Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Phoenix with Friends!

A few weekends ago, (many weekends ago now...) I went to Phoenix to visit Mary and Kat, two of my undergrad friends!  Mary and Kat and I were all in Course 1 (Environmental and Civil Engineering) at MIT and we did our senior project together.  I hadn't seen Kat since I moved to southern California (we had fun wine tasting in Napa together back in May)...

and I hadn't seen Mary in two or three years!  It was so good to be able to catch up and hang out with them!!

Kat and I flew in on Friday afternoon and Mary and Mike picked us up from the airport.  We had a fantastic Italian dinner where I had the gorgonzola salad followed by gorgonzola gnocci- cheesy! I don't know why I didn't take a picture of it all!

Saturday we woke up and ate some delicious cheese that Kat brought from Wisconsin.  (I see a theme to our food...cheese!)  We watched some TV and lounged around.  Then we went out to Mexican.  (Mary took us to all her favorite places in Phoenix-we ate a lot!) We of course got margaritas...

Which were ginormous!

As were the dishes that came out.

So fun!

Around 4pm, I checked my fitbit and found I had only walked 800 steps (daily goal is 10,000).  We were all kind of horrified, so we decided to go on the hike we had planned (instead of canceling to watch more TV).  It was beautiful and well worth it!

We only had time to go part way up, but it was a good trek.

Such different scenery than what I'm used to!

I asked Mary which direction Phoenix was, and she pointed to this (doh):

We got to watch the sunset...

So pretty!

When we got back we decided to just order a pizza.  None of us wanted too much to eat, so it was hilarious when this showed up:

Biggest. Pizza. Ever.

The next day we went to a cute brunch place where we all split this ginormous cinnamon roll:

Note the salt and pepper shakers for scale.  Meanwhile, Mary and Kat were drinking these ridiculously small coffee things- espresso?  I don't know about this coffee stuff, but I thought the small mugs were funny (especially after the cinnamon roll showed up!)

I, obviously, got a peppermint hot chocolate with the "heartwarming" option.  I like a breakfast place that calls their hot chocolate "heartwarming" when they add booze to it.  Nice touch.

We had about an hour to kill before Kat and I had to go to the airport, so we walked around a new mall.  We found a candy store and these giants boxes of nerds.  I just think this picture is so appropriate for us. :)

Nerds with nerds, get it?!

It was a great weekend- so nice to relax and catch up with such good friends. It's always nice to have people in your life who you can go without seeing for a few years and yet when you're together it still feels so easy and natural.  :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Color Run

So this post is a little late, but a few weeks ago, some coworkers and I did the Color Run in San Diego.  It was a 5k run and I figured it would be good "training".  I signed up for a 10k on Thanksgiving (which went well- but more on that later), and a half-marathon in February (ahh!). So I figured a 5k was the first step.

I think I got a little more excited about my outfit than the actual training,

and I wasn't able to run the whole way, which was disappointing.  (My goal for racing is just to run).  I was battling shin splints (but I got new shoes, so things are SO much better now), and it was just a tough run with breathing in colored cornstarch and dodging all the walkers.

The color run is the "happiest 5k in the world" and involves lots of volunteers throwing colors (colored cornstarch) at you as you run past the different stations.  People start out in mostly white, and end up colored at the end.  There were about a bazillion people there...

 It took forever just to make it to the starting line.

But it was cool- we hung out, threw some paint.

And then we ran through the colors!

 At the end, they got everyone to throw color at the same time to make these huge color clouds.

By the end we were kind of brown- not nearly as pretty as I thought we'd end up.  Guess that's what happens with cornstarch colors...



To continue the fun, we went out to brunch and drank bottomless mimosas and ate tater tots.  Good way to rehydrate and fuel up, I'm sure. ;)

While I was bummed to not run the whole thing, it was still super fun and it felt good to get out and do something with new friends! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Eggplant Lasagna

I went to the farmers' market last week with my coworker Dana and we both bought eggplants!  I had never cooked with one before (or even eaten one- they kind of scare me).  I mean, it's purple!?

But, in my continuing attempt to eat more vegetables, I decided to give it a shot.  Dana and I talked to the lady at the eggplant booth for a while, and she suggested roasting it with olive oil, so I decided to give that a try.  I had also heard that eggplant lasagna is pretty good, so this is my version of that.

Eggplant Lasagna ala Lindsey

1 eggplant
olive oil for drizzling
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
15 oz tomato sauce
15 oz petite diced tomatoes
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and then some...

Cut the end off of the eggplant and peel it.  Slice it into 1/2 in thick circles.  Drizzle with olive oil, top with parmesan, and cook at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes, flipping once.

I thought it was kind of weird that there's no sign of purple in the vegetable after you peel it- I had kind of hoped the purple went all the way through...

Anyway, while the eggplant is finishing up, combine the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and salt and pepper in a pot on the stove.  Heat through and add fresh basil from your garden if you have it.

Sorry it's fuzzy- one handed picture!
By now your eggplant should look like this:

Num num num!  Resist the urge to eat it right away.

Now it's time to layer.  Pour some of the tomato mixture into your baking pan of choice.  Then add a layer of eggplant.

Now hopefully you've got your mozzarella ready to go.

Add a layer of cheese.

Now rinse and repeat until all of your ingredients are gone (don't actually rinse)...

 Pop it back in the oven until the cheese is melty and looks delicious.

 Then enjoy!  Eggplant's not so bad after all...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

October Crazy Part II

After day 1 of our crazy field work, we woke up early again and James and I headed out in the kayak to do some sediment grab samples.  

We paddled quite a ways in the creek.

Then we met up with one of our subcontractors to take some sediment cores (or try to).  We dug a big hole.

Made it bigger.

And then dug another hole inside of it to get the core.

We wanted to test the cores to see how erosive they might be if we restore tidal conditions to the site.  (Ideally, we would want material that could hold up under high flow conditions and wouldn't totally wash away).

We examined the dirt.

It was actually quite pretty (kind of shimmery)... for dirt.

I went with our sub to try to take a core in the creek itself while James and Damien went back to work on the velocity gage install.

It's a tidal creek, so it was pretty cool to see how much of the sediment was exposed at low tide.

We didn't have much luck with the core- it was too rocky and sandy.  Sand doesn't hold together like mud, so testing for erosivity is kind of pointless. We took some of the sediment back anyway.

Meanwhile, James and Damien had the ladder all set up.  Since the sediment wasn't muddy, we had less fear of the ladder moving around.  We also set it up to be super stable.  James and I held either side so that it wasn't going anywhere when Damien climbed up to fasten the top of the pipe.

After this, things got crazy.  James and I rushed to the top of the bridge to screw in the large black tool box we bought to hold the data logger.  We passed the cable down to Damien, and he told us to hurry back down before the tide came in.  We ran down and I started grabbing stuff so that it didn't get wet while the guys finished connecting cables.  The water came quickly, so I grabbed the computer we had out, then the other tools.  Lastly the guys grabbed the ladder and hurried back up the side of the channel.  At that point, we had about an hour before James's flight took off.  We dropped him at the airport with 35 minutes to go- miraculously he and Damien both made their flights!

Since it was crazy at the end, I didn't get a lot of pictures.  But here is the (almost) final result...

You can see the gage sticking up to Damien's left, with the pipe (that the cable was in) right behind him.  At the top of the picture, you can see the black tool box where the data logger was.
After dropping the guys off, I returned the ladder to Home Depot and drove home.  It was another long day!

So the story of this field work gets even better.  Two days after we got back, I got the following email:

"Well, this is really the ultimate ending to a crazy insane set of feats we all pulled off…

Diana [our client] just called me and told me X County Beaches & Harbors and the Police called her and were freaking out and about to defuse the “bomb” on X bridge! Luckily, Diana explained it was our flow meter and they didn’t remove it.

We need to put a metal plate/label on the box with contact info, etc. soon…. Let’s discuss later. I was thinking that we should go back out soon anyway to download and check that its working, secure the cord above the pipe, etc.

Maybe that could be done around the XX survey work… or a vacation to LA, which you all deserve!

Nick [my boss]"

Haha- sometimes my job is just so awesome. :)