Category Archives: Personal


I’m very aware that talking about alternative social media platforms is uncool, and trying to switch peoples social media habits is totally futile. So without any intention of convincing anyone I thought this project was neat enough to comment on / endorse. I should first point out that I’m still of the opinion that “microblogging” is a vapid form of communication, but I’m willing to keep my mind open about it long enough to give this a shot because I think it’s better than anything that existed prior.

Mastodon is intended to be kind of like Twitter, except it’s (of course) free/open source software. It’s “federated” meaning that, like email, you can use it without being committed to any particular organization (like how can communicate with On Mastodon you join an “instance” which are often, but not always, organized around a theme, or at least around a shared set of values. From there you can follow users on other instances, and see a federated timeline of posts separate from your own instance’s timeline. Whenever someone on your instance follows someone on another instance, that other instance’s timeline shows up in your federated feed.

The thing that I think makes it cool, and different from the others, is that each instance is totally autonomous and can self-enforce a code of conduct. Because it’s new and therefore still mostly populated with leftist free-software enthusiasts, most instances have strictly inclusive, anti-fascist code of conduct. That led tech writer Sarah Jeong to describe Mastodon as “like twitter without nazis” (good article; worth a read).

Of course, as free software it also cannot stifle political speech because anyone is still welcome to start their own Mastodon instance, but instances can completely block each other, which makes it easier to isolate undesirable activity and cut down on cyberbullying. Hopefully this will be an effective mechanism for community-moderation of the distinction between controversial speech and harassment/hate speech, which Twitter has been notoriously bad at handling.

I guess only time will tell if this just isolates political echo chambers or promotes good behavior. It’s at least a different approach, and I think there’s a good chance that it can succeed.

For now if you do want to join my experiment and see what this is all about, you can join one of the many instances that already exist. And you can “follow” me at

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New domain name!

In the mostly idiotic rush to register new top level domains, some genius decided to register ‘.earth’ as a new general top level domain, which makes my website much less annoying to type, and way easier to say.

I still have my old domain name, and my old email address will continue to work, but I’m going to slowly move everything to In the mean time, will automatically redirect to the new domain.

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What now?

I think that since the election a lot of people have been stuck with a sort of sinking feeling that we’re helpless in the face of an unstoppable tsunami of intentional ignorance and hate. I haven’t posted anything online since then because nothing I come up with feels worth saying, and my feelings on any individual course of action change pretty frequently. But through this shock-and-awe bombardment of some of the most backwards rhetoric and Newspeak, I’ve decided that the only reasonable approach is, as my adviser put it, “all efforts on all fronts.”

So even though I won’t be able to make the scientists’ march in DC, I’m going to put that money towards several other small projects:

  • From now on I’ll be sending one post card a day to the white house. I just pre-ordered this set of ‘women in science’ postcards (postcards under 4.5″x6″ ship USPS for 34¢).
  • I’m also doing what I can to support as many progressive organizations as possible (including those linked in the side bar) in mostly symbolic ways, and monetarily when I can.
  • Although it isn’t at the top of my concerns at the moment, I’m considering putting together a guide to digital security for activists; mostly because it’s something that I know a bit about. I’m not positive I’ll follow through on this idea though because the internet is already awash in similar compilations and guides.
  • I plan to be at every protest I can.
  • I’ll do my best to normalize political conversation in college classrooms, to combat efforts like TurningPointUSA’s database of progressive college instructors.

…and really anything else I think of that seems constructive. I think the most important thing I’ve learned recently is that no single action is going to pull us out of this, but maybe many small ones will.

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Safety Pin


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Rio Grande Field Trip – Colorado & New Mexico

In early September I got to participate in my second UO geology “Staples” field trip, named for an alum who donated enough money to periodically take a big group to somewhere in the world where a faculty member has active research. The last trip was to Kyrgyzstan, back in 2014. This time we scaled back substantially, and stayed close to home. The theme of the trip was Rio Grande rift volcanism, specifically focusing on large calderas in the “Southern Rocky Mountain Volcanic Field.” A lot of details of the trip are outlined in a trip blog, put together by Allan Lerner, ( so I won’t repeat all the details, but here are a few pictures I took during the trip.

Enjoying Santa Fe, NM.



Look at that bird!!! (Near an outcrop of Bandelier tuff outside of Los Alamos, NM)



The inner mote of the Valles caldera, West of Los Alamos.



Dylan Colón looks picturesquely at the Rio Grande gorge, about half way between Santa Fe and Taos, NM.



Our swanky digs at the Sagebrush Inn, Taos, NM.




Paul Wallace points at something important.


Dana Reuter jumps across a detachment surface *on to* a huge landslide block on the Rio Grande gorge.


The “Buried volcano” is part of a paleo volcanic edifice that has since been covered by more flat-lying basalts.


Hydrothermally altered rocks in the Platoro Caldera (SE San Juan Volcanic Field)



The base of the famous Fish Canyon Tuff, (Central San Juans)



City of Creede, CO, on the North edge of the Creede Caldera




Remnants of 19th century mining operations in Creede, CO.


The Sangre de Cristo mountains over an advancing flash flood at Great Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado.



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Labor Day Hike

For labor day weekend I went backpacking around Waldo Lake. The loop trail is ~20 miles, with fantastic views and great camping. Besides the occasional group of mountain bikers, there were surprisingly few people out. No competition for camp sites! I won’t narrate the photos, but I think it’s possible to get the idea.






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August, 2016

After the chaos of field camp and field work in June and July, August was relatively low-key. I finally had time to work on my own research, and in my spare time I got a lot done towards my goal of selling Klaus the Kar some time soon. I’ve been slowly working on sprucing him up for that, and I finally feel like I’m close to finishing the things I set out to do.

First order of business was to replace the rusty exhaust system, part of which had literally rusted through:




Next I replaced the broken fuel filler neck, which I’m hoping will reduce the gasoline smell inside the car:



Then I sanded and ground as much rust as possible off of the trunk panels, and painted the inside of the trunk with POR-15, some absurd industrial strength rust prevention paint stuff:



I added a shock brace with a nice battery holder mount to replace the tiedown method I’d been using previously to keep the battery in place, and added some sound deadening below it for good measure.



To finish off the trunk I made a set of new trunk floor panels, which have been missing from my car for years.





Various odds n’ ends under the hood: I installed an oil separator / catch can for the PCV hose to vent back into the intake, rather than to atmosphere.


And I had the wheels powder coated, and mounted new tires on them (pictures to come). I also drilled out a new valve cover to mount the coils in a more sustainable way than how I’d done it before. I had the shop throw the valve cover in with the wheels because it was looking pretty ratty, and I drilled and tapped the PCV connection for my new oil separator setup:





Next I painted the brake calipers, and installed new brake drums (also painted):



Continuing with the under-hood odds n ends, I stripped and painted the exhaust header to get it looking nice and shiny again



And my final project of the month, I built myself a new center console, another thing I’d been meaning to do for years.





I originally made the face plate out of wood:



but I wasn’t able to get as accurate as I’d like.


So instead I drew up my design in CAD, and sent it off to




Each part took me at least two tries, but in the end I think the final product looks pretty good!


I did a bit of work in the beginning of September, and a few things that I just don’t have pictures of, but August was definitely full of lots of productive weekends. I can’t quite believe that I did all that in like three weekends, but there it is! And of course, all this wouldn’t have been possible without Tam’s research assistance.


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(first half of) Summer, 2016

I’m finally back in Eugene for a significant amount of time; I’ve been out of town on and off since mid-June. Thought I’d post some pictures of what I’ve been up to.

I spent the second half of June out near a tiny town called Christmas Valley, as a TA for the first section of field camp. We mapped overlapping lava flows from four cinder cones, called “Four Craters” on the flank of Green Mountain.


We also checked out a big fault that’s opened up to form a big mile long crack in the ground, called “Crack in the Ground”.

Crack in the Ground, OR

From there we went to Newberry volcano to look at a big obsidian flow, called “The Big Obsidian Flow”.


After that I split up with the field camp students while they went to Montana for part 2 of Field Camp. I went back to Eugene for almost a week, did a few projects on Klaus, the Kar, and then headed back out to eastern Oregon to install seismometers for a project that my adviser recently got funded, and which I’m loosely involved with. There were five of us out there, and by splitting into two groups we installed 26 seismometers in like 10 days.

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Immediately following the seismometer install, Nick (one of the other workers on the seismo project) and I went backpacking in the Wallowas. We hiked from Lostine canyon trail head to Mirror Lake in the Lakes Basin area in the afternoon of the first day.

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We spent one night, and the following day made a 12 mile loop to hike up Eagle Cap, down past Glacier Lake, over Glacier Pass, and back to camp. We got back to camp early enough that we decided to just do the next days hike and head home, making an 18 mile day, with an 8 hour drive back to Eugene.

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I was back in Eugene for just over 24 hours before heading back out to the Wallowas to meet up with the field camp students for part 3. We spent ten days in Eastern Oregon mapping dikes which fed the biggest flows of the Columbia River Flood Basalt (CRB) eruptions.

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From there we took a three day river rafting trip to map more CRB dikes along a wilderness section of the Grand Ronde River.

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We ended the trip just across the Washington border, and spent another two days in Washington before we drove back to Eugene.

When we returned, I spent like three days in Eugene, bought a car, finished two projects on Klaus in preparation to sell him, and drove down to Arcata area in northern Humboldt county, to hang out with family for a few days in the redwoods.

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Since then I’ve been finishing up more projects on Klaus, I went to the Whiteaker Block Party (a really awesome street fair thing in Eugene), drove up to Portland for Thia’s babyshower, and finally started getting back to work on my own research, after almost two months of distractions.

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Making a tent footprint, on the cheap

I recently found a North Face Tadpole 23 2-person tent for $3 at a gear swap, and have been working on repairing its several minor problems. Most of the problems were a series of quarter-sized holes in the floor, which were easily patched with Kenyon K-Tape.




In order to protect the repairs, and help the tent stay dry, I also wanted a ground cloth. Name brand tent footprints are inexplicably super expensive (~$60) and hard to find for old tent models like this one. Instead I took random internet advice and made one myself out of Tyvek, grommets, and glue.

I started by laying out the Tyvek on the floor. I set the tent up on top of it, and marked the locations of each of the poles. I tried my best to pull the poles to their positions when they’re staked down. I then drew a hull around the points, and another line ~3cm in. The idea is to fold the edges in so that the edges of the tarp won’t stick out from the sides of the tent and collect rain water. I used the same corner design as this guy to reinforce the grommet points.


I then cut around the perimeters of the tarp, and applied the glue.


The folds were the most difficult part to get right, and I never quite got the hang of it, but Tyvek is thin enough that it’s pretty forgiving if you end up with a small wrinkle. I also had to go through with one more glue pass after everything was folded to make sure the edges stay glued down.

In the end, all the repairs cost $33.68. I actually happened to already have some grommets, so including the initial ($3) cost of the tent I’m only out a grand total of $27.37, and about an hour of my time.

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