Tuesday, October 14, 2008

That was fast




No more autumn for you. Well, not today anyway.




We've had a couple of heavy frosts, but today it's snowing. We've got about an inch on the ground and it's still coming down.


It's also very misty, or there would be better pictures. In fact, these pictures are testament to my dreadful laziness - I took them out of the hallway windows in my building without even going outside. It's not even that cold - it's Boston style snow in that it's about 33 degrees out and it's not really sticking to the pavement. Yet.


Ordinarily there's a lovely view of W mountain as a backdrop to the parking lot. The other picture should have Signal Peak in it, but, again, the mistiness.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Random movie #2

In honor of the beginning of hunting season, here's another little movie from the archive. It's a dikdik, and the movie doesn't even begin to do justice to how adorable they are. What with the long legs and the huge eyes, they're essentially the Kate Moss of the antelope world.

video
They might also be the only antelope small enough for Mitt "Varmit" Romney's taste.
(Assuming he kept up his NRA membership after he dropped out of the presidential race.)

I should also point out that I have no idea if there's sound on this thing. I'm using my office computer which doesn't have a sound card. Hope I didn't swear.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Foliage, western style





Mr. Potatohead was here for a visit weekend before last, and we couldn't have planned the timing better - the aspens were at their peak.




Granted, we dont' get as much red as in Northern New England, but the aspens practically glow. The pictures don't quite do them justice.






Sunday, October 5, 2008

Spud on skis!

video

Like most digital cameras, mine can take little movies. Hoever, I never got around to buying the special cable I need to connect the camera to my mac to take the pictures back off.

But lo and behold, when I hook the camera up to a windows machine, I can transfer the movies with just the normal cable that came with the camera! Hooray! So here is the first in a series of somewhat random movies that have been sitting on the camera for a while.

That's Mr. PotatoHead skiing on a sand dune in Namibia. I don't remember if he fell over after I stopped recording. Let's say he didn't.

If you look carefully at the beginning of the movie, you can see my tracks w/nice carved turns. And that is my shadow in the picture-taking pose at the end.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Southwestern Cell


One of the great things about my job is that I have an outlet for my lifelong interest in merging science with the creative arts. And I occasionally get paid to do things that are fun & silly but still science-y.

I'm teaching intro bio this semester, and one thing I really struggle with is helping students develop a mental 3D conception of a cell. So after lecturing at them about cells, quizzing them on cell structures & their functions, and having them use microscopes to locate various organelles, I offered them the opportunity to build their very own cell.

Two groups took me up on it - I'd provide the molds and 10 liters of gelatin, and they'd bring the "organelles." I encouraged them to choose items that both looked like the organelle in question and had some functional feature in common. Behold - the resultant animal cell:

There's a definite Southwestern theme here - jalapenos for the mitochondria, habeneros for the peroxisomes, tomatoes for the lysosomes, black beans for the ribosomes. And for desert - an orange nucleus.

I also really dig the snow peas linked together to make the Golgi complex.



Yes, it's not exactly in proportion. And the smooth and rough ER are made of totally different materials. And the sectioning is a little wierd. If you think you can do better, I want to see it.

(There was also a plant cell group, but 1) they were a lot less organized, and 2) we learned an object lesson in why plant cells have cell walls when we took the cell out of its mold.)


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Innaccurate profile photo


It's finally occurred to me that my profile photo isn't very accurate. (Well, it isn't very accurate anymore. It was spot-on when I put it up.)

However, over the summer I donated the bun to Locks of Love, and am now sporting a much shorter 'do. Evidently it is technically impossible to chop off the bun in situ, so it was actually a braid that got the chop.

It's a little weird to have a chunk of oneself just lying around the house.


And it's even weirder to re-envision myself as a person with short hair. So for now, the profile picture stays.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Birthday Lobster

Can you tell which is the real lobster?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Crested Butte: Year-round playground


Pardon me if I sound like a tourist brochure, but a lot of winter sport areas look like bomb targets in the warmer months (see: Vail).
Crested Butte is fairly spectacular 365 days a year.
My parents and my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew visited during my first weekend back. We took the Tater Tot on his first chairlift ride, which he loved. He called it the sky couch. He couldn't wait to get back on. This bodes well...he's the perfect age to instill a lifelong addiction to snow sports. Mwahahahahahaha!
Alas, since he lives in LA he may be beyond my auntly clutches.

It was uncharacteristically cloudy for our trip and it even sleeted a little at the top! Actually, it was coming down as snowflakes, but they melted right away. Winter's coming!!!! YAY!


There's a little leftover snow in this picture - just above the Tot's and my brother's heads. At this point it's just a breeding ground for cyanobacteria, but it's a fitting momento of a great ski season.


My brother is trying to get the Tot to take an interest in the pika on the rocks there, but the Tot was pretty fixated on getting back on the "ride."

My favorite blogger over at sievkins would have something clever to say about this.



Thursday, August 21, 2008

Art no more

Alas, the Art has been reclaimed and is presumably being proudly displayed at the Potato Farm.

Speaking of art, in a slightly odd gender twist, the other three apartments in my entry are all occupied by male humanities/art types. I am the lone female and lone scientist.

Yesterday Phil the Photographer wanted to get me to participate in decorating the entry. While it would be great if the entry had a more inviting mien, I have no aesthetic sense and am therefore the wrong person to ask.

If he wants to know if that wierd dark red stain on the floor is blood (and if so, whose) then I'm in.

Scratch and sniff

Among the reasons I've become a lousy blogger is my inability to communicate non-visual aspects of living here. Like the smell of the sagebrush after rain. Yesterday we had a few rain showers - short, still-sunny, rainbow riddled affairs. Afterwards, the smell was unbelievable - I wanted to go roll around in it. (This is unwise for a variety of reasons). The system finally moved through around sunset, so the hills were bathed in perfect rosy light and everything looked so beautiful I wanted to take a thousand pictures and cry. Not necessarily in that order, but both would be about as effectual: the pictures would come out hazy and unfocused and the crying would make any observers think I'd gone nuts.

Sagebrush, for you flatlanders out there, does not smell like the sage you cook with. It is the same color, and the scent is pungently herbal (like cooking sage) but it's deeper and fresher.

It's refreshing in the same way stepping into a pine forest on a summer day is. Actually, the smell is a little piney, or at least reminiscent of pine.

Today there's literally not a cloud in the sky (and we have a lot of sky here) and it's that insane deep blue that you only get at altitude. Denver & Boulder have the cloudless days, but you have to climb a hill (well, mountain really) to get the true Colorado blue above the city haze.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


Okay, I promised to blog more...and then I got distracted with the to do list.

Anyway, when Mr. and Mrs. Original PotatoHead visited Gunni back in April, they bought some Art at the center downtown. Because they were on their way LA, they left the Art in my tender care. So now the Yellow Bedroom has a nifty addition; something I like to call, "Geopolitical Struggle Hung At Trepaning Height In The Guest Room".

If you have other ideas...I'd love to hear them.

Incidently, the GSHATITGM is actually now in the main bedroom, where it clashes even more with the ambient decor but does allow one to get in and out of bed without embedding a copper plate in your skull.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I'm baaaaaaaack

I'm in the same state - excuse me, Commonwealth - as Mr. PotatoHead now. The trip, once I actually got going was totally uneventful. Actually since I got bumped to Economy Plus, my flight arrived early and my bag was the third one off the plane, I figure I have some bad travel karma to pay back some day.

The Gunni airport is a trip in and of itself, incidently. Nominally it has gates, but since they only use the jetbridges during the high ski season (we only have jet service 3 months out of the year - otherwise it's all prop planes) you have to hoof it on the tarmac.

I noticed that the plane I was taking arrived at "Gate 1" but left from "Gate 2." This is deeply mysterious. The plane itself doesn't move. Actually, the planes don't even refuel, and there's no food service, so it's about a 20 minute turn-around time. Again, except for the jetbridges, everyone leaves out of the same door.

Now, the whole idea of jet bridges is that it spares travelers from having to negotiate stairs as the get on or off the place. However, at Gunni, the jetbridges ("Gates 3 and 4") are upstairs - literally. Unless you're in a wheelchair or on crutches, you have to shlep your carry-on up a longish flight of stairs and then gate check it, because even the jets are too small to take a standard rollie suitcase inside.

With the prop planes, sure you have to walk outside. But then you deposit your rollie on the cart and hop up the 6 or so steps into the airplane.

On top of this - the jet saves you maybe 10 minutes, which are eaten up by the ground crew having to work the jet bridge and then go and unload the plane.

Gunni also has only one security lane. They open it up about 15 minutes before they board each flight. There's supposedly a new system for sorting people into groups based on how long they'll take to sort out their stuff. It uses the black diamond, etc. grading system of ski runs.

Now of course the big problem here is that this system requires people to make realistic self-assessments. Fantastic! The same cretins who try to ski double-black diamonds with "pizza" turns (or whatever they call snowplowing now) are never going to admit that they can't remember from Saturday to Saturday if they have to take their @#$! shoes off at security.

Or what about people who are usually good travelers but are a little tired. The guy in front of me did the belt, shoes, laptop and little-bag-of-toiletries in admirable time, but then started to walk through the people-scanner (what do you call that thing you walk through?) with his rollie suitcase. (His wife, incidently, had a 16 once jar of hand cream in her carry-on. The TSA lady found it and, in an only-at-a-small-airport move, escorted the offender and her handcream out to the plane to put it in her checked luggage.)

And - how would you classify me? Yesterday, I had a laptop and a DVD player, my little toiletries bag, my shoes, my hat, my rollie and my backpack. But I was still faster than the dinks in front of me.

Alrighty, enough about the traveling. Pictures of stuff coming soon.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spoke too soon

No, I'm not in fact dead, but I'm also not really offski. The grades are in, the luggage is packed, and the frogs are fed and watered.

But it's also only nominally spring here in the Rockies, and we have some nice big flakes falling out of the sky. Not really a problem in Gunni, but evidently it never snows in Denver so they had to cancel my flight. Just as it never rains in Boston so that when it does the runways melt or something.

Anyway, I guess we're lucky it didn't snow for Commencement on Saturday. It was cold enough - 45 and quite windy. Commencement here is rather less pompous than the last one I attended, and a heck of a lot shorter. And the best part is that faculty arrive last and leave first.

Actually, it was a lot of fun. I sat in the back row with Dr. Bones and an anthropologist and we cheered for all the biologists and our ESS students and all the anthropologists. I don't know if this is a dignity issue, but most of the faculty here don't even clap. I've no idea what's up with that - my mother taught me to clap for everybody.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Not Dead Yet

I have been a naughty, naughty blogger.

Really, my only excuse is that it has been a horribly busy semester. Somehow I feel like it's been even busier than last semester. We have frogs now, and I've been spending a lot of time getting the facility set up since Dr. Bones has to take care of them all summer. At this point I have one more set of grades to finish up and submit and then I'm offski.

I will be spending the summer with Mr. PotatoHead. Well, actually, I've been told I'll be spending the summer with a to-do list, but at least the list was written by Mr. PotatoHead.

And I do have a backlog of Gunni-related pictures to post including the latest addition to the apartment: Geopolitical Commentary in Copper and Wire Hung At Trepaning Height in the Other Bedroom.

Something to look forward to.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Library Update

In response to ejp (and also because it's such a Gunni story) here's more on the library.

They finally have the old section of the libary open (the collapsed roof is above the new section) and I went there last night to pick up some interlibrary loan materials. The two workers were also the same two who were there during the collapse, which happened about 1:30 am. The night had been pretty windy, so they were expecting snow slides.

As one of them put it, "Then we heard a really loud noise and the building shook, but I thought, 'hey, there's a lot of snow, so it's going to be loud when it slides.'"

They locked up for the night without any further investigation and went home. Wasn't until the morning that somebody looked over and noticed the collapse.

Now we have access to periodicals and ILL, but no on-campus books. The building is insured but I'm not sure how fast repairs are going to go with this much snow.

The only silver lining is that the old section of the library is really lovely and now more people will visit it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

It's all fun & games till someone loses a roof

As previously reported, we have a LOT of snow here in Gunni. In addition to 2 big storms that together total over 3 feet, we've been getting 2-3 inches every couple of dayd for the last week. This much snow is not typical - we're in a high desert here.




The facilities people have been spending a lot of time shoveling off the roofs. Guess they should have gotten to the library sooner.

Monday, January 28, 2008

But I do like the cold. I didn't say anything bad about the cold...I just said it was cold. Very, very cold.

Granted, even for aficionados like me, -38 is a little extreme. It's warmed up considerably. We're going to break freezing today. It's actually shockingly, almost unpleasantly warm.

However, we do still have 3 feet of snow on the ground - we got about 4 more inches last night. The facilities people have sculpted the snow into elaborate hills and bunkers alongside all of the sidewalks and in the parking lots that make it seem more like 4-5 feet of snow.

Fortunately it doesn't deter our students from their hard-earned right to park on campus.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No really, I'm still here.

I'm just busy with the start of the new semester. And I've been a little under the weather with the Cold of Doom.

Speaking of cold, I now know what -30 F feels like...-38 F to be precise. (Conveniently -40 F = -40 C.)

It feels cold.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

RIP Rugbread

For the first time in 2o years, I failed.

I just could not build a simple, 24" 3D model of a viking ship in gingerbread in time for the party. I think it comes down to a combination of the fat (margerine instead of Crisco) and the relatively high humidity (50%!) None of this was made easier by the approach I used - I made a mold of the ship out of salt dough, covered it in tin foil and draped the gingerbread over that for baking. But really! That's the same way I made the America back in '01, and it worked out just fine.

ARGH. The whole process was very frustrating. I'm hoping for better luck next year.

Fortunately, the year wasn't a total wash for baking. Here's my sideboard of cookies ready to be shipped out.

I've been working my way through Betty Crocker's Cooky Cookbook (that's Cooky not Cookie). I haven't been adjusting the recipes for the altitude, and usually it hasn't been a problem.


However, Mary's Sugar Cookies are a sea-level only affair. Believe it or not, the chocolate coated blobs on the cooling racks are supposed to be snowmen. My personal favorites were the super-puffy angels we called the Angel of Obesity.