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.