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99 Red Balloons

Apr 24, 2011 7 comments

GUESS WHAT.  This is my 99th post!  Wow.  It took me over a year to write 99 posts.  Oh well.  Anyway, I was thinking, for my 100th post, it would be cool to do a Q&A type thing.  So, would you be the most awesome comment-ers ever and send me some questions?  They don't have to be about me or this blog. (although I suppose that would be the obvious choice?)  They can be about science or something else, if you want.  Nothing bad, though, or I will delete it, and I'm pretty reasonable on the idea of what "bad" is, so...  And if I don't know the answer, I will look it up.  I will totally Wikipedia that shit.  Kidding.  I have way better sources than Wikipedia. 

In other news, I was supposed to go rappelling at Battleship Rock today, but due to unforeseen circumstances, I was not able to do that.  And I am kinda bummed about it.  I also remembered I still haven't posted about Buckman Cave yet, so I will do that soon.  Maybe in the post after next.  Or if I don't get any questions, I will just brush this under the rug and pretend it never happened.  And we will go to Buckman Cave a little early. 

That's it.  The weekend's over.  Back to your regularly scheduled programming...

Birthday Astrology

Apr 20, 2011 4 comments

Tomorrow, I turn 28.  That seems old.  A couple weeks ago, I was like, I might as well be 28 now.  Heck, I might as well be 30.  But no, that would not be a good idea.  I need these two years to sort some things out before I'm ready to be 30. 

So what better way to know what to do with my life than look to the stars?  When I tell people when my birthday is, they always ask if I'm an Aries or a Taurus.  Usually I go with Taurus, but in reality I think I'm a cusp.  Basically, that means I'm conflicted.  I'm not sure how much I believe in all that astrology mumbo jumbo, but it's cool to be both a fire and earth sign. It makes me think of Captain Planet.  Do you remember that show? I loved it.  Naturally.  I always thought the guy with the Heart powers got gypped.  Haha.  Heart.  Lame.  I'm Earth and Fire, bee-otch!

I don't know what else to say.  I have some caving pictures from last weekend but I'll post those later.  Tomorrow I have to work so it won't be a very exciting birthday but after work I'm going to see a slideshow about bats and I'm going to try to come up with something extra fun for the weekend. 

And that's about it.

Fill in the Blank Friday

Apr 15, 2011 0 comments

It is Friday and my mind feels blank.  Work took away all my brain cells.  Haha.  Do you ever come home from work and think, what the heck did I accomplish today?  I do.  Is that bad?  Anyway, since I'm blank I thought maybe I'd fill in some blanks.  Since it's fill in the blank Friday and all. 


1.   My favorite daily responsibility is,  umm... going home from work?  

2.  My least favorite daily responsibility is,   waking up to go to work, and making my lunch in the morning. I know I should make it the night before, it would save so much time, but I never do.

3.  My favorite cuisine to eat when going out is  pretty much anything.  I love going out to eat.  Really trying to cut back, though.  I've been doing really good for the past few weeks!

4.  My favorite cuisine to prepare at home is   Something easy to make.  And risotto.  Which is not easy to make but it is awesome.

5.  Andy Warhol said that everyone is famous for 15 minutes. My claim to fame is   I've published two scientific papers in journals.  Maybe about 3 people have read them...  Oh, and I write this blog, which about 3 people read as well...  ok, maybe more like 7.

6.  If I could have 3 wishes I would wish    for something that makes me excited to wake up every morning, motivation and peace of mind

7.  My biggest pet peeve is people who don't pay attention or forget things I tell them, and hyper idiotic drivers

Box Canyon

Apr 11, 2011 8 comments

Yesterday, my caving class went to Box Canyon in Socorro.  We were practicing our rappelling skills and learning how to climb a little as well.

The original plan was to rappel off a short cliff for a while and then move on to the big 120 foot cliff when we were ready.  Unfortunately, we never made it to the big cliff because these goons hogged it for the whole day.


When we arrived at about noon, they were already there and set up, so we couldn't exactly kick them out.  That would be rude.  They started off rappelling and then moved on to something a little different.  Somehow, they rigged it up so one rope was attached to the right side of the cliff and the other rope was attached to a person.  The person would start from the far end, unclip the second rope and swing back and forth, doing flips in the air and whatnot.  They seemed to know what they were doing, but the stupidest part was none of them wore helmets.  It was a really windy day and winds can go through that canyon super fast.  I would've been afraid of slamming my head into the rocks.

Meanwhile, we all did three rappels off this cliff here.

About 40 feet
Setting up a rappel is complicated business.  First you have to make your anchors, which involves tying a bunch of knots that I always forget how to tie.  Then, you tie your very expensive climbing/caving rope (also with special knots) to the anchors, hook up the rope to your harness, make a backup safety, and slide back.  Seems like a lot of work for less than a minute of rappelling, but it's really fun.  I get nervous every time I do it, though!  Haha!

After we finished rappelling, we tried our hand at climbing for a while.  It's hard!  I've only climbed once before, in grad school, and it was in a gym, which is way easier.  I got stuck for a while but my teacher helped me out by telling me where to put my feet and I finally made it up almost to the top.  Then it started getting a little difficult and I got to rappel down, which goes a lot faster and is a ton more fun when someone else is controlling the rope.

I've pretty much designated myself the class photographer, so I spent my downtime taking pictures of other people climbing.

This is how it's done
At first, I wasn't sure I wanted to go on this field trip, because of the wind, but I ended up having a lot of fun, and it makes me want to go back to try the big cliff sometime.  There's also some cool looking little caves that I'd like to explore as well.

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Alabaster Cave

Apr 5, 2011 3 comments

It wouldn't be Adventures in the Underground without me posting about my first caving trip.  On Sunday I went with my caving class to Alabaster Cave, between San Ysidro and Cuba, NM.  It was cool!  Our teacher told us it was a training cave, meaning that if you can get through this one, you are ready to go on to even bigger and better cave adventures.

Just to give a little background, alabaster is a type of a rock called gypsum, or CaSO4-2H2O for you chemistry-minded types.  It forms by evaporation of salts from water, also known as a chemical sedimentary rock.  I was first introduced to gypsum in college when I went to a mine for my intro geology class.  I remember liking it so much, I even made up a poem about it.

Oh gypsum you're the one
in many different states you come
coarse, satin, alabaster
you are much better than plain old plaster

(which is funny because you can totally make plaster out of gypsum)

We arrived at the cave site at about noon, got a little introduction/safety briefing, and then were told to squeeze through the tiniest hole to get into the cave.  When our teacher first pointed out the entrance, I thought "yeah, right, buddy."  But it wasn't so bad once I got down in there and actually saw that I could do it.

We wiggled through a crazy narrow passageway into a large "room" that easily fit all six of us on the trip.


We continued to make our way through short passages, like this one, that required crawling and sliding on our stomachs to get through. 


This is where equipment like knee and elbow pads become essential.  And even with them, my knees were still incredibly bruised, and my arm and leg muscles still very sore.

In the cave were some pretty cool things.  We were told that we may run into some wildlife, mainly of the bug variety, but we were definitely not expecting this.


Bats don't typically live in this type of cave.  I can't remember why now.  Sorry.  Probably because it's too shallow or warm or something.  It was awesome, though. 

We each took turns leading the way.  When it was my turn to lead, I had to lead us toward the light, which would be our exit.  And when I got there, it looked like this.


I thought it was cool looking with the light coming in through the small passageways, but that also meant we would have to once again squeeze through to get out.  For this particular tunnel, we sent the smallest kid in first and we had to take off our helmets to be able to make it through, while pushing our backpacks in front of us.

Even though that was our exit, it wasn't the end of the trip.  First, we wanted to go see the water.  The way to get there was to go past the entrance, down through a narrow passageway and into a really cool tunnel, which we entered here. 


The way in was either to crawl behind the weird sticking up rock or to climb above it.  I chose the easy road and took the low tunnel, which was pretty neat, and led me to this.


A warning?  Maybe.  But not too long after that, we found the water, which led to yet another exit. 


Murky and stagnant, this water was around 35 degrees and went up to above chest height before leading out through the cave exit.  The crazy boys in the group decided to go out through that way, while the girls, choosing not to get wet and even more gross, decided to backtrack to the original exit.

After attempting to remember which path we had taken to get there (which was difficult), we finally made it back to the exit, and outside into the sunlight.


See that teeny little hole?  Yep, that's what we crawled out of.  Pretty wild, huh?

The one thing I could have used, but forgot, was a dust mask.  Gypsum is very soft and erodes easily (hence the cave being formed) so it was really sandy and dusty in there, and at times I even picked it up with my camera.


Breathing in gypsum dust is not that awesome for you and when I blew my nose it came out looking all gross.  I didn't take a picture of that (you're welcome).  Luckily, I had a bandanna that I tied over my mouth and nose, which I'm telling myself helped a little bit.

All in all, it was a good trip.  Next stop: my old stomping ground, Socorro!