Sunday, August 23, 2009

Going Back to SCHOOOOL!

. . . As Dad would always sing as the school year neared.

Or whenever the "back to school" commercials would start airing.

In June. July if we were lucky.

Anyway, sometimes it's hard for me to believe that I'm coming up pretty quickly on 23 years of age and I'm still anticipating the first day of school, which this time around, happens to be tomorrow. The fun part about going to school at this point in my life and career is that I don't even have class until Tuesday. Couple that with the ultimate juxtaposition of teaching come next Monday, I suppose this is one of the biggest transition periods I've come to in my life.

Either way, I'll be a lab rat for most of tomorrow, chugging away at the occasionally-delicate task of pH-balancing samples in solution. There's a certain satisfaction in starting out with a strongly acidic sample, turning it basic, and then using a harmonic methodology to close in on the pH required. Spin, decant, repeat, sometimes as nausaem until no solid settles out.

In other news, I've signed up for a once-a-week 50 minute lecture this semester that culminates in a trip to the island of CuraƧao in the Caribbean next semester. Apparently a feature of this trip requires a dive, so that gives me the happy excuse to get SCUBA certified this semester!

Additionally, I'd recommend NOT trying to call people out on a public forum when you're attempting to project your weakness and screwups onto someone else. For one, it pisses that person off when they see it. For another, it makes you look like an idiot, a wuss, and about the whiniest person I've ever seen. And for yet another, it's utterly unprofessional. (Not like I'm doing much better myself, here. Ahh the irony, it's killing me!)

Past that, no additional news, except perhaps a plea for suggestions on roach control. I've seen three in the last month and a half or so, and the two I've seen outside of the bathroom seem to have been coming from under the couch. Not sure what to do if my attempt to RAID-ify the underside of the couch tomorrow morning fails.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Survived TA Training!

So that means I'm officially a TA, right?

Maybe not - still have department-specific orientation tomorrow and Friday. While this is the part of this week I've REALLY been looking forward to, I'm sort of anxious to get going again on the Iceland samples I've been starting to process. At least one is ready to balance RIGHT NOW. Also need to spend more time in the rock room - the well-welded samples are begging for shaping and polishing. Once I find a beaker and a bottle of nanopure water, I'm on the home stretch!

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Not grumpy by any means - frustrated, mostly, that I fell asleep instead of going out for a jog like I'd planned. Woke up in time to catch most of the BTN's MSU practice special. It's the 2000 MSU-ND game now. That bilious green turf field in Spartan Stadium is certainly something else! And with the trend within the college football realm of having turf fields (which are nice to march on except that you keep finding rubber bits in your shoes afterward!), I'm pleased that MSU has a grass field. They do a stellar job on upkeep, too. Maintenance begins almost literally the second the football game ends with divot replacement and aeration. The weekend we had the "monsoon" (never mind that's a type of WIND, not a descriptor for a rain pattern!) last fall, we played Florida Atlantic and it rained the ENTIRE weekend. The turfgrass guys kept the field from getting utterly trashed during the game. The following game, the field looked a bit more ragged than usual, but it was hard to tell that it had been saturated and pounded the week before.

. . . I'm going through marching band withdrawal. Sigh. Hoping to head to South Bend to see the SMB kick some Irish ass. We'll see how much tickets are running. It's only a three hour drive from Champaign, so I think I can justify the trip. After all, I'm planning on driving 6-7 hours north to go to the MSU-Michigan game. : ) Now if I can just find a pair of tickets that I can afford!

Back to the present; TA training begins Monday, and I'm somewhere between excited and ambivalent about it. Some of the sessions sound interesting, and others sound downright . . . redundant. They are in place, however, because the school has to cover all bases, including the legal ones. The two days I'm most ambivalent about are thankfully Monday and Tuesday, getting easier after that. Not excited about the practice teaching session because it's being videotaped and I'd rather not have to watch a videotaped critique of myself fervently attempting to remove the foot that's somehow always stuffed into my mouth when I talk in front of groups.

Ironically, the best talk I've ever given in a class was the 45 minute lecture on the different tectonic processes of each terrestrial planet. The 15 minute talks, for some reason, have always been harder. Perhaps I shouldn't have procrastinated so much on those shorter talks! Or, moreso, shouldn't have gotten so worked up over them. Another of my concerns is finding the correct balance of classroom authority and likability as a person - it's not the easiest groove to find. Just another one of those instances where I'll have to jump in feet-first and correct as the situation calls.

On a random note: Going to try to make a heavy tempura with Bisquick to fry up some veggies with. I don't have any flour and I'm trying to avoid the grocery store as much as possible for the next couple of weeks, so no flour for a while here. We'll see how this goes. Ever since trying fried zucchini in Colorado, I've been interested in attempting it myself.

That's all from here. Maybe I'll be more productive tomorrow. Hoping Monday, among other things, brings a certain shipment of prescription meds from a certain mail-order pharmacy that I'd kind of like to start taking regularly again. Still can't decide what's better: Sending the new script into the Certain Mail-Order Pharmacy every 4 weeks, or butting heads with the real pharmacies over the validity of the scripts I bring in. Honestly, healthcare is bullshit. Yes, a LOT of people abuse this drug. Yes, it's chemically similar to a lot of illegal drugs and as a result strictly controlled. I don't abuse it. I need it. It helps me sleep normally at night so I can function somewhat normally during the day. It's not as effective if I have to keep stopping it so I can average some sort of medication schedule.

Okay. ending rant. Watching football. It's a good facsimile till the real deal kicks in soon.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hello from Champaign!

. . . Disregarding the fact that I've had a place to live here since June, I AM making my first post from the U of I.

This place is REALLY nice. The style of the campus is reminiscent of (a better-tied-together-architecturally) MSU, with a slightly smaller campus surrounding a series of quads. The building I'm already busy at work in backs up to the main quad, which means it's REALLY easy to find a place to hang out on breaks (and honestly, I haven't spent much time sitting still there . . . I've mostly walked or jogged through it).

I've been working in my building since mid-July and have already ventured into the field once. I have a sample set to prep already (which I'm REALLY happy about!), and though I may well find myself back in one of the calderas, sampling more of the particular ignimbrites (material erupted out of a caldera) I'm interested in before too much longer. However we DO have enough at the moment to get some preliminary results to look off of. I'm ambitious enough to attempt analysis of a minimum two isotope systems in the near future. Before any of that happens, I do have more work ahead of me:

1. Currently, I've been placed in the lab with one of the undergrads who's been working here for a while. He's helping develop analysis methods for a certain isotope system that is present in nearly every rock (in fact, not aware of a rock that does not contain the element with said isotopes of interest) - mostly grunt work, which I'm more than happy to have a hand in, especially given it's been invaluable while learning my way around the labs I'll soon be living in.

2. Prepping SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) mounts happens tomorrow. I've refrained from this part of my project till now to ensure that I can have someone in lab with me so I can make sure I'm familiar with the proper care and handling of the U of I Rock Saws, let alone what sort of cut is needed for a good SEM mount. I'd rather not have an accident like the one I had at MSU. While there were only superficial injuries (and not to me) as a result of that incident, it scared several people and new safety measures were taken as a direct result. I've also been slightly skittish of rock saws since. Didn't help that the substitute saw we used in lieu of the broken saw (took somewhere near a month to fix) had a failing motor and rougher blade, which resulted in jagged slices and a few slammed thumbs. (And no, I definitely do not hold anyone responsible for this. Accidents happen in labs and that's just something an empirical scientist has to accept and in turn know how to mitigate as needed.)

3. Learning my way around the mass spectrometer is a big one. I know the principles upon which several incarnations of mass spec operate, but that's entirely different than knowing how to actually RUN one. I can at least test samples for voltage ranges and adjust them accordingly. I've also been shown how to calibrate the machine to get proper isotope readings - this is significantly more involved than a simple voltage test and it will definitely be a while before I know this procedure well enough to run solo.

4. Next week's TA training and classes starting soon after. Not sure if I'm more nervous for some of the training activities or teaching my first real class. Yipe. Why are they so willing to trust dozens of people's college educations to ME?!?!

(I'll get over it. The worst part and sometimes the best is the anticipation. Sort of like the 30 seconds right before the call to attention and Kickstep sequence in the tunnel of Spartan Stadium.)

Then, of course, the rock wall and I made friends before dinner this evening. Totally worth it and totally hoping that I can stop by enough to become a regular. The collaboration between climber and belayer, obvious end goal, and variables such as palm sweat (HAVE to find a solution for that) and forearm fatigue combines for some interesting resistance training that I'd like to exploit. That combined with the cardio (if I can ever get my lazy arse back onto a regular running schedule) would have some great physical results. I only did about 2.5 climbs over the course of about an hour and a half and I feel really good.

The social aspect is important. I feel like I sort of failed that part of my undergrad, because I spent my time with only two groups and one or two other people whom I've known for a long time. While I'm hanging out with mostly folks I knew last summer from field camp, I've felt more at ease meeting people here. The mentality's a bit different from SE and Mid-Michigan and I like it.

And on that note, it's probably well past shower-time. I still smell like I've been rock climbing. : )

Monday, June 29, 2009


Here and there. Sort of doing that "can't stay in one spot for long" thing that's been the staple of my last few summers. Landed here at home for now and recovering from a (hopefully) minor throat thing.

It's hot, it's muggy, and I don't really have much to say. My life's changing and I need a rock polisher. And a detailed strat column. And a place where I can go hiking!!!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Been A While : P

I suppose I should resurrect this thing!

What I've been doing since the last update:
-Finishing up classes and attempting to keep my head above the proverbial waterline
-A couple of small, random band functions
-Final exams
-Moving out
-More moving out
-MORE research
-Commuting between GB and EL to tie up the big loose ends in my research, create my AGU poster, a vector map of my study area, and find what is apparently the ONE garnet in all of my thin section samples.
-Photomicrographs and petrography and discussion of metasomatism, oh my. Woo.
-Caffeine detox
-Pathetic attempts at packing

And tomorrow: MOVING to Champaign! This should be interesting.

Here's what a photomicrograph looks like, for the curious:

The scale bar is 100 micrometers long, and this is a shot of zircons embedded in alkali feldspar, quartz, and suspected "amphibole" (we're not sure yet; might specifically be actinolite) crystals. The zircons are the small, brightly-colored, semi-rectangular crystals. The "amphiboles" are the green/brown, furry-looking crystals; the alkali feldspars are the black-and-white crystals with the jagged lineations; and the quartz is the amorphous white stuff. There's a strange reaction rim around the zircons embedded in the amphibole that we need to look at a bit more, so don't ask me about that.

Seeing those in the thin sections means that we can extract zircons from the kilogram of aplite I have crushed up and sitting in a bag, once we process the sample a bit more. With the extracted zircons, we can mount them on a disc and zap 'em with a laser, creating a small cloud of melted zircon, containing such elements as Zr, U, Th, Pb, and Si, among other things. The relative proportions of the radioactive/radiogenic elements will allow us to extract an approximate age from the zircons that is hopefully representative of the age of crystallization of the rock.

Cool stuff. This is what I'm doing with my summer vacation - exactly what I was doing during the year, without the whole going to class business.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spartan Brass celebrating victory over Louisville at the Elite 8 this year (I'm holding the trombone, far right)! Next stop: Final Four in DETROIT!! I couldn't be more pleased to perform my last couple of gigs as a member of Spartan Brass at an event of this level, let alone in my home state! This will also be the third (!!) Final Four I've performed at.

2005: Traveled with the women's basketball team to all rounds of the NCAA Tournament, including the Final Four in Indianapolis.

2007: Traveled with the hockey team to all rounds. Frozen Four was in Albany, NY and we ended up going all the way as a 3 seeded team, which is major underdog status in collegiate hockey. The tournament starts off with a much smaller pool than basketball.

2009: Going to Detroit! I won't make any predictions - I'll only go as far as to say that I totally homered in all of my tournament brackets. I knew it then, and I know it now! I love the excitement and extreme uncertainty of Final Fours, because the teams are all so good that it's VERY tough to predict an outcome. The media has the Spartans as the underdog against UConn and I'm okay with that.

I'm glad I stuck around for a fifth year. What a great year to be a Spartan, and hoping for many more.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quick Update

-Nearly caught up. Made it through what I'm hoping was the worst of a burnout period.

-Withdrawal from long-term medications upon which one grows dependent sucks.

-Non-science major students in a general science class are cretins when it comes to grades.

-I love basketball. I love March. I'm getting pumped for the spring game, and I wish hockey was still playing.

-Trying to find time to fit a run around campus in. Maybe tonight.

-Going to Indy tomorrow for Men's Sweet 16. Should be a good time!

-GPR measurements are surprisingly easy and fun to do. At least when you're only looking at a 150ish foot transect and it's on nearly flat ground. Wouldn't want to hike up and down a cinder cone with a GPR setup.

-Free time? What a novel concept. Might actually have some soon. Sort of. Long-term projects are going to require some additional work soon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Numba Three

No info on offer, and there's a provisional status appended. We'll see what I can dig up when I go visit tomorrow. I'm still not fully packed. Yay getting up 90 minutes before go-time and already having the car gassed up/loaded with food.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Number Two (officially)

No letter yet. Via e-mail from the prof who'd be advising me. Whoa.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Next Two Weeks

So . . . welcome to my next two weeks. Mom says I need a twin. I've always wanted one. I think I've proven my point. Things have been made infinitely more complicated because the Mystery Rock Room User Who Doesn't Clean Properly didn't clean properly again and as a result everyone's keys have been voided and the undergrads who are not employed IN the lab (I am a University employee, but as a TA, so I don't get any special passes for my unpaid research) must check out a key every time we have to use it. All of my samples-in-progress sit in there, as well as the oven that I once could regularly access to dry my samples. MAJOR pain in the arse.

Monday I have class, lab, and Brass rehearsal. Nothing too bad. Must check out a key to the rock room and get at least part of a sample cut. Either that or re-powder the sample I did a rough powder job on today.

Tuesday sees one class. After class, I have to check out a key to the rock room and cut till lunch, then I'm off to work for the remainder of the afternoon. Probably going out to buy something to wear to Huddle (since apparently I've grown in the last year, and thankfully in the upper body rather than the belly) and a GPS in preparation for my upcoming campus visits. Probably also getting some time in on geophysics homework.

Wednesday brings morning class, an afternoon joyously spent cutting rocks (who wants to bet the office ladies are going to be sick of me checking out a key every day!) until geophysics lab. Last week's lab is also due this day, which isn't a big deal since it's 95% done and all I have left is to finish programming the Excel spreadsheet that goes with it.

Thursday, I go to class, find something to do (rock lab?) for two hours, then to discussion lab where I present on the Mars Odyssey mission, then work, then quick dinner maybe, then Brass gig in the evening, then geophysics homework and studying for environmental geosciences exam.

Friday is glorious. Morning class again, starting off the day with the environmental geochemistry exam. After that, geophysics homework is due. After that, I wheedle a rock room key out of the office ladies again, and try further to keep the key for the weekend. Head down to the rock room, cut/dry/crush/powder samples till it's time for the research meeting. Research meeting, go out to dinner with the research group -1 (One will be in Wyoming this weekend on a campus visit).

Saturday I wear two hats, thankfully not at the same time. Saturday I find a way, devious or not, into the rock room and finish anything I wasn't able to finish during the week. Possibly even fuse samples, which will require further wheedling of keys from . . . someone. Or having someone around who has the proper keys. Then I have to build in enough time to neaten up enough to pass a visual inspection at Huddle, which should be a FINE evening of socializing with the marching band types. Not too much different than usual except that we're all eating non-cafeteria or KFC-type food while together as a large group, and we're all wearing (*gasp*) formalwear. So yeah, running the gamut from scrubby lab clothing to wearing nice things, then back to semi-scrubby as post-Huddle partying commences. Goal is to have a good time, but not too much fun as . . .

Sunday finds me in lab again. If I don't fuse samples Saturday, I fuse the next day, because I HAVE to have XRF preliminary data before February 27th, which is next week. O_O

So Monday, samples are run through XRF. If we put them in sometime in the morning, I should have data by sometime in the afternoon. Commence hurried abstract writing. Also attend classes.

Tuesday. Class. Just one. Whew. More hurried abstract writing. Work. Dinner. More hurried abstract writing into the wee hours of the morning.

Wednesday. Get up early, put gas in the car, and head to Bowling Green State University to go check out their geology department. Have a good time. Sleep . . . somewhere. Probably abstract edits thrown in there somewhere. Communicate in stressed, terse statements/outbursts via e-mail with the advisor. Celtic temper flares on both ends of the connection.

Thursday - Get up early, put gas in the car, drive to Champaign, IL. Spend two days visiting the University of Illinois geology department and catching up with field camp friends.

Friday? See above. Submission deadline for that research poster thing that I have to do as a condition of my research grant.

Saturday - either heading back to East Lansing, or spending another day in Champaign, depending on what I get talked into. Depending on if I want to do 8 hours at once or kip in Chicago with kin or old friend, I travel 4 or 8 hours.

Sunday - either driving or resting back in East Lansing.

Monday - Back to the grind. Tweak abstract if needed for AGU deadline. Get gear ready for Spring Break. (Or Brake. Activity-wise, pretty much putting the lab work, homework, and studying to a complete, refreshing standstill.) Can't plan further than this.

And yes, this stuff is already planned out almost to the minute. Pathetic. Or OCD. Not sure which. Time for a shower so I can watch the rest of this show on the San Andreas Fault, even though I probably know more about it than the History Channel does. Well, they have cool photos from the 1906 SF quake, anyway.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Few Random Geologically-Related Things of Note

-The Yellowstone swarm is picking back up? Frequency of quakes have risen in the last couple of days.

-If being a geology (or old-style environmental geosciences) major and religious simultaneously doesn't make you question your beliefs, you're not doing it right. Some friends of mine in this department who have had a religious influence in their lives have had one hell of an ideological struggle between the two at times. And no, you can't compromise with "Creation Geology." That stuff's utter BS. The arguments are compelling for both sides. Some, however, are presented with data acquired using widely accepted techniques by the worldwide scientific community, and others are presented as data, possibly legitimately acquired, possibly not (possibly bad data, which unfortunately also happens now and again in the research community), and wrapped in compelling prose and argument. It's up to the reader to decide. Check out the first link in particular - though proceed with caution. It asks, in some cases, very good questions, but watch out for ones that are based on assumptions taken from the Bible and using it as a preconception in the logic used there.

-On a similar note (and I can't tell if the kid's joking or not), I read through a timeline someone wrote up for today's in-class assignment and he used a Creationist timeline. If I hadn't been reading it on a bus, head would've met desk. Hard.

-If I'm wrong about this whole science thing and the Bible is actually right, I'll be damned. Literally. But I'm okay with being wrong now and again. It's much more interesting.

-I must spend more time bonding with the rock saws - er, cutting cracks out of my aplite samples. Some of them are bad enough that I fear they'll take me the rest of my natural life, but I don't trust anyone else to help me. They're not easy to see and it's easier to blame myself for any mistakes than others. It's immensely satisfying when you hit a fracture just right and it un-cements itself. One can then proceed to taking the fracture surface off without much additional effort.

-I sleep better outside. In a tent, anyway. And yes, that includes in sub-freezing temperatures. Best sleep in recent memory was when the ragtag bunch of field campers I spent a glorious half-summer with headed south to the San Rafael Swell and camped/did geology for a couple of nights. At our second campsite, which looked out over the Little Grand Canyon, the night temperatures were so mild that many of us didn't even bother to put up tents, choosing instead to lay out sleeping bags directly on Nature. I woke up once in the ferociously-early morning hours because the Moon was rising bright.

I woke up to a grand sight:

Then I found my glasses:

(Yes, I really slept that far away from the edge of the canyon. Note I placed my bag carefully perpendicular to the edge in case I was restless at any time during the night, which wasn't the case. These pictures don't do justice. Too bad they don't make filters for point-and-shoots. Watch out PhotoShop!)

-One thing I've noticed of late. The class I'm co-TAing should, in theory, be an unbiased cross section of the University demographic. Everyone has to take an ISP (Integrated Studies in Physical Science; the same with ISBiology and ISSocial [Science] x2) class at my university, as it's a public and non-liberal arts institution. Science majors don't have to take the ISP and ISB classes as long as they take at least basic biology- and physical science-related classes as part of their core.

But I digress.

What I've noticed is that the average layman has absolutely no conception of the inertia of a system as large as what's seen on the Earth. For that matter, they have no conception of the inertia of Earth's internal system (and I, a burgeoning geoscientist/petrologist/whatever) only have an inkling of the internal dynamics of Earth -- as much as everyone else in my field. We can't directly observe, so we have to find other reliable methods by which to measure. Not everyone outside of the mode of thought into which I think I shaped myself many years ago takes that at its word. However, we are all creatures of repetition and are as one susceptible to it, so when a misnomer such as "global warming" is screamed in your ear via the popular media a few hundred thousand times, you take it as fact and go with it. This cross section of the university almost as one think that "global warming" means "a uniform increase in temperatures around the world."

What, as scientists, can we do to change these widespread and flatly WRONG notions? Not to bash the media (because they do what they have to do to sell their product, as does everyone else), but once they get a bone, they go with it. Simplify and deliver to the masses with the least amount of energy, so they can absorb it with the least amount of energy.

Empty calories of the mind.

What do we do to get folks to take five minutes of their time, log onto teh Wiki (should I be pooh-pooing? No. Wikipedia's surprisingly accurate, and if you want to be thorough, follow the citations, people. That's how I find some of my research papers when I get desperate!) and look up some of these terms we hear so much in the modern media.

Ask questions. Train yourself to ignore social, cultural preconceptions (okay, the latter is not as easy as it sounds) when addressing such popular topics and look past the term. Look at where it came from, what it evolved into.

There's always so much more we never knew behind these topics.

-Is this why I can't sleep?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

WTF of the Day

From NPR's Talk of the Nation, 1/15/09.

I'm probably going to open a can of worms with this one . . .

I tuned into the show somewhere into its first hour, and a lively discussion on religion and atheism was ensuing. Being NPR and rational as the whole organization is, there was no preaching or condemnations during the part of the show I was listening to, which is nice. That happens FAR too often when someone touches on religion. I honestly don't know if it will ever become anything less than a touchy subject.

At one point, the hosts were discussing condemnations commonly placed upon the Atheists. Christians purportedly perceive Atheists as "rampantly materialistic," which I find disturbing. Consider the following without any precepts. The vast majority of this nation is Christian. Atheists are the smallest minority belief system in the United States, and by far the most hated. Without implying that Christians are actually the rampantly materialistic types (because it's definitely not the case in many situations), isn't it a common human reaction to project one's flaws upon someone whom one doesn't like?

Just asking.

I didn't hear what some of the other common negative stereotypes/perceptions surrounding Atheists were - I was far too distracted by the materialism comment. While I think it's a little extreme that some Atheists are offended by public references to God to the point where they censor the name, I can see their point. I do agree with the viewpoint that references to an obviously Christian deity within the realm of the State are wrong. I knew it was wrong from a young age, because despite the foibles of my (rather conservative, earnest, and occasionally misguided) public school system, we did have it driven into our heads at a young age in school that there must always be a "separation of Church and State." Exactly correct. I'm not sure where some citizens get the impression that they're crusading to bring religion back into the State "the way the Founding Fathers intended."

I've also, however, had the distinct advantage of growing up in a family of very intelligent, unique, aware individuals. I often think that makes all the difference in someone. If I'd grown up in a less advantaged situation, I wouldn't be where I am today - probably not panicking about getting into grad school or not, probably not a musician, probably not even in the sciences. Who knows where I'd be.

When I was 9 years old, I was in 5th grade and out of some conversation at my table, the question of belief in God came up. It went around the table, with everyone being singled out and asked if they believed in God. I answered honestly. No, I didn't then, and though I consider myself Agnostic, I really don't even now. I was the only one at the table to make such an admission (likely the entire classroom), and the reaction from my peers was immediate and pronounced. I was promptly informed that I was going to Hell, upon which I tried to reverse my statement in order to get them to leave me alone. They kept it up nonetheless, and it persisted throughout the year. It's another story, but that year was the first year I was truly, publicly singled out as being "different" from everyone else in the class, and received an appalling amount of grief, teasing, and some degree of ostracism in addition to my religious views.

The reason I choose to bring that up in a public forum is because that actually came up during the Atheism segment of the show - it seems that many others who were not solidified in their beliefs at a young age and made that public were also condemned to Hell at a young age.

It hurt then, because I didn't know then it wasn't "alright" to believe in what I wanted to. It hurt a lot, especially when my peers decided to make a joke of everything that defined me, to manipulate my honesty with them. I'm not sure what my response was at the time. I don't think I knew how to respond to that. It helped, though, having friends who refused to participate in the teasing.

I suppose now, a little older and significantly wiser, my response is more along the lines of, "I'll burn in Hell, sure. I'll burn brightly." Better to be the one unwittingly the whipping boy than the ones doing the whipping. I doubt most of these folks, now adults, most of them probably graduated from college, working, engaged, married, maybe even with families, remember what they said.

Ahh the joys of childhood.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mom: What're you eating?
Me (mouth full): Gllrm.
Mom: Tomato?
Me (mouth still full): Yrrr!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Upheaval Dome

MSU Geology Club visited Upheaval Dome during Spring Break last year (first week of March). It's interesting because it's one of the rare naturally-forming circular surface structures seen around the world, and debate has raged for years over what formed it. Two popular explanations prevail.

One hypothesis suggests that it is the remnants of and uplifting salt dome, eroded away presumably during the uplift of the Colorado Plateau, which the dome and surrounding Canyonlands are a part of.

Another hypothesis suggests the structure is an impact crater. Evidence for this (in my opinion) is particularly sparse. Obviously the shape and structure make it a prime candidate for impact crater consideration. Shocked quartz was recently found in the crater, though according to teh Wiki (noncited statement as far as I could tell), there may not have been more than a few grains found, and they were located off-center, which is interpreted by pro-impact types as evidence of an oblique impact. Shatter cones have also been found within the crater, which provide strong evidence for an impact. However, when the club was there, we spent an extensive amount of time debating the issue.

Points of Contention:
1. Uplift/deformation. The very definition of "dome." I don't know much about uplift of rock layers with impact structures in general, but it seems a bit too regular for an impact, especially an oblique impact as suggested by the impact proponents.
2. Lack of fracturing. Impact bodies general travel at speeds in the neighborhood of 10-15 km/s. To put it lightly, at that speed, an impact will not cause rock to bend - rock will fracture. Violently. Some upward "bending" might be possible on the impact rebound around the sides of the crater. Hard to say. I'm running impact models in my head, and as much as I like to pretend I'm a computer, I'm not. There would definitely be fragmentation, fracturing, and other forms of violent deformation on a large scale. Naked eye observation from a height doesn't really reveal that.
3. Shocked quartz (As opposed to normal quartz). Shocked quartz is formed only by high-impact events. In fact, the only types of events known to produce shocked quartz are asteroid/comet impacts and nuclear bomb detonations. I need to look up more reports about the volume of shocked quartz found at the site. Discovery News reported its discovery in Upheaval Dome right about the time the Geology Club spent our break on the Colorado Plateau and visited the Dome. The only source that gives a mention of the volume found is the Wiki article on Upheaval Dome, which claims that "only a few grains" of shocked quartz have been found. The Websites cited in that article are indeterminate with regard to volume of shocked quartz present. If there's significant shocked quartz, then sure, I'll go with the impact hypothesis. If not, we just can't know.
4. Shatter cones. These structures are often form beneath impact sites and radiate outward. They provide decent evidence for impact as well, but in some cases are tough to distinguish from slickensides.

Based on the current evidence, We have no effing clue what this circular structure is. I'm leaning toward salt dome for now. Read up on it and make your own decision.

Grad Apps WTF

I'm applying to six graduate schools plus MSU as a backup. Seeing that many schools don't need copies of your transcript if you've already attended, I was assuming (stupid thing to do with this applications, evidently) that I wouldn't need to send my transcripts to MSU, seeing as, you know, I'm a student here and all.

Got an e-mail from Jackie, the graduate secretary in my department, this morning stating that I still needed a couple of letters of rec (should be on their way or as such soon) and . . . transcripts.

The moral of the story: Don't ever make assumptions, and MSU - please get with the times.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Football and Huh?

So I have the BCS Nat'l Championship game on in the back room here, and it cut to commercial after an interception. I look up at this commercial and see . . .

an African savannah upon which a herd of desk chairs are running from a safari vehicle.

The phrase "Do Not Attempt" appears at the bottom of the screen.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Does anyone else think that Mecc/The Learning Company could make a KILLING if they re-released a bunch of their old games for Mac and PC? Maybe as a classic set or something.

It would have to include:
Oregon Trail I and II
Amazon Trail
Gizmos and Gadgets
The Math Blaster games (these are actually owned by the Davidson company)
The Odell games (Odell Down Under, Odell Lake)
Number Munchers
Storybook Weaver
Logic Quest 3D

Oh my gosh, if someone released those in a gamepack, I'd never have to buy another game. Except maybe MarioKart.

Watch this page. It's been interesting since 12-27-08.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back. Maybe.

Been busy (if busy means "insane"). Last week of break. Back from Florida, officially retired from SMB, trying to get some graduate applications in, and generally getting more sleep and regular meals (HAH) these last few weeks. Except for band.

Too lazy/distracted to post pictures right now. I'll put up squad senior pictures from the bowl game, maybe. Texas just beat OSU in the Fiesta Bowl, damn. 1-6 in Big Ten bowl games this year, *sigh*. Good game, though -- fight right up till the bitter end. Nern's curled up in the fleece blanket on the other end of the couch, being a content ball of brindle.

Maybe I'll go heat up some pasta and get an application turned in tonight. That sounds like a reasonable goal.