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Past and Present

One of the big projects I was involved in as a graduate student was a set of experiments where we would collect ant queens, pair them up, put them in ant farms and observe their behavior. In the same way that the crickets I study have alternate life-history strategies (flying vs. early-onset reproduction), ant queens do, too: some queens start new nests on their own, while others start new nests in groups. There are more exotic cases as well, but our focus for these projects was comparisons between queens from populations that cooperated vs. queens from populations that didn't.

The experiments continued well past after I graduated, and now we've reached a point where it would be useful to do a synthesis of the various projects. I've spent part of the last month trying to sort through the available information so as to try and put things together. There have been some snags. An undergraduate ran an experiment in the summer of 2011, when I was getting ready to graduate, but as best I can tell there isn't any information about whether the queens he used were from the cooperative population or non-cooperative population.

There are better records from 2012, for some things, but with the stuff available to me I couldn't find a digital version of the original behavioral observations. I do, however, have a hard copy. So I spent this past week entering it in. This is how the binder looked after 2 full days of data entry:

My daily dose of data entry

I am really glad that I finally ordered a laptop stand for myself for work, as it's nice to have my computer screen higher up while I work on this.

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This morning, I made pancakes, as I often do on Sunday mornings, using the waffle iron that belonged to my grandpa:

Pancakes on Grandpa's waffle iron

The upper handle broke when I shipped the waffle iron to myself, so in this picture the top is resting on a pot holder. I think I'm going to try making a replacement handle out of clay - it should be able to tolerate the heat without conducting too much of it (I hope).

Other than that it has been a contemplative day. I'm grateful to have the time and space to just sit and think for a bit, in a non-linear fashion.

This entry was originally posted at https://rebeccmeister.dreamwidth.org/1221649.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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