Category Archives: Photos

Dead Horse Point State Park


Taking a break from Arches to show a different kind of erosional vista in southern Utah, taken at the wonderfully named Dead Horse Point State Park.  The name comes from the fact that the point is after a very narrow neck on the canyon mesa, so the cowboys would use it as a natural corral for wild horses in the area… and some of them were abandoned there to their deaths.  Lovely!

Dead Horse Point is actually a stone’s throw from Canyonlands National Park next door, which is also very lovely for many things I’ll get into later but this was the best canyon vista in the area in my opinion (the state park is older than the national park, so my suspicion is that’s why the lowly state park that doesn’t have much else in it got this vista).  The river down there by the way is the Colorado River, which flows through Moab on its way to the Gulf of California and forms a much more Grand Canyon further downstream.  Still amazing this far up though!

Photo: Delicate Arch, Arches National Park


It is quite something to travel to the iconic places in the world, and discover that they are in fact larger than life and not small enough to fit on a license plate (which isn’t surprising but I never appreciated how big Delicate Arch would be- I’m on the far left to scale!).

It’s quite something else to do it in winter, when the thousands of daily visitors are replaced by a few dozen so you discover the solitude of the desert in spectacular places.  The snow is more a lovely decoration for it all.

Let the recap of my Utah desert road trip begin…

Photo: The Coolest Street Act Ever

I was in Italy for a long weekend this past weekend, but until I get around to the lovely pictures of architecture and what not I thought I’d post a photo of a super neat street act I spotted in Verona.  Now over the years I’ve seen a lot of acts to the point where yet another Darth Vader or street statue doesn’t get a second glance, but I loved this one as I’d never seen anything like it.  Took a few minutes to work out the trick too- I’ll put the answer under the fold for those who want to figure it out on their own… Continue reading

Photo: Map of Where I’ve Been

I hosted my birthday party earlier this weekend, and because my friends are awesome they knew just what to get me- a towel so I’ll always be a frood who knows where her towel is, a gift certificate to the outdoors shop, and a scratch map where you can scratch off where you’ve been like a lottery ticket.  I finally recovered enough from the merriment to tackle the map with a guitar pick (more precise than a coin), and the resulting picture above is a generally good idea of where I’ve been on planet Earth in my 26 years here.

My only comment (beyond thanks again guys!) is geez, nothing like the Mercator projection to make a girl consider traveling to Russia, Greenland, and Antarctica!  When that happens, I’ll be sure to take the towel.

Photo: What Science Looks Like

I’m not sure if this is one of those things that only a mother could love, but my M.S. thesis (“An Extended Study on the Effects of Incorrect Coordinates on Surface Detector Timing”) is submitted and will be defended next week. This fellow, alias “Figure 6,” is the most colorful and hence cutest of the graphs.

Yes, I just called a bunch of Gaussian distributions cute.  Shut up!

For anyone who actually wants an explanation here, what I basically did for my M.S. thesis was take GPS units similar to those in the Pierre Auger Observatory and test to see what would happen if the position got increasingly wrong on them.  In addition to position data a GPS unit also gets timing from satellites, making them a very accurate clock, and accurate timing is exactly what you need when you’re trying to track a shower of particles hitting the ground at nearly the speed of light.  Literally every nanosecond counts!

Normally in the field we just set the position to make the timing data more accurate (because the GPS won’t have to worry about finding where it is and what time it is with each cosmic ray strike), but sometimes that’s off for a myriad of reasons.  So the above graph is the product of modeling that: one GPS “clock” was allowed to find the correct position/time and the other was given an increasingly incorrect position, and the difference between the two tells you what happens when you actually have an incorrect position in the field.  Then when you add up all those differences over the time it took to collect the data (five days was typical, with one data point each second) and plot the distribution, you discover that the higher you go the quicker you receive the signal.  Just what you’d expect when a GPS is getting signals from overhead satellites really: when you go higher up you’ll receive the signal just a little bit quicker.

And that, ladies and gents, is what science looks like.  Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

Photo: View from Capri

Taken March 2009

Because it is snowy and ugly outside right now and pictures like this make me feel a lot better.

Christmas Photo: Telluride, CO

Taken December 27, 2008

It’s rather inconsiderate of time to keep slogging on when I had one or two things to say about Argentina, but the season is upon us so it will have to wait.  So because I expect to be spending a few days doing fun-filled family things and skiing my share of slopes here is a picture of where I plan to be doing it: Telluride, Colorado.

It’s been a good year: travel-wise I’ve explored five countries on three continents, writing-wise I’ve sold some stuff to actual publications, academic-wise I passed my qualifier and have pretty much completed my M.S. thesis research. (Like any year there were some not-so-hot moments too, but I don’t know why I’d discuss them on the Internet so let’s just be assured that I got through them and the good won out overall.) And next year is shaping up to have more than a few things to look forward to!

Wishing you and yours a lovely holiday, and I’ll catch you all in a few days.

Photo: Austrian Ski Slopes

Taken March 18, 2009

Snow is in the forecast for tonight here in Cleveland, which doesn’t particularly excite me in itself but does give me an excuse to start checking snow reports at the ski resorts.  Because I have no idea how someone could look at a vista like the one above (taken in Kitzbuhel, Austria) and not want to be a skier!

Photo: Bison in Yellowstone NP

Taken June 6, 2008

You read that right and nope Yellowstone is not in the southern hemisphere- when my family visited this amazing National Park in early June we got caught in a late show shower!  Made me feel like we were on a trip out West to go skiing…

FYI, while the thermal activity at Yellowstone is pretty neat what really puts it a cut above is the insane amount of wildlife you see pretty much everywhere.  I’d never seen most of the animals in the wild before but by the end of our three days in the park we saw among other things black bears, elk, moose, mountain goats, and buffalo that are so ubiquitous that you almost don’t notice them after a bit.  It was by far my best wildlife experience until I went on safari in Africa the next year.

Photo: Pécs, Hungary

It’s not hard to see why Pécs (pronounced “paey-ch”) is a 2010 European City of Culture- the main square is dominated by an old Turkish mosque that now functions as a Catholic Church, and you can explore treasures like the earliest Christian cemetery dating from the 4th century and the Vasareley museum.  I don’t know anyone who’s visited and didn’t love this gem of a city!