Academia General

Please shoot me

I’m feeling in as bad a mood as I have been in, in a long time. I don’t know if that last sentence makes any sense, and right now I don’t really care. I got up at 4am to do my Isotope Geology assignment and its been downhill from there. I misinterpreted part of the lecture notes so I got one part wrong, and I forgot to print out the last page of the assignment. Here is the offending document for those following along at home.

I’m serioulsy doubting the wisdom of having gone down the academic path. Its not that I find anything hard, its just the mindless busy work you have to do in labs. Its not like we’re doing real lab work like you would do in chemistry. Its just labs for the sake of having a lab. I’d rather have another hour of lecture each week.

Top it off, I have some weird pain at the base of my tailbone, and I’m almost falling asleep on my keyboard.

There is a small, but very loud part of me, that really wants to throw in the towel, sell everything, and hit the road with no forwarding address.

Academia General

Sunday Cruddy Sunday

On the sabbath, the lord rested.

Unfortunately, I am not the lord and have a bunch of work to do still.

Because the geology department is going to be empty this week because of the GSA meeting in Salt Lake City, everyone is giving tests while they’re gone. I have a structural geology test on Monday so I’ll be brushing up on stress, strain and mohr circles.

I also get a take home test in Isotope Geology which isn’t so bad I guess. The test is closed everything however.

I am off to have my semi-regular sunday bruch buffet at Epic.


Girls don’t make passes at 30-something men who take classes

My class load this fall is much lighter than it was last year. My courses are:

Oceanography – 4 credits and a 1000 level course. If I don’t get an A I will shoot myself in the head.

Isotope Geology – 3 credits. I’m the only undergrad in the course. So far its really not challenging. Its just math. I just need to actually do the problem sets on time.

Structural Geology – 3 credits. The labs are harder than the class by a lot. Having taken field camp makes this course much easier than it otherwise would be.

Earth Systems – 3 credits. So far its all been climatology and atmospheric science.

Seminar – 1 credit. I show up to a seminar once a week and write up a report. Pretty simple.

My Thursdays and Fridays are pretty much empty with only one class per day. I have to give a presentation on my trip to Argentina this Thursday and start preparing the 100kg of samples we returned. Fun times.

Academia General

Trip Postlogue

Here are site entries I did on the road:


It is 5:17pm MDT adn I”m in a 15 passenger Ford van about 20 miles east of Rapid City, SD. We just got out of Wall Drug and let me tell you, if you haven’t dug Wall Drug, you haven’t lived. The Black Hills/Badlands area ranks alongside of the Wisconsin Dells and Niagra Falls as one of the all-time great tourist traps in the World.

I did manage to pick up an $8 rock hammer in Wall Drug. The ones I was looking at online cost about $30. For all I know its a piece of crap, but I’ll be able to test it this weekend.

Its been raining all day and it looks like we will have to set up tents in the rain. That sucks. Its also cold and I didn’t bring a heavy jacket. I did buy a stocking hat at Wall Drug.

I really enjoy using the GPS and my laptop during trips. If I ever get another new car, I’m going to get a GPS system built in. Its handy as all hell.


Its 9:39am CDT. My neck is red. As in I have redneck. My neck is so red, I’m thinking about going to buy a pickup truck and start wearing a Dale Earnhart jacket. Lesson learned from this weekend #1: bring a hat. I think i’m going to get a hat with the flaps in the back that cover your neck ala the French Foreign Legion….and sunscreen.

All my new camping gear worked fine, but my old camping gear did not. At least my sleeping bag. My sleepin bag is a nice down bag I got to go backbacking back in 1984 in New Mexico. I haven’t used it much since. Needless to say, I’m a little big bigger now (and I’m not just talking fat big either). Its a mummy bag and I couldn’t keep it zipped up because my shoulders were way too wide. Lesson learned from this weekend #2: get a new sleeping bag.

We got to see a bunch of very cool rock formations. If its not up already, You should see a Flickr section devoted to the trip. Most of the photos are of rocks which you probably wont find very interesting. You will see many photos of a pen or a book on a rock. The object is just there for scale, so you can get an idea of the size of a crystal or rock. Sometimes you use a person for scale because the formation is so big.

I have a decent collection of rocks from this trip. I got a bunch of nice muscovite samples, some biotite, some samples of garnet and staurolite, a hunk of rose quarts, and some turmolene.

The mornings were cold every day we were in Custer state park. There was frost inside of my tent all three days. Its more a factor of altitude than anything else and I think I’ll have to have at least one set of wintery clothes with me to camp this summer.

I had a good time and it was a good dry run for the field camps this summer. I’ll be putting up more photos on Flickr with some explainations soon.


Look for the Union label

The graduate students at the University of Minnesota are voting to unionize soon. I have no dog in this fight, so I can really care less what the outcome is. However, there are some things about grad student unions that make it very different than normal unions:

  • Grad student is not a career. Everyone in the union has a very finite amount of time in the union. There really isn’t a notion of seniority that would apply to most unions.
  • There will probably be an enormous split between the grad students in IT and CBS and those who work in CLA. Science people have better job outlooks and can get more grant money for research. If your an english grad student, this might be as good as it gets.
  • Very little bargaining power. In addition to being employees, they are students. They get their tuition paid for. If they go on strike, I can see the university forcing them to pay tuition, which would cause most grad students to have to drop out. Most are very poor and they need to get a degree to have any future job prospects. If push were to come to shove, I wonder how many grad students would risk leaving school for an extra $1,200/year.
  • They aren’t really an oppressed class. We’re not talking about coal miners living in a company town here. Most of the advocacy stuff I’ve seen boils the reason for unionization down to “we want a raise” which I think they could lobby for without unionizing.

Like I said, I really don’t give a crap how it pans out, its just interesting to watch. If they vote yes and do get a pay raise, the money will come from somewhere. It could come from a reduction in future grad student admissions and/or some combination of savings from the elimination of General College or other things.