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, January 31, 2006

image mapping

quick one here...

finally got the freaking image map on my website beta to work... now as soon as i get some of the content straightened, i should be ready to launch. been 'reseaching' nightlife spots 'round taipei, looking online for good lounges to try. so far i've found more than a few i'd like to check out, so maybe i'll start getting a few reviews of these in the coming weeks. also been taking a little time to shoot some pics... hoping to put together a few series / triptych type works for the site, as well as maybe for the blog. I'm still happy with the simplicity of this layout, but i may try to spice it up just a little bit at some point. yesterday was nice and sunny... went to danshui again and had a decent cappuccino.... still too much foam though. i'm beginning to think that i'll never find a place as good as gimme... damn, what a funny potential reason for wanting to someday be a professor at cornell university. ha, not really, well maybe... who knows. plenty of time to ponder that.


Sunday, January 29, 2006

happy year of the dog!


it is the chinese lunar new year, and the year of the dog is upon us. i spent the day today visiting the sites, and paying homage to buddha at a couple of taipei's more well-known temples. actually, at the temples, you can pray to different, um, deities i guess (i don't actually know what they're considered, whether they are like saints, spirits or gods) for specific things. i visited the one for scholarly pursuits and asked to get my phd within 5 years. regina, one of my roomates here in tian mu, was my guide. i learned a fair amount of new things, and had a good time seeing the sites. one thing that constantly surprises me here is getting pushed around by other people in just about any situation... beit on the streets, in the subway, or... yes.... even praying in a temple. today is basically the one day when anyone who cares is out at the temples, hoping for good health and more wealth. getting into the temple takes about 20 minutes of just being jostled around amongst a throng of temple-goers. i was literally shoved out of the way by about 5 different little old ladies because apparently i was in their way, and they had some important praying to do right away. i have to be honest... i have never, ever, been pushed or even brushed up against in a catholic or christian church. not to be judgmental in any way, but it's just an interesting experience to take part in what i would basically describe as full-contact religion. another interesting thing i've found out today is that i was not actually born during the lunar year of the monkey. in just about any american-chinese restaurant worth its soy-sauce, the paper place-mats will tell you what lunar sign correspondes to your year of birth. 1980, as far as the place-mats are concerned, is the year of the monkey. what the place-mats don't tell you is that the actual lunar year is offset by as much as a few months from the gregorian or western calendar so even if you are born in 1980, but your birthday falls before february 15th, you were actually born in the year of the ram! argh! ... all those years i though i was intelligent and motivated, it turns out im actually emotional and unable to work under pressure... humph. oh well, at least i can take comfort in knowing that a couple of my friends are in the same boat.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

global satellite

hey all,

in my quest to find a reliable weather report, or at least a forecast that didn't include steady rain for the next ten days, i ran across the taiwanese central weather bureau's website (here). this is a cool site... it's very basic, no flashy graphics or anything, but they do have visible light satellite imagery of the entire eastern hemisphere, which is very cool. you can actually watch the coriolis effect in action, creating very clear circulation patterns at different latitudes.

so, rain... yah. it rains here a lot. a bunch. basically all the time. mostly in taipei. actually, if you look at the weather maps on the above site, it tends to be really sunny over most of the western part of the island, but somehow the monsoon weather following the jetstream from mainland china just nicks the top of taiwan, shrouding taipei county in clouds and providing us with an almost omnipresent mist. not totally unlike seattle... and with the number of starbucks locations here, it's really pretty easy to imagine you've just gotten lost in seattle's china-town. well, no... not really. i did find a little place down the street from ntu that looks like it might be the best place for a good espresso. i haven't tried it yet, but maybe today, if they're open when i walk by it on my way to the subway. i found it the other night while walking, when i caught a whif of one of my favorite smells... roasting coffee. ithaca (my home town) has a well-known and excellent coffee house called, "gimme!". gimme! is a small company which roasts all it's own coffee in-house, and manages to employ all the best baristas in town. on a clear day in ithaca, i could ride my bike down the street and catch a whif of roasting coffee on the breeze... and know it was time to go get a cup. on these days, you could watch the beans come straight from the roaster, go into the grinder, and be expertly packed for a great ristretto. oh, gimme!, how my heart pines for thee! well, back to the local place... there is a small stand in a back alley, with a quaint but adequate looking roaster, and a nice and well-used italian espresso machine... hopefully the proprietor knows what he's doing...


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

russian minimal beats


finally moved out of the visiting and adjunct professor's room and into one of the grad-student offices here at ntu. nice to be in a more normal room, and specifically one that i haven't slept in before... ah well. now of course comes the hard part... actually sitting down and doing work. not that it's all that hard, it's just easy not to do. for instance, in this particular moment i find myself listening to an internet radio station (deepmix.ru, quite possibly the best source for eurasian deep-house and minimal beats on the entire web) and blogging away to my hearts content. mapping axial surfaces right now seems so... so.... i dunno, actually it sounds kind of interesting... i think as soon as im done with this post i'll get into it a bit.

on a different note (and in an attempt to return to my original stream of thought before thinking about work) i wanted to bring up an issue pertaining to foreigners that i've been mulling over in my head for a little while. there seems to be a sort of unspoken rule among foreigners here, that you generally avoid one another in public places and pretend like the others aren't there. in part, i think this may be due to the fact that taiwan (like many places in asia as i'm told) is such a mono-culture that any foreigner sticks out like a sore thumb. it seems like most foreign people who are actually living here would like to kind of blend as much as possible, to sort of slip under the radar. i feel like this a little... mostly because i sense it is nearly impossible to do so, and attracting stares (or more often sideways glances that are stolen when possible, since direct eye-contact with strangers here is something to be avoided) is a new experience for me. so, when i see another white person (and i've been avoiding the term 'white' so far, but that's what i really mean) in a crowd there's a sort of, "i don't see you and you don't see me, and we'll just keep right on walking like it's no big thing" reaction. in my case this is mostly because what's really running through my head is more like, "holy crap, it's a white person! who are you and what are you doing here?! ...are you just visiting or do you actually live here?". it's just an automatic reaction to seeing someone who obviously seems out of place, sort of like the old sesame street game of,"which one of these things doesn't belong here". i haven't fully figured it out yet, and probably won't until i actually stop someone on the street and ask if they've experienced a similar thing. now, this is not a universal thing. i've run across small groups of people who are quite obviously tourists... and gotten a few smiles from them.

i guess they can't be expected to know about the rules yet...


Sunday, January 22, 2006


hey all,

today was a lazy sunday, though not really as cool as a lazy sunday in the eyes of Parnell and Samborn. if you don't know what i'm talking about, check out this link.

i got up late and wandered out of my apartment around 1:30 or so... in search of the "local" ikea store. it was a futile effort. despite having directions from the internet and descriptions of where to go from my roomates (both local taiwanese), i couldn't find the store to save my life. in the course of this quest, i hailed a bus to my aid. actually i waited for like 25 minutes for the 685 to come while i waited in the rain. when it finally did come, (and i'm pretty sure this would only happen here in taipei) the bus driver didn't even stop... he merely slowed down and opened the door. now... i'm not sure if it was just this particular driver, if he was in a particular mood, or if he just looked at some young able-bodied lad and said to himself, "yeah, i think he can make the jump onto a moving bus" or what, but indeed, that's exactly what i did.

that, by far, was the most interesting thing that happened to me today. after i got onto the bus, i went to the east dexing road stop, got off, located the mcdonalds landmark, and totally failed to find the ikea which was supposed to be somewhere right around there. anyway, i decided to cut my losses and wander around a bit more, to further familiarize myself with my surroundings. i walked down zhong-cheng ave for many blocks, eventually intersecting with zhong-shan, which i followed over the river and down to shilin mrt station. long story short i walked a long way, never found the ikea, and ended up just taking the bus home.

yesterday was also spent walking around.... actually walking about 4 miles in the rain, to the coast at danshui. i made it out to the fisherman's pier by nightfall, where it was sheeting rain and blowing enough to make me cringe as the water dripped from my hair and down the back of my neck. i continued out onto the pier, where couples and groups of teens braved the blowing rain for some unknown reason. giving into the fact that i was already soaking wet, i decided to revel in the sensation of coldness... something i naturally associate with this time of year, yet haven't felt here since my arrival. for some reason, many public promenades here, including the fisherman's wharf, are paved with tile... glazed, ceramic, slippery-as-shit tile. normally i would view this as insane. however, on this dark and stormy night, i took the childish initiative to turn this otherwise potentially harmful surface covering to my advantage, and using my playful mood, i recalled a favorite pastime of mine that was introduced to me by my dad. for lack of a better name, i'll call it 'sidewalk-skiing'. now, sidewalk-skiing is typically done when a classic new england snow-fall of about 1/2" has just occured. the idea is to run down a sidewalk and then suddenly assume the pose of a surfer, sliding as far as possible down the sidewalk, leaving two parallel skid-marks behind you. ...anyway, i've discovered that the tile sidewalks here are an ideal spot for this sort of childish activity. i had a blast out on the pier, got a few awkward glances from folks out there, and then called it a night and came home. the real reason i bring this up is that while i was walking through danshui on my way out to the pier, i snapped the following pic of a young couple walking through a cobble back-alley.


Friday, January 20, 2006




hey, they work!

15 visitors to the blog yesterday. at least one person from ensr was checking it out (yes i can see your ip addresses and resolve the server you're accessing the web from), my mom of course (tampabay server), and even someone in malaysia, among others. sweet! i'll give another report in about a month or so. in other news, the chinese new year is about to get under way, and although taipei seems its normal bustling self tonight, i'm assured by my colleagues here that next week it will resemble a ghost town, tumble weeds and all. (well, ok, maybe no tumble weeds, but you get the idea...)

i'm also working on a new website. it's been a while since my last site went down, and i've been thinking about relaunching it for a while, but i think it will be a little different this time around. i've been running across some really cool pages on the net recently, most are very minimal, yet striking in their simplicity of design. ...it seems most have also been the property of young, female graphic designers in various cities across the world. 'halfstar' and 'ruido' by eva in madrid, and 'wallflower' by camilla in norway stand out among some of the better ones. 'the cardboard box' by kirsten in canada is also decent, especially for a 16 year old. so anyway, hopefully 'activethrust.com' will be launched sometime in the near future, and will act as a pared-down showcase for some of my better photography that doesn't really fit into any posts here (though content will be extremely limited for several months, since most of my existing work is on my server at home, which i took offline before i left for taiwan), as well as a place for my resume and a blog-portal (to here). if any of you have any good ideas for something to add to my site, please let me know... i'm listening.


Thursday, January 19, 2006


friggin' annoying, worthless creatures. they hum in your ear at night, suck your blood, leave you covered in itchy welts, spread pestulence, and generally do absolutely nothing for humankind, animalkind, or the rest of the natural world. in short, they suck.

... and that's all i have to say about that.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

big brother is watching

not to be ominous or anything... no actually i've just been messing with some options here on the blogger.com domain, and i've added the ability for readers (all readers) to leave comments about my posts. comments are public and can be read by anyone who wants to see them... just click the comments link at the bottom of a post to leave or view comments. also, out of curiousity, i added an invisible web-stats counter to the page so i can track the sort of site-traffic this blog is generating. i'm getting more and more emails from people just saying "btw, i've been reading your blog" or "btw, that was a funny story you posted". I'm beginning to wonder just how many people actually see this thing. not that it'd (which after looking "it'd" up, appears to be a real contraction in the english language, meaning either "it would" or "it had"... but "that'd" is not a recognized contraction.) change anything about the way i post.

'nother pic ('nother, by the way is also an officially recognized abbreviation of "another") too.

...my place in tian-mu...



jeez... it took me about three days of futzing with this silly unix version of envi to figure out how to get a simple topographic profile. envi ("environment for visual imaging") is the software i use to look at the digital elevation models that are a central part of my research. by choosing topographic profiles in specific areas and orientations, i can analyse the resulting curves by first and second derivative (slope and curvature) to extract information about the geometry and kinematics of the controlling structures. in a nut shell, that is the numerical type aspect of my phd. a very simple and powerful tool to tie down kinematic models of structural evolution in active orogens, and something that hasn't ever really been applied to this type of work before. well, now begins the totally mind-numbing process of picking, extracting, re-calculating, plotting, repicking and mapping these things. ugh. and who knows... the resulting axial surface map may look like crap. that would suck.

in other news, i think i might take some time tomorrow to go check out danshui. danshui is the section of taipei (really more of a suburb) that is out on the taiwan straight. there's an area like fisherman's wharf in san fran, and some cool little cafes and stuff, or so i hear. looking forward to it, but first i should probably get a little bit of work done. i'll post a couple random pics here, from walking around the other night.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006



so... i did end up going to that audition, which wasn't so much an audition, but more like a screen-test. basically they took my picture a few times, had me walk from one side to the other and do some funny thing, acting like one of the light-screens was a door that was locked... they mentioned "space-man", and "star-ship"... so i'm guessing this was an airlock that i wanted to get into but couldn't. someone else told me that this was supposed to be an add for the national telephone company, so i have no idea what they were really looking for. tv adds here are bizarre and totally over the top anyway, and half the time you have no idea what they're selling. i totally felt like bill murray in lost in translation... five minutes of chinese dialog followed by, "walk to here".... except i'm not spending my free time here hanging out with scarlet johannson.

here's a pic i snapped of the guy they had in the studio right before me. i think i'd rather be behind the camera anyway...


Sunday, January 15, 2006

odd yet hilarious


just a quick afternoon post here... procrastinating yet again when i should be compiling notes and doing some dem-analysis... something that's never happened to me just occured while i was walking back from lunch.

i was crossing under the main street in front of the campus (via the handy tunnels that are necessary given the insane/suicidal tendencies of drivers in taipei), when a casting agent for a local production company approached me and asked if i'd be interested in auditioning for a tv commercial! she said (really a direct quote), "we need a foreigner to play the space-man."

- no shit -

anyway, talk about random. she gave me her card and told me where the audition was... and also said that if i got the gig the pay would be about $750 US for 12 hours of work. so it's completely out of the blue, but just zany enough to potentially motivate me to check it out... i haven't made up my mind yet. check back sometime late tomorrow to see what i decide.



phew! back in taipei again after a good week in the field. it seems like a lot has happened since i put the picture of lane86 up... some really good, and some sad.

i learned upon my return that two people i grew up around had passed away. Fathers of friends and friends of my father both, i have vivid memories of cross country skiing through hemlock woods and over open fields with them, sun shining down through sparkling spindrift as dogs run back and forth through the snow. Alan and Steve, you are missed by many.

on a lighter note, lots of good things happened too... first off i managed to find a really nice apartment to rent. this is a huge (unfathomably enormous) improvement over the foreign student dormitory here on the ntu campus. my new place is in tian-mu, which is sort of like the hoboken of taipei. it's pretty far from campus, about a half an hour via public transit, and probably more like 45 minutes by car, since you'd have to drive directly through the middle of the city, from south to north. i'm up on a hill, on the third floor of the building... with my own bathroom and my own balcony. ...not to mention wireless internet, laundry (with a dryer!) and, oh yeah, hot water (unlike the dorm).

i also got to visit my field site! puli basin is located in central western taiwan, tucked up in the foothills of the central range. the area is anomalously low, topographically, when compared to the surrounding areas, and no one seems to really know why. structurally, it is also somewhat complex, with several different modes of deformation occuring at different times throughout its history. the kinematics are very poorly understood, and have really just been guessed at thus far, which means i get to spend the next several years trying to wrap my head around it in order to come up with some passable hypothesis for why puli exists. i look forward to it. puli itself (the "city") is an interesting phenomenon... surrounded by rice paddies and areca-nut palms (which people here refer to as betel-nut palms, even though betel is a vine and has no nuts to speak of. i guess this is because the areca nut is wrapped in a betel leaf and chewed like tobacco, a particularly disgusting combination which turns your saliva bright red... evidenced by the omnipresent red splotches of spit on the ground everywhere in taiwan). the town is sort of the gateway to the central range, where one can find beautiful mountain resorts with stunning vistas and hot springs. puli has also exploded in the last 20 years or so, from a quiet, peaceful agricultural hamlet into the loudly cacophonous and dusty quasi-urban center it is today. mom-and-pop hardware stores and humble buddhist temples compete with kentucky fried chicken and the north face for attention. in fact, puli is the site of the largest new buddhist temple in all of taiwan, chung-tai temple, a 45 story creation of glass and stone with an impossibly large golden spire. i'm not sure if i'll go to hell for this (or maybe be reincarnated as a cockroach), but i guess, "bigger is buddhist" could be an appropriate slogan for the temple.

as for soaking in sake... that is in reference to last night. as an end-of-the-year gesture, prof yue-gau chen took all of his students, past present and foreign, to dinner at a japanese resaurant and hot spring north of taipei city. the hot springs were hot (so i'm told, since i still have this stupid patch of nasty road-rash on my hip... which is slowly but surely getting better thank-you-very-much), and the food was plentiful. sushi here is just way better than anything in the states for some reason. rich soups and sushi and roasted ribs and lobsters galore. fresh fruit and hot tea flowed almost as freely as the hot sake. small decanters of hot sake were replenished as fast as they were drained, and there was always an extra cup around. toasts were made constantly through the meal to exclamations of "gam-bai!" (dry-cup), and we all got to witness yue-gau's wonderful singing voice (really!) during multiple karaoke performances. the night ended when we ran over our reserved time slot, and one of the students (these are all graduate students mind you...) passed out from indulging a little too much. that was a scene. cabs were called, and a limp body was literally carried out of the restaurant by two people... he was manuevered into a cab, taken back out (that cabbie refused to take him), and positioned in a different one. it must have been obvious that both brian and i were somewhat shocked, since more than one person explained to us that this was perfectly normal, and par for the course. well, that dinner marks the end of the semester, and the end of the chinese lunar year.

anyway, i think it's time for me to get back to work since this post has become incredibly long. i'll add a couple of pictures here at the end, of spiders and palms in puli, and street-butchers and subway cars here in taipei.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

asahi-savory savior

hey all,

even though no work was accomplished today, this second day in taipei, it's not at all a loss. brian and i met up with shao-yi (one of yue-gau's students) at noon to go for lunch. afterward we wandered the campus here a little bit. after that, brian and i took off on our own to explore a bit, working our way north from ntu up to the chiang-kai-sheck memorial and the 2-28 peace park. after hitting the park we wandered over to the taipei central station and caught the mrt red/green line metro back to ntu. i make it sound like this all took 20 minutes, but in truth this was about a 5 hour ordeal... and i am thoroughly pooped. tonight, after getting my blanket and pillow from "my dorm" (a place i am desperately attempting to extricate myself from) and returning to the office here, i spent a while online checking out the taipei-craigslist postings for sublets. i found one that looks particularly enticing, and emailed those folks right away. hopefully that pans out soon and i wont need to spend too many more nights here on the floor of the office... an alternative which believe it or not is infinitely more appealing to me that spending any more time at all in the dorm. last night in fact, i went to this dorm with illusions of deep-sleep in my head. i laid down in the bed (literally a 20"wide bamboo mat... quite a harsh difference from my premium name-brand queen-size-pillow-top mattress at home) to find that i touched the ends of the bed (two walls) with my head and feet simultaneously. a mere two hours later, my roomate showed up and proceeded to clickety-click-click check email, surf the web and play video-games on his computer until finally, around 4 am, i got up and left. i cited "jet-lag" as the reason i was wide awake, and stated i was going to the office to get some work done. instead, i went to the office and passed out on the couch... though a couple hours later i woke up freezing my ass off because i was just wearing my leather jacket, and there's no central heat in this building... which as a side note is about as well sealed against the elements as an open-sided straw hut.


with that off my chest, im confident that i'll be able to find a perfectly agreeable place to live for several months very soon, and that should utterly change my outlook on life here. in the meantime, im late to meet up with brian to find a bar to pass some time on this lovely (raining, cold, wet and windy) evening... hence the asahi reference.

till the next time...

Thursday, January 05, 2006

back in taipei


jet lag is a bitch, especially when the weather is gray and wet and everybody around you seems a little too busy to deal with you. apparently this is finals week for the national taiwan university, and so far today has been sitting around our interim office amidst a pile of luggage. brian and i went to starbucks earlier in an attempt to stay conscious, but without any real input from our peers here, today has been more or less a total loss. true, it's only 1pm while im writing this (10pm denver-time), but it doesn't look like the rest of the day will be much different than the morning. an even stream of caffeine seems to have no effect either.

so, my first post upon arrival here in taipei is a little bit of a downer, but i have plenty of confidence that with a little more sleep and perhaps some sunshine tomorrow, things will start to look up.


Sunday, January 01, 2006

safe and sound

albeit half an hour later (thanks to the fact that silvermine subs is open 'till 3am) i am home. safe and sound... well... relatively sound. 'night yall, and happy new year!!


new years....

this is perhaps the single most drunken post ever, under the blogger.com domain. i am currently sitting at "mercator" which is the best computer in the colorado geology structural lab, writing this post. it is exactly 2am, and i am happy to admit tonight has been a blast. since i am still three or four blocks away from home, i'll try to post once i arrive safe and sound. new years was great!! fireworks were fun, champaign was great, and i'm sure that once i get home my bed will feel awesome!!!

till then,