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Showing posts from August, 2008

bones and animals

Fire and I left Nairobi at about 9:45 am yesterday and drove to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, where we're doing pilot work for what we hope will be a long term study. Our project is called BONES (it took a long time to think of that cool an acronym!): Bones of Ol Pejeta, Neotaphonomic and Ecological Survey. We have several interesting research questions which we hope to answer using a study of bones scattered across the landscape of this conservation area. One of them is this: paleontologists and archaeologists dig up fossils, and we use these fossils to reconstruct animal communities and ancient habitats. For instance, if we find 50% grassland adapted animals and 25% forest adapted animals and 25% woodland adapted animals, we use this information to look at the animal community, and reconstruct the vegetaiton. When we do this, we assume that the types of animals we find as fossils are preserved in the same proportions as in the living community they came from. But is this the case? We c…

Briana: 1. Car: 1.

I got my car to the mechanic this morning just after 8am, as he asked, even though the car parts shops didn't open until 9am. I hung around, watching him fix a few other cars, and after only about two hours, my car was fixed - to the grand tune of about $11. Hallelujah!

Briana: 1. Car: 0.

Then, I had to go get the car washed to get all the oil off the underside and engine, plus power washing all the fine, brown dust from Shompole away. That cost about $20 and took another two hours. At that point, I realized it was too late to leave for Ol Pejeta today and get there before dark, so Fire (my colleague working on the Ol Pejeta project with me) and I went off to run some errands.

As we were pulling into the Sarit Center, basically the local mall where I do nearly all of my errands, I started to smell an electrical burning smell coming from my dashboard. Immediately after that, I noticed small wisps of smoke rising from the place where my steering column and dashboard intersect. Fire t…

always an adventure

Before we get to Lamu... I have to tell you about my weekend adventure.

My friend and colleague Aaron is the world's expert on striped hyenas, as far as I can tell. He did his PhD studying them in an area of Kenya called Laikipia, where I did some of my PhD research involving studying the remains of carnivore kills. That's how we know each other. Now, he's doing a post-doc study of striped hyenas in a place called Shompole, about a 5 hour drive south of Nairobi. Aaron told me recently he had some striped hyena chewed bones for me to study (cool!), and I should come down and visit, since he also has over a dozen dens of striped hyenas, some with cute cubs in them. So I decide this weekend is a good time to visit. My friend Emily and I headed off there on Friday mid-morning. We packed snacks for lunch and overnight bags - and we're off!

Aaron gives me pretty good directions down there, and since the excavation site I'd been working at is on the way, I get at least that…

the ring

Since a few of you asked... it's not the greatest photo, but here it is. I love it!

at the field site

So now, we've made it to the field site. (OK not in real time, but in my slightly-behind-the-times story-telling time). Peter gets a tour of the key areas of the camp: the kitchen, the mess tent, the bathroom, and the shower. We walk to the end of "camp cliff", and Peter quietly, smiling-ly, surveys the scenery. Finally he proclaims, "Well, it's not the Mesozoic, but it's beautiful!" (For those of you who aren't fossiliferous like we are, the Mesozic is the time period when dinosaurs lived - that's the age of the sediments where Peter's done his fieldwork before. It was funny. For us paleo-dorks, at least.) By the end, he liked the camp locale so much he was wondering how much it would cost to buy the land, set up solar- and wind-generated power facilities, and build a permanent research camp or a B&B!

While I was busy doing my work in camp, Peter had a great time exploring and seeing animals (he racked up a pretty impressive list of sigh…

from the REAL beginning

A few friends, after hearing I got engaged, emailed with something like "Congrats! But who is Peter? How did you meet him?" So here's the story...

I was a freshman in college, thinking I was going to major in English Literature (I wanted to be a poet, perhaps) or Comparative Literature (maybe translate for the UN?). During my first semester, I quickly realize three important things during my first semester: 1) I didn't actually *like* literary criticism. 2) I wasn't nearly fluent in Italian - which I realized every week when I went to my Italian literature class, taught in Italian, and had very little idea what was going on 3) I like anthropology. What the heck is anthropology, I thought, I'd never heard of it! Anyway, I realized that I wasn't allergic to science, and I decided to take a geology class on the history of the earth my second semester. This was waaaay back in prehistoric 1994. Peter was my TA for that class, and I had a crush on him (Aw, cute!…

from the beginning...

I'll start the Peter visit story with his arrival. His flight was scheduled to arrive at 6:30 am, which is about the worst possible time because allowing for the hour or so post-arrival time to get through passport control and baggage claim, driving back from the airport to Nairobi would be right during rush hour. And rush hour traffic in Nairobi is awful. But thankfully, he was arriving on a Sunday, when there is relatively little traffic. However, even in my sleepy state at 6am when I woke up that morning I thought to call the airport to see if his flight was on time - and it wasn't, it was delayed by about 3 hours. I tried to go back to sleep, but I was too excited about his arrival to do more than doze a little.

(As an aside - Peter's flight home from Nairobi was delayed, too, due to a herd of zebra on the runway. Yes, at the international airport, I kid you not. Gotta love it!)

Anyway, I ended up getting to the airport about 15 minutes after Peter had gotten out with h…

the proposal

Well I was going to start at the beginning of Peter's visit to Kenya, and build up the anticipation and waiting, but several of my friends have clamored for me to tell them about the proposal. So here it is...! After this, I'll go back to the beginning of Peter's visit, and go forward from there.

It was a dark and stormy night. Just kidding! But actually, it was a dark and stormy afternoon. Earlier that day, we had taken a dhow trip; a dhow is a traditional Swahili fishing boat, and taking day-long dhow trips is one of the more common ways to spend a day in Lamu. Here's a picture of a smaller dhow, named Hakuna Matata (yes that really does mean no problems in Kiswahili and people really do say it), which I venture to think had a bit of a matata since it was grounded in the sand and looked relatively unused.

But let me back up just briefly... Peter had been visiting me in Kenya for about a week at that point. We'd spent several days in the excavation camp, which I wil…

we're engaged!

I have so much to say about Peter's visit to Kenya, which was wonderful... but I am far too tired to say anything now except WE'RE ENGAGED!! I am incredibly happy, but sad that I dropped him off at the airport a few hours ago and we won't see each other for about a month now. I will post lots more about his visit and the proposal over the next two weeks, so stay tuned.