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Showing posts from July, 2010

good news from a good friend

It’s always fun to get good news from friends and family back home when you’re in the field! (Unlike in 1999, when I found out my maternal grandmother had passed away while I was working at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Do you ever just get the sense that you should call your mother? Well back then cell phones hadn’t yet arrived in East Africa, so I never really called back home – to do so was expensive and inconvenient. But for some reason, when I got back to Kenya from Tanzania in August of that year, I decided to call my mom, and she gave me the sad news.)
But let’s get back to the good news.

Fire is engaged!

That sentence may seem strange, until you find out that I have a very good friend (nick)named Fire. (If I told you her real name she’d probably un-friend me, and I don’t mean on facebook, since she’s one of my only friends not on facebook, so I won’t.) She was a post-doctoral fellow at the museum a few years ago, and we really hit it off – so much that she was one of my bridesmaid…

scientists' dinner table conversation - and a one-liner for the real dorks among you

What do we talk about at the dinner table in the field every night? How do we come up with new topics of conversation, after spending weeks on end together, 24/7, especially without current events to fall back on (though some of us do check the news online fairly regularly)? Some of us have spent years together, collectively, in this camp, 24/7....


We can basically divide our conversations into three catgeories: field stories, work, and food. Oh, and just getting-to-know-each-other kinds of conversations, especially with students/visitors/etc.


Much of the time we tell and re-tell field adventure stories. Two of the scientists here, John and Alison (who are married), have spent years doing work in a variety of places in Africa (Congo, Botswana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania,  and more) since the 1970s. Kay and I have probably had the most time on game reserves with wild animals, including ones that could kill people with one well-placed foot (hippos), tusk (elephants), horn (buffaloes), or t…