Friday, September 26, 2008

Just Read: A Dangerous Place

As promised, my review of Marc Reisner's book:

I kind of think it was a cheap byproduct of Cadillac Desert. He obviously used much of his water research to write this book, and the entire scenario is based on comments a geologist gave him about Cadillac Desert - basically that it failed to address what could happen to California's water supplies in the event of a large earthquake near the Delta. The whole book read as if it came straight out of Cadillac Desert - and maybe part of it did, I just can't remember.

However, as far as a scare tactic, it just did not work for me. In his scenario, only a couple thousand people died. Yes, that's a lot, like in Katrina, but large earthquakes around the world have produced death tolls up to half a million people. That is freaking scary. A few thousand? Not bad odds in the populated Bay Area - makes me want to take my chances.

I will not be keeping the book, so if you're looking for a fast, easy beach read, almost like a novel, just let me know!

Sunny Southern California... not so sunny today. At least not yet - I'm hoping the fog will burn off soon, so I can sit out by the pool again today!

Other than that, I can't complain too much about Costa Mesa. It makes me want to move back to LA. I just love it, for some inexplicable reason. I mean, we could have stayed here: (The Ali Baba Motel)

Next stop: San Francisco Bay

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ever noticed that "what the hell?" is always the right decision?

(Thank you, KGS.)

Today is the beginning of the long trek to Fort Cronkhite. It will include stops in Flagstaff, Phoenix, Tucson, Costa Mesa, and possibly other California locations. So let's make some plans! With air fare what it is, who knows when I'll be back...

P.S. "A Dangerous Place" arrived in the mail today, so I'll let you know if I change my mind!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I am Officially Ready

Nothing inspires you to have faith in your upcoming move quite like three gun shots and a lot of angry yelling. I would love to give you further details, but I can't find anything on the internet. Perhaps the victim didn't die, so it's not newsworthy here in Albuquerque. I'm not sure. All I know is I was asleep on the couch around midnight, and I woke up to gun shots.

First the ice cream man was murdered a block or two from our house back in June. Then a man was killed in a downtown parking garage in July (this is probably at least six residential blocks away). So everytime we heard firecrackers, we sort of wondered if it was gunshots. Now I know - there is no mistaking that, especially when you are close enough to hear yelling too.

We have a friend who has lived in this neighborhood for several years, and he has not experienced murders so close by before. Apparently 2008 is just dangerous.

I gave you a chance, Albuquerque.

You lost it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Paring Down

In preparation for moving, I'm trying to get rid of a few things. But for the life of me, I can't figure out what I'm supposed to do with cosmetics I don't want anymore - body sprays I've had forever, excessive amounts of Purell, extra hair spray bottles, Nair... I just keep carting them around from house to house, but seriously, I'm NEVER going to use these things.

Also, since I hardly ever wear makeup, any type of makeup lasts me forever. But this article says that basically I should throw it all away.

I need help!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Hello California

I have recently read two pieces of information that have made me wary of living in the Bay Area. And this is because I am a geek. Or a dork. I'm not sure what.

1)A workshop or field trip at this year's Science Writers conference in Palo Alto (P.S. Is anyone going to this?) looks at the fault running through Oakland. The fault historically moves on average once every 140 years. The last quake was in 1868. So. Yup.

2) A blog by a company with whom Matt interviewed this morning (yes, I was reading a hydrology blog) was talking about how the levees in California are actually worse than those in New Orleans and that a natural disaster, in this case an earthquake, could do some serious damage. Serious. He referenced the scenario written by Marc Reisner in the above book. Oh, and the same guy told Matt in his interview that most of the buildings in Oakland have no been retrofitted.

So of course, I ordered the book, used of course, off my favorite online bookstore, Because why live in denial when I can scare myself outright. Although I'd like to point out that Marc Reisner also wrote the fabulous book Cadillac Desert, about water, and I have been told he then changed his tune 180 degrees on water. So maybe, were he still alive, he would change his mind about earthquakes. Maybe?

And before, I was thinking that Oakland or Berkeley might be a good place to live, but now I'm thinking a different part of the Bay Area might be just a wee bit safer. Hey, when it comes to earthquakes, every little thing helps, I imagine. Or hurts.

Also, Matt's prospoects for a job are looking good, so I guess I won't get to run away this time! (Love you...)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Goodbye New Mexico

Although we have been remiss in getting out and seeing this enchanting state, owing mostly to school, 4 hour daily commutes, and other over commitments such as a Little Sister and open space volunteering, now that we know we are leaving (or at least I am), we have been making the most of it.

I took a 4 day weekend for Labor Day, and for Matt's birthday present, we went up to southern Colorado. Which hello. Why did no one tell me how fabulous it is before?

Mesa Verde.


Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

Ouray. (My absolute favorite. I highly recommend this for a weekend getaway - hot springs and hiking trails within easy walking distance of a vibrant little town.)


This past weekend we took a little jaunt up to Bandalier, which although it is mere minutes from Matt's field area, we had never been to. Also fascinating. One thing I love about New Mexico is that people have lived here for such an amazingly long time. Oh and there is also phenomenal salsa and green chile. And margaritas. I'll miss you most of all. Muah!

I have now uploaded pictures from the entire summer to Picasa.


As always, I have a plan. Even when I first started with the state, I had a plan to stay there only until the State Water Plan was finished, in a year or so. Of course I didn't even make it that far. Now I have made a commitment to a 6 month internship. After that...wait for it...wait for it...I'm going to attempt to work for myself! The shock! The awe! I'm too young! I don't have enough experience!

Apparently I have entered a rebellious time in my life. Besides my husband, only one person has sincerely told me they think this a good idea. My parents think I am out of my mind.

I already moonlight as a writer for a trade magazine, and I am looking to pick up a couple contracts from my current job. The internship will provide me with some more clips for my portfolio. So ideally, after the 6 months, I will be partially on my way to becoming an independent science and communication consultant.

I do have a husband who is planning to make the opposite transition - from the freewheeling world of school to one of a corporate consulting job - so I guess I have a fallback crutch. But I've been reading these self-helpy type business books (so uncharacteristic of me!) and they have convinced me to believe in myself and give it the old college try without worrying about making it. And then I'll succeed!

(As a side note, I'm not exactly sure I want to set out my complete path as a commercial writer, as this book suggests, but I'm certainly going to explore my options!)

So if you know anyone who needs a competent and efficient hydrologist, water planner, or science and environment writer, send them my way!

(And as a second side note, I received a signed copy of Gary Hirshberg's book, "Stirring It Up," by sending in 20 Stonyfield Farms yogurt lids, and it totally inspired me to go work in corporate America. Although the good kind of corporate America. Maybe I could get a part time gig doing that. I'm just not good at this commitment thing.)

Not Me

I don't even have a cubicle. I have a small little office with two windows, with spectacular views of the Jemez Mountains, if I move my balance ball to just the right place. If I close my door, I can pretend I'm not there, even in the middle of the work day. Those of us in the building refer to it as the "country club life."

But it's still not me.

So I gave it all up for yet another internship and an amazing $1000 a month on which to live. In San Francisco. (Although the government is graciously providing me with free housing.) I get to spend time out in the field with researchers, often in Point Reyes, and when I'm in the office writing, I will be yards from a beach with fantastic surfing and kayaking opportunities. Guess I'll have to learn the former.

As I'm writing this, I'm thinking about all the people who have judged me, silently or verbally, for moving to California, and to the Bay Area no less. And I'm starting to get defensive. But I don't need to defend myself. They think I'm young and naive, or they know I won't like it there, or they think I can't afford it. So what. If it doesn't work out, I guess I'll just leave! It's a shocking attitude, I suppose, to life-long government workers.

I am still young, and I want to have some fun. At this moment in my life, I don't need or want a house, a baby, or any responsibility, really. A husband is about all I can handle.

I've been to San Francisco only twice before, and my husband once - on our honeymoon. But we both love it. For years I've thought about living there, only to think, as it is ingrained, that there is no way I could afford such a thing. But why not give it a whirl?

This blog is here to document my attempt.