In Denali

In Denali, have one minute of internet left on my timer! At the conference a friend and I dubbed this skinky latino guy with long hair as the official hottest guy at the conference. Ended up running into him and having dinner with him. Ultimate win. He’s from Costa Rica, and turns out one of my close friends was his TA for a class. Small world.

14 hour adventure tomorrow!Woo!

Alaska photos!!!

Yay, I finally found a way to transfer photos! I’ll just share some of my favorites here with you:

Eating at Pike’s Place on the Chena River. Good food, but even better view.

This was so hilarious that I almost bought it. It was in the gift shop for the Alaskan Salmon Bake, which is basically this hokey gold mine theme park we went to that had all you can eat salmon, halibut, cod, prime rib, and all the fixings.

This was the best part of the theme park. Weeeeee!

I also learned that polar bears tend to spontaneously combust in Alaska.

Creepy human-turtle zombie sculptures on campus. Thankfully it’s daylight 24/7, so no real worries of zombie attacks.

Downy woodpeckers! I took about a billion photos of these two, it was impossible to just choose one.

Doing the touristy thing with the Alaskan pipeline. Kind of anticlimactic, actually.

Caribou at the Large Animal Research Station!

D’awwww baby caribou.

Muskox! And my new arch nemesis, the seventy bajillion zillion mosquitoes of Alaska.

Muskoxen sparring! I am SO lucky to have gotten this photo.

In the Army Permafrost tunnel!

Too soon?

Time to play Kill, Sleep With, or Marry:

(If you’re not familiar with this game, you were obviously never a teenage girl. Select one person for each action)

Farrah Fawcett
Michael Jackson
Billy Mays

As awful as it would have to be to tolerate a lifetime of Billy Mays’s yelling, I still think having sex with him would be more horrible. So I’m going to say kill Michael, do Farrah, and marry Billy. Unless we’re talking Thriller-era Michael, in which case do Michael, marry Farrah, and kill Billy Mays.


Am I a horrible person?


Me: Having sex with Billy Mays would be fucking horrible
Me: omg I hate you. I’m in a computer lab and trying not to tear up and die laughing
Me: omg a professor is laughing at me

At least he’s more horrible than I am.

Never mind

Yeah, so that previous email was just spam. Got a couple other really similar emails later that were equally confusing. Man, I was hoping this would be some cryptic religious puzzle that would send me on a Da Vinci Code-like journey. Sadness.

In other news, I found a charger for my camera, woo! …But the camera shop was out of SD card readers, so still no photos for you. I may stop by a Radioshack on my way to the bird sanctuary tomorrow and try to grab one. I know it can theoretically wait, but 1) I’m going to need to get it eventually and 2) Some of the photos are too hilarious to wait a week to show. Wish me luck!

I get weird emails

Usually I would ignore these weird emails as nonsensical spam jibberish, but this one caught my eye for some reason:

from: Alana Madrid
cc: [Other Purdue Emails]
date: Sun, Jun 28, 2009 at 7:55 AM
subject: or art not thou the hum of multitudes was there but multitudes of lambs

the sun descending in the west, earth rais’d up her head,the hum of multitudes was there but multitudes of lambs his arm is withered to its root;

So after some googling, these random poetic sounding phrases are from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience, which are essentially religious poems. And is an Iran news site.

Can anyone make sense out of this, or should I just ignore it as some crazy email?

Conference update, photo woes

Another Alaska update before I head out for our banquet! Yesterday I went to lunch with my academic grandfather (my advisor’s PhD advisor), who I’ll call AG. I had never met him before, but he was really nice, funny, and intelligent.

AG: So you’re my academic granddaughter? I lose track, I’ve trained over 40 PhD students.
Me: Wow, that’s impressive.
AG: I like to consider it a failure to practice academic birth control.

He’s also one of the most famous and accomplished scientists here, and he gave me a lot of great grad school advice. Though my favorite was probably when he told me if I was certain I wanted to go into academia, to marry a sugar-daddy doctor or something so I actually have some money.

Him: Hey, that’s what I did. My wife is a physician. I don’t mind it!

My talk today went really well. I was getting more and more nervous about it as the conference went on. Yesterday at the member’s meeting for the society they actually announced the time and location of my talk to a room full of ~150 people because I was the undergrad award winner. My immediate thought was “oh fuck.” Though the room didn’t end up being packed, mainly because my talk was the first of the day at 8:30 am. And on the third day of a conference, people start waking up later and later. I still had about 40 people come though.

We were initially having some technical difficulties. The session chair couldn’t get the computer to work, so I was afraid I’d have to give my talk sans-Power Point (nooo!). That’s what I get for joking about doing an interpretive dance of my talk all week. But eventually someone in the audience donated their laptop, and we were able to hook that up to the projection system. Once I started talking I wasn’t nervous because I was focused on…well, talking. I was actually able to answer questions without sounding like an idiot, hooray! And many people told me it was great (including AG, woo!), and that they heard other people saying it was great, so I’ll call it a success.

And as for my photo woes? I have a ton of funny/beautiful photos so far, but unfortunately you don’t get to see any of them. My little camera that I was using before, the base I need to transfer photos and charge it broke during the plane ride. Blargh. Will try to go to Walmart tomorrow and see what I can do. And the big fancy photo – which I have a bunch of neat bird photos on – can’t upload without installing software, and the lab computers here won’t allow me to do that. So I guess you all just get the boring text versions of my adventures for now.

Banquet time!

Where are our future atheist politicians?

It’s pretty well known (at least among heathen circles) that atheist are fairly underrepresented minority in the US Congress. Pete Stark is the only out non-theist, and there are five people who chose not to answer the religious affiliation question – which of course doesn’t mean they’re necessarily unbelievers. There certainly may be closeted atheists in Congress, but one reason we want out atheists is so we know there will be at least some people in our government promoting a secular viewpoint.

A lot of atheists tell us not to despair; that as atheism spreads and becomes more and more accepted, we’ll start seeing more and more atheist politicians. But as of right now, coming out as an atheist is a gamble that you’d be committing political suicide.

So what’s the problem? you ask. Yeah, right now it’s bad, but in the future it’ll be better. Well, the problem is our future politicians are growing up in the present, where they see being religious as a requirement for getting into public office. I was talking to my friend who’s one of those wishy-washy deists (mentioned in my post “Wanting to Believe”) who is starting law school with the hopes of becoming involved in politics. He was raised Christian, lost his faith, but then desperately tried to regain it (settling at deism, I suppose) because you “Have to believe in something to be a politician.” So not only is he lying about his faith with the hopes of being elected 15 or 20 years from now (he still tells people he’s the Christian his parents raised him as), but he basically convinced himself to actually have more religious beliefs. He jokes that if in the future it comes out that he had something going on (said the relationship was complicated) with an atheist activist chick, there would be a scandal. The sad thing is, I can’t tell if he’s really joking or if there’s a hint of worry there.

Now, this is just my own experience with one person out of the many current and future law school students in the United States. But it does make me worry a bit. Is it going to take longer than we thought to see out atheists elected? Should I not care if they’re closeted or not? Maybe it would be best that they sneak in this way – even though young people are becoming less religious and more accepting as atheists, we’ll still have to deal with the old peoples’ vote. I guess my personal code of conduct wouldn’t allow me to lie about such a big part of my life, and we know politicians never lie or manipulate…

So what do you guys think? When are we going to see out atheists elected? Does it even matter if we do?


I still can’t believe that I’m actually in Fairbanks right now. I guess I’ve been really busy all day with the meeting that it hasn’t quite sunk in yet – I’m sure once I see a moose wandering around it’ll hit me. It’s absolutely gorgeous here though. I’m used to pancake-flat Indiana, with Purdue being void of nature and full of brick monstrosities…but here it’s just hills and green everywhere. Seeing the mountains in the sort of pastel dusk colors from the plane was so awesome. I just wish I could have gotten a photo, but alas, I didn’t have a window seat.

Speaking of plane rides, mine were a bit interesting. My flight to Seattle I was sitting next to two frat guys, wearing their letters and talking about a frat conference they were just at. They were nice, but I found it mildly hilarious that they were both watching the in flight movie of Confessions of a Shopaholic and seemingly enjoying it. This also made my day:

Guy1: *headbanging as if to a hard rock song*
Guy 2: Dude, what are you listening to? *touches iPod so it lights up*
Me: *looks and sees “Clocks – Coldplay”*
Guy 2: Bro, awesome.
Me: …

When we were landing in Seattle there was a rainbow! That was neat.

My flight to Fairbanks was also interesting. I was wearing my non-theist shirt again (I just can’t get enough drama, I guess) and the middle aged guy next to me started talking to me. First he tells me he’s from Utah. Hmmm. Then he says he has 8 siblings. Alarm bells start going off in my head. Then he says he spent a 2 year mission trip in Boston for the LDS church. Yep. Thankfully he either didn’t read my shirt, didn’t understand it, or didn’t care because he never mentioned anything. It was still a little awkward. Mainly I just didn’t want to get into any sort of religious discussion, especially since it was about 3 am my time and I just wanted to go to bed.

Alright, off to the social at the campus pub. Seriously, why don’t we have an official campus pub? Lucky!

Leavin :D

Woo! Leaving for the airport in about 45 minutes! You know, I’m really not sure how big name bloggers post so often. Do they just never go on vacation? I’ve been trying to make some posts for while I’m gone, but I still feel like I’m going to be neglecting you guys. Well, it doesn’t help that I don’t have a laptop (waiting until grad school to get one). I can theoretically post from my phone, but it has a character limit so I get about 3 sentences in. I will make some posts about my adventures while I’m up there, but if not, I’ll at least write some stuff down so I don’t forget it when I get back. Just think of it this way: you’ll have a bit of a dry spell for a while, but then lots of crazy Alaska stories and photos afterwards!

Oh, and I think about everyone I know has told me to say hi to Sarah Palin. Ha. Ha. Yes, she’s the one person you know from Alaska and she’s an idiot. Hilarious. Though this wins for most original:

“Say hello to Palin for me. Knock up Bristol on my behalf.”
“That may be difficult for me to do, but I’ll try my best.”

See you guys later :D

Alaska Itinerary!

I leave for Alaska tomorrow, woo! I’m so excited that I feel like I’m going to explode, so I’m going to let out a bit of that energy by bragging about all the neat things I’m going to see. That way, if I’m not posting on a certain day you can at least imagine me hiking in the accurate beautiful location, right? Like always, suggestions are welcome for things I definitely should see in the towns I mention below.

Wed, June 24th: Leave for Indianapolis airport around 1 pm, get to Fairbanks 11:30 pm.
Thurs, June 25th: Conference starts at 8 am (this is going to be a rough day). Lunch with the ASM officers, various technical sessions, symposiums, etc.
Fri, June 26th: More technical sessions, picnic with delicious Alaskan Salmon/Halibut/Cod in an old gold mining town.
Sat, June 27th: My presentation at 8:30 am (ahhh!), more sessions, dinner banquet
Sun, June 28th: Last day of conference, sessions all day, mooch food off of the break sessions because I didn’t buy a meal plan

Mon, June 29th: Field trip to the Large Animal Research Station, the US Army Permafrost Tunnel, and the Alaskan Pipeline. Also visiting Creamer’s Field, a giant bird sanctuary, and whatever other random cool thing I find in Fairbanks. It’s only dark from 1 am to 3 am, so I theoretically have a lot of daylight to explore in! LARS has muskoxen and caribou, and I hope they still have babies this time of year because omg they’re adorable:

Think I can successfully smuggle this back on the plane?

Tues, June 30: Leave for Denali in the morning, get there around noon, store my bags and go hiking all the close trails until the bus for my hostel comes at 9 pm. Hope there are no creepers in the coed bunks.
Wed, July 1: Huge Denali trip! Get on one of the early buses that takes you deep out into the park, try to get as many awesome photographs as possible (If I get something 1/10th as awesome as what’s on Flickr, I’ll be happy).
Thurs, July 2: Leave Denali, arrive in Anchorage around 6, meet friend who lives there and drive to hostel in Seward.
Fri, July 3: Visit Exit Glacier and the rest of Kenai Fjords, hope it isn’t overrun by tourists, see fireworks at Seward at midnight.
Sat, July 4: 4th of July celebration at Seward! Not really sure what the hell’s going on, but should be fun. Drive back to Anchorage.
Sun, July 5: Explore Anchorage. Still not sure what the heck I’m doing, but I’m sure Friend from Anchorage and other random people will have suggestions.
Mon, July 6: Flight leaves Anchorage around 3 pm.
Tues, July 7: Flight finally arrives in Indianapolis at 10 am. Sleep schedule promptly messed up. Furiously check 500 missed blog posts, upload photos, and then be reminded that I actually have to get back to work at some point. Damn.

And today? Do laundry, go to the bank, get last minute camera stuff, go play with camera so I know how to use it, get Tru Blood episodes from my friend for the plane ride (omg sex + vampires = ADDICTED), finish some last minute blog posts, pack furiously, and don’t sleep because I’m too excited! Wooo!

Alaaasskkaaa :D