Monday, September 17, 2012

Going to L.A.

I've been meaning to write this post for a while, but time just got away from me!  A few weeks ago, I got to go up to L.A. for a staff meeting in our office there.  I hadn't been to that office yet, so it was cool to see and meet the others in our Southern California group.

But what I was most excited about was taking the train there!  My boss told me to get a business class ticket so that we could work on the presentation we were going to give.  Business class has outlets and internet- not sure if the rest of the train does, but it was very nice.

They even had snacks!


I was pretty pumped to drink my free coffee and eat my free danish.  Although I've been working as a professional for two years now, I still have moments like this where I feel very grown up.  And like I'm faking it.  But I guess you just have to fake it until you make it. :)

On the way there, we passed over a bunch of the lagoons we work on and traveled right up the coast along the ocean. (The pictures are a little blurry, but we were moving.)



The conductor even announced at one point that they had spotted a whale.  Seriously?!  You can go whale-watching on your commute to work?!  What kind of place is this?!!


Although it was super early (6:15 train!), I really enjoyed watching the sun rise and light up the sky.  So pretty.


We even went over (the very sad looking) L.A. river.



Once we arrived in L.A., we took the subway to near our other office.  I find the city to be very overwhelming, so I was happy to be traveling with my boss who had been to the office before.  I still felt pretty stressed by the time we got off the subway.  Too many people in my space, I think.

Before the staff meeting, we had another meeting with our client and the other contractor on our big project.  We met them all at the contractors' office.  They had a fantastic view, and I'm bummed I didn't get a picture of it.

But while my boss met with the important people, I was in charge of going through some files to see if the other contractor had any reports that might help out our work.  I was led to this cubicle.  Ugh.


While I was discouraged at not finding any relevant reports, I did find this fantastic old photo with a caption I found really funny.


I saw some reports that were as old as me and had photos literally taped to blank sheets of paper.  It felt like going back in time.

After about an hour and a half of finding nothing, it was time to go to our staff meeting.  I presented a little about myself since I'm new to the region and I talked about some of the modeling work I've done.  I was a little nervous, but I think it went well.

Later that day, my sister Mandy picked me up and drove me down to Orange where she's starting her Senior year of college.  We had dinner at one of her local favorites and I introduced her to brussel sprouts.  I'm not sure she's totally sold on them yet, but she didn't spit them out or anything.  And how could you?!  They had bacon in them!

Mandy dropped me back off at the train station in Anaheim.  It's actually in the same parking lot as the Angels stadium.  There was a game going on, so I listened to the cheers as I waited for my train.

On the ride home, I got more free treats, including wine!  What a way to travel!


It was a super long day, and I had to go to work the next morning, but it was nice to switch up my normal routine.  Hopefully there will be more free coffee and free wine trips to L.A. in my future!






Saturday, September 15, 2012

Orange chili millet

I've been slacking on cooking meals for myself, so I got it together today and made something that would last for a few meals.  I've been experimenting with different grains, and I've found I really like millet.  The orange and chili in this really make a nice mix, and of course, the avocado is a fantastic addition.


Orange Chili Millet
By Lindsey
Makes 4-6 servings

1/2 cup millet
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
1 can of black beans
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 avocado

To prepare the millet, either rinse it or toast it for a deeper nutty flavor. I used my rice cooker to cook the millet, but you could definitely cook it over a stove as well.  In the rice cooker, I combined the millet, orange juice, and water and gave it a stir.


The kitten supervised from atop the fridge.


I mixed in the cinnamon and chili powder as well and chose the white rice cook setting.


If you're cooking the millet on the stove, bring the liquid mix to a boil and then add the grain.  Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.  If you used the rice cooker, hang out for a while! (60 min) 


When the millet is about done cooking, drain the black beans and cube the avocado. 




Once the millet has cooled slightly, add the beans, tomatoes, and avocado. 


Now you're ready to go!  Serve hot or cold- it's good either way!






Friday, September 14, 2012

...Muddier

It was super nice being ITF this week.  Better than sitting in the office on the computer!

To keep us going, and because Damien likes to sometimes work through lunch, I made Emily's Coconut Date Energy Bites.  They were fantastic- I had two each day to hold me over between breakfast and our later lunches.



So besides seeing a lot of birds and a round ray, we also saw a bazillion little crab guys.  Some were also pretty aggressive, which is funny since we're so much bigger.  Damien said one attacked his boot which made us laugh.  This movie shows one getting ready to box with me.






I really liked how the big guys would hide out under the larger pickleweed clumps.  When I'd walk by, I would hear a bunch of splashes like kids jumping into a pool, as the crabs would dive for cover.



I was also impressed by how they'd just go scuttling into the deeper parts of the water when I'd walk by.  I wasn't sure how they breath, but google tells me they have gills like fish and that as long as they stay moist on land, they can still breath there too.  Pretty crazy.

Underwater!
There were tons of little snails that made the coolest patterns in the mud.  Mud art!



At the end of one day, we saw this hawk (who's name I can't think of- any suggestions?) hanging out near a nesting area (where we don't want him! They'll eat the babies of the birds that nest there.)  He was also pretty aggressive and at one point, I thought he was going to fly in the car window at us.  He dove at us a few times, making it very clear he thought this was his territory.  But so beautiful!



We also saw the prettiest slug ever!  I was watching Damien survey the last contour we had...


...when he insisted I put on my boots and come out to see something.


I was super annoyed (the boots are hot, hard to put on, and muddy), but he insisted I'd want a picture of this.  He had found a brightly colored slug!


We named it the Slugus Damienus.



We had some pretty long days, but it's always so nice to get outside!  And as always, when I'd go home at the end of the day and had to charge batteries and download data, the kitten was there to help.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Getting muddy

I spent this week doing more fieldwork.  It was cooler weather than the previous week that we were in the field, but the work was still pretty tough. 




I spent the majority of my time walking a contour that was in and out of the water depending on the tide. This made for some muddiness.


I had to use a tennis ball at the end of my RTK to keep it from sticking in the mud.  Last time we were out, Damien had suggested the idea and I had asked, "where are we going to find tennis balls?"  Surprisingly (to me), there were tennis balls washed up everywhere!  Since we were in a lagoon that was a bit upstream of a nice beach area, I guessed that this was where lost dog balls go to live out their final days.  Damien would grab a few balls, cut Xs into them, then stick them on the end of the RTKs.  This did the trick and provided a little extra surface area to avoid sinking.  Brilliant!



Right at the beginning of the week, we discovered that Damien had brought me one boot my size and one of the larger boots by accident.  I was just happy it wasn't two left boots!



I tried wrapping my foot in a dish towel one day and wearing an extra sock the next day, and both techniques seemed to help.  I did feel a little goofy with my one clown boot. :) 

I started the first day wearing the boots folded down because it gets hot and I thought I was high enough out of the mud.  Damien informed me otherwise, and I realized I had mud all down the inside of my legs and boots.  He said it looked like I had ridden a mud horse.



I got to see some cool things since I was down near or in the water for most of the day.  Last time we were out, Damien had seen hundreds of round rays, and I finally got to see one!  Since I was pretty shallow, it was just a little baby- about the size of a saucer! 

I also got to see a lot of egrets and other birds who were surprisingly brave- I didn't think they'd let me get so close.


 





In one area near a bunch of tules and cattails, I was threatened quite loudly by a couple of birds who I couldn't see but who were probably nesting.  I definitely jumped back when they started squawking at me, and decided to take a measurement elsewhere.  A few minutes later, a little bird came out of the vegetation and seemed to be sizing me up.  He got freakishly close and I had to talk myself down a bit and remind myself he was just a bird! 


We also got to see crabs, snails, and the most beautiful slug I've ever seen, but more on that tomorrow!


Monday, September 3, 2012

ITF

At work, when someone is going to be out of the office for fieldwork, they often put ITF on their calendar for In the Field.  I was ITF all this week and it was pretty awesome.


Since my coworker Damien was flying down from San Francisco, I was in charge of getting a lot of the equipment together. 


The kitten assisted.


In SF, we have a van where we keep a lot of the basics like PVC or duck tape (and toilet paper, which I consider to be essential, but the guys don't always think of).  But since we weren't bringing the van down, I had to pick up some of those basics myself.  I went shopping at Home Depot to get the PVC, duck tape, nuts and bolts, batteries, walkie talkies, etc.  I was wearing a sundress by accident, but it definitely got me a lot of help- every aisle I went down there was someone asking me if I needed help- and I did!  Check out the sweet duck tape I wanted to get, but didn't, for fear of being too girly.

 
I also had to go to a fly-fishing store which I thought was really funny (I always think of Harlan Pepper in Best in Show when I hear fly-fishing). But the guys that helped me there were so nice.  I had to buy chest waders and they helped me find a great pair.  I told Damien if we ever need new waders I'd go back- one of the guys was really cute!

Damien makes fun of me for this, but I insist on taking pictures every time I get new gear because it will never ever be that clean again! 
 

After a relatively clean day...



We surveyed using RTK (real time kinematic) rovers.  They use GPS to record our position and elevation.  



The client had installed some tide staffs (giant rulers used to read the water level at any given time) and we surveyed those in.  Now when they read the tide staffs, they can tell the elevation relative to a specific datum and not just relative to their ruler.  That means they can compare the water elevations in the site to water elevations in the ocean or at other sites.



When we were out surveying, Damien said he saw at least a hundred round sting rays!  How cool is that?  I really love being in the field.  It's nice to not stare at my cubicle wall and be able to look at views like this all day.





 Back in the office next week, but ITF after that!