My dog ate my blog entries
- I adopted a dog in early January.
- I gave my first paper at a scientific conference.
- Another semester started.
The first one is the biggest distraction. Pip the dog is named after the ultra-cute bats Pipistrelles. She came to me from Taiwan, as if there aren't enough dogs needing new homes right here. But I took one look at her adorable face on Petfinder and fell in love. They put her on the next plane from Taipei and she arrived, complete with doggie jet lag, at my front door. It's been a challenging adjustment period, and it's been a big strain on my relationship with my girlfriend, but it's also wonderful to have some unconditional love waiting for me when I get home from school. Not long after I adopted Pip, the time came for me to give a presentation on the research I've been doing with the new casing for my bat detector. I had a hard time getting enough data, since bats aren't that active in the winter, so I was close to panic in the weeks leading to the conference. But my advisor kept talking me down off the ceiling and I got lots of help and good advice. This was my first paper at a conference, and of course I was very nervous, and kept going back to my hotel room to practice. When the time came (of course almost at the end of the last day of the conference) everything came together and I did a great job. It turns out that presenting at a scientific conference is not too different from giving presentations in the software world. I did so well, in fact, that I won the prize for best student presentation! I felt that this was my coming-out as a biologist. It helped a lot to have many of my bat friends in the audience rooting for me. Since I did so well with the talk, I decided to enter it in the CSU student research competition. How hard could it be, I figured, to shave off five minutes, and adapt it for a non-bat audience? Hah! Although I went over on the time, I managed to pass the first round of qualifications, and will be going down to the CSU Dominguez Hills campus in early May for the final round. This semester I'm taking three classes: GIS for Environmental Analysis, a graduate seminar on Population Biology, and Herpetology which is for fun. I'm also trying to work on my thesis proposal, which is fun and challenging and scary. Taking Pip for long walks is much more attractive than reading papers full of arcane calculations or writing my thesis. So you can see why my blogging has suffered as well.