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October 17, 2005

Rainy Day


Here I go back-filling.

I was tasked to the trip on Thursday evening and I flew out to Ontario, California (not Canada) on Sunday, October 16, right after my frisbee games.

[Flying over.... Arizona?]

I stayed in a hotel by the airport and headed out early the next morning to meet up with Chris Walls, the UNAVCO regional engineer for Southern California, at our first site. I arrived at the site almost on time and chatted with Scott, our local contact, until Chris arrived. He didn't arrive alone. At first I thought he'd brought a person, but it turned out to be way better. He brought his dog.

[Anza keeping out of the rain.]

Anza is a rotweiler-doberman mix, and we became fast friends. She's a princess. She's a sucker for love and Chris is a sucker for her, as was I--how could you not be?, so she gets pampered. After giving her an ample amount of attention and head- and butt-rubbing, I shook hands with Chris. Right. We're here to work.

It rained. We installed. The goal was to install a short-drilled brace permanent GPS monument as part of the Plate Boundary Observatory's network of over 800 permanent, continuous sites. I need to lead installation of two similar sites in Socorro, New Mexico, in November, but both my boss and I figured it would be good to have a little experience before doing so. Thus, the trip to Cali.

Chris and I were joined by Dain, another GPS-er who is affiliated with the USGS and U. of So Cal (I think), and who is paid partly by one of the programs headed up by UNAVCO to upgrade existing permanent GPS sites. So a deal was made: Dain helps us with this installation, we help him with two upgrades.

[I worked mostly on the enclosure housing the receiver and the power system. Check out my stylie rainpants-pants length misfit.]

At one point, lightnight and thunder drove us inside the building from which the TV broadcasting for the town is controlled.

[Scott had the coolest tee-shirt ever: SIMON SAYS YOU SUCK. I have the coolest rainpants ever, compliments of Chris. Anything to look pregnant.]

It's kind of a powerful feeling, controlling the local TV access. At one point, in trying to figure out why we'd lost power to our drill (we plugged into the TV towers' power with a very long extension cord), Chris and I managed to kill one of the TV stations. Well, I did. I bumped a wire. The station cut out right in the middle of a soap. I'm sure tons of people were wondering what happended when Julie saw Bennie for the first time since she thought she killed him back in high school, or whatever was going on. Bummer. I told Scott about it later somewhat sheepishly, after we had been able to get the station back up, and he didn't seem too concerned.

[Work continues: Dain drills, I work on the enclosure box. Chris takes pictures. Who do you think is the manager...?]

As the rain broke, we saw a killer rainbow. Huge and bright and complete, and a double besides, although you can't tell most of that from this picture.

[Chris, stoked.]

That night, Chris dropped Dain and I off at the Ace Motel in.... whatever town we were close to. The decor was '60s, with nothing matching--which was cool--and I had dreams all night that someone was in my room. Haunted? Or the effects of the Mexican food ordered from the caucasian server who claimed she couldn't eat Mexican food?

I also burned my butt on the heater I'd cranked up in my room to dry out my wet clothes. I know I burned myself on the heater because, besides feeling the lasting pain, I ended up with a series of evenly spaced red stripes on my skin. And the spacing, as it turns out, exactly matches that of the grate on the heater...

Posted by beth at October 17, 2005 4:22 AM

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