Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I could have written my Monday post any time in the last two years, because that's how long it took for me to start various parts of the PG application process, trip up on some aspect of the application, and then get a huge buildup of fieldwork and put the whole thing on a back burner.

For my foreign and non-geologist readers, I should explain that every state has their own requirements (or lack thereof) for a PG. The national association of state boards of geology (ASBOG) has a nice listing here of all the requirements - just click on the state flag for each. Generally, if you have a state with a stricter list of requirements for the PG (like mine), it's easier to get your PG in other states.

By the time I got my act together for the state PG, I had enough experience (and knew enough geologists) to apply to be a CPG through the American Institute of Professional Geologists.

I started working on the PG in my state because it was included in job listings as desirable, if not required. In my few interviews, the lack of a PG was clearly seen as a negative. I admit that I don't know much about the CPG designation. Certification-collecting doesn't help with my current gig - nobody seems to care one way or the other, other than that it shows I have some initiative and ambition.

AIPG tells me that a CPG is an awesome certification, will open all sorts of doors, prove that I'm an upstanding person, etc etc. But they have a vested interest in promoting CPGs. Readers, can you chime in with your opinions of the CPG designation? Is this something that I should work on, and will this actually promote my career/help me move into higher management/more technical positions?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I was somewhere in the vicinity of the earthquake shake zone today. That isn't terribly specific, considering that tremors were felt from North Carolina to Maine and Ontario.

In my area, the shaking wasn't terribly pronounced - it felt like a train or large truck rumbling by. In fact, I was en-route to some crisis or another and didn't notice a thing. But once we decided we did in fact feel an earthquake (confirmed by calling around - this was before the whole east coast got excited and clogged up the phone system), I confirmed it via this website within 5 minutes of the whole thing happening. Ah, the wonders of modern technology.

I know, I know... in more tectonically-interesting areas, a 5.8 quake wouldn't merit mention. But the last time I experienced an earthquake, I was in middle school.

Monday, August 22, 2011

PG problems

When I moved here from grad school and started job-hunting, I quickly realized that I needed to be registered as a professional geologist (PG) in this state. I had spent my pre-grad school years in a state that didn't have any PG certification, so this was all new to me. When I started the application process, I found the following requirements:

1. must have taken particular courses
2.required courses must be worth a particular number of credit hours
3. must have at least x number of years of geologic work supervised by a PG
4. take a big exam

So what's the problem?

1. I got a straight geology degree, and they had fairly standard requirements, but I didn't get all of the recommended courses then. I picked up some additional somewhat relevant courses in grad school, but they weren't necessarily from the geology department. So...maybe I was ok for this requirement?

2. Neither my undergrad or grad school gave credits by the credit hour. Each used a slightly different credit system. I never did find a simple conversion for either. I don't know - I took full courses in accredited institutions. Isn't that sufficient?

3. I've never been supervised by a PG. I haven't had an official supervisor who was even a geologist. I've had lots of unofficial mentors who had a combination of registrations, and peers who were PGs. Is that ok? Also, I fit the full length of experience requirements in my old state. Can some of that experience transfer, or is it only experience it this new state that counts?

4. I've been out of (undergrad) school a long-ass time. How much memory do you think I've retained from those classes I took more than 10 years ago? Stuff like paleontology fell out of my head years ago, and I was flummoxed by way too many of the example test questions.

This whole process was intimidating. So I asked all the PGs I know how their application went. Turns out EVERY SINGLE GEOLOGIST I know who has a PG applied before the tests (and other requirements) were put in place and never had to jump through all those hoops. If I were just a couple years older, I too could have been grandfathered in. But I'm not.

In my instructing gig, I meet lots of different junior-level scientists. The number of geologists I've met who are trying to get a PG in this state, but who have been stymied by various requirements, is astounding.

I think part of the problem is poor communication by the board that oversees PG licensure, and that some of those folks probably would be accepted based on the totality of their record. The other part of the problem is also one of "place". It looks like the board expects a certain applicant: one who went to the big state university (which evidently reports their coursework in credit hours), worked for a big firm that had an official mentoring system for new geologists, and spent their entire career in this state. Too bad I'm not that applicant.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

new book meme

I'm a huge sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction geek, so when I saw Silver Fox's NPR top 10 SF book meme, I had to play. Books I've read are bolded. I like Silver Fox's modification of using another color (blue) for books that you've seen the movie adaptation for. Commentary in small type.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (this whole series left me cold - sorry. I never got past the first one.)
3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert (only the first book, which I wasn't terribly impressed by - the movie was epically terrible, and I watched before having read the book, so it made no sense at all)
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov

9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley (I may have read this when I was a kid, but I won't bold because I can't remember)
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman (this is a shameful book to have missed, especially since I can quote the entire movie at you)
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan (never got into it)
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell

14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut (one of my top 5 books evar)
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King (I waited sooo long for the last books in this series, but I hated one book, Wizard and Glass)
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller

36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin

46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien (I really didn't like this at all, but forced my way through 3/4 of it. For my effort, I reward myself the bolding of completion)
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson (book 1)
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks (another series I tried to get into, but I started too late - it was just a bunch of sword-swinging cliches to me. I'm giving myself credit for struggling through most of the first book)
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury (this book sat in my parents' bedroom for ages before I read it - I was freaked out by the name)

80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire (I hated this book. Sorry)
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville (one of my most favorite books EVER - I shall henceforth read anything by him)
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony (I read about 20 of these, but they got cheesier and developed a horrible 4th wall problem and I gave up)
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

only 47 out of 100. This was really more of a fantasy list, but without some of the classic fantasy titles. Tolkien? Brooks? Pratchett? Salvatore? Methinks we need a full fantasy list, or an actual SF list.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

good or bad?

Long-time readers will remember that I have a wee bit of a pet peeve about looking young for my age. It's a pain most of the time, but I've gotten adept at working my level of experience/age into an early conversation with everybody I meet. I do the same thing during the introduction to any courses I teach, but nobody remembers the course intro, and I don't go overboard in reminding people.

I got evaluations back from a class I taught recently - a class in which I was only two degrees of separation from several of the students. Word filtered back to me that I seemed especially smart and knowledgeable... for my age. I also got exceptionally high reviews for the class in general.

So, was it good that I was mistaken for someone much younger? I'm not sure. Maybe my complex about not being taken seriously is making it harder to be objective and appreciate that there are some benefits to looking young.

Monday, August 1, 2011

summer blues

It's good to be busy. It is much better to be busy than to be sitting around for two months in the early spring, scratching for something (anything!) that is somewhat productive while the specter of layoffs is hanging over your head.

At this point, however, I'm utterly swamped. I've been trying to do all my usual technical/managementy stuff while spending long hours in the field, and it's just not working. Maybe I'm getting too old for this, but I find myself ever more tired and less willing to work extra hours when I've already had a full day.

When I logged in today, I noticed that my number of posts for July was pathetically small again. There is a good chance things will ease up in the next week or so, but after that, who knows...