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November 28, 2007

Boulder Walk

I went for a walk in Boulder today, and this is (some of) what I saw:

[I was taking a picture of this sign for a volunteer project I'm working on, and held up the camera to try to get a level shot of it (rather than looking up at it)...and this is what I came up with. I had to laugh out loud at this one.]

[The perils of extreme photography in Boulder Open Space: Burrs. Also proof that I still have my tennis shoes from the mid-'90s.]

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November 24, 2007

A Holiday Weekend

Happy, happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope this finds everyone well and with no shortage of things to be thankful for.

I spent the past few days (Wednesday through about an hour ago) out of Boulder, in Steamboat Springs with some friends. Eleven of us rented a lovely, big house and stocked it with alcohol and food.

The house had a hot tub.

[Laurie by, not in, the tub.]

[Laurie, Dante, and Nancy, the organizer. Taking a break after all that organizing.]

There was also a bit of a yard out back, perfect for some after-hot-tub frisbee tossing.

[I throw to Dante, Tenor tries to intercept.]

[And he was making a darn good effort sometimes, too.]

The house also had a nice, big kitchen, which of course is key for Thanksgiving. As is the tradition, there was certainly no shortage of food to be had.

[Dante and John carve Nancy's turkey, while Tim's bourbon-cream gravy bubbles on the stove.]

[We gather 'round the table. And demolish the foodstuffs put upon it.]

We had all the time inbetween (and, sometimes, during) preparing food and eating it and preparing drink and drinking it to read, watch movies, play games, soak in the hot tub, and even head off to nearby Strawberry Springs (hot springs, mmmm) for an afternoon. Not such a bad way to celebrate a holiday.

Now, the cycle starts again. I want to relax, but I'm hungry, so I'll have to prepare something so I can eat and then relax again. Whew.

I just got an e-mail from Nelia, who I worked with my first season in Antarctica and who is down on Erebus right now. She wanted to share a small discovery. She said,

"We had been wondering why Ray's station hadn't been working since last April, and this afternoon found out. A direct hit by a small bomb. The receiver in the box didn't do too well, and the nearby antenna was the target of a glancing blow."

[Bill holds bombs by box. The bombs are blobs of lava thrown hot from the volcano. Photo: Nelia (presumably.)]

It happens.

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November 18, 2007


I'm home! I'm home I'm home I'm home! After being gone all week and traveling all day, I'm home, and I'm ecstatic. All I really want right now, I've found, is to be around for a while. Just here. That said, I'll be heading to the Seattle area for two weeks over Christmas and New Years, so if you're there let's hang out, and it looks like I'll be going back to Ethiopia in January for 5 or 6 weeks. Um, if you're there, let's hang out. Right.

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November 17, 2007

Finishing off in Cali

In the last bits of working in California here. Ellie is standing on top of a big rock outcrop to get decent cell signal so she can talk to someone at Verizon about troubleshooting our data transfer at this site; I just finished digging a hole with a post hole digger and am waiting for the results of Ellie’s call before proceeding to cement a post in for the modem antenna. So I’m sitting in a UNAVCO Ford F150 borrowed from our Northern California office typing away in the sunshine on a ranch in central California. We’re a bit over an hour north of Paso Robles, where we stayed all week except Wednesday night. Wednesday, we stayed in Lompoc so we could be close to Vandenburg Airforce Base, where we worked yesterday. Ellie said the guy who was out to service the site before her took only pictures inside the shed and facing inland. She had no idea we’d spend the day in such a nice place to work.

[On the Airforce base, approaching our GPS site.}

We had to install solar panels at the site, which ended up being a bit more of an ordeal than anticipated but nothing extraordinary. Really, all went smoothly because Ellie was on it. She did all the hard work. I mostly just wired things.

Our contact on base, Deeg, starts work at 6 and leaves at 2:30, so we got there as early as we could (6:45) to maximize our time for the task. When we stopped to get our access passes, however, Ellie noticed that one of our tires was dangerously low. She’d just put air in it two days before, so the outlook was not good. We changed to our spare. Better in a paved parking lot than on any of the ranch roads we’d been driving the rest of the week.

[Deeg is great.]

[Jane, er, Doe, of, um, the USGS stands on the solar panel mount while UNAVCO employees Ellie and myself work with feet firmly planted on the safe ground using only blunt tools with insulated handles. (This one’s for you, John!)]

We were pretty excited about getting the work done so that we could go to the beach. An afternoon in the sun after a long week of work seemed to be in order. But first we needed to resolve the tire issue, so we went to a tire shop in Lompoc that Deeg recommended to us and rolled our tire out for them to have a look in hope that we could fix it rather than buy a replacement. Needing a place to pass some time, we went in search of an ice cream shop. And thanks to Ellie’s 6th sense for ice cream, we found the perfect one. The ice cream is made in Santa Barbara with no artificial nuthin’ and orders come in weekly. The folks running the shop are great and stuffed us with samples of all sorts of ice cream flavors—cinnamon, pumpkin, eggnog, raspberry chocolate truffle, Vermont blueberry (amazing), etc. Despite all the ice cream consumed just choosing a flavor, I went for a double scoop so that I could actually get a bowl of four different flavors: Eggnog, cinnamon, pumpkin, and Swiss chocolate. Yum. I wasn’t hungry for a while after that. McMillan’s Ice Cream in Lompoc. And other places, presumably, too.

The tire place called to say that our tire was irreparable: Hole in the sidewall. They didn’t have an exact tire match, so we headed across town to Big O Tires run by Al and Sue. Al and Sue were great. This was our day of dealing with great people. Al set us up with a new tire and chatted us up a bit (and I told him to go to the ice cream shop) and sent us on our way. By the time we got out of there, though, the sun was gone, and so was our afternoon at the beach.

We drove straight back up to Paso Robles, checked in, showered, relaxed a bit, and then met back up to go to sushi. Not a bad end to the day. The sushi place in Paso is great and the waitstaff was great and our sushi chef was great. Oh, and the sushi was great. Amazing is more like it. Mmmm, salmon sashimi. And for our last dish of the night, the chef asked if he could make us something, to which we of course said yes. He cut thin strips of salmon and yellow fin, mixed them with spices and sauces, put the concoction in a raised bowl not unlike a large martini glass, and cut an orange into a little bear for us. Beautifully presented, and de-licious.

Today, we’re troubleshooting a site that Ellie visited last Saturday. She’s on the phone right now—standing on the running board of the truck, because that’s the only place we can get reception—with Verizon, talking to tech support after wading through multiple folks to get there. I’m in wait mode. We’re hoping to hit the coast after this, but the way things have gone this week I won’t be surprised if we end up driving back to our hotel at night again. That said, things have gone amazingly smoothly and we haven’t had to work beyond daylight hours, and we got most of what we set out to do done, which is good.

Tonight we’ll stay in San Luis Obispo, where I’m flying out of tomorrow. Hooray!

[Ellie at site MEE1.]

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November 15, 2007

San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth

We went in the afternoon to SAFOD (see title of entry) to troubleshoot a site, with the added benefit of getting to visit a place where they (scientists, drillers, etc. etc.) drilled down three kilometers next to and then angling into the San Andreas fault to pull out rock cores and to put in instruments. Quite and undertaking. Just a skeleton remains of what was out there two years ago when drilling was in full swing.

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November 14, 2007

Another Day, No Earthquake

Still no earthquakes in earthquake country. Just more GPS sites and more sheds. I really like sheds. I realized this today.

We had finished 8 of our 10 sites in this area, which leaves just two for tomorrow. Hooray! We're ahead of schedule! We've got three periferal sites to work on, though, so we've still got a few things to do. Doesn't look like I'll be flying home early. But it *does* look like we'll get the work done. Very satisfying.

Everyone getting ready for turkey day? I'm not getting ready, but I sure am getting excited.

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November 13, 2007

Too Tired for Words

I'm too tired to write much of anything, but still wanted to share a few shots from the day.

[Our first site of the day.]

[Ellie on high.]

[Ellie and I were struck by these trees. So very red! Manzanitas, said Andy. Photo: Ellie.]

[Field trip stop: Parkfield bridge. Had to check it out. Famous, but maybe only among geology types. The San Andreas fault runs through this gully, offsetting the bridge.]

[Straight on the North American plate, and then we hit the Pacific plate and things get all wobbly.]

[Another field trip stop: The San Andreas runs along this straight gully. Coincidence? I think not....]

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November 12, 2007

First Day in Parkfield

Here we are, at what feels like the end of a long day but really wasn't. Ellie and I were meeting Andy, our local contact, in Parkfield at 10, which means we didn't meet up for breakfast until a bit after 8 and left for Parkfield at 9. Leisurely start. Then, since it's fall and all, we stopped working around 5:30 when things were gettin' dark. How very civilized. Got back to our hotel a little after 6 and we'll soon be headed out for some dinner--with no worries of places being closed because we're getting in so late. I like this field schedule.

We started out today with a drizzle, which was a little unnerving since the rural (non-paved) roads here, by which we access all our sites, get slick, slick when when wet. So we can't work if it rains too hard or too long. We all went to the first site together, with the plan of leaving me there to work while Ellie and Andy went off to upgrade another site. Because it was drizzling, though, and drizzling harder, Andy wanted to stick around in case we'd all have to bale. So I cruised up the antenna tower to mount our antenna and got good and damp and finished up just as blue sky began to open on the horizon. So much for timing. Fortunately, the sun stayed out long enough to dry me out once I was back down.

[The GPS site.]

[The tower, post-drizzle.]

Andy and Ellie left me with a folding chair and some instructions and moved on to the next site while I ate a leisurely lunch in the sun. When it went behind a cloud, I went inside to finish things up.

[The view from my lunch spot.]

And when things were done, I met back up with Ellie (Andy had already taken off for home) and we visited another site to scope it out. Ellie scoped out our antenna mounting options.

I scoped out a tree in the waning light.

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November 10, 2007

Working, Again

Just thought I'd jot a little update while I have a minute. I've agreed to work for the week in California, so here I am at my friend Brian's house in Berkeley (he's currently making us some Ghiradelli hot chocolate...mmmmmm....) and shortly we'll head out to Monterray where I'll rent a car and drive south to Paso Robles. A co-worker, Ellie, and I will be upgrading a GPS network in Parkfield, where the North American plate meets the Pacific plate and they slide past each other along that oh-so-famous fault called the San Andreas.

The book reading Thursday night went fine, and thanks to everyone who was supportive for their support. It was fun to be reading something I wrote in my favorite bookstore!

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November 7, 2007

Book Reading at the Boulder Bookstore

Not that any of you will want to hear this, but I'm going to tell you anyway. Right now, instead of being at a job I'm not stoked about, I'm still in bed with the radio on beside me and 10 books/journals on the other side of me, where some normal people might leave space for, say, a significant other, and I've been puttering around writing on this laptop for over an hour. Anyone want to read a book about work in the Philippines? I hope so, because that's what I'm working on. Pre-blog experiences--yep, I did indeed have a life before I was 26.

I keep forgetting to post that I'm actually now published in bookstores. It's just a piece in a compilation that someone else put together, but just the same, it's sold on Amazon and I can go to the Boulder Bookstore and there I am (well, the book with 5 or so pages of me in it) on its shelves. The shelf halfway up the stairway which everyone must glance at as they go upstairs, actually, since it's one of the books slated for a reading. How fun is that? The editor, Susan Fox Rogers, another contributor, Traci Macnamera, and myself are going to be reading from our pieces tomorrow night. So consider this an invite to those of you who are anywhere in the vicinity and might be able to come:

Boulder Bookstore!
7:30 PM!
Thursday November 8!

It's only about 45 minutes long, so why wouldn't you come?

The book is called "Antarctica, Life on the Ice" and is stuffed with pieces of varying degrees of funniness and seriousness about people's experiences working in Antarctica. It's kind of fun.

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November 6, 2007


I’m learning new fun skills, among them some software for design and photography. I decided to take an intro Photoshop class here in Boulder, which was a little spendy and only two weeks long but I figured it would be a good starting point.

Suffice to say, I wrote a poem today in class.

Well, sort of. Here it is, composed of phrases the teacher said that I wrote and rearranged.

set up nicely
on my wall at home
absolutely make your own
I should add
doo-dads around the outside
spend 20 minutes one night
just lines
write in the dates myself
I’ve done that

Okay. I also did write down something he said that I thought was very wise:
If you’re patient enough, you can just sit there and take care of anything.

All that aside, this is what I did with what I learned in class last week:

[Hilary and Kre, Halloween night, with a tattoo Kre never knew she had….]

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