Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Yay! It's Wednesday

Yes, you all knew it was Wednesday today, but for me it's a double Wednesday: it's hump day in my currently long stint of work days. Now that today is over, I'm more than half way through. Woo hoo!

So far at work, we've had two barbecues and one get-together dinner. Also, I've had bits of my own celebrations - some cards, letters, gifts, dinner out - with me having fairly recently grown into my old-haghood. (I'm not sure at exactly what age that starts - maybe someone can enlighten me.)

A few days ago, I managed to scare up a deer or two while stomping around looking for drill sites (and looking at some interesting rocks along the way). The weather has been variable: nice clear blue skies; some cool, crisp, breezy mornings with hints of fall in the air; a few damp to rainish monsoon-like afternoons; and warm to hot afternoons, especially on non-tree-covered, reflective slopes.

I've felt a bit slumpish this last week, after some hurried rushing around that everyone got involved in the first several days after I arrived earlier in the month. A few days indoors, cool and calm, seem to have cured that. Too much excitement and too many things to do at once sometimes just drives me nuts, sometimes it wears me out. Now that I feel well-rested, I'm hoping to get back out into the field in a real way - that is, to do some mapping. I feel fortunate to be able to do this. Prior to this summer, it has actually been a couple years!

The general mapping technique I'm currently using is a little different than past mapping methods I've used, relying considerably more on the GPS than I'm used to doing. It does, however, seem to be a moderately fast way to map - although some days don't seem to be as good for getting GPS readings as other days. I really don't know why there should be any variation in that at all, unless I'm on some kind of edge between several different sets of satellites, or something equally far-fetched. In a few years, I will have been using the GPS so much that I might not be able to read a topo map anymore! I sometimes think that all this technology (including my computer), is actually going to drive me into premature senility - but maybe it's just that I've finally gotten past 55 into - what? What would you call that? Finally grown up? Well, maybe.

Anyway, I did want to mention that the rabbitbrush seems to blooming late, and the sagebrush seems to be blooming early. Pollen (or something) was bothering me last week - or was that just a couple days ago?

People in Reno are reportedly more allergic to sagebrush than to rabbitbrush (according to my former allergist) - or at least sagebrush elicits a larger allergenic response - but because the bright yellow flowers of the rabbitbrush stand out, and the pale greenish yellow flowers of the sagebrush are unknown to many, people will sometimes latch on to the rabbitbrush as the cause of their allergy-type woes. The rabbitbrush takes the fall for the sagebrush.

Rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus and Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus in Nevada) has relatively large, heavy pollen that falls to the ground easily and doesn't carry as far on the wind as the lighter sagebrush pollen. If you are right in the middle of a rabbitbrush field, you'll get sneezy, for sure - the middle of Reese River Valley is a good place for that, and a few valleys in the Northumberland caldera are good for that, too. Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) also starts blooming later than rabbitbrush (the onset of rabbitbrush season can be as early as mid-July, and the beginning of sagebrush season is often in late August or early September). And sagebrush blooms much later than rabbitbrush, often to the end of October or into November. If your allergies last way into October in the desert steppe, you might be allergic to sagebrush.

Chrysothamnus pollen

Artemisia pollen

I feel the end of summer coming around the corner. I'm glad for cooler days - I don't really like the heat. Maybe we will have an early winter? Hopefully the snow won't come too early - I think December would be just fine.


Unknown said...

I do know that the GPS constellation is in constant flux, because the satellites are not in geosynchronous orbit. Additionally, the satellites are positioned in a nonuniform arrangement. Thus, it's very possible - indeed, guaranteed! - that your coverage quality will vary. It's not you. It's the gear!

Silver Fox said...

I'm glad to hear it's not me! Although it can be very irritating to stand there looking at the GPS map view and watch my location move all over until I'm overlapping with waypoints I already took. Then I don't know where I am and have a hard time putting the actual detail on the map.