Thursday, December 23, 2010

How To Cross Country Ski

Disclaimer: this is definitely NOT how to cross country ski.

Follow the signs.

Keeping a low center of gravity is important for balance, though it's more useful when you're a) moving and b) going down a hill.

Skis are long. Picking up your feet to take giant steps with them in random directions is difficult. But it is not impossible.

Always keep your ski tips up while jumping.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

holidays in the great white north

due to my sister's work schedule, we did the whole gift thing early this year - which was fine, since that meant that we covered my birthday one week prior as well. to celebrate my last Monday being 30, I got to eat real bagels and lox, and my parents got me a new camera, which I "desperately" needed (this is, of course, relative - my old camera still functions, however since the lens cap hasn't opened or closed on its own in over 3 years, the lens is most definitely scratched and photos have been getting duller as a consequence - also, relatively - no one "desperately" needs a new camera, seriously there are far more important things in life than material goods... but I digress)

ok, where was I? right, so we did the last Monday of my being 30, and also, so far, we have country skied and eaten.

my dad bakes bread, excellently, and is also renowned for cutting enormously thick slabs of it - this is a fairly good representation of the following: dad, thick slab of freshly baked bread, and sister

a couple of streets away from where my parents live is a park that has a decent loop around it for x country skiing, it's very convenient, except that dog walkers seem to be taking advantage of the somewhat flattened ski tracks, using them as trails, consequently destroying the tracks, and also (joy of joys) leaving us frozen turds to ski over... anyway, here's mom skiing

here's me standing and posing with a stupid grin on skis

greatest thing about the new camera? (ok besides that the lens cap opens and closes and the lens isn't all scratched up) there's a ridiculous function that allows you to swap colours. this also allows you to take photos of people and make them look like zombies without photoshop! I have a very bad feeling that I will be taking a lot of absolutely terrible photos for the humour of them

one of several oddities inherited from my dad's parents, this wooden horse is apparently dressed like santa this year (actually, I'm here so rarely that I can't be sure it isn't ALWAYS dressed like santa), mostly I was just messing with my new camera and thought it looked crazy rabid from this angle

me messing around with my new camera, the best part of this tree is the 2 birds on top, which are so incredibly old, and no longer have either beaks or tails - those birds rule!

the very red looking moon during the total lunar eclipse (at -10 degrees C) on the solstice, pretty awesome despite the numbness - this is my dad's photo, my frozen fingers and shivering prevented me getting a single photo that wasn't blurry

Saturday, December 11, 2010

One day I'd like to take flying lessons

Triathlon-geology colleague from exploring mines with thigh-deep water came through big time to make amends with presenting an opportunity to fly in a Cessna 172 over the legendary and iconic view point of the San Andreas Fault in the Carrizo Plain. I jumped right on that bandwagon, and took my Brewmate with me.

Saddling up and getting ready to go!

Ugh. This is the nasty haze over where I live - can you see traces of "civilization" below? Look hard, it's there... Gross.

Meanwhile, above the hideous haze, there was an amazing cloud cascade "flowing" through a gap in the Western Transverse Ranges.

Soda Lake in the Carrizo Plain was looking much more lake-like than I usually see it, so I suppose the clouds must have left behind a deposit recently.

Finally, the pièce de résistance, the big one itself, the San Andreas Fault. Its line is straight, crisp and true and literally goes on for miles. Oh how amazing it is to see it from the sky!!!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

it's December already?

Wow this year has flown by. It's been a doozy for sure. Well, the beginning of December in Bakersfield is marked by Mr Toad's Wild Run for those of us who like to participate in that sort of thing. I happen to be one of them, and I really do love that race, it is the most fun footrace I have ever done - starts with 1.5 miles of uphill, followed by about .5 miles of flat, and ends with a mile of downhill in a steep and windy gully. Totally awesome. This is the race that I did for the first time, on a whim in 2006 and placed 2nd in my age group - but did not stay for the medal ceremony and thus did not get my medal. Then did again in 2009, slightly hungover, wanting to get a medal, and came in 4th in my age group... sigh. This year, new age group, more competition, no chance to medal - but I sure was happy with 9th!

Meanwhile, later on that same day, was our last roller derby bout of the season. This one was to benefit Toys for Tots, and we had a huge turnout and loads of donations for the charity. It was great - really the only thing that was missing was our newest fan Ramón to cheer us on! A surprise for me was to get thrown into the Jammer hat - more surprising was that I didn't suck at it on the first run, and got thrown out there in that position 2 more times... I even scored us some points! I don't know the full tally by any means, and so far have nearly failed at locating any photographic evidence, but thanks to Into the Void Photography and Firefly Photography? There's at least these photos.

Finally, this blog post is brought to you via a break in reviewing the proofs of my article to be published in the Journal of Economic Geology. Oh yeah, that monkey will be off my back before 2011. Which ultimately means that in this year of disasters, I've managed to pull out the publication of a book, a peer-reviewed scientific article, and 2 presentations at GSA.

On the note of the book, it's being carried at the Buena Vista Museum, and I'm trying to get it at Russo's and Barnes and Noble. Meanwhile it's available in limited quantity from me (if you're in Canada and want a copy - let me know!) and from the publisher.

Monday, November 22, 2010

images from a wet exploration

I somehow got convinced to spend a rainy Saturday poking around some "mines" in the Keyesville area with a semi-professional mine explorer and one of my triathlon-geology colleagues. I then convinced another colleague to come along too so that I would have less driving to do. It turned out that 1) the first "mine" was, in my eyes, not a mine at all; was quite filled with water, which for the height-challenged such as myself, meant getting a greater percentage of the body wet to explore; and contained at least 2 dead rodents: Bloaty McBloaterson and Fluffy, 2) the second mine was clearly a mine, and also clearly had Jarosite (and indubitably other sulfur-based minerals and bacteria growing in it, or some such stuff that was also off-gassing when the murky waters were disturbed), which resulted in an incredibly nasty sludge coating on our footwear.

Me, pouting, with my bra stuffed with my socks so that they would at least be dry, other stuff shoved into my fleece, my pants rolled up to my thighs, but still wet, and looking at the partial ladder that needed to be climbed in order to proceed; with its lowest rung being the height of my shoulder...

Irony. Rusted "iron"y. That might be the worst pun I've ever made...

Clean vertical shaft in the mine, unlike the other 2 we saw, which were rendered nearly invisible due to the rusty sludge coating (see above photo for sludge example) - but this one looked eerily awesome. It also made a fantastic sound when rocks were lobbed into it. The other shafts made cool sounds when rocks were tossed their way, but also sent replies in the form of potent H2S farts, we heard the message and trucked it out of there.

The following night and day was spent in my old favourite, Red Rock Canyon SP, where a full moon and relatively wind-free evening allowed for flash-light free night hikes to check out the few constellations that shone out against the brightness of the moon, as well as catching the last few stragglers of the Leonid meteor shower.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Garbage Cat, then and now

Loki, AKA Bitey Whitey, is a 2009 model. So that means he's... going to be 2 or so in the next few months. When I first acquired him, some of the names tossed around, like "X head", were based on the big grey X on his head.

X head in an book box, spring 2009

X head in a waste basket, Kiki for scale, 2009, inspiring the name Garbage Cat

Garbage Cat in the kitchen trash, 2009, inspiring me to always close the lid, even if I'm just taking 2 steps back into the kitchen to pick up more un-compostables to dispose of.

Now Loki is as long as Kiki, though not as tall or as wide, and interestingly, he is completely white - there isn't even a single grey strand of fur on his head. Thus the continuance of the name Bitey Whitey.

the semi-irregular knitting update

Recently I finished a couple of big projects and whipped up a couple of totally ridiculous and small projects. For those who are interested in knitting, enjoy.

The world's itchiest sweater, knit from this pattern in this yarn.

I had a request from a friend if I would be capable of knitting a cthulhu hat. I had no idea what that was, but found that I was, nevertheless, capable of knitting it. I also wrote up the pattern to distribute on ravelry.

I finally finished my Bergen Street cardigan, knit from Finnish lambswool - it only took forever because I had to wait for the final ball of yarn to arrive from Finland, I am sooooo happy with this sweater!

Then I had to whip up a cat hoodie for Salsa in Calgary, it's starting to get pretty cold there you know... She obviously hates it. However, in comparison with Loki (below), who was forced to try it on before I sent it, she is significantly more cooperative.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

GSA 2010

I got to go up to GSA in Denver this year (that's Geological Society of America, in case you didn't know), and in amongst the regular conference stuff, I went ahead and went on field trips before and after the meeting.

On the pre field trip we looked at a lot of table mountains, flat-topped and capped with basalt flows, and then adding to the contrast was a fresh layer of snow. Pretty spectacular scenery, especially in comparison with Bakersfield.

When we stopped at "Finger Rock" on the pre-trip, pretty much the last stop of the excursion, 4 filthy farm cats came out of the woodwork immediately upon the extraction of muffins from our vans. The muffin kitties mewed and purred until their muffin cravings were satisfied - they were so cute! Even though at least 2 of them (like the one above) seemed to be missing their tails.

At the conference I not only got to meet a ton of great new people, but I also got to catch up with several Queen's folks from the good ol' days. Here's me getting out the 3D glasses for a "virtual field trip" to Death Valley with my old friend the Cycling Geochemist.

Finally, after the meeting I went on day trip around Dinosaur Ridge and the Morrison Formation - two especially fun things from the day were baby stegosaurus footprints - look at that scale bar! And, seeing the Great Unconformity at Red Rocks Park, with 1.4 billion years missing at Dimitri's (that's the Dimetrodon in the photo below) feet.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

a little self-pimping

Well, my little book is done and available. The history behind it is this:
1. Write curriculum for "Geology of Kern County" class
2. Discover there is no textbook
3. Panic about what to do for reference material for students enrolled in class
4. Write draft of book in 3 months
5. Teach class, get student input on book
6. Procrastinate a lot
7. Receive faculty scholarship award to continue research on project
8. Procrastinate some more
9. Eventually complete manuscript by ceasing to add potential chapter topics and slashing at ever-growing list
10. Find willing local retired geologist to read through geological material just in case of drastically major errors
11. Beg mother to proof read for "lay-mans terms clarity" before sending on to copy editor at publisher
12. Pimp book on blog.

We're going to figure out how/when/where to have a party for it in Bakersfield, where it will (of course) be available. The plan for this is for those wanting books to pre-purchase so that I have a better approximation of the number I need to order. Of course the book is available here and soon will be here too. And if anyone back in Ontario for some reason wants one, I'll be there over xmas and can hand deliver!

UPDATE: Book release party will be in Spring, however, I have a limited number of books available presently, so if you want one, buy it now! I'll deliver it to you. Somehow.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: The Ugly

Well, then things just got worse. Upon receiving my approved work visa, I returned to Bakersfield only to find that my Powerbook Pro had been stolen, worse, my goofy collection of jewelry, and even worse, my sense of security.

Beyond the heart breaking feeling of all that went missing, and the police indicating that the likely point of entry was my bedroom, items like my dinosaur necklace are truly irreplaceable.

All I can say is: 2010, you are the worst year of my life so far! If only I wasn't so darn dependent on this arbitrary Gregorian system...

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: The Bad

Unfortunately, my work visa was not processed in time, and I was restricted north of the border until USCIS made a decision. In order to try and save my sanity of not being able to work and being completely powerless in the situation, I found a few things to keep me occupied besides incessant phone calls and reading mystery novels.

The animatronic dinosaur "park" at the Calgary Zoo. Look at all the faux rock formations!!! Faux red rock canyon, faux devil's postpile, faux hoodoos! Plus how cute are the dinos?

The best part of this video is the screaming children running in terror as soon as it roars.

I just thought... how do they stay in business? I asked the cashier what the story was with the name, and believe it or not, she said the original business used to sell loose tea, tea that had been overweighted, and thus discounted. Suuuuurrrrre

On Labour Day weekend I went to my first Pow Wow at Stoney, it was outrageous! Dance and drum competitions all day and night every day, First Nations People from all across North America! Unfortunately everything was moving and the lighting was poor, so this is it for photos, but I attempted a video of a drum team - until my camera crapped out on me anyway.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: The Good

I had the privilege of accompanying Sonoma State's Burgess Shale geology class field trip as a student/chauffeur. Chauffeur/student? Ok, mostly chauffeur. Awesome hikes were had to awesome locations, and it was hard to pare down my favourite images to commemorate the experience. Let's try these:

These funny mop head plants had an even funnier name, but I can't remember it now! Something like "dancing hippies" or "hippie hair" or something. Someone who knows feel free to remind me.

I was lucky enough to find a Marella fossil at the Walcott Quarry, which as legend has it, was discovered due to the finding of a Marella fossil on the slopes below. Moment of joy!

After the near-grueling Burgess Shale hike, the next day we trooped up to the Mt Stephen shale, where a plethora of trilobites and anomalocarid shrimp mandibles can be found. Or even trilonomalocarids if you're really lucky...

Some sort of inside joke provided the troops with knickerbocken for the visit, they were enthusiastically donned for all the excursions and consequently returned in less than tip-top shape (or at least smell).

The Athabasca Glacier was also a remarkable experience, by the end of the day it was glorious and sunny, but throughout the walk up to the ice steps we went through rain and snow and near white-out conditions, all while avoiding millwells, which are thrilling but deadly.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hawai'i. Big island. Volcanoes. Awesome.

I took advantage of the opportunity to attend the National Great Teachers Seminar in Hawai'i, on the Big Island, staying in the Kilauea Military Camp IN Volcanoes National Park. Aside from all the brainstorming and teaching techniques, I spent every day roaming the crater rim (really it's a caldera) and beyond.

This is where the flow is currently traversing the land to get to the ocean. This apparently was a subdivision 2 weeks ago. Note the helicopters - that is where I wanted to be.

At the very very end of the Thurston lava tube, it was awesome. We named a new "lava cave" feature too. While lava stalactites have long been known as "lavacicles", we have now officially designated lava stalagmites as "Pele's poop". This is what happens when you find equally nerdy teachers to go on 10 mile hikes with you on your afternoon off - and they weren't even geologists!!! L-R: math, english, computer science, english, ME

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to hang onto the edge of lava cooling cracks. Hawai'i is especially fun for this due to the lack of snakes!

Looking across Kilauea-Iki "crater" - a roiling lava lake in 1959.

Yay! Steam vents in Kilauea "crater"! Right there! Right next to me! Exciting!

Himalayan raspberry. Tasty. I just love trails that I can eat my way down.

Freaking awesome flower on some sort of GINGER plant!!! Except that this ginger root smelled like musty garbage and not the ginger that is tasty. Sure had a pretty flower though.

Flower on an Ohia tree. I love these - they give the trees this all-over firey pom-pom appearance.

A jumping photo, of course, who couldn't resist in this environment???