Friday, January 20, 2017

Bloom County and the EPA, part 3

Here's the last bit regarding the EPA. The previous installments are here and here.

I just finished the new Bloom County book yesterday - highly recommend!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

bloom county and the EPA, part 2

This is the 2nd day of my week of old Bloom County comic strips from the early 1980s. See my last post for the first installment.

Reading these old strips, its amazing how little has changed. Final installment later this week...

Monday, January 16, 2017

Bloom County and the EPA

I happen to be a huge fan of Berkeley Breathed's... whatever cartoon series he's working on.

I was going through an Bloom County book (publication year: 1984) that I've had forever, and I found a series that I thought you'd appreciate. This is a scanned copy of my old book, and the picture is lousy (sorry). Rather than add everything at once, I figured that I would make this the week of Bloom County's EPA circa 1982-ish.

Friday, January 13, 2017

fantasy comment response

"This comment is so totally wrong on so many levels that it would be best to take your comments back, think about them, and send another try."

Unfortunately, I don't have the cojones to actually send this back to the reviewing authority.

Instead, we engage in a very polite back-and-forth whereby we keep batting down side issues and non sequiturs, and by the time the comment back and forth is done, the problem with the original document has been lost and nobody is satisfied.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

year in review

I'm back from the holidays! Also, back from my usual bout of holiday illness. Ugh.

I saw a few weeks ago that Silver Fox had posted her 12 months of Looking for Detachment. The rules for the meme (originally from Drugmonkey) are simple: post the link and first sentence from the first blog entry for each month of the past year.

2016 was a bit of a bust for posts here, but heck, here goes. Once again, if my first sentence is an apology for not posting, it gets skipped.

January:  This is the time of year that I usually do my monthly recap of the year/monthly meme, where I post the first sentence of the first post of each month.

February:  You can get a sense for how my February has been going from the dream I had this morning.

(long, long break)

September: I am not in a position to be observing or participating in routine environmental work on a regular basis.

October: I was looking back through my paltry list of blog posts this year, and the post on smartphones reminded me of this post regarding tablet usage in the field.

November: This is the natural follow-up to my previous post on solid waste storage.

December:  Now that it's the beginning of December, it's about the time to start worrying about ice cubes.

Ok, on to a more consistently-posting 2016!

Friday, December 16, 2016

journal access woes

I research various topics on a regular basis. My first preference is a recent (within, say, the last five years) guidance document or white paper from a federal government agency or research lab. Next would be technical guidance from the state the project is in, or a state in the same region.

The problem is, though, that if it's a research project that I'm working on (as opposed to an intern or entry level scientist), I'm usually in much deeper and am working with more technical details: which equation would be better for this application? Are there any specific chemical/physical/biological reactions that I need to figure out? That's when I need to start trawling through the journal articles. And most of the time, the sorts of details I'm looking for are in the meat of the article and aren't listed in the abstract.

There has to be a happy medium between open access (free!) and paying $35 for an article that I don't even know will be useful until I've paid for it. I can get a few articles here and there that have been posted by the authors or are actually open access. Some of my colleagues have memberships that come with journal access and they can send me stuff. But I can't justify the cost of spending a couple of hundred bucks to trace a possible dead end.

In grad school, our print shop had an arrangements with the publishers that they would copy journal articles, charge us a reasonable price (I think it was a buck or so a page), and send on the royalties as appropriate. I don't get why the publishers can't charge a more reasonable price (say, $5) for a reasonably short article. I'd be able to actually pay for quite a bit more if I could do so in smaller increments.

Friday, December 9, 2016

the hawaiian shirt crew

I haven't told a random school story in a long time...

I mentioned before that I didn't really fit into my undergrad geology department. Part of the problem was possibly my own class-based awareness/resentment. The whole thing came to a head right at the end of my senior year.

The geology department had a field study course requirement. The department would alternate between a "cheap" (a couple hundred dollars extra) field course and a "fun" (sky was the limit) field course annually. They were pretty damn breezy about how one was to pay for the "fun" field course, and so I did the cheap one. Fine.

So one year the fun field course was in Hawaii. All the "cool kids" who made up the core of the "real geology students" went and they had a great time, all sorts of bonding, etc. They all came back with Hawaiian shirts, and the shirts became a sort of symbol of the department.

I went to a small liberal arts school (SLAC) which was inundated with long-running, somewhat quirky traditions. One of those traditions was that the president of the school held a series of dinner parties with the seniors, organized by department or group of departments. It was considered a breach of etiquette not to attend, but I had no interest in mingling with people who'd made it clear I didn't fit in, so I skipped it. As it turned out, the other students who were also on the outs with the department mostly skipped it as well.

Word had gone around to "the cool kids" that all the geology department folks (including the professors) were to wear Hawaiian shirts to the dinner party. Nobody told me; I heard about all this later from students in other departments. So most of the department, including all the professors, came to the dinner party wearing Hawaiian shirts. And the few who didn't, because they weren't told about the arrangement, got teased mercilessly by all the other students for not matching the rest of the department. Fun party.

Those damn Hawaiian shirts precipitated my complete break with the rest of the geology department. But that's ok; I persevered without any institutional or educational support. And I'm still out here, poking at rocks, doing cool science even if I never did become one of the cool kids.