Afternoon Snowfall

Mar 29, 2010 3 comments

I've been in a horrible mood all day for a variety of reasons ranging from someone hitting my parked car, work being total shit, and not being able to figure out my programming homework.  I took this video one afternoon earlier this month and thought the snow and birds chirping were very peaceful and relaxing. Something good to watch on a stressful day.


Factory of Fear?

Mar 27, 2010 4 comments

 **UPDATED With Pictures!**

If you had told me a week ago that I would be attending a heavy metal concert featuring a band called Fear Factory, I would have said, yeah right, buddy.  So when Matt and I were driving around last weekend and an ad for the concert came over the radio and Matt expressed interest, I was more than a little skeptical.

I wanted to hear what they sounded like so when we got to my house, we listened to some clips on the internet.  It wasn't exactly my type of music, but I did like some things about it, especially their more technical stuff because it's kind of like drum & bass, which Matt also introduced me to.

So on Tuesday night we headed over to the theater for the concert.  The last time we went to the Sunshine Theater was for the Static X concert and it was PACKED.  We were lucky to get a spot on the topmost rank of the balcony.  This time, the balcony wasn't even open.  There weren't many people at all.  There were maybe about 50 people all crowded up by the stage, and that was it.  We opted to stand a little behind that group in case they got rowdy and tripped or something, but we were pretty much front and center.

There were three bands performing before Fear Factory.  The first was Periphery.  They were all right.  They had four guitars, which was probably overkill (one guitar player was really hot though) and the singer wasn't that great when he actually sang.  He seemed really off pitch.  And I know this.  It was one of the few things I was good at when I played piano.

Hot guitarist

The second band was Dirge something.  They were probably the best of the three opening bands.  The singer was pretty good, but kind of weird looking, and he was all about starting a mosh pit.  The audience didn't seem all that into it, though, so I figured I was safe.  One minute, everyone was just standing around listening to the music, and then someone ran through the crowd (more people had shown up by this point and the floor was pretty much full) and I was pushed down as more people joined in and I was in the middle of the dang mosh pit.  My reflex was to grab onto Matt and we went over to the side of the stage.  My shoe had fallen off partially so I was hobbling around trying to get it back on.  Luckily I had my purse tucked under my coat, so I didn't drop anything, but it was definitely interesting.

Weird, kinda emo looking singer dude

On the side where we opted to stand, we encountered the most interesting of all the concert-goers.  A middle aged man wearing his business clothes.  No joke.  He was just hanging out and head-banging with the rest of them.  At one point, he left for a while and I was able to make it to the front of the room, right in front of the stage.  That was kinda cool, except I was pretty much next to the speaker during the performance of my least favorite of the bands.  The instruments were all right, but the singer's style was that sort of deep evil groan that my old high school Theology teacher would have said sounded like someone put a microphone in hell and broadcast it over the speakers.  And he kept promoting all his CD's and crap after every song.  Kind of annoying.

Annoying, scary sounding singer

When the main band came out, I was pushed out of the front area a little but not before I got a couple pictures.  I took them with my phone so they probably turned out really crappy, but it's ok.  I'm still bummed about not getting any pictures of Tool at all, so I wanted to get at least a couple of these guys.

Anyway, the first thing I thought about Fear Factory were that the guitar and bass players were very much overweight and not attractive at all to look at. Yes, I know this is super shallow, but it's not my fault they looked like nasty unwashed fat slobs, and probably stunk like B.O. 

One of those guys

The singer was much better looking so I tried to focus on him the most. I liked that he actually had a decent singing voice, as well as a heavy metal voice, and enjoyed the songs when he actually sang the most.  To be honest, it took me a while to get into it, but I started liking it a lot better when they began playing songs from what Matt told me was their best album.

Lead singer of Fear Factory

Plus everyone else was getting into it and that's always fun to watch.  It's a very interesting demographic of heavy metal fans here in New Mexico.  They are a very pushy lot.  The guy in front of us was definitely on something and kept falling backwards.  And there was a random blond chick (possibly the only one there) who was totally into the music.

So, yep, all in all it was a pretty good time.  I probably wouldn't want to see them again, but it was a good experience for me, and it made Matt really happy, which was the best part.


During Spring Break, I Took a Class

Mar 21, 2010 2 comments

Spring break from school really is not the same at all when you also work full time.  But the timing actually worked out really well for me last week because instead of normal work, I spent the week taking a plant identification course with some of my co-workers from the other forests in New Mexico and Arizona.  We didn't get out of class until 5pm which would have meant I would have had to rush to get to school on the other side of town by 5:30.  I also got to spend some time with my out of town friends and Matt on St. Patrick's Day, which is normally a class day for me.  So it worked out perfectly.

During the class we looked at A LOT of plants ranging from flowered plants (including composites, dicots and monocots) to grasses and sedges, because those are the hardest for most people to learn and pretty much all we could cover in one week.  

The class involved looking at plant samples with the naked eye, with hand lenses and through microscopes to be able to see the tiniest parts of the plants characteristic in helping to identify what kind they are.  It was not easy and got pretty repetitive at times, but I found myself getting better and better at it every day.  That made me feel good.

To help us identify the plants, we used a 2-volume publication entitled A Flora of New Mexico by Martin and Hutchins.  It is set up as a taxonomic key -- utilizing couplets allowing the reader to choose between different plant characteristics to finally determine the tribe, species, family, and variety of a particular plant.  It's a decent publication but was published sometime in the 80's, I believe, and a lot has changed since then because botanists get bored or something and change plant names all the time.  There are also bad couplets, meaning that if you choose one thing saying a plant may or may not contain a certain trait, there is the potential to go on to the next couplet in which you must describe the trait that the plant may or may not have.  If it doesn't have it, then it turns into a matter of trying out both options to see which fits better, and that's annoying. 

Our teacher was a retired botanist who used to work in the same office as me, along with my boss and his boss, for many years.  He wasn't going to teach it anymore but I think the main boss convinced him to do it because we have had so many new employees during the past couple years (he didn't teach it last year, which would have been my first opportunity to take it).  He really knew his stuff, which was good, but that sometimes made it frustrating for us who don't know anything about plants except for the tiny bits and pieces we've begun to put together during our time in the field.

The hardest part, especially in the beginning, was all the terminology.  Plant taxonomy, like soil taxonomy, is a language in and of itself.  We would constantly be asking each other, "what does that word mean?" as we went through the keys.  Luckily we had a couple good term books, including Plant Identification Terminology: An Illustrated Glossary.  It's nice because it has pictures of the term it's identifying, which makes it a lot easier to see and understand on the actual plant.  I'm seriously considering buying one for myself.

So that's what I was up to last week.  If you're not totally bored, come back tomorrow and I'll show you more of what I learned.  And I'll have pictures as well. It will be spectacular, you'll see.


On Being Prolific

Mar 18, 2010 5 comments

Recently, one of my favorite bloggers, Sam from Off Black, passed this award on to me.  For those of you who are like me and have an idea of what the word 'prolific' means but don't go around using it in everyday chit-chat, it is synonymous with words like fruitful, abundant, and productive.

I suppose my blog has been fairly productive as of late.  I try to post at least a couple times a week.  However, I would like it to be a little more fruitful in the sense that I write about things that would be of interest to many people.

It's kind of like this: At my parents' house in Michigan, we have two apple trees.  Neither of them are very big despite being nearly 20 years old, and the bigger one leans significantly to the right.  For many years, hardly any apples would grow on either one, and if they did, they would not be edible.  Then one year my dad got it into his head that maybe we should fertilize the heck out of them.  So now we get the fertilizer spray guys to come over once or twice a year, and in the fall we get LOTS of apples.  My mom thinks they might number in the thousands.  Everyone in the neighborhood and all our relatives get several grocery bags full, and there are always still plenty left over to last us beyond Christmas time.  The apples are still very small and not great for eating just plain.  But they are fantastic for apple sauce, apple pie, apple crisp... pretty much any apple recipe you can think of.

So that's an idea of what I think a good blog (or any good writing) is, and what I strive to do with my writing.  It doesn't need to be perfect, because like with the apples, there is beauty in the imperfections.  It just needs a little fertilizer to get it going and some creativity to make it into something even more special.

I believe I am supposed to pass this award onto someone else, and there is one person who I think epitomizes the idea of prolific blogger for me.  And that person is the Barista from Your Barista Revealed.  She is prolific in the sense that she writes a lot, but also in that what she writes is always good and interesting.  It's like a good book that you can't put down.  It's prolific.

Lackadaisical Tree

And you know what, now that I think about it, I'd also like to give this award to Jen from Sprite's Keeper because she does an awesome job hosting the spin cycle every week. That's a lot more commitment than I could ever have.

The Tale of the Orange Water Bottle

Mar 14, 2010 5 comments

I don't like the water bottles with the twisty caps.  They bug me.  I don't know why it's such a pain for me to twist and untwist that cap all day, but it is.  One year, when I was still in grad school, my mom gave me an orange plastic water bottle for Christmas.  It had a pop-up cap.  It was fabulous.

But there were some people who did not feel the same way about my water bottle.  They teased and taunted, saying that it looked like a baby bottle.  I didn't care.  My water bottle and I had some good times together and no one could take that away from me.

Then one fateful day I had left my water bottle in the refrigerator to keep it cold before school, and when my roommate opened the refrigerator door, it fell out onto the kitchen floor and broke.  He tried to replace it by giving me one of his old water bottles to use, but it just wasn't the same.

This isn't really about the water bottle.  It's about a part of me that I have lost and can't seem to replace.  A part of me that used to get me up and ready to face the day at 5:45 AM every morning.  A part of me that ate cereal in the backyard with Esteban the garden gnome.  That breathed in the warm morning air and felt good to be living another day.  That scored free chocolate chip muffins from the coffee shop.  That was excited about science and about the future.

Sometimes I miss my old life in Vegas so much I can't stand it.  I miss my friends who I never get to see anymore.  I miss my classes and research and field trips.  I know I can never go back to the way things were, but goshdarnit, there are times when I really wish I could.

Horse & I

Mar 11, 2010 2 comments

If I had a horse...

he would be my buddy.

T or C: The Sequel

Mar 10, 2010 1 comments


Just in case you didn't get enough the first time...


Part 2: Next Time, I'm Going to GreatClips

Mar 7, 2010 10 comments

Sometimes, I wonder what makes the fancy, expensive salons so special.  Are they really any better than the $10 haircut down the street?  Are the skills of their stylists that much more superior?

Last weekend, I went to solve this mystery for myself.  With my discount gift certificate in hand, I showed up for my second appointment at the spa.  This time, for a haircut, and... shocker... some color.

Ok, so I didn't dye my hair.  Well, not completely anyway.  For one thing, it's REALLY expensive.  The lady next to me was fixing her all-over highlights and that alone cost $85!  Plus I'm just not ready to take that step yet.  Maybe eventually, but not now.  But I did get some highlights.  Mainly because I've never done it before and wanted to try it, for fun. 

I wasn't really sure what color to get and the stylist told me most people get blonde.  I just thought... blonde?  no way.  That would look stupid.  I suggested red because I thought that would look good but she talked me out of it.  She told me she'd have to bleach my hair and then put the color in (this kind of makes me think she was just lazy and didn't want to spend the time on a discount coupon customer) and that it would be dry and also fade faster than other colors.  So I figured all right, whatever, but I still didn't want blonde.  So she suggested a caramel color instead.  This I could live with.

I think it turned out pretty nice.  Matt really likes it as well, and in the end, it's really mainly for him to look at, so if he's happy I'm happy.

The haircut itself was ok.  It was definitely not my worst haircut, by a long shot.  But I do wish she would have gone a little shorter.  And as far as haircuts go, it really wasn't anything spectacular that the less expensive salons wouldn't do.  At the place I used to go to in Ann Arbor, the ladies/girls would always ask me what I thought.  This lady did not do that.  She just finished what she was doing and then ran off to mix up the color.  The only times she really talked to me was to tell me about this or that product she was using at the moment.

Is it just me, or does every trip to the hairstylist seem more like an infomercial than a haircut?  From the moment I sat down in the chair, I was inundated in product placement.  I truly believe that in addition to all their beauty courses, hairstylists/cosmetologists are also trained in the fine art of advertising and marketing. They know what they're doing.  It's really hard to turn someone down when they're the ones holding the scissors.

In the end, out of all the 50 million products she showed me, I ended up being suckered into one.  It's a shampoo called Be Curly.  Supposedly it makes curly hair seem less dry.  As she explained it to me, people with curly hair think it is more dry than it actually is because the oils and stuff have to spend a lot of time moving down the curls.  I guess this shampoo does something to fix that, so I figured I'd give it a try.  I'm not really sure I notice a difference but  when I told Matt about it, he said he thought my hair did actually look less dry.  So maybe it's working.

Not Sure

Mar 4, 2010 0 comments

I have a post all written and pretty much ready to go except I need to put a picture in and I haven't been able to load it yet.  My family came into town last Friday and they were here until yesterday morning at 4:30 am, when I drove them to the airport.  After that I went to work, apparently because I am crazy.  It was kind of nice having no one around though.  Plus I got to leave at 1:30 yesterday.  Bonus!

I went for a hike with Matt down one of our favorite canyons in the Sandias.  We met some little kids (ok, they were probably like 18, but that's little kids to me I guess) and their dog and chatted with them for a while.  At this point I realized I was becoming very tired and hungry so we went home and ordered a pizza.

I have had a scratchy throat since around Tuesday evening and this morning I woke up feeling pretty bad.  Like I had no energy and was basically forcing myself to move around and get ready.  I think it's just allergies flaring up because of the random change in weather we are having here.

Later today, I am supposed to go back down to TorC to finish my para-arch training but I don't know if I have the energy for it.  Matt said to think about it and see how I feel this afternoon before I make up my mind.  Normally I'd be all for getting out of the office, but today I'm just not feeling it.