International Women’s Day

March 8, 2013 at 1:28 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Women are pretty awesome.  We’re strong, tough, feminine, masculine, soft, tender, funny, strict, wild, beautiful, imaginative, intelligent and so, so much more – and often all at the same time.  We’ve come a long way from the times when it was assumed we’d stay at home and do nothing but pop out babies and cook meal after meal and we now live in a day and age where we can do just about anything we want – including staying at home to pop out babies and cook meal after meal.  Feminism is a word that often has negative connotations but any person (male or female) who believes women should be treated as fairly as men is a feminist.  Just about every woman I know is a feminist and many of the men in my life are too, whether they realize it or not!

Yes we can!

Apparently International Women’s Day has been a thing since the early 1900’s, which was a time when the equality of women needed a little more attention.  I’d like to think that by now the need for this has become obsolete because everyone just knows that women should have the same basic rights that men do, but unfortunately that’s not the case.  Things like honor killings, genital mutilation, misogyny, pay disparity and Chris Brown still exist so obviously we have a way to go.  I think education is one great way that we can move forward in many of the areas that currently constrain us and a day highlighting some of this stuff is a step in the right direction.

Here’s a little more information about International Women’s Day, in case you’re interested.  Also, maybe take the time today to think about and appreciate some of the women in your life – you literally wouldn’t be here without at least one of them.  And if you’re a woman yourself, think of some of your own accomplishments and pat yourself on the back.  We deserve it!

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Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence

March 6, 2013 at 11:10 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I spent last Saturday at the Field Museum, being trained on our newest exhibit, Creatures of Light.  This features all sorts of animals that have bio-luminescence …which is a fancy way of saying all animals that create light.  The most common thing to spring to mind when we discuss this is the firefly (aka lightning bug), since most of us have captured them in our hands at one point or another.  Note:  if you still do this, please be sure to let them go.  Their population is decreasing due to societal expansion and they have a very short window of opportunity to mate and procreate…putting them in glass jars until they die kind of prohibits that.

This exhibit is coming to us from the American History Museum in New York, in affiliation with the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, Canada.  I wasn’t too sure that it was going to hold my attention but the whole lecture was fascinating and the exhibit itself is really cool.  Besides the obvious lightning bugs, we learned about the following things that also glow from within: a type of fungus, lots of deep-sea fish, glowworms in a cave in New Zealand that I’ve actually been lucky enough to see for myself,  plankton that lights up when touched in a lagoon in Costa Rica and a whole lot more.  I also learned that in the majority of bio-luminescent cases, there’s a type of bacteria that basically acts as a parasite to the animal/fungus/algae/whatever and that symbiosis is what causes the lighted features.  How cool is that?

Insane, I know. But surprisingly small, so don’t be too scared.

One of the most interesting animals we learned about was the anglerfish, which has a lighted tip hanging over its mouth to attract food, and also a luminescent barbel that hangs from its stomach.  It’s a creepy, crazy looking fish (obviously) but it doesn’t get much bigger than a human fist, so in reality it’s not as scary as it seems.  Interestingly, the females get this large while the males are fairly small and their main purpose in life is to basically attach themselves near the rear end of the female – for life – so she can absorb his sperm to make babies.  We were told that the male is basically a hanging gonad, which is just a lovely visual.  These fishes appear with dozens of others in glass jars throughout the exhibit, courtesy of The Field Museum.  They’re all (dead) specimens we have in research and it adds an interesting glimpse to the whole exhibit.

This will be at the Field through all of 2013 so if you’re lucky enough to be close, you should check it out.  And if you bribe a certain blogger with chocolate and/or beer, she just might help get you in!

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Commuting Clusterf*ck

March 4, 2013 at 1:21 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

So the Chicago Transit Authority is remodeling a very important bridge that something like 77,000 people cross every day via the train (yes, really).  In order to do, they had to shut the bridge down.  As you can probably imagine, this has created a bit of a headache for everyone involved, since it basically means all trains have to be re-routed and many of them quit operating altogether.  This construction is scheduled to last for this entire week and another week in April.  CTA’s suggestion to commuters was basically, try to work from home or take the weeks off.  Since this isn’t exactly an option for me (and most others, really), I woke up super early today to face what may come.

There’s the new bridge, ready and waiting to be installed. And I might be on that train in the background!

And, after the hype and worry and MANY warnings, it really wasn’t that bad.  Sure, I had to wake up early and walk an extra 1/2 mile or so to get to the office but the trains weren’t bursting with rabid, angry commuters as I had feared and there wasn’t mass chaos and rioting, at least nowhere that I could see.  The most frustrating thing I dealt with was the fact that the train I was supposed to take should have had a special color on it and, as one CTA official stated, they obviously “didn’t do that”.  It would’ve made figuring out where to go a little easier but I managed on my own.  I even made it to work 15 minutes early (which I didn’t exactly love but did sort of mirror the dream I had last night where I was so worried about the commute that I came into the office at 5am).  I’m still not exactly sure the best route for me to take to get home tonight but I’ll figure it out, and while I realize that the rest of the week may not go so smoothly as today did, now I can at least be optimistic.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings but if I really want to tempt the fates, I might only wake up 20 minutes early and see what happens.

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Quarter Life Crisis?

March 1, 2013 at 12:56 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

For whatever reason, I feel like I’ve been having a late quarter life crisis this week.  I thought that those were supposed to hit in your early 20’s, about the time you graduated from college and realized you had no idea what to do with the rest of your life, but apparently my crisis is a late bloomer.  I’m not sure what’s going on but I just feel…amiss.  I’m bummed that my job isn’t exactly my dream job and while I keep my eyes and ears open for new opportunities, it’s a harsh reality that I can’t really afford to do what I really want to (i.e. go back to school or maybe work for a non-profit).  My ugly student loan situation ruins lots of the big plans and ideas I have and it’s never really easier to deal with.  Perhaps when I’m 55 and have it all paid off I can go back to school but man, that’s a long way out.

Thank you, thank you very much.

It seems like all my friends are getting married and having babies and while I honestly don’t want to have to deal with either of those things anytime soon, it feels like I should want that.  You know?  Or maybe you don’t.  I’m not sure how to really describe the feelings I’ve been having and I’m sure this post seems scattered and confusing, but I’m hoping it’ll help to let some of this out.  The rational part of me knows that I’ve actually got it pretty good – my bills are paid, I’m able to save, and my financial situation isn’t nearly as dire as I sometimes think it is.  I’ve got great friends, a great family, a great boyfriend, I’m still able to travel etc., but I still feel like I should be doing more.  When I was growing up I envisioned myself having a job where I was able to actually help people on a daily basis and I just don’t feel like I’m making the sort of difference I should be.  I know that some people are finding relief due to my bankruptcy work but it’s not really tangible.  And I also know that I’m helping people out at the food pantry I volunteer at and as a Docent at the Field Museum but…it still doesn’t feel like it’s enough.  Which is crap, because all of those things are satisfying in their own ways!

I’ve got a plan to take some sort of class this year, whether it’s a language course, dance class, or cooking class.  I miss learning on a frequent basis and even if I can’t afford to actually go back to school, I can still try new things.  I’ll be training for new exhibits at the museum all month so I’m really looking forward to those lectures, at least.

But back to the crisis – just what is wrong with me?  I need to put on my big girl panties and suck it up.  Maybe this is all just PMS, or perhaps I am in dire need of a vacation.  It seems like everyone around me is planning one trip or another in the upcoming months and I just filed my taxes, so perhaps planning something for Scott and I is on the horizon as well.  This crisis I’m having this week could also be weather related, as we’re currently in the long stretch of  Chicago winter and it feels like sunlight and warmth will never make appearances ever again.

Well.  I do feel a bit better after venting, and at least it’s Friday – and someone finally cleaned out that stinky fridge in the corner.  Onward and upward!

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