Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Using Technology (or: an excuse to eat in class)

In an "effort" to take advantage of the technology I have available to me... no, scratch that.

In an effort to make a 3hr long night lecture on geology less mundane, I am constantly trying to come up with interactive activities for my surprisingly willing students to partake in.
Monday of this week was a lecture on weathering, soil and sedimentary rocks. I decided that a good way for the students to put it all together was to build a "sedimentary sandwich". We have these video projector devices (elmo document cameras) in some of our classes that are "more than your average overhead projector". Since they have a camera, you can do more things with them than just put a 2D diagram (or text for heavens sake) on the big screen. Read more about elmo here. See a picture of elmo here.

So back to my sedimentary sandwich. I built a sandwich, using different food stuffs to represent different sediment types, and we told a story of sedimentary environments together as a class. Then I made them draw it and write the story out for their future reference. Below are two examples (both by boys, and both receiving 5/5) of the two scenarios we mapped out. Clearly one of them is a better artist than the other...

The real reason I'm bringing this up is (well, because I made a comment on kilometres' blog actually) because my choice of sandwich ingredients - crunchy PB and honey being the main culprits - made for a very very messy situation. There I was, gooey hands in front of the document camera - on the big screen for everyone to see - and I had nothing to wipe them on. I had to lick my fingers, there was no choice at all... Even better of course, is that I was operating with PB and honey on a piece of expensive digital equipment. Not to worry, I had a paper plate underneath it all...

Next week is metamorphic rocks - I'm hoping no one minds if I iron on top of elmo.

fascinating stop along old route 58

This is one impressive collection of old gas station signs!

Tri Update #4 (travelling photos)

Caught a snapshot of the sign. Good ol' Zzyzx Rd. Don't remember it? Check out May 2006 archives!

Can you make out the "USA triathlon" sticker on my bumper?

Bikes securely attached. Cooler full of road snacks at the ready!

Stopping for some body refueling at the Mad Greek in Baker. Look familiar to anyone?

The giant thermometer in Baker. Can you read it? 92F!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Tri update #3 (Sept. 25, results)

Well folks, looks like the photographer forgot to come to the show - there doesn't appear to be any photos for me to steal off the web...

However, I do have some important results!!!

Emarathoner came in 3rd in her age group for the half iron! Hooray!!! And she had her best swim time ever. Super fantastically well done!

Swim (1.2 mi) 38:19
Bike (56 mi) 3:42:56
Run (13 mi) 2:03:24

I came in 5th in my age group (64th over all).

Swim (1.5 km) 24:25
Bike (40 km) 1:36:25
Run (10 km) 1:04:46

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Tri Update #1 (Sept 24, day of)

My first Olympic Distance tri (swim 1.5 km, ride 40 km, run 10 km)

  1. complete race (achieved)
  2. run entire run - as in NO walking (achieved)
  3. finish around 3hrs (acheived if you subtract transition zone time - to be explained soon)
  4. maintain average bike speed of 29-30 km/hr from previous triathlons (not achieved - course details will explain this also)
Results should be posted tomorrow morning, so I'll update with more when I have more information and am not totally tired. Meanwhile, check out my super awesome number!

Tri Update #2 (Sept 24, day of)

Things that were incredibly stupid about this course:
  1. Info on the course described the run as "more or less flat" presumably this was an average, the run was uphill until the turn around point (soooooo painful after riding) and then was downhill... Also some of the run (1st 2 miles and last 2 miles) were on the softest slippiest sediment interspersed with sharp jagged stones waiting to be stepped on.
  2. Info on the course gave a BAR GRAPH showing elevation of the bike course - SOOOOO NOT HELPFUL! Anyone with half a brain knows that showing elevation over a distance is best represented with a LINE GRAPH. We joked that a scatter plot or a pie chart would have been just as useless. The course was an endless barrage of hills. Constant hills. Loooong hills. Steep hills. Sure, all of them came down - but it was an "out and back" course, so for all the downs was a hideous, horrible, no-good, very-bad, and sometimes even soul-crushing up. There were NO flats. I am not kidding! The transition zone had you cross the timer pad and go immediately into lowest gear up a rough uphill.
  3. The Olympic distance ride had the dumbest route ever. They included a dog leg. A dog leg that had you brake from a downhill, make two sharp rights, head immediately uphill for 1km, then go down for 1km, then make a hairpin turn, return, make a sharp left and then a sharp right and continue on your way. I clocked the distance of the course with my cyclocomputer so as to have an idea of how many hills were remaining. Total length of course: 44km. Necessity of dogleg? Zero. Conditions of dogleg road? Rough, potholey, full of cracks, bumpy, and plants filling each of the previously mentioned danger zones. The hills and the dogleg are the main reasons why goal #4 was not achieved. The wind on the course, requiring that I pedal on the downhills also didn't help a huge amount. Bike speed average? About 25.5 km/hr (according to my computer, but the chip time I imagine is different - especially since they think the course is only 40km).
  4. The transition zone. Well, it was probably 1/2 km from the water's edge. Which of course meant that coming out of the water you had to jog up a 1/2 km gravel road to get to your change area before continuing on your way. Swim to bike transition? About 4.5 min. Turns out the run entrance was about halfway between transition zone and water's edge. I taped my knee in the bike to run transition, but that really didn't take too long - transition time? About 3.5 min. Subtract that 8 min from my finish time of 3:13, that brings me very close to the original goal of around 3hrs.
  5. The guy running the info session was clueless. He gave his volunteer helpers wrong info. With this brilliant combination we had athletes with no idea what was going on asking volunteers who didn't know anything that was going on (but thought they did) questions about what was going on. This actually resulted in the volunteers giving MISinformation to poor suffering athletes trying to get through the last stage of the half iron. Not a good thing.
  6. There were NO portapotties anywhere near any parts of the race except the swim!!! Not a single portapotty anywhere along the bike courses, which, for the half iron 56 mile course is a loooooong way without facilities! No portapotty at the transition zone. No aid station at the transition zone. No portapotty along the run courses - and the half iron run is 13 miles!
  7. The aid stations, supposedly equipped with water and gatorade, were supposed to be stationed every mile to 1.5 miles along the run. They weren't! They were placed at random, and sometimes more than 4 miles apart! In the hot sun, after already racing for several hours, it's hazardous to not have water supplied more frequently. And on that note, they often didn't HAVE water!!! I like to pour water on my head when I'm hot and running, because it's tricky to drink it on the go, and it's not overly refreshing that way - but on my head it's insta-cool. I'm NOT pouring gatorade on my face, that is NOT refreshing.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Back in the 1950's when the "new" Bakersfield College campus was built up on the bluffs, a complex network of underground tunnels were built along with it. They served several purposes over the years, and are now blocked off and locked up - so you can only go in if you have special connections. I happen to have these special connections, as I have this year decided to co-advise the engineer's club. This is so far proving to be a lot of fun - great group of students, and when one student (in this case me - I know I'm not a student, but you know what they say about the squeaky wheel...) asks to do something like take a tour on the underground tunnels of the college, then it tends to happen.
So what were these tunnels used for? Connecting all the buildings to the bomb shelters, air and water flow for one. Now a good system for the electricity and cables to run through as well. But mainly the tunnels were used for partying by the students when there used to be dorms on campus. Back then, there was no partying in the dorms. Simple solution: go into the tunnels - the bomb shelter system is nice and soundproof.

What lies beyond this gate is for your eyes only!

Down the stairs we go - now entering... the tunnels!

Well, THAT doesn't look good...

Ok, NOW entering the tunnels!

...interesting devices...

I'm not sure what a "sprink" is, but this is the central one.

Big motor-generator thingy that is no longer meeting standards and as a result is costing us a giant daily fine to be running. And running it certainly was.

This, evidently, is a breathing apparatus.

Here is a GIANT wall panel filled with knobs and dials and switches and all sorts of good things!

Amid the thundering racket of machinery at work, what was operating, why, and how, was being explained to us. I mostly didn't hear anything.

Some sort of pulley. Seems a little outdated compared with some of the other things in here.

This door was really pretty awesome. It slides across AND down, thus completely closing off and sealing this room. From what? I don't really know... the room on the other side of the door I guess.

It was speculated that those big ol' generators were running to charge this here battery. Perhaps the 10Volt battery charger had malfunctioned. Perhaps it had something to do with the "pot feeder gaskets".

This, I know. THIS is a thermometer. It measures temperature. This particular one is quite high-tech, you see. It is measuring temperature in BOTH degrees Farenheit AND Celcius! As you can see, it was toasty down in this part of the tunnel system.

...fun textures...

This device offered up great colour AND texture. I very much enjoyed it on Kilometres' behalf.

Spider web was pretty darn geometric.

...and this super old desk!

Covered with a thick layer of dust and debris - but the treasures are not completely lost!

Handwritten yellowed directions to operate the equipment down in there!!! Fan-freaking-tastic!!!

First route through the tunnels

A handy warning at the beginning of the tunnels. Nonetheless, it's tricky for engineering students to NOT run their hands lovingly along the bundles of wire that appear everywhere.

I wonder what these control?

7ft diameter tunnels, seemingly endless in length with the dim lighting.

Stepping down through the tiny doorway into our first stop along the way!

Second stop: "behind the scenes"

We had happened upon a plethora of theartical supplies. It may rather have been the theatre graveyard - but one cannot be sure.

One could be sure that this was either a really really ugly lampshade OR a really really cool bird cage.

Inexplicable handprint grafitti didn't seem to lead anywhere in particular...

But looking closely, it seemed to bring to light "the horrible laundry incident", whatever that may be. It clearly involved a can-can dancer, and she definitely liked to use fabric softener.

The tunnels: an endless stream of randomness

Where are we going? Where did we come from? Are we going up or down? Left of right? North, east, south, west?

Look left, there's a pile of light bulbs amongst the high voltage wires...

Look right, there's a remnant from the hippie days (apparently one of the reasons the tunnels were locked up was because students would go down into them to smoke grass)

Look up, there's a rusted over manhole...

Walking walking walking...