Sorry for being absent!

Hey guys, I just want to apologize for not posting much the last couple of days. I’ve been recovering from my Idaho trip, but also preparing for my Alaska trip. I’ll be gone from Wednesday June 24th at noon to Tuesday July 7 at noon. I won an Undergraduate Student Research Award for the ASM conference, which means I’ll actually be giving a 15 minute talk there. For those of you not familiar with biology conferences, it’s kind of crazy for an undergrad to be doing anything more than presenting a poster, and even that’s unusual. So yeah, I’ve been working my butt off the last couple of days making sure my Powerpoint presentation is perfect and that I’m really comfortable with the material. I think it’s going to go well!

I’ve also been working to make a lot of posts that will go up once I’m gone. I will probably have internet the first week while I’m still at the University of Fairbanks, but after that I’ll be hiking. There’s a possibility I’ll have internet through my phone, but I doubt it since I’ll be in the middle of nowhere. Even if I do, the most I’ll be able to do is twitter, so if you really can’t make it two weeks without me (hopefully not…), follow me there.

Don’t forget to also send me random questions! Either comment here or email me at jmccreig(at), and I’ll try to answer your questions in posts.

Home! And Q&A

Hey everyone! I’m finally back in good ol’ West Lafayette. Flights went well and I have a couple stories to tell, but right now I’m just going to enter a vegetative state and skim through my 250+ blog posts I’ve accumulated. Oi. Look for real posts later tonight or tomorrow.

Though on a semi-real note, I need something from you guys. I’ll be in Alaska from June 24th to July 5th to attend the American Society of Mammalogists meetings and to go hiking. I have no idea how much internet access I’ll have – it’ll probably be somewhere between limited or absolutely none. I want to prepare some posts before I leave so you don’t have a big drought, and I don’t want to just post silly videos.

This is where I need you. Let’s have a little Q&A session. Either comment here with a question you’d like me to answer, or email me at jmccreig(at) with “Blag Hag” in the title somewhere. You can ask whatever you want no matter if it’s atheism/biology/blog related or something absolutely random. I figure you guys haven’t known me for very long, so there’s a lot you can ask. I’ll pick my favorites to answer. Don’t be afraid to be silly or philosophical, but also don’t expect me to dole out my credit card number or something.

Or if this is totally lame, I guess you can just ignore my blog from June 24th to July 5th. But I hope you won’t do that!

Almost done

I should probably have a lot more to post about now that the conference in almost over, but I’m so brain dead that I can’t come up with much. Hearing technical biology talks (80% of which are over my head) from 8 to 5 is just mentally exhausting after a while. That being said, I really enjoyed the conference. There’s so much cool science going on out there, and now I have all these neat ideas floating around in my head. And while the whole grad school application process still freaks me out, I feel like I have a lot better idea of what I need to do since we had some talks about that.

Though honestly, the best part was just being around so many nerdy biologists. It was amazing sitting in a bar, and instead of hearing people talk about sports, hearing people talking about transcriptome characterization or population genetics or who knows what. Everyone just went into absurdly geeky mode. Take this dinner conversation, just one example out of many:

My Prof: Those are all the Oregon State people over there, and those are all the Michigan people sitting there.
Me: And all of us Purdue people clumped together here.
My Prof: Yeah.
Me: So overall we have a diverse population, but when you look at subpopulations there’s very low variation.
My Prof: Yep!

One more, just if you don’t believe me:

Me: Excuse me! *trying to scoot past someone to get in a seat* Sorry!
Guy: Oh, don’t worry, it’s an open niche that needs to be filled!

My flight leaves 6:45 am tomorrow and I’ll be back in my apartment around 7 pm (hopefully). I plan on wearing my atheist club shirt for that trip, so we’ll see if I get any fun stories out of that. You know you’re officially a blogger when you start doing random crap just for the potential blog posts.

Seattle/Idaho Update!

Hey everyone! I managed to find a computer lab at the University of Idaho, so I’m slowly recovering from my internet withdrawal. And luckily for you, this computer lets me upload photos from my camera, so you get to see fun stuff! Woo!

My flights from Indianapolis to Chicago and Chicago to Seattle were kind of uneventful, which is a good thing. Once I got to Seattle I met up with this Guy from the Diversity program (who I had never met) to go exploring a bit. And yes, yes I did visit the Discovery Institute:Man, was that place small. The only reason I found it was because I had the exact address. It was just this locked door with a crummy looking buzzer next to it, and a flight of stairs that led up to what looked to be just a couple of offices. Unfortunately, I didn’t go inside. Sorry guys. I was thinking about at least buzzing them, but Guy had never heard of the DI, so I didn’t want to drag him into it. Once I explained it to him he laughed, though. That’s the one plus of hanging out with evolutionary biologists: I can giggle about Intelligent Design and they don’t think I have horns sprouting out of my head.

Speaking of crazy people in Seattle, I love some of the wacky stuff you see in big cities. The very first thing we saw getting off the bus downtown was a homeless screaming nonsensically at everyone. The only part I could make out was her repeated use of “Motherfuckers!!” I swear she looked just like the scary religious lady from Wife Swap. I also saw a 9/11 conspiracy theorist, and this lovely sign of Obama with a Hitler mustache:
Still not quite sure what their point was. They were two young people, and they didn’t seem to enjoy me giggling and taking a picture. “You’re a sports fan aren’t you?” the guy asked me. “What?” “You just think this is entertaining.” “Yes, yes I do.” And then I walked away.

Visited Pike Place Fish Market and the Original Starbucks:
Space Needle, etc:
Up in the Space Needle (freaking expensive to go up, but the view was awesome):
After that we were pretty much pooped, so we headed back to the Aiport. Our final flight to Pullman still didn’t leave for about three hours, so we wandered around a bit. We found a Croc Shop with nothing but those awful croc shoes. The rainbow wall of crocs amused me to no end, so I had to take a picture. We didn’t hang around long because it smelled like plastic and stinky feet.
We were also sitting right by a little bar/restaurant. Apparently the NBA final game was going on or something (hey, we’re a bunch of biology nerds, it took us a while to figure out) and there was this giant crowd of people watching the game. I love people watching, so it amused me to see thirty people staring unmovingly at a screen and then all cheering and groaning at the same time. One of the gate checkers literally came and screamed at a pilot for being ten minutes late for boarding because he was watching the stupid game, hahaha.
Our final flight was only about 40 minutes long, though oddly enough, it had the best complimentary refreshments. Not only did we actually get a snack and free pop, but they were offering free beer and wine. Like, decent beer and wine. It was 11:30 pm (felt like 2:30 am to me because of the time change), but being good college students, we all had some. Bad idea. I was already exhausted, but after that I was so tired that I was wavering between passing out and becoming completely delusional. We finally checked into our dorms around 1:30 am, which means I had been up for 22 hours straight… wooo. I’m also very reminded why I like living in an apartment:
I think most dorm rooms resemble prison cells, but this one is particularly bad. Maybe it would be nicer if it was full of my personal belongings. I’m mainly curious what the hell the little half window with a slidey door by my head is. It reminds me of some sort of trap door prisoners would use to smuggle in cigarettes and spoons or whatever.

Scary dorm room aside, the rest of campus is beautiful. The town is tiny – I think I saw the whole thing in about a ten minute walk – but it’s still really pretty. Definitely very green compared to the brick covered Purdue.
I’ll try to keep you updated if anything else interesting comes up. I’ll be much more busy once the conference starts, but I’m sure crazy things will happen.

Leavin on a jet plane, etc etc

Well tomorrow I’ll leave my apartment at 7:30 am and won’t be back until 7 pm on Wednesday the 17th for Evolution 2009, wooo! Because I care about you guys so much, I’ve set up autoposts for every day I’m gone to show you some random fun videos I like. Don’t want to leave you without updates for a week! I’ll have limited internet access through my phone and some public computers at the conference, but don’t expect too much. Even though my phone has a keyboard, I don’t think I could tolerate typing more than a paragraph, haha. I’ll make sure to tweet a sadface when I’m standing outside the Discovery Institute. Don’t worry, the lack of updates will be made up with the billion stories and photos I’ll probably have when I get back.

Somewhat related, should I wear my club t-shirt on my various plane rides home? Photos of the atheistic beauty here… I mean the shirt, not the model. I look like I’m on uppers in the first photo and downers in the second one, wtf. Anyway, might make a neat social experiment. Where do I get the most dirty/confused looks: Pullman, Seattle, Chicago, or Indianapolis? …I think I know the answer to that one already.

Edit: Here, have a photo of where I’m going. Pretty, isn’t it?

Three more days until Seattle!

Thursday I’ll be traveling to Evolution 2009 in Idaho, but I’ll be stranded in Seattle for about 9 hours waiting for my flight. These seem like the things I definitely must do while there:

– See the Space Needle, go up for look
– Pike Place Fish Market (weee flying fish!)
– Pacific Science Center
– Original Starbucks
– Freemont Troll
– Go frown by the Discovery Institute’s door

I know you guys probably all think I should try to get in the Discovery Institute…but I know I’d fail. Apparently two other female atheist bloggers got a tour through lies and subterfuge and were shown around by Casey Luskin (posts here, here, and here). Other than white lies with friends, I’m uncontrollably honest…so I don’t think I could go in acting like a big supporter of intelligent design. Even if I tried I probably wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure the second I tell them I’m on my way to an Evolution conference they’d slam the door in my face (er, well, keep it locked).

Oh well. Maybe if I’m feeling especially brave that day I’ll at least try – just need to remember not to wear one of my atheist/sciencey shirts. I drew this to sum up how I’m feeling (click for larger):
Of course the little devil has to be a blogger.

Wooo Scientific Adventures!

I’m starting to get pretty excited for Evolution 2009, which I’ll leave for in a week (June 11th, to be exact). It’s a pretty ginormous conference – apparently it attracts 1,000+ biologists. The program itself is a massive tome (can you find me in there? I’m in it, promise!). I’m going with three labmates and my professor, and there are a bunch of professors speaking there that I’m interested in for grad school, so it should be fun.

I’m lucky enough to go because I was accepted as part of their Undergraduate Diversity Program. They take 15-18 undergrads who somehow are “diverse” and pay everything so we can go to the conference. Plane ticket, hotel room, registration cost, food, everything. We even get Professor/Grad student mentors to help show us around the first day, and a special little social thing. Pretty freaking amazing. I’m not sure exactly what criteria made me diverse…if it was just being female, or if it was my work with the atheist club (though that’s probably a majority for an evolution conference, heh). Either way, I’m super grateful that they have this program and I get to be a part of it. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to afford to go.

One gripe though (I know, I know…beggars can’t be choosers, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, yadda yadda). Man are the flights they booked for me awful. I asked to fly with my lab group, but they said they already booked flights for the program. I go 10 am Indianapolis > Chicago > Seattle > Pullman > Shuttle to Moscow, Idaho > Arrive at midnight. One, I’m always annoyed with flights from Indy to Chicago, since I could just freaking drive to Chicago in less time than all the hassle of flying from Indy. Two, I have a 9 hour layover in Seattle. I could theoretically drive to Moscow in less than 6 hours. Three, my return flight from Pullman leaves at 6:45 am, blargh.

The layover annoys me mainly because it’s just inefficient – however, since it’s so huge, I’m going to be able to spend the day exploring Seattle. I’ve never been there before, so now I’m kind of excited. I’m going to store my luggage at the airport and rely on buses/taxis/walking for some adventure. Anyone have any suggestions on must see places or even just awesome local places to eat dinner? So far I’ve been recommended the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center, Pike Place Fish Market, and the Freemont Troll. I’m not sure what else there is to do, other than stalking Dan Savage and scowling at Starbucks world headquarters while hypocritically buying a cafe mocha.