Thursday, October 30, 2008


Since moving to a new town where I know nobody, to an apartment that I share with nobody, I have had occasion to make interesting observations about the world of doing things by yourself and the world of trying to find places to make friends.
I will be writing them as I come up with interesting or amusing things.
One thing that's slowing me down is that I am close enough to see my friends from my old home of New Brunswick pretty frequently. On weekends, I tend to go there, or have people visit me here. This is all fine, but it makes the need for local friends less intense.
Anyway, in addition to making a real effort to explore the Morristown area (doing things like checking out different shops, going to MacCulloch Hall to see the state's second largest sassafrass tree, going to the Great Swamp by myself), I'm trying to be proactive in meeting people instead of just waiting for friends to find me. For the new person in town, the Internet is a great resource. There are so many groups!
Unfortunately, some of them seem to be defunct. Stitch and Bitch groups, hiking groups, plain old social groups. Or for people a lot older than me.
The one observation I've made is that singles meetup groups tend to be a lot more active. I wonder why that is. I've always shied away from online dating and singles events and the like because I'm not looking for a boyfriend. I have no problem being single. I wouldn't be averse to dating, of course, but I'm really not looking for anyone. I'm not going to just take anything I can get because I'm so desperate to go on dates. If I'm going to give up that much time and effort for a boyfriend, he has to be worth it.
BUT these singles groups do some pretty fun things. It might be nice to get out and participate, just to have some other people there, even if no long-lasting friendships form. Chances are, singles events are not crawling with desperate people, the rejects of society, people who you meet and go, "Oh God! NO WONDER YOU'RE SINGLE!" I mean, I'm single, and I do not have a repulsive personality.

Do people go to Singles events just to make friends? Is that allowed? If I go, should I only talk to men? Should I be on the defensive? Is there going to be a really high percentage of people who want either a) one night-stands or b) wives?

In any case, if I have nothing better to do, I've decided I'm going to go to some singles events, because even if I meet no one I want to be friends with, it will get me out of the house but MOST IMPORTANTLY, if it will be something to blog about. If it sucks, there will be something from which I can find some humor!

Some ranting

I have some political things I want to write about but maybe later. (And then I went and ended up writing it anyway.)
I'm kind of interested--now that I read some Ayn Rand--in reading more about socialism (the other side.) To briefly sum up what's been going around in my head the past few weeks, I think that NO ONE really wants money to be going to those who don't deserve it. I think at the root, extreme lovers of capitalism like Ayn Rand and socialists probably want the same thing. It's my opinion that laissez-faire capitalism, like she writes about, wouldn't work because our world is NOT objective. Even in our capitalist system, there are people who DO NOT earn money that is equivalent to what they've produced--to what they deserve. Similarly, people earn a lot more than what they deserve. This includes people who have learned how to cheat the system and collect handouts AND really rich people who have managed to get that way without really producing much of worth to people. I'm not giving specific examples because this is a matter of opinion--worth. There will always be "subjective." There will never be a world where everyone agrees on what is worth money and what everyone deserves. The one concrete example I will give is that, if we were in a system where people earned money based on what they deserved, on what they produced, farmers would not be in debt. Farmers would not be poor; they might not be rich (I don't know) but they would not have to worry because they produce something that everyone needs--food. However, that is not our system. So, our capitalism currently is not serving us perfectly. Is the answer more capitalism? Is the answer socialism? Something else? I don't frigging know. I am just a botanist.
But what I want to say is, even if you savagely disagree about the correct way to do things, the correct way to fix the system--to make it so that people are getting what they deserve and no less, so that no one who wants to work is unemployed and no one who works goes without food, shelter, or education--you still want it. People who advocate "redistribution of wealth" probably don't actually want to take money from people who've earned it and given it to lazy bums. It's one thing to say "redistribution of wealth will result in money being taken from those who've earned it going into the pockets of lazy bums"--that may be accurate. But I think it is inaccurate to say "People who advocate redistribution of wealth WANT money to be taken from those who've earned it and be given to those who don't deserve it!!!!"
And if we all want the same thing, we should try to work together! We want the same thing, we just disagree about the means to get there. OK!?!?

OK, I am stepping off my soapbox now.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Me, Me, Me

Look! Here I am!

I am here, too, but I don't think it says my name, just mentions the poster.
It's exciting to see my name on these things. It still sort of feels unreal. It's hard to imagine that the sum of me going to the herbarium after work on Fridays and staying there until it got dark and creepy and I was feeling woozy from all the ancient preserving chemicals, and rushing around looking for data and saying things like, "I am SO behind on ballast plants", hours spent on weekend nights with endless mugs of tea listening to Pandora QuickMix and entering's hard to believe that something good and really scientific came out of that. There was my poster, up there across from something abstruse about sunflower DNA (which probably also involved a lot of hours of, "Oops, I should probably go to the lab now" and "Ah crap, I forgot I have to do something with the sunflowers!")

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

What's been going on

1. I'm reading Atlas Shrugged and that is probably what has stolen my blogging time. Often I'd want to write about it, or some idea it led me to, but I didn't want to put the book down long enough to do that. Now I'm far enough in where it's still enjoyable, but lost some of its charm, and I want to wait till I'm finished to write about it. Once I've gotten the full picture of her philosophy. However, if I found that one of my friends had read it, I'd probably get excited and verbally jump on them like a dog rushing the guests at the front door, wanting to ask them what they thought and talk about how Henry Rearden and Dagny Taggart aren't bad but that doesn't make me a right-wing crazy because I recognize that in real life laissez-faire capitalism, the industrial giants are NOT dedicated to doing their best work. They have been more James Taggart (whiny, looking for ways to maximize their own profit, greed calling itself something else) than Dagny Taggart. And since this is the world we have, how do we work with it to make the best, most fair world for people? I don't know and fortunately I don't have to decide (not much farther than casting a vote on November 4th, anyway.)
What I found most interesting, so far in the book, is the dedication of the book's two heroes--at least for the first half. All of the obstacles put before them, and the public's seeming acceptance of it, did not stop them from wanting to continue their work to make a better world. They didn't say, oh fuck it! These people don't deserve a better world! The world isn't worth saving!

2. I started this post two days ago and only got this far. But here's something I started several weeks ago:
New Brunswick - rsearch, people I saw - that guy whose name I don't know, boots girl outside of Chang, philosophy conversation

New York yesterday - metrocard, geography

Wow! glad I recorded that gem! Maybe I should spend more time on my rsearch!

3. Garden - I am building a garden. In fact, two. You'd think that a however-many-acres public garden where I work would be enough garden, but no. Or the community garden where I don't actually garden (yet) but of which I am "coordinator." Still not enough. Until I can get my Grow Light to stop shutting itself off, I currently have an indoor garden of depressed houseplants, my "woodland" garden outside which is doing well, and I'm starting to take over and force myself into my mom's garden by buying her lots of plants that require too much sun to go in my own garden.
I'll probably write more about my garden later, especially since I'm bound to have comical misadventures. When I found I was moving into a place with a yard, I assessed the land and quickly started buying plants. The problem is that the entire yard is shade. Part shade in some places, but most of it probably constitutes as full shade. This is a challenge. This limits my choices.
The nice thing about working in a botanical garden is that I am constantly exposed to different types of gardens and constantly get to see what will grow in a nontraditional gardening space. So I had some ideas. I bought several types of ferns, was given a crisscross fern as a gift, and a hellebore. Without thinking, I was drawn in by the weirdly beautiful picture on the label of the nearly black flower of "Metallic Blue Lady" hellebore. ARGH! Shade gardens do not need black flowers. They need things to brighten up the space!
Oh well.
I got a bunch of yellow columbine for free and scattered that about.
Then Agway started having sales.
I never expected to develop such a liking for the local Agway. But they have such great perennial sales. It's really fun to know something about a topic (for me, plants) enough to know when you're getting a good deal--enough to look at something on the shelf that looks dead but be able to recognize that it's really worth $15 and not $3, and that it's just rootbound and once it's planted it'll be FINE.
So (non plant people skip this part) I now have, in addition to the above mentioned plants, Tricyrtis 'Lightning Strike,' Chelone glabra, and a bunch of violets I'm systematically transporting from my old shade garden at my parents' house. (This "garden" was some violets I dug up and stuck there when I was twelve.) However, for auxiliary garden, I was bent on buying some plants that were on sale that need sun and my mother conceded, so there's Lobelia cardinalis, Wood's Blue and Wood's Pink aster, Solidago rugosa 'Fireworks,' and a calico aster.
There's just something delightful about buying these dead-looking plants and having everyone at Agway look at me like I'm crazy but I know that I have a treasure. The asters were only $1.75.

4. Food - I have been cooking a lot. Occasionally I get these wacky ideas about being self-sufficient. I'm going to try to bake bread more than I buy it--if it's cheaper. If anyone cares--if anyone is trying to live healthily and cheaply like me--this great book called More With Less has a lot of good resource/money-saving ideas, and its recipe for Oatmeal Bread is great. It uses no eggs and only a little bit of butter. I don't think it uses a lot of sweetener either. I was making a lot of stuff with vegetables but I don't feel like writing about it. This past week was the Week of the Beet. I will soon be sick of beets.

5. Library - As much as I love the sales at Agway, another new love in my life is the Morris County Library System. I finally signed up for a library card at the street fair. At my town library, there are tons of great books and CDs. Like any library, they have access to interlibrary loan BUT there is a much easier system within the county, where you can request books from other libraries in the county and they get delivered to your library. It's basically like the Rutgers library system, where if you didn't feel like going to Busch you could have something send to Douglass. Or you could go to Busch. Either way, your card was accepted.

6. Music - Partly because of the library (and because I live near a record store) I've had a burst of new music. This is good because for almost a year I was in this rut of Regina Spektor, old blues music, and classic rock. I mean, almost nothing else was played in my car. For a whole year. This summer, I basically listened to the same Beirut CD and occasionally Belle and Sebastian...over and over and over. Thanks to the library and the record store, I have Modest Mouse, Dinosaur Jr., Tegan and Sara, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Yo La Tengo, and a whole list of other stuff to check out.

I have no idea what else I planned to write about when I started this post two days ago.