These potato-shaped prizes in the Alabama Hills are mostly made of biotite monzogranitean, quite a sexy mineral in its own right. But what really makes them stand out from the landscape is their spheroidal weathering pattern.
As the old bedrock approached the surface over millennia of overburden pressure (one of the processes behind Yosemite’s towering monoliths), geometric fractures in the rock allowed water to cyclically penetrate and react with the surface of these hidden blocks. These cycles caused the formation of ‘onion-layers’ of interesting minerals on the blocks’ surface; a chemical weathering process. Once these structures find their way to the surface, the layers erode sequentially, exposing these oddly-spherical solid monuments. These iconic shapes of exposed rock are especially common east of the Sierras, famous in places like Joshua Tree, and make boulderers even happier people.
I had a few days free in Southern California, so I drove deep in to the desert in search of darkness. Armed with a my modest a6500 and a rented Hyundai Elantra, I ventured between Jawbone Canyon and the Alabama Hills to capture every last little photon I could find.
I had the privilege of getting to travel to Shanghai for a business trip this winter, and it was definitely a culture shock. The primary goal of my trip was to train our Shanghai support team on some of our tools at work. It was a very long trip, almost 4 weeks, so there was definitely a lot of opportunities and challenges. But, it was an enlightening experience and I had a very productive, educational, and memorable journey.
Another great festival year came and went, and consistent with every prior year, it just keeps getting better and better. As usual, Nathan and I committed the entire week leading up to the festival to helping prepare for the flood of thousands of people. Our main projects were mostly lighting-focused, and included adding illumination to Dragon Run. Work commenced on Sunday before the festival, as we accomplished a variety of tasks. Weather was a problem all week for the lighting guys, as you might expect. We made some very cool looking lanterns for the entrance of Dragon Run that melted in Thursday’s rain, and we had to quickly assemble the tapestry fixture to hang in its place. It looked decent, but it will be an area of focus for us next year. Rain and humidity also ruined our plaster layer on the Dragon sculpture, so time and finances permitting, Nate and I will have to overhaul it for next year. We brought our own work truck up for the pre-week, so we didn’t have to use any golf carts until festival time, which was a great relief. I bought the red Chevy (affectionately named Roxanne), and she was a real savior all week. I kept her so we can use her next year.
I always look forward to the May Day celebrations at the Heron. It’s a great waypoint on the way to summer, as the snow thaws and the land turns green again. This year was a special year, as we celebrated the life of Alicia Passamonte, a past Heron volunteer coordinator. Though I never got to meet her, the impact that her life had on all of the Heron elders was monumental. Just as Alicia had requested, the Heron family held a candlelight vigil to light up the hill on Saturday night.
I was elected by my company to represent our product at Hannovermesse in Hannover, Germany. Siemens and other industrial companies participate in fairs like Hannovermesse to promote their products, their services, and their company values to prospective customers. Since I’ve been begging my management for the chance to travel to Germany (a primary reason for me to work at Siemens), they finally heard my calls and sent me on a trip full of hard work and hard play.
I got the invite from my Blue Heron friend Barry to attend one of his infamous Barn Dances. Some of you may know Barry as the mother-pluckin’ banjo player from the Tiger Maple String Band. So Saturday night, me, Camelia and Beth loaded up the Mini and headed north.
It could have been a different life, and it almost was.
In the long series of events that unfolded in to what my life is now, it would have only been a few folds different for me to wind up in Greensburg.
If Siemens had not given me a job offer back in June 2011, I’d probably still be at the Elliott Company, and its more than likely that I’d have an apartment in Greensburg today. I even went to the trouble of touring several locations at the time, and at the moment when I got closest to pulling the trigger, some little piece of instinct bubbled to top of my brain and told me to wait for a few months.
I always look forward to the holidays, but this year was especially anticipated because it was my first Christmas to come ‘home’ to after moving down to Pittsburgh.
Keeping up with our annual family traditions, our family had our usual Christmas Eve pilgrimage to the Strip District to buy steaks and crab legs for our traditional Christmas Eve surf’n’turf. This year Bober and DPM tagged along and we had a fun morning exploring some of the shops in the Strip. We had a spur-of-the-moment lunch at Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille and savored some awesome lobster bisque.
A common occurrence around my house that happens when Nathan visits; I sit on the back-porch with him while he puffs on a cigarette. Usually, being very knowledgeable about insect species, he picks off a few from the porch lights, tells us a few things about the creature, and lets it go back in to the wild. But tonight, he found something fairly unique.