Tuesday, April 29, 2014


This summer break has been replaced with classes. I decided that instead of taking time to relax or involve myself in a home improvement project or two, that I would get a few necessary classes out of the way. So my first session will be full of Calculus 182 and Physics 151R, while my second session will be dedicated to Chemistry 122A/122L. Joy.

I believe that I am probably on some unconscious path of destruction, and that somewhere in this dark and crazy brain of mine, I feel that rest is something you earn when you die. Come Fall however I will only have to worry about my last Physics class, all upper Geology courses, and 2 stupid core history classes (NV did not all me to transfer my CA over). At least I have ONE awesome thing to look forward to this summer...research!!!

One of my professors, who shall remain nameless until a future date has taken pity on me, and has extended a chance for me to do undergrad research with her and two of her doctorate students. SO EXCITING!!! Can't really get in to detail just yet but it involves rocks from distant lands and the chance to work at UCSB with their petrochronology lab equipment. I am literally on Cloud Nine and look forward to doing some cool things this summer besides math, physics, and chemistry. It really pays to "bug" your professors...because there just might be one that thinks that you could be beneficial to them.

Personally, I just wanted something to be able to put on my resume, and never expected to land such a cool project. May 23rd, I will take my mandatory lab training class, and after that be ready to go. I just hope now that I will do a great job for my professor, and hopefully have a few more doors open up to be in the near-future. I am fortunate there are opportunities here at University of Nevada and that I have such awesome professors in the Geology Department who care.

Last thing to share is my geological map project for my Final in GEOL 260 (Intro to Field Mapping) that I did on the Red Rock Canyon State Park in California. Here it is...

It was a fun project that took over a month to do. Glad it is over, and done with. Keep in mind this is non-published, undergrad work, but comments are always welcome.

Monday, April 14, 2014

You might be young....

My poor dad is back in the hospital and at this point of the game I am fearing that he will not see me graduate UNR. His heart is starting to weaken from all the health issues. I think about my dad when I was 12-years-old, and was out in the middle of Darwin Street in Hayward (CA) pitching softballs to him and taking his advice on how better to throw. He was never a huge man (5'11 and 185 at his best) but to me he was a giant. Seeing him so frail and sick is very hard but I know everyday he fights.

My mom who was born September 17, 1933 in Old Town, Maine is still working. She works at Osborne School in Turlock a few hours a day, and she oves the kids there. They keep her young. I come from an obvious tough family with great genes, and know that I have another good 20-30 years to offer working. I am like my folks, and even though Dad is suffering a lot of health problems - the point is he has not given up. He fights and he fights. My mom is from a tough-breed of pioneer Quebecois folk, raised in a New England, by a lumberjack father and a mother of 7, who became a nurse.

I have been thinking a lot lately about people my age who are retiring or getting ready to retire. I fit in neither category. I am preparing for a second career. I see the kids I go to school with, many who are brilliant young people, scholastically, but who have not yet earn their notches for life experiences. In the employment world they have their youth to offer. I, at 54, have experience and great work ethics. I do not feel sometimes as smart as they are, as most came from high school right into college. I left high school in 1978, married in 1980 and was a mom by 1981. I raised my awesome kids, and decided to go back to school for a degree.

Do I regret losing my youth? Honestly, I do not. I do miss being young enough not to care what I do to my body, because now I have to be cautious of what I do and how I do it. Do I regret not going to college right out of high school? Not one minute of regret there...I have two great kids who have given me four beautiful granddaughters (so far) and I am young enough to take them camping and go and play with them. I regret nothing.

I do worry that youth is much more appealing to employers than my middle-aged status. I worry that I might be someone who is judged for age only. Here is the truth of the matter...yes my age is 54. Yes I feel aches and pains. Yes I love Advil. No I am not giving in. I do not care that I ache or hurt. I will NOT lay down and feel sorry for myself. I will not use my age or limitations to get out of doing what is expected of me and my younger peers. I hurt when I am done, and work hard at keeping the pain at bay until such a time I can relax and rest, letting my body heal.

Sure the students I am in the geology program with are much younger than me. I remember who I came from, how I got here, and why I am doing this. Being a geologist is what I exist for. Learning and developing my skills are all a part of this great time of my education that I will carry with me to my grave.  My peers are young, but I am not dead yet. I still have much to give. I look forward to the day I can walk away with a degree in hand, and start my career. I got this!

Friday, April 11, 2014

What Did He Say? That Was Not Gneiss!

It feels like forever since I have been able to post anything. Mid-terms were a blast. Happy to report I aced everything from Geochem II to English 102. Relieved to say the least!

Unfortunately my father is back in the hospital. Mom and he have been married forever - no seriously - forever...and he tunes her out like a champ. He refused to eat, and take his meds, fell twice in one day to boot. Mom got tired of his refusal to eat (falling because he is so weak from NOT eating) so she called 9-1-1. Needless to say when my Dad saw the gurney he was NOT a happy camper, thankfully a Turlock firefighter whose last name was Gonzales made him smile.  They say as your parents get older and older, you become the parent. Boy Howdy if that is not the truth.

So geology! That is why my few friends come here to hear about...

Have to tell you that metamorphic rocks are what we are delving into right now. LOVE metamorphic rocks - from here on out - MetaM rx. Writing metamorphic rocks over and over in your notes gets pretty tiring. The DOWNFALL of MetaM rx is their names. No "real" geology student can resist the urge to pun using gneiss (pronounced 'nice') or schist. Going to a Tier 1 university apparently does NOT prevent such antics from the geology students here.  Heard in lab today:

  • "Why does this rock smell like sunscreen....it's kinda gneiss."
  • "Who has A16? Oh, thanks that is gneiss of you to share."
  •  "Did you just lick that?"
  • I can't believe I signed up for this schist.
You get the idea. Granite works well to...just don't don't take it for granite. Fault. Orogeny. Cleavage. Hardness.  All geological words that can be fun to use in a sentence, however there is a disclaimer...do not overdo it or you might become the target of your fellow geology students. I just bite my lip and listen to the nonsense...of course usually laughing when delivered properly.

Geology students apparently have a few attributes/skills I lack, which makes me wonder if I choose the correct field of study.
  1. You must be a beer drinker (almost a connoisseur is your older than 30).
  2. Your handwriting must equal a doctor's signature.
  3. You wear khaki hiking pants everyday of the year (close!)
  4. Baseball caps are essential accessories (I like my boonie thanks).
  5. Taking "shots" around the campfire at field camp is a MUST.
  6. You should have facial hair (okay I am almost there thanks to menopause).
Being a geology student however has many pluses and they include challenges that your professors are probably behind closed doors laughing over. I must admit that university professors are a little different in that you must do office hours to get anywhere. They are helpful, don't get me wrong, but YOU must make the efforts to visit them during their office hours to clarify concepts, check on homework projects, etc.

Learning cross-sections are fun, challenging and are really not gneiss when they don't work out right. I had to do 4 before this one, and it is only my "draft" I am delivering to my professor tomorrow. It is the mapping field trip we took during school break a few weeks ago. Red Rock Canyon State Park. Thanks to my MJC geology professor Garry Hayes...I was the only one who had been there before which helped abundantly. Kept my old notebooks...and never take those for granite!
I do think I need to trim off the bottom a little though and start my elevation at 2000 feet. It is a little weird going back to feet since all I have been immersed in the past year is metric. I am actually preferring it too. This cross-section was a blast, but hard work to get the strikes and dips, and even harder to hike all day long up slopes with unstable debris. Thankfully, my lab partner Rick is a saint and walked ahead at times to gather intel, or waited for my sorry old butt to catch up.

This is ONE of three things I am preparing for my Final Project. The Final is a geological topographic map with all the different contacts of rocks, nonconformities, and other geologic symbols of the structures we found on our field mapping adventure. The pink (Tertiary tuff) and the lavender colored section (Ts1) a tertiary sedimentary are easiest thanks to Garry, but the other "newer" stratigraphy layers are not familiar and took some thinking and remembering my "laws" of deposition.

So here's to having a fun challenge. I love learning geology. I love learning about our planet we are so blessed to have in our care. The layers tell us stories of time before us...millions of years of our planet changing and creating different landscapes. Different animals and climates all play into this time travel through this cross-section. How can you not be amazed to look at these homoclinic rocks from several million years of deposition (Miocene: 23 mya) and not wonder what it must have looked like. Many cool site available to learn about the geology, flora and fauna of the Ricardo Formation of the Red Rock Canyon State Park, CA.

California State Parks
Fossils Found at RRCSP
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles
Geotripper's Blog
Geology of RRCSP