Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Airplane scenery, Boise–Seattle

After finals, I decided to visit some family and friends in Seattle for a few days, before travelling out to my summer job. There was much hurried packing and rushing and I barely made it to the airport with an hour to spare.

Which was fine, since my plane was grounded for four hours due to mechanical difficulties.

Once we finally made it into the air, we saw some great airplane scenery.

P5160098Sad plane.

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Looking at the Snake River Plain from a (snakeless) plane. (The Western Snake River Plain is a large graben.)

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Mt. Adams, seen from a distance.

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Admiring Mt. Rainier while sipping some (free!) white wine made for the perfect flight.

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Then we descended into the clouds, which oddly reminded me of the Titanic sinking…

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… and arrived atop Seattle! This is I-90 floating bridge that crosses Lake Washington, with some nice drumlin hills in the background. (Lake Washington is a ribbon lake that formed when the Cordilleran ice sheet was sculpting the region, and acted as a drainage point for the ice sheet as it melted.)

airplane

We also got a nice view of Boeing field, a small regional airport used primarily for small airlines, private planes, cargo flights, and military landings. (It was originally used as a place for the Boeing Company to move their planes about, and is still used for tests to this day.)

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Then we got a nice view of downtown Seattle and the Puget Sound.

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And, last but not least, the Space Needle.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A question for geologists:

Within the next semester or so, I need to decide whether to major in geology or geophysics. After some deliberation, I’ve decided to proceed with my initial impulse to aim for a career in volcanology, with a specific aim of working in monitoring and eruption prediction. I’ve done some reading about various ways to monitor volcanoes, and I’m getting the impression that a degree in geophysics might be a better preparation than a geology degree for this particular specialty.
My concerns about this thought process are as follows:
  • I may have no idea what I’m talking about. Perhaps a geology degree would be perfectly fine preparation for volcanology, or perhaps an even better one. Making decisions based on possibly serious misconceptions makes me quite hesitant. (The last time I did that, I ended up two tattoos, several thousand dollars of loan debt, and a personally translated copy of chapter 16 of Homer’s “Odyssey.”)
  • I’m not sure I can hack higher-level math and computer-based processing. (The difference is 4 credits of multivariable calculus, 6 credits of computer science, and the 16 geophysics credits themselves.)
  • That being said, I’m also concerned about my GPA: perhaps a higher geology GPA would be preferable to a lower geophysics GPA when applying for graduate school.  (And my GPA is already embarrassingly low.)
  • That I might be talking myself out of something I need to do, or into something I don’t need to do.
I know that the real decision point is grad school, but I need to make this particular choice within a few months. As part of my neurotic research, I was wondering if the geoblogsphere might be so kind as to advise me on the following questions:
  • Is volcano monitoring and eruption prediction best approached from geophysics or geology?
  • Which might best prepare me for jobs?
  • How painful is multivariable calculus? (Where 1 = “Basket-weaving” and 10 = “Ancient Greek.”)
  • What do grad school programs look for in applicants, generally? And GPAs, specifically?
  • Am I over-thinking this decision?
In exchange, I offer this song about earthquakes:
I’d like to make a well-informed decision, so I’d appreciate any advice or counsel you can offer!