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Well, that's done, at least for now

I suspect I'll always feel that moment of anxiety immediately after clicking the "submit" button when submitting a manuscript for publication.

I think the last time I tried submitting to this particular journal, the submission quickly bounced back because it was estimated to be too long for publication. We have tried to get this one sufficiently under length, but of course I have my doubts. And if it's a desk-reject it will also bounce back quickly.

Best to move on to other projects in the meantime.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1154549.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
Yesterday, I encountered a series of headlines:

To life growth, Janey Yellen says make it easier for women to work.

Then, The meaning of life in a world without work. [Note: when I later tried to relocate this article, I discovered that it's a popular subject to speculate on; the speculations actually date back to an era when people also speculated on further shortening of the workday]

But then, you know, The gig economy celebrates working yourself to death.

Also, I really cannot imagine robots completely replacing human beings across all forms of work. Certain lines of industry are going to persist, and they aren't especially glamorous because they require, well, work. And then, how can the people engaged in that work - labor, really - be expected to support this mysterious class of people who don't work?

This is already going on, of course.

I still don't know what to do with Janey Yellen's assertions.

Also, here's an interesting blurb about the history of employer-provided health insurance, in case you hadn't seen it and were interested.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1154269.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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Bike camping

I dragged [personal profile] scrottie on a bike camping expedition over the weekend, up to Samuel P Taylor State Park. For miscellaneous reasons, we didn't really get underway until around 2 pm, departing from campus, so we wound up catching a 3:30 pm ferry at Jack London Square in Oakland. We then set out from the San Francisco Ferry Building at 4 pm. After dodging tourists through San Francisco, up over the Golden Gate Bridge, and through Sausalito, we headed up and over Camino Alto and finally reached the stage of the ride where we could relax a bit.

We reached the campground at about 6:30 pm and then were finally able to learn how the park manages bike campers. I think it's a good and fair system, and suspect there are similar arrangements for other campgrounds in the region. Basically, they have a single hiker-biker campsite, it's capped at 15 people total, you can only stay one night, and it's first-come, first-served with no reservations. The campground opens at 2 pm each day, so as you can imagine, things were full by the time we arrived. Fortunately, the ranger was incredibly gracious and let us camp in a secret overflow location, so long as we packed up and left by 9 am the next morning.

The secret overflow location wound up being much nicer for my purposes because it put us across the river from the remaining campers, nestled in among some redwoods. There was a wedding reception across the river from us, including what sounded like live swing-jazz music, but even that quieted down before 9 pm.

We got up around 7 am Sunday morning, and were packed up and ready to depart by 9 am, as promised. We first headed over to a fire trail access gate, thinking we'd do a little bit of mountain bike touring. When we reached the gate, we discovered the fire road was a wee bit too steep for fully loaded touring bikes. Just a wee bit. So we parked and locked up and went on a hike instead, to explore Devil's Gulch. It was a peaceful morning and we mostly had the trails to ourselves.

After that, we headed back towards Fairfax to check out the Marin Museum of Bicycling, where I took a bajillionty-eleven pictures, and then we retraced our route back to the Ferry Building/etc.

It was 6:30 pm before I made it back to campus to sort crickets. When I went to swap my sunglasses for my glasses, my poor old, tired glasses snapped at the bridge. Sigh. New ones are now on order.

Photos later in the week. This was already blogged on borrowed time.

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I managed to get myself out of bed to go rowing this morning. As usual, I'm glad I did. The wind was blowing up the BAP out of the south, as it often does, but the water was still nice enough for a good steady-state piece.

I'm continuing to work on my posture in the boat. A long while back, Iz had some useful feedback on how to think about it, and I've finally reached a stage where I can feel the feedback from my muscles when I'm doing things correctly vs. being sloppy. Good postural control at the finish/release makes for much smoother rowing and better preparation at the catch. It should also help smooth things between M's rowing style and mine.

The challenge is that I have to keep rowing with at least a minimal amount of consistency to hold onto improvements like this one. Days like Monday through Wednesday this week made that challenging, however, so I have to be satisfied taking what I can get.

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Wednesday through today I have been dissecting the crickets from this week's inulin experiments. My primary goal is to determine the flight muscle status for the long-winged crickets (pink, active flight muscle or white, histolyzed flight muscle). My main focus is on the long-winged pink-muscled crickets because they are metabolically distinct from the short-winged white-muscled crickets.

But on any given day, the ratio of long-winged pink to long-winged white varies. For the 11 pm - 1 am timepoint, I had 7 pink and 1 white, so that timepoint is set. However, for the 11 am - 1 pm timepoint, I only had 2 pink and 8 white, and for the 8 pm - 10 pm timepoint I only have 1 pink and 7 white.

So I will need to redo two out of the three timepoints. Based on the current results, I'll set up long-winged to short-winged crickets at a ratio of 2:1.

These dissections have been very tedious and labor-intensive because in addition to checking the flight muscle status, I'm also dissecting out and weighing it, and also the crickets' ovaries and fat body. The ovaries are straightforward, but the fat body is a diffuse and sticky tissue that has to be gathered up.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1153574.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

A few cool recent science findings

One of my undergrads has just completed her honors thesis on flight in the California wing-dimorphic cricket species, and after a tremendous amount of work she wound up getting some really cool results. Based on a prior publication, we all thought that making female crickets fly for 10 minutes would cause them to histolyze their flight muscles and grow their ovaries.

But that wasn't the case. More of the flown crickets actually retained their flight muscle compared to tethered, unflown controls (the tethering controls for the handling required to get the crickets to fly). There was a small trend towards larger ovaries in the flown vs. tethered crickets, but it was not significant and was much smaller in magnitude than the difference between pink-muscled crickets and white-muscled crickets.

Of course, these findings raise a billion new questions, but this was a fantastic and interesting project by itself.

Somewhat related to all this, something cool happened on Monday night, when I stayed up late to complete a late timepoint and then slept overnight in the lab. At the moment, I'm running assays to check the hemolymph composition of the California cricket species at different times of the day and night. We want to study processes in crickets that are in a post-absorptive state, so I take food away from the crickets 3-4 hours before I start the experiment. Logistically, that means that I transfer crickets from a co-housed sweater box into pint-size deli cups that contain a cotton ball (so they aren't dehydrated). [I'll try to remember to take a photo of the setup this evening.]

Anyway, to estimate a cricket's total hemolymph volume, I inject them with fluorescently-labeled inulin, let them sit for 30-60 minutes, then puncture the exoskeleton and collect the hemolymph. By measuring the relative dilution of the inulin, I can back-calculate to the total hemolymph volume.

One of the things I discovered when I was developing this method for crickets was that the inulin is very difficult to dissolve in water, and it comes out of solution easily. So to ensure that my results are as consistent as possible, I vortex the tube of inulin every time that I go to draw some out for an injection.

I'm using an ancient, inherited vortexer that rattles around a whole bunch, and thus vibrates the containers holding the crickets.

I'm not sure if it was the vibrations from the vortexer, or simply the time of night, but on Monday night I saw at least three of the ten long-winged crickets open their wing covers and start vibrating their hind wings, which is a preparatory behavior for flying.

In comparison, I've never seen the Florida crickets do this.

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Not *exactly* an impulse purchase....

...a "compulse" purchase?

Someone on the tweet-machine twit-o-fied about organic cotton bedsheets with Charley Harper insect designs on them.

Maybe five minutes passed between my learning about them and my highly frivolous purchase.

I am pretty sure this wasn't just induced by sleep-deprivation delirium. Pretty sure.

I still need a source for semi-dignified cardigan purchases.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1153104.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Here we go again

I am in the lab again for a night shift from 11-1 am.

The way today has gone, I'm not especially optimistic this evening will go smoothly. But I must try nonetheless.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1152989.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Expeditions and cooking, recently

Our Friday morning bicycle coffeeshop destination was to Highwire Coffee. They definitely subscribe to the "Reclaimed wood. Edison bulbs. Exposed brick." aesthetic. But they have nice seating. We enjoyed the cool morning out on their back patio.

Coffeeshop bike ride to Highwire Coffee

Coffeeshop bike ride to Highwire

Coffeeshop bike ride to Highwire

Coffeeshop bike ride to Highwire

Friday after work, I set off in search of a place called Ras Dashen Enterprises, which is an Ethiopian grocery store. I was not disappointed. Not only did they sell big bags of berbere, they also had freshly prepared injera, and it was made from 100% teff. I'm glad to finally have had the chance to try 100% teff injera.

The berbere did not disappoint, either. I fed the household some giant vats of homemade Ethiopian goodness on Saturday night - misir wat (red lentils with the berbere and onions) and atakilt wat. It's hard to go wrong with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots.

I also used the very last of the sour cherries from Nebraska to make one last Black Forest Cake, for [personal profile] scrottie's birthday [but everyone knows I just use the occasion as an excuse to bake a ridiculous cake]. Boozy. I miss those cherries.

Then today I made another batch of a green bean recipe from The Healthy Cuisine of India that I think is a fantastic way to showcase green beans. The recipe goes by a name something like "green beans in mustard-poppyseed sauce," but it uses white poppyseeds, which I'd never heard of but managed to find at a nearby Indian grocery. [Yes, this is a perk of having to deal with life in the Bay Area]. You're supposed to toast the poppyseeds and then grind them with a mortar and pestle, but the previous time I made this dish I found the grinding to be rather ineffectual and very labor-intensive. So after reading further online, I decided to instead clean out the Porlex coffee grinder and try it. WAY easier. The coffee grinder was easy to clean, and everything ground together wonderfully.

I will try to post the recipe for these green beans sometime soon. The white poppyseeds release an incredible aroma after they have been toasted, and they do pair well with green beans.

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I MADE A THING!!

It feels as if it has been forever since I've had enough free time on a Sunday to tend to chores and then work on a project, what with regattas, science marches, and bicycling expeditions and such.

Today I got to test out the new sewing machine, a Janome HD-1000, and try my hand at sewing nylon.

Sewing setup

The machine's in the background. In the foreground, you can see a cardboard cutting table from [personal profile] annikusrex's mom, K. K taught both of us how to sew, and I have a lot of memories of standing around that cutting table, playing with pattern weights and pins. It is so handy to have a table for sewing projects that also folds flat, and it's surprisingly sturdy. Thank you, K!

The sewing machine worked like a dream.

After a bit of rummaging around, I was able to relocate the strip of aluminum I'd used previously to anchor the basket to the CETMA rack, as well as the old bolts and locknuts. I hope the blue foam camping pad works as well as, if not better than, the last closed-cell foam I used to pad the rack. I suspect the whole setup is still going to make a ridiculous and awful rattling racket again.

Fresh Amish bike basket install

This is the third Hirshhorn basket, and this time around they made a couple of awesome custom modifications for me, to enable much better left-handed access:

Left-handed bike basket

And here's what I sewed, in action. A nylon rain and weather covering:

Basket with cover

For, ahem, aerodynamics, you know.

If I'd had such a covering on the previous basket, it might have lived longer, as it sat outside through the Texas heat and humidity and rain.

The next item on the sewing list is that set of Bike Spats. Those are going to be slightly complicated to shape, but I think I'm up for the challenge. I'm fairly certain that the moment I complete them, we'll revert back to the dry season here.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1152424.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Awkward time gaps

Last Friday, I sent my PhD advisor a finalized draft of the current Manuscript of Doom*, where we have one remaining issue to address before it's ready for submission: it's too long. This is not a horrible problem, but it does require time and thought. She is a whiz-genius at shortening, so I asked for help.

Communication about the timing of tasks like this can be tricky to orchestrate by long distance, though, so when I hadn't heard a peep from her by Tuesday, I did some additional work to prune the reference list and sent over the revised version as a nudge. She replied to say, "Oh, I'd started working on this already, but I'll fold my changes into your version." And I haven't heard anything since then, so once again I have no idea what kind of timecourse I'm looking at. I do know better than to poke the sleeping bear too many times in a row on short notice, though.

All right, fine, I can work on one of a half-dozen other projects in the meantime, right?

...except task-switching isn't always so simple. The next item on the list was data analysis for the circadian project, and then again, I hit a sticking point where I needed to meet with my postdoc supervisor and confer before moving forward.

In the meantime, I'm helping an undergrad knock out her honors thesis at record speed, helping a grad student turn around a grant report, and gearing up for more circadian-type fun times next week. Oh, and working on a couple more manuscript reviews.

The challenge, for me, is that all these things leave me with weird, awkward time gaps. I want to do productive things with the time gaps, but sometimes I fail because they aren't long enough for me to pick up other projects, remember where I left off, and make headway.

Oh well. At least I'm not bored or underemployed?


* Manuscript of Doom = whatever current project feels like it's taking FOREVER to complete. This one's from my last dissertation chapter in 2011, for instance. I think it had a more clever name, like Manuscript of Doom IV: The Thunderdome, but I don't remember anymore.

This entry was originally posted at http://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1152103.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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