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We finished the workshop. Reviews were very very good. It was gratifying. I got super duper sick for the last half of the workshop and missed a day. That was disappointing, but not a disaster. I did do a bit o' good networking, so I have a new contact. Hooray. I'm going to arrange for him to come and do a colloquium talk in Fall at UNC.

I am going to miss France, but not having the stress of driving and herding academics for a week. It'll be good to go home. I miss my sweetie.

I got some ideas for my forest survey. I'm going to have to get up to speed on the ecologists statistics. And I now have notion of how to do it. "Gradients" are going to be important, so I have to pay attention to slope and aspect in my sampling. Given how crazy hilly this area is, and the size of the patches I'm working with (small) this is going to be interesting. I do hope I can get some proxy data via tax records for harvesting information. We'll see. Its a big project and I really wish we had a field ecologist for a collaborator.

Had a discussion with my adviser C regarding career stuff. She agrees with W that I need to improve my French to keep working here. She also said it would be a good idea to email I.R. to see if he had datasets that I could work on. He does CRM stuff in Europe, so it is likely that he'll have materials.

Today we are going to go out and look at some crop marks. Its our last day, so we are taking it a bit easy. We are going to have dinner at the Uxeau cafe, which is nice. Less work there and good cheap food to boot. We'll need to pack (oooh, this is going to be haaard) and clean a bit. Tomorrow we drive to Paris and depart. I kind of hate the A6, but that's the fastest road so that's what we are doing. Ugh.
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Everything here is so pretty. I keep wanting to shout that periodically. I will buy a house around here at some point. All the locals will think I'm Dutch. That's okay.

There were many Mairie visits yesterday (Vendenesse, Toulon sur Arroux, Issy L'Evec, M- oh crap can't remember right now- too much wine) and I played chauffeur for my injured colleague and took pictures of historic maps.

Today we visited the ceramic artist Carla, who is a Dutch ex-pat. I purchased a few things and I hope they get home safe. She is so awesome, I met her in 2003 and I was glad to see her again.

We also picked up the vans for the workshop (oh, man, I'm dreading all this driving, hairpin turns on the narrowist of roads) which took a couple of hours. And we had a lovely lovely meal provided by my most excellent colleague Will where we got to know the director/funder person of the workshop we are doing. She's cool, which is a big relief, as her emails made her sound irritated.

I have decided the key variable in my forest survey is going to be harvesting rates/use of the forests. Some are left alone (few) most are harvested, some are plantations. How much they are harvested varies. I'm also curious about the number of owners a forest has and how that might effect species composition or not (many forests are divided into many plots). The ownership variable is pretty straight forward. The harvesting variable... we don't have that data yet. It may exist though. We expect tax records may shed some light on the subject, at least in the first part of the study period (1800-1930 approximately). The methods of survey are still going to be problematic. I hope I have a brainstorm and a solution appears.

The cat is curled up in bed with me. She is a very standoffish little thing, so I'm a bit surprised. She is more than welcome, though, as she makes a fine defense against the local rodent population.

This is the text of the post I tried to post yesterday:
One of these fell from the ceiling of the bedroom I'm staying in, repeatedly, last night starting at about 2 AM. I set the resident cat on it, and the cat took care of it. My lovely colleague woke up and briskly got a broom and dustpan and pitched the corpse out the bedroom window. My other lovely colleague woke up and after being told what all the ruckuss was about, announced "I wanna see it" and bounced out of bed to view the corpse because she is terribly charming and funny.

Sigh. I'm pooped. Today we wandered around and I was the snake scaring person for the charming colleague who was taking water samples in a dryish pond area. I gave her some ideas about things (like pointing out that the burning on the hillside was probably making the water alkali). I also took pictures of casdastral maps at the very well taken care of Uxeau Marie.

I have been trying to think about scale, and how I might organize a forest survey in this area. I want to compare species diversity and composition between longstanding forest patches and newer ones, and also based on how many owners the patches have over the duration of our GIS. I am not an ecologist. I am also not a botanist, per ce. I recognize the in over my head thing, but given the fact I have consulted forest ecologists in this matter and not gotten solid advice, I'm figuring I'll just keep trying to figure something out even if I'm not technically qualified. The problem is that the patches are relatively small and heavily managed, so the usual 30 meter square isn't going to work. I'm thinking maybe of figuring out the average patch size, using that, and walking x numbers of transects over it. I mean, cripes, if anything I know its survey, just archeological survey not tree survey. No reason I can't apply the same strategies, I don't think. I wish I could find some good references to back my ideas up though.

I'm not a proper botanist either, and I have old French friends of my advisers bringing plants for me to identify. Oy vey. We'll see how this goes.

The workshop we are doing continues to be irritating. The funders continually get basic facts wrong or mixed up and then we have to do damage control with the participants. But the show will go on. The problems are administrative, not substantive and ultimately aren't my problem. So there.

On the bright side...
I love Regal De Bourgogne cheese. Its this sweet, soft, cows cheese covered in Marc (a liqueur) soaked raisins. I might have to revise my atheism in the face of this cheese. I've only found it once in the states and it was a tiny tiny slice for 12 dollars. Here you get a ball of it for around 8. Aaah, I love France.


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