Monday, April 26, 2010

Brief Belated Earth Day Post

I have noticed recently that a few "evil" corporations have started to put forth an eco-friendly message. When empired, er... organizations, like Fox (with their new "Green it, Mean it" add campaign) and Walmart (with their recent focus on organic produce and doing well in taste tests against Whole Paycheck, er... Foods) start being "green" I have two simultaneous reactions. The first is to call bullshit. My uber-liberal educational background makes it hard for me not to assume it is just for show. My second reaction, however, is that even if it is just posturing due to mounting public concern about the environment it is a good thing. It means that all the bad press about being eco-terrible has worn off, or that they realize being green is something people actually care about. While I wish we would all just start cherishing nature and being better stewards of the planet because it is the right thing to do, I know that is not going to happen. It is going to take large corporations with big capital to actually make meaningful change, but they certainly wont do it out of the goodness of their "hearts" we need to keep their feet to the fire and make sure they are not just posturing. So here is a tentative cheers to Fox and Walmart, even though it makes me choke a little to say it.

Also, for some awesome science-art-earth inspiration check out what is happening at one amazingly awesome small uber-liberal arts college: Feet to the Fire

Sunday, April 25, 2010

rapid rambling reflections

It is hard to believe that my first year back in school is almost at its end. 3 days of classes, 2 exams, and 1 paper stand between me and the relative relaxation of simply being a scientist rather than juggling doing science alongside taking science classes. I am looking forward to being able to focus on my research and getting ready for summer field work. I have really felt like classes were slowing down the research this semester. I also have a good feeling for what material I need to read up on to increase my background knowledge directly relevant to my research, and I haven't been able to make much progress in that while focusing on my classwork. I have 3 textbooks that I would like to read this summer. I am hoping I can get other students to read them with me. It is funny how much more likely I am to stick to something (be it reading a textbook or going to the climbing gym regularly) when I set a schedule with a friend. Somehow it is easier to come up short on promises to myself than to others (I wonder what a psychologist would say about that). I think I am finally getting over my inferiority complex and beginning to feel like I actually belong in this program, and have (or will eventually have) something meaningful (albeit probably small) to contribute to the general body of knowledge that is science.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

a (not so) productive day

Things have been hectic lately. The lab work is ramping up, and finals and papers are rapidly approaching. I decided to be extra productive today. I got to lab early and got one reaction going and did some sampling for someone in the lab who is out all before my morning class. I came back from class and looked at my samples and did the next round of lab work before lunch. After lunch I set up another reaction and finished sampling for the person who is out before the whole lab went over to a nearby school for a particularly relevant talk. I came back looked at my reaction, and did the final bit of lab work in time to go meet with my cohort to discuss Darwin's Origin of Species that we have been reading in monthly installments. I was busy all day, and was all ready to feel like I had accomplished something... except that the reactions I was trying were not working. The DNA refuses to amplify, and I keep returning to square one. I will keep trying, but it kind of feels like all my efforts to be super-productive today were a waste. Sigh.