Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Flirting With The Devil

I'm in Connecticut.  It's my state.  In third grade I did a report on Connecticut and I memorized all the state facts.  Before this report, I had not heard of Connecticut before.  I kind of think it's an ugly name, and there's not an amazing landmark here I've always wanted to see, but it's my state that I had to research and I'm very happy to FINALLY be visiting it.  Yes, this week I've been to Rhode Island and Connecticut, two states I've never been to before.  It reminds me of the book, A Wrinkle In Time, and of all things New England.  I unfortunately can't eat any of the clam chowder because it is thickened with flour.

Today on my phone I read two different articles at Yahoo News about people in Connecticut and very large lobsters.  One woman won a 29 lb lobster in an auction and she donated it to an aquarium.  Then another dude purchased a 19 lb lobster named Lucky Larry and set him free in the ocean.  What's with all of the lobster sympathy all of a sudden?

When I lived in Mt Pleasant, MI, I would pick out the lobsters in Meijer that I wanted to buy and tell Josh that I wanted to set them free in the Chippewa River.  That'd never work!  The river isn't salty.

Do you know what one of the best parts of travelling is?  It's sitting at the hotel bar and talking to whatever stranger is also sitting there.  I don't do it every time, but when I do, I always have a great time.  It's sort of like a mini-adventure.  Who's going to be there? What's their job? What will they teach you?  Today I met a pretty boring guy who is a software consultant and knows about building parts for airplanes.  He was very nice, but none too interesting. 

I toured a Monsanto Seed Transformation Laboratory today.  It was pretty darn amazing.  I think since I was with the government, they tried very very very very very very ( I can't stress how hard they tried) hard to seem legit and responsible and good.  Not that I dont' think they aren't.  Their work wouldn't turn out right and they wouldn't be as powerful as they are without their strong sense of responsibility, but I still don't trust them.  They are responsible in their science...very excellent lab procedures.  But science doesn't work with ethics.  You can not apply the scientific method to ethics.  And ethically, is genetically modified seed good?  I don't know.  In some ways yes.  They mentioned in their pre-tour talk all the things I've been reading about, lack of water, less space, and growing population.  Farmers are going to have to produce twice as much food in less land than they are now by 2030 to sustain Earth's human population.  Without Monsanto and their technology biology, farmers wouldn't be able to do that.  But they don't factor taste or nutrients into their seed modifications. 

Honestly, do you know what it was like at the Monsanto Lab?  The best way to describe it is like Jurassic Park.  Everything from replacing parts of the DNA to sitting down and watching hi-tech videos.  There was even a really tall skinny guy who is just as attractive as Jeff Goldblum, and an old man who was in charge of everything and ever so slightly annoying because you didn't trust him farther than you could throw him with your pinky finger.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Desert Rocks

It's hot out, or so I hear on Facebook.  Being in the south has its advantages like required AC in all buildings.  You could say that if I didn't wear a bra today, I'd have been nipping out all day because it's so cold in here.  You know, if I didn't wear a bra.  Which I did.

Eating breakfast.

 I was recently asked by Justin to post more pictures of myself pointing at rocks.  I'm not pointing in these pictures, but I'm out among the rocks.  These are from my second trip out to the Highland Range to collect rock samples for my research.  It's public land, so you can go any where on it and not be trespassing.  It takes twenty minutes on a dirt path to get from the road to here.  I am in southern Nevada, near a small town of Searchlight, home to Harry Reed, Senate Majority Leader.  The Tea Partiers, about 6,000, came to protest in Searchlight.  Literally, (and I literally mean this in the literal sense of the word), there are 2 gas stations and a diner/casino called the Nugget in Searchlight.  That's it.  I like it like that.  Who needs more stuff when you've got mountains like this?

  When you are out hiking in desert mountains, you need to remain covered.  Sunscreen won't work to keep the sun off because you will sweat it off in the first two hours.  I put it on my face every morning, and then later, I would sweat it into my eyes for about an hour until I sweat it all out, and then my eyes would stop stinging.  Every day! That was the worst.  You will see I am utilizing my favorite desert outfit.  Lightweight cotton longsleeve button up shirt.  Preferably from the Goodwill or your Dad.  Underneath I'm sure I have a red tanktop on (I love wearing red when I hike).  My pants in this picture are expensive hiking pants from a hiking store.  They are completely unnecessary.  If you look in the picture above, I am wearing desert army pants from the army surplus store.  They are far superior for geologizing.  You need pants that aren't going to catch or rip on rocks and cacti.  I mean, who wants to worry about their clothes holding up when they are busy exploring rocks!?!!?!  Boots:  Try to get the pair that is most comfortable for you.  High price not necessary.  Here I am wearing a $60 pair of shoes that have holes in them.  I did buy $40 inserts to put in them, after I broke my ankle.  Which is why I have the hiking sticks in this picture.  It's been just 5 weeks since I had removed my walking boot.  I was still limping slightly.  Before I forget, it's important that your shoes do not have a lot of stitching on the outside, the leather ones are better.  The stitching will get caught in the rocks and shred your shoes apart even faster.

As for my gear, you will see I have a homemade mapboard.  This is a culmination of map board knowledge gained from both CMU and Vanderbilt.  CMU taught me to put a strap on the board, I chose braided polar fleece, and Vanderbilt taught me how to make them myself out of plexi glass and duct tape.  MAP.  Do not ever forget your map.  It's the second most important thing I have on me.  It is a topomap that I fought tooth and nail to get.  It came off of a topomapping cd that was made in 1995.  I was forced to run it on my WindowsXP, and it barely worked.  Barely.  Tucked into my chest strap is my most important tool, the Field Notebook.  It's a Write-in-the-Rain, only the best all weather notebook made.  If you use pencil, and then drop it in a river while crossing a fallen log and it floats away until it gets stuck on a rock, with the open pages facing upstream, it will still work perfectly fine once you fish it out.  The pencil won't smudge at all and all of the water squeezes out pretty quick.  Attached to the chest strap is my clicky pencil for notes, my camera in a bag, two different sweet knives, and my Loupe (rock magnefying glass).  You don't see it, but tucked into the back strap of my backpack is my rock hammer, and in my backpack is a poncho, two nalgenes of water, lunch, perminant markers, ziplock bags for samples, and rock samples themself.

 Now you are ready to go.  Grab your favorite professor and start walking.  The higher you climb, the better your lunch will be and a greater chance there will be a breeze.  The light colored rocks near the bottom of the hill are tuffs and the darker rock above is a rhyolite.  I prefer long pants because it keeps the spiders and other small bugs off.  Calvin, does not worry about the wild life in the desert.  Army pants are also superior due to the large leg pockets.  Oh, when you are out there, walk perpendicular (at right angles) to the rock contacts.  For example, where the white rock turns dark is a contact.  I would want to walk vertically up that hill and take notes and samples, not horizontally.  You can assume the rock is the same if you were to go horizontally.

Lunch is the best part of the day.  So good in fact, you will find yourself motivated to climb higher and higher, just to get the best lunch seat possible.  My suspicion is that this lunch was taken at Intrusion labeled HRL 12a.  Lunches are best made of peanut butter, celery, cheese, crackers, and tangelos.  Tangelos being the most perfect fruit ever created.  Lunch is when you get to sit quiet and watch the birds fly and wonder what your favorite super power would be.  Juice boxes are also nice to have at lunch.  It looks like we have some jerky or dried fruit there too.  I'm iffy about jerky being good lunch's sort of dehydrating, and we don't want that.

Finally, at the end of the day, climb down the mountain, look around you, and be happy where you are.  Plus, you know that Calvin is going to cook you grilled lamb chops, broccoli and sweat potatoes over a fire when you get back.  It will be the best food you have ever eaten.  No matter what it is, after a day of hiking, it's the best food you've ever eaten.  Even if the thought of eating lamb used to make you sick to your stomach.  After dinner, you will be so tired you won't put up your tent, but will sleep on a cot under the stars, despite the fact that you saw a spider crawl on your pillow that morning,  you can hear coyotes howling, and you are terrified of being abducted by aliens and you are unreasonably close to Area 51. 

And that my friends is my virtual field work tour for you.