomfortable. I mean, it is really uncomfortable, but it’s also really bearable. If I just kinda say “ok, I’m going to be literally soaked with sweat almost all over,” (because there is no evaporation)…it becomes…sorta…secondary. As long as you carry a bandana.

After lunch, I mailed my cell phone (finally) to my mom, and went with an REU girl I’m making friends with to feed mango peel to some fish…they jump out of the water to grab it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take a movie of it. Then I had that conversation with Doug, and hung out a little more with Anden, and then we had the meeting to talk about our Frog Project.

Then we had a lecture on a species of bird that is totally dependent on army ants flushing arthropods for its food. This Ph.D student is doing really interesting work on the army ants and the obligate follower birds…there’s this whole really complex interactional system between birds and their neighbors and all kinds of things…but I will tell you another time, because I have to walk half a mile back to the cabins and then hopefully shower…and for the first time in a while, I’m actually a little cold (I’m in an airconditioned room…by myself….does it get any better?).

So after the lecture, there was dinner……and then we went on a night hike. Before we left, Ricardo (our driver) went to get his boots and then he came charging back up saying (in Spanish) “There is a BIG SNAKE IN MY HOUSE!!!!!”…turns out it was a little snake on the railing of the stairs that leads to his house…a baby boa constrictor (about as big as Kokumuo, but skinnier)…and we got to hold him. He was very cute, and people got pictures of him, which makes me happy. He was the strong, too…and the scared. He struck at Tracy once, but I guess I’m used to Kokumuo enough that my brain is convinced that a snake that looks just like him isn’t scary…because I wasn’t really very scared of him. We put him back in the leaves in case some idiot came along with something they could hurt him with. It made me miss my snake.

On the night hike I didn’t spot anything, but we saw some redeye tree frogs, and a yellow one, and a bunch of bugs, and a moth or twenty…and lots of leafcutter ants. We heard howler monkeys (or maybe jaguars?) and then came back…..

The only other thing of note that happened today (just remembered) was that I saw the howler monkeys howling back at the weedwhackers (they sound like lawnmowers—the weedwhackers, not the monkeys)…when the workers turned off the motors, the monkeys shut up. It must be frustrating to be a monkey and have to howl at everything so much. Especially something that goes on all afternoon without taking any notice of you whatsoever.

PS One last gripe: dumb OTS decided they can’t pay me through direct deposit….unless I send them another form…those dingbats have had the form for over 2 months, and they couldn’t figure that out until yesterday?! I hope the Peace Corps is better about doing stuff like that for Liz...

Fourth in a series of catch-ups

La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica
June 14, 2007, evening

I did not stoke the fire last night
And woke up feeling not-quite-right
It had gone out—the room was cold
But I was good and did not scold.
For breakfast I had watermelon
And milk and cookies that were good-smellin’.
Then I finished packing up
And helped load bags into the truck.
Yesterday Doug said, “Mouse group walks
To the top of the mountain—no backtalk!
The lizard group has work to do
So we’ll take a car and catch up with you.”
But this morning we got out of our bind
Because Ricardo was feeling kind
He drove us right up to the gate
Where us and bus just had to wait
For the lizard group in their vehicle
But they came up without a wheelicle!
It turned out Doug made them walk instead
“Teehee, Teehee,” was all I said.
Then we drove up to the road
Where Carlos and bags waited to unload
And reloaded bags into the bus
With much muttering and fuss.
Carlos hugged me, kissed my check
Said “please return,”…I couldn’t speak,
Because I forgot my espanol,
So I nodded and said “I will”.
We went off like a herd of turtles
All so sleepy from bounding hurdles
In the form of altitude, hikes, and goodbyes
(There were very few dry eyes).
The bus was slow and lunch was late
And people were crabby and the food wasn’t great
At the truckstop, but lucky again for me
I got rice, avocado, tomatoes, and cheese!
So much better than the meat dishes
Which all (to me) looked quite suspicious.
And then we bounded off again
Through traffic, tunnels, rain, and wind.
Frank and I, we shared a seat
Airconditioned, away from the head
And we both fought to stay awake
But neither won—sleep us did take
To strange dreams, and to headaches
To stiffer necks and drool lakes
But we made it to La Selva, at end
With 90% humidity and sunlight to lend.
It’s beautiful, and parrots fly overhead
Unaware that their species could be dead
Sooner than we think or wish or hope
But it’s too lovely for that mope.
We a nice dinner passed-ed
And laughed and joked and un-fasted
Javez made all of us grin
By whispering and dropping his chin
“This place, dude, everyone’s so white!
I feel like I gotta beat ‘em up to make it right!”
Sammie, she felt the same way
And we were the only brown ones there today
Except a few.
Maybe five—or two.
We then had a meeting
Before Doug got to the rule-reading
I said, “I have an announcement
Everyone listen, it’s im-por-tant!
Anden (an REU kid I know)
Has asked us who would like to go
Canopying on a zip-zip line
Zooming through the trees—how divine!
What’s more, they want to go that way
On the afternoon of our off-day
The morning of which we’re white-water rafting
And the afternoon could be flying and laughing.”
(Somehow I’m in charge of finding
Seven NAPIRI people to agree to a binding
Agreement to round out twenty,
Because for a discount, that’s plenty
But only just barely
(19 isn’t fair, y’see).).
Tracy and Melissa did their laundry
With mine, and I just turned the dryer ondry
Jeremy wants to come and talk...

…(insert 45 minute conversation with Jeremy…somehow, afterwards, I am not in the mood to continue the Dr. Seuss poem)…

Third in a series of catch-ups

June 13, 2007

I woke up at 5:30 today (June 13), and was warm and cozy, because someone left an extra blanket in the lab last night. I didn’t even have to stoke the fire in the night. When I woke up, I thought that my leg was a lot better, but I decided after the hike that it was not the case. We ate breakfast early, but still didn’t leave until 7am. This time, Leo went with us up up up the mountain (I walked with him, and nearly died--again). My leg hurt a lot and at one point, I had to stop and lean on a tree and just cry because I was frustrated and sad and in pain, and, of course, lonely. That tends to come out more when other stressors unite.

I ended up making it ok to the trap site, and we then collected the traps—we got 9 mice in all. Thank God there weren’t more, because we all got pretty chilly up there measuring and combing and stuff. I got to be the data recorder. Erin came with us today, but she didn’t bring a sweater, so Maria gave her hers, and then Maria was cold, so I gave her my raincoat, but then I started to get cold…so I just toughed it out, because I didn’t want to make Maria be really cold. Better to distribute it evenly, I guess.

I’m starting to feel like a little bit of a mommy for this group, because I’m the one who has aloe, and sunscreen, and I’m the one who seems to have the most hiking sense of all the students except Shawn. I kind of like the feeling of helping to take care of people. Of course, I wish that more of them would take more care of me…but I think I am learning how to keep a little bit of a balance. This NAPIRE program has definitely made me way more laid back about life. Since it’s started, I’ve only been extremely frustrated to the point of near-snapping at someone once, and only a couple times have I been sharp with Doug when I thought he was being an ass and he thought he was being funny.

So, we got back in time for lunch, and my leg hurt the most. I’m really worried about it, but at least there will be a couple days where we won’t be doing much hiking…except for tomorrow. Doug decided that my group (which already has done about 2x as much hiking as his “we can’t start early cuz we’re too tired to walk 100 yards” group) would start walking up the road at 7am tomorrow, and that the rest of them would get a ride at 8am to meet us. Lunch was good…it was Carlos’ trout, and because I couldn’t eat it, the nice ladies made me eggs instead. After lunch, I slept on the floor of lab next to the fire until it was time to count the parasites we got off the mice. Pee-yewie…breathing alcohol fumes. Jeremy, Shawn, Faiane and I did most of the analysis thinking and work (which was dumb, because Marcela basically said “ok, pretend you care about the data and go find interesting things in it” which was almost impossible in the first part because there are only 9 datapoints, and for the second part, it was almost all redundant.)

But we prevailed, and had a pink and blue real basic presentation by dinnertime, and we gave it and it didn’t suck too much. Then Doug talked about networks, which was interesting, and then everyone else had s’mores, and Frank sang some social dance songs with his drum, and I went to go pack, since I hate packing in the mornings. I feel like I have fleas. Then I came downstairs and hung out with Carlos and for a while we just sat there (there were other people too) and it was awkward, because I was pretty much too tired to try to speak Spanish, and he’s a person who tends to give you space and not talk a lot unless there’s kind of an established conversation. But then we started talking about all kinds of things, and he said he likes to learn about homeopathy, massage, and reiki…of all things! That was a surprise. He says he goes to San Jose to take meditation classes, and a lot of people come here for him to lead meditations. It’s totally not what I would expect. I asked him to come visit us at Las Cruces, and he said he wouldn’t, but that I could come back and visit. I told him I really wanted to, but that I didn’t know when I could because I wanted to go visit mi novia (It means, ‘my girlfriend’) in Africa. And then I explained what the Peace Corps is (en espanol). He didn’t have any kind of violently eww reaction to my use of the "girlfriend" and he also didn’t correct me. And he just said that it sounded nice, and so I think he’s not a jerkoff Catholic redneck, the way I was a little worried that he might be (sort of the Catholic part…he’s not a redneck because he’s a revolutionary conservationist). And that makes me happy.

I’m still worried about him possibly being sketchy…I’m getting a little bit the same vibe that I got recently from someone else…but not the sketchy so much as the extremely interested in knowing about me. I don’t understand why some people have that reaction, and I’d really like to get rid of it, because it would be much nicer if people didn’t seem to think I was Something Special. Honstly, I don’t really see why it’s so much different than everyone else. I mean, hell, I FEEL different than I think everyone else does, but that’s just the definition of the personal fable, and that’s nothing to base any kind of theory on.

So, then he went to bed, and we hung out a little more…I wrote a short note in the guestbook, thanking him…I drew a hummingbird and a fuschia flower too.

Today in the forest Javier was really cute with the dog, whose name is Muneco (there’s a tilda ~ over the n, but I am too lazy to insert it. It’s pronounced Moon-yecko and it means ‘doll’). The dog loves him, and he played with it, and talked to it, and also made faces at it to make it not chase the mice we were trying to measure. He also (Javier and Muneco too, come to think of it) spent a lot of time sleeping in the roots of a tree.

I’m incredibly tired. I can’t believe it’s only June 13. It feels like it should be July 4 or something…this is so intensive…it’s like we are ALWAYS busy. Or if we’re not, we’re always recovering from the busyness. Word thinks that busyness is a word. Dumb old ‘puter.

Let’s see…Melissa showed off for Ricardo (one of the people who lives here) by doing Kung Fu, and we all kinda hung out speaking pidgin Spanish with Ricardo for a while…then I came out here and started my writing. This is a little short because I wasn’t very enthralled with today, and I’m both sad and happy to leave Carlos and Cuerici behind.

Second in a series of catch-ups

I didn’t write yesterday (June 11) because I was very tired, and today (June 12) I am even more tired, but I decided I needed to write you because I’m going to forget the important things if I don’t. So, yesterday, Carlos took us on a hike through some primary (and secondary, but mostly primary) oak forest. He apparently teaches all kinds of survivalism classes and stuff in his forest, and he told us about a lot of cool plants that you can use for things. There’s a leaf you can chew that’s a pretty mild anesthetic and in Spanish its name is ‘broken molar’…there are nettles, and a mint relative that works as bug repellent…and little tiny avocadoes (aguacadoes) that the quetzals eat. The avocadoes are good for reforestation and are also good timber…and there is another kind of bird that eats the avocadoes too…but if you want to do reforestation, you choose the seeds regurgitated by the quetzals (the other bird poops them out, so you can tell cuz they’re dirty) because quetzals are much more selective.

There is a robin here that is the most beautiful birdsong I’ve ever heard—it’s like a flute, but also just…a very true song. We hiked up and up and up and up into the mist and the clouds, and everything was dripping. There is a hugely amazing variety of moss and stuff growing all on the trees…if you are thirsty, you can lick the moss. Finally we got up up up high enough to get to this raw rough lumber deck that Carlos has built at a vista point, and we looked up towards the highest mountain in Costa Rica, and then down the valley (carved by glaciers) to his farm. I took lots of pictures. There were buzzards with white bars on their wings soaring far below us, and in spite of everyone talking and being silly, it was very, very peaceful. Then we went down down down through more oak forest (bamboo understory—more exciting things about this when I get to the ‘today’ part of this entry), and saw white mushrooms that mice eat, and all kinds of moss and a few dark birds which turned out to be buzzards…which may or may not have been the same ones we saw flying below us.

The ground is covered in leaf litter, but it’s too high up (and too cold) for me to be looking for lizards in it, so that was a little bit of a relief. There’s a little bit of pressure for me to be finding da leezards, ya know? (that would be how I’d say it if I were a cross between Javez and Sammie….)

Let’s see…yesterday I also talked with Carlos a lot. We talked about hummingbirds, and how I really love his farm. And about fuschias—those flowers that look like dancing girls, their lighter, upper skirts flaring out while their darker underskirt stays down, covering their legs…they may be my favorite flower. I explained to him why, in English, ‘hummingbirds’ are called hummingbirds. We just kind of sat for a while on the steps of the porch, and that was very nice.

When we got back from the hike, I went to lie down on the ground near the trout pond, and just lay there watching them for a while. I also made friends with a duck (the kind with a lot of red around its eyes)…when I walked up, it hissed at me, and did all kinds of intense neck-bobbing and breathing things…I couldn’t tell if it just wanted to quack and couldn’t, or if it was doing some complex communication. So, I sat on the ground and said “pato, pato, patito, patitico, pato, pato” and it came up to me and sat next to me and I petted it for a while before it decided to go away. It was so cute. In Spanish, adding “ito” (or “ita”) to the end of a word means “little” whatever that word is. So, senorita is like little senora. In Costa Rica, they say “tico” and “tica”, so patitico is like little duck. It was after that that I watched the trouts.

Then it rained. It rained for about the rest of the day, from 1:30 to whenever we go to bed, which ends up being around 9ish. Tonight I am staying up extra late because I want to finish this...even though it is a shorter, less descriptive one.

Yesterday we had a lecture about how the diversity is all going away because people suck…that made me sad. Then Doug talked about hypotheses, and why they are important, and what characteristics they need to have. Then we had dinner, and I spent a lot of time reading some papers that will eventually have to do with my project for the summer. Doug and Jeremy and I had a conversation about the degree to which it is a good idea to focus on being published. Doug seems to be on my wavelength in terms of we’d rather have a cool question to work with than an easy paper to publish. Jeremy's a little more focused on publication.

A note about Doug, though. He’s turning into kind of a weirdo here, because he says things like “It’s only a 10 minute walk, and it’s all downhill.” That translated to an hour hike that had more downhill but had significant uphills (that was when I didn’t walk from a long way to Cuerici). Or he’ll say “there are a few blackberry bushes, and the hillside is easy to get to”…which translates to people having to crawl and clamber up a cliff face to get to a hillside that is mostly thorns. Or “an easy 10 minute drive” is actually a 30 minute ride that leaves everyone carsick. Or “you guys can do this on the bus”, which actually means that we’ll all be puking if we try it. So…he seems to be proving himself to be pretty oblivious to what it’s like to be a student. But it is pretty funny, because…well…nobody knows what to expect when Doug opens his mouth. Nobody is entirely convinced whether that is a good or a bad thing, though. At least, I’m not.

Today, well, we had pancakes for breakfast (auuughhh yuuukkkk) and they were thick thick thick and heavy heavy heavy, so I barely ate them. Then we went on a truly high-altitude hike…the Paramo (pronounced PAh-rah-moe) is the climate above montane forest, and it has no air. We drove 30 sickening minutes there, and then tried to go up a hillside, and I swear to you that I had to stop every 30 or 50 steps to put my head down and try to get some air, because…there just wasn’t enough. We started out at about 11,000 feet above sea level (big change from Mystic, and I sure felt it), and just climbed. There are TONS of medicinal plants up there, and the sun is bright and there’s a beautifully cool breeze, so once you acclimate, it’s incredibly gorgeous. All the plants are small-leaved, and there are lycopodium species (good for antibiotics, antihistamines, and have flammable spores that make fires happen…used to be good for camera flashes), valerian roots (wish I had one…god I hurt all over), coffee relatives, St. John’s Wort, bug repellent…all kinds of things. We caught a lizard (I saw 4 more, but they all got away), and I had it bite me so that I won’t be scared of being bitten by them, and it was beautiful blue and black speckled…they also come in green/black and yellow/black and combos of colors/black speckles…to blend in with lichens, and my god, there were SO many gorgeous lichens. We went up and down and up and down a few mountain peaks (within about 1200 feet elevation of where we started, so nothing too horrible), and we saw and dissected puma scat. When we got back to Cuerici, everyone was completely bushed. We had taken a smaller hike (about 40 minutes shorter) than the group did yesterday, and we were still tired…but we only had a little time (2 hours) before setting off on our mousetrap setting adventure, which is in the oak forest I wrote about, but we went the opposite way around the loop.

We got back at 12, and at first, we were going to leave at 3 to go up and set the traps. Then Marcela pushed it back to 2. I was talking to Carlos, because he was going to take people on their oak forest hike (the two groups switched off—they did paramo yesterday, while we did oak forest, and then we switched) in the afternoon, since they spent the morning catching lizards in the field full of thorns. I was planning to nap, after we talked. But that didn’t happen. I told him I wanted to write him a letter, but that it would be a very simple letter, because I can’t speak Spanish. He said that that was ok, that it was better to remember and have short letters than to not remember and have long ones. Because I don’t entirely get everything he says (I do generally get the jist, though), I’ve started to be a leetle nervous about him being sketchy. I don’t think he is, because he seems pretty paternal and platonic, but I guess I’m just (egotistical?) paranoid.

So then we went up to set the traps, and my god, I thought I was gonna die. Leo couldn’t even go, because he was gonna get a migrane, and Sammie and Faiane were in even worse shape than I was…I was at least able to keep my legs under control, even though I was tired.

We eventually made it to where we were going, and set out the grids. I got the prize of being the best person at running a measuring tape in a straight line, so I got to crash willy-nilly through the bamboos to help flag out our trapping grids. That’s pretty much the only exciting part. We came back down, eventually, and I tried to play soccer when we got here, but I got my bare foot stepped on with cleats, and I think my left leg is slightly dislocated from my hip. Ouchie-wawa. So I had a shower (first one since arriving at Cuerici), and then went to dinner. Erin (Doug’s daughter) and I are really getting to be friends…she knew I hadn’t showered, so when she saw my wet hair she said, “Oh no, you finally broke down and took a shower!” hee. hee. So we had dinner, and they make the BEST hot chocolate here every night. It isn’t too sweet, and it isn’t too chocolatey, and it’s just…our favorite part of dinner.

Then we went to the lab, and Carlos told us the story of Cuerici Biological Station (via translation by Marcela). It is a really fascinating story, but the basics are that he used to be a hunter/logger/trapper for a living, but he’s decided the better thing to do is to try to conserve the wilderness and work on sustainable development. I have a lot of respect for him. I like it that he teases me a little—like I was sitting almost in the fire cuz I was cold and my hair was wet, and he said “Cuidado! Tu vas a ser una Barbeque!” Which is funny! (Watch out! You’re going to be a barbeque!) After the talk, he told everyone good night and hugged and kissed me on the cheek (which he did last night, and which is a common thing to do in Latino countries, apparently)…Jeremy says he was talking to him earlier and he (Carlos) said that I was a “very special girl”. I really hope that it’s not sketchiness, because if it is, I will become bitter and cynical about the possibility for making friends with pretty much any guy over 40.

Then a bunch of us stayed in lab (me cuz I sleep here) and had our whining session, and then talked of various and sundry things. Then everyone left except Leo, and we talked ballroom for 30 minutes, which was surprisingly fun for me. I think I’m secretly addicted to it…shhh! He showed me videos on his camera of him and his girlfriend dancing, and she had good movement…but Liz is, of course, much better.

So now I am sitting next to the fire in lab, and I’m about to die (for the nth time today…it has been a perilous day) of no sleep and soreness. But I drank almost 2L (platypus bottle! Everyone loves it!) of chamomile tea, so I hope that I will feel better tomorrow…that probably has something to do with feeling like I need to pass out completely. They all teased me about the tea looking like pee. But they shared it with me (aww), so it was good.

Tomorrow is our last day at Cuerici, and we have to leave at 6:30 (our usual breakfasttime) to go up and get the mice and count the parasites they have…if we are lucky we will be back for lunch. If my legs won’t go tomorrow, I don’t know what I’ll do. I got points today for having a good idea for how to keep Doug’s group’s lizards from walking themselves in their lingerie bags off the tables—you pushpin them to the wall!