Posts Tagged “school”

The first week of school has come and gone and things have settled into school mode for the semester.  It was a crazy transition coming from Zion and then going almost directly back to work at the Adventure Program helping with new student trips.  I am still not fully unpacked but thats also due to the difficulty of fitting so much stuff into such a small place.  I lost a coin toss and landed the small room in the apartment (also, the room has no shelving built in).  I’ve been playing unpacking tetris ever since.  However, the room has a great, possibly redeeming, view of Blanca:

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A trip up to see Leftover Salmon and Yonder Mountain String Band play at Red Rocks last Friday helped ease the back-to-school shock.  Good show, good people, good times.

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Classes this semester seem to be interesting (especially Geomorphology) and the workload will not be too crazy.  Only 2 more semesters left!

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Oddly, for me, exams tend to be the easiest part of finishing a semester.  All of the overlapping projects and such right before the exams are always the most stressful time.  Exams are just tests, like all those other tests throughout the year and you know what to expect.  However, for some teachers this may mean that you don’t know what to expect at all, but the logic remains the same.  Plus, studying is easy.  You sit down, and study.  It’s not like having to do massive amounts of research, weed out the useless information, formulate a well written paper, then construct a visually appealing and concise, yet thorough, presentation.  And yes, the exams are cumulative but so what.  If you haven’t learned the material throughout the semester, you probably aren’t going to learn it studying for the exams.  Studying for finals for me is all about just looking over the semester’s material to remind myself what to expect to be asked about on the final.  And of course, refreshing my memory on some of the concepts and terms.  Happy studying everyone!

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The past few weeks have been quite the roller coaster of projects and school work.  Mainly, the laboring clamor uphill part and uncomfortable restraint system.  As the semester winds downs, the workload winds up…and viciously so.  I feel like I’ve be working on paper and presentation one-two-punch combos for each my classes non-stop for the past month (with the exception of Astronomy.  An awesome class I would recommend to anyone, but one that delivers an unrelenting onslaught of homework).  My caffeine intake has gone way up and I haven’t stared at a computer screen for this many hours, or slept so little, since the old days of Counter-Strike in high school (I logged way to many hours on that game…thankfully my current vices are much more productive).  But really, I’ve learned a lot and that sweet, sweet summertime is just around the corner.  Also, this has been the busiest semester at Adams and from the looks of my next two here, it looks like this one will remain the busiest of my Adams State College career.  And thats just fine with me.

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I just presented at the lunchtime talks here at school.  This was part of a chemistry project we had to do and I am very glad to be done with it.  The past two weeks have been non-stop between this chem project, a mountain geography project, and tests.  Now, only two more projects left for the semester.  Then Zion!

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One of my classes this semester is Chemistry of Sustainability.  The class takes a look at sustainability related issues including green chemistry, materials, production of energy, and climate change from a chemistry perspective.  This class is taught by the wonderful Marty Jones, a recent recipient of the Presidential Teacher Award.  One of the perks of receiving this award is that the selected teacher has the opportunity to create a course of his or her choice… and this class is Dr. Jones’s fresh, never been taught before, creation.   As a final project for the course we, the six of us in the class, must do a presentation on a subject pertaining to the chemistry of sustainability.  My group selected to research biodiesel and the other group will be investigating photovoltaics.  Both groups will be presenting at a lunchtime talk on April 21st.  I’m pretty excited about learning more about biodiesel from a chemistry perspective because, like so many other “green” products, there is much to learn beyond what you hear in everyday media.

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Day one of the semester has come and I couldn’t be more ready.  However, the winter break was amazing and hit all angles of fun, learning, and straight up laziness.  First on the break agenda was a 10 day trip to Arizona with a few friends to climb around the Phoenix area.  Warm sunny days and cool nights (not unlike Alamosa), led to some pretty amazing climbing weather.  This was the first time we were down there so much of the time was spent looking for the climbs and scoping things out but we definitely found some gems down there.  Queen Creek and Devils Canyon are amazing if you are interested.

Next on the agenda was another 10 day jaunt.  This time back to the homeland and other side of the country: Charlottesville, VA.  This is where the general laziness ensued.  It was perfect.  Seeing old friends and juggling with my old Air Raid Juggling Club crew was truly fantastic.  The juggling back in the “C-Ville” definitely rejuvenated my passion for passing clubs.

From there it was back home to Alamosa.  The Adventure Program here at school was doing a “Winter Intensive Training” that I was part of.  Other than the lack of feeling in my toes every day for 5 days it was great.  We did avalanche training, ice climbing and anchors, and learned the art (read: hours of digging) of making a quinzhee (hint: pile snow on top of backpacks to save some digging time).  During that training I found a new love: alpaca socks.  Just get some, you will understand.

Now its time for the spring semester of school and as I said before I couldn’t be more ready…and excited!  I kind of miss the routine of school and the early mornings of drinking coffee and listening to music before class.  Im super stoked for my Mountain Geography class and Adams State  is going to be hosting a climbing comp in April.  There is a new area of relatively untapped climbing to be explored as well.  All in all, its gonna be a good semester.

Here are a few pictures from the break…

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Today at approximately 9:55am (ok, so exactly) an enormous academic weight was lifted off of my shoulders.  This stroke of the clock, or oscillation of  the quartz crystal in my case, marked the end of a series of two final projects I mentioned in an earlier post: “Mosquito Control in Alamosa and the San Luis Valley” and “Terrace Soils on the Alamosa River.”  Each included a PowerPoint presentation and paper.  I learned a lot from both and hopefully some of that information got transferred to the rest of the class during the presentation.  Upon completion of such projects it’s best to reflect on what just happened (debrief if you will):  yeah the hours upon hours sitting in room 121 waiting for soil tests kind of sucked.  But, I learned a lot in both projects.  The soils project also allowed me and my partner to go spend some time in a pretty cool part of the valley.  I think there might be some good unexplored climbing back there as well…thanks soils class!  When we went out to do some final measurements and such, we were denied passage across the creek due to thin ice cover which just hid the rocks we previously used to hop across.  However, it was a beautiful, crisp day in the valley and the views were serene.
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I can feel it.  Project due dates are nearing, tests are around every corner, and work to do outside of class is like a steady stream, always flowing, always there.  This is, of course, a pretty standard college semester.  However, I can feel the apex of the semester approaching at top speed.  It’s that point where all the big projects seem to be due at once, it’s your last chance to bump your grade to the next letter up, and where all classes converge into a black hole of brain melt.  As always, time management is key and distractions are in abundance.

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The view while leaving our research area.

The Soils project is going along smoothly.  Our second trek to the field is this Saturday and it should be our last.  We didn’t get some needed info last time we were out and we also lacked a needed tool:  the bucket auger.  So, this time we will be digging lots of holes to help identify soil horizons (layers) we weren’t able to last week.  From there, its to the lab to test for pH, water content, organic content, bulk density, particle density, porosity, composition and I’m sure there is some other test/measurement I’m forgetting.  From there its to the computer to map our location and compile the information into a paper and PowerPoint presentation.  Lesson learned from this class: Dirt is no joke, and quite complex.  Seriously, it can cripple and destroy civilizations.  If you are interested in how soil has impacted societies throughout history here’s a book we had to read for the class.  Not the most amazing read, but he throws some good perspectives out there.  So, next time you see your local soil scientist, give him or her a hug because they just may be responsible for keeping your food growing and buildings from collapsing.

There is also a project in my Natural Resource Management class that I am working on as well.  I’ve decided to do some research on the mosquito control here in the valley and Alamosa specifically (this is also another paper and PowerPoint).  It should be interesting.  And of course, there is a project that will be soon assigned in Mineralogy class.  We will be assigned (or get to choose?) a certain area of the world and talk about the minerals and such that can be found there.  This will also surely be the ever popular PowerPoint-and-paper one-two punch.

It should be a busy next month or so with many hours logged in the library.  These projects are always a bear, but you learn so damn much about your topic that it’s kinda great.  It’s like some crazy hard hike that kind of sucks when you are doing it, but when you look back it’s all warm and fuzzy thoughts because in all reality it was awesome.  Ok, so maybe having to do the projects isn’t that “awesome” but it is good experience wether you like it or not.  Maybe I need to go on a hike?  Regardless, I am looking forward to December 17th, the last day of exams and the 18th, the tentative departure date for a south-bound climbing trip!

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