Wednesday, February 14, 2007


A few reflections on recent goings on

This post is going to be a somewhat random dump of the thoughts that are currently spinning around in my head. I apologize in advance. I haven't posted in a while so I feel obligated to post something.

I'm currently in my first year in a teaching position. Prior to this I was in a pure research position. I'm currently striving to find some balance between the two. This semester I'm directly teaching three classes and overseeing 5 labs (my teaching load was similar last semester). I'm also trying to get a decent amount of research done too, which is proving difficult. I did recently get ahold of a seriously cool portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF) machine, which I've wanted for some time now and have very ambitious plans for. I've got 1300 samples waiting to be scanned in my lab (plus another 1200 from a friend). I'm also just drooling at the chance to take this thing out into the field and start using it on outcrops. I've got a couple in mind, but they'll probably have to wait until summer 2008. Our department is also fortunate enough to have several motivated, bright, curious, undergrads who are interested in working on independent research projects with me. I'm grateful for them. I hope that I don't squash their interest in geology.

My most recent publication was highlighted by the editor of the journal I submitted it to, and I also just found out that it appeared in the 'Research Highlights' section of Nature. That's not nearly as good as having a publication in Nature, but I'll take it.

Our puppy was recently spayed and she REALLY wants to wrestle with our other dog instead of taking it easy in her crate. She's not the convalescent type. She's supposed to be on the equivalent of bed rest, but she'd much rather chase her brother around the house and go outside and chase birds. I'm especially looking forward to the time when we can give her a bath (she's not supposed to get wet for a couple of weeks). Luckily she's really fond of standing in the shower, so we don't have to struggle with her when it's bath time. Our other dog howls like he's being killed when we try to give him a bath (although he's much better behaved if we take him to a groomer). I'm very anxiously looking forward to the time when our pup loses interest in our shoes. Fortunately she likes my wife's shoes more than she does mine.

I think I may have found the Texas equivalent of Chris Buttars. See this link. I wait with bated breath to see what comes of this. (ht Pharyngula).

I recently started reading Francis Collins' book 'The Language of God'. My mom sent it to me. I'm thinking of posting my thoughts after each chapter. I've finished a chapter and a half now, and I'm generally feeling frustrated/annoyed. Collins is a fairly engaging writer, but his arguments in favor of theism haven't been stellar as of yet (maybe they get better).

I'm thinking of trying to brew mead. I've been homebrewing off and on for a few years, and I'd really like to branch out. When I was in grad school one of the profs gave me a bottle of a great, dry pear-flavored mead that he'd made. I don't know how to describe the taste, but it was wonderful. I'd like to see if I could make something like that. I'm also considering making a Grand Cru or something similar. Just before I left California I went to a microbrewery in Sacramento that made one of the best Belgian-style ales I've ever had. It was, by itself, almost enough to make me want to live in Sacramento. This part of Texas doesn't have a lot of microbreweries (St. Arnold's in Houston is the closest).

OK, that's all I have for now. I ought to get back to work.

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