Friday, July 6, 2012

Day 19

A third straight day of the heat wave is forecast for today with a heat index projected to creep above 110 degrees. I opted to begin a potential new 5k client as early as possible today before the humidity of the day set in. We finished by 7am just as it hit 82 degrees and humid enough that sweat would begin to form on the brow without any running effort.
I arrived into the Indiana Dunes USGS office by 8 and found the team preparing for a day out in the field. I worked on the images that I took yesterday while the team finalized there preparations. Tonya and I finalized her interview and Ralph spoke to me about the two of us getting the rest of the bio-caching footage done while the rest of the team set up the new field chambers.

 Ralph spoke about the purpose of the data collection sites, how prescribed burns have impacted karner populations, and microclimates in the dunes at the three sites that we visited. He did a great job hitting all the topics, including the bio-caching activity. My only concern is the audio volume.  I took lots of extra footage so that if necessary his audio can be transcribed and edited in as voice over. I even got extra audio backups at some stops on the voice memo of my Iphone just in case. Ralph was a great sport in getting the footage done. I appreciate everyone’s help in getting this project done. 
The ladies worked on a mating chamber to go into the greenhouse at the end of the day.

I finished off the day with a 15 mile spin and a little over a half mile swim. I'm looking forward to a great running weekend with 2 races planned. The weatherman predicts a break in the heat wave on Sunday. I hope so!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Day 18

It’s the day after the 4th of July so everything seemed to be running slow. I met a friend out at the local YMCA for a swim to get the morning going but even then I seemed to move slowly through the water. Even so, the weather has been so oppressively hot with thick humidity that the warmer than average water still felt cool and refreshing. According to the National Weather Service today’s temperatures were the hottest recorded temperatures in Chicago. I wouldn’t be inclined to differ.

My morning at the Indiana Dunes USGS office started off late. When I arrived the team hadn’t been out yet and they had a look as warn as I felt. We went out as a team into the Miller Woods in search of Karner Blue Butterflies to capture for genomic testing. I have to admit, it was fun to wonder around the woods almost as children in search of treasure. The team was joined by a ranger who has been doing this work for some time. Using an eastern swallowtail butterfly as an example, he showed us how to take the sample for genetic testing without injuring the test subject. It was a difficult procedure complicated by the tiny, delicate nature of the test subject. Everyone watched with baited breath hoping that a poorly times sneeze or unavoidable twitch wouldn’t spell the crumpled fate of the tiny butterfly. Instead, Randy handled the task with ease as though it had been orchestrated by a micro-surgeon.  Each of the 3 women on the team took a turn capturing a sample subject and giving their hand a try at the micro-surgery under the instruction of our team expert.  Although not all were successful in gathering the sample required for genomic testing, no butterflies were injured in the process.  

In the heat of the afternoon the team had given up the search for our illusive treasure and had begun to pack in for the trip back to headquarters when one of Randy ‘s team members came in with a hopeful smile and a net of treasure.  Randy and Ralph looked it over and confirmed the loot was genuine treasure. Randy swiftly moved into action and mechanically began the steps of processing the tiny karner blue butterfly. Ralph joked, only 29 more! It was supposed to be the practice that 30 karners would be sampled at each site. Randy finished collecting the genomic testing process and scampered back into the woods to release it at the location where it had been captured. Just as suddenly as it had begun, it was over. We had baked out in the sun for hours for a moment that had lasted a maximum of sixty seconds to collect data that would link generations and potentially entire populations of butterflies. I would say it was well worth the wait.

The ride back to HQ was quiet. Everyone fought to stay away and most lost. When we returned, everyone paused for fresh ice water, a slice of Ralph’s homemade bread, and a hunk of watermelon chilled from its stay in the refrigerator. Before I knew it, everyone was up and at it again, working on the karner mating cages in the small green house attached to HQ.  I had been taping interviews throughout the day out in the field and I finished up with Noel Pavlovic.

Tanya asked for an extension and tomorrow I’ll work on the data collection footage that I missed today. I enjoyed the time out in the field today, especially since we went to a location pretty much exactly where I was stationed last year. I enjoyed being there again for a new purpose.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Day 17

The only way to beat the intense heat was to get out early so I met the sun on a 5 mile run around campus. It was fun to find new roads and make new routes. I took it slow thanks to sore muscles and a sleepy body and felt good by the end. I love that a run can always wake me up no matter how sleepy I start.

Little bunny had Sara's back, even from the fridge!
 Why he's in the fridge? Well, some days..
A meeting with Disha and Dan set the rest of the day in motion with a check to see how everyone was doing on their portions and plans for interviews and video takes. We descended into the lab and set the lens on Sara. She let it be known that she was less than comfortable with the idea. After three takes Sara had enough. She was improving with confidence and comfort but not with tolerance. The team was supportive of her and everyone tried to help her relax with jokes and smiles. Even so, after a while, enough was enough and really the footage I had would do the trick. Sara was a trooper in getting the take finished despite her discomfort behind the lens.

Later, while Jason and Sara worked on feeding the larvae, they discussed a high mortality rate going through the colony. It seems that within 24 hours the lupin leaves that are being placed in the feeding chambers are losing all chlorophyll. In effect they are changing from green to brown overnight. The karners in the chamber are dying as a result. Jason and Sara discussed several possible causes for this quick change including a possible fungus or the use of ethanol to prevent cross contamination between insects, ironically a practice that was adopted to prevent the spread of disease. A leaf sample was exposed to ethanol in a separate container to test this cause.

Sean hides from the camera :)
As the afternoon rolled on it was finally time for Sean’s interview and honestly, I don’t know what he was waiting for. He was very natural in front of the lens. He had it done in one take but I pushed for two just in case there were any problems that I missed. I reviewed the footage as soon as we finished and was ecstatic. Disha will make quick work of it, I’ve no doubt.

When a karner gets loose,
one of the team always springs to action
The day closed with a discussion about the possibility of cutting broader impact requirements from NSF grant proposals. That would mean positions like mine would become a thing of the past. I see first-hand the impacts of educators that stay abreast of research. It can be quantified by the pass/fail rate of students of those who remain active in research vs. those who do not. While I don’t feel that continued research should be a requirement to maintain the status of a highly qualified educator, I do contend that it does play a defined roll in an educator’s skill set. It can be argued that it isn’t the responsibility of the university to maintain the quality of the public school system. However, I would argue, who then, aside from parents, should be charged with providing the future students for the university at caliber destined for success if not a high school teacher with an education maintained through meaningful and enriching professional development opportunities?
Got him!

Time to do some explaining about the bunny. It's widely accepted in the lab that this little guy is really something very bad. When you tap his head, he says "Happy Easter!" three times over. Which is fine except that often it isn't required that his head is tapped. He scares people and yet we love him. :) In the fridge today he went on with Easter tidings for about 20 minutes. Don't worry. After we returned him to his usual post on the lab desk, he continued to be the lab oddity, well one of them, no worse for the wear. More on the fridge later.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Day 16

Today started in the lab. I came in and set up the camera for interview time with Jessica, Sean and Sara. I learned later that Sean and Sara both had today off. I had to laugh since both had pleaded to allow them until today to do their video interviews. It doesn’t matter really since they will eventually come in and in the interim I have plenty to keep me busy. When Jessica came in Disha and I got her clip done in a quick two takes. She was very relaxed on camera and took to it with ease. Disha took it to the editing room and had it trimmed out in no time. She has really gotten the feel for the software and I am confident in her ability to handle the next project I’m getting ready to send to her. She’ll have the rest of the week to finish up the rest of the lab takes then next week to trim out the work I do out at the dunes.

2 Karner mating enclosers.
The Q-tips are saturated with a nectur for food.
While she finished with Jessica’s interview I started the framework for the Dunes project. I researched Geocaching that lead me to Earth-caching then to Virtual-caching. I ended up writing the activity on Bio-catching as a blend of geocaching and waymarketing (new school virtual-caching) but not a true form of either. On Thursday I’ll do the video clip of the directions, gather the coordinates and get the interviews for the site. Looks like Thursday will be a long day. Friday is reserved for touch ups, retakes, and fill-ins for missed footage. 

Next week will be all about data analysis, the following week about potential frame work application on applicable species, and a third tying up loose ends with a fourth week on uploading. Really uploading can begin at almost any time after this week, but if it hasn’t, there is a full week devoted to its completion.  If followed, this schedule will still allow for completion before the deadline. Still, it’s no secret as to what can be said for the best laid plans. J

Karners having a snack in a mating encloser

I went to McAlister’s for lunch and continued working between bites of chicken noodle soup and savannah salad (yum!)By the way, I love my local dining choices! Quincy’s is closed on Mondays and closes too early for dinner but McAlister’s fills in nicely. When I’m in the mood for something a little quieter, The hits the mark! Looking for something with more art to it? There’s Cambodian Thai, or if I want a taste of home there is always Jamba Juice, Jimmy Johns or Chipotle. Still, I try to eat in as often as possible. Every week the move in process includes mapping a diet for the week and packing my foods to go with it. This week was different since I’ll only be staying over one night. The shortened stay provides a little time off of my standard can of peas or avocado sandwich dinners. Not that I’d complain about them. In fact, even over the weekend I was on the prowl for an avocado sandwich! I design my meals away from home after all. It’s just fun to experiment every now and then. 

Back after lunch I cleaned up the Dunes activity a bit by adding details and links to resources. Sean came in late in the afternoon and asked for another day to wait on his interview. I had to laugh. At the end of the day temperatures were still in excess of 90 degrees so I turned to the gym for a three mile run rather than the road. I still hadn’t made it to my dorm by 8 pm and was starving for dinner. It was a long day and tomorrow promises for a repeat. Now close to midnight it’s time to turn in.