Monday, February 26, 2007


I received another one of those "amusing" a-mails today. After reading it several times over, I concluded that I had absolutely NO idea what it was about. I understand most of the vocabulary used, but somehow couldn't make sense of it...

Therefore, I have decided to share it with you:

All Banner Approvers

Last Friday the approval Ques were changed to have all Documents route to the compliance Ques before the financial approval Ques.

We attempted to make sure no documents bypassed any approval Que but due to the logic in the system when this change was made there is a possibility documents bypassed the compliance Que.

Please review all documents created before today to insure the FOAPAL is correct. Documents created after Friday will route correctly through the proper Ques.

If you have any problems or questions related to this change please contact me at 5165.

S*** J****

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Adieu Sweet Backpack (Adieu Sweet Bahnhof?)

Alas, the yellow backpack has finally died. I figure it's been used for nearly 15 years, so that's pretty good. Right before (literally - as I carried it downstairs, packed) going camping last weekend, the zipper insisted that it would bust open on both sides and never re-zip again.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Adventures in camping

Well, Texas Gal (excellent 4x4 driver), Hot Hands, E-marathoner and I went camping near Death Valley over this long weekend (presidents' b-days - gotta take advantage of them!)
I have tried to narrow down the photos, of which I took many, to a few of the gems we adventured to.

First, here is our camp (location: Tecopa). Note the creek. And the tree. Both tend to be rare commodities in the desert, and therefore I ranked our campsite as excellent. Texas Gal and I hunted it out after arriving and finding our reserved accomodations to be unsatisfactory. I love that we're looking at the Amargosa range in the background and one of many salt flats at the foot of them. Our creek was deliciously hot (and it dawned on me where the name "Furnace Creek" might have come from), and truly the only drawback was the incredible winds we endured the first and last nights (no campfire, alas).

In the immediate vicinity of Tecopa is "Delights Hot Springs Resort" - this is the scene as you enter. Evidently there was once a laundry service offered as part of this resort. Shockingly, the "cabins" (read: run down one-room shacks) that you can stay in at this "resort" run at $60/night!!! Perhaps this is because you are being protected by the shotgun-carrying neighbours from the trailer behind the resort who rose frighteningly from behind their gate of cast iron frying pans (yes, really) as we neared... causing us to turn quickly and retreat.

Also nearby is the Village of Shoshone. We decided not to stay there, although it is a quaint place for sure, the campsite (read: RV park) left something to be desired. We did, however, venture up to visit the first house built in the area, decorated with fabulous wallpaper (picture is an illustration of one of the many examples seen in the house), and checked out a number of fascinating sites in the vicinity.

For example, this is one of the multitudes of piles of tin cans as far as the eye can see marking the locations of where miners used to live in the early 1900's. This pile is outside of "Dublin City".

China Ranch is one of the nearby sites that is absolutely worth visiting. They are a date farm/oasis located down an unsuspecting rough road that is lined with old gypsum mines. There are a number of hikes that one can do out there (not sure what that sign meant - but that was on a hike) and you can also fill your gullet with delicious dates and date products (date bread, date cookies, date shakes, etc.). This area has been in use for quite a long while and only with the recent owners has it become profitable in the date-farming business. But, because of the history, there are all sorts of ruins on the property that are fun to explore, I selected this old car to represent some of this scenery.

Between Tecopa and Shoshone, along Furnace Creek dirt road, lies "Hepatitis Hot Springs". Naturally, I desperately needed to go there. Unfortunately there were again signs of vandalism (including the sign with the name of the place being stolen, although that was not wholely unexpected), but it was fun to see this little square pool of natural hot mineral water in the middle of absolutely nowhere. This is one of those places that you have to know is there in order to find it.

We also ventured out to try and find the ghost town of Ibex Springs - we never made it, due to the "road" being so badly washed out it no longer resembled road at all. We did, however, make it up to one of many many talc mines in the area, the Mammoth Mine. This was really fun - still had the loading ramp (built out of wood), and a talc pile down the road where it would have been stored. It was so soft!!! We climbed it and jumped on it, and freely explored while also enjoying the scenery.

On the road back, Texas Gal and I decided to forego the inevitable Vegas traffic and take a much much MUCH longer road back through Death Valley. I was inappropriately dressed for the day's adventures. Death Valley was unseasonably cold, windy and wet - and here Texas Gal and I huddled in one of the remaining corners of the Ashford Mill (built by the Ashford brothers, who were also inhabitants of Dublin City).

We also made a stop at the lowest point of elevation in the USA, Badwater Basin... To prove the unseasonable wetness, note the water in the basin - which is normally bone dry. Here Texas Gal is reaching up towards sea level... it's quite a ways off!

Continuing to places for which I was inappropriately dressed, we ventured up to Skidoo townsite. It's way up there in the Panamint Range on the west side of Death Valley, and was once a populated gold mining town. In the 10 years that it was in use, the resident miners dug 1000 tunnels and shafts into the mountains... this site is some 5000 feet up (hence the snow) - I just can't even imagine back in the early 1900's carting the equipment they needed to mine, to build, and to live up there. It's mind-boggling. Note to the left of the sign you can see an adit in the hillside.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

12 and a half minutes to go

I was called up by the local news station to talk about Global Warming on the "Sunrise" show. I said sure - thinking (naively) that I'd have some 10 minutes to explain some things.

This was not the case.

In fact, upon receiving further detail, I learned that I was to give Kern County the top 5 tips that everyone can do to (quote) STOP GLOBAL WARMING. I was also given 5 minutes to do this in. This told me that people were perhaps less informed about Global Warming than I had hoped... Tips to "STOP" global warming? Oh sure - no problem, if we all do this RIGHT NOW the trend will reverse itself.

Then, after sending the news team some graphics and information, they replied with much enthusiasm that they were very excited to run this segment, and that it could be 3 minutes long! And I'm thinking... 3 minutes??? THREE??? I'm not going to get ANYTHING across clearly in 3 minutes.

So, this morning I showed up at the news station and the anchor, who was to be interviewing me, came over and chatted with me about what we would go over. He informed me we would be getting 2.5 minutes. Since by then my hopes of this being an educational/informative piece were already dashed, AND since I am still in the midst of a sinus cold, I resigned myself to just trying to inform people that they should use less energy.

Sadly... even this did not come across as clearly as I had hoped.

bowling bowling bowling

Irish Girl and I are bowling together this semester, and while trying to come up with a team name/logo - we figured that of the two things we have most in common (shrimp allergy and mad sewing skillz), sewing was the theme to work with.

And thus, the name "Pins N Needles" was born. And, after several hours of not working on work related things, (instead working on photoshop and drawing on paper) our logo was also born:

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Car Names

I feel a little silly giving my vehicles names... but I'm happy to post a poll as per Kilometres' request.

First let me tell you that I do refer to them with sort-of names:

Good OL' Faithful (went off roading many a time)


The Wrongler (square headlights)

But feel free to offer up suggestions and we can vote on it or something...

Monday, February 12, 2007

For Real?

I was driving behind a truck with an unusual logo on it. Well, only unusual in that I had never seen it before. I get the impression this pastry company has been around for quite a while, because I just can't imagine bringing this brand name to a marketing executive today and having them leap on the idea...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Armed with a pointy stick!

Today, in a fit of defiance and solitary determination, I Jeeped out to Red Rock Canyon solo. Turns out that wasn't too hard to do afterall, but the lack of companionship decreased my inane "bravery" to a level that prevented me from exploring old rundown buildings. I still ogled them from a safe distance though. Below is a summary of the day with geology learning links especially for Kilometres.

I like how my jacket's shadow makes me look like the marshmallow man! Grrr! Beware the pointy stick! I bet it could be a snake-stick too if need be. Thanks sister-dear!

It was a gorgeous sunny day, crisp air, but lots of warm sunshine! I took the opporunity to dry run a field trip I will do this semester and also take photos with my super-awesome 28-105 mm lens. Of course, since I was mainly using the ol' Nikon - I only took a couple of digital snaps to show all my faithful blog-readers. Here I am parked at the edge of a basaltic lava flow (most recent flow 130 000 yrs old atop fabulous columnar-jointed 400 000 yr old basaltic lava flow, annoyingly in a virtually impossible-to-photograph location) by a red cinder cone and "Fossil Falls". No murders today though.

Behind the red cinder cone is a flat expanse of mud cracks and a field of pyroclastics. It's a most surreal landscape (got to test 4wd here!).

And the "gem" of the day has GOT to be this Joshua Tree sculpture. When I first drove by I thought it was a regular tree decorated with some sort of shiny geometric design. I couldn't figure that out, so I figured out how to get to it. Can you guess what it's made out of? Behind are shacks that I desperately wanted to investigate, but vetoed, just in case they were near crazy desert folk with guns who didn't want me investigating.

Friday, February 02, 2007


How can I get charged taxes on the taxes I overpaid and was returned last year? Is this part of the "non resident" forms I have to fill out? Or is this an entire USA thing?
I'm not a pro at this taxes stuff, but (primarily because I have to pay this year as a result of this) I don't think it's fair!