Saturday, August 25, 2007

Wake up call

I am in touch with one of my good students from last semester who is currently in Afghanistan (bet you can't guess why). Below is a copy of the e-mail I just got from him.


I've never been to Yosemite. I've wanted to go for a while though. I'm in Ghazni, Afghanistan now. I was in Bagram. The conditions here are horrible. The food is disgusting, the showers are about a 1/4 mile walk from my b-hut (b-huts are wooden boxes with beds in them), and it's still pretty hot. Other than that things couldn't be better. I'm actually considering moving out here. I'll just build my very own mud hut, buy some goats and turn my skin into leather standing in the sun all day. No, it's not all that bad. We get hit by mortar rounds and rockets about once a week, but the Taliban don't know how to use the weapons and miss most of the time, so that's good. Well, gotta get to sleep. We work about 12 hours a day, so I get up pretty early. Talk to you later.


You can see why I'm in touch with him, he can spell, compose sentences, and obviously has a good handle on sarcasm. Suddenly I'm less pessimistic about starting the school year off!

Friday, August 24, 2007


Says a colleague to me today, I really need to talk to you about something.

Sure, no problem, what's up?

Well, I was at this potluck last night and was talking to this who girl is in ninth grade at (unnamed) Catholic school...

*** let me interject to say that this colleague is part of an international organization "the optimist club" (or something like that) ***

...and she was telling me about the courses she was taking. Her first period is PE, and she just learned this game in her last PE class called "Smear the Queer".


Exactly, says the colleague, who inquired of this girl what the game was all about.

Apparently this game, which was (according to the girl) taught and named by her PE teacher, involves someone being the "queer" who gets chased and pummeled by the rest of the class with balls. WHAT???

When my colleague asked the girl if she new what the word "queer" was referring to, the girl casually replied "yeah, it's like a gay person or something".

Now we are on a mission to find hard evidence of this, so that we can issue some sort of complaint or warning to this teacher. I can't even believe it. I'm so mad I'm quivering. This school is TEACHING its students to BULLY. ARRRGHHHH!!!!!

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I was looking at my knees after basketball yesterday... they certainly have a lot of "decoration".

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sequoia & Yosemite, camping gone incredibly right

Day 1: Sequoia National Park.
  • hiked Redwood Canyon
  • giant Sequoias really are on the big side
  • camped Sunset site near Grant's Grove
  • ate instant lasagne, decided it needed more noodles
  • made s'mores in a pot wrapped in foil, discovered that makes graham crackers soggy, ate 2nds regardless
  • drank "Sequoia Red" beer in honour of the trees and blueberry beer in honour of the bears
BEG for scale at the base of a Giant Sequoia
(we shared camera duties, I didn't seem to perk up on clicking until later in the trip)

Day 2: Yosemite National Park.
  • departed Sequoia at the crack of dawn in PJs with hot drinks in hand and no food in bellies
  • arrived at camp 4 in Yosemite early, secured a campsite, set up, napped, and ate lunch accompanied by Sierra Nevada "summerfest" beer in honour of the mountains and the season
  • learned that the girls whose car we had seen broken into by bears in the parking area when we arrived had accidentally left mangoes in their car overnight
  • hiked Mirror Lake loop, found out that it is a meadow and no longer a lake, marveled at sedimentation rates
  • bought ice and butter
  • made awesome camp dinner of miso followed by soba noodle stir fry with peanut sauce, ate both out of squishy bowls
  • drank more beer, not sure which...
  • made s'mores over the fire and drank chili hot cocoa
Entering Yosemite Valley

Walking through practically minuscule trees on the Mirror Lake loop trail

A Yeti print in the flat scoured face of Half Dome, as seen from the Mirror Lake meadow

Day 3: Yosemite Valley.
  • rose early, crammed down oats & caffeinated beverages, packed snacks & H2O
  • spent the day hiking half dome, this totaled 27.5 km in distance and 1.5 km rise in elevation (and then fall in elevation on the way down)
  • tried really hard not to die
  • was grateful to the Leki trekking poles I got for my b-day
  • felt heroic and admired the views
  • returned to find our site virtually empty, the family we shared with had left after their van got broken into by bears (reason unknown)
  • drank Anchor Steam summer beer, ate copious amounts of spinach fettuccine smothered in marinara sauce and mascarpone
The last grueling climb to the top

The view from the top of Half Dome

Day 4: Yosemite Valley.
  • slept in
  • had scrambled eggs & goat cheese for breakfast with fried pita toast
  • checked out Ansel Adams gallery, geology display at visitor center, snuck into showers at Curry Village, picked up more fuel and pitas at store
  • returned to camp and met new neighbours, decided that they sucked and would probably have their car broken into by bears that night
  • went for light strolls and scenic drives to Glacier Point, McGurk Meadow, and Bridalveil Fall to stretch the legs a little
  • drank apricot Hefeweizen in honour of summer
  • ate miso and spinach fettuccine with salmon cream sauce (I told you we rule camp dinners)
  • our neighbours looked on jealously from their beans out of the can and coors light
  • they accused us of "out-camping" them
  • played Uno with them, and beat them, BEG 2 games, me 1
  • went to bed early, was disrupted by screams and rubber bullets in the night when a bear ventured into camp and people shrieked and they and the rangers scared it away
A view of Half Dome on the way to Glacier Point, I think it looks like a penguin.

View from Glacier Point, I drew in our Half Dome hike.

Scenes from McGurk Meadow

Bridalveil Fall (a little on the dry side)

Day 5: Yosemite (Tioga)
  • rose early to pack up camp and make hot caffeinated beverages
  • drove out of the valley and up towards Tioga Pass, scoped out a new site at Porcupine Flat ("excuse me, are you guys leaving? can we have your site?")
  • discovered the immense difference in temperature from the valley and rapidly found warmer clothes to wear
  • made oats and packed up snacks and water for lunch
  • set up camp and zipped off to the Cloud's Rest trail head
  • hiked Cloud's Rest, met lots of friendly people, looked at the mobs on Half Dome through binoculars, took jumping photos, detoured via Sunrise Lakes on the return, soaked in the gorgeousness unrelentingly
  • went for a dip (it took much coercion for me to get in), flicked teeny leeches off our feet, hung our underwear off our backpacks to dry and returned to the trail head for a Fat Tire beer
  • total distance: 25km and 1km in elevation
  • returned to camp, put on warmer clothes, built a fire, drank Strawberry Blonde beer and ate soba noodle stirfry with peanut sauce
  • made s'mores on the fire, drank chili hot cocoa
  • fabulous
An arete peeks (peaks HA) through the trees on the way up

The view of little Half Dome and the smoke from a fire from the top

Friends on the trail

Our swimming hole

Day 6: Yosemite (Tioga)
  • slept in until 7am, packed up camp, made oats and hot caffeinated beverages
  • set off for Tioga Pass via the gorgeous Tuolomne Meadows and stopped at Ellery Lake just past the park exit
  • met 2 attractive intelligent young men and chatted with them while also getting directions from them back to the Bay area (where they were coincidentally from), regretfully departed and cursed the cities we live in for their lack of attractive intelligent young men
  • stopped at the trailhead for Bennettville, a silver mining ghost town
  • did the short hike and played the role of geology nerds the whole time
  • drove back into the park for a snack and the long road home
  • at Yosemite Grill, happened across attractive young men again, were elated, snacked and chatted about hiking, climbing, poo, life, and everything for an hour or so
  • giggled the whole drive back to Palo Alto, had dinner with BEG's supervisor (who was kind enough to host us for that evening and give us a shower and indoor facilities for the night)
  • drank Raspberry Brown beer and Stella Artois with Hungarian stew for dinner
Tuolomne Meadows (rather dry this year)

Ellery Lake (where the boys were)

The view from the Bennettville Silver Mine

Message on my car from the boys

San Francisco

Prior to venturing into Yosemite for some camping, BEG and I walked the streets of S.F. for several hours to get a taste of the city.

We noted several things:

  • Garage doors on hills have little triangular attachments so that they close flush to the ground.

  • People are very friendly. (We scored great directions, free Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee beans, free wine, and free dessert)

  • Fire alarms are huge.

  • It's incredibly foggy most of the time.

  • Twisty trees are fun, and excellent for giving feet a break after 5 or so hours of walking. (Wine is also good for this, especially free wine)

  • Children are in charge.

  • Tourists are incredibly annoying (not us of course).

  • They use CFLs.

  • I'm famous.

  • There are lots of "smell pockets", especially on Mission.

  • Cats are big enough to ride.


I have returned triumphant from adventures that will be posted shortly, and returned to a new computer. My old PowerBook G4 was all of 12", and since it was a Macintosh, I named it "MACaroni". My new MacBook Pro is practically enormous by comparison (at 15"), and so a "little" name like MACaroni is no longer suitable. Help me name my new computer!

Currently there is one suggestion, from BEG, which is "N Cheese" (get it?).

Your prize is... uhhh... well, to have the honour of naming my computer.

art project

With a little help from Corel Draw and the local sign shop (Unreal Vinyl), I accomplished this before I left for San Francisco. I RULE the geology nerds.