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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer field camp - halfway point.

Field camp is halfway over. It has been a fun experience that I will be both happy and sad to see end. It's certainly been a strange lifestyle for me.

My typical day consists of the following:

Waking up at 6:50 and forcing myself to choke down nasty cafeteria food. From here I go meet with the other geologists where we meet and get a short briefing on the day and then we hop in some crazy motorpool vans which are then taken on roads which are probably only meant for cattle. We arrive at our destination sometime around 9 and at this point we hop out and do some joyous mapping stuff which consists of walking around endless field and forests in search for rock contact changes. We use a GPS to mark these places and then continue looking for anything of significance. Around noon we stop and eat. I have brought a peanut butter (without jelly) sandwich for lunch every day so far. I'm getting quite sick of them. After this we continue the prior mapping stuff until around 4ish when we all start getting excited to go home and we get back in the motorpool vans and head back to eat some delicious cafeteria food. (Yes, after 8 hours of being in the field it's quite amazing despite tasting horrible.) After this I spend time either chatting with friends, going to get drinks or writing up reports from the information I gathered. It's fun, I guess, but it's not at the same time.

I really like that these 29 people I spend every day mapping with have become, for the most part, my friends. I realize the likelihood of me ever seeing them again after 18 more days is almost zero and that is somewhat sad because I really enjoy some of them, but it's cool being around such a unique and diverse group of people. I've really enjoyed going to the bars with them and spending days off exploring downtown Ashland and playing sports. It really reminds me of the first two years I spent in Logan. Except it just feels so much more like the real world that I see in movies and what I feel life should be like. We go out to bars and sing karaoke and we cuss at each other and we're all just friends. There's no drama of who dated or made out with who or who is a sinner for not going to church. It's just a really laid back bunch of people to be around. I can't even begin to express how different the social aspect of life here is than it is in Utah. I really like it, but sometimes I also miss my innocent Utah bubble. Despite wanting to get away from it, it is what I've known for 18 years and it's a part of me.

I finished my first project a few days ago which was in Hilt, California. This was a very intense structural mapping project in the hot sun and hilly terrain. The east coast people called them mountains, haha. The paper ended up being around 20 pages after figures and appendices. I felt so professional having written this thing, haha.

The thing I think I hate most about this place is living in college dorms. College dorms are horrible excuses for a living situation. I'd almost rather be in a tent in the woods. There is no such thing as peace and you can't be alone. There's always someone making noise. While for the social aspect of life this is good and I always have something to do, sometimes I kind of just want quiet. I also hate using what is basically a public restroom. It's kind of gross. Also the whole experience is kind of like boot camp for geologists. This may sound like an exaggeration, but it isn't. We work long hours, get back and have to interpret. This happens six days a week and on top of that we get no sleep, we eat terrible food and basically live in bunkers. I suppose I do have my own room and this is nice, but it's not like I can't hear every damn thing everyone in the rooms next to me say.

Today was a fun experience at least. We're in a new field area that is northeast of Ashland in a forest. It rained pretty hard most of the day (by Utah standards anyway) and made the entire forest drip with water. The forest was so thick that there were decomposing logs that would make up the entire forest floor in some places. After tracing a contact between Tertiary and Quaternary lava flows we needed to head back to the rendezvous point. My two partners and I were about a kilometer out in some of the thickest vegetation I've ever seen, probably about as thick as the stuff I worked in on the Oquirrh's last summer, and had about 45 minutes to get back. It was some pretty intense bush whacking to get back to the river that we would have to ford. Then we had a brilliant idea that we could use the suspended cable trolley in the area that is used to measure streamflow velocity. Unfortunately it started pouring rain at this point and there were three of us for the two seater trolley which needed a fourth person to taxi it across the stream for us. We ended up cramming in the trolley and heading back across through the rain. It was really fun. The van ride back was rather miserable as it was about 45 minutes and I was soaking wet.

Tomorrow I get to go back to the same location and continue working on my volcanic flow/stream flow hydrogeology project which will actually be used by the Medford Water Commission in their analysis of the watershed system which is used to supply all of Rogue Valley, minus Ashland, with their water. Sort of looking forward to it, however the freezing cold water is definitely not a perk. Anyway, I need to be up in about 7 hours, goodnight.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Driving to Oregon

I thought it would be fun to blog about my drive to Oregon, since I never put photos in my blogs and they're always about either politics or how dating in Utah is as cool as wearing socks with sandles I thought I would try something new.

So I started in Layton and I packed my car up about as full as I could comfortably get it.



On the way there, I saw a whole bunch of Porsche's



I decided I would join them in my Hyundai.



It was mostly just because there was about 20 of them and they were hogging both left lanes, it was most obnoxious.

After a brief stop at Joe's for a BBQ which never happened due to technical assembly difficulties (believe me, having put a grill together last week I understand these difficulties all to well) I set off west on I-80. My first (and last) exciting thing to see was the Magna Smokestack, which is actually the tallest free standing structure west of the Mississippi River (really, it's true!)


Finally I arrived at the ocean.


No I'm kidding, that's actually just the Great Salt Lake.

It didn't really hit me just how long and boring of a drive this was going to be until I read this sign.


I saw some lake terraces and thought a trip to geology just wouldn't be complete without some Bonneville Terrace pictures.


Next I came across some Aragonite, however it was a freeway exit rather than the mineral.


After more driving I came to the Salt Flats. They're actually flooded in parts right now, something I'd never seen, but it was kind of cool to witness how they form. The salt from the GSL overflows into the flat basin and deposits when the water evaporates leaving behind layers of salt.


Towards the western edge I came across the "tree" of gambling. This is more representative of what the salt flats normally look like.


I chased the sunset and I almost won.


This is the only tunnel I think I've ever seen on an interstate, so I felt it necessary to document.


Along the way, as you can see in the prior photo, I hit the biggest swarm of bugs known to mankind. It was so thick that at first I thought it was raining and turned my windshield wipers on. This was not a smart idea. When I stopped in Winnemucca to get food I noticed my bumper and was absolutely amazed at the disgustingness of it.


Since Nevada is boring beyond words I actually didn't take any more photos until I got to Reno. Reno is less boring. It was about 3am and the town was alive still.


I ran from the sunrise and I almost won.


Then the fog came. The fog was thicker than any fog I had seen before in my life. Though being that in Utah fog almost never happens this probably isn't saying much.


It was pretty freaky to drive in. Give me snow any day over this crap.


I just felt this was really pretty.


I got to some junction of random state roads and needed gas, so I stopped at the only station I could find. It was incredibly expensive.


I was a little weirded out to see that they were out of two types of fuel. I'd never seen that before.

Unfortunately they were also out of regular unleaded.

However my car gets good gas mileage and I figured I had enough to get to the next town so it wasn't a huge deal. On the way there as if out of no where Mt. Shasta appeared on the horizon and was almost the most amazing thing I'd ever seen.


I stopped in the town of Mt. Shasta for fuel and a McDonalds bagel. It's a nice quaint town. The sleeping giant is amazing still. I'm fairly certain it's the biggest mountain I've ever seen in person at just over 14,100 feet. Oddly enough I didn't see Shasta Soda for sale in the gas station.


There was an interesting black volcanic looking things a little distance north of Shasta. I don't know what it is.


Yes, this is actually exactly what I think when I think of Northern California...

Except instead of "3" I think "every"

I was almost there, I could see airplane trails, likely coming from Medford. It was the first sign of actual civilization I had seen since Salt Lake City. (Reno doesn't count as I am pretty sure that they still observe an anarchy system of government)



There were some terraced rocks with a sign that said "rocks" and I thought it was kind of funny.


Oh yay! I can almost unpack and fall asleep.


I hung my flag and declared it nap time.


The end.



Anyway, so far it has been all right. Ashland is a very different town. The mountains are kind of little. They have water that tastes like ass (not that I taste that on a regular basis) running from fountains downtown and people that get high and walk on train tracks with drums. I got some yogurt and a beer (not together of course) and I have done plenty of geology. I've made a few friends and it's really nice being around all of the diversity from out of state. I'm the only Utahan and the only Mormon. I really like it and it makes me want to leave Utah even more.

Weird - since I've been here I identify myself to people as being Mormon when they ask. Someone even insulted Mormons and I flipped him off and he was like, "Oh you're Mormon? Sorry." I never identify myself as being Mormon. I often find myself hating on Mormons. Yet for some reason being around people who are not Mormon makes me feel like it's part of what makes me who I am. Which is just the opposite of being in Utah where I feel like being indifferent to the invasive religion is part of what makes me who I am. I guess it's all just relative. My ideology, compared to many Utahan's, is rather liberal and I hate being around Mormon functions. Around normal people I feel like my ideology is, well, pretty much LDS and kind of have this sick desire to go to church or something. This kind of makes me want leave Utah also.

I wonder what Mormons are like in Oregon. They are probably still mostly unable to see anything beyond what they're force fed in church, but still, I am curious. Maybe they'd be more accepting of me.

I doubt I'll really have time to find out.

Anyway, it's a little past 11 and I really should probably sleep since I've been feeling like a zombie intermittently throughout the day since I got here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Last Entry in Utah for a While.

This is my last post from Utah for a while. I'm leaving for Oregon sometime tomorrow late afternoon. I guess the plan is to leave at say 4-7ish (I'm not the most punctual person in the world) and head across the west desert and Nevada on I80. I don't plan on seeing much along the way as Northern Nevada is quite possibly the dullest place on the planet. I imagine I'll get into Ashland sometime around 9 am, depending on how many exciting stops I make along the way to see super cool stuff like ... well ... I guess Reno is the only place worth stopping for any extended period of time. Maybe if you're lucky I'll make a blog of all my stops along the way (so it'll be a picture of me in Reno.)

I hope it's fun. I'll be honest, I'm a little excited to go look at rocks, make maps and do stupid field camp stuff for 5 weeks. Now don't get me wrong, there are things I'd rather be doing, but it will be a cool adventure and a good way to escape hell Utah for a little while.

My interview went well. I'm pretty sure I made a good impression and kicked the interview's ass. I wasn't really asked any typical interview questions. Basically the people interviewing me just told me about the job and asked if I was still interested. I told them yes and why I was still interested and he said he had some people to talk to still, but he'd call me next week. On the way out the receptionist said she wasn't aware of any other interviews that were going on and that she hoped I got the job. The younger girl interviewing me made a couple of references at "when" I would work there rather than "if" I worked there. Now maybe I'm looking too deeply into things, but from what it sounds like I'd say there's a pretty good chance I'll be working in Salt Lake when I get back from Ashland. That makes me happy.

The job seems a lot like exactly what I want it to be. They made it sound dull because they did data analysis and wrote reports... Please, sign me up. I love data analysis! Scientific report writing.. eh.. I can do it well, but it isn't my favorite thing in the world. Besides, I think it would be really cool to be a miner. Now obviously I wouldn't be mining, but I'd be a mine geologist and that's basically what my heritage is. Well... miners anyway. My grandma and grandpa both had families that were into coal mining. I think it would be quite appropriate if my first professional job consisted of mining. Plus, I would be doing data stuff for mines and it would destroy any desire that I ever have to ever play Minecraft again.

I talked to Trisha three? nights ago. That was nice. She's still as odd as ever, but it was nice to talk to her. She admitted to keeping track of what I've been up to and made fun of me for dating Alyssa. I'm sure it had a bit to do with how I typically make fun of the guys she's dated since me (What? They're ugly) and probably something to do with the fact that Alyssa wasn't even close to my type. It kind of made me happy. Trisha knew me as well, if not better, than anyone I've met since high school. It was nice having someone who knew me so well tell me that... Even if she laughed at me for having been dumped by an 18 year old. I suppose I probably deserved it. *sigh*

I should probably not date for a while. I say this a lot, but really. What's the point? All I seem to date are curious Mormon "bad" girls. That's all that really seems to go for me. The good ones are too dull and the non-LDS girls of Utah don't like me because I don't party. It's a frustrating problem. This is why I was hoping to go to graduate school out of state so badly. However if I get this job at Norwest, it's sort of something I could turn into a career.

If I did get this job would I really want to stop a year later to leave and go get a Masters? Then again would I want to be 45 and look back at my mid 20's going, "Damn, why didn't I get that Masters?" On top of that, do I even want a Masters? I can't even begin to tell you how unattractive the idea of two years of geological research on top of 30 extra credits and a thesis is. I mean c'mon, undergraduate work, as much as I loved some aspects of it, was pretty terrible and painful. No pain, no gain though, right? My life looks better than it did 4 years ago, that's for sure. Maybe 3 years from now I can say the same thing.

Eh whatever, I'm looking too much into the future. This is why my hair is turning gray... that on top of fearing my ex was pregnant *eye-roll*... Seriously, tangent thought, but WHY do birth control pills have to have all the same side effects as the beginning stages of pregnancy? That is really stressful to naive people such as myself! Gray hair sucks. Oh well, better to be gray than bald I guess. Besides, I only have about 10 gray hairs at this point. That's acceptable for 25, right? I worry too much. I should take more of the "whatever happens happens" attitude like I do with my whole, "I'm leaving between 4 and 7" thing. That works for me on a day to day basis. Why not on the long term? I guess I really just don't understand myself.

Friday, June 3, 2011

2001 A Space Odyssey

I've noticed this strange trend of the handful of blog followers I have. Every time a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship of mine ends I lose one follower, the ex-girlfriend. I suppose my writing is dull enough that once you're done dating me, you'd rather just not read it. Well I will try my best to make sure this entry does not disappoint.

Oh about the relationship, yeah, it ended. I don't have the desire to get married in the fancy-pants Mormon ceremonial buildings. Go back about 6 months and you can find another entry about that, if you want. No need to go over it again. Am I heart broken? Well I was for about 18 hours, really I was. I certainly took it a little harder than the prior one (varying levels of intimacy can do that), but then I was just like, "Eh, it happened again. Same girl, different body. Whatever." A month from now she'll just be retired to that deep hole of mostly-good memories with my 14 other ex girlfriends.

Wow, I must be doing this dating thing wrong.. Oh well.. Makes breakups a piece of cake!

Fortunately being single, unemployed and out of classes frees up more time for me to be lonely! Oh joy! This has been filled mainly with video games the last couple days but today I decided to read. I had been hovering around finishing 2001 : A Space Odyssey for about well... since I met her. I read the remainder of it tonight and wow. Literary genius.

Sure it was written in 1968 and it has a few incorrect ideas about what life was like a decade ago, but if you can see past that it's an amazing story. I won't spoil the story to anyone who hasn't read it, but you should definitely read it if you have not. Also if you have not, I'll probably spoil a thing or two in this blog, so you may want to use discretion, but I'll be subtle.

The book really gets you thinking about all kinds of interesting topics. Towards the end it discusses the possibility of extra terrestrials and what they would be like. I found the debate that the main character has with himself to be quite entertaining. First he wonders, since they couldn't possibly live within our solar system, how they got their monolith to the Earth system. He thinks about the distance that the nearest star is and how it would take thousands of years for his ship, which is faster than anything we have today, to reach. Then discusses physical possibilities that despite how well special relativity (the theory that says we can't travel faster than light) has stood up for the past century that maybe one could circumvent this using what the author, Clark, describes as lines straighter than straight.

This concept I find fascinating as it is basically the idea of a wormhole. What if rather than having the shortest distance from point A to point B be a straight line, you can actually bend space-time and have point A and point B be one in the same? Very sci-fi sounding, but physicists in a 1988 paper postulated a wormhole as a possible solution to general relativity and many others who are far more intelligent than I will ever be and say things that I could never hope to interpret or understand have found other potential ways to, in theory, manipulate space-time.

What's interesting about this is that, from my understanding anyway, if you can manipulate space and time, since space and time are relative, you can also manipulate time. This means that if a wormhole were to be possible which, from our understanding it is not, you could jump through time as well as space, trippy. Marty McFly and I could be buddies.

Anyway, from here the character began thinking about how maybe the creators of this monolith are not human-like at all. Maybe they did travel here on a spaceship and thousands of years was nothing but a slightly boring inconvenience to them. Then he began thinking about other possibilities. What do they look like? Are they simply bipeds like we are or not? Personally, if ET's were to exist, I don't think I would expect them to be bipedal. The reason we walk on two feet is because of billions of years of evolution causing this form to be the one that fit best for our species. Why then would all sentient life have to be the same? One thing I've always disliked about most sci-fi is that it never addresses this issue. I suppose Star Trek did once in its story of how one civilization influenced evolution on many planets creating many bipedal sentient races. Kind of reminiscent of playing God I guess.

Then he wondered if the beings responsible for the monolith were even biological. Why couldn't they have developed machines to contain their consciousness in? Why not a step further. Why could they not simply be just pure energy or, in effect, just a spirit? I found the whole chapter where the author writs him contemplating this stuff to be the high point of a fantastic story.

It really got me thinking about these same things. It's so fascinating. This is just me imagining at 4am, I don't really feel I have any way to validate or devalidate (is that a word?) these thoughts, but what if it's not that far off? What if our creators were simply sentient energy which saw a planet with high potential for evolutionary magic and simply influenced it in such a way that we are what we are? Is that really that far off from a Christian held belief? I mean sure, the stories we're told in church don't really support it, but doesn't it seem more likely? Maybe when we die they preserve our consciousness or translate it to something else in store for a later date when it can be reunited with our body, or not. Isn't that basically what the Christian view of the afterlife is anyway?

Of course the author of the book is Christian, so it would make sense that his "Gods" would somewhat parallel the Christian God figure. Amazing story.

In other news I have an interview with Norwest Corporation on Wednesday. This excites me. I just hope, assuming the interview goes well, that my prior commitments to field camp in Oregon later that week don't interfere with a potential job.