2010, I hardly knew you

I can’t believe it’s been a year since I last updated.  Thank you, WordPress, for hanging onto the blog while it languished.

Vox Hortus has its own domain now, so you can find it at www.voxhortus.com or at the WordPress address.

So much has happened in a year.  I’ve finished my third field season for my research project, I’m writing my thesis and looking for a job.  I graduate this spring, into an economy that is, as we know, underwhelming.  I remain optimistic.

In 2010, I stomped grapes for Chardonnay, drank a good amount of Willamette Valley Pinot Noir, read a metric tonne of journal articles, wrote some papers, took a few classes, went to Idaho, went to Washington, went on one date, took up birding, dropped the ball on knitting, took up spinning, identified 4,150 insects, learned and forgot a bunch of statistical whatnot, sat through 5 successful graduate defenses in my cohort.  I’ve made great strides in getting over my fear of arachnids.  It’s been good.  Strange, but good.

Vox Hortus is 5 years old!  There are new features in the works and lots of ground to cover in gardening, insects, science, and the natural world.  The blog has a new theme and it’s all new from here out.  Welcome back!

Mac Love, part deux

The Mac continues to knock my socks off with its intuitive ease and quiet efficiency.  I found a citation management program for Mac called Bookends and it is, in two words, the shit: basic database, fast as lightning, logical organization.  You can try it for free and store up to 50 citations before you decide (that you can’t possibly live without it).

I’m going to have to spring for Time Capsule; I’m investing a huge amount of time and PDF storage into this computer and while I trust it completely, well, you know.

For the first time since I have owned a computer – and I started with XTs and DOS thankyou – I have my entire life on a computer and I’m not micromanaging file storage and setup.  I actually use all the applications and bells and whistles.  I didn’t take it out of the box and immediately start trying to delete useless applications and circumnavigate shortcuts and paths I didn’t want.  This computer is smarter than I am, and we both know it.

I’m going to stop going on and on about it now, but I have a little tear in my eye.

Grad school is going okay.  Did I tell you I have a new computer?

 

ps – I’m reading the biography of Stephen Hawking (A Life in Science) and it’s quite good.  Of course I do most of my voracious reading when I’m supposed to be doing something else (likewise knitting).  The biographical bit is good as is the primer on cosmology and quantum physics.  This is a very pleasant way to learn about something I can’t possibly understand.

Run in Circles, Scream and Shout

I always feel this way by the second week of school: like something heavy is sitting on my chest. And it’s not my 13-pound complete volume of Flora. There’s a plant ID midterm this week, another weeds quiz, a club meeting, a statistics assignment, a weed specimens collection, more red clover to count, club activities to plan, places to go, people to see. And I have psychogenic fatigue.

Evidently I’m not alone: more students are using the psychological services we pay for each term, and that’s a good thing I think. I choose coffee.

Here’s a nice photo to calm us down. Weeds can be so lovely.

So I have a tremendous amount of statistics to cover this evening before I retire; I’ll just be excusing myself now.

I chose finals over blogging

And now it’s over except for the waiting for grades to come out. I got a B in Botany and an A- in Greenhouse/Nursery Production Management. The other two should be in tomorrow or early next week.

Tomorrow morning I go in for my internship physical and then I have the weekend until I start work on Monday, which I understand will begin with a 6-8 hour orientation meeting. Since it’s my first day, I guess I can’t pull my father’s trick of leaving to go to the restroom and never returning. What in the world kind of orienting needs 6-8 hours to impart? I have visions of a handout with a stick figure cutting his own fingers off with his Felcos and a big red X through it.

I have an opportunity to do an undergraduate research project next year; so tomorrow will also be devoted to writing the proposal and funding application.  The project would be working with native bees, which is right up my alley.

I must remember to pay my school account and return a library book tomorrow afternoon, lest they hold my grades ransom for fees.

Rhododendron ‘peptus bismolicus’

This week I discovered that the course list for my option in horticulture is less of a list of courses to be ticked off and more of a series of suggestions.

Excellent news as I’m discovering that my original option is limiting, and I’ve been thinking of ways to tweak my course listing to be more of a generalist. As soon as the landscape advisor is back in his office, I’m ready to pounce on him for permission to take classes in the design option.

It would be…ironic if I ended up going back into design as that’s where I started. Oh, yeah, and I didn’t need a degree to do that. But I did need the degree to not feel like a charlatan.

The plant ID midterm was today, ever so slightly reminiscent of a death march. We all trotted along behind the instructor who dragged us all over campus, and I was silently urging him, “No! Do not stop in front of another pink Rhonodendron! Don’t do it!” or “Yes!! Stop in front of the Photinia davidiana or Fagus sylvatica ‘Purpurea’ or Aesculus x carnea.” He did his own thing however, and it was funny the contrast between traipsing through brush and behind buildings and down in culverts and having test terror while we marched. It was not unlike your first driving test.

Personally, I do not see the need for 6 varieties of pink Rhododendrons, in life or on exams.

Brassicales, I smite you.

I was looking forward to botany this term, knowing that much time would be spent keying out plants.  Today we started with Brassicaceae and I discovered that the mustard family comes to you straight from the devil.  The nuances were lost on the me the first, second, and third times around.  Finally I arrived at the target genera, and then snippily flipped my pages looking for species right up until the last 30 seconds of class.  I had one gimme of Arabidopsis thaliana which I recognized right away (one would hope).  I’m partnered up again with Kevin who was in my soils lab last term and true to form, when I turned my back, he copied my data down.  Count your own carpels infidel!

I also discovered that my new needle probes are very sharp, sharp enough to go right through your skin.