oh those carnal soundwaves...

apparently, sea lions, seagulls, and great blue herons find bagpipes irresistible. A grand total of 5 gulls, 4 sea lions, and 2 great blue herons joined me for my entire 1 hour practice by the beach last night. they never moved. in fact, the sea lions were getting alarmingly close towards the end. oh, the power I have over animals... if only I could harness it, there would never be a need for that goddamn electrofisher ever again...


the real thing

So, at 4:00 this morning I handed in my last thesis revisions before my defense. at 8:00 this morning, I started my new job. Yes folks, I am going just slightly insane. the last several months have been a whirlwind of activity for me. It feels just a little bit like being spit suddenly out the end of a very long, convoluted waterslide - I've got water up my nose, I'm feeling slightly nauseous, but there's a distinct feeling of relief.

Back in February I was grudgingly plodding away on my thesis, wondering why I should hurry to finish when there didn't seem to be any jobs waiting for me at the end when, lo and behold, "XXX" Environmental Consultants called me up out of the blue and said, "hey, we like your resume. would you like a job?". to which i replied, "umm. ok". So now I find myself juggling wilderness first aid ,swiftwater safety training, and job orientations with thesis revisions, defense preparations, and studying and I'm wondering just what I got myself into. I've had 2 hours of sleep, and 3 cups of coffee. And when I get off work today, I have to go back to school to work on my thesis presentation. On Friday at noon, I'm going to pass out on the floor.

The company I now work for is called "XXX". We're a bunch of scientists and engineers who work mainly on mining and hydroelectric projects conducting baseline environmental studies, environmental monitoring, and impact assessments. I'm working in the downtown Vancouver office (a source of mixed feelings - especially when it comes to waking up every morning with the knowledge that I can't wear jeans to work anymore). The people are really great - I've had a chance to get to know a few in the last couple of weeks at training courses. I think I'm going to like it here.

My master's degree is nearly done - thesis defense is Friday morning at 9. after that, I'll need to make more revisions, hand in the final final copy, and publish a couple of papers to formally wrap up my academic education - simple, right? When I arrived for my first day of work, there was a box of personalized business cards waiting for me:

"Kirsten MacKenzie, M.Sc."

Environmental Scientist

Every once in a while I sneak a peek at them, but I'm too superstitious to take them out of the box until Friday. I am so glad this is nearly over. I'm at my desk reading through an environmental impact assessment - I can barely wait to write my own! No references! I can make vague ambiguous statements and not have to back it up with any peer-reviewed literature!

Welcome to the world of professional science - where the scientific method goes out the window.


the 'free your kids' rant

lots of weird things in the last few weeks. i was an exchange student in denmark 8 years ago. it was fantastic, absolutely the best year of my life. yes, it was hard to leave home at first, but that feeling disappeared the moment my plane left the ground. you see, i've been pretty independent since i was about 12. when i was 13, i travelled alone to the states for the first time (1 week at academic summer camp in eastern washington). i did that again 2 more summers. and another summer when i was 15 i travelled for 7 weeks around canada with a performing arts tour. now, i know i wasn't totally alone on any of these trips, but i was alone enough to be able to figure out how to look after myself.

so in the last few days, bits of denmark related things have been popping up all over - first my friend jeff tells me he's going to a conference in dk this summer, and can i help him plan... oh don't even get me started there! then, i get in 3 messenger conversations with my old exchange student friend jen down in texas (which is somewhat unusual just because we're rarely on at the same time). then i meet 2 danish girls at the laundromat. then the construction worker who's replacing my little back porch sees my danish flags at the back door and it turns out his dad is from the exact same town that i lived in 8 years ago. and finally, i got an e-mail from another exchange student that i haven't had any contact with since.. well.. since i came home 8 years ago. so today i visited the rotary student message board to see what was going down. after all, it's spring and all sorts of future exchange students are posting frantically trying to figure out what they've gotten themselves into. this is when the independence rant stuff comes in. there are 18-year-old kids out there who have never left their parents side! they're terrified about leaving home (even though they know it's going to be fun and probably good for them). i just spent an hour posting tips on how to navigate airports. this poor girl was terrified of airports. she was frantic because her parents couldn't escort her right to the gate. 'hello, can you read signs? yes? then you can find the one with the number matching the number on your ticket, and march yourself in the direction that the arrow tells you'.

so my rant is this... parents, trust your kids! give them a little bit of slack when they get older. give them responsibility! let them figure something out for themselves! as surprising as it may seem, if your son/daughter is over the age of 10, then they can probably figure out how to put food in their mouths and change their underwear everday without you watching over them. at that point, as harsh as it may seem, your purpose in their life is as a moral compass and money machine. sure, if you dropped off the face of the earth tomorrow, your kids might have some problems. but i argue that their problems will be more along the lines of, 'jonny, my 23 year old boyfriend, says that 'sure baby, he really loves me', so is it right to shag him in the backseat of the minivan?' not, 'i'm hungry, i wonder if it's ok to gorge myself on corn-dogs and pop tarts?' i'm always surprised at the number of parents who won't let their kids leave their side the entire time they live at home, then expect them to go off to university or college as if that piece of paper called a high school diploma automatically signals their maturity and their readiness for independence. 300 years ago, your kids would all be married and popping out babies by their 13th birthday, so i think they should be able to handle a supervised trip overseas without you.


love your lungfish

if you've ever aspired to a career as a biologist, go check out the love lab page (in my link list). in fact, if you've ever aspired to any job that might possibly require you to show more initiative and brain-power than your average barista, check it out.


sunny sundays

this weekend, I took a wilderness first aid course - I feel so much more respect for my thermarest now! I can splint every limb on your body with it! I can stabilize your neck with it! I can make a stretcher so comfy, you'll never want to get off of it!

I also enjoyed being "injured" and screaming my head off while 8 people I just met try to figure out what's wrong with me. "Wanna reduce my dislocated knee? sure! go ahead! but I'm going to pass out from low blood sugar because you didn't check my medicalert bracelet to find out that I have diabetes.. *ha ha*".

I'm also terrified that I'm going to have to work with some 200lb beefcake who I won't be able to carry out of any emergency situation. I forgot how heavy 200lbs really is.


I get a lot of enjoyment out of bird watching. I don't need to see anything new and amazing, just watching other living things eke out their existence gives me plenty of satisfaction. the coots at Jericho have had their chicks.. they are so incredibly ugly with their little bald red heads, and scruffy feathers, and stubby wings. they pester their mothers for food, and scrabble desperately to try to climb on her back, and squeal non-stop. the bullfrogs try to eat them, and the adult coots go absolutely wild pecking at them and chasing them around the pond. stupid bullfrogs. there's also a mallard down there with 11 (!) ducklings. she's amazing.

the bullrushes are getting really high now, so it's hard to see out into the middle of the pond. the beavers are back - i watched a bullrush start twitching wildly as the beaver gnawed through it underwater, cutting away the juicy base and discarding the leaves and roots. he must think that no one knows he's there. I feel like a spy.


revise this!

waiting for thesis revisions sucks. shouldn't i be doing something?


new to this

i never thought i'd ever create a blog. i'm not entirely sure why total strangers would want to read about my life. but my inner voyeur has recently discovered that some total strangers have interesting things to say... and more than that, some people have interesting photos.

i like looking at other people's photos. i like showing my photos to other people. i hate it when people ask to see your photos, then flip through them quickly, only half-listening to the story you're trying to relate about what inspired you, or what was so funny about that moment... so if you're one of those people, might as well shove off now. because i intend to use this site as a bit of a photo blog.

i realized last year that i rarely take pictures. when i do, it's because i've travelled somewhere new, and i want to remember every moment of my trip. but why is it that i never take pictures at home? i'm pretty sure i'd like to remember something about my 20's. and i'm quite sure that the scenery around my current home (vancouver) is just as spectacular as that rainy day in the scottish highlands... so i'm making the decision to remember my days here through photos. this could be rather difficult as I don't yet have a digital camera, but bear with me - i'll have a job in a couple of weeks. maybe i'll tell you the background behind the picture, maybe i won't.