Un-American

“My rights are denied by
Those least qualified
Trading profit for pride
But it’s okay
Everything’s backwards
In Americana my way”

-“Americana”, The Offspring

Last night my roommates and I went and saw Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11”. The movie was almost 2 hours long, and had a few parts where the movie seemed to drag. Overall though, Moore does an excellent job of exposing Bush’s false pretense for war with Iraq. The amount of lies this administration has spouted is disgusting. And somehow, Bush is still running neck and neck with Kerry! Ugh, what is wrong with this country? Anyway, definitely check out that movie if you get a chance. It’s completely worth it.

While I’m still somewhat undecided on this election (I personally don’t care much for Kerry), I’m positive I won’t be voting for Nader in this election. I’m not too thrilled with him. Sadly, he tapped Peter Camejo to be his running mate! Camejo ran for governor under the Green Party banner for the California recall election. After seeing him speak at the antiwar protests in San Francisco, as well as watching him in the televised debates, I think he is one of the best orators I have seen. Had he been nominated as the Green Party’s presidential candidate, I would have easily voted for him. Of course there’s the whole issue of “how bad do we want Bush out of the White House?” I always have believed voting isn’t about strategy, it’s about what your heart wants. Of course my utter contempt for the current administration has me somewhat confused on what to do. Kerry is going to need every vote he can get. Ugh. There is still around 5 months to decide I suppose. We’ll have to see what happens. In the meantime, how about some political propaganda?

One Thousand Reasons
Antiwar.com
Open Secrets

Today I went to USC for a communications workshop that was setup for all the SCEC interns. I definitely have to say, UCLA is way better in my opinion! Though USC is a private school, and a fairly prestigious one at that. Still, I am totally in love with UCLA.

One of the speakers today was Dr. Lucy Jones, who many of us Southern Californians are familiar with since all the news networks interview her after a major earthquake. She was quite an energetic person. She was telling us some funny stories, such as the seismologists at their Pasadena office have come up with a new naming convention for earthquakes. It is based on how many news vans show up in front of their office. The recent San Diego quake that was located offshore and didn’t damage anything was classified as a “6 truck earthquake.” Hah!

Anyway, I’m off to go run! Last week I ran a mile in 7 minutes and 41 seconds, that is so awesome for me!

Rock it!

I took one of those personality tests recently from www.colorquiz.com. In general, I have always found the results to be fairly accurate. I think the latest test nailed me for the most part, though it seems to make a big deal of me being distressed. I don’t really think I’m too distressed over everything going on in my life though. I’ve been pretty damn happy as of of late if you ask me! πŸ™‚

Anyway, my results:

Your Existing SituationWilling and adaptable. Only at peace when closely attached to a person, group, or organization on a which reliance can be placed.

Your Stress Sources

Has an unsatisfied need to ally himself with others whose standards are as high as his own, and to stand out from the herd. This desire for preeminence isolates him and inhibits his readiness to give himself freely. While he wants to surrender and let himself go, he regards this as a weakness which must be resisted. This self-restraint, he feels, will lift him above the rank and file and ensure recognition as a unique and distinctive personality.

Your Restrained Characteristics

Distressed by the obstacles with which he is faced and is no mood for any form of activity or for further demands on him. Needs peace and quiet, and the avoidance of anything which might distress him further. Feels that things stand in his way, that circumstances are forcing him to compromise and forgo some pleasures for the time being.

Your Desired Objective

Wants to make a favorable impression and be regarded as a special personality. Is therefore constantly on the watch to see whether he is succeeding in this and how others are reacting to him; this makes him feel he is in control. Uses tactics cleverly in order to obtain influence and special recognition. Susceptible to the esthetic or original.

Your Actual Problem

Needs to be valued and respected as an exceptional individual, in order to increase his self-esteem and his feeling of personal worth. Resists mediocrity and sets himself high standards.

Saw the Angels beat up on the Oakland A’s tonight too. It was nice hanging out with the friends again, especially in the middle of what appears to be a long week! So many calculations and so much research to do. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day! Anyway, some possible exciting finds in our seismology research today, so I’m pretty excited to go back into the lab tomorrow and try some more stuff.

Last night I saw Angie Mattson play at a small restaurant/bar type thing near Hollywood. I found out about her nearly 6 months ago when I was perusing the ads on craigslist for fellow musicians. After checking out some mp3’s, I was totally hooked. It was rad finally getting to see her perform live, she has a phenomenal voice. MP3’s are available at her website. If you get a chance, definitely check this talented woman out.

Every time I see a great band, person or group perform, I get so inspired! I would love to play music. Money isn’t even an issue really, I’d just love to find someone or a group of people and play! It’s so awesome when you have people to play with and things just click. At the very least, this will give me some motivation to write some more stuff!

Crazy tradition

Shortly after my last posting, I discovered a tradition at UCLA entitled the “midnight yell.” Basically, everyone in the neighborhood screams in unison at the stroke of midnight. I don’t mean scream as in cheer, I mean scream as in horrible, blood curdling, someone-is-stabbing-me-with-a-knife scream. Now, multiply that by about 500 people! I thought I was the star of a new horror movie!

Last night, I didn’t know what to expect, but I decided to prepare anyway. As the clock approached midnight, I heard lots of commotion outside. Allow me to introduce you to another tradition at UCLA: The Undie Run. Yes, hundreds of students gather to run down the street in their underwear at midnight! I have the pictures to prove it! Apparently, both of these traditions happen every year during finals week to help relieve stress. Definitely a great approach at doing it!

My sister flew home from San Francisco this weekend, so that will be nice to see her and hang out again. With my mom moving back to Mentone, the living conditions are going to be pretty cramped this weekend at the old house. Hopefully it will be done soon though! It is an incredible place to live, with the creek flowing through our yard, having the house complete would just be icing on the cake!

I’ve been running 2 miles everyday since I’ve been here. Trying to get back into my old workout routine. Evidentially I am seeing some results! I ran the fastest mile I have done in years tonight! 8 minutes exactly. I was hoping to break 8 minutes, but still, that is awesome! I think the last time I broke 8 minutes was in 9th grade! And I still had the energy left over to run the second mile! It’ll be good to be back in shape, especially if Dan and I get around to doing some hiking this summer.

My life would make an awesome reality show!

Seriously! What college guy wouldn’t dream of sharing an apartment with four girls? They are such a fun group though. This is finals week at UCLA, so everyone has been pretty much cooped up in their rooms and studying the past few days.

Doing some maintenance, I found out that my gallery was hacked sometime in the last few days. Four full albums were wiped out. I’m in the process of restoring them as I write this. Looks like it is time to upgrade to the latest version of gallery. That’s what I get for skimping on security updates.

I attended a few graduation parties for friends at Cal State San Bernardino this weekend as well as the CSUSB geology club banquet. Seeing everyone again was so rad. Of course it’s quite possible I might not see some of these people again, as we all move on to bigger and better things. Some pictures with friends this weekend:

With Jessica
With Amber
Most of the geology crew

The Cassini-Huygens mission has also returned some fascinating photos from its first encounter with Saturn’s moon Phoebe. Check out the awesome photos on the website. Hmm, all I seem to do anymore is talk about astronomy. How about some cool geology news?

Apparently there was a 5.2 earthquake today off the coast of San Diego. Despite having a job this summer where I am doing nothing but looking at earthquakes, it might be surprising to learn that I didn’t find out about this earthquake until around 5 hours later when I checked the messages on my phone. A friend of mine from SFSU has an internship in San Diego this summer and called about it. Apparently some people as far away as Ventura felt it, though I didn’t feel anything and I was sitting in a chair at that time. Pulling up a record for a seismogram at Cal Tech (which is about 25 minutes east of here), you can see the wave isn’t much bigger than the background noise.

I wonder when our turn is though? I’ll probably be back up in Northern California if/when that 6.5 hits. We’ll have to see!

I ended up driving around Beverly Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains today, looking at some spots for radio sites we want to use in an experiment. The houses up there are just incredible! There is a lot of money invested into this tiny area of Southern California. It’s pretty weird to think that I live minutes away from all these famous stars and musicians. Perhaps I’ll accidentally bump into Angelina Jolie while going for a run and be able to swoon her with my knowledge of rocks! Hmm.

Anyway, that is really all the news there is at the moment. Besides pretty much working all the time, there isn’t much else going on! I guess that kinda nullifies the title of this post. I did get my grades for last semester at SFSU. Let’s just say I’m not as happy with them as I could have been. I mainly attribute that to the fact that I was sick for a week and ended up missing some MAJOR stuff, which ended up having drastic repercussions on my grade.

Yay! A nerdy astronomy post!

As I am writing this, Venus is currently transiting the sun! Unfortunately, us folks on the west coast are part of the 25% of the Earth’s surface that won’t be able to see the transit. That doesn’t stop geeks like me though! Using a program I love called Celestia, I can create what the current situation is right at this very moment as I write! Here is a screen shot from Celestia. The black dot on the face of the sun in the lower left is Venus:

Venus Transit

Cassini also goes into orbit around Saturn at the beginning of next month. That is going to be another exciting mission that will return tons of amazing data. This is shaping up to be an awesome year in astronomy. Especially on the heals of losing the Galileo spacecraft back in December.

I went home this weekend, which is nice to be able to do. Got to hang out with my parents, see the animals, do laundry for free as well as grocery shopping. Just a nice time to relax. Even got a chance to hang out with Dan as well. I’ll probably be heading back into Redlands almost every weekend while I am down here. Not too bad, since it’s only an hour and a half drive.

UCLA is a nice campus! Their geology building is by far the nicest that I have ever been in. Lots of well lit displays, even interactive stuff, like what we tried to setup at CSUSB (on a limited scale) last year. I have keys to the geology building, keys to my office (which I share with a grad student), a UCLA ID-Card and my own UCLA email address! I’m set to go here! πŸ™‚ We’ll have to see if I get accepted here for grad school, that is still a ways off yet though.

Last night and today, I’ve been designing a database to sort through about 35,000 earthquakes (M2.0 and greater) that have happened since 1990. Since I don’t want to sort through these quakes by hand to find the data I need, I decided to put my geek skills to use and make a computer do it for me! The database is almost complete, and I can sort earthquakes by size, location, depth and even date they occurred. The second part I need to implement is a system to determine what stations were able to record the earthquake, as well as a system that lets me choose one station and show all earthquakes it recorded from a certain area. It is some pretty complex stuff, but I’ll probably have that done within the next few days, then I can start actually LOOKING at earthquakes. I’ll probably post the database online. It’s a version based on what is available at www.data.scec.org, but you’ll be able to do slightly more complex stuff with this version.

On Friday, the Cal State San Berdo geology club is having an end of the year banquet. I’m going to be able to attend. I’m excited to see a lot of these folks again, many for possibly the last time since they are graduating! πŸ™ What a great group of people though.

The last thing I wanted to write about was an awesome website called Wikipedia. It dubs itself as an “open content” encyclopedia, which basically means that it is fully user editable. See a subject that needs modification or has some incorrect material? You can add to it, or even create new articles! This openness leaves it prone to some vandalism, but they have thousands of users who are constantly tooling around. Overall, it is a great community website. I’ve been getting quite involved in it recently… you can check out my contributions on my user contributions page. I’ve added some rudimentary articles on the Santa Ana River, Salt Domes and Mt. San Gorgonio. Maybe in the future people will go back and add more content to them. Wikipedia already boasts more entries than the Encyclopedia Britannica! (However, average word counts per article are different. Britannica has roughly 600 words per article while Wikipedia only has 350). Definitely check it out and try looking up some articles, I think you’ll be pretty impressed overall!

It’s easier to find parking in San Francisco

Besides the current situation involving parking, things are going splendidly. I just got home, after driving around Westwood for the last hour to look for a parking spot. Luckily, I should have my parking permit for UCLA by next week, so I’ll be able to keep my car in the parking garage overnight.

My internship deals with “scattering, attenuation and caustics on seismograms in the Southern California seismic network.” A few years ago, researchers carried out some experiments that involved setting off explosions to map below the surface. They noticed some weird anomalies about 20km below the surface that caused reflections to show up on the seismograms that were monitoring these experiments. Possible explanations for this ranged from a magma chamber (unlikely) to a piece of the old Farallon Plate that subducted under North America 10 million years ago. Anyway, my assignment is to basically look through data from years and years of individual seismograms and see if I can find any of these reflections from actual earthquakes. If so, we can do some simple math to find out where the wave reflected from and get a better grasp on the size of this “high velocity zone” as it is called. It’s quite interesting since it holds possible implications for determining how the San Andreas fault moves through Southern California too.

Another project I will be helping on is creating a radio network of seismograms that transmits data by line of site back to a central locations. This allows real time recording of a huge array of seismograms. Evidentially, a graduate student is going to use this on a large scale in Mexico next year. The distance they want to cover is nearly 50km, with the signal hopping between stations that are anywhere from 5 – 10 km apart. We’re going to setup a small scale version of this by trying to hop a signal from the UCLA campus, over the Santa Monica Mountains and into San Fernando Valley to test if this works. This involves putting together all the equipment, finding suitable locations, and even getting permission from owners of the properties that we want to set stuff up on.

Pretty intense stuff overall, but fascinating nonetheless. I think I am definitely going to put UCLA down on my list of schools to consider going to for graduate school. It’s a beautiful campus, and the geology department is absolutely incredible. Lots of cutting edge research going on.

Today I attended a presentation by a team member of the Mars Exploration Rovers Mission. He presented material on the latest findings and current status. I’ve been checking up on these things every few days, using the official site. They are still ticking! What incredible pieces of engineering.

In other news, the room mate situation is pretty great. A very nice group of people and they are completely accommodating. We all went out to dinner last night along with some of their friends, so that was nice getting to meet even more new people.

Anyway, the last group of postings was getting pretty long, so I went ahead and threw it into the archive section. Interestingly enough, it seems like the archive section is divided up by significant points in my life. The start of school at CSUSB, then moving to SF, and now the internship at UCLA. This was completely unintentional too! Nice coincidence. πŸ™‚

“The Boys are back in town…”

Back home in Southern California! I made fairly decent time, completing the trip in about 7 and a half hours. Though I also spent nearly $95 in gas. Ugh! I do have to say that iPod’s are the BEST invention ever for road trips though. On the way down, I blasted through 192 songs. Nice! Anyway, after spending 6 hours on the road, mainly driving through nothing but farm fields, the following view just makes me think, “almost home!” The Tehachapi Mountains are basically the border between Central California and Southern California, and when you see them towards the bottom of the San Joaquin Valley, there is still about 2 hours left before you’re home. Still, Southern California is almost within reach!

Tehachapi Mountains

Of course, once you cross over the Tehachapis and San Gabriels, you *should* see the San Fernando Valley/LA. Instead, I saw:

Where did LA go?

Ah yes, smog! How I missed it. This view almost made me turn around and drive straight back to San Francisco! What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Besides, during the last four months I’ve missed not having a fine coating of particulate matter all over my lungs.

After I got home, Nic, Nate and I went out to eat at TGI Friday’s to catch up on old times. We called Dan to see if he wanted to go, but he was sick. I’ve never been there, evidentially that is the happening spot for the college crowd in this area. The food is okay, but I can think of much better places to spend my time and money at.

I also have to say that I absolutely love craigslist.org. In the last 4 months, I have used it to buy a desk for my room, sell a guitar, find an apartment, find someone to sublet my room and now find a place to stay near UCLA. Starting Tuesday, I will be staying in an apartment with 4 ladies from UCLA during my internship, subletting while someone else is moving out during the summer. At $500/mo, it isn’t that bad of a deal, especially for being right across the street from UCLA.

I went down to check the place out last night and it was a nifty little apartment. It seems like a decent place to spend the next 11 weeks or so and a friendly group of people too. After this, I walked around campus for a bit to get my bearings. It is a very awesome campus, but I still think UC Berkeley is probably the most beautiful university I have ever seen. I walked through their massive geology building and found the office I am supposed to go to on Wednesday. Right down the hall is the office of Dr. Keilis-Borok, who’s team predicted the San Simeon earthquake and is predicting an earthquake this summer in So. Cal. Being the geeky person that I am, I kind of wanted to take a picture in front of his door. Ah well, maybe next time! =]

Finals are over

Today (Yesterday) was my last day of classes this semester. It started off great. All I had to do was give a presentation in my paleontology on “Methane Driven Mass Extinctions – A Possible Cause for the Permian Extinction?” Class started at 8am. No problem with that. Except for the fact that I woke up at 9:45! Oh yes. I screamed, jumped out of bed, threw some clothes on and ran out the door. I got there right as the last presentation was going on. Luckily, my professor let me go after he was finished. How did that happen? Evidentially I set my alarm for 7PM instead of 7AM! That was nearly catastrophic.

My plan is to leave tomorrow at some point. Still have some stuff to take care of around town and need to finish packing up everything. Then I go to U-Haul to rent a truck and off I go! I should be back down in Redlands late tomorrow night. I’m not anticipating leaving here until nearly 12pm or 1. It’s about an 8 hour drive, so I should be in town by maybe 9:30 at the latest.

The last few days have been incredibly tedious, but it’s over! I found someone to sublet my room, finals are done, transportation back home seems to be arranged. I still need to get a place in Westwood, but I don’t have to worry about that until this weekend. Anyway, thanks to all the great people I’ve met up here in the past four months. Despite the stressful academic life, it has been an absolute blast.

Summer time… and the living is easy…

I just got back home from my going-away/summer-is-here party I had with people from work. Not that many people there, but I was definitely happy with who showed up. It was quite a fun experience and we talked until quite late. It’s kind of a bummer to have to take off when I’m just starting to really get to know people. Ah well, in 3 more months I’ll be back and things can pick up where they left off. Anyway, to Emily, Harmony, Julie, Katherine and Ben, I thank you guys!

Interestingly enough, as I was riding the bus home tonight, this guys leans over and quietly says something to me. I didn’t understand, so I asked him, “what was that?” His response was:
I hope I see you again.

!!

So, it’s 2 o’clock in the morning, I’m on a crowded bus in the middle of San Francisco and a guy is hitting on me. What do I do? I turn and flash him a smile and say “thanks!” He tells me to have a goodnight and gets off the bus.

Luckily, this event was cancelled out by a beach bonfire we had last night for the geology crew. Lot’s of hot dogs and drinks were provided for this end of the year bash. Musical instruments were even brought! I brought my guitar and jammed with one of my professors. Part way through the night, two girls from another bonfire came up and wanted to kidnap me and take me back to their bonfire. That was… interesting.

Anyway, it’s quite late/early, so I think I should head off for now. Goodnight.