About Me

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I'm a consulting geologist for a small company in the Denver area. I study problems related to active tectonics, using geomorphology, structural geology and remote sensing.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

that geico commercial

i don't know how many of you have seen the caveman geico commercials, but there is one in particular that catches my eye. not so much because of the visuals (though the concept behind the adverts is brilliant) but for the very catchy music in the background.

a couple minutes on google and i had found 'royksopp', the norwegian duo responsible for the music. i poured through their website and was so impressed by their own music videos that i looked up the production company they used... 'toxic', also out of norway. i highly recommend checking out royksopp's site: www.royksopp.com, as well as toxic's site: www.toxic.no

my favorites are 'poor leno', 'remind me' and 'what else is there?'(featuring karin dreijer from another nordic duo, 'the knife'). the music is great, and the video production styles are really fascinating... a mix of live action, computer animation and hand drawing, all pulled together in a sort of photo-mosaic stytle. 'poor leno' especially reminds me of some of the more stylish underground japanese animators from the late nineties (like koji morimoto's video for the 'extra' track by ken ishii)... the influence is apparent more in the presentation style than in the animation itself.

anyway, that's all before i really start droning on about the impact of visuals with electronic music and my memories of clubs and raves... i'll save that one for my memoirs.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

steamed dumplings and bodily harm

the title of this post, in conjunction with a previous post (pinot grigio and bodily harm) reminds me a blog/site published by a character who goes by the name 'tucker-max'. although his stories are infinitely more disturbing and colorful than mine, they do have some interesting titles... things that commonly end in '...hilarity ensues.' or '...hilarity does not ensue.'

i won't link to tucker-max here... if you really care, google it, but be prepared for some odd stories.

the point here is: steamed dumplings and bodily harm.

my house is generally pretty cold. i like to keep the thermostats set to around 55 degrees, since it's a big house and we have huge south facing windows (that passively heat the house to about 70 degrees at midday). i was cooking dinner tonight (steamed dumplings again) and noticed that i was freezing. i was standing in the kitchen in bare feet and a t-shirt, on cold linoleum. rather than getting a sweater, i thought it would be a billiant idea to simply hold my shirt out over the top of the bamboo steamer on the stovetop. it works wonders over a forced air vent, or even a fire place, so why not a hot steamer??

some of you may remember a concept from basic thermodynamics known as the 'latent heat of vaporization'. this is a simple measure of the energy required to drive a phase change in a given substance. latent heat of vaporization is the calorie amount required to vaporize a liquid, which is an endothermic reaction... in other words it can require a great amount of energy. when that same vapor spontaneously condenses back to its liquid phase, the resulting exothermic transition pours all that heat directly back into the substrate that has allowed the condensation, be it air, metal, or the tender midrif of a person simply trying to warm up in the kitchen.

now... hindsight is 20/20. if i'd taken a moment to think it though, i probably would have noted that the idea was half-cocked at best. instead, i went on impulse and ended up with a two-inch blistering sore immediately proximal to my belly-button, which i've spent the last two hours holding a big bag of ice over. we'll see how it develops through the night, but i imagine it'll be tender for a while.


celebrity death match

I've just discovered the saving grace of subscribing to comcast cable on-demand... mtv's old claymation series called celebrity death match. I remember getting into claymation at an early age, watching odd tv specials like the life of mark twain and a frank zappa claymation show that i've forgotten the name of. I used to make clay (fimo or sculpey, actually) figures and fire them in my grandma's oven. anyway, celebrity death match was a short-lived series on mtv, which aired late at night. it pitted clay versions of pop-culture icons against each other in mortal combat in the classic WWF format, two opponents in a wrestling ring. limbs were regularly torn from combatants' bodies and used in turn to beat them silly, or other grotesque and depraved uses or turns in events would be thought up. it was always a suprise to see what the minds of the creators came up with, but strangly entertaining none the less. anyway, it is a series worth at least 5 minutes of your time; IF you like weird and slightly depraved forms of entertainment.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

...and still snowing

hey all...

quick report from boulder and the snowbound frontrange... we have multiple feet of snow on the ground, i can't open my back porch sliding doors (unless i want to shovel snow off my livingroom floor) and it looks now like denver airport will be closed for another day. pictures on the news of people sleeping on the floors of the airport, and firetrucks trying to dig themselves out of snowbanks are all over the news. personally i'm looking forward to trying a swan-dive off my porch into a belly-flopping snow angel. luckily i'm done with my school-responsibilities for a little while, so i'm not worried at all about making it into the office or even thinking about digging out my car (it's buried past the wheels).

so there it is, i'm just kind of stuck at home, and not at all sad about it (though i wouldn't mind getting up to the ski areas out of town... maybe tomorrow or saturday). the park behind my house has been overrun with dogs ripping through the powder at full bore, obviously loving it. i think i'm going to venture out and see what it's like... maybe snap a few pics.


Monday, December 18, 2006

pinot grigio and bodily harm

tonight i decided to cook myself a real meal (other than steamed dumplings and bok-choy... my standby meal for the last few days); settling instead on steamed asparagus and fresh florida shrimp cooked in white wine with herbs and pepper, on a bed of watercress and topped with a creamy wine reduction sauce. the meal turned out very well (although i just missed taking the shrimp out at the perfect time when they are barely translucent through the middle). except for a slight hiccup during the preparation, everything went as i planned. reaching accross my countertop for something, i knocked over my glass of wine and unwittingly grabbed at it in an attempt to save the glass (and more importantly the wine) from the inevitible. the glass shattered as it hit the counter and my hands managed to reach it just as it was being reduced to a pile of razor-sharp lenses of sub-millimeter thick silica dioxide. i yelled out a rather unimaginative expletive as i recoiled... but the damage had already been done. i spent the next twenty minutes wiping small lines of blood off my hands, discovering a new rivulet now and then, until sufficient, "transformation of fibrinogen, a blood protein, into polymerized fibrin" (from wikipedia) had taken place to stem the flows.

i sat at the table with bandaged hands, sipping wine out of a stout whiskey tumbler, and enjoyed the fruits of my labor.



ah, etymology. i love it... i still think about the choice i made not to study literature and language (at least as a primary field) but i still get a kick out of reading up on language; roots, histories, uses, definitions... all of it. I just recently ran accross an interesting (more than useful) site for the online etymology dictionary. it comes in handy when you're wondering about the proper use of 'wax poetic' or other superfluous-by-modern-standards words and terms that catch your eye.

on a similar note, i finally looked up the etymology (or at least an approximation thereof) of the lone ranger's famous "kemo sabe". i won't go into it here, but suffice to say it sounds like no one really has any idea where it came from, but lots of people offer their opinions. personally i like the ojibwe root, partly because a grad student has tracked down an original reference, and partly because i am (in a small way) of ojibwe descent. read the article here if you like... it's a little annoying because of all the small ads, but the interesting text is interspersed throughout the page.

hi-ho silver!

Sunday, December 17, 2006


i am not a master at either language, so trying to insert this image as a background behind my title is a little more annoying than i think it should be. i know it's deceptively simple... but deceptive is the operative word here.


Saturday, December 16, 2006


check out this site...


AGU recovery

who would have thought that a meeting with so many interesting people and so many amazing talks would be so utterly exhausting? I'm seated in my office (yes, it's the saturday immediately following the conference) sipping a beer (thank god for our secret stash) and avoiding the work i'm supposed to be doing. fourteen thousand earth-scientists in one building for a week... the sheer wattage of brain-power would be enough to power a small village for a year.

by the time friday morning rolled around, i was completely spent (and a little hung-over) and decided i could only endure an hour or so of wandering the convention center. i made my rounds and said goodbye to my taiwanese colleagues and unceremoniously ducked out to spend the remainder of the day riding the street cars and strolling the parks near the wharfs. i hadn't realized how long it'd been since i've seen the sea. it's funny though, that i'm not counting the four months i spent recently living in the port city of taipei. not that the bay there isn't just as impressive or formidable as san francisco's... it's just not the same. having the most personal experience with ocean fronts at northern latitudes (in northern maine, boston, oregon and northern spain) there's something very different about those boreal climes.

I walked through some of the beach-front gardens while i was able. the smells of broad leaf sage and wet, fertile soil were the most noticeable. i watched a male anna's hummingbird perch on a branch of flowers before darting off, and sat on the stone steps leading to the bay while the cold wind and warming sun evened out the temperature. living in colorado is wonderful, but i really do love the ocean... it's no wonder the coasts of the world are so populated.

so, now it's back to work and school. my 'radiogenic-heat-production-of-potassium-thorium-and-uranium' and 'isostatically-balanced-gravitational-potential-energy' problem set is staring me in the face and isn't making a whole lot of sense to me at the moment.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006


it is raining in san francisco this morning. as i rolled out of bed i made a mental note to wear my shell jacket to the conference today. riding the elevator down to the lobby, the doors opened on the 4th floor and three people got on, all obviously heading to the agu conference... one of them looked around at the rest of us and checked inside his coat, where he had a small umbrella that looked like a permanent fixture in that article of clothing. i was the second most prepared person with a coat, while the other two men had nothing.

this particular gentleman said, in a foreign accented wry tone,"this (nodding to his umbrella) ...is what sets the hydrologist apart from everyone else."

i thought that was the funniest thing i've heard in a while.


Monday, December 11, 2006


here i am, sitting at one of the very long and very crowded tables set up in the moscone convention center in san-francisco, typing on my laptop like a hundred other geo-scientists. it's monday morning and there are already thousands of people here... throughout the week, the number of attendees is expected to top 13000. across from me are a couple of russians talking about something or other, and down the table are some korean researchers. agu is an interesting mix of people... from nations all over the globe and familiar with very different niches within the earth-sciences, yet all in one place and for the most part all speaking the same language: sciencese. for all the faces i don't know, i'm surprised by how many people i do know. colleagues from universities in the united states, france, italy, argentina and taiwan.

the geoscience community is actually pretty small, even when walking through a crowd of ten thousand people makes it seem like anything but.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

i should be...

busting arse on my poster for the huge american geophysical union's annual fall meeting which is coming up in all of 5 days, but lo... i am writing a blog post instead.

as usual, i find it a little hard to motivate until the last possible moment. i will say that i already have the whole thing laid out, and notes roughed out for all the text (it's all written in various places, just not put together) and figures (except what i think is the central figure). so basically there is lots to do, but not that much to do.

back to work,

Friday, December 01, 2006

the bomb

finally downloaded pics from my camera... here's a very large lava-bomb that was ejected during an eruption at dish hill in the mojave desert. the somewhat aerodynamic shape is formed when the red-hot and still fluid blob is shot into the air. contact with the cold atmosphere allows the blob to 'freeze' mid-air and fall to earth as a solid "bomb". think about being close to an eruption when 100 pound smoking-hot chunks of rock are getting lobbed out the top of a volcanic vent... they must leave some impressive craters when they hit. this one actually broke in half; i found the two halves about 5 feet from each other and fit them back together... the fracture was perfectly preserved allowing a tight fit of the two pieces... that hammer is about 16 inches long.


Monday, November 27, 2006

"dogmatic indoctrination"

what a load of crap. i've just run across a story published by the bbc about a new group in the uk who are attempting to introduce the concept of intelligent design to public school curricula. like most well-funded religious groups, they have 'freely' distributed learning materials to many schools... middle-schools mostly. the group calls itself, "truth in science" and states that much of what is, "taught in school science lessons about the origin of the living world has been dogmatic and imbalanced."

now... to hear a group (which touts intelligent design and creationism as having valid scientific value) call a system, based on empirical evidence and which has withstood the rigors of the scientific method and community at large for nearly 150 years, "dogmatic and imbalanced" just cracks me up. granted, the bible (among other religious texts, but specifically the bible) has been around for well over a thousand years, but was never written based on observed data. it was written by a large group of men about what other men had said, and has been subsequenty subject to innumerable interpretations because of this. moreover, little or none of what is stated in the bible about the creation of the earth and species was directly observable by anyone involved in writing it. strictly speaking, it could qualify as hearsay. i know that is a harsh term (one that i'm sure some people would be willing to kill over), but one that i think applies and is impossible for anyone to logically refute.

"truth in science" does bring up some interesting points on their website about the fact that school curricula are limited in their scope... but these are 10-year olds, for god's (facetious pun intended) sake! I fully agree that discussing the short-comings of darwinism and exploring the scientific ramifications of the idea of intelligent design is a completely valid and potentially very useful exercise, but that discussion has a place and time: college philosophy, ethics, molecular biology and divinity courses, to name a few. civilizations have risen and fallen before philosophers or religious groups have been able to agree on any universal truth, while science has 'designed' a reasonable explanation for probably 90% of our level of understanding of reality (allowing that there is potentially much we still do not understand).


I think the issue of "indoctrination" is an interesting one, especially when it concerns two groups of opposing (or at least mutually exclusive to a certain degree) 'understandings' of reality (rather than use the terms 'knowledge' or 'belief'). one group's education is another's indoctrination, when said education excludes an understanding held to be 'truth' by one group or another.

i argue that a well-balanced curriculum should be attempted, but that 6th grade classrooms are not the place to introduce complicated metaphysical concepts to our children. for now i would focus on observables; dna progressions & gaps, taxonomical evidence for (and against) evolution, age determintions based on scientific (radiological and cosmological) evidence, etc. most importantly i think, is that children be taught to question things, to resist indoctrination... which of course includes questioning religion from a critical and scientific standpoint (something which i think is often glazed over by religious interests), as well as questioning our ever evolving science-based understandings of the world around us.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

local airy isostacy

still working on that stupid problem. not because it's particularly impossible, but because i am still only nominally motivated to finish it. the deal is: local airy isostatic compensationally derived elevation as a function of variable thickness of mantle lithosphere under thermally driven expansion of mantle rock and correlated changes in material density in the presence of a steady-state geotherm. joy. it's an interesting problem actually, but since i lack the calculus skills of your average m.i.t. mathematics grad student, i am attacking the problem from a graphical / geometric standpoint. luckily, all the base assumptions i'm making allow me to look at the problem this way, since "steady-state conduction" generally means linear geothermal gradient... i.e. a straight line that is easy to assess with simple algebra. it's the feedback from variable thickness and multi-material (varying material properties) layering in the model that throw a wrench in the works. the equation i've derived has 20 terms at the moment. i'm sure if i'd attended a normal highschool that actually taught math worth a damn i could probably boil this down to a simple integral with something like 5-6 terms, but lo; the alternative community highschool was better at teaching things like comparative literature and global economic politics.

anyway, i need to go buy batteries for my calculator before i can really finish this thing. here's a quick pic of my scratching and scribbling.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

if i had a backhoe....

...i would totally do something like this. probably the coolest use of heavy machinery i have ever seen... some might think it cruel, but i think it's hilarious....

watch the video ...


Thursday, November 23, 2006

turkey day

i feel like a turkey. well, not precisely, but this stupid homework makes me feel about as intelligent as one. once again, i reaffirm my opinions that a certain professor here at my university is one of the worst professors i've ever had when it comes to giving out work. professors "A" and "B" co-teach a class. professor "A" writes some of the homework questions, so does professor "B". professor "A"'s questions are intelligible and clearly presented. they take me about 10-20 minutes per question on average. professor "B"'s questions are muddled, obtuse and perfunctory melanges of vaguish hints, which i imagine "B" thinks are practically obvious. these take me days, and i'm lucky if i actually finish one all the way through (these are the classic 10-part questions which build on themselves... meaning that once you're stuck, you're totally screwed when it comes to answering the rest of the question; this is poor design and does anything but contribute to learning). once again, the engineer holds the upper hand, not in superior ability or intelligence, but through their odd inability to articulate in spoken language what they understand mathematically.

anyway, i'm sitting in my %&#$ing office on thanksgiving, beating my ahead against the desk and hoping that this stupid problem will solve itself soon. at least it's quiet here. i think i will be riding my bike tomorrow.... before trying desperately in the next couple of weeks to finish my poster for a.g.u. and classes.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

google universe

so far this morning i've been preparing for my trip to death valley tomorrow by touring google earth and recording gps coordinates into my garmin e-trex so i can point out specific features when we're in the field. invariably google earth sessions turn into daydreaming exercises in things like folding space, super-fast personal space-craft and teleportation. oh the places i would go (to borrow from dr seuss) if i had the ability. with the ever-increasing resolution and data comprehensiveness offered by the service, i wonder how long it is before google mars is launched, and then google sol system. (side note: our sun is named "sol"... which has led to our system being referred to as "solar-system", but since the astronomical status quo is to call a stellar-system by the name of it's primary star such as 'the alpha-centauri system', i prefer the name "sol-system".)

...if only there was some way to select your desired destination on the computer screen and click on a button labeled "add to cart" or even "make it so" (appropriately nerdy quote from captain picard, who by the way has one of the most complete biographies imaginable on wikipedia)... resulting in instantaneous travel to your chosen location.

well.. enough of that for now. back to work.

Monday, October 30, 2006

monday morning...

phooo. i've been in the office since about 7:45 this morning. i plan to be here till at least 4pm. lots on the plate for this week, but it's all work related. meeting today and tomorrow as well as friday. presentations wednesday and friday. will probably get another homework assignment today for next week. field-trip guide due friday. i think i have to go for a ride at some point today or i'm gonna pop.

so, the life of a grad: busy busy busy. it's certainly made me long for my days as a consultant somewhat... i think i need to get back to taiwan sometime soon; even though taipei is a frenetic city, it feels much more relaxed than boulder at times, i gues mostly because i don't have to go to class everyday there.

i've also decided (sort-of) on my next big adventure trip: mountainbiking through switzerland and italy on the alta rezia route; gondola serviced descending of about 60,000 vertical feet in 6 days. we'll see if that ever really happens...


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

down week

hey all..

so far this week has been mediocre. some good points, a few bad points, but mostly just so-so. i suppose starting the week off on sunday with a class "a" hangover from the beer-luck wasn't necessarily a huge help. monday i got a test back from school that was quite a bit lower than i thought it would be, and i've just felt very undirected with work this week. had a few chances to get out and ride my mtn bike so far, which has been great. the trails are still drying out from all the snow recently... in some areas they are still covered with snow... which is great; i tend to equate riding through mud and snow with my adventures in new hampshire. The rest of the week, all the parts in between the good and bad, just sort of happened. overall it seems like i've just been distanced from my normal mode for a few days. hopefully towards the end of the week things will start to look up, and next week won't start off in a low.


Saturday, October 21, 2006


hey all,

today is the second time in a week that i have woken up to see several inches of snow on the ground. the odd thing about it, at least when compared to the eastern snows that i grew up with, is that it is apparently always bright and sunny the day immediately after a snow. it's saturday morning at 830... normally i would never be awake much less up at this time, but this morning i was awakened by the bright sun bouncing through my window; amplified by the bright white blanket of ice crystals that coats the ground and clings to the trees outside. i think i'm going to take a quick lap around the backyard on my skis, and then start my day...


Friday, October 20, 2006


yes... it's that time of year again...

the Third Biannual Boulder BeerLuck is upon us. this saturday the 21st, malted barley and hops will abound and many brews will be enjoyed. to be honest I have no idea how many people will be showing up to this event... it could be 15, it could be 50+. it's a good thing in any case that we now have a whole house to host the event out of. i've even posted a new blog: BeerLuckBlog, in preparation for the weekend. i hope to have some interesting pictures and maybe even a list of all the beers from this fall's beerluck posted at some point in the near future.

so... come one, come all... and email me if you didn't already receive the invitation... chances are you are welcome as well.


Sunday, October 15, 2006


ahh sunday... a good day to sit at home and relax after yesterday's adventure: climbing navajo peak in the indian peaks wilderness with tim and cynthia. we got an early start (5:30) and hiked the four mile approach in a couple of hours. from the end of the trail, we headed across the talus fields (which are an interesting mix of natural talus and glaciers' morainal material) towards the base of the peak. the climb starts with a medium angle snow-climb. the snow slope is probably about 50 degrees, but the snow was perfect; nice styrofoam texture with a crispy crust. it's amazing to me how fast you can gain elevation on snow. you just sort of plod up the face, focusing on foot placement and balance (we all had packs on) and sooner or later you pause and take a look around. the sudden realization that you are hundreds of vertical feet from where you were, staring down a perfectly planar slope, can be vertiginous. ...that and the fact that you can see nebraska from that same vantage point. the snow climb ends in the saddle between najavo and it's neighbor, and the technical rock climbing begins. now, i said it was technical, which is a bit of a misnomer. the hardest pitch out of the two-or-three pitches there is 5.4, so it's not demanding... it's just cold and high and can be awkward if you're wearing plastic boots and a pack. we scrambled up to the climb and roped up... just as the weather was starting to really turn from clear to snowy. after topping out, we ate some food and headed down the descent route; off the south ridge of the mountain and into airplane gully. airplane is interesting because there's actually an old plane-wreck there. lots of twisted aluminum and distorted structure make it hard to identify what's what, or what's left, but it reminded me very much of reading old tintin comics where on several occasions there where rescue missions mounted to remote crash sites in high mountains. we finished out the descent and backtracked through the valley towards the car. as we walked, a wet snow fell languidly from the clouds above, muting everything in the valley. the spruces took on a familiar look and brush came alive with subtle yet distinct lavender and sage colored hues.

as we reached the car at dusk we were wet and tired but in high spirits... it's not too often that you get to spend an entire day on an alpine adventure with friends.


Thursday, October 12, 2006

lenticular soup

riding into school today was very nice... chilly for sure, but nice. the main thing was that the entire front-range was capped with lenticular clouds. altocumulus standing lenticularis... the result of stable moist air that's forced into a standing compression wave pattern after flowing over mountainous terrain, is always cool to see. here's a shot from the cu-boulder web-cam... they were a lot better earlier this morning.


Monday, October 09, 2006


kent hovind is nuts. someone just sent me a link to one of his 2 hour long lectures... the videos of which you can watch on the net. this guy is a creationist through and through... with all the pompous self importance you would expect from someone who thinks they are enlightened and everyone else in the educated world is not only incorrect in their assumptions about the nature of physical reality, but also stupid for it. he sells himself as a humble and god-fearing man, but is anything but. he tries to be funny, but succeeds at only the most sophomoric levels. i do recommend reading one of the articles on his site (pick one, they're all equally entertaining)... i still have yet to speak with a creationist who can logically and intelligently come up with an explanation for their beliefs that allow the existence of things like nuclear physics... things we have not only theorized but observed and practiced (nuclear fission wouldn't work if certain uranium isotopes weren't unstable, for instance). anyway... take a look...


Wednesday, October 04, 2006


i don't hate math... i hate it when professors are incompetant at writing understandable assignments... relying on mathematic expressions to fill in for their inability to explain things in words. things like, "recall the simple analysis we made to develop the rayleigh number" (said analysis was something like 3 pages long). i will n e v e r take another class from this professor.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

french press


i made a brilliant decision today: i brought my small one-cup french press into the office. it now occupies the shelf next to my desk. though i relish the opportunities that walking to the coffee shop offers (procrastination-wise), it's nice not to spend two or three dollars everytime i want to drink some coffee. i think i finally realized that i wasn't ever going to drop $400 on a nice espresso machine, so this little $20 press will suffice.

~t yeah... the picture is taken on my cell-phone. I still don't have a real memory card for it, so this isn't even the full resolution.


... the sound of my head hitting the desk. it's almost 2pm on tuesday and for some reason i am exhausted... or unmotivated.... or something. i am trying to get through some homework for my class (it seems to be less odious than the last assignment was) but i am having a real problem focusing on anything in particular. i slept for something like 10 hours last night too...

anyway... back to work (if i can concentrate on it)


Thursday, September 28, 2006


so i submitted some photos of the fixed-gear bike i built, along with a description, to the fixed gear gallery. you can see the post here.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006


yet another fool freshmen attempted a kamikaze cycle-run at me on my morning commute to school today. this one was even more ridiculous that the previous suicide-run made by the girl on her bike (read below), in that they were on the opposite side of a very wide path... 20 feet or so. as we were about to pass each other, he suddenly swerved accross the entire width of the road and cut right in front of me... running right off the road and into the grass. it was a narrow miss, with his bike nearly brushing my front wheel. i couldn't quite tell what the hell was going on... if he was out of control or just crazy, but i held my toungue (for the most part) and continued on my way, since there was no contact of bike or body.


Monday, September 25, 2006

old pics

these are oldies, but goodies... thought i'd post them after recently rediscovering them....


double cortado

wikipedia defines the cortado as:

A cortado is nothing more than an espresso "cut" (from the Spanish and Portuguese cortar) with a small amount of warm milk to reduce the acidity. It is popular in both Spain and Portugal, as well as throughout Latin America, where it is drunk in the afternoon. In Cuba, it is known as a cortadito.

so... imagine my reaction when a new barista at the local (and formerly my favorite) cafe on the hill handed me a large cup overflowing with foamed milk. I feel like mugatu complaining about foam ("i feel like i'm taking crazy pills!!") but what a pain when all the good people you know at a coffee shop suddenly disappear... and are replaced by people who think that dunkin' donuts coffee is actually palatable.

speaking of unpalatable... the attitude above pretty much fits nicely into that category. anyway... it's monday afternoon and my caffeine hit was supposed to be fueling my reading of another scientific paper (energy expenditure during cataclysmic flooding) but is instead fuelng this rant against ignorant baristas.

plans this week are pretty minimal, but the weekend will be spent mountain-biking at buffalo creek near evergreen, co. in fact, the first day will be spent working on trail maintenance; the second will be all riding. the whole shebang is catered and is supposed to be a lot of fun. the trails at buff-creek are super-fast and flowing singletrack on hardpack, so on sunday i will be concentrating on just having fun, rather than pushing the envelope. all, of course, in the interest of avoiding another high-speed expulsion from the designated trails. the nice thing about buff-creek though is that there aren't really any cliffs, so the worst that could happen during a crash might be an encounter with a cactus.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006


hey all,

i just got finished with an assignment for a class based on the physics and chemisty of the solid earth. think about things like radioactive nuclide decay rates and the density structure of the deep earth as a function the entropic state of crystaline atomic organization and you'll get an idea of what this class is like. needless to say, understanding (or at least explaining) these kinds of ideas requires a fair amount of math: multi-variable calculus, quantum mechanics, etc. i, for one, suck at math.

i was complaining about this fact to someone and she (a chemist by training, and daughter of a math teacher) answered back with the inevitable 'but math is the universal language' bit. ok, ok, fair enough... yes, math is to a certain degree universal... inasmuch as there are certain undeniable truths in nature (the physics of thermodynamics in four dimensions, for instance) which have discrete and absolute mathematical descriptions. this fact however has no bearing on my frustrations with my own inability to solve differential equations to save my life. I offer another excerpt from an email which illustrates my feelings:

yeah yeah yeah... I've heard the whole "universal language" thing before. if traveling the world has taught me anything, it's that no language is universal, and that no language makes sense unless you speak it. i'm sort of like a foreign exchange student who still sucks at speaking a certain language because i haven't found a way to really learn it yet and i can get away with broken speech most of the time. the frustrating thing is that i almost always understand the process or idea behind the problem, and can usually jump to the goal without the benefit of an analytical path, at least qualitatively. of course i understand that calculus offers elegant solutions and descriptions of most natural phenomena, if not the only solutions in some cases. i just tend to feel that math in general should not be used as the sole method of explaining a system, since math (or at least an analytical equation) doesn't always provide the most illuminating explanation to a majority of people. i'm sure i've mentioned in the past that i bounced around between things like philosophy, literature and architecture before settling on geology. i finally went into geology because I felt like it was something that i could understand implicitly and wouldn't always require mathematical abstractions to explain (but still offered a chance to think critically about science and complex systems)... in my case, math is merely a tool to offer some quantification to what I view as a largely qualitative and intuitive field... one that is inherently interesting to humankind and has affected and shaped our societies since literally the beginning of time. for me, geology is the study of where we live... what processes shape our world and what that means to people all over the planet.

perhaps hate is too strong a word for the way i feel about advanced math... it's just frustrating to me, much the way it is frustrating to not be able to talk to people in their own language where ever i happen to be.


Monday, September 11, 2006

high speed sage

i know i've been slacking on keeping this blog updated, but i've been busy having fun and spending time outside instead. below is an excerpt from an email to a friend about my activities over this last weekend.

------ ~t

... I was actually in Salida, CO over the weekend on another mountain biking trip. I (along with a good-size group of folks) rode the "Monarch Crest Trail" which follows part of the continental divide. the ride starts at about 11,300 feet and works its way up to around 12,000. unfortunately the mountains had just received their first dusting of snow so that particular morning it was cloudy (no view) and cold (30 degrees?). as we rode along the ridge crest, more snow and small hail came in and very suddenly there were a few lightning strikes and thunder off our left side. so... we're all totally exposed above treeline, in the snow, and in serious danger of getting struck by lightning... needless to say we all decended the next mile or so as fast as possible to get down into the trees again. It was exciting to say the least, but as soon as we got down to about 10,000 feet again it was sunny and warm, and the light was shining through the aspens as the trail wound down a long valley along a nice stream. By the end of the ride I was pretty tired, but happy to have gone on the ride. That was saturday... yesterday there was another, shorter, ride that was a lot of fun. I almost made it through the entire weekend without incident, but literally less than a mile from the end of the ride I had a very high-speed encounter with a lot of dirt, rocks and sage-brush. I was cruising (~ 20-25 mph) down a smoothly twisting section of trail on the final descent and somehow got my wheel out of sorts with the edge of the trail around a sweeping corner. for a second or so it was touch and go; maybe I could pull out or maybe I would go down, but once I crashed it was very hard and fast... I basically just saw a blur. what actually happened (as far as I can tell) was I went kind of over the bars, kind of off the side and straight into a section of loose dirt and small to mid-size rocks (thank god it was all loose stuff) that had a lot of sage-brush growing around. I rolled a few times but mostly went into everything face and arms first. I couldn't really see anything (eyes closed!) but there was an overwhelming aroma of sage as I tore through something like 15-20 linear feet of brush. I got up and besides a few minor scratches on my cheeks and jaw, a slightly bloody knee and a gently abraded hip I was totally fine. I was so stunned that I couldn't tell immediately if I was OK or if I was bleeding from the ears and missing teeth (I wasn't). The best part was walking 30 feet back up the trail to where I first got into trouble and following the furrow in the dirt and trail of broken sage branches to where I came to a stop.

of course the best part of this whole thing was being able to walk away relatively unscathed. i spent the next twenty minutes or so riding out the wave of endorphin and adrenaline induced euphoria and blabbing ceaselessly about the experience as i picked sagebrush twigs out of my shorts and hair. it was also lucky that it was kind of chilly on the trail so i was wearing a couple layers of clothes including some loose nylon shorts and a long sleeve jersey. believe or not i'm actually improving as a rider... i'm just pushing my riding more; riding faster and harder trails and almost considering the purchase of a full-face helmet at some point in the future.


Monday, August 21, 2006

the plague of the u-grads

today, monday the 21st of august, marks the first day the u-grads return to campus. these undergrads may pay monies to the university that ultimately pay my salary and tuition, but they create plenty of problems too. wandering around aimlessly with confused looks on their faces, they travel in packs and at least for this week are sporting surly looks and parents in tow. they move like schools of fish or spooked rabbits, darting this way and that and have utterly no concept of the idea of a bicycle path.

this rant, in case you haven't guessed it already, is brought on the the two bloody knees and scuffed right palm i suffered at the hands (and wheels) of an oblivious student rider mere minutes ago.

leaving the office today i was zipping through campus on the bike path... moderating my speed when necessary, but also trying to escape the tangles of 18 year olds and parents before i was overtaken like a character in a cheap zombie flick. near the freshman dorms i came upon a fairly common scene; a pedestrian was (wisely) walking up the far left (my left) side of the path ahead... a biker was coming up from behind them (and towards me) and gave the pedestrian an extremely wide berth... so wide that she was in my lane. i, being used to the bike-paths and the fact that most people in boulder are extremely used to and comfortable with bikes, decided to avoid the oncoming biker and pedestrian by taking the only open path available to me... through the middle. i adjusted my line with ample room (read about 50-60 feet) for the other people involved to realize they were totally fine, as long as they stayed moving as they were... in a straight line along their respective paths. oh no... too easy! as i closed the gap between us to about 15 feet, the biker passed the pedestrian and cut directly into my path, cutting off the pedestrian and generally buggering the whole deal.

I set my brakes and threw the bike into a sideways skid, using a little body english to adjust the line of the skid so that i might go wide and avoid the oncoming biker, who was now coming to a halting stop directly in the middle of my path.

if any of you saw the crash in stage 16 of the tour this year (the one that ended in a fractured femur, broken clavicle, and masses of torn flesh) which sent three riders flying either over or into a guard rail, you would have seen basically how this whole thing ended. by the time i reached the other biker they had positioned their very sturdy mountain-bike in such a way that when i slid into its wheel my bike stopped dead and i went essentially ass-over-tea-kettle, over the bars of my very light road-bike, and landed behind them. my first thoughts were, "ok... don't explode... maybe this person really is clueless..." which was quickly replaced by, "jeez, this is the second time i've crashed with my laptop strung across my back... i hope it's still fine" (it is) and then, "damn... now i probably have to talk to this person for a few seconds".

the discussion was short... basically:

other biker: "sorry, are you ok?"
me: "i appear to be... "
other biker: - blank stare -
me: "... i was a little confused when you cut across.."
other biker: - blank stare -

... i just got back up, brushed myself off and left.

the moral? pay some attention to the other people on the path. learn the rules and etiquette of the paths... and for god's sake, when you pass a pedestrian, be aware of oncoming traffic, and if you can't wait to pass (or make it around that person before oncoming bikes reach you) leave enough room in the oncoming lane to allow the other rider to pass. it's identically analagous to passing traffic in a car. if the same thing had happened in cars, we'd both probably be dead. i think i'm going to ride my mountain bike tomorrow.


tails from the butte

below is my account of the saddle-snapping i eluded to in the previous post. I got an email from a concerned family member/reader/rider and so i clarified... i thought i'd share.

yeah... the saddle snapping experience was one of those life-flashing-before-your-eyes moments. basically it played out like this:

we rode a trail called, simply, "401". the ride to the trail starts with a 6 mile climb from one of the valleys leading out from town, up to about 11300 feet. then some steep single-track leads to the crest of the actual 401 trail. the next 6-7 miles is a hair-raising, death-defying and all too fun descent along an 8-12 inch wide single-track that sort of skirts the side of the mountain. the trail occasionally crosses small drainages... and it was at one of these drainages where the trail took a small series of three turns around the miniature gorge and gully where i happened to be carrying a little too much speed through the corner. on the last left hand corner (the exit was actually up a little lip or jump-shaped ramp. the slope dropped off to the righthand side) i unwittingly launched my ride into space. expecting the trail after the lip of the ramp to continue in the same line (it didn't), i realized my mistake mid-air and pulled the bike back towards the trail as much as possible, and as soon as my front wheel missed the trail i exited the cockpit post-haste, in what the only witness to this mishap described as, "probably the most well executed front-flip / rolling fall in a dangerous situation" he had ever seen. essentially i flipped off the bike and landed basically ass/feet first on the very steep and (thankfully) well vegetated slope immediately preceding the rocky and precitous drop into the drainage gully, and slid about 10-15 feet down-slope with my arms spread out behind me to stabilize and steer myself. my bike (since i had flipped over the front of it) came down behind in a fairly controlled manner and i was actually able to grab it and stop it from finishing the ride without me.

so, all in all it was a near tragedy that was averted through tuck-and-roll reflexes and a whole lot of luck. i did hurt my calf muscle in when i smashed it into either a rock or hit it on the bike during my ejection, and my ultralight hundred dollar saddle suffered from a snapped nose, but those are acceptable consequences considering what could have happened.

i haven't really gone on a serious ride on that bike since then, mostly because i don't have a saddle on it anymore... but i'm looking forward to replacing it very soon and getting back out on the trail.


full house

hey all..

so my new house is once again full. chris just got back from field work in the sierras on saturday night and balance among the sexes in the house has been restored. no other time was this more evident than last night when kristen and erin were watching gymnastics on tv. their show finished and then chris and i sat down to watch a some action sci-fi flick with robots and guns. see? yin and yang.

figure revisions should be more or less finished, so this week looks like it'll be a push to try to get my sections finished, or at least (most?) start on writing my abstracts for a.g.u. so that i can present some findings in december when i go to the meeting in san francisco.

i need to get out on my mtn bike again soon... ever since i snapped my saddle in crested butte i've been riding road exclusively. not that i don't love my road bikes, but the dirt is calling. a new saddle, some tlc and i should be back out on the trails.

still no pics of the new bike, but soon!

ps: i think it's obvious that i haven't been doing much that's really exciting or new recently... the tone of this blog has steered very far from the earlier writings during my stint in taiwan... i'll see if i can't try to pull back towards that type of experiential writing soon.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

thank modem




yes.. i finally got the internet connection set up at our new house and as such, this post is coming to you from the cushy comfort of our livingroom couch. the tv and all its many (many) channels is radiating warm mind-numbing rays from the corner.

this week so far has been rush rush... figures for a new paper need to be revisited and new data needs to be considered... and whose job is it to add new data and analyze it and then integrate it into the existing figures?? yep... mine.

when i'm avoiding work however, i'm making great strides in my fixed gear bike project. over the last few afternoons i've built the wheels and today i finally got the whole thing together. so it's all in one piece, but not totally done. still to be worked on: wheels need to be finish-trued and dished, and re-spaced for chain-line. other than that and a few dabs of grease, i should be all set! pictures soon.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

sweet disarray

mmm.... still getting over the move. finally back in the office on a regular basis after what felt like a month of absence. it was only about four days, but for all the hassle and murgatroid that i dealt with....

lessee... the uhaul location we went to in order to rent a medium size (14') truck to move was out of medium trucks that day. i ended up driving a monstrous 26' diesel behemoth... which also happened to have a manual transmission. then our roomate also had a 26' container parked at our house. we all moved these two truck-loads of stuff into the garage into what was essentially a huge pile of shite. the next several days were spent painting and cleaning and moving stuff from the garage into the house and our respective rooms.

this weekend was just more of the same. moving, arranging, getting things like trashbags and dish-soap. hopefully this week will be less stressful and all-consuming than last.

I'm starting the fixed gear project bike now... paint so far looks amazing (final color choice? - gold flake and pepto pink!)


Friday, August 04, 2006

stupidity personified

yep... that's me. i just moved... i have no access to internet in my home (this post coming to you from the patio at cafe roma) and no land line, so my cell phonw was my only method of reliable communication. then my battery died in the middle of a conversation, and then it dawned on me that i had packed my cell phone's charger................. somewhere.

i searched and i searched again, but i'm confident that i will not find it until i can really spread things around and put stuff away. ...so i may be incommunicado for a little while.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

kick butte pics

hey all,

just got a link to some pics from the weekend... before posting these i should give photo-credit to jason vogel... thanks jason for being the camera-man!

-getting ready to descend some amazing singletrack-

-resting in an alpine meadow-

-andria on the 401 trail-

-we couldn't wipe the smiles off our faces-

-couldn't ask for a better campsite-


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

monday (tuesday)


back from a great weekend in crested butte, co. sitting at my desk, staring at the work i should be doing, and opting to post to this blog instead.

c.b. was unbelievable... i got to do the type of riding i've always imagined colorado to be known best for: winding single-track through aspen forests and alpine meadows, screaming descents and seemingly never-ending climbs. visions of the maroon bells mountains and elk mountains surrounded us in dizzying panoramas from sunrise to sunset. alpine meadows of black-eyed susans and fireweed added some warmth to the saturated palate of verdant green and sky blue... such a contrast from the adobe and ochre tones of the front-range. about 80 miles on trails and dirt-roads in 72 hours.

after a weekend like that, tuesday feels like monday, and i know that this week is going to go by very fast. chris and i are moving to the new house next monday which is going to be a hassle. i have a lot of work to get done before the start of the new semester, and i have the impression that is going to start a lot sooner than i'd like.

anyway, back to work now. more posts when i get some pics. random fact: since i started tracking visits to this site some months ago, activethrust has received more than 2300 views from hundreds of people on five continents. thanks all!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

kick butte

hey all,

i'm heading off early tomorrow morning to go mountain biking and camping this weekend with some other folks from boulder... for epic rides, good times, and hopefully some hi-jinx in crested butte.

my bike is runnin' smooth, i've got a spare helmet, my gear is already in the car and i predict a somewhat sleepless night due to the anticipation of it all. it's been ages since i actually pitched my tent to camp somewhere... it's about time i broke it out and made use of it. i haven't even really been out to explore the rockies to any respectable degree yet either, so it's high time i went on an adventure like this. yes, i'm bringing cameras (3) so hopefully there will be decent pics upon my return.

it's also the first time i will have driven my car on a trip of more than a hundred miles... i don't foresee any problems, but fingers crossed! full report when i get back.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006


this is freaking cool. "Valence" (and i only capitalize it because it is a proprietary name in this case) is a fascinating tool for visualizing vast quantities of data and the organization of relationships within data. think space-age 3d visualization that is self-organizing, self-optimizing, and dynamic. i highly recommend a tour of ben fry's website... he (as the system's creator) has a much better and more detailed explanation of how this works, as well as a 'real-time' example of this thing in motion. i immediately started thinking about how this could be applied to visualizing spatial or temporal relations in earth-processes in order to assess potential hazard or interesting trends in tectonic organization. death to spread-sheets and data-bases!


Monday, July 17, 2006



today finds me grinding out vectors on cross-sections. most likely, this has already been done, but the work is tightly locked away somewhere in the chinese petroleum corporations fire-walled computers in miaoli, taiwan. and so, i get to do it all over again. below is a pic of my work space... this is the most organized it's been in weeks (the pic is taken with my new camera-phone!). it's scorching hot outside, which makes working in my air-conditioned office a bit of a blessing. i even came into work on sunday, just to escape the record highs.

unexpectedly, my abdominals are sore today from doing repeated back-flips off an embankment on boulder creek yesterday. i left work a bit early to go swim in the creek and cool off a little. the embankment was really just a concrete wall, some 5-6 feet above the water, which pales a little in comparison to the slate waterfalls i'm used to jumping off of in upstate ny... but the water was cool and clear which is what really matters i guess. I had lots of fun either way!


Thursday, July 13, 2006

mo' racing

hey all...

it's hot! it's supposed to be 98 today. it was 93 yesterday. yesterday (and every wednesday) was (of course) short track mtb racing at the research park. since it was so bloody hot, and i wasn't feeling like giving myself heat-stroke, i opted to attack the course with my cameras and see if i couldn't improve upon my previous efforts.

below are a few shots, which are infinitely better than the last ones. the effect of speed is acheived by a panning shot at a 60th of a second at close range to the subject. basically i stood perilously close to racers as they carved through a tight turn and followed their arc with my camera as i released the shutter. enjoy!


Wednesday, July 12, 2006


ugh... still waiting to hear back from landlord about getting the new house. hopefully things will be tied up this evening, but who knows.

i've been really tired recently, not quite sure why. maybe it's just a lack of motivation because i have been extremely sloth-like recently. race this afternoon, but ti's supposed to be about 95 degrees, so i may just try shooting pictures again... i have no interest in giving myself a heat-stroke. as i'm writing this (at 11am) i'm planning on heading into the office, but first to the coffee shop for some much needed coffee.


Friday, July 07, 2006

crazy adidas people

hey all...

in case you haven't seen these, check out the new adidas adicolor films. they are basically free-form studies on one of 7 colors (well 5, plus black and white), each one done by a different production crew or director. for the last couple of years, adidas has been pushing the involvement of independent film in their advertising (which is awesome).

in this case, the adicolor shorts are very different from one another, ranging from whimsical cartoons to suicidal noir. below is a screen-shot of 'pink', which has been getting a lot of attention in the blogosphere.. if you go the the page, you can access the other shorts by clicking on the colors to the left.


Thursday, July 06, 2006


ah... i finally got my film developed from the short track races. unfortunately, the combination of high-grain film, overcast skies and no polarizing filter gave me some lackluster pics. below i've posted the few i tried to save. again, short track racing is the off-road version of a criterium race on the road, and the track often doubles back so that riders are passing very close to each other heading in opposite directions.


Monday, July 03, 2006

last week

hey all,

first, a short quote that says a lot about the positions of modern governments on 'fixing' today's problems:

"solving the problem of traffic by building more roads is like loosening your belt to solve the problem of obesity." (the suzuki foundation)

the title, "last week" is in reference to the fact that i've been meaning to post a lot of things recently, but just haven't gotten around to it. mid-summer-lull i guess, or more to the point, "mid-summer-lull-laziness". so... in the past week, i've had several friends come to visit. in fact, everyone came at once, so space was tight in our apartment to say the least. greg even spent one night sleeping on the porch. in a related (sort of) string of thought, chris and i have been seeking new shelter. we've found a couple of new grad students who were looking for basically the same things as us, which in a nutshell is a big, cool house with wood floors, a back yard, and hopefully (hopefully!!) a gas range. that last thing is nearly impossible to find in houses out here, at least ones that go for around two thousand a month. anyway, that search continues. i also took photos at last weeks short-track mtb race, and will be taking the rolls in to get developed today. oh yeah.. i finally got paid!! i haven't bought beer for quite a while... that's on my "to-do" list for this afternoon. hmmm... in other 'news', i'm in the process of building / restoring (it's more like gutting, but close enough) an old (mid-80's) steel lugged road bike. these are things you can pick up in dumpsters or yard-sales for around ten dollars. the ultimate goal will be a beautiful-in-its-simplicity single speed, fixed gear town-bike. "fixies" are great; the bike is essentially a track bike. a ride that's boiled down into a bicycle's most basic components: frame, wheels, chain, seat, handlebars. that's it! no brakes, no gears, no free-wheeling hubs, nothing to clutter the simple form of two wheeled transportation. i fully intend to put a "one less car" sticker on the frame... i've found myself resenting my car more and more in recent months; it uses gas, creates carbon-monoxide, it's a pain to park, it's basically one more THING that demands my attention and money. don't get me wrong... i love my audi. i like the sound of the 2.8 liter v6 as it approaches six thousand rpm when i accelerate, i like the heated leather seats and i like the fact that i can drive it when looking at new houses, where the symbolism of driving a nice car immediately imparts a certain aire of financial responsibility, hopefully improving the home-owner's view of me as a desirable tennant. that may be total bs though... who knows.

check out: fixed gear bike gallery


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

check it

hey all,

i've just run across an awesome photo site: waxypoetic which i think everyone should go check out... this dude's shots are pretty cool.

in other news, i will be building my fixed-gear track/city bike soon. look for pics of the project in a while... it should be fun. i really want a beater bike that will get me around town, but won't get stolen (hopefully). fixes are something i've been thinking about getting into for a while now. i've just picked up a decent old steel lugged frame (centurion) with parts at a garage sale for a good price, and that will be the base of this project... it will start slow but hopefully get interesting soon.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

broken toe

i broke my toe. it is swollen and purple, and makes me limp when i walk. i was jumping up in the air to catch a frisbee, and when i landed running with bare feet, i folded my toe in half. maybe i didn't actually fracture it, but i definitely did something bad to it. at least i can still ride my bike just fine.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

broke as m.c. hammer

... and that's pretty broke. i just checked my bank balance today and i am poor. so poor, i can't even afford the two last letters in the word "poor"... i'm just po'

i have about a week's supply of staples (pasta and rice) and maybe a little bit of cheese and some celery. between the half a pint of cream and bottle of salad dressing in the fridge, i might even have enough to meet my fat/caloric intake needs. i don't even get paid on the usual day this month, i have to wait until three days later.

this is all due to two things. rebuilding my mountain bike at the beginning of the month (~1000) and paying off my credit line on my card (~1000). now my credit line is back up, and i'm still screwed. that nice tax refund didn't help out quite as much as i would have liked.

to add to the sting, i just spent 17 dollars today on a race-entry fee and license for the boulder racing short-track mtb series, which is held right accross the street from my house. that at least was a lot of fun, even though i got my arse handed to me by kids half my age. people here in boulder are f-a-s-t. it doesn't help that i haven't raced in two years, and i haven't trained to race in about ten. oh well.. it was lots of fun anyway.

i even shot a roll of film, and hopefully got some really cool shots, but i don't have any money to even develop the film, so y'all will have to wait on those pics too. talk about living at your limit... try to do the responsible thing (paying off credit) and you get totally hosed. i miss my old job where i actually had a salary



control panel

we have this picture posted in our office... i always get a little chuckle out of it so i thought i'd post it up here too...

...this had to have been made by some disgruntled (male) engineer who's capable of explaining complicated electrical phenomena on a subatomic level, but is completely clueless when it comes to members of the opposite sex.



hi all,

sorry i haven't been keeping up with the posts recently, there's been plenty going on, but i just haven't been spending any 'quality' time in front of the computer recently. i've been busy trying to paw through lots of science journal papers and also busy watching the world cup games... i just need to take some time at some point to write a few updates.


Thursday, June 15, 2006


uh.... today was ridiculous. 100 degrees in denver, almost the same here.

did have a lot of fun though. after work, a ton of people from the department made it to the southern sun brewery for a going-away-bash for my office mate and co-taiwan-research partner brian, before he leaves for taipei for two months, this saturday. i've already been trying to get him hooked into the taipei-network of friends i've made over the last few months, and apparently he is in for several culinary treats... including, "spicy pot" and/or the goose-meat ("er-ro") joint I like so much in mid-town taipei.

hope things go well... and, regina, if you catch this post... brian is totally up for anything you can throw at him... not to mention I've asked him to drag ling-ho, shao-yi and po-no out on the town at some point... preferably out for a night of boozing, taipei style.



Sunday, June 11, 2006

summer slowness

hey all,

summer is in full swing, which seems to mean that the endless days blend together and no-one really knows what the date is.

that being said, summer in boulder is a lot of fun. outside the lab, my palinspatic restorations, and other office related activities, the environs of boulder provide for just about anything you want to do. today i went for a mountain bike ride (the second real ride since rebuilding my bike) which ended up being about 25 miles long. on my way up the boulder creek path i passed by runners and people tossing frisbees, and numerous kayakers enjoying the uncommonly high flow in boulder creek. once up into betasso preserve i encountered other groups of riders, blasting down the hairy trails in the canyon. it struck me that boulder is very much a playground... catering to the "adrenaline junkies" who love all the same sports i do. i think i had an ear-to-ear grin on my face the entire time i was riding, and it seemed obvious that everyone else i saw out playing was enjoying the day as much as me.

a kayaker surfs a hole in boulder creek


Monday, June 05, 2006

cubicle wars


so this post isn't literally about cubicle wars, at least not yet, but it does have to do with the unfolding drama of office usage in my department.

our building proctor unilaterally handed down a mandate declaring that all couches / comfortable chairs in graduate or non-tenure-track faculty and staff offices need to be removed by august... all in the name of the efficient usage of space. this decree has sparked a flurry (or blizzard) of office emails pointing out the myriad reasons this is a horrible idea, not to mention a band-aid fix to a much more deeply seated problem which would no doubt remain after all comfy seating arrangement were removed. i (and all of my office mates... yes all ten of them) get the feeling we are going to be asked to share our already crowded office with several more people in the coming year, and couch or no couch, sticking more people in our office is just a bad idea.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

new anime!

hey all,

i know a few of you love anime, and some of you know that i also have a deep appreciation for particularly stylish and well executed shows. now, from the makers of cowboy bebop comes a really cool new series called, "samurai champloo". with a similar yet more polished visual style to 'bebop' but set in 1800's japan (to a hip-hop soundtrack) the show promises some interesting and somewhat mysterious storylines.

check out the official site for more if you're interested....


Saturday, June 03, 2006


i think this is the first time i have ever experienced a muggy and annoyingly hot day in boulder.

my meeting with the research group went quite well yesterday. it took two hours, and it was a little rushed... it could have taken three. all in all though, i showed them some pretty significant data and had a much more cohesive presentation than i originally thought. we've more or less discovered something new about which faults are active in controlling the uplift and deformation we see in puli, which gives us a much tighter window in which to focus our attentions in the future. the pièce de résistance was karl's accolade at the close of the meeting, "nice job".

as a self-reward, i went out for happy hour at two places downtown, and ended up having one or two martinis too many... while returning home with two bikes in hand (i was walking both my own and a friends bike) i managed to trip myself up and ended in a heap somehow underneath both bicycles. classic.

i think i'm going for a swim now....


Monday, May 29, 2006

laborless day

so far, labor day has certainly been without labor... at least on my end. the weather this weekend has been wonderful however, and i have been trying to take advantage of that fact. sunny and mild during the day, and curiously cool and quite windy at night.


so, i started this post on monday, but it's taken me all of 4 days to actually finish it. that should be a pretty good indication of more or less how productive i've been this week. i've been meaning to respond to emails (david, that's an awesome brook trout you hooked!), read my mail (i'm accumulating another towering pile), and not least of all get work done for my meeting with my research group tomorrow afternoon (it's going to be a long night i think). oh well. the weather has been so beautiful recently and my motivation levels have been at an all time low... sort of like academic a.d.h.d.. it took me something like 5 hours today to plot 30 fracture planes on stereonets and do some basic kamb-contouring of the data... which should have taken me a quarter of that time. instead i was constantly side-tracked by internet diversions and trips to the fridge (only to find that something tasty had not materialized since the last time i checked it).

as soon as i get through this meeting tomorrow, i should be at somewhat of a 'cruise control' point. i can get cranking on my summer project without worrying about trying to tie up loose-ends from my research over the last few months.

....and of course this posting is yet another way for me to avoid work, but at least now this will be out of my head.


Tuesday, May 23, 2006


my relatively brand-new urban/dirt jumping bike. stolen sometime this morning from the foyer below my front porch. i hope whatever lame jerk took my bike breaks his damn neck on it. still, it's just a bike and i do have three other bikes to ride.

it still stings though....


Sunday, May 21, 2006

rockies v. jays

hey all...

lazy sunday today, with thoughts of narnia and cupcakes...

spent last night at 'coors field' (denver's baseball stadium) watching my first major-league game in almost 20 years. watching the game is a lot more fun now that i know the basic rules of the game, but baseball is still just not that interesting to behold. it also didn't help that canada got their arse handed to them, the game wasn't exactly suspenseful with the jays scoring only one run.

anyway, the real showcase at the game was the sunset. coors field is situated such that the view over the bleachers at left field provides game-goers with a panoramic vista of the colorado front range and the snow-capped rockies... the sun set over the mountains and the scattered thunderhead clouds over the plains lit up in different shades depending on their altitudes and for a while it seemed like no one was watching the game any more.

the big thing to come out of all this is that now i know exactly what time to head out with my camera this evening, to see if the show will repeat itself....


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

gloriously dry


i think i'm finally 100% back to colorado time. i'm not coughing anymore, and even my heart isn't thudding from the altitude nearly as much as a week ago. three more weeks and my red-blood-cell count should be as high as ever, so i'm making sure to eat plenty of iron and protein rich foods... reminds me i should go get a steak to cook tonight.

did some good work today, maps, papers, etc... i've also finally waded through my huge stack of four month old mail that had been occupying an entire corner of the living room floor since january. the past few days (and the last week or so in general) has provided more sunny, dry, wonderful days than my entire stay in taiwan... i've been just riding my bike everywhere through town and marveling at the beauty of this place again.

so yeah.. i miss all my friends in taipei and even the bustle of the city, but the view of the snow-capped rockies every morning makes my return to boulder "bearable".

i tried to take a few pics in the last few days, but i have yet to get any off the camera. some pics of prarie-dogs, folks at our party the other night (which by the way was fun, but due to many reasons was a very low-key event... attendance was only in the 20-ish range), and maybe some random shots of boulder around town. we'll see.....


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

film is great

hey all...

it's been a few days since my last post and i am finally starting to feel more like a normal human after readjusting to colorado time a little bit.

i just went to the camera store yesterday to develop several rolls of film that i had sitting in my camera case. it's been a while since i've shot with film and i forgot how much i like the results. below are a few of those pics.. which go back all the way to last november when i was in utah... espresso at the danshui cafe, regina throwing pottery, a bridge near tian mu, emi on the beach, wood in the canyonlands.


Sunday, May 07, 2006


yes... i've arrived... i've slept for the last couple of days... i plan to sleep at least another day.

i got back to colorado friday afternoon, and within minutes went to the southern sun brewery. happy hour was in effect, and about 14 people showed up from my department. saturday was spent mostly riding my bike around for a while, then taking a nap between bouts of cruising the town. it's sunny and blue here... the air is dry and big fluffy white clouds appear over the mountains at the edge of town and float out over the plains. trees are leafing and grass is growing with fat dark green blades, and as always the golden colorado sun takes the edge off the cool alpine breeze descending from the shadowed valleys of the front range.

even though this is technically 'home', it still feels a little alien to me. as if when i boarded the plane to come here, i wasn't so much returning to colorado as i was leaving for colorado. it's tough to explain, but in any case it's good to be back here.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

fiatvera / pittsburg

check out albert song's photography... his style seems very spontaneous but observant. something like what i try to do with my photos when i carry my camera around the city here, though i think he meets with somewhat more success in the execution than i do....


Monday, May 01, 2006

home stretch

ha. i'm in the home stretch... four more days in taiwan then i get on a jet and about 20 hours later i'll be back in boulder. as i've said before, i'm filled with split feelings about leaving here but overall i am happy to be heading back west (or east... i guess east of east is still west, but it's all a big sphere so it doesn't really matter one way or the other). i feel like i'm getting over being sick, too. i'm not coughing nearly half as much as i was before, which is good since my coughing ultimately caused me to pull a muscle in my rib-cage so it hurts like hell to cough anyway.

on another note: my extensive knowledge of procrastination has served me well so far today, and i'd like to share a new discovery with you, so that all of you might also put off doing useful work in favor of some lighter fare. please check out the plants in motion page from the bio department at indiana university... i especially like the section on nastic movements. i bring this up because one of the plants featured there (the mimosa or 'sensitive plant') grows all over the place here. i used to have small potted mimosas when i was a kid, and even 20 years later i can't help playing with these things... every time i run into one in the field, i have to touch a couple leaves and watch them close up.


Thursday, April 27, 2006


slickensides are parallel striations on rock surfaces produced by relative motion across opposite sides of fault planes. they can give important information about the sense of shear and direction of motion across the fault plane. these slickenlines indicate a top-to-the-west, thrust sense of shear along the interface of a coal bed with a sandstone bed. the coal (with its low internal strength and high graphite content) acts as a weak layer that allows the overlying shale to 'glide' across the sandstone.



not much of that left here... trying to get my remaining tasks prioritized and it's proving to be a little more diffucult than i thought it might be. in part, i want to have some more polished results ready to present upon my arrival in colorado, but on the other hand i would like to spend my last several days here having fun and trying to squeeze in some last-minute exploring. ultimately i'm sure i'll manage to do a little bit of both, but not as much of either as i would like. eh, that's the way it goes.

it seems i've been slacking on posting photos recently too... so here's a quick pic of the farms around puli just before twilight.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

data transcription

phew. back from puli... it was sunny and hot there (as the farmer-tan i acquired can prove) and it's pouring rain again here in taipei. i'm sitting at my desk here about to start transcribing all of my field notes, which of course didn't happen during the last few nights as i'd fooled myself into thinking it would. talk is tomorrow, but everyone keeps reminding me that it's no big deal and to keep it simple.

my cough is still lingering on, but i took some time to further research the side-effects of the drugs i brought with me (tamiflu and cipro) ...it sounds like the potential side effects are much worse than an annoying cough. i've been reading all these first hand accounts of permanent disability and tendon injury and all sorts of really nasty things. i think i'll put up with the cough for a little longer... even after just two days out of taipei i could feel my lungs clearing up a little.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

puli bound


leaving today at 5pm for some last-minute field work and data-mining in puli. i'll be bringing my laptop to plot up new data every evening, and also to slide this new info into my presentation for tuesday (if i'm back by then).

the thought of leaving here is a little surreal now, after four months of really getting settled in. i know my way around really well, i'm comfortable... i have some really good friends here. if highschool represents the kind of ultra-awkward and socially combative image of my past (as it does for many people in the states) then i would have to say that grad-school represents a time when i can be at ease with my surroundings and feel socially uninhibited. this sense of ease makes traveling a hell of a lot easier than it was when i was 17, and my experiences are that much richer.

i'm not really sure what the point of this post is.... maybe just a reminder that if you're ever off in the middle of the jungle doing field work and worrying about how you're going to solve some sticky problem or how you're ever going to manage to give a talk the day you get back, remember to stop for a minute and take a look around; enjoy the view, smell the sunshine and sit back with a bowl of pork wonton soup and a bottle of pi-jio. you are a lucky bastard.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

down to the wire

i've got exactly two weeks remaining until i am uprooted once more and returned to my land of milk and honey (or micro-brews and mountainous peaks). at the moment i am filled with conflicting feelings for my impending departure, from joyous anticipation to mild dread.

i've spent the last four months trying to wrap my noggin around the puli basin... to get into the nitty-gritty of what will eventually become the focus of my doctoral dissertation, and i'm slightly more confused at this point than i was coming in. i've spent hours futzing with digital elevation models and ascii (american standard code for information interchange... i had to look it up) data, then days plotting profiles and vector maps. i've stared at cross sections from different sources and so far they've all constructed sections through my study area with squiggly lines, the structural geologist's equivalent of saying, "forget it, i'm not even going to try". if anything, i'm frustrated that i haven't been able to really shed a lot of light on the processes at work here... and this is where my feelings of mild dread come in.

on the one hand, returning to colorado will mean being reunited with friends and being able to understand everyone i talk to. i can ride my bikes, and enjoy all that boulder has to offer, namely clean air and that wonderful small-town aesthetic. on the other hand it means returning to my office (and my advisor) with a big question-mark on my forehead. now, i know it would be foolish for me to return with the idea that i'd figured it all out, and that it's unrealistic to think that i could have in relatively short time. it's still nagging at me though. the good side to going back to the office is that i'll have an easier time checking in and getting feedback... not to mention a little more motivation to get cracking on this stuff. this summer will be spent restoring (sort of deconstructing piece by piece) balanced structural cross-sections of the western foothills... then meshing these with my own updated cross-sections of the hsuehshan range. i think my goal for the year could be a poster at the annual a.g.u. conference with a complete balanced cross-section and axial surface map.

for now however, a 30 minute talk next tuesday and an hour long presentation in three weeks will be the focus of my energy. i think the next few days are going to be very long ones indeed.