What's on my mind.

30 December 2009

Pet Pictures

Because really what else do you want to see while surfing pre-New Year's intoxication?

Did I post Me and My Shadow yet? Well, either way, it's so cute.

Honey got How to Teach Physics to Your Dog for Christmas but Irish got a hold of it first.

I think Irish is trying to steal the book from Honey by scent marking it here.

Here's Honey reading it:

Taking a break to ponder bunnies made of cheese:

Here she's pouting because I took the book away.

I'm anxiously awaiting my turn at reading the book. :)

28 December 2009

Learning to Ride

No one's at work again today but I'm feeling more philosophical than crazy today. I'm listening/watching to an old Bones ep ("The Woman in the Car"). At one point Booth and Brennan are watching a video of a kid learning to ride a bike. Dad is a little nervous (his baby is growing up), kid is excited, Mom is worried. The mom keeps saying things like "Be carefull" and "don't let go" while the kid is saying "I can do it!" As the kid goes wobbling down the sidewalk, Mom says to Dad "How do we get him back?"

It occured to me that you never 'get them back' (kids that is) you just run along beside as long as possible. (note: I don't have any kids, just a much younger sister.) Parents (and older sisters) always want to hold on to their child, keep him or her at whatever age*. The job of a parent isn't to continue to hold on to the bike seat until all danger has passed. The job of a parent is to run along beside your child until you can't keep up anymore.

*Well, maybe not 11. Or 13, 15, and 17. I have a friend, who's now 25, that I've none since she was 11. The odd teenage years were not good.

24 December 2009

Pink Rose = Friendship?

So, how's everyone? Have(ing) a nice Christmas (or whatever you celebrate)? I'm ok, except for the raging neuroses.

I guess you saw in my last post I went on a blind date. Since then we've been to lunch twice, he came to my church for our Christmas choir thing, I went to the church he attend here's Christmas choir program with a birthday dinner for our mutual friend before hand, and a random dinner* with our mutual friend, and one dinner and a movie. By my count that's 5 dates, more than I've been on in the last ten years.

All this romantic attention has my inner voices in overdrive - Am I sending the right signals? Bad body language habits! Are the signals confusing? Don't cross your arms! Smile. (not hard to do in his company) Am I sending any signals? Make eye contact. Don't ramble...- you get the picture.

Tuesday night when he walked me to my door I practically stood in it rather than let him come in. Not because I actually didn't want him to come in but because I was trying to figure out if it was too late to invite him in for coffee/tea/hot cocoa (I had to go to work the next morning) and wondering if he was going to hug me. Then he's leaning in for a hug and I'm thinking "kiss? on lips or cheek? Should I give him a peck on the cheek? hmm, his head hits right at my shoulder. Kiss now? Crap, missed my chance." Then Wednesday after the kind of random dinner I got a one-arm, diagonal, friend-hug, which starting me worrying if that meant something or not.

I've been feeling so much better the last year or so. Comfortable in my own skin, more confident, (usually) feeling competent at work, all that good stuff. This week I've gone back and forth between embarrassingly giddy because maybe a boy likes me to being terrified that I'll somehow screw this up (whatever 'this' becomes) to telling myself I'm being silly because I've known him less than a month. Basically I feel a bit like I'm 15 again. I suck at dating. Part of me wants to tell him that I haven't dated much (understatement of the year?), I'm not good at 'reading' people, etc while the rest of me shouts that bit down with "we don't want to freak him out"**, and one small part says "relax, deep breaths, you've only know him a few weeks, it will be OK, breathe damn it!"

I think the worst is those inner voices have started up their positive feedback loop of negativity, again. The loop gets interrupted when I get unambiguously good signals, like an email saying hi. (If it's not on the level of hitting me over the head with a club and dragging me back to his cave, it is up for interpretation.) Or if I distract myself, which is hard to do this time of year at work.

*Our mutual friend is the grad student who does fieldwork with me, RA. I was dropping RA off after field work about 5 and he'd invited me to eat with them, then mention CR would be there... I'm hoping CR didn't think it was weird I showed up.

**God help me if he finds this blog - he'll think I'm completely insane. Maybe I should have picked more anonymous screen name, made this a more truly
anonymous blog. Too late now.

08 December 2009

A question and a boast

First off, is there something about Ig/Met Pet Question that makes it particularly spam worthy? I've been getting at a Japanese spam comment about one a day for a week now.

Secondly, I went from this (geologist office chic):

to this (over dressed for blind double date):

in 46 minutes last Friday*. Well, slightly less time actually, 46 minutes is the difference between the time stamps on the photos. I was only 10 minutes late and half of that was because I had to stop at the ATM.

I had fun. He, I'm told, had a good time and wants my number (since he didn't ask for it before I left, despite having an entire Uno game's worth of warning. But then it was really late and we were all getting tired.). Also I got to see our big snow falling. (It didn't stick here but did in Birmingham, I'm told.)

*I also went from having a dog excited to have Mom home to one pouting on my bed because Mom was abandoning her for the evening. That's why she's not in the second picture. :)

04 December 2009

Please Note:

As I mentioned the other day I've turned on comment moderation for older posts. (I've had a handful of spam comments.) I'd like to point out that I will probably reject any comments not in English without even trying to figure out what it they says*.

Thank you.

BTW, the spambot trying to comment in Japanses on Ig/Met Pet Question - please go away.

*grammar fixed now

01 December 2009


[quick editorial note: I turned comment moderation on for old posts but forgot to set Blogger to email me when there was a comment needing moderation. Oops. Sorry if you're the commenter who sat waiting so long.]

In the spirit of Thanksgiving last week and today being World AIDS Day I wanted to thank the doctors, nurses, and support staff (and researchers?) at UAB's Family Clinic (or whatever it's called now). When Nettie was born (and the months leading up to then), my parents, brother, the rest of my family and I (and possibly her bio-mom, but how would anyone know?) were worried and unsure about her chances of being born healthy and getting to grow up to be the wonderful pre-teen she is today, much less to be the beautiful young woman she'll be in a few more years.*

Scientific American had a special issue devoted to HIV/AIDS right about the time we found out my (now former) SIL was HIV positive. That helped a lot. We had some current information all in one place, and it was understandable. It also helped with the OB, because while I'm sure he was a wonderful doc, he didn't start out knowing much about what could be done to help the baby's chances of being HIV negative; my brother could go in with good information to get the OB looking into it.

After the birth though we were a bit in the dark again; SA had articles on pregnancy and birth and HIV infection in babies/children but, as I recall, nothing on when you know an infant isn't infected. This is when the Family clinic came in and were just wonderful. (Not all of our experiences at Children's were wonderful, or even good, but that wasn't FC's fault.) The doctors and nurses were not only good at doctoring but had good bedside manner and were willing to answer any questions we had; the social worker, too. (She even gave Mom and me meal vouchers but we didn't get to use them -that was the Day From Hell.)

The Family Clinic is (or was 10 years ago) a group from UAB and had "clinic" at Children's Hospital in Birmingham one day a week (Montgomery and Huntsville 2 other days a week, iirc). Their goal was to treat every HIV positive child (and HIV exposed infants) and, when needed, the parents of those children in the state. (A lofty goal and one I'm sure they fell short on - a lot of people would have trouble getting to the hospitals). They also did research on HIV in infants and children. They had drug protocols, testing schedules, and stats. Just learning the statistics on when babies test positive and hearing that Nettie, at 8 days old, didn't have any of the common early signs of infection helped put us at ease. Or at least helped us not worry TOO much. And a year and a half later, knowing that she didn't have to be tested any more, was very nice confirmation that our beautiful healthy little girl was going to stay that way.

Now if we could somehow skip the middle school years, everything would be perfect.

*What? How? When? She was just a little baby, like, yesterday!

02 November 2009

Ig/Met Pet question.

Callan's post on his new "granite" counter top reminded me of a post I meant to do while in Portland. I didn't have my camera so I had to wait until I got home, and I just drew a quick sketch of the gorgeous "granite" that adorned my bathroom at the Paramount. My petrology class was a while ago and I spend most of my time looking at the electrical properties of sedimentary rocks, so other than metamorphic I didn't get any further with this:

The biotite books in the groundmass (for lack of a better term) weren't that aligned (i.e. no preferred orientation), I was just lazy in Illustrator. The white space in the groundmass was mostly quartz with plag. The ground mass was medium to dark grey overall. The large feldspar clasts were between approximately .5"-1.25" (1 - 3cm, or nickel to Kennedy half-dollar); some had rings of biotite in them and/or inclusions of biotite, quartz, and rarely plag. A couple had rings of quartz inclusions - like an overgrowth of quartz followed by regrowth of feldspar; a few were almost complete overgrown by quartz.

So anyone know what it was?

"It's a terrible thing when gneiss is taken for granite"
-J.C. Pashin (and probably others)*

* Speaking of puns, check out Callan's Halloween costume

31 October 2009

Why do I bother?

2 dances/hour, $1.20/dance, 1 out of every 6 songs, or 5 miles (roundtrip)/dance* - That's how tonight's dance works out. Still one dance better than the last TBDC dance. I have lots of fun at class, because I actually dance. I don't have much fun sitting by myself at a table watching everyone else dance.

I sit forward in my chair, no slouching or arms crossed over my chest; I sway/seat dance to the music; I make eye contact with people; I don't sit at the far end of the table in the dark - so why don't I get asked to dance? I'm starting to think it's the same reason I don't get asked out on dates(other than an apparent dearth of single, age appropriate men) - something just wrong with me. What I don't know, but small children don't like me, store clerks ignore me, and guys don't ask me to dance.

*this is not counting the line dances: Electric Slide, Peabody, or Cupid Shuffle

30 October 2009


Short Geologist asked about male/female ratios where we work. My answer was going to be a bit long, so I'm making a whole post.

At the engineering consulting firm (where I did UST and SWPA work) I was one of 4 women "professionals" (a geologist, an engineer, a chemist, and an environmental scientist), so total for "professionals" was about 4:12; there were far more women then men in the office but the rest were drafters, secretaries, personnel manager, office manager, book keeper... As far as I know there were no women on the survey crews (those crews probably brought the total male/female back up to 50/50).

Back in grad school the ratio was close to 40:60ish, a few more males than females (students only).

Where I am now there are 9 female geologist and chemists (iirc, she actually does programming for us) and 50 male geologists, biologists, and engineers. My division is 3:4 and our building (next door to most of the Survey) is 4:9, plus one volunteer lady geologist*. When I counted up my co-workers from the phone list I was kind of surprised there were actually that few women scientists. It always seems like there are more women here but in my mind I'm probably including all the support staff (accounting, personnel,...), which is mostly female. Lots of the men work either for the OGB or on the 3rd floor where I rarely go and so usually only see all those folks at holiday luncheons.

I've noticed a difference in conference attendance. When I went to the American Association of Petroleum Geologist's meeting there were definitely more men than women but at the Geological Society of America meetings I've been to (all 2 of them) it was more even. There's a small (200 people?) symposium here every spring on coalbed methane and shale gas. When I was a student my (now) boss' wife and I would be among the very few women there. (No line at the bathrooms!) now the numbers of women are creeping up. That meeting is probably still in the 25:75 range. The field trip my boss runs for that meeting is the only time I've seen men crash the ladies bathroom (1-holers at a gas station). Not uncommon for the van drivers and I to be the only women.

At the consulting job I spent most of my time in the office writing up other's reports because the guy (an engineer, who once described a sand as "well sorted, fine to coarse grained") could help our drill crew lift augers, 70lb bags of sack-crete, etc. and all I 'could' do was describe the soil. The only time I really was uncomfortable about being a lady geologist was the job with the driller who hit on me, obnoxiously, for 3 days straight. My (then) boss and his mostly thought it was funny and were laying bets as to when I'd slug the jerk. (It's surprising he managed to get the hole straight because he spent almost all of his time looking at me - and I'm not terribly attractive in field clothes and a hardhat.)

Male/female ratios aren't something I've ever worried a whole lot about. That is partly due to the fact that I've had good role models, also, with 5 brothers it doesn't bother me to be "one of the guys". Besides, I have it so much easier than it used to be. My boss' wife (a geologist) was once denied a job because they didn't have a ladies room in the building. At that time, she had a job where she had a 10 minute walk to the closest ladies room.

*with only 2 one-holers, one non-climate controlled, for us ladies!

29 October 2009

Baby Pictures!

Because I know the whole wide internets is dying to see pictures of my grand-nephew:

I'd like to take this oppotunity to point out how unfair it is that my brothers (except the half bald one) and nephews have better hair than Kate, Anna, and I. (Ok, John and Pat can keep the receeding at the temples bit.) Also I can't remember the others, but Scott and Nathan have about the best eyelashes I've ever seen - it's just not fair. I'll forgive Maddox.

27 October 2009


...to my nephew and his wife (Scott and Lauren): Maddox Scott, 7lbs 2 oz, born today.

I'm sending them all my good thoughts and wishing them lots of sleep.

19 October 2009

A note to the airlines

Just a quick note from Portland.

My flights here were fine, but requiring anyone to be anywhere before 6am is just wrong. There should be special check-in procedures or something for any flight before 7. At least I spent the night at my brother's in Trussville, getting up at 4:15 is WAY better than leaving the house at 4:15. (My SIL is also in Portland this week for work, she had to meet a coworker at 4 for a 6:50ish flight. The co-worker had to leave home at least by 3:30!)

Also, in light of the 3-1-1 policy, if you strand someone somewhere try and make sure the hotel has complementary shampoo. I'm looking at you US Air in Charlotte. (referencing last weeks trip) Because of the liquids restrictions some of us don't always bother to carry shampoo, particularly on short trips.

05 October 2009

More badges!

(I promise I'll get to the rest of the banned book list, even if it's not Banned Book Week, eventually.)

Look Knitting Scouts! I can add to my Science Scout badges knitting badges. Maybe.

I don't have much contact with "the media" so I don't know if I actually qualify for the primary badge (Proselytize Knitting). I did help a friend by crochet supplies because she wanted to start up again.

I "will impress you with my math prowess" (level I) - knitting math is generally straight forward - even if I usually don't worry about gauge (haven't knit any sweaters, etc. yet). I just knit until it's the size I want. But my calculations for flat-knit circles work in garter stitch at least. (Does the use of trig functions move me up to level 1.5?)
I definitely qualify for "Knit Items With No Conceivable Practical Application", as my "reds bag" is an almost unusable size and shape but cute.

In other knitting news: I finally wove in the ends on 2 wash cloths and 3 burp cloths that I started on in June. They even got washed last night so I might be able to give them to my new-Dad coworker this week. I bought some pretty wool a few weeks ago and will start knitting a scarf for my niece that I see in a couple weeks. (3 plane rides before I see her should be plenty of time) And after that I'm going to start a baby blanket for my grand-nephew; it should be done by Christmas.

BTW did I pick up my "rock licker" badge? (It's lunch time and I'm too lazy to go back and check.)

29 September 2009

Needles (the good kind)

I'm shamelessly selling my post for the chance at knitting needles. Knit Purl Gurl is giving away this lovely set of interchangeable needles.

In other knitting news I'm trying to decide if a 36" x 36" blanket is going to use a gazillion yards of yarn or something reasonable. I've been thinking about and looking at baby blanket patterns. Then last night, for kicks, I grabbed 3 remnants of some balls of Lily Sugar'n Cream and knit it up on a pair of 15s in garter stitch. Muddy colors (they were rather random remnants) but really squishy soft. I need to weigh my little 4X4 swatch. There should be postage scale around here somewhere.

28 September 2009

Read, Read a Book, Read a Book Right Now*

Preferably a banned book, as it is Banned Books Week. I don't know which books I have on my shelf and which I don't so instead of following Sarah's example I'll examine the lists of most challenged/banned books from 2001-2008. Of those I've read:

Captain Underpants
Bridge to Terabithia
Julie of the Wolves
His Dark Materials series
Harry Potter series
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Of Mice and Men
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
The Color Purple

I've put these in approximate age of readers. Captain Underpants is a beginning chapter book, I think, or read to your K-1st grader. I saw it was challenged for being "unsuited for age group" - well, I don't know about the people who challenged it but Mom and Nettie had the best time ever reading it together. It's the only one on the list I haven't read all of (OK, also haven't read Amber Spyglass, yet) but I think from the bits I have read/heard that it is perfect for the age group. Potty humor and burping is right up an average 6-9 yr old's alley, parent's might not always appreciate it but their kids love it. Mom and Nettie laughed the whole time.

The next three are (my impression) for late-elementary schoolers. I read Bridge to Terabithia and Julie of the Wolves in 6th grade, both for discussion/book reports. I'll admit that 6th grade was a while ago, so my memory may not be perfect but violence? I don't remember any particular violence in either. In BtT the kids have a fantasy world with battles against imaginary foes - you can't have kings and queens without dragons - but, in my mind, that's different than 'real' violence. It wasn't gratuitous or glorified. In JotW, Julie's village hunts, the wolf pack she joins hunts, but I can't for the life of me come up with any other potential violence to complain about. Maybe I've forgotten a bunch in the intervening 20 years? IDK, IDU either.

His Dark Materials is somewhat anti-church (in my reading really more anti-establishment or anti-dogma than anti-Christianity despite, perhaps, the author's intent) and this would make it a target of many book banners. Don't want the kiddos asking too many questions. Yeah, there's some violence but not gory and how do you have epic battles with out some violence? How many kids are going to read a trilogy that doesn't involve a major world changing conflict? And how many of those world changing conflicts are going to not involve a war? Yeah, you can do it, but the central conflict of the story needs to grab kids - war grabs kids (and adults).

It seems to me that the Harry Potter series starts as a mid- to late-elementary (3-5th grade) reading and ends as intermediate school reading (7-8th). I suspect a lot of the challenges to Harry Potter are because of the magic - inherently anti-church, if you're afraid of questions. My sister has a friend who isn't allowed to read the books or watch the movies because of this (but can watch Mary Poppins, go figure.). Yeah, there's violence. Violence with consequences and not without reason (at least for the good guys). Again the good guys are fighting evil, and Harry, et al. (due to an accident of birth) get sweep up in it. It's hard to fight evil without shedding some blood, Harry, Dumbledore or any of the other of our heroes, didn't started it but someone has to end it. BTW, sometime this happens in real life, not so much an 11 yr old kid being swept up into and being central to the resolution of the war, but bad things happen and sometimes young men and women have to go off to war - many not more than a year or two older than Harry, Hermione, and Ron in HPatDH - and kill or be killed.

I think kids can handle a little more than we tend to give them credit for. Or more than the idiots who ban books think they can. Not only can they handle people in a book fighting battles or hunting their food - they can tell the difference between reality and fantasy.

*post title is poorly purloined from RIF-Man lyrics

22 September 2009

All About Dancing!

(I may repeat myself, because I'm too lazy to look at my back posts. Also I started this post a couple weeks ago.)

This week Three weeks ago was the start of intermediate rumba, where we're learning a routine that'll be performed at the October November dance (by those who want to, the rest will just be made to feel really guilty). There were 16 couples and 4 single ladies in class the first week, which is definitely up from WCS and hustle.

I'm torn about the class. I'm not going to do the performance because dancing in a group isn't like being in choir/band/orchestra - it's still too individual. I'm taking the class because we'll learn new moves and dancing is fun. Or it is when you have someone to dance with. But the first week wasn't much fun. I guess I was already having a kind of bad day and then I get to dance class and I'm stuck by myself and the instructors are spending as much time with each of the couples as they spend with me which means I have a partner for about 15 minutes of the hour, at most. I can practice by myself but it's not the same. And I was already feeling a bit crappy... I'll go back next week, we're suppose to switch up partners next week, and we'll see.

The second week they had a helper (new instructor at Tuscaloosa Dance Sport) who danced with me a bunch. And the last week someone's partner wasn't there so I had a partner the whole time! I definitely like it better when I have someone to dance with. We'll see how tonight goes.

Speaking of lacking a partner, what do you call a get together where there are far more women than men? Because that was the first 45 minutes or so of the dance party* (at TDS) a 3 weeks ago. Then for two weeks they had two more guy instructors show up and one kind of adopted me and I hardly sat out a dance. Last week, however, the two "new" guys were out of town and the owner has hurt his foot so he's not suppose to dance, everyone else were couples who mostly danced with their regular partners. At least there weren't 3-4 single girls sitting around just me and the girl instructor there. Then Saturday I went to the TBDC dance and mostly sat. Out of about 5 hours at dances I danced maybe 40 minutes (not counting line and mixer/chair dances at TBDC) and one of those dances was a rumba with Claire. If she weren't almost 2 feet shorter than me we might have done a tango. I had fun talking to Claire and Rita but would have had more fun dancing. Oh well. I'll keep going, maybe I'll just dance by myself next time.

One thing I don't understand - why aren't there more single guys who dance? (Warning: broad generalizations to follow.) Women like to dance. Men like women. Women really like men who dance. Men should want to learn to dance so they can hold the pretty girls close. So why do wives have to drag their husbands to dance lessons? Why aren't frat boys all jumping up and down to learn how to meet girls? WHY?

*I like the dance parties and the studio has great space (and will be real nice when the floor's completely finished); they just need more people to show up. I hope they have lots of people showing up for classes. I'm trying to go to a few.

08 September 2009

Great song but you got a bit wrong.

I just watched the videos for "Science is Real", "I'm a Palentologist", and "The Elements" (on YouTube and BoingBoing via i09).* Loved 'em, and I would buy this album if I was spending money on music just now, except TMBG got one little bit wrong:

I know everyone likes the idea of compressing coal to make an diamond - it's a great image but it's wrong. Pure carbon at surface temperatures and pressures is graphite (main ingredient in pencil leads).** Coal is the remains of ancient plants (and algae); it is mostly carbon but it isn't anywhere near pure.

Thank you. Go and sin no more.

And yes, I can be a prick about science.

*Yes, I know, I'm a bit late to the party.
**In fact, diamonds are less stable at surface pressures and temperatures than graphite and would turn into graphite over time if it weren't for the huge energy needed to break the C-C bonds. (At least that's what I remember.) Imagine a bowl on a counter top and a bowl on the floor with a tube in the water of the upper bowl going up to the ceiling and then down to the bowl on the floor - the lower bowl is at a lower potential energy and the water would "want" to get there, but it's gonna take a hell of a lot of energy to get the water up to the ceiling first.

25 August 2009

Free To a Good Home

I think I could open luggage store with all the baggage I carry around. Sarah's post today (obviously not Gormenghastocabulary XI, 'cos lexiponage is always good) got me started at "I hate feeling like I'm suppose to wear make-up" and a few easy steps I wound my way to "I'm going to die alone* as the crazy old dog women".

I know I've mentioned my make-up baggage before but today I remembered the day my dermatologist (of all people) say to 19-year old me that wearing make-up regularly "would come" like make-up wearing was as inevitable as needing deodorant and shaving.

While I'm on the subject of beauty and baggage - I wish the dance studio didn't have giant floor to ceiling mirrors. It really ruins the feeling that I'm pretty and at least 20 lbs lighter when I dance if I catch a glimpse of myself.

*despite Nettie, my 5 brothers and SILs, 6 nieces and nephews, their spouses, and untold great-nieces and nephews by then,... being around.

04 August 2009

No deep thoughts.

What I want to know today (because y'all SO want to know my every thought) is when do I get a script writer?* Because I'm not having much luck creating my own meet-cute#.

*This is not brought on by watching some stupid romantic comedy. I watched The Blues Brothers last night and that music can't make you depressed. Just a general le sigh and damn even Jake and Elwood get girls, sort of.^

#for those not in the know

^ Actually Jake had one waiting in celibacy at the back of a cathedral until she decided for the good of humanity that he needed to die; Twiggy was waiting for Elwood at the hotel but he had to get to the Cook Co. Office of the Assessor&.

&It was dark and he was wearing sunglasses.

03 August 2009

Another for the REALLY file.

Over on Free Range Kids, there's a post about kids, PE, nutrition, and health (inspired by this). I was going to leave a comment but I think I need a little more room to organize my thoughts.

Oddly, more PE, healthier lunches, and nutrition education doesn't make kids skinnier. Who would have guessed? It might have made the kids healthier but apparently they didn't check for that. I don't think this study means we should scrap PE (or daily PE) or not worry about what the schools feed them.

I don't think PE teaches kids to be healthier. It can give kids the tools to be healthier, if it's done right. It's possible to introduce kids to different sports and activities that they may enjoy for life. It may not but it might. Giving kids the basics of basketball will allow them, if they want, to join pick up games later in life. (BTW, you have to teach some of those basics. My little sister was marked down in PE in Kindergarten because she didn't know how to dribble a basketball. At my parents house didn't have a basketball hoop, a basketball, or anyone to have ever shown her how to dribble. Where was she suppose to have learned it?) Recess, I think, has an even better chance to help kids be healthier now and throughout life because it lets them choose the activity. We had tons more fun playing soccer or rugby (only for a few days then a teacher made us stop tackling) at recess (which we had every non-rainy/snowy day K-6*) than I ever had playing soccer or flag-football in various grades' PE classes. Recess tends to get dumped before PE in elementary schools because the classroom teachers get a break from the kids - often the only one they get all day. But recess is more important for the kids; they burn off energy, get to take a mental break, learn to negotiate rules, etc with one another, and a bunch of other important stuff. (I don't feel like looking all the benefits of recess up in my old pedagogy texts.) Anyway more PE may not help but maybe better PE could. Not everyone is athletic but helping kids have fun being active might help them be more active as an adult.

Healthier lunches and nutrition education, again, may not help in the short term but it might help long term. First of all "forcing" kids to make relatively healthy decisions at school will reinforce what they (hopefully) are learning at home. However, we have to keep in mind that kids are programed to prefer fat, salt, and sweets more than adults are. (There was a segment on NOVASscienceNOW on this recently.) Their tastebuds are different and you have to keep offering new foods before they'll really try it (ask any parent). We certainly shouldn't be encouraging junk food.

But in the end what kids learn in school can be unlearned at home. If a child isn't being encouraged to play outside, doesn't see his/her parents be active, is given unhealthy food to eat and has unhealthy eating modeled for him/her, I'm not sure what the school teaches will make the difference in the long run. And focusing on weight instead of health isn't helpful for anyone**.

*and if we were stuck inside several days in a row they'd figure out times a couple of classes could use the gym for recess

**If I found out a particular person was the reason my ELEVEN YEAR OLD sister (not one of the tallest or skinniest kids in her class but in no way overweight) was asking me this weekend if I thought she needed to lose weight, I will kick his/her ass up one side of town and down the other. ("I weighs 80 pounds now and I used to be 70lbs." [read in worried tween voice] I pointed out she used to be shorter, too; I'm not sure she's convinced.)

30 July 2009

Reflection on the Field

No field work this week, the LiCor has been sent back to get fixed and recalibrated, but I had a couple of thoughts and one question on working in the field and with RA.

Question first. If it hurts RA's manly pride for me to carry heavy things or swing the machete then I'm not going to argue with him. I'll offer to do it but I'm not going to insist, it seems silly to make more work for myself and fight for it. Should I be more insistent? Am I not being feminist enough?

Most of my thoughts center on RA's apparent lousy sense of direction. When I said we needed to go a little further west for on collar and he said "I'm so turned around I have no idea where that is" I was a bit flabbergasted; west was heading towards the highway, which you could hear, also not up or down hill and we hadn't even been winding around much. He was pretty tired by then, so that was part of the problem. I'm sure he can get around with a compass; I've been with him when he was using one and I fairly sure orienteering is taught in [home country]'s army (otherwise navigating in areas without roads is much more difficult). I'm not sure if normally his sense of direction is as bad as it was out at the site or if it was a related to exhaustion, terrain, and/or not pay attention because that's what I was doing.

One of the few things I'm really good at* is visualizing in 3D. This is helpful for my job and some puzzles and I think it's why I my sense of direction isn't too bad. Drive me around for a while, stick me in the woods and I might guess north right 30% of the time (it'd be 25% of the time except when the sun is low(ish) in the sky I can get E or W, then turn 90°) but if I have a starting point, like I know the road runs generally N/S and I need to move due E to find a point (like what I was doing while placing collars) I can do it, or if I need a get back to a starting point I don't have retrace all my steps. It's like I map the route (detours around trees, thickets,... and/or from point to point) in my head, along with the lay of the land.

I used to be able to figure out what direction north (E, W, or S) most places around where I lived because most of the roads were fairly straight, for that matter I probably still can. They weren't in a grid pattern (except in DC, which was way outside my mental map anyway) but they were mostly straight. I knew which way, generally, my house faced (east) and could back track from where I was to home and figure out the cardinals. Things outside this map were connected by a much looser, cardinal-direction wise, road "network" of how you got places (like, route 7 runs through here, route 50 will take you to x and y) which could connect two destinations but not necessarily given you an idea of the distances (but possibly travel time) or which way you were going. (It never helped that sometimes to go physically south you went "north" on 495. And I only drove there for a year.)

I mostly have T-town "mapped" as a route network. Near downtown and campus the roads are regular enough that I could actually draw a map and I could include some of the more out lying roads. But when you get out of town a little ways the roads wind around so much that really keeping a clear picture of it in my head is hard, it becomes more of a general this road takes you to these roads or that place. Also there are a lot of parts of town I never drive through, no reason except I've just never needed, so those areas are completely blank in my mental map. I do have a better mental map of where different communities/places are within the county here than I did in Virginia; I think because I deal with maps of the county a lot and because of tornado warnings - I had to learn if a storm moving east near Samantha was going to threaten my house.

Do you guys have mental maps or road networks of where you drive (walk, bike,...) a lot?

*the other two primary ones being sleeping and counting to 4 (3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 12) in rhythm

24 July 2009

Tales from the Field

The graduate research assistant (let's just call him RA) and I have been back out in the field (new test site, almost completely official!). Of course this time instead of starting the soil monitoring in mild, late spring like at the old site, we're starting in mid-Hell, (the months between early summer and early fall). We've gotten 3.5 days in and not a single reading thanks to equipment problems. (A people will crank their AC down pretty far, but even in Eureka they can't get below absolute zero.) So far our time in the field has consisted of installing the monitoring collars (pieces of 12 PVC pipe hammered into the ground at particular points in a semicircular pattern) and machete-ing paths for ourselves through the low branches and blackberry brambles. (love blackberries, hate blackberry canes).

So first off I'm using this older model GPS which has like a 10m accuracy which is about 3/10 of a sec of longitude or latitude around here. One collar is, according to the GPS location I got 9 meters north of the well (and some 40 or so west) when I can stand at the collar, look due east, and stare directly at the pump jack. I've decided if the location I end up at is within about 10 meters (according to GPS) then it's good even if my map ends up looking all squiggly.

That first day was shit hot and the RA wouldn't let me do much hammering when we were placing the collars. The worst part was when we went to lunch (BTW, did I mention Windham Springs is in MoBFN?) I must have sat outside the gas station (first 'civilization' we passed, 15 miles from the site) for 20 minutes waiting for RA to get done in the bathroom (not as bad as the prune juice day, did I tell y'all about that?). And RA was wearing short sleeves so he sweated off his bug spray and the little biting flys were having a feast off him that afternoon. I hadn't figured out how far a second of lat and long was before we went out so several locations were a little off, also two had typos and were WAY off. They had to be moved.

So the second day we went out with machetes and the 5-lb sledge. I was slightly better equipped - I'd brought work gloves and my tool belt. I could, kind of, carry the hammer in my rock hammer holster. We got the first path cut, and a collar moved without to much trouble. Except the RA was flagging fast. We start on cutting the 2nd path and moving that collar a good ways in. About 50 yards in RA rest his hand on a bank for a second and puts his hand in an ant bed. So I trade with him to do some cutting while he takes a break for a minute or two (and knocks ants off his arm). I decide to go to the right, around a small tree, rather than to the left to avoid the ant bed all together and find a wasps nest. I actual never saw it but when the buzzing started I walked as fast as I could (without tripping) back down the path saying as I passed RA "wasps, move, wasps, move NOW" About half way out he says "wait, I think they've stopped following." They hadn't, I got stung again. I only got 3 stings - one in each and and one in the arm - does bug spray repel wasps and bees? They didn't follow us all the way back to the road, thank goodness.

We get back to the truck, my partner is exhausted and wondering if we could have some AC. I reach in my pocket and the keys aren't there. I was wearing jeans (as usual for the field) so I figure I must not have actually gotten the keys in my pocket so they would have fallen out near the truck. No luck. As I remember it we cut N150, stopped at the truck for water (requiring unlocking and locking), then I put the keys in my pocket, stood in the minuscule patch of shade for a minute, walked down the road to where we started the N100 path and went into the woods. Luckily I was wrong about the re-locking the truck because then we wouldn't of had access to my phone or water. I searched around the truck, where I stood, and finally went back down the path to as close to the wasps as I dared. Then I went back to the truck, got my phone and walk to the well (around the bend and up a hill) to get signal. While I was calling my boss to have him come rescue us RA thought to check the other path. I was wrong about having hte keys when we came back to the truck because apparently they'd fallen out near it and he, luckily, saw them. No mean feat in grass over a foot high. We got several minutes of AC and I bought him lunch the next time as a thank you. The rest of the day went much better, except it was shit ass hot, RA was not up to the heat, and neither of us had much of a second wind after lunch (found a place closer than town, yay).

On the third day we just hacked our way through the brush and moved one collar. We had started on the path to S100 the trip before so there's already a good deal of work done on the first ~10 yard. I mean serious clearing 2 inch saplings, removing limbs up to 6-7 feet off the ground kind of work. Then I start directing RA where to cut the path. North, direction we needed to go, is pretty much directly uphill of where we were but the path has to wind a bit to go through the easier bits. RA has a tendency to drift left when I told him cut directly in front of him; when I told him to head towards his one or two o'clock he went straight ahead. Oh, and he has no sense of direction.* So I keep correcting us back to the east and we finally wind our way to the spot. The path definitely winds but it's not lots longer than a straighter path and it has easy access from the road. Further around, and more directly south of the collar, the hill was cut into to make the lease road so there's a 3-4 foot bank. I'm hammering the collar in the ground and RA who has been clearing the path as I go decides that it's shorter to go straight down the hill (true) and, hey, the woods are "more open" (also true, to a point) that way. My problem is three fold. For one he's already spent a fair amount of energy cutting a path, which he now wants to abandon but it's his arm (since he won't let me do much machete work). Secondly, the woods are more "open" because the trees are widely spaced where RA's heading, that means there's a lot more undergrowth that needs cutting and not necessarily the easiest way to go. But it's his arm and he's determined. Third and more theoretically, I want to minimize our impact; while we aren't actually taking out trees that would ever be sold (we're only taking out little, late starters, that'll probably get shaded out before they get very big) I don't want the land owner, if he ever sees it, to be pissed, but at this point RA has a big sharp knife and is swinging it around, so I follow at a safe distance shaking my head. I really don't understand making more work for yourself. Really, really don't understand it.

The last path we cut that day was really short, maybe 20 yards, into fairly open (at ground level) woods. These pines are taller creating deep shade, so other than some poison ivy not much undergrowth. We want paths were we don't have to stoop at any point, it's not much fun to not bend over with a heavy backpack. I had a little more energy than RA did at this point and the batteries were mostly dead so I went ahead to the collar, checked the location, and then started clearing my way back out. He was working on the one spot where it was tight, I was mostly cutting off small dead limbs. There was one point where I decided he needed to take out the bush because I just didn't have the upper body strength (or maybe my machete was getting dull) to get it. So I look at the path, I think it's clear, I can walk up-right the whole way, only one 'stump' in the way. I'll walk out, get a drink, and RA will be out a minute or two later. Five minutes later he's still hacking away at something - I don't know what it was. He finally staggers out exhausted and we leave. Again, I think he was making work for himself.

Yesterday we went back one more time for the last two paths. They both went fast and were fairly easy. The only real hiccup was I happened to park next to a collar that is on the side of the lease road. RA starts cutting down grass and weeds. At first I thought he was just clearing the area right around the collar, then he's moving towards the bank, then he's working on the bank. I asked where he was going. He hadn't noticed that he'd practically tripped over the collar to get where he was standing. Sometimes I worry about him.

Speaking of RA, I haven't heard back about the thermocouple. I guess I'll get keys and hope we go Monday morning. So if you see me at Jalapeños Monday with my pants tucked into my socks, you'll know why.


So I am so unmotivated today that I was actually counting the minutes until I could leave to go watch 16 5-12 year olds perform "Bebop with Aesop", a musical that no one not related to a cast member will ever see. Like all the past two summers' musicals it was cute. I thought it was better than "Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals" (no plot to speak of) and on par with "Of Mice and Mozart". We had five classic Aesop fables* performed for us and in case you didn't catch the moral Aesop told you and then the cast sang about it.

Here's the best Greek Chorus member ;)
(My God she was wearing a lot of eye make-up.)

What I really wanted to kill part of the afternoon with is stories from the field, but that'll wait until the next post.

*No sour grapes. We got "The Tortoise and the Hare", "Boy Who Cried Wolf", "The Ant and The Grasshopper", and the ones with the morals "look before you leap" and "Don't count you chickens before they hatch".

07 July 2009

Can We Change the Station?

Silver Fox just put up a post about road songs. This reminded me of field camp. For some reason only one person had brought a Walkman and she only had a couple tapes of local underground bands (at least in the van I was in). Things were OK the first day of driving. From Tuscaloosa to OK City is mostly civilized. From OK to Taos is, as I recall more sparsely populated but radio stations were available. In the wilds of New Mexico radio stations were not so easily found. Unless you want to listen to stock auctions.

Our TA was driving "my" van and our first trip to a Walmart he bought 2 tapes - Best of the Doors and Songs You Know By Heart. These two tapes were on pretty much continuous play for the remaining 4 weeks. I know all those songs, well, by heart.

These wouldn't necessarily count as road songs by SF's rules but those two albums certainly were our road music. I like something singable for the road and/or danceable. I'm a great seat dancer. =)

What do you think of as "road songs"? What are some of your favorites?

29 June 2009

Almost a Third of a Century.

It'll be truly a third in another 120 days.

I had a great birthday weekend and I want to tell you guys all about it. (Mostly because what I'm doing at work, right now, is WAY boring.)

Saturday I took Nettie and the dog to the river. Honey swam and chased sticks and boats (and a seadoo!) peed on bushes/trees and generally had a good doggy time. Then we went to Roly Poly's (I forgot to get her a 'Mom's birthday' treat sandwich) and when we got home we watched TV for a while. Then it was time to get ready to go to Birmingham.

I went to a screening of "Love 'n Dancing" at Rhythm N Motion dance studio with a dance party afterwards. The movie was less sappy than other dance movies and the dancing (West Coast Swing) in it was great. Tomorrow is my last WSC lesson and it's been so much fun although watching the movie (and tape of the 2006 WCS championship finals) showed me HOW different what I've been doing and really good WCS is. Before the movie T.J. gave a quick lesson in salsa and hustle and after we tried out what we'd learned. The dance was less stuffy than the TBDC ones - younger, too. There weren't very many people but we had a good time.

Sunday after cake and cards, we went up to the Pelham civic center and skated. Matt met us there, he managed to squeeze us in between golf, hiking, and church. It felt so cool when we walked in the building and I even rolled my sleeves down before getting on the ice, but when I stopped to get a drink 5 min. later I rolled them right up again. Mom was sitting in the rink lobby with her shawl on and I, next to her, was sweating buckets. We had an octogenarian, pentagenairian, me, and a pre-teen on the ice.

So other than the dog being mad at me, it was a very nice weekend. And only Nettie thinks I'm OLD.

05 June 2009

Roomba Time!

I took my Roomba out for a spin last night. Figured out pretty quick that I should just put the piano bench in another room and I can't go too far because it can (and will) get itself stuck under the corner of the couch. The dog ignored it until it came over to the couch and then she kind of freaked out.

All in all it did a pretty good job. I didn't use the virtual wall, because it was in the box way over in the next room, so I blocked room off with random stuff (by the stairs) and my dining room chairs at the other side, which the Roomba doesn't fit under. To start with I was worried it was going to blow around as much hair as it picked up but needn't have. It managed to get around the piano and bench (after I pulled it out a bit) but it would have been faster without the bench in there. I might want to move the rocking chair out of the room, too, since the Roomba can't get under it all the way; yesterday I just moved it to block the least amount of wall possible. Somewhat amusingly, it kept trying to climb up into the book case. I don't have a base for the shelves and the lip is low enough the Roomba attempts it before hitting the books. The base of my couch is smaller than the box, so there's a space (like at the bottom of cabinets) that is just a little too short for the Roomba; it got stuck twice at the corner and I had rescue it.

I didn't take a picture of the bin and filter because it was kind of gross (I really don't understand those vacuums with the see-through bin - who wants to see what they've sucked up off the floor?) but it got most of the hair off the floor. The only things it didn't do well was right at the edge of the rug where dirt got "stuck" because (I guess) the beater was too high since the wheels were on the rug; I don't think this will be noticeable if one is standing or even sitting on the couch, just lying down. Besides, I read my book and rubbed the dogs ears while my floor got cleaned - what do I have to complain about? At least until Mom borrows it semi-permanently.

04 June 2009

June Goals

Real quick, here are my goals for June:
Eat more veggies and fruit;
Yoga 2 a week;
Eat no more than 6 meals out per week (easier since choir's on break);
Not kill any of my family or Nettie's friend on our beach trip next week.

Field Vehicles

Several people are talking about field vehicles and I guess I'm lucky but I've never had to rent a field vehicle. (I do have a story about that for later.) I work for the State and we have our own vehicles, mostly trucks and SUVs, which while low mpg, they do meet all the general field vehicle requirements. (Can I get a pencil/map/GPS/field book holder, too?)

Picking up core requires (sometimes extensive) driving on bad lease roads and carrying several hundred feet of boxed, 2-inch core in the bed - this limits our choices to 4WD full-sized trucks; even then some of the hills were iffy, also you don't jack-rabbit off from a stop. Luckily the truck that could haul the most also had an extended cab because all three of us rode to lunch in one truck. (We're State employees, we're taking our lunch break!) For looking at actual outcrops, we use one of the SUVs - space for people in relative comfort, room for samples, good clearance so we don't have to worry about what's on the shoulder, etc. The mappers tend to be pickier and a little possessive about the trucks. (Big Blue is Ed's truck, the red one with the ugly camper shell was Dorothy's...)

Most of the field work I've done since working here was at our "old test site", a short way down a decent lease road, where anything except the mini-van or Crown Vic would do. (Actually, no one really wants to drive the Crown Vic or mini-van on the highway either. We also have the "mail van" that's rather scary but it still makes to the PO.) Our new test site (where we might actually get to put some CO2 in the ground!) is really close to the highway and on a great lease road - I could drive my brother's Mustang up there, but we haven't brought in drilling and work-over rigs yet. The agency's vehicles get well used, a lot. High mileage is the rule, but for the most part they are well cared for but where I worked right after college we had a couple of real doozies.

The worst vehicle I think I have ever driven was a Dogde dually with possessed alignment. This truck would pull to one side long enough for you to start to get used to it and then it would switch, suddenly, to pulling to the other side. Or the amount/strength of the pull would change. It was exhausting to drive. One time couple of the guys were driving back to the hotel after doing a tank tightness test (well after midnight) and were pulled over for weaving. They hadn't had a drop of alcohol, they were just to tired to fight the steering wheel. There was also an old Explorer that'd shake your fillings out above 50 miles/hour; that one was loads of fun to ride in to Montgomery. At that job there was a definite hierarchy of vehicle allocation: owners - new(every few years) SUV (for work and personal use); engineers going to meeting - newish SUV/truck; survey crews - slightly older SUV/newish trucks; environmental division - a couple of trucks that wouldn't be replaced until they wouldn't tow the grout machine; geologic division (both of us) - whatever was left or POV. A couple times I was very thankful for my station wagon had front-wheel drive.

The University's vans were another set interesting field vehicles. Apparently years ago my Alma mater rented the vans in New Mexico and everybody just met in Albuquerque for field camp. Then the rental companies figured out what they were doing with the vans and stopped giving them the corporate rate. After that they started using the university's vans but the motor-pool people had already figured out not to give the Geology department nice vans because we'd get them all muddy. When I was at field camp both vans had a crack in the windshield, top to bottom. The whole set of vans purchased one year had the windshields badly seated and they all had cracks. I can assure you there was no way you could rev the engine up enough to warp the frame (like in drag racing); seriously, a semi passed us one day, going up hill - can you say under-powered? (Still better than under-braked.) On a southern Appalachian field trip we had a pair of under braked vans - wouldn't erring on the side of over-powered brakes be preferable to possibly under-braked? - We only had to take one brake-cooling break, thanks good route planning and 1st gear.

The only rental car/ field experience I had was near Denver. My advisor and I were there for a class and had a free day, so we went out driving. "Unimproved road" means something different in Colorado than it means in Alabama. In AL it, generally, means county maintained dirt; I think in CO means any track one could conceivably drive some sort of land vehicle over. We started on a paved road which became dirt which became a jeep track which started to look a lot like the photos Silver Fox posted. We decided after a short distance that perhaps we didn't want to have to walk back to civilization and turned around. My advisor told me a story about a field trip where they'd reserved high-clearance 4-wheel drive vehicles and were given sedans. IIRC, he told me they returned 3 and drew a map to the 4th.

03 June 2009

Wedding Weekend

I'll get the sad news out of the way first, then talk about all the fun stuff.

Q-tip wasn't around Sunday or Monday and I was starting to get worried because she's always around the house, hoping to slip in the door. Last night she drags herself up the front steps and she's all beat up. Her face looked funny, the right eye mostly swollen shut, cut at the tear duct is pussy, she's not closing her mouth... She sniffed at some food and took a lick or two of water and later some milk but not much; all she seemed to want was loving and to curl up somewhere soft. This morning she demanded attention. Her right eye was now open but obviously badly infected and so was her mouth. (WOW is that some seriously bad morning breath, btw.) She didn't protest one bit when I put her in the car or when we got out at the vet's. On top of the infection she had lost weight, was very dehydrated, and her jaw was broken. (The later probably the primary cause of the former two.) After talking to the vet and considering her age (about 14), I had her put down this morning. If she'd just come home Sunday maybe she'd have been alright. She was such a sweet kitty and her lack of grooming meant she didn't make me itch much. I'll miss her but she had a good life.
OK, done with the sad stuff.

Saturday my nephew got married. OMG, they are all (my nieces and nephews) so grown-up! The bridal couple looked very happy and in love. I managed to not actually bite my tongue or massively roll my eyes when the preacher read and talked about 'man being the head of his family the way Christ is the head of the church...' (I think it should be an equal partnership, regardless of what Paul wrote nearly 2000 years ago.) It was a nice ceremony. The only thing I really would have changed about the reception was the location; the room was too small. The groom's cake was deliciously sinful. The bride seem very sweet with, maybe, a feisty side. (The only problem I see there is that her father's name is "Rob" and we don't need any more Roberts in our family*.) And while I would never wish a baby on a pair of newlyweds they have several months to get used to being married and get settled a bit before my grand-nephew is born. After the wedding, we met at my SIL's parent's place for dinner, my family and hers, which was, as usual, very nice. Lulu, also as usual, cooked a fine meal and Sally made some wonderful brownies served with strawberries and real whipped cream. I was actually chocolated out after that. Then my bros, SIL, niece, and 2 nephews went to Nana Funks (in Lakeview (?), on the recommendation of the bartender at my big brother's hotel). NF has, I believe, the smallest dance floors I've ever seen but we cut a rug and had a good time. I think my nephew's were a little embarrassed by us but they stayed at our table. I decided to sleep at my brother's because after riding back to their house (and my car) the thought of driving almost 1.5 hours home was not appealing.

Sunday was Pentecost and we sang some pretty music and the choir is off all of June. (Yay! no rehearsal tonight!) Later I took Honey to the river for a quick walk and swim. Apparently the river is much more fun than the pond in our yard. Monday was a holiday, too. Officially it is Jefferson Davis' birthday but I was celebrating National Go Barefoot Day, which is appropriate because I stepped on some of glass in my kitchen despite not having broken a glass in months, and may still have a sliver in there. Alternative celebrations for Monday are:
International Children's Day
Festival of Carna (either one works)
Discovery of the Magnetic North Pole
First recorded batch of Scotch Whiskey
the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band
Birthday of Marilyn Monroe, Andy Griffith, and Morgan Freedman
Death of James Buchanan, and Helen Keller
(all from the June 1st Wikipedia entry)

So other than the glass and being worried about Q-Tip, it was a good weekend.

*We had 3 RTMs there (Jr., III, and IV/father, brother, nephew); I also have an uncle and several cousins named Robert. At a family reunion if you say "Bob" a quarter of the men turn around.

11 May 2009

Stupid rule..

..cost us a win.

Nettie's playing softball this spring. The church league is coach pitch so there are some odd rules; like 5 pitches - fair, ball, strike, foul...(including beaned hitters!) doesn't matter - per hitter and 5 runs per inning max, but no mercy rule so one game was 20 - 2 (we were the 2s). Saturday the girls were playing really well, like an actual team and everything! Last play of the game we got 3 runs in but only the first one counted because it was our 5th of the inning, so instead of winning 15-13 we tied 13 all. All the parent's were still really proud and excited (the girls, too). I don't think the girls realized that they actual got 15 runs and that's probably for the best. I realize that the 5 runs/inning rule most likely has been (and will be) in our favor also, but I still find it hard to believe that the game can end mid-play. When the timer (1 hour/game) goes off they finish the play; although not necessarily the inning, which could be very annoying for the team that gets shorted an at-bat. The important thing is the girls are having fun and Nettie is getting to know some different kids.This picture isn't from last weekend's game but it's our favorite short-stop/2nd baseman/catcher/right fielder/1st baseman waiting on a pitch right after she popped a foul ball into her own forehead.

In knitting news, Mom loved her shawl but it is WAY too warm to be worn before October. Things Moms Like is having a giveaway of knitting stuff. And now I can make another entry for it. I've knit two more of face/dish cloths. The last one I decided to test my circles-in-the-flat pattern/calculations.
Other than running out of yarn it worked OK (this is post pressing). The calculation is still not quite right and I need to mark rows better than I did (hence the semi-circle, I lost my place and kept repeating rows). Also it's important to increase/decrease on both sides evenly, otherwise you get more of a parallelogram look.

01 May 2009

And I've been doing so well

I have 2 friends on Facebook from high school. One is really active and I guess she checks periodically who's new on FB from our class or something. (she "friended" me right shortly after I joined.) So this morning I'm scanning my news feed and my ex-fiance "liked" her status update. I feel a bit like I've been kicked in the stomach.

When I was packing to move back to Tuscaloosa (3 years post break-up) I remember looking in the box I kept my engagement ring* in and having the same feeling. When I was packing to move into my house (5 or 6 yrs pbu) there was no reaction. And here I am 11.5 yrs pbu and my head's all turned around, I've got butterflies in my stomach, etc. all because I saw his name somewhere. WTF's wrong with me?

*I sold the ring a couple years ago. The jeweler gave $50 for it. I sort of wished I could've sent it to him. Five pretty good years together; years of getting over it; his scrimping to buy the ring and the return on all that investment was the cost of a cheap date.

29 April 2009

Random things I've been doing

Here's what I've been doing lately:

Getting sunburned
T-town Airshow

Alright gardening hasn't really taken up that much time but I have been planting stuff with help from Nettie. Someone's also been helping unplant things and it better not be one of my animals!
2009 Garden

I went to the TBDC's The Roaring 20s dance weekend before last. I didn't have a costume for that one. (Flapper stuff was so boxy.) But I did have a costume for another one Friday night.
70s Dance (@Forest Lake Meth.) I was going for the late 70s disco look. I'm not sure anyone appreciated it. (And I remembered my camera had a timer.)

I finished two books last weekend (yay 3-day!) and throughly enjoyed both The Engine's Child by Holly Phillips (deadwood) and Farthing by Jo Walton (free e-book from Tor). I'll be looking for more from both authors. (Best line from Farthing "he wished that people would read the rest of the things Jew aren't supposed to eat and take to serving us buttered lobster or shrimp on toast." Out of context they may not be so funny, even in context it's not LOL-funny, but it still has me giggling.)

Oh, and knitting (and some sewing but that's not quite done yet)A week and a half to Mother's Day and only one hole left to fix.

03 April 2009


But that doesn't stop me from having opinions and questions. Anyone out there want to weigh in on the legality of the following. (Identities are vague to protect the possibly guilty from the RIAA.)

Dance Instructor 1 made up some CDs of music to practice with and said that he had to give them away because it was OK to make the copies (for instructional purposes?) but illegal to sell them. Dance Instructor 2 made up some CDs of music to practice with and sold them to students for $5 each.

To my none legally trained mind, DI1's actions sound possibly legal - he wasn't making any money off the copies; DI2's action seem decidedly illegal - he was definitely making money off the deal. I didn't buy DI2's practice CD because $5 is a hell of a lot to charge for something that takes maybe 5 minutes to make with materials maybe a buck. I suppose the safest move, in terms of not violating copyright, would be to prepare a list of songs* appropriate for each dance for the students. But I've been wondering if either dance instructor's actions were legal or if one is "more" legal than the other. Anyone out there have a, legal or lay, opinion?

*Obviously non-comprehensive and it would most likely need to have album/performer info, too, since different recordings may change the rhythm and/or tempo.

31 March 2009

Our Special Tonight is Green Beans.

For April I'm adding a new goal. I will go to the dance (Roaring 20's, costumes invited) AND I will eat at least 2 servings of vegetables and one fruit a day*.

It's kind of sad, that I have to make this a goal. I like veggies - really - but I don't eat enough of them. I eat out for lunch most workday and let's face it fries or chips don't count as a veggie (for one thing potatoes are a starch). I get salad when it's offered but that's not always a choice. So I'm going to try really hard to have something green with lunch. For supper, at home, I often make mac'n'cheese or a rice dish or open a can of something. Again not enough veggies and fruits.

My main plan is to eat vegetables and rice for supper most of the time. Or couscous, I like couscous and it's fast. Last time I did major grocery shopping I got a couple different 'veggie in sauce' things and some of the heat and serve rice things. The only problem is the sauces are often salty. I'd get bagged salad but half of it ends up going bad.

Same for fruit. I broke up a bag of grapes the other day so I wouldn't end up throwing half out. I'm planning to add fruit to supper, too. And, at least sometimes, mix fruit (fresh or canned) with vanilla yogurt. (Blackberries this morning, yummy and on sale) I'm not going to count FOB yogurt (usual breakfast) because somehow that doesn't seem like 'real' fruit.

I keep going back and forth on how big a gaarden to do this year. I like cooking/eating veggies I've grown. I need to get some lettuce and spanich planted before it gets to hot. I have some infant lettuce in the garden right now but I could eat all of that in one meal. I like bell peppers, particularly the pretty colored ones, and have some luck growing them. Hot peppers do well, so I like growing them, but I don't use them much. I have no luck with the sqaush family (who can't grow zucchinni?) or tomatoes. I think I'm just too lazy for tomatoes. Eggplant are iffy - sometimes ok sometimes disaster. (Do they count as a starch?) Oh, and I need to replenish all my herbs. I manage to kill them off every year.

*I don't measure my food particularly, so it may be more like 4 veggie and 2 fruit servings. Particularly with the fruit because who eats half an apple?

26 March 2009

Field Gear

I don't have a picture handy of what I look like in my field gear so I'll follow Geotripper's (et al.) lead and just describe it. What I wear/carry in the field varies a lot, depending on what I'm doing but somethings remain the same.

Hair: Somewhat unkempt. Now that it is short, it's just under a hat (baseball or straw) or tied back with a kerchief. When it was longer it was pulled back one way or another and under a hat. At field camp it would start out a down in back, then in a pony tail, then braided by the 3rd day without washing.

Sunburned Peeling Nose: Sure hope not. That's what the hat and sunscreen are for.

Beard: Can't seem to grow one, which is just as well because waxing ain't cheap.

The Ever-Present T-shirt and Logo: Depending on the weather and location the T-shirt would be sleeveless and covered with a long-sleeved light weight shirt (the better to keep off bugs, sun, and prickers) or long-sleeved and under a sweater or, rarely, a flannel shirt. Every once in a while I do wear just a t-shirt by itself. Most of my long- and short- sleeved tees have logos/slogans on them the tank tops don't. Favorites LS tees are the volunteer fire department and crab trap clean up (OK they are about the only LS tees I have); I don't have favorite SS tees too many choices. The GSA one is OK. The big seal on the back and dark green color make it a bit warm in the summer, besides it disappeared after the second time I wore it.

Belt and Buckle: Pants fit o.k. but I need something to hang my Brunton on. I have a big tool belt that I wore over my pants at field camp with a hammer holster and field pack; I don't usually wear that anymore because I'm never that far from the car.

Deep Pockets: (not in the legal sense; geologists are often poor) Keys (if I'm driving), inhaler (if I remember to get it out of my purse), cell phone (if I remember...), and occasional small sample may be in my pockets. Other stuff (water bottle, camera, Brunton, purse, tape, extra padlock, colored pencils,...) are in my backpack and/or camera bag. I usually carry my field book and a pen in my hand or shove it in the back of my pants when I need both hands. This habit has lead to my field book almost disappearing completely in one day when I wore slightly loose pants.

Assorted Scars and Bandages: Actually I can't think of a scar that is geology related.

Rock Hammer: for specimen collecting, fighting off deer flies, self-defense, installing Li-Cor collars, beating stupid computers senseless, etc.

Muscular, tanned legs: Tanned? My legs are always covered with pants. I don't like bites, sunburns, thorn pricks, or random scrapes when they are easily avoided. Therefore they are about as far from 'tanned' as possible. (And I come from northern European stock, too.) Muscular? I don't know about that.

Shoelaces:I still have the original laces that came with the boots. Guess I'm lucky or sit in my office too much.

Cool Socks! And not just for field work.

Boots: for traction on rocks, mud, and snow (hah! like anyone in Alabama would go out in the field in snow). I have two pair. My favorite are a pair I got from LL Bean 11 years ago (obviously I sit in my office too much). I also have a pair of Timberlands I bought a few years ago in an emergency (packed for a society field trip the night before, taught the next day, and ten halfway to the hotel I realized the only shoes I had were the flats I was wearing.). I need to get some steel toed boots but keep putting it off because I can think of other things to spend my money on.

Ironclad Bladders: (not pictured) I usually don't have to go far to the field but bathroom are not terribly close to the research site so this is useful. (Go before leaving the office, at lunch, and upon return). I knew all those long car trips would come in handy one day.

Brunton Compass: to determine strike and dip, fault orientations, and locating next collar location (if we ever get the access agreements signed). We also use GPS receivers to get exact locations.

Full of wisdom...yeah that's it. And behind glasses. I love my Transitions.

Brain: (not pictured) Dehydrated, half-baked, freeze-dried, but enjoying every minute.

Other stuffs: There's a lot of things that are task specific, but some common things not covered above are: safety vest during hunting season, bags (sample, grocery, Ziploc), extra sharpies, work gloves, rain-gear (when the weatherman says maybe), survey tape, bug spray, sunscreen, measuring tape, hand lens (around the neck), WD-40, large pocket knife.

I'm either lucky or unlucky in that I spend most of my time in an office. (And most of the "rocks" I look at in a well log.) When I do go in the field it's usually only for a day or two at a time and come home every night. I can usually find decent food nearby (especially if I'm out with my boss for whom this is a necessity). Since I've been at the Survey most of my field time has been spent of two particular projects. For one I and two co-workers were out collecting cores which had been drilled by a local mining company. For the other, I and a grad student were, and will be again soon, going out every week and getting soil CO2 flux measurements (this is why I have a spare padlock and WD-40 in my bag). For those days in the field, gear was fairly light. I get to do some 'regular' fieldwork, like last Friday (when I didn't take my camera, damn it.) when more of stuff is needed.

23 March 2009

Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick

It's a little fuzzy but that's me, almost all ready for the dance. I had to get Mom to come over and zip me up, because that is one stiff zipper!

I had a lot of fun. (Even if my thighs were really tight from field work the Friday. The problem with hiking down to look at the awesome conglomerates behind a waterfall is that you have to hike back up.) I sort of learned the Peabody which is a line dance not unlike the Electric Slide (we also danced the ES, too); the grape-vining is what made me notice how sore my legs were. I dance both "mixer" dances, a couple of waltzes and swings. If I could just find more partners actually taller than me it'd be perfect. Definitely going to next month's dance.

Sarah was right not only didn't the Spanx high waisted pantyhose roll into my waist and I haven't been that skinny in long time. I think wearing them (or just a pair of "Higher Power"s) everyday could work as a diet system.

17 March 2009

Happy (belated) Pi Day

Nettie and I made an apple pie Saturday. The dog thought it was very yummy. Publix's apple pie is pretty good, too.

Incase you were wondering why your nose was stuffy, eyes itchy, thoart scratchy, etc
(pollen on the pond)

Sunday we saw this on the river and Styrofoam. Obviously someone up stream isn't aware of the "normal" flood levels of the river since there was all kinds of crap washed down in January and February, too.
Wisteria are blooming:

Also, at the park they are putting in a sprinkler system - WHY?

16 March 2009

Maybe I could even charge.

Several years ago, when my SIL's middle son's girlfriend got pregnant I asked my SIL (jokingly) if she wanted me to do a little sex-ed/birth control refresher course for my nephews and her 2 other kids. (I had taught it earlier that year to kids younger than those 4.) She thought that A having a kid had scared them enough to not do anything stupid. One might think that A and his girlfriend having a second kid (born this winter) would have reminded the other 4 that they don't want to do anything stupid. Apparently not. My nephew's girlfriend is preggers. First of, I don't envy my brother having to tell his mother. Secondly, I wish them the best of luck as they will need it. This nephew hasn't had (AFAIK) the most stable employment record and much of it has been waiting tables. Also, last I heard, he was living with his mother. Boy, wouldn't that be fun?

Maybe his life has taken a turn for the better in the last 6 months or so. Maybe he, and she, have decent jobs with health insurance and sick leave. I can hope.

A couple of questions for my readers: Do you think there is a market for someone to fill in the gaps potentially left by a school's sex-ed? (if school does abstience only) Could the fact that A is a student (and I think his GF too) and they are doing OK be the reason my nephew's GF is expecting? How likely is it that my nephew and GF are the one in one thousand whom the pill fails? (or whatever method) In other words, were they actually taking all appropriate precautions (short of keeping it zipped up) and still got pregnant?

13 March 2009

Never Win.

FSP and Chad are talking about cheating. I left an amusing anecdote about my 8th graders on FSP, I thought I'd tell a less amusing story about a fellow Geo. major of mine from back in the day*.

I had at least 5 upper level classes with Obnoxious Guy (not his real name) over 3 semesters. During the first semester he seemed to get sick the day of a test a lot. He'd then call someone to find out what was had been on the test. One day KK came into class seriously pissed off because she hadn't gotten to bed until the wee hours (due to aqueous solutions needing to be run and the computer not cooperating much) and OG had called her at like 7 to find out about the test he'd missed because he'd been "sick"*. I think KK was contemplating changing her number after that. After some other test he'd had a "migraine"* for, he stopped me on the sidewalk to ask me what had been on the test; I just couldn't remember any specifics - funny that, huh?

More than halfway through the semester he told our optical mineralogy TA that he was color blind. He was hoping he'd get some help (/benefit of the doubt/get off easy) because he would have difficulty with mineral id with birefringence. Unfortunately for OG, one of the other grad students actually was red/green color blind (in geology this kind of thing comes up) and he could tell what order and high/low. Beside by this point in the semester I'm pretty sure our TA was onto him.

OG had non-subtle wandering eyes. For example: In Op Min, as I recall, there'd be 2-4 slides of a given rock type, and one weeks lab might cover several rock types. Everyone has their own microscope and often people sitting next to one another will trade off slides. OG rarely traded slides with the person behind him, he had a definite preference for trading slides with a person whose lab sheet he could see. What's sad is we were allowed to ask one another questions and for help, even when we weren't working in groups, in most labs.

In sed/strat and ig pet we'd almost always work in groups because there weren't enough samples to go around and discussing why a rock is x or y helps you learn how to identify. OG would sit there and not say a word. KK and I were to polite to tell him to fuck off so he often worked "with" us. One day she and I were going back and forth on the percentages of quartz, feldspar, and lithic fragments. The sample was close to the line between three potential classifications, and our different estimates made a difference. We had gone back and forth for maybe 5 minutes, and OG says "so what is it?". KK plops the sample in front of him, and says "I don't know, what do you think it is?" He stumbles through some words like quartz, k-spar, 50%, etc. and finishes with "I don't know, what do you think?" KK and I rolled our eyes and finished deciding what the classification was, he copied down what we wrote and we all moved on.

One day he told us he didn't like rocks, he wanted to do geologic engineering. Scuttlebutt was that he'd been in the College of Engineering but they kicked him out. Another rumor was that one geo prof caught him cheating and told him to "withdraw failing"^ or he'd be reported. Obviously I don't know if any of that is true but it wouldn't have surprised me. I don't have anyway of knowing if he was ever reported to the appropriate authorities or not (or, for that matter, if he actually did anything reportable) but God, did I wish he had been. Still, I never could figure out how he stayed in school; he took many of the courses twice. His GPA had to have been in the toilet.

I spent much of the first semester mentally making excuses for OG, his personality not the cheating. He wasn't from the US (home was in sub-Saharan Africa) and the first thing that I didn't like about him was the way he spoke, not accent but mannerisms and volume; volume was actually the first thing that annoyed me. I told myself that maybe that's normal in his home country. Then when he kept being "sick" for tests, I thought maybe he's gotten away with that his whole life and so doesn't understand how much the rest of us resent it; maybe his family was important/rich enough at home he could get away with shit like that growing up.** Obviously when he refused to help cook or clean up dinner on a camping trip, it was because in the culture he grew up in, it was "women's work". So on and so forth. One day, as I was mentally excusing some behavior I'd find annoying in anyone else, I realized that all of his countryman couldn't possibly be that obnoxious, I was being extremely unfair to them, and he was a jerk no matter where he grew up.

*Migraines can be horrible and debilitating, I know. He may have even suffered from such migraines but since he was sick with something for every test I was highly suspicious.

^After a certain point in the semester you can't withdraw for a course without grade determination (W), it's either 'WP' or 'WF'; even later in the semester it has to be a 'WF'. A 'WF' and counts against your GPA, 'W' and 'WP' has no impact on it.

**I guessed his family had money or connections because he was going to school in the US and had no obvious means of support here. He certainly didn't seem to be the kind of student who would catch the eye of some scholarship granting group.