Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mammalogy Project

For one of the projects in Mammalogy class this semester, another student and I decided to conduct a survey of the ground-dwelling small mammals of a local nature center and park. We set live traps in three different habitats and discovered that Peromyscus species are abundant everywhere (there are two species, P. leucopus and P. maniculatus, the white footed mouse and the deer mouse, respectively, which both live in this area but are exceedingly difficult to differentiate without doing molecular or biochemical work - based on morphological characteristics though, we think that most, if not all, of the ones we caught were likely P. leucopus, but we can't be certain). We also caught several Northern Short-tail shrews and a single jumping mouse but were not rewarded with captures of any other types of shrews, harvest mice, moles, voles or bog-lemmings.

While I was washing out the traps after the project was over my grandparents' cat brought me a meadow vole - one of the species we had hoped to catch but didn't... although dead, its skin was not badly damaged so I brought it to school and stuffed it for a study skin to put in our museum.

Zapus Hudsonius/Meadow Jumping Mouse

Tallgrass meadow in which we had the most captures of any habitat

Peromyscus species - lovingly referred to by us as Promiscuous due to their abundance... and then if it is running away from a fox it becomes a "chaste Promiscuous"

Our friendly forest guardian

Monday, October 11, 2010

Survey Results

Survey results were tabulated for twenty-three women most of whom were undergraduate university students. Each individual was asked to circle as many reasons as they thought applicable as to why women wear high heels. These choices were then weighted based on the total number of choices each individual selected; in other words if someone circled twelve of the available reasons they were marked down as giving one twelfth of their vote to each of the reasons they circled. These "weighted" choices were then tallied and used to rank the reasons as they appear below. In this way one vote by a person who carefully selected a small number of reasons can carry more weight than three votes by people who each selected many reasons (see # 15 for example). The actual number of (non-weighted) choices gives a similar but not identical ranking order and these numbers are included in parentheses for comparison.


5. They appear attractive in a “sexy” way (19)
1. They make one appear taller (19)
8. They promote a posture/body shape that appears attractive in a “sexy” way (17)
4. They appear attractive in a “classy” way (18)
2. They make one appear more sophisticated (17)
7. They promote a posture/body shape that appears attractive in a “classy” way (14)
16. It is expected for females conforming with society to wear them (10)
13. The sound they make on a hard surface draws attention (10)
11. They elevate one’s visual vantage point (8)
20. They are an efficient and/or legal way to carry a weapon (6)
15. They make one appear helpless/needy (like foot binding by the ancient Chinese) (1)
14. The sound they make on a hard is pleasant/attractive to others (3)
25. Wearing them has a positive effect on the weather (3)
21. They help to aerate lawns (2)
10. They promote a posture that is healthful (3)
6. They appear attractive in a natural/innocent way (3)
9. They promote a posture/body shape that appears attractive in a natural/innocent way (3)
12. They make one appear vain (2)
18. They are comfortable (2)
24. They provide good grip on slippery or icy surfaces (2)
17. They strengthen one’s ankle muscles (in practice for ice skating?) (1)
23. They are good detectors of cheap flooring by punching holes (1)
3. They make one appear more “down to earth” (1)
19. They are financially economical to purchase (1)
22. They allow one to locate cracks/holes in a sidewalk without looking (0)

Friday, October 1, 2010

High Heels

After a discussion I got into recently I have decided to satisfy my curiosity on a matter I have often puzzled over: Why on earth do so many girls wear high heels? The following is a survey I plan to give out to a few friends and thought I would make it available for those I am not likely to see in the near future as well - you can leave a comment with the numbers you would "circle" on a paper survey as well as any additional reasons I may have overlooked.



I have always been baffled by high heels and have never been able to figure out what purpose they serve. For this reason I have assembled the following survey, to be taken by those of the female persuasion, as to why you, as a group, sometimes choose to strap yourselves into these contraptions. What I am asking for is your perception of the main reasons why most girls choose to wear heels which may or may not reflect your personal thoughts on the subject.

Please circle all that apply:

1. They make one appear taller
2. They make one appear more sophisticated
3. They make one appear more “down to earth”
4. They appear attractive in a “classy” way
5. They appear attractive in a “sexy” way
6. They appear attractive in a natural/innocent way
7. They promote a posture/body shape that appears attractive in a “classy” way
8. They promote a posture/body shape that appears attractive in a “sexy” way
9. They promote a posture/body shape that appears attractive in a natural/innocent way
10. They promote a posture that is healthful
11. They elevate one’s visual vantage point
12. They make one appear vain
13. The sound they make on a hard surface draws attention
14. The sound they make on a hard is pleasant/attractive to others
15. They make one appear helpless/needy (like foot binding by the ancient Chinese)
16. It is expected for females conforming with society to wear them
17. They strengthen one’s ankle muscles (in practice for ice skating?)
18. They are comfortable
19. They are financially economical to purchase
20. They are an efficient and/or legal way to carry a weapon
21. They help to aerate lawns
22. They allow one to locate cracks/holes in a sidewalk without looking
23. They are good detectors of cheap flooring by punching holes
24. They provide good grip on slippery or icy surfaces
25. Wearing them has a positive effect on the weather

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Graduate school

In some ways I feel as though I have become the black sheep of the blogging world since I have not posted anything for so long despite the wide variety of things I have been up to.

I spent this summer working for a logger that is based here in Berrien Springs but due to the logging being slow I was able to learn far more than how to cut a tree (something I found I still needed to learn after years of cutting firewood, thinning timber, and, of course, clearing the rainforest in Peru). Besides logging, the guy I worked for does storm cleanup work (and always seems to be wishing for another “Katrina”) as well as selling log-length firewood. He also does or at least helps with larger tree service jobs. I spent the majority of my time either with a chainsaw (Stihl saws ranging from 44cc to 66cc with 32” bars) or in a tracked bobcat with a log grapple on it – but I also spent plenty of time sharpening chainsaws (he said I was the first person to work for him that could do it properly without extensive training) hand work, servicing equipment, trucking, and anything else that needed doing.

As the summer progressed I continued to pray and seek for God’s guidance as to what I should do next – as is sometimes the case it seemed as though He was being silent. I began to weigh options in my own head and had tentatively decided not to go back to school right away and figured I would work to pay off the school loan I had accrued in my last year of school and then go help out at some mission project. God, however, intended for me to return to school and as soon as I began telling people that I probably wouldn’t, He made quite clear that I should. Between what I was reading for my devotions, what I was reading for pleasure, my work, and my dialogue with the biology faculty it seemed that all of a sudden everything was pointing towards my returning for a master’s in biology. I have now embarked on a new chapter of life as a graduate student and so far am enjoying the change and grateful to know with certainty that I am where God wants me to be. I look forward to learning what He has in store for my life but right now I must do my best with what He has given me.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

5T 87

Your Savior will guide you into the position best suited to your talents and where you can be most useful.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

#'s 37,38,39,40

Colvin
Blake
Nippletop
Dial

10 hours
18+ miles
3 cliff bars
3.5 liters water
unlimited sunshine
0 ml blood donated to insects
perfect temperature (not too hot)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Benefits of Fast Food

"The more frequently you walk under the Golden Arches... the sooner you will reach the pearly gates."


-Quoted in class on 04/01/10

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Distractions in Research

In my research for a paper on Ginger for my medical botany class I found an interesting book in our library. It is a reprint of an Herbal that was originally published in 1633. The letters are interesting in that, in most places where we would put a lower case "s" they have what appears to be an "f" that only has the back part of the cross stroke on it and they also seem to have switched their "v" and "u". Here is part of the section on ginger:

"Ginger, as Difcorides reporteth, is right good with meate in fauces, or otherwife, in conditures: for it is of an heating and digefting qualitie; it gently loofeth the belly, and is profitable for the ftomacke, and effectually oppofeth it felfe againft all darkneffe of the fight; anfwering the qualities and effects of Pepper. It is to be confidered, That canded, greene or condited Ginger is hot and moift in qualitie, prouoking Venerie: and being dried, it heateth and drieth in the third degree."

I also found it interesting that the author made a note of how he had put the corals (which we now know to be the homes of colonial animals) next to the mosses even though there were some corals that the "old writers" had not described which grew with branching more like a shrub or tree. Also sea fans (a different type of cnidarian) were included as a type of "shrub."

The author also described the "Goose-barnacle" tree which I have heard about on several occasions as a ridiculous myth that was widely believed long ago. However the myth makes sense after having read his description. On our trip to Florida I was able to observe barnacles attached to the roots of mangrove trees - these barnacles are filter feeders that stick out feathery projections to filter the water which, with a small measure of imagination, could look like the wings of a young bird... thus the tree must "grow" the barnacles and the little birds inside must grow up into geese. The author backs up this story with his personal observations of seeing the young downy birds in their shells growing on trees.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pictures from FL

This sign is not a joke - in the everglades a topographic difference of a few inches means the difference between open water, marsh, hardwood hammock, or pinelands. This "pass" is the low spot in a very real topographic feature - a "ridge" of several feet covered with trees that runs through a sea of sawgrass and has the same effect on the sheet flow of water through this area as if it were the Himalayas.




After a couple hours with a four inch thick dichotomous key I was still unable to identify this mystery tree which I thought, due to its milky juice, would be easy to key out. On returning home my botany professor was able, given some time and the answers to a few questions, to identify it as Manilkara bahamensis (Sapotaceae family) and promptly got my permission to include the picture in the expanded CD that will come with the next edition of his textbook.






Once all was said and done this has been a great way to earn three credits that I needed to graduate. Several times along the trip we had people wherever we were camping comment on how quiet/well behaved we were... one of our professors commented that we weren't your typical group of college students going to Florida for spring break - we did have several coolers and were there to study biology... but our coolers had such things as fruit, milk, lettuce etc. and I think the biology we studied was a fair bit more academic.

To see the web pages that students have done in years past (and eventually mine once they get uploaded) click here.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Balance

Yesterday I drove a trailer full of gymnastics paraphernalia up to Great Lakes Adventist Academy (GLAA) since our gymnastics team was doing a show there. Greg (my supervisor) was taking the team up with a coach and it was my job to drive a large (40' I think) enclosed trailer behind a Ford Excursion up to join them. While hooking up the tension bars on the trailer Greg suggested that we hook into the fifth link in the chains used for adjustment - I did the same on my side and then we put the tension on them. When I first started driving I realized that this was a big trailer for such a little truck and when I got on the highway the "tail" started to wag the "dog" as if my truck were being violently swung back and forth in the jaws of some giant monster. After slowing down and bringing things back under control I proceeded on my trip very carefully adjusting the steering wheel each time the trailer began weaving so that it was out of phase with the swing of the trailer and would not amplify the problem. At one point I pulled over and shortened the chains on the tension bars by one link to add more tension which seemed to make things a little better but I was still on edge for the rest of the trip. When hooking the trailer up for the return trip (we had taken the truck to go eat) I realized that Greg and I were counting links on the chain from opposite ends of the chain - it then made sense to me why, when I had adjusted them, one seemed so much tighter than the other even though the slope I was on should have had negligible effect. Once the bars were tensioned equally the trailer towed much smoother than it had before (even if it was still a lot of trailer for a little truck). This experience makes me wonder if there are things in my life which I keep trying to "tighten" far beyond where they should be when what I need to do is "balance" them.

Epilogue: After weighing the trailer and finding it was just 130 lbs shy of it's maximum legal weight I got to bed about midnight and then got up at 4:00 AM so I could study for a test in my hardest class.