Sunday, February 28, 2010

Snobby bug

So, I've know for a while that Sylvia likes good food. I've suspected she's a bit of a food snob, but hadn't realized quite the extent to which she's a food snob. I mean, she likes goldfish and hot dogs--not exactly haute cuisine--so I've been working on the assumption she likes kid foods. Well, this morning I gave her some Yoplait Trix yogurt rather than share my activia (I've had an upset stomach since the last round of antibiotics for the annoying swollen glands that came back after my visit to Brown), and after a single bite of the stuff she chucked the container across the table. Honey flavored Greek yogurt does assuage her discerning palate, so she had that for breakfast.

We'll try the Trix stuff again tomorrow morning, but I'm not holding my breath.

Here are some pictures of Sylvia in her ladybug getup. She's a very cute little bug!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Accidental cajun

Last Wednesday I made a pot of beans for a Mexican dinner at a friend's house. Then I realized there was a seminar that evening I wanted to attend, so I skipped the dinner and since then have had a pot of beans sitting in my fridge. After doing some research, I decided to make a simple dish of chorizo and beans, but when I went to get chorizo at Target, I couldn't find any--all I could find was Cajun sausage. So that was what I got.

And you know, maybe it's because my simple pot of beans turned into sort of a stone soup rice and beans, but dinner was pretty good. In case I ever want to repeat this particular dish, I'm putting down the recipe:

1 lb dry beans (I used navy--I suspect any red or white bean would be fine)
1 large onion
1 chipotle pepper, dry
1 dried ancho or other pepper

Dice onion and fry in a couple of tablespoons lard or bacon grease until browned. Add beans and enough water to cover to 1 inch. On hot skillet, dry roast peppers for about 30 seconds. Seed and stem and add to beans. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 hours, or until beans are fully cooked. Store for several days (optional).

2 to 3 tsp chicken bouillon
1 lb Cajun sausage
1 diced sweet pepper (I used red--it was on sale)
1 diced tomato
1/2 can tomato paste
about 1 c uncooked rice
about 1 tsp oregano
about 1/2 tsp thyme
about 2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 bunch collard greens, roughly chopped

Add bouillon to beans (this can be done before storing them in the fridge, if you're that on top of things). Remove peppers and either puree or discard. Fry sausage and add to the beans. Fry sweet pepper in same pan for just a couple of minutes, scraping up as much of the fond as possible. Add sweet pepper to beans, along with tomato, tomato paste, and spices. Make sure there's plenty of broth (you'll need at least 3 c of broth for rice to cook completely) and add rice. Simmer until rice is done. Add collard greens and serve immediately. Would be awesome with cornbread and tobasco.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mommy brain

This Sunday I have a deadline. I need to have a one page summary of my Phd dissertation (relatively easy) and an up to three page research statement describing where I want my career to go, well, more precisely:

A concise statement describing your research interests (three page maximum), in particular, those interests you would like to pursue at (Institution of Interest) as well as more general career plans and how a postdoctoral position at (IoI) would complement your existing experience

When I was at Brown, I remember feeling connected to my research, to science, to the literature, and I loved that! It's the feeling I often have after a conference, or after I got back from WHOI, and it's the feeling that keeps me motivated. Now that I'm back and spending something like 70% of my waking hours with a kid, that feeling just isn't there. I wish I could rekindle it. I need to if I'm going to have any hope of continuing as a scientist.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How cheap do you think I am?

I was talking with some people last night about my research and from their reaction to the news that I study climate change it was pretty clear they think global warming is a vast conspiracy perpetuated by the scientific community on society at large. I know there's no conspiracy--there's no way in ache-ee-double-hockey-sticks the cantankerous, disagreeable, argumentative bunch of scientists I know would go in for that. But it got me thinking, exactly what would motivate scientists to perpetuate fraudulent science? Most claims I've heard revolve around grant money, which sounds almost plausible when you consider the 6 billion dollar budget of NSF. That's got to be enough to pay all of us off, right?

Okay, so 6 billion (6x10^9) and we divide it amongst the approximately 50,000 (5x10^4) scientists who work in education.

6x10^9/5x10^5 = 1.2x10^4

or about $120,000. That's before considering that about 1/3 of the money NSF pays out in grants goes to universities (called overhead). Of course, not all of the 50,000 scientists working at universities are working on global warming, nor is all of NSF's budget going to studying climate change. So this is just a back of the envelope calculation (as it's meant to be). But it does show just how little money there really is floating around for science in general and begs the question, just how cheap do you think I am that I would keep quiet about a vast global conspiracy for a measly 120K a year?

Monday, February 22, 2010

cool science

Sometimes I come across a title to an article and think, "that's just cool." For instance, this little gem that talks about the theoretical underpinnings of biogeobatteries. Apparently you can, with some types of contaminant plumes and in some types of geology, set up electrochemical potentials on the order of tens of millivolts. Small, (and perhaps unsurprising) but neat!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

18 months nursery

Turning a year and a half old is a very exciting thing for an LDS child. Or, perhaps I should say, it's a very exciting thing for the LDS parents of a child when that child turns 18 months old, since at that point the child can go into nursery.

I've been pretty good about not trying to take Sylvia early--I took her once in January, the first day we were back, and I sat with her for all but about the last 20 minutes, when I realized she really didn't care if I was there--the toys were more interesting than me.

Sylvia officially turned 18 months old on the 7th of this month, but I was at Brown University, working very hard to process as many sediment and TLE (Total Lipid Extract) samples as possible for compound specific isotope analysis. Lots of fun--lots of work--and a great reminder that I really do love being in lab and doing organic geochemistry. What can I say, even doing columns, which makes me a little batty after a while, is pretty fun!

In any case, Sylvia hasn't been to nursery because I was out of town. I was looking forward to actually listening in Sunday school and Relief society, knowing Sylvia would be occupied elsewhere, but when I woke up, Sylvia had a runny nose. So, she stayed with me, we walked the halls a lot, and she slept on me during Relief society.

The little bits of lessons I caught did make me a little less than excited to going back to full attention mode. In sacrament meeting the second talk was on personal revelation, which always leaves me feeling uncomfortable, since in my life "personal revelation" looses to rational decision making hands down, particularly in terms of the outcomes of decisions I've made by following each. The third talk was basically a synopsis of a story from Pres. David O. McKay--something about a horse named Dandy who dies because he escapes the tethers that keep him out of trouble and eats some poisoned oats (which brings up a question--why, on a farm with horses, would you leave out poisoned oats? Couldn't you find a better substance with which to tempt rats that wouldn't also potentially kill your horses?). Sunday school was about Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah, but fortunately bland rather than offensive. Still, I couldn't help but wonder how many of the people in the room would be comfortable pitching their tents toward these folks, and wouldn't worry about becoming desensitized to the anger boiling from their pores.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dancing queen

Young and sweet, only 17 months!

But tomorrow, she'll be 18 months old. It's amazing to me that Sylvia is a year and a half old. How time flies!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Go Utah Legislature!

Sen. Buttars has another great money saving idea. I'm guessing he wasn't a terribly dedicated student. The Utah Legislature is also looking at a resolution requesting the EPA cease its attempts to control CO2 since global warming is based on "flawed science" perpetuated by scientists in a "well organized and ongoing effort to manipulate and incorporate "tricks" related to global temperature data in order to produce a global warming outcome."

Someday I will laugh about all this. Today, I just want to cry.