Wednesday, February 26, 2014

We pause this program for an important message (and pictures)

Well this week, school is trying to kick me arse. Not even huge stuff due, but a lot of little things. So my absence here the past few nights I hope is excused (not like I have a HUMONGOUS following)...but hey, just trying to keep in touch with the few, the proud, the followers of some crazy, ol college student.

So tonight, I first start off by saying my dad (what a soldier) is recovering from his pneumonia. Goes to show you that doctors do not know everything. He is in a little rehabilitation center in Turlock (California), where he is getting the attention he needs and physical therapy. My poor Dad though, he was planning his escape from the facility, as he really just wants to be home, cannot say that I blame him there.

Hospitals want you to get "rest" (insert evil laughter here), and Dad did not get much when he was there, so I am hoping he is sleeping a little more comfortably at the rehabilitation facility. Get to go see him this weekend, and I cannot wait to put my arms around his neck. Pfizer just announced a few days ago that they have a vaccination for pneumonia for people 65 and older...that is exciting, and I am hoping that his doctors will give it to him. I do not think our family can go through another week like we had with Dad...very scary stuff.

I am selfish as I would like my father at my graduation when I get my B.S. in Geology. He has a tenth grade education, and no one in my family has a degree so he is very supportive of me. I love my daddy (and of course my Mom too!!!)

So now that the news is over I am going to go to bed and get some sleep as tomorrow I have English 102 and I am pooped.

Going to leave you with some cool pictures from past geology field trips. See if you can name these places...

Hint: a state park in Utah

Hint: has the initials C.R.

Hint: rhymes with nice (or gneiss) and is a national park in Utah

Hint: Geology students on a coral pink sand _______.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

My world is is my Geology notebook

I remember the first question my first geology professor asked us in our Physical Geology class - "What color is rock?"

Of course like any class full of students who did not know one another, all we were able to do was look around at each other, shrug our shoulders and hope someone would say something. All I remember is that I wanted to ask him "What type of rock?" Thankfully, someone had the guts to answer for the class and the answer was "gray".

Not a very imaginable answer but he was right, at least for some rocks. I have seen all types of colors in rocks, and being an artist, my brain has never let me see things like most people. I don't see gray. I see a pale heather, or charcoal gray, a greenish-gray or steel gray. Growing up I was excited at Christmas time because I knew the weight and shape of the Crayola 64 Crayon Box (with Built-In Sharpener), and every year I received a new box wrapped up under the tree, which I easy confirmed with its size specifications . I LOVED my crayolas...I still do. I refuse to buy any cheapo crayon, if they are not Crayola they are not crayons. I just hate those waxy awful cheap ones that don't distribute the color properly.

Photo credit: Wikipedia
So you are probably thinking where the heck am I going with Crayola crayons as a geologist?

Well, for big kids they make colored pencils. My geology notebooks come to life with colors, so much that just in my second semester at my university, my teachers and classmates are well aware of my "color addiction". I must admit however that I have purchased "artist-quality" color pencils such as Prismacolor, however I prefer Crayola's color pencils (the 50-color pack is the best).

One of the best things about my first geology professor was his love of a blackboard and colored chalk. Last year they moved his science department to a new state-of-art building but they did not install blackboards. I think he probably went through withdrawals, as I know I would have. I cannot imagine his lectures without that blackboard.

Grip Trio Sharpener
For geology class notebooks however, you can have all the color you want. Many of my geology classes, require us students to bring them to class. Mapping or drawing up stratigraphic columns especially. Buying a cheap zippered pencil case and keeping your colored pencils in it, allows you to take it to class, on field study trips, or where ever you need them.Get a really good pencil sharpener also to carry in your pencil case, as the cheap ones I have found damage the wood, nicking it and causing the leads to break off a lot.  I purchased the Faber-Castell 3-hole sharpener, and you will love how it sharpens color and regular pencils. Costs about $4.49-5.99. Dick Blick online art supplies have it probably for the cheapest.

For a good notebook check out Top Flight's "Wired" series with heavy paper. The paper is nice and thick, and pens and colored pencils do not leak through to the other side. The other reason I recommend these spiral bound notebooks is that because their paper is heavyweight, it lasts a long time, and stand up to the ins-and-outs of backpacks.

Next is how to organize your notebook so you can find the answer in a hurry without flipping through the entire notebook.

P.S.: Put your name and phone number on your notebook. Do NOT chance losing it because you will be sad.

Monday, February 17, 2014

In My Eyes

I cannot even try to tell you what the past three days has been like for me. Terrifying, sad, hopeful, spiritual, and downright scary as hell.

Dad's First Holy Communion, C. 1939

My father is almost 83 years old.

BUT In my eyes my Dad is strong, loving,  and (was) the disciplinarian to us when we were kids. He commuted from Hayward to South San Francisco for over 30 years. He worked long hours at a commercial printing company...yet he always had the time to practice softball pitching with me, or come to my volleyball games. He had time to coach the boys basketball team at St. Bede's Parochial School on Patrick Avenue. He was never a huge mountain-man-type but in my eyes he was always strong and big.

The past few years however have not been good to my dad. They have withered him away into a frail man. He has been very weak. It is hard for him to hold his 5 month old (number 4) great-grandbaby for more than a few minutes. Mostly because she is a little wiggler and his feeding tube access  on his stomach is sensitive and sore. Nights are filled with coughing and restlessness. He doesn't talk much anymore, and seems as if his loss of hearing is a blessing to him more than it is to us. I miss talking to my dad. I love his wisdom and his life-long experience in maneuvering successfully to have three great kids who are all well and successful enough. He is a veteran of the Korean War, and has served beyond his time as part of the Funeral Service Color Guard to fallen brothers.

I have slept maybe 7 hours the past 72 hours...I have been fearing a call in the middle of the night with news I have long avoided. I was so afraid to close my eyes in fear that if I did I would cause reliving a nightmare that happened in 1966. That was the year when I was only 6 years old (same age as my beautiful little granddaughter, Eowyn) when my parents and us were awaken by a telephone call in the middle of the night. My Gramma Dubay's house in SF was on fire, and Gramma was hurt. My mother cried from the telephone call (Hayward) to San Francisco. It was so horrible. It has left such an scar on my heart seeing my mom cry like that , and having my precious Gramma die shortly afterwards from complications of diabetes...

How can I sleep? How can I focus on school work or friends? It has not been easy. I KNOW I am blessed that I have my mom and dad still with me. Many of my friends have loss at least one of their parents long ago. What can I say...we have good genes.

Not being able to see my father has been very, very hard on me. I have counted on my mom, brother and daughter to keep me appraised of dad's condition. My nurse sister-friend here in Reno has been comforting and reassuring me that Dad will come through this. I have tried to be strong, crying only when I think no one is looking on. I cannot lose my dad. I cannot lose my mom. I am selfish and desire only to have my parents who are the most precious parts of my life with me as I graduate with a B.S. in Geology next year. I want my father who sacrificed his education for his family  to see one of his kids get a degree. Last year we talked and he confided in me telling me of his dreams of going to UC Berkeley as a kid. Although I didn't apply to UCB I know that he is proud of me and that my education at UNR is going well.

Dad has not had an easy life. He was born in a silver mining town in the Red Mountain District of Colorado. As a young child he was sent to San Ildefonso Pueblo where he and his little sister, Loretta, was raised by Gramma Annie and five aunties (Carolina, Pauline, Helen, Sylvia, and Fedie). No running water, dirt floors, and no electricity on the pueblo left him appreciative of his life with Mom and his three kids back in the Sixties. I know his loves San Ildefonso, and his memories has been shared with me on many of my probing talks.

Tonight I received news about my dad. He has turned the corner and looking like his healing process has begun. He coloring has returned. He hardly coughed when my mom was there. My brother texted me with the words "the look of death is no longer in his eyes". I asked for prayers for my father. YES despite my education as a scientist I BELIEVE IN GOD. I believe in prayer. I believe in the POWER of prayer.

Science explains how it happens - God (for me) is why it happens. I have many friends how are atheists, pagans, and non-believers in anything but is all okay...because whatever positive thoughts and/or prayers that came from your hearts has helped ME. It might not have cured Dad but it has HELPED me. Thank you.

In the words of my dear sister-friend Teresa, your dad IS a soldier.

Dad at Jake's Commissioning Ceremony, San Diego 2013

Yes he is....YES HE IS!!! Airborne forever - right Papa? Rakkasans!
My Mom - she is a soldier too! She is the strength and love behind a GREAT man....My Dad. Takes a great lady to love and stand behind a great man for SIXTY-ONE YEARS of marriage.  Dad...Mom...I love you both so much. 

Everything I do in my life is because you two have inspired me...supported me...and have ALWAYS been there for me. 
Skagway, Alaska 2006

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Notebook (not the movie!)

In the past I have had fellow students examine my notebook, and I usually get two different responses...1) "Overachiever!" and 2) "Would you sell this?"

In response to the common two remarks, I decided it was time to share a few of my secrets in making the best notebook for geology you can.

Yes, I am artistic (thanks Dad), but I do not always rely on my drawing skills especially if reproducing something is going to take too long, or I find something I like better. PLEASE keep in mind these are only is up to you to figure out what works best for your needs and class notes.

For my fellow students this is all you need to do.

1. I prefer the "Top Flight" Wired Heavy Paper spiral-bound notebook. (5-Subject as it leaves me plenty of room for handouts, cut and pastes, drawings, etc.) but any notebook will do.

2. Invest in colored pencils. I have Prismacolor Verithins and Premiers, but honestly I love Crayola
colored pencils...(Staples has the 50 color pack which I love).

3. If you really don't enjoy drawing, then search GOOGLE for what your are studying, and click on "Images"From there click on the graphic, photo or illustration you like. A screen will open asking if you want to "Visit Page" or "View Image". Click on View Image. Warning, not all pictures you click on will work. Some are so small, they will not work in cutting and pasting into Word (will explain in a few).

Once you do find the image you like that appears clean and large enough to see if you cut it and paste it...right click and click on "COPY IMAGE".

From there I use Word, and I have a new document open. I click in Word and paste the image. I resize it to fit in my notebook. Have a little ruler on hand so you get the right size. Then from here you just print it. Cut it out with scissors. Attach to notebook page with either a glue stick (okay) or my preference, a Tombow double-sided tape runner.

4. Handouts and class lectures posted online are also wonderful sources for your notebook. I take my handouts I get, and trim them so that they fit on a 8-1/2 by 11 inch page. Most handouts have a margin so it works well. Again glue stick or tape runner works well.

5. Extras that make life easier. Staedtler's Mars Plastic (latex-free) eraser is the bomb. It cleanly erases all pencil marks. I have the Staedtler's "Mathematical Instruments Xcellence 8-piece set" that cost me a few bucks. It has a small 180-degree protractor,45-degree and a 60-degree triangle, a pencil sharpener, pencil, eraser, calipers, ruler, and a compass. Works great in drawing diagrams and such for Geochemistry II.

6. I use Pilot G-2 (Sizes 05-07) for taking notes. I LOVE color, so I have purchased the two color sets they sell...again Staples has all this fun stuff.

7. Templates are cheap, and if you have a hard time drawing squares, circles, triangles, etc. it is a worthwhile investment. They cost a few dollars. My old-time favorite is "The C-Thru Ruler Company" T-816.

So tomorrow night I will continue with some other helpful hints so that you can produce the best notebook ever. Geology students rely on their notebooks not just for the class they are taking but for future reference. Hope this gives you some ideas!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What would Godzilla do?

Tonight I was working on Chapter 13 - Mid-Ocean Ridge Volcanism and after about six pages of notes from reading the textbook (yes I DO read my textbooks) I found myself in the midst of controversy in regards to MORBs. MORBs (Mid-ocean ridge basalts) are broken down into three classifications.

There is N-MORB ("Normal" mid-ocean ridge basalt),  E-MORB ("Enriched" ya-da-ya-da*)
and T-MORB ("transitional" ya-da-ya-da). What I  find fascinating is the basalts at the divergent plate boundaries are still controversial in that geologists really don't know for sure at what depths of the mantle is coming up and why the variations (however slight).  Lab experiments geologists mimic as closely as possible is believed to be going on say 150+ km down into the mantle.  Thanks to smart guys like petrologist, Norman L. Bowen...we geology students have a model we use that helps us to image fractional crystallization of magma although Bowen initially wanted to show why certain minerals were found together.

Deeper into the chapter, I discover that geologists have more types of diagrams and graphs than Carter has pills (old saying) regarding Earth's mantle. My head is swimming at trying to delve into the data before me. Most of it I actually get, but once in a while you get a diagram that has numbers only but is not labeled as to what the numbers mean, so you cannot interpret the data. Grrrrrrrr! I'm tired.

Okay so here is the part where I sit back in my office chair, look away from the textbook, see my Godzilla toy, and ask myself..."what would Godzilla do?" Godzilla is my favorite monster since childhood...I LOVE much we had to play "Godzilla" by Blue Oyster Cult in my cover band many moons ago. The only thing that continues to run through my head over and over are the lyrics...

"History shows again and again how nature points up the folly of man...GODZILLA!"
 Blue Oyster Cult

I stop reading and taking notes. I put down my Pilot G-2 pen, I start to think about "our folly". I know my professor from MJC dislikes a certain movie that came out with a machine made of "unobtainium" that could drill down to the core. I, on the other and love Hollywood's imagination (despite how stupid it may be)! Problematic however is that Hollywood needs to come up with another name for an element that is unearthly. "Unobtainium" has been used in at least two movies I have seen..."Avatar" (Sam Worthington - yay!) when actor Giovanni Ribisi holds up a hand sample of galena and claims it to be a valuable resource they want to mine on the moon, Pandora. The problem is the source is under the home of the Na'vi. The second time is when Delroy Lindo (who plays Dr. Ed Brazzleton) says his "machine" is made of "unobtainium"  and can drill down to the core.

Okay, then. First kids there is NO such thing as "unobtainium" that is why they call it that. Hollywood has its share of folly, but what about us geologists?  I personally feel geologists today (and those in the past) have done an excellent job in trying to explain the Earth rock processes with restrictions of the human body. 

There is still much to study and learn, but what a great and fascinating field geology is. Geologists use their knowledge to come up with scenarios in the lab for explanations of processes we are not privileged in seeing (due to extreme pressure and temperatures of the mantle for example).  Planetary geologists also have to rely on observation, learned knowledge and research to come up with the best scenarios they can regarding other planets and moons - millions of miles away. Intense stuff! 

So, that being said, I am going to go offline, and I am so done with reading my homework...time to watch Sam Worthington go blue... :)

BTW, Godzilla movie schedule for May 16th release....cannot wait! GO GO GODZILLA! The trailer is promising...

* Ya-da-da is NOT a technical nor scientific just means "and so on".

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Part 2: Being a Better Student

Well, first I have to say I was sad tonight in seeing Shaun White not medal...but he IS Shaun White and there will be no other. I love watching these kids snowboard, fearless, talented and focused. These are traits that I admire not only in athletes but in students.

Is it enough to do the bare minimum of homework, or allow your textbook for the class sit on a shelf collecting dust throughout the semester? Are you more focused on social life and making friends at school instead of getting educated? Being a GOOD student means that you must sacrifice. You must dedicate your life to studying using organizational skills.

1). Make a calendar (there are templates in Word) with all your class assignments, their due dates, and any other significant dates such as tests, quizzes, off-campus field trips, etc. Do NOT forget Finals!!!

2). If you are not familiar with your campus, go to school the week before with a campus map and a printout of your classes and their locations. Find your classrooms and know where you are going the first week. This sounds silly to some, but believe me, it is less stressful the first week if you know where you are going.

3). Do NOT be afraid to email instructors with questions. Such as are there other books they suggest for your success in their class. Not only will teachers love you for it, but it sets you apart from the average student. Talented students are not born but made, made by studying and being on top of the game.

4). Be fearless! Find EVERY SINGLE RESOURCE available to you on your campus. There are workshops, study groups, labs, help centers, math centers, chem centers, writing centers, etc. etc. etc. on most campuses today. If there is not such a thing on your campus...then ask for one. Start up a study group and meet at the library or at a coffee shop. Other students are one of your best resources for success.They might understand a concept better than you and help you immensely. Likewise, as you will have concepts under your belt that they might not fully understand. It is wonderful to work together...either in groups or in pairs.

5). Focus on your school work first. I am NOT saying do not have fun. You must be able to do a balancing act with homework, studying, and recreational or fun activities. Living inside a book is not that healthy for your mind or body as I unfortunately discovered last semester.  It is a fine balancing act, but there are times to walk away from the books and do something fun or mindless. Likewise, there are times to say "no" to going out, and study for that test in two days.

Being an older student and coming from a completely different era than most college students who are 18-22 years old,  I see things that are NOT APPROPRIATE at school. You do not want to be the student that teachers talk about in the lounge or the student that teachers see as fooling around and not serious about their studies. It will not take you anywhere. If you think that screwing around at school is alright then you have a long ways to go before you become a serious student.

College is short, make the best of it my friend. Do not pass up opportunities to help you. If your class goes from 2:30-3:45PM do NOT start packing up your backpack at 3:43PM.


Because it is rude! It is rude to your professor. It is rude to other students. I so want to go off on some people in my class who do this routinely. Your professor prepares their lesson for YOU. YOU can at least give them a little respect and not start disturbing the classroom before their lecture is over. Zippers are loud trust me. There is no place you need to be that is more beneficial to you then the classroom with a teacher who cares enough to want to teach you. There are out there who, like any other profession, is not good at their job...but when you get a teacher that cares...PLEASE show them respect.

Don't text and learn.

When the professor starts talking - you should stop talking. It is pure and simple decency.

Wait until they stop lecturing to pack your backpacks.

Be grateful for education...many countries do NOT provide higher education to their citizens, in fact some countries do not provide any education.

I hope that whoever reads this, reads this with the knowledge that I wrote this to help YOU. I know teachers cannot say these things in fear of offending anyone, but I feel that many young adults today were not taught these few basic and respectful gestures.

Last thing, if you want respect you need to earn it, and you will if you are empathetic to those who are standing in front of you trying to share their knowledge with you. Happy education all...

Monday, February 10, 2014

Don't Get Me Wrong but....(Part 1)

This week the 2014 Winter Olympics began in Russia. For those of us who has seen even one night of the games, we already know names like Meryl Davis & Charlie White, Gracie Gold, Jamie Anderson, Sage Kotsenburg, and Ty Walker...and if interested to know the rest of Team USA check out

As an American growing up in the 1960's (before Xbox, cell phones and iPods) we played a lot of sports. We spent warm spring evenings tossing a baseball back and forth. Or if enough kids were around we would head down to Brinkwitz Elementary School (now a "continuation school" - we did not have them either!) to play a game of baseball.

I grew up in a very sports-minded family. Mom and Dad grew up in San Francisco, and my brother and I were both born there. We are SF team fans for life. Family outings to a Giants or Niner's game was always memorable.  I also played ice hockey (before there was ever "girls" teams).  
San Francisco AT&T Park 2013, with the family

Times have changed.

Technology has improved how athletes train.  They appear as mutants (I like the X-Men), or dare I say - super-humans. I appreciate their dedication to their sport and the sacrifices that they (and their families) have made to get them to places like Sochi or Lillehammer, Norway (1994 Winter Olympics). I also enjoy watching them perform feats that just seem to defy gravity or appear from my couch as humanly impossible. I do love sports and I think they are important - to a point!

I am more concerned with the lack of support that our country has in their education system. No one "cheers" you on at school. Education WAS once important in this country. Now the priority is debating politics, slamming religious people, depriving people of their constitutional rights, news media sensationalizing the worse of human behavior every night at 6PM and 11PM. Where did education go? Why has our country turned their backs on education?

The only news I hear anymore that regards "education" is when there is a shooting at a school somewhere. It is sad, that our country has lost its way. We are becoming a lazy country who depends on technology to carry them through life. Well my friend, good luck with that. Education IS the most important thing in our lives. We should cherish our freedom to be educated and to attend any university that we want.

I was at one of my university's offices turning in a form, and the lady tells me, "You have such beautiful handwriting". I thanked her, and then felt sad because I recently learned that elementary schools no longer teach penmanship. How stupid is that? I personally feel that this is insane. Writing is as important as reading and learning math. Without basic skills, we Americans will find ourselves in a world of hurt (again). If you don't believe me learn a little American History (hint: WWII).

AMERICA WAKE UP! We need to work on our priorities. We need to learn to write, we need our arts and music programs back. We need to learn math (and LOVE it). We need creativity as well as academics. We need education to retake its status in this country - before it is too late.

So, go Team USA...but I am cheering more for education in America! We need our super-humans but we also need our smart humans. I am a nerd, and I am proud!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Journey to the Center of the Earth

I was fairly young (5-6 years old) when I first saw a rerun of the 1959 movie "Journey to the Center of the Earth" starring James Mason and Pat Boone. I was enthralled by this movie. It was fantastic and amazing. I remember I wanted a goose (named Gertrude) and I wanted to see the center of Earth.
 The gist of the movie was that Professor Lindenbrook received some volcanic rock from one of his geology students Alec McEwan (played by Pat Boone). I don't remember the exact details but Professor Lindenbrook discovered that another man had found a way to the center of the Earth a few hundred years earlier.  The professor and his student, Alec head to Iceland to follow the clues left by this guy who discovered the route to the center of the Earth.

Okay, I know what you are thinking...this is just a movie! But it was the first thing I remember as a child that something called a geologist got to go to the center of the COOL was that!!!

Later on in my adulthood, other movies came out (we won't mention "The Core" with the heroine "Rebecca" (weird connection)  but it left me feeling numb and thinking back on the "Journey to the Center of the Earth". I am not a fan of the movie, however it led me back to other probabilities such as what Jules Verne wrote about. IS the only place on Earth where the mid-Atlantic ocean ridge comes to shore. It is so unique that it still surprises me that Jules Verne knew all of this and made connections that most would never be able to. Verne also wrote some of my other favorites like "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea", and "From the Earth to the Moon".  I wonder a lot about Monsieur Verne and H.G. Wells as they were men well before their time.

Can we travel to the center of the Earth. No - unfortunately! (Sad face)

Lab experiments are all we have to tell us the story of the world below our feet. What minerals melt at certain temperatures and pressure, how basaltic flows come up to the surface (divergent zones - mid-oceanic ridges) and  how our Earth's crust is created and recycled. The center of the Earth is still off limits, however geologists today have a good idea of how mantle rock is brought up and how it helps to construct the modern Earth's crust.

Ophiolites are a geologist's best friend when it comes to studying mantle rock. They include basaltic pillow lavas to ultramafics (wehrlite, harzburgite, and dunite) that are brought up and found in the deformation of  modern-day mountain belts which are called "alpine peridotites". These are the modern-day geologists journey to the center of the Earth.

I am hopeful that as a geologist I will be able to travel the to center of the Earth, using modern-day technology and the offering from Mother Earth in the form of ophiolites. Sure, it is NOT as adventurous as the telling of Jules Verne's tale to the center of the Earth, but it does give us a wonderful data as to what is happening deep down in our beautiful planet.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Are you Faculty? Hmm, no I am a (old) student!

Today I went into the Wolf Shop here on is the Associated Students of University of Nevada (ASUN) bookstore/gift shop. It is a two-story facility filled with all that is blue and silver and Clinique makeup counter (which is exactly where I headed first). One of managers there greeted me with her fabulous Brazilian accent, and sincere questions as to my well-being. I seriously needed some makeup as I was scraping the bottom of the pan this morning. My Brazilian friend was accompanied by a young, beautiful young woman (obviously working there as a student). She helped me with my choices, and then asked if I was "faculty". For one thousandth of a second I was stunned and then I laughed (uncomfortably) and said "No, I am a student".

Right after I answered her I thought of many other responses that would have gotten a better laugh from her, but she was sweet and asked what I was majoring in. God love her.

I told her I was a Geology major. She then asked me what I planned to do with my degree. I looked at her and asked her if she had dark brown mascara. She laughed and said yeah we have that. I needed a "Twix" moment to think of my response to her question. After getting my mascara, she returned and I told that my plans were to work in mining for a while, as I obtain my Masters. After that I wanted to teach.


Did that just come out of my mouth????

I further added "I want to teach high school or possibly a community college".


 Did I just say that?

I did just say that. I really did not understand where that answer came from. Seriously, I have had a few friends tell me they think I should seriously consider teaching, but I though I would end up choke-holding a student and my career would end faster than it began. But is teaching so bad? I not only appreciate my current and past teachers, but admire them for their skills and inspiration.

Many teachers have been inspirational to me, and being amongst their community would be nothing short of a honor. I seriously don't know where I am going from here. I know that Geology is IT for me. I love so many aspects of Geology, which is another night's tale. I would love knowing I inspired someone young. I wrote a few nights back about my lost notebook. What I didn't include in that story was that when I went to pick it up, the teacher who found it stated it was in the hands of one of his students who was interested in Earth Sciences.

Was that a sign? Who knows, but it did affect me positively, and knowing that I touched one child was a wonderful feeling. Just ONE can make such a wonderful difference in our world.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

California Community Colleges Offer a Great Education

Last week I attended my very first geology club meeting at Nevada. The club is called the Mackay Rockhounds, and about 97% of the club are also members of the Mackay Muckers Women's' Mining Team. The club's topic was where to go on a geology field trip.We made a simple list on the the whiteboard. The choices were Lava Beds (me), Yosemite, Great Basin, Big Sur, and about 4-5 other choices. We each had two votes.

I personally voted on Great Basin and Lava Beds. As we were voting however, it came out that several of these women have never been to Yosemite...EVER!!!

Most grew up in Nevada, however they have never made the trek to Yosemite. I first responded as if it was just a joke. Then after a few seconds realized this was not a joke, and these ladies needed a trip to Yosemite. In the end, Yosemite won the vote and rightfully so...everyone MUST see Yosemite within their lifetime.

Photographed by Becca Gonzales-Clayton, 2012

Prior to my life at Nevada, I had a life at Modesto Junior College, where I crossed tracks with three geologists who gave me so much in my education. I went on a trip with Noah Hughes and learned about the geology of the foothills and the Mother Lode. I took a summer course in mapping with Jeff Tolhurst from our sister college in Sonora, and we hiked and mapped a few miles of the Stanislaus National Forest. However, Professor Garry Hayes of Modesto Junior College, I found out was the field trip guru.

I have in just a few years with Professor Hayes visited the geology of California (everywhere), Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Utah. I visited so many national parks, national monuments, forests, state parks, and geologic sites with Professor Hayes, that after hearing these women talk, feel extremely blessed to have had these experiences.

My experiences at MJC in field study was excellent...I have been to a few sites locally here in Reno for sedimentary rock  class, and they were educational, however I am blessed knowing that I have been to Yosemite (many times) and that my education at MJC far exceeds most universities.

I know Nevada has an A-1 Geology Department. I am fortunate to be studying under people like Dr. James Trexler, Dr. John McCormack, Dr. James Carr, Dr. Stacia Gordon, and others.  I also know that for my fellow students at MJC have excellent opportunities to see some beautiful, and unique geology right in their own backyard.

Take advantage!   Go on every trip you can. Twice if possible! You will never forget it. (Plus you make friends for life...pictured here Professor Hayes' Geology major students)...[I truly LOVE these kids]

I am looking forward to taking my peers here at Nevada to Yosemite and showing them some of the fabulous geology that Professor Hayes shared with me on prior trips. I have my notebooks ready to go.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Rakk and Roll

Tonight while on Facebook, I visited a group I belong too called Rakkasans. The Rakkasans are the 187th Airborne who have been in more wars than 101st Airborne. My dad, Ernie, was and IS a Rakkasan. He entered the Army in 1950 and was planning to marry my mom. When he heard he could make another $40 a month (that was a LOT of money back them) for jumping out of an airplane he signed up!

My Dad is the guy that everyone (literally) says "he is the nicest guy I have ever met". And he is. He is also the best dad in the whole world. I remember standing out in the middle of Darwin Street in Hayward practicing my softball pitching with Dad. Or his "math lessons" at the dining table. Growing up in the 60's my parents were always there for me. Last Christmas, Mom (Bea) and Dad celebrated their 61st Wedding Anniversary. Few make it to their 50th, but I am blessed with parents that are still in my life. Although Dad is quite ill, I know everyday I have him here on Earth with me is a blessing.

So getting back to the Rakkasans...Rakkasan mean "falling umbrellas" in Japanese - because paratroopers look like falling umbrellas from the sky.

After a long week at school your mind starts making weird tonight was that my Dad is a 'Rakk', I played in a all-girl 'rock' band in the 70's and I am now getting my degree in 'rocks'.

I guess I had no other direction to go other than becoming a geologist. My Dad was a Rakk star, and now I am one too!  So my friends...Rakk (rock) on!