I was talking to the girl next to me in stats this morning about something, and the topic turned to what we were ‘doing’ in school. She is in for speech therapy or whatever the department is called here (CSD?), and I had to admit I was here for graduate geology. She asked where I had gone to uni, and I told her, of course. So she looks at me and says, “where are you from?” and I said Vermont.

She just stared at me:

“What are you doing here?

the wondrous (part II)

(if you haven’t read part I yet, please do so.)

I live over a bar in downtown Grand Forks, which is one of the reasons I am still up right now. Although I can sleep through most anything, the combination of it being Friday night and it being slightly noisy downstairs allows me to stay up later than I normally would. If you want to know how the bar is, I couldn’t tell you, since I haven’t been down to visit it. I arrived here in the beginning of January (having left directly after New Year’s Day, the party celebrating which was sufficiently spectacular, and hopefully will contribute to the continuing tradition) during a warm spell. Yes, it was above freezing in North Dakota up until a few days ago, and this morning it was positively (but only barely) chilly on my way to my 8 am class.

I have a great desire to meet new people, but little forceful enough motivation, and I am out of practice. So it goes. I say this not to whine about not knowing anybody, simply as a state of fact, and I am sure that I will cure myself of this eventually, as I open myself up to more and more people each day I am on campus. I see little point in making my way through the smokey barroom tonight or any night though, or, as I should say, I am afraid of going down and trying to meet people. I’d rather go relax somewhere than deal with noise and expensive drinks (although my solution to that is to come back upstairs . . . the drink part anyway!) Perhaps I am different than other people in this, but there are times when I can be incredibly social, and people expect it of one, do they not? I’m half kidding; I know how to act towards people, but the effort of being exactly what everyone expects me to be wears after a while. This is not coming out right at all, but those of you who know me know who I am, and I doubt that anyone else’s snap jusdgements based upon reading this will affect me much in any case.

I would gladly play my guitar or sing or perform in front of any number of people without feeling poorly about it at all [Wow!  How things change over time.  This is an interesting comment when juxtaposed against the previous paragraph. 2014-02-04]. The rush of the spotlight is always fun, and I guess that’s part of the reason I am the way that I am, not always wanting the center of attention but needing it sometimes. It’s a substitute drug for all those that I have never done. The same feeling comes from racing: the pure thought of it throws me into an adrenalin rush. That’s where I seek approval the least, I suppose. Winning or losing, singing well or not, I feel the same (perhaps losing a race is different for awhile, but if I did what I could, I can’t ask for more). The past is in the past, embrace the present and the future, in equal parts as situations dictate. I enjoy entertaining.

This little sketch would not be complete without my love of learning in general, which probably should have been in part I, but permeates most of my decisions. New situations are always useful in learning, and if this sounds hypocritical to my not going down to the bar tonight, then you can chalk it up to my being a poor student whose loan hasn’t been disbursed yet. I enjoy doing new things, but that ‘kick’ to get over it and just do something is sometimes a large one. I read a great deal, listen to people a lot (both to my friends and to strangers), and am working on my own theories of different psychology and how it relates to myself, for how can one learn psychology without it being in reference to themselves? I cycle and run, I am very competitive in almost everything I do. Music makes me happy.

What more could you ask?

the wondrous (part I)

A little midnight blogging, just because I’m here, and because I feel like writing/explaining, so this shoudl be a good place for it. I suppose that this blog varies in topic a great deal–it is a personal blog, but anyone googling my name the right way can find it quite easily, including potential employers in the future, present fellow students, and colleagues.

Whether what I say here means anything to them one way or another is up to them–I certainly am making no attempt to portray myself in a way that makes me look better than I actually am, no matter how you slice it. That said, I am not blogging my entire life, for a number of reasons: first, that would take up too much of my time, and my time lately has been spent enough using the computer as it is; second, there are aspects of my life I don’t want to spread out for the whole world to see, because although I am an open book to people who know me, that comes as a prerequisite for getting all the goods; third, I don’t think it will interest anyone, as much as I could try to fancy it up with great english prose style (or in the style of any other language), and to do that would, again, take more time out of my life than I am prepared to give.

This is still a personal blog, and as cheaply as possible, a personal blog includes things that interest you. I see something on the internet, and I drop a link. It is a bad habit, to be sure, but so it goes. There are times like these when I will discourse about my day, and maybe include some little of my psyche. Think of it as a cross between a documentary and any plot-driven (as opposed to character-driven) television show: You need to think in order to understand me. I know that my close friends are typically my only readers, but I like to think that I can speak to a greater audience than the people who are closest to me. We all want to be known, and the blogging revolution has given everyone their own 15 digital minutes of “fame.” barring the fact that most of the world does not have this ability.

If you don’t already know, I am currently a Masters student in Geology at the University of North Dakota, in Grand Forks. I plan for my focus to be in vertebrate paleontology, but it is only my first semester here and I am taking classes to make up for not having taken them during my undergrad, which was at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY (that’s up-upstate, 18 miles from Canada, in case you don’t know) where I received a BS in Geology.

My Honors thesis at SLU was entitled “An analysis of multiple trackways of Protichnites Owen, 1852, from the Potsdam Sandstone (Late Cambrian), St. Lawrence Valley, NY,” and can be found at SLU or by contacting me directly. Essentially, I studied an outcropping of ~500 ma Potsdam Sandstone in northern New York which contained a collection of what have been interpreted as early arthropod trackways. Since the Potsdam is a beachfront formation, the question arises of whether or not these (and similar trackways found in southern Quebec and Ontario) were produced subaerially (i.e., on dry land) or underwater. This is an important point to consider because the oldest known terrestrial (land-dwelling) animals stem from approximately this point in the history of the earth, and so there was a fairly serious change in lifestyle occurring for the organisms in question: the transition of species from marine (or even fluvial/lacrustrine) to amphibious to fully terrestrial settings. To make matters more interesting in the field, no body fossils have yet been discovered in this formation, leaving our idea of what produced these trackways up to a combination of imagination and “best guess” according to what data we already have from other localities around the world and throughout the rock record. Finally, if this isn’t enough, the ichnogenus (“ichnos” = trace or track) Protichnites was first described in 1852 (by Sir Richard Owen of the British Museum), and has since encompassed a very wide variety of forms, many of which bear little resemblance to one another!

While my current educational goal is not to focus on this research, it remains an ongoing interest of mine.

wondrous (part II)

my past come to haunt me?

Seems Steve has put our Alaska guidebook up on the web. So if you want to see a poor example of my writing (from sophomore year, no less), please download it here.

The Internet has changed the world. Now for all the things I have said that I thought were true–someone, somewhere, on a server has them. I can’t complain about this, because yes, I did say some things that are probably factually wrong. And for this I am sorry–sorry that I have propagated useless and misleading information. I wonder . . . O well.

the key’s in the door

Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday requires some reflection, I suppose. I’ve been thinking about it most of the day, although not in a normal sense.

King was a black man, fighting for equal human rights for all people, regardless of race, I wonder what he would say if he were in this country today. Do you think he would be happy or sad at the way it all turned out? Would he be proud of the public persona used by so many black people today, based upon the leaders of today–not scientists or engineers or writers, but Snoop Dogg?* Or would he lament at the continuing divide between people of different races and cultures?

I’m not taking a side. Well, I am, but I don’t mean to put down any particular aspect of life of ANY race. Our culture in this country is this way because WE make it that way. We can’t blame it on our fathers and grandfathers, but neither can we blame “the other side.” Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world,”** and he was right. WE have to be the ones who complete Dr. King’s Dream.

I don’t advocate violent means to do this, just a change in perception. The first change needs to be yourself–how do you (whatever your race) view a member of another race? Do you recognize it as the first thing you see? Or does it not matter to you? What is your reaction? When you see a white person, do you make sure they can’t grab your wallet as they pass?

It’s something I need to remind myself of all the time. Growing up in Vermont does not prepare you for meeting people who are different in many ways–and new things are scary. But most of the time it’s fun to learn, and I hope that we can all learn together.

There, that ends my pseudo-sappy language for the month.

[*Why did I pick on Snoop? Is he morally reprehensible? 2014-02-03]
[**Actually, I think he never said this, but he expressed this idea at some point and it’s been whittled down to this phrase. 2014-02-03]

Let’s see if I can keep this straight…

Apparently, the amount of information I do not possess will always be more than I have the time or the inclination to pursue. BUT, today I do have both, and so I am hot on the track of making things work that need to work for me to be happy that I have pursued everything I need to pursue. I will present this in reverse chronological order, so that my motivation is clear.

1. Currently, I am downloading XcodeTools1.5 from Apple. Why this version and not the most recent version? Simply because I have Panther (10.3) instead of Tiger (10.4), and the latest version only works on Tiger.

2. I am downloading this developer tools package because I need to use the command gcc in the terminal. Apparently, gcc is a command that just doesn’t come with the OS. I don’t know what it does, it seems to be some sort of C compiler, but I may eb way off. In any case, I need to download these tools to make my OS let me type gcc and have it do what I want it to do.

3. I need gcc to install the program aspoof (which is in itself an OS extension, as far as I can tell). See, I run the install package (a Perl script, that in itself fun and new to me), and it installs aaspoof, the program I really want, but which needs to run aspoof in order to function correctly.

4. But what does aaspoof do? It is a shortcut to aspoof, which asks for command lines only when it is installed. Since the command lines will never change (which would be detrimental to the computer working right, something I experienced last night), it is a very good little timesaver.

5. aspoof in itself is a script to modify the extension that drives the Airport Xtreme card in my Powerbook.

6. I want to mess with this file (yes, I even tried last night, by hand, with a Hex editor) because I want to change (“spoof”) my MAC address.

7. Finally, I want to do this a) because I have a random theory that the place I am receiving my wifi access from has blocked my MAC address so I cannot use that access point and b) because this has become an obsession since I have little else to fill my time with right now. [EDIT: I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the case, but you know what they say about idle hands… 2014-02-07]

Wikipedia has a fairly decent article on MAC addresses, if you want to know more.
aspoof can be found at

got a bit of a beat to it

Random Walk:

““Eye for an eye” becomes “turn the other cheek”; fire and endless wrath becomes “blessed are the meek.” It’s a much lighter read, and it’s no wonder why it became a hit. If it weren’t for pesky little details, like a man being born to a virgin only to live his life working miracles and conquering death by ascending bodily to heaven after three days in a tomb, it might be a sound philosophy for me to follow. You see, I think the philosophy of Christianity is quite beautiful. Whatever you may think of the people who work in the name of Jesus, the guy himself was pretty decent. He did say a few things in the New Testament that could make you scratch your head (where was that sword he talked about bringing?), but on the whole, his message was of peace and love.”

the whole post was in response to right-wing/fundie christians accusing Ford of being anti-family for putting Ford ads in gay magazines. Does this make sense to anyone else? (the accusation, not the whole Jesus thing which seems to be a pretty good summary.)