Saturday, May 28, 2011

Up, up, and away!

After 2 weather delays, the end-of-year geology club trip finally took place. We left at a grueling 2am in order to be east of Riverside by 5:30am for the hot air balloon expedition. The sky was dreary, and our hearts were sinking at the prospect of not being able to go up after all.

The crew sent up a couple of black "test" balloons to check the wind and the cloud height, and determined that even though we wouldn't likely be able to see much geology, we could still go up in a balloon.

We weren't expecting to be allowed to, but we actually got to take part in every aspect of the expedition, from unloading/loading equipment, to filling the balloons, to being part of the chase crew, to "milking" the balloons of their air and jamming them back in their sacks - it was awesome!

Then, just as I was saying how awesome the whole experience was "geology or no geology", we popped up through an air pocket in a cloud and the whole day jumped up a giant notch of awesomeness.

I'm still in recovery, 2 days later, of the no-sleep night, but the trip was definitely worth it, and now I really really really want a hot air balloon!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

operation "eat the stuff in my cupboards" part 3

Food experiment 4: salmon "pie"

Rationale: had a frozen pie shell in the freezer, frozen peas, and a can of salmon hanging around, plus eggs, which means I could make something sort of vaguely resembling a quiche.

Method: vigorously stir up 2 eggs, some random quantity of goat milk, mush up the contents of a can of salmon in there too, and a little bit of cheese. Put frozen peas lining bottom of pie shell, pour egg-salmon mixture on top. Bake at 375 about 50min until brown.

Result: Should have thawed peas out first - they thawed and cooked fine in the oven, but make the base of the pie crust moist instead of crisp. Otherwise, it tasted pretty good despite not being particularly solid.

Plus the Extreme Chef and I scavenged Biwa Fruit (loquats) off of someone's tree downtown and ate a whole bunch of that. Look at how pretty they are!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Pure California GOLD.

Some time ago I blogged about Lake Dolores/Rock-A-Hoola water park, a ghost town of sorts on hwy 15 between Barstow and Baker. Recently I got a comment on that blog post indicating that there were intentions to rebuild the place and reopen it.

That lead to this site, where you can watch the transformation.

And this site, where you can hear about the documentary being made on the place.

And then youTube, which of course, had old Lake Dolores commercials!

1970's commercial:

Yes, those were the famous stand-up water slides! Wait until you see them in the 1980's commercial below!!!

1998 commercial:

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Just in time for summer

Yup, finished up my Beatnik sweater last night, midnight actually - it's really really awesome. I used this fabulous baby llama yarn (Miski, by Mirasol - spun in Peru).

Unfortunately, it's also going to be 91 degrees F today, which is too hot for a llama sweater.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Meganeura? Megawesome.

For those who remember last year's prize assignment, and for those who don't - below are the first 2 pages of this year's top contender. Remind yourself of the assignment and "Meganeura: Megaproblem" first!

Once again, I got this student's permission to scan and blog the project. I'm particularly impressed with the photoshop skills. There are many, many more pages - but only if you really insist on reading the entire thing will I bother scanning them.

Monday, May 02, 2011

operation "eat the stuff in my cupboards" part 2

Food experiment 2: steel cut oat "risotto/polenta"

Rationale: oats are good and absorby like rice/polenta, steel cut oats take WAY too freaking long to bother with at breakfast - that needs to be FAST - so they're just sitting around in my cupboard NOT being eaten. Earlier solution had been steel cut oats for dinner, but that's pretty un-exciting, and oats are cheap and arborio rice is less cheap, and I have stock and parmesan...

Method: cook oats in stock instead of water (4:1 stock:oats), stir in some parm, salt & pepper, plus a bunch of sauteed garlic and chard, finish with half a fresh squeezed lemon

Result: not as weird as you might think, definitely edible - but still has that oaty undertone that makes it not quite right flavour-wise.

---------------------------------------Food experiment 3: lemon mousse

Rationale: had 2 random egg whites sitting around and lots of lemon, can't justify eating eggs without their delicious yolks, but figured that whipped up egg whites could transform into mousse without missing their yolks. Grandma used to make chocolate mousse, but I had lemons, not chocolate. They say that when life gives you lemons, make lemonade - well, I've tried that, and I have to say that I cannot seem to make drinkable lemonade...

Method: dumped 2 egg whites in mixing bowl, added juice of half a lemon and some zest for good measure, threw in some sugar, measured nothing. Put mixer on high for some time while I chopped up chard & garlic for oatmeal concoction listed above. When egg white mix was sort of fluffy and had soft peaks (didn't look like stiff peaks were going to happen) I plopped it into a glass and tossed it in the fridge.

Result: as you can see from the photo above, which was taken not 20 minutes after it got put in the fridge, the thing went and separated - so basically I should have eaten it immediately. And, I definitely should have, because I stirred it and essentially drank it, and the flavour was pretty great!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Spring 2011 Mojave Trip

I seem to take students back to the Mojave desert every semester - and truly yesterday was one of the most spectacularly beautiful days we've ever had. On top of that, students this year found the most amazing trilobite specimens we've ever found on one of these excursions, AND the famous brine trench had completely filled in; I think National Chloride must no longer be in business.

The brine trench yesterday.

The brine trench before!!!

The stairs to the lava tube yesterday.

The "stairs" before!

Everything was green from the extensive rains we've had this spring - I just couldn't get over how pretty the volcanic landscape was this time around.

Epic trilobite finds this year - last year 2 of this caliber were unearthed. This year? 5!

I've driven by this sign on old Rte 66 I don't know how many times. Needed to document it. Unfortunately, this is about all I know about that snippet of California's Rte 66 history.