Monday, October 27, 2008

The Yak in October

Doug and His Babies

It was October, the leaves were turning, the weather was getting colder, and had only made one other trip to the Yakima this year (with Justin in July)--been a busy year. Luckily, Doug, Mick and I decided to venture to the Yakima.

Yak Forecast

We left fairly early from the Tri-Cities, and made it to Red's (about 3/4's of the way up the canyon). Spent a bit of time, and got some pointers from one of the Red's guys. After this we went up to Umtanum. I crossed the bridge and headed up river. The river was really low--probably the lowest I've seen (I've never been here this time of year). I fished the bank away from the parking lot, and then made my way to the center of the river--I probably could

Umtanum Bridge

Umtanum Upriver

have waded across the river if I wanted---not possible most of the summer. I had zero action! I tried and tried. Used different types of flies, and nothing. I think we were here to early. I like to fish dries and hatches don't start until the afternoon time. I did see another guy upstream, and he was reelin' 'em in. Dang.

We moved on.

We went downstream to another spot Mick had tried earlier in the year. After carefully wading through some "deep" and slippery water, made my way to the opposite side of the river. My small-water tendencies took me to a shallow sidestream. Within a few minutes, I had some bites, and eventually landed a decent-sized Yakima rainbow.

Where Fish Were Landed

Fished a little more here, and didn't get too much action. Caught a few nice pictures. I then moved up to where Mick had been, and he said he had lots of fun upriver (but the shadows were eating up his spot. I hung out here for a while, and sure enough there were fish jumpin' left and right. Unfortunately, they were having none of what I had--story of my life. At this point, I was starting to get caught in the shadow, and almost immediately I began to get cold. I went downstream with Doug, and fished one last place (I caught another fish, but it was totally on accident when I wasn't looking--pathetic!). I was too cold to care though.

We left shortly afterward. The day was perfectly capped off by a stop at the Taco El Grande taco truck in Yakima (near the fairgrounds). It was YUMMY!

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Lost Coast

During a recent trip down to Humboldt, one of our morning/afternoon was reserved for trekking down to the the Lost Coast. For me, there are places you daydream about visiting, moving to, or being buried at---lately, some examples would have to be Cartagena, Barcelona, or the No Brand Burger Stand parking lot, but a place which has been on that list for a while would have to be northern California's Lost Coast.

Mattole Road Heading In Toward Petrolia

I went to Humboldt State in '91, and made my first trip to the Lost Coast in '93, and I've been a fan ever since. One of the beauties of this area is its location. This stretch of beach a bit on the isolated side, and driving there requires one to drive a narrow, old, and potholed road over the King's Range mountains. Once you get off the 101 and leave the Victorian town of Ferndale, there are no towns other than the small 1-store village of Petrolia. Isolation is what comes to mind when thinking of the Lost Coast, hence the name.

Lost Coast "Sand"

Driftwood Shadows

It's probably because I was born a water person, but I've always been attracted to streams, rain, and the sea. This is probably a big reason why I love the Lost Coast. As you make your way along steep and switch-backed Mattole Road, and get your first view of the Coast, it's hard not to be enamored.

Usually, I make trips to the trailhead which is downriver from Petrolia, and from there generally make the trip to the abandoned lighthouse at Punta Gorda (where we'd camp). This trip was only for the day, so we hung out about 6miles north. Here is a stretch where Mattole Road zips on by the coast line for about 8miles. It starts with a breath-taking view of the coast line from a bluff high above, and then the road quickly drops 800ft to the beach. Here it skims along the coast. Before heading inland to Petrolia, there's a spot where we pulled over.

Layers of Color

My mom, Ari, Jeremy, the dogs, and myself, then got out and walked around. We were extremely lucky to catch the ole Lost on a really beautiful day. We left a cloudy and bleak Arcata earlier that morning, but once we crossed the King's Range, the clouds disappeared out to sea giving us a sunny day.

Smiling Siksika Women

There's not much to do on the Coast, but that's the point. I prefer to find a nice patch of sand, and let it all soak in. It can be a sensory overload with the smashing waves, oceanspray, sand on your barefeet, and sun on your face. We hung out here for an hour or so.


We then made our way back to Ferndale for the other major stop of the day: No Brand Burger Stand. Our friend Nina discovered this place years ago, and we've been addicts ever since. For me, a homemade bannana milk shake, Cajun-spiced cheeseburger, and Cajun-spiced fries did me in. After this we headed back up to Arcata, and I started my daydreams for my next Lost Coast visit.

No Brand Burger Stand

Ferndale Cemetary

Sunday, October 12, 2008

LIGO @ 2008 SACNAS Conference in SLC

Gerardo & Mini-Interferometer

This past October 9-12 my work, LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational wave Observatory), had the opportunity to exhibit a booth at the 2008 SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) National Conference---sorry for all the acronyms in just the first sentence here! My co-worker Gerardo and myself were lucky to head down to Salt Lake City for this conference. I had been to a SACNAS conference as an undergrad waaaay back in 1995 in El Paso, TX; this time I would be there as a "professional" on the other side of the table.

The Exhibit Hall

Keynote Presentation

Gerardo At Booth

Gerardo and I were at the conference to help spread the word about LIGO and to also talk up the cool opportunities LIGO has for undergrads (interenships in cutting edge research), and job seekers.

Aztec Dancers

SACNAS is an organization which encourages "Chicano/Latino and Native American students to pursue graduate education and obtain the advanced degrees necessary for science research, leadership, and teaching careers at all levels." Needless to say, we were surrounded by some inspiring professors, professionals, and students. The conference offers many presentations and workshops catered to empowering and supporting students in their endeavors. Hundreds of students also presented posters for research they were conducting as well. There was also an Exhibit Hall filled with exhibits from many universities, research facilities, and professional organizations. This is where Gerardo, myself, and LIGO came in.

SACNAS Student Posters

Gerardo Tweaking The "Mini-Ifo"

The theme for this year's conference was the International Polar Year: Global Changes In Our Communities. Keynote presentations and some of the workshops focused on the subject of global warming, research related to global warming, and how it is affecting communities throughout the world.

Gerardo & LIGO "Goodies"

For Gerardo and I, most of our time was spent at our little booth. It took us a little bit of time to get everything set up and our mini-interferometer online, but the majority of our time was spent being "LIGO Salesmen". Actually, in general we didn't have to sell too hard. Our mini-interferometer demo was a big eye-catcher and brought all kinds of curious "science-folk" to our booth. For many, this was their first opportunity to hear about LIGO, and the astronomical research we are conducting.

Gerardo Laughing With Students

Showing A Mechanical Engineer an Interferometer

As I mentioned before, this was our first time running a booth, and we had ideas of what to expect, but I was so struck by the interest we received, and also by the caliber of students we talked with. I felt so proud and inspired to talk with students of color who are kicking butt in their respective fields. We met so many students during the Exhibit, and the time flew by. I must admit for some periods it was a little overwhelming when we had people sort of queued up to listen to us. Gerardo was an awesome co-exhibitor and I think we both did pretty well with representing LIGO.

Talking With Neetsaii Gwich'in Athabascan Elder Sarah James about LIGO

Now it wasn't all-science 24-7. I had done some researching of salsa clubs in the area (some of you may know I've become a salsa nerd!), and found a club having a Latin Night on Thursday. I ended up walking down to the Sky Bar (club on the top of a Red Lion hotel). It was about 10pm when I got there and, as usual, they were starting out with salsa music. This was a cool club and they had some very good dancers.

Can You Find Gerardo??

SACNAS also had some social activities during two of the nights of the conference. On the Friday night, there was a ¡Pachanga!---this was basically a dance. SACNAS really hooked up the students and brought in a pretty nice for the life of me I can't remember their name, but it was something like-- Orchestra Latina. This band was hot. They played mainly salsa standards, but also a few merengue songs, and even one cumbia song. Now, I've been learning salsa, and was so tempted to get out there on the floor, but I was too much of a chicken. I had fun watching the dancers and the band though. There was a big Puerto Rican contingent of students on the floor and they let everyone know. All in all a fun night.

"Bailador, Bailador..."

Salsa Band

Dancers At SACNAS ¡Pachanga!

On Saturday night there was a Pow Wow, and I participated and danced my style--which is Grass. Now it had been months (more like years) since I'd last danced! I think I did alright though. It's always odd to dance on carpet, and I know there were a few instances where I just about slipped and fell on my butt, but I'm a master at playing off mistakes! :) It was fun to have various people come up to me and ask about my outfit and my style of dance. Everyone was really nice. This was a good way to end the conference. We had such fun, and met so many awesome people. I truly hope we helped out in spreading the word about LIGO and ideally getting some more people of color in the sciences, namely with LIGO!

Grass Dancing Blur

LIGO Operators