Friday, April 30, 2010

Garberville - Day Four

Finally the regulator gave good advice, and we finished. I got home last night abut 7:00.


So nice.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Garberville - Day Three

We were all set to be done to day, but we ended up being slowed by my old nemesis; government bureaucracy.

Part of the problem was the delay from our prime contractor communicating with their office and then to the regulator. I feel they should have been more proactive and getting options from the regulator for possible choices instead of just slowly feeding information and waiting for a response at each step.

What ended up happening was that we got our results and had to wait for the regulator to discuss with their supervisor on what to do. Had this been my project I would have immediately given several hypothetical situations to the regulator and had possible solutions.

Instead, we got stuck here for one more day as the regulator didn't get back to us, and then disappeared at 3:30.

I'm a little pissed off.

But see the previous post for volcanic shockwaves that helped me relax.


Watch this for the shockwaves that pass through the ash column.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Garberville - Day Two

And today, it rained.

Most of the day it rained, and most of the morning it poured.

We got a lot Done though. All the locations on asphalt were completed by lunch, and we got one location done off the pavement. The hangup was off the pavement we had to make four attempts to get to depth and get the samples we needed.

It turns out we have vertical delineation (samples that show a drop-off or complete lack of contaminant), and now we are waiting to see if we have to do multiple water samples.

So tomorrow will be step-outs in the cardinal compass directions from the original location, and possibly water samples, but we'll see.

We're thinking about a 4 in 5 chance of being done tomorrow.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Garberville - Day One

Today was a long 4 hour drive from Pleasant Hill to Garberville, which I must admit I was unable to remain awake for. I apologized repeatedly to my coworker, but I kept falling asleep.

Once we were at the site, things went fine. We located the boring locations, recorded water depths in groundwater wells, and the drillers arrived to core to asphalt and concrete.

The concrete was the only problem. Most of the asphalt was between 2 and 3 inches thick. In contrast we had two locations in concrete. One ended up being only 9 inches thick. I say "only" because the hole prior was 14 inches of concrete including an encounter with index finger thick rebar. it took the drillers four attempts to get through it.

Tomorrow (in the predicted 90% chance of rain with over an inch expected), we will begin our drilling for soil samples.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

80% to Eureka

So after a wonderful weekend or crafting and wine tasting, I'm off to scenic Garberville, California for a week.

Friday, Jennifer and I spent in crafting, and Saturday we hit some bead shops for more supplies. the best was a bead shop in Walnut Creek where I got a string of pyrite crystals about 1 cm in diameter. I made a necklace and complimentary bracelet with them and hematite.

Jennifer made a necklace for her mother for her birthday, and has been making jewelry for herself now too.

Today, we went to Moon Mountain Vineyard in Sonoma. The tour was lots of fun, and the tasting was great. The best part was seeing the inside of their lava rock cave where they store their barrels. That barely squeaks past riding in the back of a pick-up truck to the top of the ridge to overlook the vineyards and seeing all around the Bay.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The TIME 100

So a coworker pointed this list out to me today of the 200 most influential people in the world.

The good news, Jon Stewart is higher than Sarah Palin. And Neil Patrick Harris is at #17, and Neil Gaiman is right behind President Obama. The bad news is that Obama is #21.

Mind Boggling Chemical Bonding

When I took chemistry, the iconic example of ionic bonding was NaCl, sodium chloride, the primary ingredient of table salt. It's single bonded, which is very strong against heat (NaCl has a very high melting point), but weak against water.

Then in my geologic crystallography course NaCl appeared again as Halite. That is naturally occurring NaCl. It has a cubic crystal, and is very simple.

Now, Pepsi/Lay's is going to mess with one of the simplest chemical compounds. Hopefully this will be more successful than Olestra.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

One More

And today is just full of cool stuff.

Check out this sewing machine that dyes the thread for you.

Iceland Plume

Okay, so the satellite pictures are really cool looking, but this animated GIF is more instructive.

I tried to post it here, but Blogger apparently doesn't like animated GIFs.

Okay Now I'm Depressed

First, off watch this:

Now read this and this.

Must have. And yet shall not.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Cleaning and Organizing

Yes, it's been going on for a while, but this weekend, we pretty much finished up the office. Things are in boxes, drawers, and cabinets. And there are entirely not enough... too many painted lead miniatures.

Once I get the final approval, I'll get the before and after pictures up.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I Yam What I Yam

This article on the volcano eruption in Iceland is really amazing. And, no, I'm not even going to try to type the name of the volcano.

The pictures are pretty impressive too.

Today at lunch we saw coverage that said showed airplanes flying into Italy and nowhere else in Europe.


Yesterday morning while I was showering, Jennifer brought Pom in from outside, and brought her in to see me.

I began to wonder if we are at our most iconic scent when we get out of the shower. We've just cleaned ourselves, and then begun the layering of scents. Our shampoo, soap, shaving cream, whatever.

Then I thought maybe it's once we've done our hair and added cologne.

Or last night, when she was climbing into my shirt drawers while I was putting clean, folded shirts away, I thought, maybe it's that point when we're finally dressed and there's the added scent of detergent and fabric softener.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dinner and a Bonus

Saturday, Jennifer took hamburger and Italian sausage out of the freezer, and asked if I would make spaghetti sauce. I told her with my schedule I wouldn't have time until Monday, so that's what i did this evening.

She was feeling a bit sick today and was napping, so before I started cooking, I put on my Beethoven playlist that runs through the 9 symphonies. I got the sauce going, and needed time for the mushrooms to cook down, so to kill time, I decided to make another loaf of beer bread.

I made beer bread (using Newcastle Brown Ale) Saturday morning for the guys at the game, and as I was putting the loaf in the oven on Saturday, Jennifer said, "You going to make one for me too, right?" with just a slight pout to her voice. So, I made her a loaf with Bass Ale. She took it with her to watch the UFC fights, and it was a big hit. I told her it couldn't have gone over better than my loaf did. We demolished our loaf in about 30 minutes.

I had been saying how much I wanted to do an Anchor Steam beer bread, so when I bought mushrooms today, I also got a 6-pack of Anchor, with the added bonus of it being on sale.

With a few Facebook breaks, I got the bread out, and got the noodles ready. It turns out that it took the first 4 of Beethoven's symphonies for the sauce to be done and the noodles get ready, because I was serving it up just as the Fifth Symphony came on.


And now as promised to the guys in the GURPS group, here is the recipe I've been using for the beer bread. It's actually coming out even better than the Trader Joe's mix.

Beer Bread

3 cups - Flour (sifted)
1/4 cup - Sugar
3 teaspoons (tsps.) - Baking Powder
1 tsp. - Salt
12 oz. - Beer
1/4 cup - Butter (melted)
9-inch loaf pan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F

Mix the dry ingredients together. (I like to have the sifter in the mixing bowl, and out all of the ingredients in the sifter, and then sift them together into the bowl. the sifting is important as it makes the bread lighter and fluffier.)

Melt the 1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter and set it aside. (I put the butter in a small bowl and microwave it for 30 seconds.)

Grease the loaf pan. (I use a vegetable oil spray.)

If you have a fixed mixer (like a Kitchenaid) begin stirring use the lowest setting. if you are using a hand mixer, also use the lowest setting. Slowly pour the beer in while mixing. (Pouring the beer in slowly, and mixing slowly, prevents the loss of the carbonation which is what is going to help the bread rise. Lose those bubbles, and the bread will be dense.)

Once the batter is mixed to where it is uniform, the lumps are smaller than a pencil eraser, and it sticks to the side of the bowl, it is ready. Pour/scrape the batter into the loaf pan, and spread it to an even thickness. Pour the butter over the top and put in the oven on the middle rack.

Cook it from between 45 minutes to an hour. (Mine works best at about 50 minutes. Check it at 45 with a toothpick. If the toothpick doesn't come out clean, then check it again in 5 minutes.)

Take it our and let cool for 15 minutes.

Enjoy with various toppings. (We've made honey butters and Gorgonzola butter, and then there's just butter.) Also a good accompaniment during preparation is a bottle of the beer you're putting in the bread.


All right, two links today on music.

First, is an interesting presentation of music:

And then a pretty original way to look at the solar system called Solar Beat.


Okay, so indoor plumbing is wonderful. I agree whole-heartedly, and would not want to consider what it must have been like to use an outhouse.

But I've seen one innovation in my lifetime.

The float used to be attached to an arm that would shut off the flow of water to the tank, now the model is to have the float rise up the pump shaft, and shut off the water that way.

And that's all I've seen. Okay, sure there have probably been materials changes, but still.

So my issue recently has been the flap that keeps the water in the tank. Not at home, the home toilets are working great. But at a friend's this weekend and at the office last and this week. And the problem is the chain. Now I know about the problems with most common metals and water, but can we have some sort of fix please?

All I ask for is a chain that is long enough to allow the flap to close, but not too long that it can't be raised by the flush level. And connections between the lever and the chain, and the chain and the flap that keeps them flexible and mobile.


Friday, April 09, 2010

Minor Expectations

One thing I've been noticing recently with the iPod is that the song you expect to follow the song you just listened to is not the song that comes up.

For years I listened to cassette tapes and CDs, and learned what song was next. The albums were ordered and song followed song in a way that I got used to.

For example, I was just listening to "Cuddly Bear" by the Monkees. It used to always be followed by the deep bass drum beginning of "Randy Scouse Git."

No longer with Shuffle, but I'll still take my over 6,700 songs on shuffle than having to flip a cassette tape, or change the disc.


Yeah this is rambling and incoherent. Oh well.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Strange Powers

The problem with gaining new super powers is that you never can completely control how they work.

Today on my way to work I got stuck behind a bathtub repair truck. Essentially a pick-up truck with a mini U-Haul type trailer. And the truck was definitely under powered, or they were driving extra cautiously because they maintained 5 miles per hour below the speed limit. That mean 20 MPH through residential.

And so I kept visualizing them turning left.

Turn left. Turn left. Turn left...

Finally they pulled over at the house they where were going to be working.

I passed in relief and the next song to come on the iPod?

"Turn Left" by Chickenfoot.

Sunday, April 04, 2010


Well, it was quite the weekend.

I took Friday off (balanced with working the previous Saturday), and Jennifer and I attended three days of Wondercon at San Francisco's Moscone Center.

Friday, we arrived and wandered a bit. We saw some good panels. I got to see Lisa Coleman of Wendy and Lisa who do the soundtrack for "Heroes", and the two guys that did the music for the animated "Avatar, The Last Air-Bender." We got free music at the end including music from the finale of the series. Then Friday evening we saw Kevin Smith doing his Q&A.

Saturday, Jennifer dressed up as Donna Troy, we wandered the floor, and she got interviewed by some guys working on a documentary. Then saw two really great panels. One was led by three psychologists and they analyzed Batman's rogues gallery. Then immediately after we saw a presentation by an archaeology professor on the factual and fictitious archaeology in the Indiana Jones movies. Both were really fascinating.

Today we split up again and I watched an interview with the writer of the comic books Superman and The Justice League of America. He was fascinating to listen to. Then I went to a panel on cover art with artists from the sixties through the present.

Jennifer and I got some great shirts and other memorabilia, and had a thoroughly wonderful time.

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