One more season: The odyssey continues

It’s been a big week.

Upon returning from Spring Break, I got word that my research proposal had been approved by the Institutional Review Board at APU, which means I have a green light to start collecting data for my thesis project. From what I’m told, getting one’s ducks in a row for approval is often a superlative pain in the ass, so I’m glad to have this hurdle out of the way.

Perhaps more importantly, at least in a long-term sense, is my next piece of news: I accepted a job. For next season.

In Alaska.

Continue reading “One more season: The odyssey continues”


It’s hard out here for a plant: A (very tentative) guide to surviving harsh and hostile lands

“The living organism stands out bold and brave and vivid against the lifeless sand and barren rock. The extreme clarity of the desert light is equaled by the extreme individuation of desert life-forms. Love flowers best in openness and freedom.”

—Edward Abbey, 1968

A fine layer of red dust covers everything in the tent. It’s the same scene I imagine would greet campers waking up in the vast red desert on the surface of Mars, were they lucky enough to survive a windstorm there.

I unzip the door and thrust my head into the landscape outside the tent. The vista from here is similarly Martian: gargantuan red cliffs tower overhead; craters two, three, four thousand feet across fall away from the red dunes of fine sand across the mesa. It is eerily silent.

The only distinguishing factor—all that stands between us and the Mars rover, it seems—is the series of scrappy juniper and sage bushes dotting the landscape as far as the eye can see. Squatty, hardy, and with a low center of gravity, they appear to have withstood last night’s dust bowl better than we have. Then again, it’s taken them untold generations to get it right.

Continue reading “It’s hard out here for a plant: A (very tentative) guide to surviving harsh and hostile lands”

Spring (break) fever: Alaska edition

I have a long-standing tradition of waiting until the last weekend of spring break to even start thinking about completing any major assignments for the following week. This year was an exception in that I brought along plenty of homework to do, but I did not manage to break my pattern of not actually doing it. Now, a full week of classes after spring break, I’m still feeling the repercussions of I-climbed-all-week-instead-of-reading-itis, and my time would be better spent pondering assessment tools for outdoor programming than writing this post. But I digress.

Continue reading “Spring (break) fever: Alaska edition”