OTS Ballad

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Apologies for this being excessively long – it started out as a normal song, but I wanted to include everyone, and there’s so many of you and you each deserve your own song. Needless to say I’ve spent far more time on this than my advisers need to know about. I’m about out of OTS distractions and will thus be forced to focus completely on graduating, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. I think instead I’m gonna plan another science adventure to CR or Kenya or someplace that’s not D.C. I fell on the ice today and cursed really loudly in front of a group of my students and to the insurance adjuster I was on the phone with. I’m gonna go apply to jobs where ice doesn’t grow…..

Anyway, this stupid thing is like 5 minutes long, so grab a bowl of cereal or a baby sloth or something to entertain you.

OTS Winter 2015 or An Introduction to the ART of SCIENCE

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This experience in Costa Rica was amazing: tons of adventures in the Tropical forest and a bunch of awesome strangers who became friends. Throughout this course I felt almost like in a good lucid dream, mixed with a reasonable lack of sleep and an incredible amount of work. Really, who would not feel in a sort of fantasy with these characters!!IMG_9613IMG_9611IMG_9612

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After one month I finally understand what I learned from this challenging experience: behind good science there is always a good story, and this story becomes effective only when the reader audience gets it like clear crystal. In that sense, a scientist’s success is valued in the light of novel knowledge, and how that knowledge impacts the bigger picture of the research framework.

So as scientists, almost like novel writers, we need to motivate our audience by setting the ground so it gets why our questions are so awesome, and how our complicated methods can lead us to test our hypothesis and answer those questions. To facilitate this, most of the times our story needs to be outlined even before we start collecting data. In other words, we need to have a good idea of how our figures will look like, because they are key components of the clarity of our story.

We all love our study systems, and in our stories they should be the protagonist characters, i.e the ideal subject to test out hypothesis on. However, like in many novels, our stories usually have an open ending, because there is always so much more to investigate. A good science story should open the door to create new stories! Maybe I kind of knew this already, but after this course it became clearer than ever.

OTS Winter 2015 or An Introduction to the ART of SCIENCE

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During the course I was very Tico happy and excited about the tropical forest. I almost felt like inside a lucid dream, mixed with lack of sleep and an enormous amount of work. I worked my way through and survived, thanks to a group of strangers that now have a special place in my heart.

I took one month to finally understand what I think I learned from this beautiful, yet challenging, experience:Your

Potentially Treacherous Science Adventures with Liz and Whitney

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It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Liz Schotman and Whitney Hoot are finally posting the podcast from their independent project at Las Cruces Biological Station. You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; you’ll scratch you’re head and wonder who would ever admit these two intrepid young scientists to a graduate program. Without further ado, please enjoy “Science is a Process, Not a Product,” the first (and perhaps only) episode of Potentially Treacherous Science Adventures with Liz and Whitney.

Well I guess we clipped this fish's fin for nothing... But hey, I've heard that busted caudal fins are all the rage this year!

Well I guess we clipped this fish’s fin for nothing… But hey, I’ve heard that busted caudal fins are all the rage this year!

Whitney collects data in a third order stream. All science should be conducted barefoot.

Whitney collects data in a third order stream. All science should be conducted barefoot.

Liz catches invertebrates, measures depth (with a carefully marked meter stick... it was a stick), and lays transects. All while looking like a boss.

Liz catches invertebrates, measures depth (with a carefully marked meter stick… it was a stick), and lays transects. All while looking like a boss.

When we got back to the lab, this gorgeous megaloptera was the only invert in one of our sample bags. Huh. Maybe he got hungry...

When we got back to the lab, this gorgeous megaloptera was the only invert in one of our sample bags. Huh. Maybe he got hungry…

A Day in the Life (Part 1: Morning to Midday) #LasCruces

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Jarred from sleep, what time could it be?

The bunks are still filled, go back to sleep.

License to count, a few more sheep.

Did I dream, or was that merely, an extended blink?

I didn’t have any time to dream,

My eyes reopen, beds vacant, and colleagues unseen.

Them the early birds, always first on the scene,

Eating my worm, and leaving me not a thing.

Keep my worm, I can still make it to breakfast,

It ends in 10 minutes, I can make it if I run fast.

But first I have to get down from this wooden mast,

The top bunk blues, I always get to pick last.

At the breakfast table I settle down and reassess.

My swollen eyes feel like an abscess.

Give me intravenous coffee, its liquid rest.

Three steaming cups later, I’m close to my best.

But just last week it only took two,

It’s an arms race between the fatigue and you.

The good ol’ days of a full night’s rest are through,

If sleep were a currency, I’d be beyond destitute.

But coffee we have, so coffee I’ll do,

No matter how many cups, I have to consume.

It helps me get data, and lead my platoon,

The science doesn’t sleep, so why should you?

More human now than gargoyle, I’m out of my cave,

And begin to notice the first sounds of the day.

Cacophonies and choruses of the widest array,

Creatures from a novel, what is this place?

Things you could only imagine at best,

Organized in clean coats, this colorful mess,

Birds sing opera as they zip overhead,

Already hours into their metabolic quest.

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You’re more alert now to these feathered friends peeving,

Once unrecognizably tired, you drowsiness is leaving,

A price must be paid for anything worth seeing.

The morning hours are the golden hours, optimistic and redeeming.

Fresh fruit is surrendered in plain view,

Melons of neon, electric hue,

These curious winged assailants, red, green, and blue,

Besiege what we offer, and voraciously chew.

The sun is higher now, more hot and more certain.

Scientists sit, reticent to draw the curtain,

Theres a full day of field work out there just lurking,

Waiting for you to come along and start working.

We long to hold on to this feeling all day,

The limbo in between the work and the play,

But I better get out there before my buzz goes away,

And leaves me more grumpy than the work force on Monday. 

Time to suit up. Put the gear in the truck.

Start from the bottom to get polainas laced up.

In your hurry don’t let the zipper get stuck,

Did I wear this outfit yesterday? Ah, who gives a….

Now for the gear. Grab whatever is near.

Binoculars, camera, and something to steer,

Your way through the forest like a compass or mirror,

If your prone to get lost then consider a peer.

Sign out on the sheet so the jefas don’t fear,

That you’re lost in the jungle without a cohere-

-ent idea of how to stay clear,

Of Bushmaster venom there is not a cure.

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All set now, ready for data collection,

Don’t forget to grab a lunch from the reception,

Heed my warning and learn from my lesson,

The peanut butter jelly sandwich is nothing impressive.

Now finally on the trail, marching along,

Wondering why to get out here it took me so long,

Time spent indoors is inherently wrong,

Compared to the classroom, this place is the BOMB!

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I hop and I tromp and I climb and I swing,

I duck and I dodge and I yell and I sing.

Conquering verbs I’m an action figurine,

Going full speed until the lunch bell rings.

A sea shanty farewell…

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It’s been a week since I left Costa Rica, and just wanted to check in. I’m sure it’s been crazy for everyone since we last all saw each other, catching up with classes and everything else in our lives that we put on pause to tromps about in the tropics and do awesome science. But if anyone else is feeling a little sentimental or is missing the social bond that such an intense experience begets, here’s a little something to listen to:

One of my fondest memories of our times together was gathering round in Cuericí to decompress and make music. Whether listening, playing, or singing along, what happens when you share music is beautiful. (Also, scientifically cool: hearts beat together discovery article, original journal article)

Liz, thank you for sharing your soulful voice, and this song. I’ve had it stuck in my head constantly, and it totally resonates with us all parting ways at the end of the course. May we all have many more adventures in the future and keep our friendships close at heart!

In this recording, Liz is playing guitar and singing melody, and I’m singing the harmony.

¡Pura vida!

Michelle

Mingulay Boat Song

Originally written by Hugh S. Roberton many moons ago

C         G               C    G

Heal ya ho, boys, let her go boys

C             D                   C                G     Em

Bring her head round into the weather

C         G               C    G

Heal ya ho, boys, let her go boys

C             D                   C                 G

Sailing homeward to Mingulay

What care we how wide the Minch is

What care we for wind and weather

Heal ya ho, boys, every inch is

Sailing homeward to Mingulay

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Wives and sweethearts on the hillside

Gazing seaward through the heather

Let her go boys, and we’ll anchor

Eve’s the sun sets on Mingulay

Chorus

When the wind is wild with shouting

And the waves mount ever higher

Anxious eyes gaze ever seaward

To see us home boys to Mingulay

Chorus

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