Sunday, December 31, 2006


Pronunciation: in-ur-shuh, i-nur-
Function: noun
Etymology: New Latin, from Latin, lack of skill, from inert-, iners
1 a : a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion in the same straight line unless acted upon by some external force b : an analogous property of other physical quantities (as electricity)
2 : indisposition to motion, exertion, or change : INERTNESS
(courtesy of

I lack momentum. Perhaps this is to be expected, in the slowness of the post-Christmas-season lull. The past two weeks have seen me leap into action for brief necessary intervals, and then I fall right back into idleness.

And this is not entirely by choice. I just lack momentum. I have never been happy being idle. I'm not always twitchy... well, uh... actually I generally am. But this is more than an untwitchiness. I have things I want to do. Multiple works-in-progress projects are sitting idly nearby just waiting for my attention. But I just can't seem to acquire the activation energy required to start. So instead, I'm going to grab a coffee (black no sugar), cuddle up with Kai on the couch, read my new book, and dream about all the baking that I'm going to do in 2007.

By the way, Ms. Jenn Foley - I think you would love this book. I'm hardly more than 10 pages in, and already I'm plotting out purchasing a kitchen scale. Or two. Oh, an aside: I posted a photo I took for you from my SF trip on my new flickr page. Yes. I'm a convert.

Happy New Year's Eve, everyone. May 2007 be good to you. And happy birthday to my cousin, Brian. You're still the only New Year's baby I know.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Déjà Vu

aka Snow Day! Isn't it pretty?

Looking out Kai's window.

Looking out our bedroom window. And Yes. For those of you who are familiar with this view, the mountains are indeed hiding.

And no - the pictures aren't black and white. The sky is almost the same colour as the ground, but maybe just a little more gray.

Since yesterday afternoon we've had about 14", in addition to the 6-8" still on the ground from last week - that's a first for us since we moved here. There are mixed reports about how much more we might get, ranging from "not much" to "some more". Being vague is apparently good, because then it's difficult to be wrong.

Kai and I are enjoying our day in the house so far (with the exception of the 45 minutes of shoveling that I did early this morning). I've had a day reprieve from work, as most of the businesses in town have been shut down for the storm. Perhaps we'll head outside this afternoon and play with his new sled again. Jake has already had a blast playing in the snow with his girlfriend Ruby, the dog next door.

I'm so happy we didn't need to go anywhere this holiday season.

Sending out warm thoughts to all of you...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

From our chaos to yours...
Excuse us while we dig out.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

20" and counting

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

Word is that it's going to be between 24 - 36" by the time it's done. That's more than we had ALL LAST YEAR.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Pardon me while I step on my soapbox

...but Al told me to.

I started composing this blog entry on my way back from San Francisco where I spent last week for a conference. Many of you know that I’m a scientist and that I work in a research laboratory, and that it’s not exactly government and not exactly not-government. And I’m not just being ambiguous. The conference was the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, a 5-day meeting that is always held in SF during the first two weeks of December. The conference caters to a myriad of disciplines including my own little world in the atmospheric sciences. But it also includes biogeosciences, geophysics, volcanology, solar and heliospheric physics, ocean sciences, geochemistry, hydrology, seismology, education, paleosciences and a number of other sections between which I’m afraid I can’t even begin to explain the differences. This mega-meeting is notorious for growing each year by about 10%. This year there were on the order of 14000 people in attendance. The first meeting I attended, back in 2000, had a mere 6000 people.

The sheer magnitude of research presented at the meeting is staggering. In an attempt to make it less overwhelming, attendees tend to stay close to their own disciplines, but occasionally I find it worthwhile to explore the posters or attend a talk in another discipline, sometimes out of genuine interest, and sometimes just out of curiosity, as a feeble attempt to stay well-rounded. Or maybe it’s just a reminder that there is another world of data collection that I rarely encounter. For the most part, this past week I stayed close to my atmospheric colleagues and attempted to learn what I could about the measurements and techniques that are associated with what I know best.

In addition to individual disciplines, there is a section that attempts to incorporate all the geosciences called Union, and this year, the Union address was given by the former Vice President and 40+ year environmental advocate and climate change educator Al Gore. Gore readily explains that he is not a scientist, but rather a communicator. And he's very good at what he does. He told us a little about the history of why he’s interested in climate change, he smothered us in platitudes and told us that we’re doing very important work, he encouraged us not to be afraid to tell the truth, and he told us that we need to also communicate what we know with each other and, more importantly, with the public.

And then it was over.

Following his talk, I was left feeling a little flat. After speaking with some of my peers, I realized that although he was very complimentary regarding the importance of what we do, and that we not be held back by what is “convenient” but rather that we should feel compelled to do something. But he gave us a little too much credit. I was left feeling empowered: I can make a difference! But… how?

I felt a little like the Grinch before he got his wonderful, awful idea.

Only I don’t know that I’ve a wonderful idea, awful or otherwise.

Over the next couple days I was slowly reminded, mulling the talk over in my mind and rehashing it with my friends/colleagues/fellow scientists, of another talk that had impressed on me one of the biggest hurdles that communicators such as Gore are facing today. It was a talk that I heard over a year ago, at a much more intimate conference that I attended in September of 2005.

The talk was given by a woman who is serving as co-chair for one of the working groups on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). She spoke about the difficulties that we as scientists face in communicating the severity and immediacy of climate change, and the issues surrounding gathering public support for energy reduction efforts.

It has to do with a hole in the ozone over the Antarctic.

Now I won’t take a show of hands, but consider, if you will, whether or not you relate the ozone hole with climate change/global warming. I’ll give you a second or two to think about it. Ponder it with a quick glimpse of the guy who “used to be the next president of the United States” (it's still a funny joke to me, especially with his little "I don't think that's funny" after the clapping and laughter. He's a funny guy.)

So… back on topic. For those of you who said “no", you get a prize. Thus, for those of you who did say "yes, they’re related”, I’m sorry, but they’re not. Not directly, at least. The ozone hole over the Antarctic is a phenomenon that occurs during the Austral spring over the South Pole. It is a natural phenomenon that was made much worse for a while by the presence of “manmade ozone-destroying CFCs” that collect over the Antarctic all winter long, and then when the sun comes up in the spring (remember it’s dark for months there… lots of time for gathering the weaponry) the sun busts the CFCs up into pieces, and one of the pieces eats up ozone in such a way that it regenerates itself and is free to eat up more ozone.) The issue: CFCs are bad. The plan: lets not use CFCs anymore. The solution: hey – this guy over here has HCFCs that work the same as CFCs and aren’t as harmful. Cool. Let’s use those.

So we were told there was a problem, and scientists had a solution, and it was implemented (the Montreal Protocol), and there you go. We’re all better.

Climate change is bigger. It’s MUCH bigger. Scientists are having a hard time nailing down exactly what is going to happen, but there are VERY strong indications that it won’t be good. But it is really BIG. It’s not going to be contained to one continent that a few species of birds and hearty humans live on. It’s affecting the whole planet. There is a dangerous sense of “it’s okay, because they figured out the ozone hole thing… they’ll come up with an alternative, and once it’s economically sound we’ll use it and everything will go back to normal. Just like that hole thing.” But it’s not that simple this time. Not even a tiny bit.

We need to do something.

But what, Al?

I'm going to start by encouraging you to find out more. And don't stop there.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

All I want for Christmas

It was a little faster this year.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


It's warmer today than it has been for over a week, so with the snow melting all around us Kai and I took a walk to the "Rock Park" this afternoon. I'm sure we've mentioned it before, but it's the park with a small playground that also has a big rebar-structured rock cave that kids can climb on, under, around and through. It is very unique, and Kai loves it. He takes after his father.

Speaking of which, remember when we used to call him "Lit'ler [Keith]"? Look at this:

I didn't know Keith at age 3, but I've seen pictures. When Kai squints, he's the spitting image of his dad.

(Note the rally shirt: C'mon, guys... 6 losses in a row? Maybe tonight they will turn things around.)

This morning, after a quick trip to the post office, Kai and I went to the Children's Christmas party at my work. The highlight of the party is getting to sit on Santa's lap. This year he actually smiled for his picture, which we likely won't get a copy of until sometime in January or February. (It's apparently a long process.) Last year he looked petrified and refused to speak to Santa. This year he was prepared, and he asked Santa for a "little tiny house" for Christmas. "With snow on it." I think he wants a gingerbread house. He's not a hard kid to please.

Friday, December 08, 2006

gearing up and the bionic woman

another thanks to mom and wayne for my wonderful backpack. my new rei pack has a 60L capacity. it will make hiking and climbing much more comfortable.

on another note, my mom had spinal surgery on wednesday and is recovering well at sunnybrooke. she is expected to be moved from the i.c.u. to a ward room once one becomes available and could be home as early as sunday. but i'm sure another day at one of the best hospitals in the country won't hurt.

keep getting better mom. xoxoxoxoxo from all of us.


Thanks to my dear mother-in-law and her wonderful husband (Kai's Pop Pop), I am now the proud owner of the most wonderful tripod on earth. Maybe this seems like an exaggeration, but I take this claim very seriously. After all, it's going to make my photo-taking much more zen.

Since taking a picture of the tripod is a little counterintuitive, I give you this:

What IS intuitive is that I had to use it last night to redo the ornamental photographing that failed miserably a couple days ago. Voila:

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Deck the halls

Or maybe just the dining room and living room and lower bathroom.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Imported Goodness

I just finished off the second bag of Lay's Ketchup Chips that our friend Chris brought to us yesterday. As a kid, these were definitely a favourite of mine. He tried to find Hostess for me because they're, well, better... but as Shannon informed me recently, they are getting more and more scarce. Sad. The Lay's were sufficiently tasty, though.

As I was wandering around the internet, trying to find out whether or not Ketchup chips (and dill pickle chips?) are another of those "uniquely Canadian" treats, I found this little gem. I suppose that in a world where you can buy almost anything on e-bay, getting Canadianish items shipped to the US shouldn't be too surprising. Oh the nostalgia! Vector "meal replacement" cereal, Kraft peanut butter, Tim Horton's coffee, Chipits, Bick's relish, Malt bread... but wait. There are a lot of things that I can have shipped to me, for only the cost of shipping + $5 "handling" that I can get here in my local grocery store. Kraft Dinner? Not Canadian. Oreos? Pretty sure you can get those here. Reese peanut butter cups? Last time I checked, they're EVERYWHERE.

So these people are scamming us a little. Maybe the recipes for some of the items are just a little different. (Canadians aren't as addicted to high fructose corn syrup as the yanks.) Maybe some people really miss having French on their packaging. For now, we'll just sweetly ask our friends and family to bring us the many items that we miss from home.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Happy winter... I know it's only December 2, but we're getting a TON of snow here in the front range, and it's just so pretty and wintery. My spell checker doesn't recognize wintery as a word. Wintery wintery wintery. HA!

So I'm a little punchy. What of it? It's cold.

If I had my camera with me, I'd take some pictures and show you how lovely it is here. But since I don't, I'll show you pictures of trees from a hike we went on with Shannon when there wasn't any snow. Well, not much snow. That's the [continental] divide. It almost always has snow.

Jake is our new mule. Dog packs rock. Go Jake go. He loves me. I'm his favourite. Next to Kai. But for completely different reasons. Are you sick of the half-sentences? Tough.

Prepare for a complete non sequitur.

This is quite likely one of the funniest things I've ever read or seen. It's all in the commentary. If I'd been reading it in church or during a memorial service or a recital then it definitely would have qualified me for the "uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment."