November In Review

Another month come and gone, can you believe it?

Monday was my last proper university lecture for the term, but I have to crunch down on a literature review, essay and practice grant proposal by the middle of next month.

November was a big month for gigs. First, I saw Rise Against in London. I originally wasn’t planning on going, but couldn’t resist hen my friend Michael offered me his spare ticket! It was an amazing time and so good to see Michael again. You can read more about it here (at the bottom of the post).

Later in the month, I went to two dates of Enter Shikari’s tour for their new album The Spark. First up was Brighton with my roommate Diego and my friend Anthony. We had a few drinks (okay, maybe a bit more than a few) at the pub I work at before walking to the venue by the seafront. I was really satisfied with the size of the venue: not too big, but not too small. We all had a good time jumping around, singing along and sweating out our body weight in alcohol. A few days later I want to Alexandra Palace in London (Diego was meant to go but a combination of eating expired salmon and drinking made him fall ill) and met up with a few friends there. It was such a different atmosphere from Brighton with a crowd twice as large, but it was still fun! It was great to meet people I’ve been talking to online for the better part of a year at the show of a band that brought us together.

Last month, I started a cleaning job on campus that was every weekday from 4AM-8AM. Predictably, that didn’t last long. I’m most productive for university in the mornings (my perfect day starts at 7:30AM and I’m starting university work by 9AM) and working threw a wrench in that, so I quit. Fortunately a week later, I got a new job at a pub called The Queens Head close to the Brighton train station (about a half hour commute from my house). We don’t serve food and nobody really orders cocktails, so I just pretty much pour beer and make mixed drinks all night. Additionally, we have a cleaning crew on hire to do the deeper cleaning overnight, so our cleaning is minimal. The pub is quite small so there’s only less than ten of us employed there, with no more than three working at a time. All my coworkers are great and welcoming and I fit right in!

Next month, I’ll be crunching down on coursework before heading to Egypt for ten days!

What I’m listening to: No Control by Bad Religion, The Process of Belief by Bad Religion, For Blood and Empire by Anti-Flag, Dua Lipa by Dua Lipa, Good Girl Gone Bad by Rihanna

What I’m watching: The Departed, Now You See Me, Now You See Me 2, Brooklyn Nine-Nine (seasons 4-5)

What I’m reading: How Bad Are Bananas?: The Carbon Footprint of Everything by Mike Berners-Lee, Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay

October In Review

October was another massive one, I can’t believe this year is coming to a close so soon.

This month, I properly started my lectures after a bit of timetable confusion. Normally, I only have two face to face lectures a week, but we’re expected to do a lot of work outside of class, especially in the second term once our dissertation projects get moving. We were also expected to attend a statistics and programming workshop that was during the third week of October from 9AM to 5PM Monday through Friday. Phew!

Another big academic milestone is that I sorted my dissertation topic. I’ve talked about the process in this post but long story short, my dissertation project will be (drumroll please)… fisheries and conservation! I’m still working out my exact question, but I’m excited to work with my supervisor Bonnie, my labmate Ellen who will be doing a similar project and the I.F.C.A. (Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority) over the next year.

I’ve also been getting involved in some university extracurriculars. I was the only one who ran for Student Representative in my “school” (Master’s biology students) so the position is mine! As a Rep, I represent my schools’ interests and voice any concerns students may have about their academic experience up the line. I am also involved in a university society called Rewilding Sussex. Last month, my course took a field trip to Knepp, a conservation land, and we want to bring their conservation techniques to the university and engage students in the effort. The society is still in its early stages, but I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish this year!

In addition to lectures, workshops, societies and dissertation interviews, I attended a scuba class (to get my open water certification for an upcoming university field trip) for four long days. I talked about it more here.

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September In Review

September was a whirlwind, where did the time go?

I started off the month on holiday with my dad in New York and Washington, D.C. You can read more about my time there by following the links, but highlights included: The American Museum of Natural History, Kinky Boots and the Brooklyn Heights promenade and walking the Mall and walking the Mall (and seeing it at night) and the Holocaust Museum.

After the trip with my dad, I had a few days to say my final goodbyes to my family and friends before I moved to England on the 11th (landing on the 12th local time).

My first few days in Brighton were really hectic. My housemates and I moved into our house on the 13th and spent the next few days getting our ducks in a row with all sorts of shopping trips and university errands.

Then, I spent a week giving the Camino de Santiago my best shot. I started in Porto, Portugal and got about halfway to Santiago de Compostela in Spain (about 150 miles) before tapping out. My blisters still aren’t healed so I’m glad I didn’t try for more. I hope to return and walk the last 100 kilometers of the Camino at some point in the near future!

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August In Review

This month, I did a few outreach weekends with work. The first one was the Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival in Sierra Vista, where I stayed the night (my first big girl business trip) and spent the weekend manning our booth. Traffic was slow, but our booth was near a bunch of live animals which kept things interesting. The second outreach the following weekend was in Tucson: the Tucson Birding Festival. Again, traffic was slow, but it was fun to get out of the office.

For my last two weeks at work, I helped with fish surveys again: we set traps at Parker Canyon Lake meant for catfish and returned a few days later to count, weigh and measure what we found. The purpose of this survey was to see how responsive the catfish were to the breeding habitats we created. This is similar to what we did last month at Arivaca Lake, but these catches were a lot more successful (which isn’t saying much after the complete failure last month). Both times when we returned to check the traps, between four sites, we got about 50 catfish! Although I’m not sure how indicative this is of reproduction, it’s sure better than no catfish at all. Catching days were especially long because we had to weigh, measure and sex every catfish, and one fussy individual can take up to five minutes to identify. Nonetheless, it was eventful and fun. You can’t really lose when you’re on the water in cool southern Arizona all day.

To end my tenure at the Arizona Game and Fish Department, I finished with some final administrative duties and one more shift at the International Wildlife Museum. It was all a wonderful experience and I’m so lucky my boss took me on. I can’t wait to use what I’ve learned.

Since I’m leaving in a bit over a week for Brighton, I started to bid my family and friends adieu. At the beginning of the month, I got to take a weekday off work to go to Phoenix to visit my aunt Charlene and good friend Jessica before she moves to Seattle. I also saw my friend Connor; we got drinks and went hiking the next morning. I’ve never hiked to Romero Pools in the Catalina Mountains before so I’m glad he came with me to keep me company (and encourage me to cliff jump).

Later in the month, I got matching tattoos with my best friend of nearly ten years, Sydney (as well as touching up some of my own). We both got a small “x” the size of a dime on the outside of our left wrist, they’re so cute! Sydney also joined my family for a dinner before I went on holiday. I’m really dreading leaving her.

Other than all that jazz, I’ve just been preparing for my move. I can’t wait!

I left on Tuesday for New York and Washington, D.C., so stay tuned for those updates.

What I’m watching: The Women Who Kill Lions, Jane the Virgin (season 3), Chasing Coral, Rick and Morty (season 3), Impractical Jokers (season 6), RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars (seasons 1-2)

What I’m listening to: Automatic by Don Broco, Science Fiction by Brand New

What I’m reading: The World Without Us by Alan Weisman

Note: this is a queued post.

July In Review

Work has been fine this month, I’m quite enjoying it! I do a lot of different things and my plans often change at the drop of a hat, so that always keeps things exciting. Aside from administrative things and errands, I did a few days of field work this month with Game and Fish.

First, we were meant to do a fish salvage northeast of Tucson near Mount Graham. We were going to remove a few hundred Apache trout from two different creeks to supplement brood stocks in a few different hatcheries and prevent inbreeding within lineages. From Tucson, I rode up with a coworker about three hours to the bunkhouse, where we met up with a few dozen other Game and Fish employees from across the state (mostly interns like myself) for a briefing the night before the salvage. The morning of the salvage, we met with the Forest Service to be briefed on the condition of the active fire on the mountain. Obviously, it was largely contained, or else a salvage wouldn’t even be on our radar. However, after taking one look at us, the Forest Service said it wasn’t safe for us to go on out mountain because we didn’t have the proper protective gear. We needed hard hats, fire-retardant pants, all leather boots that come eight inches above the ankle and more. Of course, the department doesn’t have this kind of gear, especially for over twenty people, as we aren’t fighting fires. We were all frustrated, especially since a lot of people drove well over five hours for this salvage and this miscommunication could have been easily avoided.

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June In Review

June started out landing in England after about a full day of traveling. A week into my trip, my boyfriend Dan and I broke up. It was hard at first, having to deal with the emotional side of things while also dealing with the logistics (picking up my stuff from his parent’s house in Oxfordshire, finding a place to stay) but I stand by my decision. My parents were kind enough to fly me home early, sparing me about a week of sulking in Brighton. My plans of going to the University of Sussex for my Master’s degree have not changed and those who think there was any chance of that clearly don’t know me. I am excited to return to the city I love on better terms in September.

The day after I arrived back stateside, I moved out of my university apartment, away from my Neanderthal roommates and back home. I spent the next week relaxing at home: watching Netflix, spending time with family and friends, unpacking and more.

Also, I got another tattoo! Sorry, Mom. It is a traditional style dagger through a rose with the banner “follow your bliss” around it, a recurring theme in the music of my favorite band, Senses Fail. The tattoo drawing took about half an hour and the inking took about an hour and a half. Yes, of course it hurt, but it wasn’t unbearable. The fact that the needle only makes contact with your skin for 5-20 seconds at a time before a short break of similar length and having the excess ink wiped off with a cool towel helps a lot. In fact, I think after the fact was a lot worse: my leg was hot and sore, it hurt to do just about anything for the first few days, but it was worth it, I love it!

Since then, I’ve just been working. I made a post about my first week on the job here.

What I’m watching: Legend, Matila, Schindler’s List, Doctor Strange, Daddy’s Home, Rough Night, Kill Bill (Vol. 1 & 2)RuPaul’s Drag Race (season 8-9), The Office (U.S.) (seasons 1-2), Sense8 (season 1), Shameless (season 7), Wonder Woman

What I’m listening to: Hospice by The Antlers, Wolves by Rise Against, Third Eye Blind by Third Eye Blind, The Things We Think We’re Missing by Balance and Composure, Lost Forever // Lost Together by Architects

What I’m reading: Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

May In Review

The first few days of the month were especially busy with finals and final projects due in, which all went well. That week, there was also a luncheon at one of my jobs to show appreciation for graduating seniors. Like myself, a lot of the staff members have been working at Gammage since their freshman year and have really loved it. My boss said something nice to all of us and gave us a small gift as a token of her gratitude.

The next week or so was spent not knowing what to do with myself without work or school… until my graduation night. My immediate family as well as my grandpa, aunt and brother’s girlfriend came up to attend my ceremony and celebrate. We went to a restaurant in Scottsdale where someone I went to high school with happens to work and she was especially accommodating for us. My ceremony was held in the basketball arena on campus with about 1,000 other graduates from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It was surreal to see people I’ve known since freshman year (or longer) walk across the stage alongside me. I’m glad it’s all over and thankful for everyone who wished me well.

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April In Review

April was a mad one! Where did the time go?

After a two weeks of exams and projects, I went home for Easter for my first full weekend off in ages. While at home, I did homework, hung out with my family and went out on the town for the first time with my best friend Sydney. We had a great time hitting several clubs and bars in downtown Tucson.

The next week, I came back to university to go to class (of course) and work. We had An American in Paris at Gammage, which is mostly dance. The story is weak, but a lot of people seemed to enjoy the dance (I didn’t get to see much of it, personally). I couldn’t work every show because it was also a busy weekend at my other job at the School of Music. There were several theater events, including the student Lyric Opera Theater production of Shrek: The Musical and other miscellaneous dance events, so we needed pretty much all of the employees on. My boss at the School of Music, who also works at Gammage, was nice enough to compromise and only have me work Friday and Saturday so I could work at Gammage on Sunday (where I make more money and get fed!).

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March In Review

The first official day of spring break, I saw my favorite band, Senses Fail, play in Mesa, Arizona. This was their 15th anniversary tour of being a band where they played their album Still Searching in full, plus b-sides and an additional set, including two songs from my favorite album of theirs I’ve never heard live before. The show was amazing, even though the venue was beyond sweaty (it was so steamy, you couldn’t see the stage properly).

My first few days of spring break were spent at home with my family and friends before heading to California for field work. My labmate Ashley picked me up early in the morning and before heading to the house our boss Rick rented in Riverside, we hit the beach for a relaxing afternoon. That night, the three of us ran errands and prepared for our first day of work together. For those who don’t know, Rick is doing his dissertation on hummingbird mating displays and how it relates to the iridescent coloration on their throat patches (look at this short video here taken by Rick to see what I mean). The following morning, we scouted out male territories (the males perch on the top of usually bare trees to look over their territories) around University of California Riverside campus. Once we found enough territories, we trapped a female (we called her Frida) to lure the males in to display to her. The next few days were spent trying to get the males to display: we take Frida around to the different territories we identified and place her in a cage with a video camera under her cage to capture the males’ movements. Most of this time was spent waiting for the males to notice her or do the proper display (our Allen’s hummingbirds have three different displays: dive, pendulum and our desired shuttle display). Once we got enough displays, we were meant to go back and capture the males from their territories to analyze their feathers, however, our trap was broken, so Rick let us go while he worked out the kinks over the next few days himself. It was a neat experience and Rick and Ashley are great company despite some frustrating bumps (as Rick mentioned, the hardest part of studying animal behavior is getting the animals to behave and do what you want).

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February In Review

Towards the beginning of the month, my dad, my brother Kyle and I visited my extended family in Southern California for a baby shower for my cousin. It was great to have (most) everyone together for this joyous occasion with great times and great food.

My classes have been going pretty well. My favorite classes are vertebrate zoology, where we do dissections, and animal behavior, where we basically just learn cool things about animals. Aside from classes, I’m still involved in all my academic extracurriculars (Wetland Ecosystem Ecology Lab and The Society for Conservation Biology) and was also recently appointed secretary of the School of Life Sciences Ambassadors! (As if I didn’t already have enough on my plate…)

The show at work this month was Matilda. I didn’t care much for it, but seeing all the kid actors and kid patrons was adorable. For this show, we rented 1,000 booster seats for the large amount of child patrons we anticipated, so that was a pain to remove from the seats and stack them a certain way then bring them down to the main level only 6 cushions at a time from the balcony level with no elevator once the run was over.

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