Tuesday, March 30, 2010

favorite weather

I'm not sure if it's a result of being from a particularly cold/rainy part of the world, but I love cool, misty days. Not rainy days, mind - if I'm in the field, rain makes note-taking annoying, to say the least, and I hate getting soaked and standing around in wet clothing.

But I love a foggy day, with the temperature somewhere between cold and hot (or 45 - 60) - the feeling of moisture condensing on my face. Warm, sunny days are nice too, but they don't evoke the same feeling of home.

Today was misty and cool all day, but not a drop of actual rain. I didn't get as much work accomplished as I'd hoped, and we ran into the sort of annoying problems that always seem to plague fieldwork (stuff forgotten, subcontractors somewhat obstinant in doing something I didn't especially like), but it was still a day that made me happy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

office hours

There are certain jobs that require a set schedule. If you're in customer service or dealing with clients, you need to be available (although in this day and age, a blackberry allows you to be available all the time) during "standard office hours". And of course, shift work requires set hours.

At one point when I was doing a lot of fieldwork in consulting, I worked at a place where management demanded that all personnel work the same "standard" hours. Didn't matter if you were the receptionist or the office manager or the field doobie spending 95% of her time outside.

If I'd worked 12-13 hours a day in the early part of the week and then got back Thursday night or Friday morning, I was expected to put in a full day in the office on Friday. Didn't matter that I was already Ms. Billable and that nobody was going to give me more office work because they knew I'd be out in the field the next week anyway.

If I end up in charge of an office, you can be damn sure that I'll allow people to work whatever hours work for them, as long as the work gets done and the clients know they can reach who they need to.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

daylight savings

I've been having internet connectivity and, um, personal issues, so blogging sort of fell by the wayside. I'm trying to catch up, though - not only with this blog, but a lot of other relationships (and isn't this sort of a relationship, after all?) that fell by the wayside over the last month or so.

I know we changed the clock back a couple weeks ago, but it is such a psychological lift that now it gets dark at, oh, 7:30 instead of 6:00 or earlier a month ago. I may be somewhat more affected by daylight hours than other people. But it makes such a difference to my well-being that I can not only go home in daylight, but I can also sit outside with a cup of tea and enjoy daylight after work, not just on the weekend.

Of course, fieldwork is infinitely easier when you're not racing the clock. And in the summer, I tend to work much longer hours. But it's so much easier to work those long hours when it stays light out until 8 or 9 at night. We're not at that point yet, of course. But now that it's spring, it feels like it almost could be.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

advisor power trip?

I've apparently lost another week. Hmm. I'm going to be busy for quite a while, so I'm not sure how much posting I'll be able to do this week and next week.

I can't really write a long post right now, but I did click through to Dr. Jekyll/Mrs. Hyde earlier today. I must say, I am ever so glad that my graduate advisor was laid back, generally helpful and even though often jetting about the world to various conferences, had a posted schedule and responded to e-mails even when in Timbuktu.

I have to admit that my advisor did have a tendency to forget deadlines. Every once in a while, I'd get a "why don't you submit an abstract for this conference by 2 pm this afternoon?". That's more absent-mindedness than a power trip, though.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

truck organization

I really dig the photos that Silver Fox has in this post. I appears that her truck uses the same organizational system that mine do. That is, everything is spread out for maximum usage of available space and for easy finding.

Unfortunately, my coworkers were not terribly impressed by my truck organizational system. Something about "unprofessional" and "unsanitary".

But trucks and SUVs have all sorts of handy spaces to put the oddball things that you'd lose track of otherwise. Dashboard? Perfect for a laptop (as long as you're not leaving it alone). Drink holders? They work for water bottles, emergency whistle, migraine medication, the cell phone, a utility knife, and the spare pens that I always need. Back seat? That's for the extra sweaters, comfy non-steel toe shoes for driving, rain gear, and other "soft" stuff. Heavy stuff (hammers, toolkit, random metal bits) go on the floor. Everything else goes into the back. And yes, I do have a system for that.

It may look like a mess, but it keeps me from losing every little thing when I'm frazzled and don't have time to go searching for it.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

climate and earthquakes

Ok, I'm back! And boy, did I miss out on all sorts of geology-related stuff. The biggie, of course, is the earthquake in Chile. It does prove what I said here - that one of the big problems with earthquakes is the structural integrity of the buildings rather than just the shaking itself. Just compare magnitudes and death tolls from Chile and Haiti.

But that's not what had me all fired up about earthquakes earlier this week.

I saw this article about the Chilean earthquake and started reading the comments. I read the first couple pages and was horrified by the number of people blaming global warming for the earthquake.

Seriously? What possible connection is there? Global warming = atmospheric issue. Earthquake = rock issue. Ok, so certain people think "mother nature is angry" because of our various environmental sins, of which global warming is the most popular right now. We can eliminate that as a scientific explanation.

But if you read far enough, several people advance a theory that sounds plausible if you don't know much about earth science. It goes like this: glaciers in the Andes have been receding, thanks to global warming. The removal of all this weight (isostatic rebound) caused the earthquake. Ergo, global warming caused the earthquake.

There's a simple way to refute this. Global warming may have potentially impacted glaciers over the last, say, 20 years. This (wikipedia) lists all of Chile's known earthquakes back to the 1500s. Note that the most recent quake is not even that memorable in comparison, with 4 other earthquakes listed with the same or higher (estimated) magnitudes. Hell, the 1960 Valdivia earthquake in the same area was the largest recorded.

Yes, isostatic rebound can cause earthquakes. But the size of this particular earthquake is totally out of proportion to the pressure release from the melting of some glaciers.