Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!!

Ho ho ho!! Merrrry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Season

I'm at home in San Jose with my family for Christmas. It's been a good break so far, although I'm missing Tiffany and perhaps not sleeping as well without her. I wrapped some presents this morning and will probably be baking some cookies in the afternoon, then it's time for walk with Tucker followed by a Christmas movie to top off the evening!

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Backpacking in the Catalinas

Our first back-packing expedition ended in failure last night around 4am. At least no one in our party perished... Here's what happened.

At the end of the day yesterday, around 5pm, we decided to go on a back-packing trip up in the Catalinas near Mt. Lemmon. We were not concerned at all about the fact that the low in Tucson at 3000 feet elevation was below freezing, and that we were planning to drive up to about 6000 feet elevation before hiking. I mean, who would be?? Anyway, we arrived at the parking lot at 7 or 8pm, put our gear on, and started hiking.

We made it about a quarter mile before noticing a medium-sized pile of poo right in the middle of the trail. Me: "Huh, I wonder what could have produced this fresh steaming pile of poop?" (ok it wasn't steaming, whatever, it still had that shiny look) Tiff: "Oh, probably a mountain lion." Me: "A mountain lion, wow! Well they're probably sleeping at this time of night, no need to be worried." Tiff: "Actually, they're nocturnal animals." Me: "I see...."

We walked onward for a bit, then came under a tree when Tiff stopped and thought she heard branches rustling like there was some deadly cat about to jump down and tear us apart limb from limb before devouring us for a nice tasty dessert. This didn't exactly make me feel comfortable, but we plodded onward anyway, until we came to a bridge crossing where the bridge was mostly underwater. Since it was so freezing cold (I had no spare clothes in case anything got wet) and since I was afraid of getting mauled by a mountain lion, we decided to turn around and head back to the car. A half mile of hiking later, we made it back, disappointed but still determined to spend the night in the wilderness. So we set up our tent in the parking lot near to where a couple other groups were camping. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a disaster too.

When we left on our hike, a nearby RV had its generator going. It was still going by the time we had returned and set up our tent. Eventually, after a couple of hours they turned it off. In the meantime, however, another group arrived that made noise continuously throughout the night, until we finally left at 4am because the tent was too cold. They were either talking loudly or had their car on for some unknown reason. At one point I got up and went to the car to eat something (hadn't had enough for dinner), but that only made me colder, as the car was just as cold as the outside air! Not long after I came back into the tent Tiffany started coughing and we decided enough was enough. We made it back home by 5am and now here we are awake at 10:15am!

Probably the best thing of the whole night (aside from being out in nature) was watching the stars with Tiffany after the hike but before we went into the tent. We looked at the Pleiades with Tiff's binoculars and also a fuzzy blob that might have been the Andromeda Galaxy. We saw a bunch of bright shooting stars too. It was cool to be in a place where the night sky was so dark. Made me want to have my telescope!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Was sick, but not too much anymore

After the frisbee tournament I was a little sick, but now I'm doing better. Unfortunately the cold I had is hitting Tiff pretty hard right now. She's trying to study for finals too, which is probably not making recovery any easier. Hopefully those Zinc pills will actually start doing something soon!

I went for a long bike ride today (long by my standards anyway) of 38 miles. It took me about 2 and a half hours to finish. Most of the route was on city streets and wasn't that great, but part of it was through Saguaro National Park East and that part was an amazing 8 mile ride. When it was over I couldn't believe it. I thought I'd only gone 4 miles! It had lots of ups and downs, almost no traffic, and was extremely well-paved. Not only that, but it was in a beautiful setting and I saw snow on the tops of a nearby mountain! Pretty cool.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

End of November Update

It's been raining like crazy the past day or so! Tiff and I have really been enjoying the change in the weather from the monotonous sunny-all-day-everyday pattern that the desert usually serves up.

The past couple days I've been going to a conference here in Tucson that was all about how galaxies evolve in conjunction with the gigantic black holes that reside at their centers. It was a pretty good conference; definitely better than Protostars & Planets V, but definitely worse than Z-Machines. I had the opportunity (along with most other Arizona grad students) to present a single-slide, 3 minute talk on my research. I was really nervous and kind of bungled it, but hopefully not too badly. It's hard to summarize your research in only 3 minutes!

This weekend I'm playing in a frisbee tournament called Hoasis. I'm really excited to play and I think it will be a lot of fun. The weather is going to make it even more fun (in my opinion, anyway).

To finish up, here's Tiffany jumping into a pile of leaves in the front yard of my parent's house. Pretty cool action shot, eh? I posted all the pictures I took in November this morning, so feel free to check them out.