Thursday, December 11, 2008

Untitled Narrative, 3/28/07

I used to create imaginary worlds when I was a kid. One fantasy world was hidden underground, accessible from drainage holes that led to lesser known passages. These portals did not enclose a subterranean city as much as provide instantaneous transportation to anywhere else on the planet. The precise details of what lay under the suburb I lived escape me now, but I do remember the underwater passageway.

One of the thousand unmarked gateways led to the ocean floor where a glass tunnel stretched to meet the water above your head. The semicircular glass tunnel covered an earth bottomed passage, wide enough for a freeway, from one shore to the next. The thickness of the glass increased with the depth of the ocean floor but the entire path allowed for visual contact with the ocean above.

I imagined this world when I was eleven years old, at a time when I desperately wanted a means of escape to a far off place. Why not crawl down a tunnel, hop into some kind of jet powered transit car and then walk under the whole ocean? I could go travel the whole world that way safely, and for free!

Not surprisingly, an underwater restaurant opened somewhere in the world not too long ago. I think seeing pictures of that restaurant reminded me of my youthful fantasy world. I told my friend how I came up with the concept for the restaurant 19 years ago and could have made a ton of money selling the idea first.

Another product I jokingly take credit for inventing in my head is TiVo, or the digital video recorder in general. When I was around the same age, eleven or twelve, I thought it would be great if I could pause and rewind the cable television the way I could with videos. This was before the digital revolution; compact discs might have just become available. I find it amazing that my imagination back then strove for digital solutions in the analog world.

To be honest, I didn’t think my idea would ever become a real reality. It was created from the same place as the glass tunnel under the ocean and the monster in my closet (which I never thought was real but was still afraid of).

I used to visit San Francisco regularly and the first time I took the subway from there to Berkeley I was stunned because the train actually goes under the San Francisco Bay. No glass tunnels to observe the wildlife as you go, but I did appreciate that it finally came into existence. It is things like this that remind me how limitless our world experience can be.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Work - Update

Just an update on what I've been doing at work!

(Above) A crocodile relative from the Jurassic Period (older than T. rex), found in Fruita, Colorado. I have to use a microscope and small tools to expose the bone from the dirt. This specimen will be pedastalled (bones exposed but left in the matrix)

This is a caudal (tail) vertebra from Thomas the T. rex which I completely prepared in the lab. Fossils go through a process of being removed from matrix with dental tools and small hand drills, then cleaning with fine sand blasting, filling cracks in with a putty/resin, then gluing and stabilizing.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Quick Update

I wanted to assure you that I'm still here, still breathing...still alive. I had hoped to spend more time here after getting a new computer, but I have been dealing with some issues and haven't had a lot "to say" about stuff.

I will say this: I have started a personal journal to deal with my issues (depression, anxiety, etc.) and hopefully I will be able to work some things out without going to a shrink. I also wanted to share that I got my bicycle fixed and have started using it (slowly but surely - need to build up those bottom muscles!) AND I am currently accessorizing my self-help therapy with the following:
1. The Te of Piglet (book by Benjamin Hoff), semi-sequel to his "The Tao of Pooh" which I didn't read. I got this book for a quarter at a thrift store, so that's the one I'm reading first.
2. Zencast (free podcast on itunes) which are a series of talks/teachings by Gil Fronsdahl, of whom I am becoming a major fan.
3. Deerpark Monastery Podcast (also free on itunes) which is based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn - another great teacher.
4. Also really loving the few free Alan Watts podcasts available.

So I really hope to be back here soon. I wish you happiness, health and peace of mind.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Computer. Hiatus.

I'd like to say I've been too busy saving lives and planting trees or feeding the hungry and cleaning up polluted water ways. But, no - alas - I have been working and my computer is so slow that it is starting to run backwards.

So, I have had to take a short hiatus from all my adoring fans (all three of you, I thank you) and I just wanted to tell you that I have ordered my new computer! I will hopefully get it in a week or so and have it running with bells and whistles in two.

I have to gloat. I got the blue neon light upgrade. My computer is going to look so freakin' awesome! ....and yours isn't! NA NA!

I'll return shortly to continue the horrendous depravity and berserk debauchery.

Till then!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Free Tibet - Boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics

The people of Tibet want China to allow them autonomy. People all over the world support the Tibetan people's right to this freedom but the Chinese government won't budge.  During the Beijing Olympics, many protests were held, including ones along the path of the Olympic torch.

*Originally I had linked an article with pictures from  The article is no longer available and the pictures, obviously aren't either.  So, instead I present a similar alternative article:

Tibet Activists Demonstrate at Base Camp While Chinese Team Attempts Olympic Torch Ascent

Protests Turn Violent in Tibet (
(This is text that I saved locally on my blog from the original article) 

Tibetan protesters hold a candlelit vigil as part of an anti-China demonstration at Boadha in Kathmandu. Around 2,000 Tibetan exiles held a candlelit vigil in Nepal's capital to show support for protesters in Chinese-controlled Tibet. The Tibetan capital Lhasa erupted in deadly violence as security forces used gunfire to quell the biggest protests against Chinese rule in two decades. (AFP/Prakash Mathema)

Tents at an advance base camp of Mount Everest in May 2007. Nepal will block access to Mount Everest in May to prevent pro-Tibetan protests while China takes the Olympic torch to the roof of the world. (AFP/HO)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

The New Job - Part 2.1

I've been gainfully employed now for a month and one week and for the most part I am enjoying it. The work itself is a lot of hands on work with fossils; so far I've worked on Triceratops, T-Rex, and most recently Phytosaur (pre-dinosaur) material. This Phytosaur was originally recovered and reconstructed in the 30s using a terracotta clay to connect the few sections of actual bone together. It has been in storage for years after probably being on display in the Museum a long time ago. Now, it has been explored, the real bone cleaned up and defined, so that we can use it for display again in the near future.

P.S. My computer is so slow that it took me the better part of the day to get this published because the photos gave me so much trouble... to be continued very soon!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Calling All Words!

I started a list of my favorite words (on the left of the screen) and I'd appreciate more suggestions.

This list is intended to host words in the English Language that are underused or under appreciated and conjure up some kind of unusual feeling or imagery or are just plain fun to say.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Jane of All Coats

I just gave away my vintage faux leopard coat to an old friend. I hadn't even looked at it or thought about it in months, but when I got it out and inspected it and hung it up to air out, I admired it and thought, "what the hell am I doing? I'll never find another leopard coat this good". But, I had already promised it away and I didn't wear it anymore and it's the kind of special coat that deserves to be loved and worn and shown off and ogled over and talked about.

Its a really good coat. I bought it from an old lady at an antique swap meet while I was in college. I believe she was the original owner. She informed me that I needed brown gloves to go with it (which I also bought from her) and she told me about how "in her day" ladies didn't go out of the house without gloves and sometimes they would cut the tips off of their gloves so they could still use their fingers while wearing them.

Once while wearing it, someone taunted me about wearing fur, but I couldn't respond to the person because of the situation. I was irritated because not only was I absolutely against wearing fur but I was a vegan animal rights activist at the time. I was inspired to make a patch that said "genuine fake" and sew it on the arm. That's the history of the leopard coat.

I have noticed that as I think about this and some other coats I've worn, they all have memorable stories to go with them.

There was the blue velvet coat. It was royal blue velvet that was quilted and hung down to my ankles. It buttoned up the front and had two flap-over pockets and a simple short collar. It flared out a bit in the back and was lined with pink satin. I was probably just out of high school when my good friend Samantha told me about this amazing coat she saw at a vintage store. She described it and I fell in love with the idea of it before I even saw it. The thing is, although she wanted it too, it wasn't really her style. But it totally fit my goth/punk/wierdo look at the time. I ended up going to the store and buying it first. She was upset for about 5 minutes, but let it go. I don't know why I did that. Why I went out and bought this unique item that my best friend wanted. Was I a horrible selfish person? Was I just reacting to some innate shopping addict gene I got from my mom? Or was it destined to be mine - all I had to do was buy it first?

Over the years, the pink lining ripped in a few places and the pockets had to be reinforced with safety pins (because I've never been much of a seamstress) and finally, last year, I gave that one away to someone I know too.

I also remember this black velvet coat that my friend John wore just after high school. It was almost like a casual dress jacket and always smelled of vanilla. I used to steal that coat whenever I could and I think it became quite an object of manipulation at one point. It inspired me to wear vanilla scented perfumes, which I still do to this day.

This brings me to my current coat. It's a black fuzzy button up coat that goes above my knees, with a long wide collar, two pockets and a strap across the back. It's kind of like a pea coat meets a stuffed animal.

I got this one at a Naked Lady Party, which I need to explain because it's a lot less exciting than it probably sounds. It's basically a girly get together (food, wine, and chocolate, and clothes) where everyone brings a bag of old clothes they are getting rid of. The clothes are dumped in a central pile, and the girls draw numbers and choose clothes they want. Many try on the clothes there and then to see if they want to keep them, hence: "naked lady party".

I saw the girl who was getting rid of the coat. She was about six inches taller and 50 pounds lighter than me, but I tried it on anyway. Somehow, it fit really well - kind of like those traveling pants that got to star in a movie. So, it needed some love (the seams were coming apart and the pockets were full of holes) and for once I found it almost effortless to fix something with a needle and thread. I made new pockets out of an old bergundy velvet shirt and it came back together like new. This is the coat I still wear and love and feel comfortable and warm in.

Anyone have a coat story to share?

Messing with DNA

I'd like you to peruse the article below and just offer comments on that, if you have them, but I also want to add a few thoughts. So go read the article and come back. Seriously - at least browse it and then come back.
"We are not trying to alter genes, we're just trying to swap a small proportion of the bad ones for some good ones," said Patrick Chinnery.

Isn't swap another word for alter?

So far, 10 such embryos have been created, though they have not been allowed to develop for more than five days.

I'd like to know what the religious and/or pro-life readers think of that. Personally, I think it's a shame to create life just to see if you can and then essentially destroy it because it doesn't work for you. But then again, science does that all the time.

Though the preliminary research has raised concerns about the possibility of genetically modified babies, the scientists say that the embryos are still only primarily the product of one man and one woman.

First of all, let's cut the crap. It TOTALLY IS genetically modifying babies, however small the modification is. I'm not necessarily against using gene therapy, which this is very similar to. I have a deeper issue with science developing ways to fix problems which are essentially the symptoms of real problems in society. American culture has decadent and careless tendencies which are very tied into environmental degradation (which can be linked to several health issues, including cancer) and very tied to our health in general health as we age. So if we ignore the underlying causes of many illnesses and only treat the symptoms, how are we really improving the situation?

- I have to go, but may continue this thread later.

Embryos created with DNA from 3 people;_ylt=AhKKgOUkN4nBx_0a3ehOZd1xieAA

British scientists have created human embryos containing DNA from two women and one man, a procedure that could potentially prevent conditions including epilepsy, diabetes and heart failure.

Though the preliminary research has raised concerns about the possibility of genetically modified babies, the scientists say that the embryos are still only primarily the product of one man and one woman.

"We are not trying to alter genes, we're just trying to swap a small proportion of the bad ones for some good ones," said Patrick Chinnery, a professor of neurogenetics at Newcastle University involved in the research.

The process aims to avoid passing onto children bad mitochondria genes, which are contained outside the nucleus in a normal female egg. Mitochondria are a cell's energy source, but mistakes in their genetic code can result in serious diseases like epilepsy, strokes, and mental retardation.

In their research, Chinnery and colleagues used normal embryos created from one man and one woman that had defective mitochondria in the woman's egg. They then transplanted that embryo into an emptied egg donated from a second woman who had healthy mitochondria.

"The proportion of genes in the mitochondria is infinitesimal," said Francoise Shenfield, a fertility expert with the European Society of Human Fertility and Reproduction. Shenfield is not connected to the Newcastle University Research.

Only trace amounts of a person's genes come from the mitochondria, and experts said it would be incorrect to say that the embryos have three parents.

"Most of the genes that make you who you are are inside the nucleus," Chinnery said. "We're not going anywhere near that."

So far, 10 such embryos have been created, though they have not been allowed to develop for more than five days. Chinnery hoped that after further experiments in the next few years the process might be available to parents undergoing in-vitro fertilization.

Similar research has been conducted in animals in Japan, and has already led to the birth of healthy mice who had their mitochondria genes corrected.

Shenfield said that further tests to assess the safety and efficacy of the process were necessary before it could be offered as a potential treatment.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The New Job - Part One -

I've been unemployed since September 2007 and will finally rejoin working society tomorrow at a new job. I'm excited because it's a job I really want - working with fossils at the Natural History Museum. But I'm also having the usual bit of nerves because starting a new job and a new routine is a change and that's always stressful. But I'm so ready to make this jump forward and it is quite exciting.

I started my last job on January 31st after a similar bout of unemployment. I was hired full time and scheduled 40 hours a week. But it was the rainiest winter/spring in years and so a lot of the projects that I was scheduled to work at were rained out all the time. This trend lasted months, until midsummer when we got an excavation job and then they wanted us to work overtime for several months straight. In the winter, work was slow again but they managed to find lab work to keep me afloat until field work started up in the spring again. Then you could basically hit a repeat button for the next year and a half, except it wasn't quite as rainy.

So my last full time job lasting over 2 1/2 years amounted to probably 1 actual year of full time work and a lot of part time work. Plus I was sent all over California, my schedule changed all the time, and I generally felt frazzled by the uncertainty of it all. I also went deeper into debt, which last time I checked, usually doesn't happen with full time jobs.

In contrast, my new job is at the same building every day; rain or shine, 9 to 5 - and I don't even need to take a freeway to get there!

Although I am calling it my new job, I am not actually celebrating until I sign the paperwork.

Just a precaution. Call it superstition. Well, I need to go knock on some wood so I'll see you later.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Thought Bubbles

So I don't know what I want to do for a job, so what? I mean, I've never been one of those people who had their whole life mapped out in front of them anyways.

Last night, I was thinking about what it was like growing up and how I was always in this uncomfortable place, both physically and mentally. I've had chronic anxiety since about fifth grade (age 10), only I didn't know that's what it was until maybe the end of high school. I dealt with conflict by shutting my eyes, literally. Years lately I can see that other people in my family deal with conflict by psychologically shutting their eyes (or putting their head in the sand or whatever other metaphor you want to use).

I think I always felt like it wasn't OK to be myself. I was constantly compared to the way people were when and where my parents grew up. It might as well have been on another planet, because it sure seemed like it. How could I be like these fictional characters in my mom's memory when I had never even met them?

I also felt totally confined by my neighborhood, my house, my room... My dad worked for the school district so he was always driving around the neighborhood in an orange truck. It got to a point where anytime I saw an orange truck, I'd freak out and want to hide.  I associated it with getting in trouble.  I felt like the only place I could be myself was at school, but I don't even think I was being myself there either. I didn't know how to be myself.

So, I am now 30 and have finally found ways to manage my anxiety, but I still don't know what the Hell to do with myself.

I think I have known for a while now that I need to find a good job as opposed to committing myself to a career. I think I have too many varied interests to let one of them consume the rest of my life. I think about how my concept of a job has been shaped by movies and TV shows and not real life experience and how doing field archaeology for a job is so "outside of the box" for me that I didn't really enjoy it.

I used to feel like a gypsy and the idea of traveling around the world for work was perfect. But now, I feel less like moving around all the time. I want a piece of Earth that I can rest my weary head on and come back to each day to regroup. I feel less and less like I have to escape from where I am and who I am.

I wonder how Leonardo Di Vinci felt when he applied for a government post doing mostly engineering when he was talented in so many ways?

Anyways, enough babbling for today.

2007 Yule - Gifts

Split Pea, Etcetera Soup

Split Peas
Red Lentils
Jasmine Rice
Wheat Berries
Vegetable Broth Powder
Fenugreek Powder
Bay Leaves
Recommended Preparation:
Combine contents of jar with 3 jars of water in a stock pot and bring to a boil for several minutes. Reduce to medium-low heat and partially cover for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Regularly check the consistency and stir, adding water if necessary. The wheat berries have the longest cook time and they should be chewy when cooked.
I recommend adding:
1 large sweet potato, peeled, bite size
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
½ of a small onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed/minced
1 Anaheim chili, whole (for flavor)

2008 Photo Calendar

Handbound with string, photographed, designed and printed myself on 8 1/2" x 11" heavy weight bright matte paper.

Below is a sample of the photographs inside:

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Holiday Crafting

In addition to my wreath, I made many gifts this year. I think my pièce de résistance was the 2008 calendar I designed and printed using my own photographs. I hope to sell a few of those and hopefully I will get some more images of it up soon.

If you would like to purchase an authentic hand-bound calendar, I am asking $10 plus shipping (U.S. only). I can customize it to include a few of your favorite photos from my Flickr! account, or I have a general flower template set up. Just email me and let me know what you'd like.

I also put together some hearty soup recipes for my girlfriends who celebrated Yule this year. I know that gifts aren't a part of Yule necessarily, but since it was our preparation for the holidays and coming new year, I felt it was appropriate. For anyone who isn't familiar with Yule, it is another name for the Winter Solstice celebration; the longest night of the year, the rebirth of the sun, and a time for cleansing, renewal and creative energy. It is a natural new year celebration.

P.S. Pictures to come... the connection is sloooow tonight!