Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New answers for the wall of FAME (shame)

Midterm exam questions:

Use a simple diagram (flow chart) to illustrate the scientific method.


Define epicenter: the gaseous center of the earth

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Driving across the fault

I know I've been here a million times before, but it's always great fun bringing someone to Parkfield for their first time. This time I got a photo of me above the fault (on a doomy gloomy rainy day). This was a pretty nice day actually, not weather-wise, I drove a road I'd never driven before and followed the fault trace from the Carrizo Plain all the way up to Parkfield. Awesome slumping action all the way.

The purpose of this trip was actually to plan a new route for my next "short day" field trip for my geology students. They're going to love this. I love turning people into rock nerds. My route is sort of the light blue line on the map below.

Meanwhile I am discovering another thing that my college students managed not to learn at some point before graduating high school: what a flow chart is. Eek.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Long weekend in San Francisco

This weekend, a long weekend, and thus a weekend free of labs and/or field trips (yes, this semester I have Saturday labs) - I escaped the regular routine and went to visit Bird Nerd in San Francisco. Adventures were had, much work was accomplished on the train ride (thank you USA for having a train that take 2 hours LONGER to get somewhere than driving would), and much rest and relaxation was had as well.

This grainy photo, taken on my phone at night, is of the crookedest street ever: Lombard St. It's also up a 45 degree slope or something almost that absurd.

I lusted at the South End Rowing Club. Imagine rowing out towards Alcatraz in the mornings???

More delicious siphon coffee was enjoyed at the Blue Bottle Cafe. Watch the video! NYT crossword was also worked on. A perfect Sunday morning.

Famous offset point on the San Andreas Fault on Point Reyes. This fence was separated in one fell swoop by the massive earthquake that devastated San Francisco in 1906.

The beach had dead stuff on it. Lots and lots and lots of crabs and crab bits, only one seal. Of all the seals I could have seen, I was most disappointed this one was a carcass. (There was also a dead duck with mysteriously clipped wings and some other kind of dead bird, large, but essentially beyond recognition)

And, naturally, jumping occurred. (Limantour Spit on Point Reyes - cold and overcast, but really pretty much expected for the Pacific Coast in February...)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Friends, listen to my friends!

Oh Happy Day, and it's still Darwin Day at that!

I finally get to listen to Cognitive Dissonance - a radio show broadcast out of Queen's U in Kingston, by two great Kingstonians (not that either of them are actually from Kingston) and friends. I'm so happy that it is now an iTunes recognized podcast! Congrats, and I'm eagerly awaiting more musical insight to make its way towards my ears.

Happy Birthday Dead Darwin!

Well today, Feb 12, is (was) Darwin's birthday - among other very important people such as Lincoln and Hilary - so last Saturday I felt the need to celebrate it. I did this prior to knowing that I'd be suffering the beginning symptoms of the flu. Oh well, it was good anyway.

Extreme Chef was responsible for the legged fish appetizer of course! Yum!

The rest of the feast was ethnically inspired (we could say evolution brought it together) - and included tourtiere, pilaf, mediterranean salad, butternut squash with hazelnuts, carrots (ok - those two are pretty standard foods globally), and for dessert, brownies and crepes!

Try as we might to not do this, discussing politics at work always seems to come up... Note Kiki's level of engagement in this conversation.

Note in this photo: 1) Kiki trying to get attention in his sweater, 2) delicious crepe with yogurt and apple that I am about to eat, 3) how flush I am with fever at the moment (no, not dying, can continue to celebrate!)

The Crepe masters - bringing skills and all the equipment with them wherever they go!

Thanks for celebrating with me friends! And thanks for tolerating the obvious sickness I was trying to hide!

Monday, February 11, 2008

San Francisco Conference Highlight

Despite conference requirements and torrential downpours flooding the streets of S.F. while we were there, I still managed to make three fabulous trips to the Blue Bottle Cafe at 8, 9 and 11 days of being open to the public. Located sneakily at the corner of Mint & Jessie (between Mission and Market @ 5th), this little gem had the ambiance and the coffee to make a 45 minute trip into town for a caffeinated beverage seem not at all ridiculous. You can purchase some of their coffee online as well, which is wonderful - but not at all the same.

This basement-of-Frankenstein looking contraption here is for iced coffee. It takes some 10-11 hours to cold drip through the grounds into the carafes below. I've never tasted iced coffee before WITHOUT sugar. This was amazing.

But the siphon brew is really what I came for. Stupidly I tried to film the process, but held the camera sideways again, and with the poor lighting - it really came out terrible. Below is the NY Times photo of the siphon bar. What happens is more or less this: 1) "bulb" of water is heated over a halogen plate, 2) grounds are put into a cylinder that has a narrow base with a filter and a chain of some sort, 3) when water is hot enough, cylinder of coffee grounds is put on top and stirred while water bubbles its way up the chain into the cylinder through the grounds, 4) a vacuum is created in the bulb, it is removed from the halogen heat, and the vacuum sucks the coffee back down, 5) you drink it and marvel at how distinctly different coffee tastes made this way!