Thursday, March 27, 2008

Rocks are hott!

I just advised my first undergrad geo major who had only recently declared as GEO... he wants to "go into ether petroleum or minerals" and I didn't get the sense his motive was altruistic. The geoblogosphere is abuzz with the high demand for geo grads and it seems even in Dixie there's some people who are noticing the opportunities in earth science right now. I will sheepishly admit it is strange to watch a 22 year-old go out and make more $ than I've ever made in a job, despite my oodles of years of training. I honestly wouldn't trade places, but from my perspective it does seem like a weird phenomenon of the current job market. I still feel like I have so much to learn about the earth, but learning takes time and time is money and apparently there's no time like the present to be a geo major!

When this new geo major went on to say "Oh, petrology... I should take that class if I'm interested in petroleum, right?" I will again sheepishly admit I felt a bit better about my oodles of training. Guess if I don't have the big paycheck I at least have my work (that I like) cut out for me! As the housing market shows again, all booms will bust, but I plan on enjoying this part of the ride for sure!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Edward Abbey avenged?


This is a special Western Exposure report from the desert southwest of the US. My first venture to this area was back in '97 and in 10 short years there has been a world of change - human habitation of this arid ecosystem has skyrocketed. I read Desert Solitare after moving to the desert southwest in 1998 and was instantly smitten. For a geohead like myself the significance of anthropogenic scars on what was such an incredibly outcrop-rich geo-wonderland environment was heart-wrenching! After Desert Solitare, I moved on to The Monkey Wrench Gang and since then, my daydreams often involve small explosive devices at the base of those dreaded LCD billboards or legislation outlawing the creation of McMansions in greenfields when brownfields are in such dire blight or severe damage to any major place of commerce beginning with "Wal" and ending in "Mart".  

I have said for years TMWG would make a great movie and LO and Behold! there is a such a film in production! I am very excited about this development and I so hope the film lives up to the book.  My greater hope is that urban sprawl sticks to Vegas, Phoenix, SLC and others like it and that some of the most amazing landscapes and ecosystems that make up the desert SW survive until collectively we get smart enough to value them for the treasures that they are without condos or casinos.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What google can't give me: elucidating the manuscript review process

So its been a long lapse in blogging but honestly, I promise, I swear I've been meaning to do so for a while now. I even have a couple blog-goals (blogoals?). One is to put up a link for a YouTube library of sed-o-liscious videos. They can be INVALUABLE in teaching, but take time to track down. Check out one of my favorites for demonstrating thixotropic behavior. I love it! I also have an incredibly hilarious/geeky one for fluidized sediment to the soundtrack of Forrest Gump's Theme Song (to which we're partial in the South). I'll save that for another time. Anyways, I figure if I searched for 'em, others must have too, so why not save someone some trouble someday. I also want to do one for Intro Geo, but there isn't as much surprisingly except for mass-wasting and other natural hazards.

What I'm here to do now, though, is to lament that despite the push to publish, we don't always get the review criteria for every journal before we submit. What exactly will the critique entail? Well, submitting is one way to find out! Once I've reviewed more papers I may find that the actual check list is meaningless. But right now all I can ask is "Is it meaningless? If not, what does it mean? Heck, what IS the review process for a specific journal?" Some have them available on line, but not all. In particular I've struck out with Journal of Sedimentary Research but found it available on Sedimentology. It just got me thinking about the review process and its subjective nature and how it might be good to give yourself a pre-review if you knew what the criteria were. Or maybe it wouldn't be good and would just be a waste of time. Or maybe it would be good but wouldn't make the difference b/w accepted and rejected.

Mostly I was thinking of this in terms of how to teach my students to write for a critical audience (me). I find they want details of what I want so they can tailor their paper to the criteria. But in the "real world" of academia (ok, I can hear the guffaws from here :) or industry for that matter, we don't often get such a detailed request. In the end, I guess what enhances learning isn't the way things are done in the "real world". So what should I teach? "Real world" or "learner-centered classroom" modus operandi? For now I think I'll try to do a little of both.