Wednesday, March 26, 2014

I Can't Go Back to School...

This is dedicated to those who "think" about going back to school...

What are the costs of going back to school? What will I sacrifice? Is it really worth it?

  1. First, what are the costs of going back to school...tuition is different wherever you go. 
    • There are so many programs out there that you really need to call around and just ask! Trust admissions and welcome center staff are more than HAPPY to answer questions for you.
    • Consider grades. If you have over a 3.0 GPA you may qualify for a exchange student program. I lived in California, attended a community college to get my transfer studies completed at a MUCH LOWER COST than a 4-year. I had great grades so I qualified for a WUE (Western Undergraduate Exchange Program). I would have had to pay almost $9,000 for out-of-state fees, however they waived that thru WUE. I pay a few hundred dollars more than a Nevada resident. I save $18,000 a year, so I make sure my grades are still good.
    • Bottomline...the prize at the end of your education (considering you are ambitious and get a job) will make up that money. Education is priceless - NO one can take it away from you.
  2. What will I sacrifice? A lot. This again depends on where you go, and what your life is like now. I have aging parents (I am 54 and my Mom is 80 and Dad is 82), so I planned to attend a school under 4 hours drive time away from them in case of an emergency. My Mom and Dad ARE my world...I come from an insanely close-knit family and therefore I sacrifice a lot of time away from my parents, kids and granddaughters (4 total). You might sacrifice more, or less, but overall the sacrifices can be minimal if you consider the following:
    • Attend a local community college and get all your GE (General Education) classes done there. You will benefit greatly as community colleges offer classes that are transferable and taught by teachers who WANT to be there to teach you. There class schedule is flexible making it easy to work and take a few classes each semester. Class sizes are small too (I miss that).
    • Make sure you complete the Board of Governors form each school year so that you might be eligible to get your tuition waived at the community college (at least this is the process in California). Might be different where you are....but ASK!
    • Schedule classes to minimize travel time (saves on gas and time)
    • Be willing to sacrifice what ever it school is not forever..but your future with a degree is.
  3. Is it really worth it? You will doubt yourself all the time. You will continually play a tennis match in your brain...should I quit school and just get a job or should I stick it out? STICK IT OUT...a job is just that - a job...but a career is so much more. It means you wake up in the morning and go to a job you have a passion for. It is worth it. Worth the sacrifice and worth the agony of stress and doubt.
I took a $150,000 lost on my house in California when I sold it to come to Reno, Nevada to attend the University of Nevada-Reno (NEVADA). I downsized and my husband and I now live in half the house we had. This is okay as it is less time cleaning, and it is more comfy for the two of us. We still have space in case kids or friends come to visit.
BEFORE: 2850 SF House in CA

AFTER:  1405 SF Reno house (we since put in new driveway though and removed the junipers.)

You can sit all day long and think of EXCUSES to  not go back to school. I have to work....I am too tired after work to go to a night class...I need to be available for my family...I am too old.

ALL OF THESE excuses are just excuse to keep depriving yourself of what you want to do. Think about it this way...what REASON do I have NOT to go back to school?

My daughter, Megan and husband Scott McAndrews with daughters, Eowyn 6 and Lucy 6 months.

Granddaughters, (L) Ryann 8 and (R) Lily 6 years who  live on Maui. 

 My biggest reasons for going to school...these little girls I call granddaughters. I am proud to be an example that success in life is available to all of us if we are just willing to try our best to reach our goals. At 54 I will be the first in my family to attend and graduate college.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Road Traveled

I am constantly amazed in talking to fellow geology majors here at UNR how many have never been to places like Yosemite or Lava Beds. I joined our Mackay Rockhounds Club and one of the things we do as a group is go somewhere geologically interesting. At our last meeting, we listed the places we would like to go.

Some places listed were Great Basin NP to see Lehman Caves, Lava Beds National Monument to explore lava tubes, Yosemite National Park, and few other sites in Nevada. Two of the ladies in our club one who is a Masters student has NEVER been to Yosemite. I honestly thought she was joking with us when she told us this. I think my mouth dropped open and stay in that awkward position for the rest o the meeting.
Merced River in Yosemite NP

Yosemite is one of California's most beautiful fact I believe it is one the world's gems. John Muir gave a tours to the likes Theodore Roosevelt and Ralph Waldo Emerson in Yosemite before it became first a state park, and then later a national park. I often wonder how much more beautiful it was prior to restaurants, campgrounds, stores, tourist spots, hotel, and the blacktop parking lots. I imagine however despite all the modern conveniences, my geology club friends will love Yosemite as much as I do.

Although my ex-husband, Dave and I took our kids every New Years Day to Yosemite from the Bay Area, I truly got to "experience" it with my community college geology professor who opened my eyes to even more wonders than I had seen in Yosemite in prior family visits.

Not only have I been on college geology trips to Yosemite, but I have experience beautiful sunrises in Lava Beds with my fellow MJC classmates. I have seen places like Cape Disappointment in Washington, however the real disappointment came when I went to see Mt. St. Helens which was so fogged in I could only see my hand in front of my face. I have seen Mt. St. Helens in 1974 prior to her 1980 eruption where she puked up the entire side of herself. That's okay though because I have seen so many other wonders.

Gettysburg - VA Memorial Monument
Glacier National Park, Yellowstone (several times), San Juan Mountains in Colorado, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon (several times), Bryce Canyon, Zion NP, Capitol Reef, Antelope Canyon, Ancient Bristlecone Forest, Long Valley Caldera in Eastern Sierra Nevada, Fossil Falls, Red Rock Canyon, Petrified Forest, Acoma-The Sky People Pueblo, Taos, San Ildefonso Pueblo where my dad was raised...and The Redwoods. This is to name just the ones I saw on my geology trips.

Inuit Statue in Fairbanks AL
I traveled to Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, Eastern Seaboard, the South, and all the way back to California in a year with a fifth-wheel. I have seen beauty in nature at Lake Louise and Banff, Alberta...Hope, British Columbia, and Skagway, Alaska to name just a few of my favs.

Geology students all have very different backgrounds. Many have never been outside of their region. I am grateful that I had such great family and a teacher who took us places that some only dream about seeing. I am grateful for all the opportunities I have had and shall never take them for granted.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Evolution of a Geology Student

A few years ago I enrolled in a Death Valley geology trip with my professor (Garry Hayes) while attending Modesto Junior College. Our trip began a trip down the California Central Valley on Highway 99 South to Bakersfield. We spend the first evening camping near the Kern River Campground.  The second day we traveled to nearby Sharktooth Hill for some fun fossil finding time.

Sharktooth found at "the hill" outside of Bakersfield

We then continued our trip to 58 East past Tehachapi and onto Highway 14 to Red Rock Canyon State Park north of Cantil.  It was my first time at Red Rock Canyon. My first thought was OMG (yeah I just did that)  it is so beautiful. I immediately saw stratigraphic layers, but at the time I just thought simply that I saw colors in layers and knew that there must be different things occurring in the rocks to make them different colors.

All the students piled out of the college white Ford vans, grabbing our notebooks as we KNEW this is one of Garry's "note stops" - It HAD to be because this place was too geologically beautiful NOT to be one.

Garry did his lecture as he always does on stops to discuss what the nearby geology "tells us."

Honestly, I had NO clue whatsoever as to what geologically happened here and what the time span must have been...but I did know that it took significant time as the layers dictated through my common sense. We learned of "ancient lake deposits" and fossils that were discovered here which included weird Latin names. They included animals like the "bear-dog" and the four-tusked elephant. Garry introduced me to a world I never imagined. A world where prehistoric time involved flood plains, stream beds, weird animals and cool geology places. He taught us carefully.

What I mean by this is that he took great care in feeding us baby food as new geology students so that we didn't choke, and walk away from it. He taught us carefully and precisely what we needed to know as first or second year geology students.

I am forever grateful for that geology stop at Red Rock Canyon, and thankful to drive college vans for him on following trips to Death Valley. On March 14-18th I spent my third trip at Red Rock not as a geology stop but as a Intro to Field Geology Mapping for UNR geology and geological engineering students.

Snow covered Sierra Nevada

It was like coming back to a place similar but yet strange to me as we camped at the campground there instead of just passing through. I set up my tent on Friday after me and my classmate and fellow geology major Rick Kauffman arrived. We drove in my XTerra and enjoyed a nice 6-hour drive down 395 to 14 from Reno. Seeing snow covered mountains along the way made for a picturesque adventure. Rick being from Phillie was introduced to Schat's Bakkery, Obsidian Dome, and talks about the Mono-Inyo Craters and the Ancient Bristlecones. It was a nice trip to our final destination - Red Rock Canyon.

Joshua Trees,Mohave Desert CA
By 7 PM the rest of my peers arrived from Reno. We enjoyed a wonderful campfire together laughing and getting to know one another a little beyond our previous classroom lectures. These young men and women were bright and full of life, they were exciting to get to know on a more personal basis under the stars at a beautiful desert geological site.

On Saturday morning we started mapping for our final.

My notebook had been replaced with a plastic mapbook made two 9x12 plastic sheets taped together with bright orange (go Giants) duct tape. My daypack was replaced with a GeigerRig Backpack. The backpack contained TWO Nalgene bottles filled with ice and water for the 8-hour hike. I also filled the Geigerig bladder with water as a reserve. We all had our hand lens strapped to our necks, hats, sunglasses, hiking boots, walking sticks, colored pencils, maps and Bruntons ready to go...

The next three days were spent climbing ridges, precariously straddling ridges, and looking for geological structures such as contacts and measuring strikes and dips with our Bruntons. It was hard, hot, tiring, and fun. We walked until I could barely move. The first day out was extremely hard on my aging body. It was not happy with the hiking and my knees, ankles and hips screamed painfully at me. I had the time of my life though. I hated and loved each moment.

Teritary sediments (Ts2) near the bake zone of Tertiary basalt layer (Tb1)

The "beautifully colored layers" became lacustrine and stream sediments with crossbedding and volcanics with different mineralogy. I realized on the afternoon of Day Two that I was actually becoming a real geologist. I was measuring the grain size, percentages, and grading in the sedimentary layers. Using my Brunton to gain strikes and dips to later add to my map and making notes in my "Rite in the Rain" All-Weather Geological Field Book" became a reality that I was actually learning about being a geologist...

Lacustrine and stream sedimentary layers

My dreams were coming true. I feel that my transformation from a few years ago to now has been a great adventure. I have learned so much from Garry and so grateful for his lessons at Red Rock. I am glad I took good notes, as I was able to share what I learned a few years ago with those who have never been to Red Rock. I am grateful for my education at Modesto Junior College and the University of Nevada.

I am especially grateful to those students and teachers who understand my disability and allow me the same opportunities as the other students in seeing as much geology as I physically can.

Thanks to Rick Kauffman, Dimitri Hiyood, Gerry Meneses, Big Mike, Mariah and those who "hang out with me" and go slower than normal to make sure I get from point A to point B. You guys are the best! I will NEVER forget your help in making sure that I get the best geological experience I can get as  an ol' gal with crappy knee replacements and back pain. I feel so blessed to have you all beside me in my geological adventures. You all will never realize just how important you are or how grateful I am for you.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Geology - not a job...its an adventure!

I am NOT joking. I have not met one geologist who doesn't love their job. Good for me right?

I look forward to many adventures to come. My first multiple day geology trip is next weekend during the first half of our spring break at UNR. We are going to Red Rock Canyon State Park in California. Our base camp will be at the Ricardo campground. As any geology major...these trips are what we live for. Like professional geologists who love their jobs, majors love their trips!!!

Blessed is one word I can use to express my past experience as a geology student for the first two years of college. I had a great geology professor (Garry Hayes) who took us to places I only dreamed of through the years. I learned to camp like a "mundane." A mundane is the term my medieval re-enactment group calls modern-day life play.

As a middle age enthusiast I camp very different than a geology major does. There are no tunics, late night fires singing body songs (adult ditties not to sung around children, or adult who act like children). Camping geology style it is the cot and a Big Agnes sleeping bag under the stars. In a medieval camp it is the pavilion with tapestry and persian rugs everywhere.

Geology camping is so much fun, but it takes a student a few of them to get the hang of it. My very first field camp was to the Eastern Sierra Nevada. The flyer said to travel light. To me that is a few changes of clothes, sleeping bag, a tarp, a cooler, a camp stove, fuel and a flashlight. Of course toiletries are essential to masque the 4-day human odors.

Well, that didn't go so well. I packed too light. I ended up buying a one-person tent at the campground store and other items because apparently everyone else packed "not so lightly." Lesson trip was more comfortable. By the end of my second season this ol gal had a REI self-inflating campbed, a  two-person Big Agnes tent and sleeping bag. Two totes. One for kitvchen stuff and one for clothing, rock hammers, tools, toiletries, towels, lamps, etc.

Last summer Garry asked that instead of driving one of the college vans for our summer 2-week field camp if I would be interested in cooking...for about 30 people. Hmmm....sure why not! I have done medieval feasts for over 50 people, cooked in camp for our war unit, even made stuffed game hens for 15 in camp one night after one of our Royalty feasts had leftover game hens. So I researched recipes and manipulated a few favorites. I felt that it went well and hope that people enjoyed the variety and seemed like the amounts were adequate.

Feeling ready for our trip coming up. In lab today we had our meeting about the trip. I was a little taken back by students who confessed that they have not ever "really camped"...I think that translates that they camped RV style. Anyways, I felt grateful to Garry and the Society of Creative Anachronism for my camping skills. Our family camping each summer is even different from the other two, but we camp with fun in our hearts, and comfort.

I am so thrilled that my geology adventures have not ceased despite school, and that I still have the opportunity to get away from real life. Mapping rocks for four glorious days at Red Rock Canyon...WHAT A LIFE!!!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Cell Phones-our umbilical cord to the World

Cell phones have become such an important part of human communication that it has replaced my voice. I do not live on my cell phone at all, not like the kids at school do, but I do use it enough that it seems to do and be everything I need.

I have to wake up early tomorrow...better set the alarm on my phone (what sound do I want to wake up to tomorrow? Hmmmm)

I know my mom is at the hospital visiting my dad, better text her to call me when she can.

I can't believe I ate that...better scan that barcode with MyFitnessPal before I forget.

Need to check my email, where's my phone?

Oh, look honey isn't that cool. Grab my cell phone and I will take a picture.

I can't see where the heck I am going, its so dark. MyFlashlight app will illuminate the way!

What is the weather going to be like on Saturday? My cell phone has a weather app.

Pork loin needs to be at what temperature? Internet on the phone should tell me.

Seriously, our phones seem to be an umbilical cord to the world. GPS, Bluetooth, apps that mute your phone in a movie theater (and gives you free stuff when you use it), calculator, the internet, the periodic table, calculus formulas, name it...our phones can do it.

I love my Android. I do. It is a great tool that enhances my life, home and school work. I am sure you love your phone too. Last week I found a cell phone in the parking lot of a neighborhood shopping center. Fortunately, the owner called and I got it back to her. I would hate to lose my phone or have it stolen.

Just one thing...

I absolutely despise people who walk across the street and hold up cars at the crosswalk as they walk slower than a snail, while on there stupid cell phone! Worse - being at a store and having an employee trying to ring some idiot up who is on his cell phone talking to God-Knows-Who and holding everyone else up in the line.

Common courtesy people  -  it goes a LONG way!

Rant out!