The Weather Outside is Frightful

~ And Denial is So Delightful ~

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I’d like to give a warm shout out to all my friends soldiering through in Buffalo with your literally above my head levels of snow – at this point you should probably consider giving in and hibernating through the rest of the year. No one will judge. Even for upstate and our beloved lake effect, this week’s storm was intense for this time of year, though sadly Ithaca remains almost entirely snow free. The weather was quite apropos considering the activities this week at Cornell, which was a busy one so far as climate change and its effects were concerned. The president of Iceland was visiting, and hopefully felt right at home. The weekly department seminar was as relevant a topic as you could hope to have for a presentation: “Has a warming Arctic contributed to colder winter weather in the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes?”

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Rules for Fieldwork, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Benefits of Mud Baths.

Everybody’s got to have to have rules to live by, right? Here are a few things that seem to have recurring usefulness for this sort of thing.

1. Never pass up the opportunity to eat, sleep, or use a toilet.

2. Batteries: fear them, and their potential ability to blow you and/or your car up should you forget to tape the terminals.

3. Just because it’s not your mess doesn’t mean you don’t have to clean it up.

Seismic stations should not be full of slime water.

4. Never take anti-malaria meds on an empty stomach, particularly before 6 hour car rides. And if you do, hope there are barf bags available.

5. Why pack multiple pairs of pants that will just get dirty when you can wear the same pair for 2 weeks straight?

Embrace the mud.
Embrace the mud. Do not allow it to embrace you, though. The embrace will last uncomfortably long, like that of a weepy maiden aunt.

6. If you don’t wear a wide brimmed hat and sunscreen of the appropriate SPF, Indiana Jones appears and beats you with his whip.


7. Field notebooks – it’s only science if you write it down! No joke here, the slow march of dirt and destruction across formerly pristine notebooks is one of my favorite things.

8. No matter what you read in outdated textbooks, don’t actually lick or eat your field samples.

Not even if John McPhee tells you to. (Annals of the Former World)
Not even if John McPhee tells you to. (Annals of the Former World)

9. Never go anywhere without your knife.

9a. Or duct tape.

9b. Or your own personal roll of toilet paper.


10. In case of dinosaur attack, remember to remain motionless at all costs.

Courtesy of: the Evil Twin

11. And in case the Ark of the Covenant actually does turn out to be in Ethiopia, unleash on the nearest neoNazis or bigots of your choice!


Field Notes: Ethiopia

Before I fall too far down the rabbit hole that will be my attempts to make up for missing two weeks of the semester for field work, here are some thoughts on my trip to Ethiopia. Yes, it was awesome; no, I do not have ebola; yes, the food was great.

After an unexpected 16 hour layover in Washington DC, my labmate and I arrived in Addis Ababa on the evening of the 16th, ready for the nearest bed. The first morning I was in Addis, we overslept and had to roll out the door to make our meeting with our colleagues from the University of Addis Ababa, and were then thrown into a busy day of packing and shopping. The second day, though, I had the chance to take in a foggy morning panorama of the city from the hotel balcony; joggers passed below to the sound of the morning call to prayer from a nearby mosque. We left that second day for the countryside, skipping breakfast so that we could avoid the morning rush hour – a debatably successful tactic, seeing how the highway at that hour wasn’t full of cars but of boys playing soccer in the lanes. We stopped outside the city for breakfast and coffee at a restaurant with a decommissioned EthiopianAir plane parked next to it; the seating inside consisted of the airplane seats. A cute idea, but less welcome after two days of flying.

Early morning in Addis Ababa

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