Wednesday, August 31, 2011


First, I finally got my Invisalign "braces." And already, after only one day my teeth are killing me! But, check out the name on the packages I got from the dentist:

Now, I can add "Marchi" to they ever expanding list of names I've been mistakenly given. Recall old favorites such as Markleby, Barfi, Meat, and Bert.

Pickings are getting a little slim for interesting blog posts. I am at home, reading, writing, and mindlessly formatting, entering and analyzing data 5 days a week. And, I go to the dentist. Woohoo! Then on the weekends I eat drink and am busy being generally merry. Its not like the old Madagascar days, when I was getting around by cow and wielding off crooked machine gun baring cops.

So, I'm going back a couple of years here and am going to post about my experience of living with someone who was transitioning genders. Don't get all crazy- its not, nor was it ever Ron. Rather, it was my Colorado 'husband' Morgan, who has given his royal blessing for this tell-all.

When I went back to Boulder for the 2008 school year, I moved in with Morgan, such that I didn't have to pay rent all by myself. Morgan, is a school friend, who happened to be a very unfeminine lesbian (not that it really matters). About as unfeminine as they come. The apartment we lived in was technically a one bedroom, with a large-ish closet, and Morgan kindly moved into the closet such that I could have the bedroom. I still chuckle a little thinking of poor Morgan moving back into the closet. teehee.

That semester I ended up doing some solo lab teaching with an undergraduate student who was transitioning from female to male. Its more difficult for f to m's to "pass" as their chosen gender (facial hair and the deep voice are tricky), and this student was afraid of being in close proximity to other students in an lab, who might get wise to what was going on and not be understanding. Remember Brandon Teena? Sex and gender are topics people get pretty riled up about, and not something you want to be messing around with in the wrong company.

Teaching labs to one person really doesn't work, as you need the class in order to run experiments and stuff. So, that term, we explored the very slim literature on the Anthropology of transgender. Morgan graciously joined this student and I as its just too weird to sit around and talk about such intimate issues with one person.

I probably learned more than either of them that term. First, gender and sex are not the same thing. Furthermore, gender can be broken into gender identity and gender expression. Your sex is biological, while your gender is cultural and tied to the society you live in. Imagine lining up a million zillion people according to their sex. On on end you would have females, and on the other, of course males. But in between the two? Every permutation possible. That's just how nature works. Biological sex is occurs much more like a spectrum than a binary state. Now, if you lined up those same people according to gender identity, everyone would still have a place, but there would be a big shuffle in the continuum. And why won't there be? If biological sex is a spectrum, we should also expect gender to be equally variable.

Can you see how one could be biologically male, with a gender identity of female and a gender expression of male?

Before moving on, I'd like to also clear up a few misconceptions. First, gender identity has nothing to do with sexual orientation. Second, transvestites like to dress up as the other end of the spectrum as their biological gender, while transgender people feel they are actually a gender other than their biological sex at birth. Third, not all transgender people want gender reassignment surgery and/or hormone therapy.

Well, shizzle. Now I blabbed on for ages and I didn't even get to any of the juicy Morgan details. Tomorrow will have to suffice. You'll have to wait until then to find out about the cornstarch too.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What's your bean situation?

First, I was horrified to realize that I had 4, count em 4, typos in my last post. OMG, I hate that. Don't worry though as I am a wee bit house elf-ish, and will be sure to close my head in the oven soon.

On another note, I have recently taken to obsessively worrying that I will graduate, after all these years in university (13, but who is counting, right?), and be a completely unemployable hobo (if you watch 'Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia' you'll understand the Hobo/bean situation connection). You'd think I'd be worried about, oh, my dissertation or that whole dissertation defense thingy, but no. However, its not like this is an unwarranted fear. I am sure that you will be utterly surprised (insert eye rolling) to learn that there isn't a huge demand for Anthropologists. Despite how much we Biologicals can tell you about monkeys, or bones, or you know, 2000 year old poop. And academic jobs, which were scarce before, are near non-existent in the current economic climate. I came across the following blog and post which I think sum up my conundrum nicely:

49 applications??! Wow. Earlier this summer, I applied for and did not get 2 separate short-term jobs, and I still have hurt feelings. Imagining 49 rejections this time next year is almost too much to contemplate. That being said, it pretty common now to do a post-doc (or two) between graduation and getting a job. So that could potentially delay my hobo-status for a few years. And, I have at least one of those in line, if I so choose. Which is nice to know.

Alas, perhaps should lay off worrying about my ducks before they hatch or get in line or however that goes.

Ron has gone to Vegas for a couple days, so Kitty and I are having some girls time. Happy Sunday and stay safe if you are out East!

Here are a phone few pics of late...

Dessert I shared with Rachel. Olive oil sponge cake, chocolate mouse and salted caramel. mmm...

Baobab sepals that I was about to weigh.

One of my many chameleon heads.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Drama Queen

Alright, I may have overreacted slightly with the I hate Colorado business. In my defense, however, the trek from the Denver airport to Boulder is the worst part of Colorado. First, its all flat and barren. Then there is the devil murder horse. Next you have the industrial pulp making (aka rotten-egg-smelling) district, which is shortly followed by an honest to goodness dog racing track. Then there is more horrible dirty freeway littered with tumble weed and garbage. Seriously. Anyhow, once you are out of all of that misery, Boulder is really beautiful this time of year. Plus, it is good to be at school. Within about two hours yesterday morning, I got more solved than I have in the last two months (thanks to Bender and DVG). And, I have samples, which makes me super happy!

My plants:

And good ol' Hale:

Ooh, and the lab got a new Gigantopithecus cast! Oddly though, the label notes how the brain is assumed "ape-sized" and the stance "bipedal." Why on earth would the stance be assumed as bipedal?? Weirdos.

In other news, the cats that I am 'kitty-sitting' are gay. How do I know this? Because they were fornicating on me at 2am. And then 4am. Of course, there is nothing wrong with their orientation, BUT I am now concerned that I may have committed a hate crime in a) kicking them off the bed at 2am, and b) locking them out of the bedroom at 4am. I would have kicked out any fornicating cats, regardless of their genders, which makes me feel like less of a bigot, BUT what I was thinking was "ah! the cats are gay!" I have some serious self-reflecting to do.

So, for the rest of the week I am going to be sorting and weighing out samples, working through some statistics (and much dreaded SPSS), and sampling some of not-too-miserable Colorado's finest microbrews. And pondering my completely unacceptable preconceived notions on feline sexuality.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I hate Colorado

I'm not sure when it happened exactly, but I hate Colorado. I feel like a bit of an jerk even saying that, because I know that lots of people love Colorado and that there are many nice places in the state. Boulder, for example is a beautiful little city. And I hate it.

I had a visceral reaction today when I stepped out of the Denver airport and saw that flat dusty landscape.

Check out my phone pic:

Sure, the Rockies were behind me, but it was tumble weed and that demonic murdering horse (seriously. that greeted me.

I didn't take this pic, but you get the idea.

Things got a bit better when I got out to Boulder.

In fact, it was nice to see CU. Campus quote of the day: "CU is playing CS on my birthday. I am turning 19 and am going to do 19 shots. I've already worked myself up to 17." In response to '19 Shots', 'Friend of 19 Shots' said "intense." This conversation very quickly reminded me that I am now 15 years older than incoming freshmen. Thank goodness.

Anyhow, I will be in CO for the next few days and will hopefully hate it a bit less once I get to work and see some of my peeps.

Do you know who really suffers from all my shenanigans? Kitty. Poor thing tried to run away when Ron got home and is now hanging on for dear life.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Ten things about my husband, Ron:

10. He loves the 'Back to the Future' trilogy.

9. He claims to hate his left foot.

8. He frequently showers in the dark.

7. He is Kitty's favorite.

6. He thinks that he is a better driver than I am.

5. He actually does make the best scrabbled eggs on earth.

4. He looses his keys/wallet/ID badge every single day.

3. He has an alien implant on his lower back.

2. He last went to the dentist in 1980. For real.

1. He was once a baby. In fact, he was born 41 years ago today.

Happy Birthday, Ronman!!! I love you.

Just look at that adorable little butt!

Kitty also thought the YO! bag was quite approachable.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

No News

Not much new today... I couldn't get my arse out of bed this morning, but once I did, Ron and I went for breakfast at a Deli. I enjoyed cold beet borsht (with a cold boiled potato side), which is surprisingly tasty! After that, I took a long nap. I'm wondering if my mono is back. That or I am just really really lazy, of late. We went for a swim with the sharks at La Jolla Shores, and in addition to sharks, saw about a million huge guitar rays. The don't sting, so they aren't too scary. I did under-water scream a couple of times though. 2-3ft is just too close for anything called 'shark' to be below my belly.

OH, I do have a bit of news. Mushrooms LaFleur decided to finally bloom! But they actually look kind of freaky and disgusting.

And, my husband is a nut-bar, but that really isn't news. He made himself a new "hat." He says that the 'yo' makes him approachable.

Kitty is awesome as ever.

Happy Sunday eve all!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Raise the Roof

Today, I'd like to raise the roof (and my glass) to my Mom. After nearly seven long years, she has finally settled her brain injury case against ICBC. For the record, they (ICBC) are rat bastard's who put her unnecessarily through the proverbial wringer, but, today it ended relatively well. Although she was deemed "not fit to stand trail," today, she solely (with her lawyer) defended her case against ICBC lawyers and adjusters over a four hour period. For those of you not familiar, asking someone with a brain injury to do such a thing is comparable to asking someone who had their legs crushed, to run a marathon. BUT, my Mom did it, and I dearly hope that she can now move forward with her life.

Congratulations to my Mom & Dad. I love them both!

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Show and Tell

Yesterday, I was started reading Lisa Kelley's recent dissertation on her work with ring-tailed lemurs at Cap Sainte Marie. I couldn't help but get a bit choked up on the acknowledgements and Lisa kindly said I could share her story about one very sweet, very determined lemur. The following passage was written by Lisa Kelley:

A female infant in the Tsankalamanga troop was observed one day with what appeared to be a broken back. All who observed the incident were certain she would die. Her crying, which persisted all day, was unbearable. The temperature that day was 95ยบ+F, and she kept dragging herself out of the shade in an attempt to follow the troop. Her mother was the oldest female in the study; a scraggly female who appeared to be the mother of at least two other females in the troop. The mother continuously approached the infant to move her to the shade, while the rest of the troop ceased all activity and watched through an O. ficus-indica hedge. The next day, the troop had left for a long excursion to the other end of their home range. We were certain that the infant had died. Then we saw the drag marks. This female had dragged her infant from one end of the troop’s habitat to the other, and the infant had clung on her back with her hands, dangling her feet all the way. The following weeks, we watched as this female would be “parked” on a branch, hanging by her hands meters from the ground. We were always certain she wouldn’t survive. Except that she did. In fact, she recovered completely from the incident and became an active, well-nourished central troop member. We named her Oops. The moral of the story: Oops happens, but the strength derived from sociality is the network from which improbable accomplishments by the individual become possible through the group. It is observations such as this that make the field of primatology such a worthy endeavor.

Can you even believe that? Her momma drug her around through 95 degree weather and the whole group waited for poor, slow Oops. What a beautifully written tale about life with lemurs!

And here is Oops, once she was all better. I love that little belly!

On another note, the fruit fly war rages on, but I WILL be victorious.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I was pouting here because of the burns on my forehead. I was frying eggs when a big hunk of greasy egg shot out of the pan and stuck to my skin. I thought the pout was appropriate for today's post.

I currently have a fruit fly problem. I blame all the fruit and that bloody juicer. I used to be so bug tolerant, but after this last year in Madagascar, I may have used up all my insect friendly credits. There was Evil Eric, the horrible flies (house flies AND vampire flies), the sweat bees (one of which flew up into my maxillary sinus), and the super scary neurotoxic centipedes, among many many others. NONE, however, even compared to the torment inflicted by the mosquitoes...

I've worked in lots of different forest types and you'd think that wet forests would be much worse that dry forests for insects with flagellated reproduction, right? Well, I did. And I was wrong. Tsimanampetsotsa was in the second full year of a drought when I arrived. And, thankfully for many of the people and wildlife, that drought ended. With the onset of the rains, the mosquitoes went f*&#ing bonkers (that's right, I dropped a B*bomb).

I'm not sure if it was the constant nature of the mosquito attacks OR the sheer number of individuals that was so traumatic. Maybe both. So, I'd wake up in the morning (or night, depending on the lemurs' schedule) to the buzzing sound. The mosquitoes would and have been swarming the outside of my tent since I got in it the night before. They sense CO2, and thus have been creepily sniffing me all night. Sick bastards. I then have to get out of my tent to go to the bathroom. Since I previously outlined the horrors of having swarms of mosquitoes attacking the areas that your bathing suit covers, I won't go there again. Let me just remind you that it is in fact horrible.

After the bathroom comes trying to eat without ingesting too many mosquitoes, or getting too many bites, and heading out into the forest. Though it gets to be over 50 degrees C many days, I wear full pants, an undershirt, a button down long sleeved shirt, two pairs of socks on my hands, and a full mesh bug hood. It the worst of the mosquito times, I also affixed panty-liners to the insides of my clothes in the places where I frequently got bit. All of this and some days I still received over 200 mosquito bites. Recall that mosquitoes carry lovely diseases such as Elephantiasis, West Nile, Malaria, DENGUE FEVER, etc., and I didn't have a car or access to medical care.

So they swarmed and they bit all day and all night. If I walked past a particularly dense mosquito area, I would come out with thousands on me. A literal grey cloud. I would run, hit myself with branches, practically stop-drop-and-roll, all to be rid of the first half of them. The second half were for keepsies, like it or not. And they buzzed that horrible buzz constantly. It would have been ok at night just to hear them outside the tent, but inevitably a few would come in with me and then I could never be sure if the buzzing was actually in my ear or just next to my ear. And I reacted to bites like no one else. Huge red swollen firey welts from every bite. Yuck.

I tried very hard to do some night-time work during mosquito hell. I'd get all suited up, which at night included an extra pair of pants and an extra shirt, but it was all in vain. The mosquitoes got to a density such that I couldn't keep them out of my bug hood, and then I couldn't work. Try writing and watch animals with say 30 mosquitoes flying up your nose, in your mouth and on your EYES? Not cool. SO the next night, I got pretty clever and decided to take a mosquito net into the forest. I was feeling pretty smug too, like 'phh, no mosquitoes are going to keep me away.'

Yeah. Uh, the only thing worse than being out in millions of mosquitoes, is being trapped in a small cloth cave with thousands of them. I figured if I could get into the net quickly and kill any that came in with me, I'd be good to go. Wrong. Plus, I couldn't see through the net anyhow. SO, the night after that, I decided to wear as many layers as possible and topped them all off with my assistant Meghan's full-body bug suit ((a) thank goodness for her over protective mother, which, (b) reminds me that "fungal infections are no fun"). It was nearly 35 degrees at 10pm, and I headed out in my 4-layer deep gear, feeling yet again, pretty smug. 'Stupid mosquitoes think they beat me, when they didn't', I thought.

OK. Uh, the only thing worse than being out with millions of mosquitoes, or being trapped in a small cloth cave with thousands of mosquitoes, is being trapped in a smaller cloth cave with hundreds of them. They got through the bug suit and perforated my every layer in a matter of minutes. And then I couldn't get rid of them. All alone in the forest, in a near state of panic, and crawling with mosquitoes. And too many of them on my face to write or concentrate on lemurs. I did have going back to camp and going pee to look forward to. Sniff sniff.

And that is why I am about to Raid my entire house to be rid of fruit flies. Good times, my friends. Good times.

Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hypochondriasis, maybe

Hypothetically speaking, if you are worried about having hypochondriasis, are you then by definition, a hypochondriac? Perceived or not, I have spent more time in medical facilities this week than many people spend in a year. Or ever. Any lucky you, get to hear about it. Now, I am an over-sharer and this is all fairly embarrassing, so just do me a favor and don't read any farther. That or be prepared to learn a lot more about my innards than either of us care for you to know.

Friday: Annual physical at my family doctor. Complaints included 'female issues' (let's just leave it at that) and a oddly sore left hip.

Monday: Imaging center for pelvic and "transvaginal" ultrasounds. Now, somehow when I looked at the paperwork my doctor gave me, I skimmed over the "transvaginal" part. I just envisioned getting one of those belly exams that they give to pregnant ladies. And no, my eggo is definitely not preggo. An hour before the scan I had to drink 1 liter (32 oz) of water and NOT pee, which was a serious accomplishment, given that I normally go every 7 seconds. The pelvic exam was painless, I was able to whiz, and then the technician said "the second scan is done through the vagina, is that ok with you?" I don't know what I ideal response would have been, but I was a bit shocked and said "well that sucks, but if my doctor wants it then its ok." I'll spare you the majority of the details, other than that the scan took a LONG time, because of what the technician called "gas." Yes, that kind of gas, which I wasn't even aware I had. She kept cursing, apologizing, sort of punching me in the gut, and then getting me to sort of punch myself in the gut, all so that she could get better images of my womanly bits without my huge gas-riddled bowels obstructing the view. AND with a rather uncomfortable camera dangling from a very precarious place. Nice.

Tuesday: Dentist. I finally ordered and paid for invisalign "braces." I am cursed with terrible teeth, and I am sure that I've covered more than my share of my dentists' Mercedes payments. Anyhow, bad teeth and crowding aren't working out for me, so the crowding has to go. I can't have regular braces (not that I particularly want them), because I have tooth demineralization and the metal braces would be too damaging to my pathetic teeth. Eye-rolling.

Wednesday: OOH! No Dr.s appointments and I actually got some work done.

Thursday: Visit to my friendly orthopedic surgeon and x-ray technician. Run-of-the mill appointment with a 1 hour wait in the little room. Why do they stick you in that horrible little room and then leave you there forever to die?! I understand that the doctor gets busy, but leave me in the WAITING room where there are magazines, television, and other humans. That little room is torture and I am tempted to snoop and terrified that I will get caught. Anyhow, the doctor looked at the x-rays of my pelvis and femora with me, and wanted to be sure that I knew the big black spots were not cancer. No, no, those giant black blobs were gas, and he announced it to the whole world. Seriously? Now not only am I worried that I am a hypochondriac, but I am also worried that I have some rare and unusual farting disease. Clearly I need to see a specialist for these new disorders, right?

Tomorrow: Fasting blood draw, non-fasting blood draw, and an MRI.

Let's just hope I don't a) worry myself into a hypochondratic coma, or b) blow up.

And for no particular reason, the following are some more of my camera trap photos from Madagascar.

A radiated tortoise.

A wild boar.

A wild cat (or Ampaha).

A Madagascar Harrier Hawk.

A rather large nostril.

A curious kid.

A sad pair of pants.

A goober.

Some crazy lemurs at 4:20am.

My buddy, LJ!