Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Minnesota Nice

                            Lilypads in bloom on Lake of the Isles.

I had never heard of the stereotype of "Minnesota nice" until I came to Minnesota. Although I don't like stereotypes - nothing can be true for every single person in a group - some generalizations about a group of people seem right. LA drivers are rude  (not all but those few who are make it seem correct), Australians are nice (all I met there are), and runners are hard workers (haha, well, the majority are!). Minnesotans, in general, are nicer than people from other states.

In the past week, three different people have complimented me on my tan. Back home, I don't remember strangers complementing it ever. When my car was stuck in the snow on the side of the road this past winter, five people stopped within five minutes to offer help. Today I was complemented on my tattoo by two older women [I say this because they usually don't like them] while stopped at a light on my bicycle. I wasn't in the best of mood at first but afterwards it made me feel so much happier!

I love nice people, they can change your mood for the day which does greater good than just for you. It may start a chain reaction of kindness. Let's all act Minnesotan and say something sweet to a person each day this week :D

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I missed Pride a few weeks ago at home but I got to go to Minneapolis Pride today :) Compared to the Salt Lake Pride, it was larger with more booths and people. There were many companies, non-profits, vendors, artists, churches, food, political parties, and movements booths. It was free admission which was nice. They had a few stages for performances and we watched some drag numbers: always entertaining.

I love how exuberant Pride fests are. I love what they stand for. I love feeling like someday, there will be equality for all! When I see all the LGBT and allies gathered together, I can't help but know that soon the United States (and the world) will get it right; that we will ALL be considered equal.

Some of the highlights include:

Paying $1 - donations go to a pitbull rescue - to get some puppy breath. I got to hold this adorable and sleepy pitbull pup for a few minutes. He melted my heart.

We visited a vendor selling sooooo many buttons. I chose four that describe me pretty well! Science and evolution, peace, equality and pride, and greenness! More to add to my mochila morada [purple backpack].

I bought purple streaks for my hair. I'm not one to dye my hair so this is a fun alternative. They sold a spirited pack in rainbow but I just bought a couple purple ones :)


Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Today professor treated my research partner and I. He took us up in his 1960s mooney air plane! I had never flew in an airplane so small. It had only four seats and we had to climb onto the wing to get in. He showed us the campus and the area where we collected half of our samples from. I also got to steer for a bit!

View of campus.

The area where we collected half of our cottonwood samples from.

It was a whole different experience than flying commercially. You can really feel everything; every bump, turn, ascension, and coming down. It was fantastic.

Monday, June 21, 2010


We're at the point in our research where we are measuring the rings of our cores. It is the last step before analyzing our data.

We place the board containing two tree samples, two cores from each tree (so four cores total) on the slidey thing. We crank the slidey thing to move the board under the microscope. At each ring, we press a button to record the measurement to the 1000th millimeter. It is recorded onto the computer by the Measure2x program; a dinky little thing created by scientists, thus not the most user-friendly program.

Like my incredibly scientific way of explaining? :-P

Our board  - that we made - with four cores on it. We're lucky if we hit the center in our core samples. Those little dashes are five year marks.

We're almost finished. We'll be done with measuring by tomorrow!

Friday, June 18, 2010


I love being inspired. Whether it's from hearing a great show and being inspired to pick up guitar or watching someone paint and wanting to create my own piece. I also love being inspired by fashion.

I read (or more like see) this blog: The Sartorialist . It's a few people posting photos of every day people they see on the streets of NYC, Milan, Paris, Florence... It's so inspirational. Some of the styles I could never pull off but some I LOVE. They give me great ideas. I want to repost one of the photos here but I won't because of their copywrite. However, if you look at June 16 entry "On the Street...Italian Girls, Florence" you will see what I want you to. This girl is wearing the best boots - they are classy but rugged. I adore them. I also love her blazer. It is cut just right and paired with a pair of shorts! Her blouse is cute and I love the pattern; reminds me of the prairie.

Fashion is one of those things I was never exposed to as a young girl. My grandma is not materialistic at ALL, especially when it comes to clothing. Since she was the one who raised me, I wasn't brought up to dress chic. I remember figuring it out in middle school. We were required to wear these awful uniforms. We could only wear plain navy, red, or white t shirts or polos with navy or khaki pants, skirts or shorts. I remember looking at the girls that actually made it look good. Throughout middle school, it was all about trying to fit in with American Eagle and Abercrombie.

Once high school hit, I branched out a bit. Later high school years and now, I love going to thrift shops, surfing online, and finding what I believe looks good. I don't really buy new stuff for each new fashion craze (unless I like what's being sold) but I do enjoy following what's "in" for the season. Window shopping or flipping through magazines and looking to see the prevailing colors and styles is fun.

I have to say, being in the small town I am for school, fashion is not a big deal. I am more likely to wear drabby clothes and sweats (especially in winter when it's - 30 and blizzarding; how am I supposed to be fashionable in -30?!). Looking at this blogs photos inspires me though. I know once I am home in the city, I'll hit up the thrift stores and go crazy :D

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Time flies by

                                        Me! Age 15? 16?

I only have one week of research left... What! We've already collected as many samples as we are going to. We're finished with the lab work on the condensed tannins in the leaves and have used the spectrometer to measure its prevalence. Now, we're working on measuring tree rings. Boyooo.

Also, the kids that I've been watching are leaving tomorrow. I can't believe they've been here for two weeks already. It seems like it was yesterday that I was nervous about picking them up. Tomorrow they make the long treks home. They presented what they learned to a tribal council today. It was a proud moment for their professors and us.

I remember when I used to think about me being in college and I could never picture it. Not that I couldn't make it or wouldn't go, but it seemed like when I got there I would be old and mature. It seemed so far away. I thought that certain feelings would disappear, that I would feel differently about myself, and that I'd be super responsible. That is definitely not the case. I still feel young, so young. I also feel like the same person; hardly changed at all. Maybe I've learned some lessons but I'm still me; I just have a few years added to my age and the ability to sign things myself.

I think that is just how it is. All in all, we all feel like we still have a lot to learn, a lot left to do. My grandma feels young herself. She says it's frustrating to have a young mind stuck in an old body, holding you back from things you used to do effortlessly. So I'll consider that and make sure I can do as much as I can while I am strong and able.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Do you ever have those moments where you feel like you could be in heaven because they're so perfect?

I'm glad to say I do.

Yesterday evening I was laying on the mall with John. We had just finished working out and were resting on the grassy area in the center of campus called the mall. There were a few puffy clouds but otherwise it was sweet light (late in the day with a soft, pretty light). The cottonseeds were blowing in the wind. Birds were singing and the grass was green. I was laying on my back looking up at the passing seeds, clouds, and the green leaves reflecting the sunlight. It was beautiful. I felt so at peace with the world and myself.

It's moments like those where I wouldn't mind if I died: At least I could say I was truly happy.

Monday, June 7, 2010


So today we cored more Cottonwoods and guess what was spouting from each hole?


It was coming out of the corer and dripping down the tree; Professor said he had never seen that before (and he's worked a long time with many plants).

When we put our ears up to the hole, you could hear it sucking water from the ground. How cool is that! The noise reminded me of when you put your ear on somebody's belly and you can hear the food digesting. Those were some thirsty trees. "Slurrrrrp, slurp, slllllurp."

Professor was super excited; he kept putting his lips to the newly cored holes and sucking the water out to drink it. Haha. Sort of silly but I understand. Geeky biologist, what else would you expect?

Whenever something like this happens, it reminds me of how everything is connected. Humans, other animals, plants... we're all so different but have so much in common. These trees were taking water up through their roots, moving it through their trunks and then to their leaves. They were hydrating themselves, much like how we hydrate our bodies, our cells.

I love earth and everything on it.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Born Love

I have discovered my shoemaker. Stylish, comfort, and real quality all in one amazing brand. That brand is Born Shoes.

I first fell in love with them when I ordered my Born Thicket boots through LL Bean.

Now, I don't own any other pairs besides this beauty but I wish I did. Their sandals run $75 +  and their boots reaching into the $200s. I understand people buy shoes that cost way more than this but not me. Born would be as expensive as I would ever pay. They may cost a lot of pennies but they are worth every one!

Some of my favorite warm season styles:

The Gladiolus; delicate yet I'm sure durable sandals. So pretty!

The Hydrangea:  So lovely. Can you tell I adore the blossom theme?

The Vara. The color is so natural and heel is sexy. Hot!

Now for the boots which I will buy.

The Darcy. I already have my brown boots and just need a black pair, then I'll be set!
The Anastasia. I love this classy style. This color would go with anything and I love the toe.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New Yoooork!


So lately I've had many New York City fantasies. I've been all over the USA from the West coast to the East, to the South and to the North. Matter of fact, I've had opportunities to travel out of country too. But...

I've never been to NYC!

NYC has been on  my mind lately. I just finished two novels that were set in New York. Half (literally) of the blogs I follow are based outta New York. Another just wrote a blog entry about the subway. I've been watching Law and Order lately - based on NYPD. NYC is the fashion capital of the States . I've been listening a lot to Empire State of Mind Part 2 (without JZ, although I like that version too). Listen here: Empire State of Mind Pt 2.

My family chose the year I went away to college to go to NYC without me :(  My friends have been there. I know a few people that are originally from there.

I can't wait for my chance to go there. It's going to just as amazing as everyone says, I know it. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


After the third episode in a row of Law and Order, Ember and I stepped outside. It had rained a little and as soon as we exited the building, I commented on how cool it had become. Ember pointed out the gorgeous orange and pink sunset. It took up the entire western sky and I haven't seen one that beautiful for a while. It was absolutely gorgeous.

When I got to my room, I glanced out the window and saw something even more spectacular. To the east, a rainbow lit up the sky and the wind turbine was colored pink.

There's something really stirring about a rainbow, wouldn't you agree? It may be pouring rain outside and your plans to go to the pool are canceled but then a little bit of sunlight comes out. Suddenly, you're blessed with a rainbow. It takes away any hard feelings; at least for me it does.


We got a late start on the research today but that's better than nothing. We started by gathering the material we would need for collecting leaf samples; envelopes and a stapler, two very long pruners, a camera, a field notebook, liquid nitrogen, and a marking pen.

Take a closer look at the above photo. Is there something wrong with this picture? Bottom right corner of the box. Yep, liquid nitrogen was leaking out of our styrofoam box.

Uh-oh. "Professor, we have a problem," I said as we listened to the dripping of the nitrogen hitting the floor. "Hmm, that's not good," he said casually. "Hmm, well, it's just nitrogen."

The liquid nitrogen was going to be used to freeze the leaf samples. Oh well. We just let it leak all over the place.

So, we continued on our way to the field to collect leaf samples.

We collected cottonwood tree leafs with our hands, about a dozen from each tree. We stored them in an envelope, marked the tree number on the envelope, and put the envelope in the empty, styrofoam box. After taking a photo of the tree we collected from and writing down where it is located (for future coring of the same tree), we moved on to the next.

After collecting from seven different trees, professor wanted to play with his new "toy." The toy was a 30 foot leaf pruner. Here it is, not even at it's full extended length:

He pruned some high leaf samples off a tall cottonwood with his new toy and we hand picked some lower samples. Tomorrow, we're going to look at the difference in the tannin (if any) between the lower and higher leaves. (Psst. Tannin - a bitter tasting chemical made by the tree to protect it from being eaten. Difference in levels will help us determine the potential of the tree as a biofuel and give some clues to how climate change has affected them).

I'm super excited for the lab work tomorrow. LOVE SCIENCE.

It's cool the extra things you learn along the way. I now know what this flower is that I've been seeing on my runs. It's Dame's Rocket, more scientifically Hesperis matronalis, part of the mustard seed family.