Weekly Dispatch #1- Summer 2016


Welcome to the first weekly dispatch of Summer 2016. I’m going to try to regularly post throughout the summer (and maybe beyond). Here’s what has been going on so far…

June 12, 2016 Commencement
June 12, 2016 Commencement. B.S. Geology Cum Laude! Woot!

After 3 busy and somewhat difficult years I graduated with my second B.S. in Geology (Cum Laude to boot). Proving that you’re never too old to kick butt! My officially official admission to PSU finally came through and I’ll be starting a M.S. in Geology in the Fall researching hot springs in Harney County, OR. Can’t escape water it seems. I’m excited to be working out in the high desert of eastern OR in some adventurously remote areas that are absolutely beautiful. I’m heading out there for 2 weeks in July to do some mapping of a quadrangle for a field camp class – and hopefully pick up a dozen spring samples not in my database already along the way.

We are Orlando
We are Orlando

The morning of graduation I woke to the news of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. My heart was torn in half…half excitement, half grief…shock and disbelief. Not again. Not my family. This country has a lot of hard work to do ahead, I just hope we can stand together strong to get it done.

I didn’t realize how completely burnt out I was until a couple days after the commencement ceremonies. I had amassed a full days worth of sleep deprivation in the last two weeks of school. At first I couldn’t even stop, I had to literally tell myself, ok, time to slow down. No, really. Slow way the eff down. It took a solid week of essentially doing nothing to unwind. To cement the retreat back to normalcy we headed to the Olympic National Park for some serious nature therapy.

Camping at Oly NP
Camping at Oly NP

We landed at a mostly empty North Fork Campground near Quinault, WA. It’s one of two primitive campgrounds on the western side of Olympic N.P. We stayed there one fall a couple years ago and really enjoyed the remoteness. Just us, a couple other quiet campers, and birdsong, waking us in the morning and singing us to sleep each night. We slept (a lot), ate s’mores (did you know a girl scout leader invented s’mores?), hiked a bit, lit 3 in a row 1-match campfires, and just chilled out for 4 days. We didn’t see any bear or elk this time though, but heard lots of owls and woodpeckers!

Hiking in the temperate rain forest
Hiking in the temperate rain forest

Came back almost fully refreshed and definitely back on a more normal sleep schedule. No lie it’s been really nice wandering around in my pajamas for the past couple weeks with almost no stress, and essentially nothing due or to do.

Aside from field camp and hopefully finishing up some volcanic lightning research that I started in the spring, the summer is all about project managing a whole bunch of house repairs, and doing as much outdoors adventuring as I can squeeze in. I’ve already started the house project planning which includes replacing the foundation for the house, getting new flooring installed upstairs and in the downstairs bathroom and kitchen, getting gutters repaired, and a bunch of other things including negotiating a refinance on the house. In the end it will all be worth it – and we don’t have to lift the house or move out for the foundation repair which is a huge relief. My next big adventure is tackling the jungle that has grown around the house this spring. Ugh.

I do plan on starting up Wondrous Field Guide videos again for the summer as soon as I get my energy levels back to full steam ahead, and get some other stuff organized. I’m posting regularly on Instagram (link above) if you want to follow along there for more “daily” type picture posting. Now onto some other fun things that I now have the time for…

TV & Movies
Game of Thrones: I finally caught up to the latest season, but I’m only on the 2nd episode. I’ve already heard some spoilers, but I’m trying to avoid any more. Parts of season 5 were rough – and unnecessary, but I’m enjoying the show overall – although as many others I wish he would just finish the next damn book!

Outlander: We are also caught up on Outlander. Kind of obsessed with the show. I plan on reading some of the books this summer. I hear they are even steamier. Love me some kick butt Frasers.

The Lobster: If you want to go somewhere bleak, unforgiving, and ultimately terrible that will leave you wondering if you should have walked out, go see this movie. It was awful. I consider myself a movie buff, but this was beyond dreadfully depressing. I didn’t care at all for any of the characters, and the story became mush about halfway through. Really deceptive marketing on this one. One word: avoid!

Orange is the New Black: We are only two episodes in – rationing it. But already so good. The first episode was outstanding. The writing and acting are tight. Eager to see where this season goes… someone mentioned it being trauma-porn, hopefully not too much so… really sick of all the bleakness on T.V. these days, which is why we don’t watch very much any more. Anyway.

Beyonce Lemonade: we watched Lemonade several weeks ago, but I hadn’t gotten around to listening to the album sans visuals. Well I have now – about a dozen times. And Beyonce is back – bye-bye Mrs. Carter. Thankfully that era is over, and she has found her voice again. Sandcastles is my favorite song off the album, but there are several others I’m seriously digging. May be my favorite Bey album to date. Here’s an excellent cover of Sandcastles:

Art Supply Posse Podcast – for you art nerds out there. The podcast we’ve all been waiting for – Art Supply Posse. It is exactly what it sounds like… head over for a listen if you need some art supply enticement (er porn).

Books (can find links to books under What I’ve Been Reading)
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer: Fantastic collection of short autobiographical vignettes by a native american botanist. If you need to slow down a little and take a deeper longing look at the world around you, her stories are a good motivator. It was a peaceful book, full of love and tender affection for the world around us, in us, and with us.

Mindfulness by Ellen Langer: “Most of us are mindless virtually all the time” I’ve been interested in Ellen Langer’s work for probably the past year or so. Her deceptively simple experiments illuminate for me two major shortcomings in being mindless – one: we are who we tell ourselves to be (for good or bad, mostly bad), and two: we are on autopilot a majority of the time with preconceived notions (often egregiously wrong) of the world around us, missing the nuance and beauty in front of us most of the time. A quick read, not so much a road map for how to be more mindful as much as a “hey wake up, here’s what you might be missing!”.

Science News
It’s only going to get worse from here, unless we start waking up, and making change in our own lives, and our communities.

CO2 hits 400 ppm for the first time in 4 million years. 

About a week before this article came out, I was wondering how many critters have gone extinct due to human induced climate change. Probably countless that we don’t have a good scientific lock on. But now climate change has taken its first mammal victim with rising sea levels causing the extinction of an island-dwelling rodent. Sounds small no? Small things leave big ripples.

Until next time,
PDX 0:39 6-25-2016