Thursday, December 30, 2010

From red rocks...

to white-flocked trees (click to enlarge):
I just returned home in the wake of a snowstorm that dumped 10 inches of snow on my digital cottage in the pine forest of eastern Washington.

Things to do today: 1.) Go cross-country skiing.

UPDATE: Accomplished everything on my "to do" list, as this shot behind the house shows:

Eulogy for color film...

For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas.  This seems especially appropriate on this occasion:  Paul Simon: Mamma Don't Take My Kodachrome Away.

I actually shot more Ektachrome earlier in my life and career since it was a faster color slide film, and the E-6 processing was something I could do at home. Believe it or not, I still have about a dozen 36-exposure rolls of the film.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's really much to do...

about nothing, according to Don Easterbrook: 2010 – where does it fit in the warmest year list?

Monday, December 27, 2010

The last hike...

during my holiday stay in southern Utah was in the company of Geogal and her husband, JR, and their new dog, Lexi. We explored the Amphitheater Loop trail near Fisher Towers, seen here silhouetted in the morning sun (click to enlarge):
Heavy rains in August caused extensive flooding in the area, deeply scouring an arroyo:
Floodwaters surged out of the channel and deposited silts and clays on adjacent upland surfaces, now dessicated and mudcracked:
Along the way we found two geocaches, this one is particularly well-placed with fantastic views:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Helen climbs Round Mountain...

on Christmas day, an approximately 1,100 ft high trachyte porphyry instrusive structure that rises from the south end of Castle Valley (click to enlarge):
Here she attains the summit to be met with spectacular views to the northwest showing the shaded Porcupine Rim:
Here's the view to the north-northeast, with Parriott Mesa on the left, and Castleton Tower on the right:
And the view to the south, showing the high La Sal Mountains and the Cain Hollow arroyo:

A year of discoveries...

in a video by NASA/JPL.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Helen goes rockhounding...

with Rachel and me at Copper Ridge, northwest of Arches National Park, looking through the ore piles at an old mining site (click to enlarge):
Eureka!  Helen prospects with her nose and finds a nice specimen of the copper carbonate mineral malachite:
While hiking elsewhere in the vicinity, Helen discovers a ripple-marked sandstone slab in the Morrison Formation.  Here she's considering the origin of interference ripples:
From her high vantage point on the top of the ridge, Helen surveys the laccolithic La Sal Mountains draped with snow:

Lastly, Helen quenches her thirst from an eroded theropod track after a complete exploration of the area:
Here's more about this easily accessible dinosaur trackway site.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Helen visits her first...

national park today, although we didn't do any hiking here as dogs are not allowed on the trails.  Instead, we drove a few more miles to the north to the Copper Ridge Dinosaur Trail for meandering explorations there.

Dogs playing soccer...

while waiting for the weather to clear (click to enlarge):
That's Helen on the left, and my neighbor's dog, Putts, on the right, taking a brief time out:

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday greetings...

from southern Utah, with appropriate stratigraphic annotations.  Enjoy!  It's Festivus!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wise words...

Traditional scientific method has always been at the very best, 20-20 hindsight. It's good for seeing where you've been. It's good for testing the truth of what you think you know, but it can't tell you where you ought to go.

-- Robert M. Pirsig

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happiness is a warm puppy...

next to a glowing wood stove after a vigorous slope-climbing exploration with me, and a run with Rachel.

The real Santa's elves...

work at FedEx's SuperHub: The Miracle of Memphis.

30 to 60 images...

is about what I shoot with my digital cameras each week, on average, and vastly more when I'm traveling or doing field work.  So I'm gifting myself an 8GB Eye-Fi Pro X2 card for Festivus.  I'm springing for the premium Pro version ($99 at since it incorporates ad-hoc wi-fi capability, allowing for wireless connection between the camera and a  laptop without needing a network router.  I'm eager to give it a test drive and I'll post my impressions in a short bit.

Helen inspecting arkosic conglomerates...

in the Cutler Formation (Early Permian) that crops out below Porcupine Rim in Castle Valley, Utah (click to enlarge):
And here she's taking a closer look at some of the larger clasts in an effort to determine their composition, sphericity and roundness:

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Helen gazing across the axis...

of a collapsed salt-cored anticline in Castle Valley, Utah during a mid-day walkabout. She's most likely pondering the thickness of the alluvial valley fill on top of the Paradox Formation (Pennsylvanian; named from exposures in the nearby Paradox Valley).

Helen examining large-scale crossbeds...

in the Navajo Sandstone (Late Triassic - Early Jurassic) in Negro Bill Canyon near Moab, Utah.  She is no doubt pondering the paleowind direction that transported and deposited sands in this ancient eolian environment.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our arrival in Castle Valley...

for the holidays was rewarded with this rich sunset on Monday evening (click to enlarge). But the real fun began the following day when Rachel and I introduced Helen to the red rock environment as we set off on an intrepid exploration of the Fisher Towers area:
Stay tuned as I chronicle our experiences during desert doggie boot camp as we shape Helen into a slick rock-climbing, trail-walking, stream-leaping, canyon explorer in the days ahead. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's field work Friday...

again, the last of the year, as I go about my monthly rounds measuring water levels in monitoring wells in the Rathdrum Prairie aquifer.  I'll bring my spreadsheet up-to-date and post a time-series graphic of the complete data set in the new year.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Be happy...

by getting dirty:  Are Depressed People Too Clean?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

The morning march...

of California Quail (Callipepla californica) to my winter feeding station is a sight to behold, especially when they arrive by the hundreds.  Here are just two early arrivals, with their feathery coats puffed up against the winter chill.

A perfect hideaway...

to escape the stress of an increasingly industrialized world: Unabomber's Montana land for sale; 'very secluded'.  Hurry!  The price has been reduced.

And here's more about the former infamous resident.

Hat tip: the Bu bro.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Administrative bloat at American universities...

is responsible for the high costs of higher education.  Pull quote:
"Leading public universities were also already administrative-heavy in 1993, but the rate of growth in administrative employment was even higher than the growth in educators, leaving these institutions even more administrator heavy in 2007 (see Figure 6 and Table A1). Full-time employment in the instructional, research and service category grew by 9.8 percent between 1993 and 2007, but the number of full-time administrators grew at nearly four times that rate - 39.0 percent. It now takes 39.0 percent more full-time administrators to manage the same number of students than it did in 1993."
That certainly is the history at EWU during the last 20 years (although I can't say the percentage growth is the exactly the same as that reported in the article, but it is on par based on institutional data I examined several years ago.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

NASA donating surplus space shuttle tiles...

to schools and universities, and I've just completed the application process to obtain one for EWU.  Fingers crossed.

UPDATE:  Seems like we'll get one at EWU.  Christmas comes early!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tiger stripes on Enceladus...

as seen in the infrared seem to coincide with the fractures that release jets of water vapor and ice particles (click to enlarge).  Here's the full story:  Cassini Finds Warm Cracks on Enceladus.

RELATED: Cassini Captures Bright Jets At Enceladus.

Spokane breaks record...

for snowiest November with 25.9 inches. The previous record stood since 1955, and I personally hope for a similarly snowy December.

Lucky Friday mine expands...

in response to surging silver prices, as explained in this video/slideshow.

UPDATE: High prices, booming silver industry bankroll mine’s expansion.