Sunday, June 28, 2009

How Dell lost my business

The summer between my first and second years of my masters program, I bought a laptop. I justified this purchase by saying that I needed more computing power/storage/capability/flexibility/portability than a desktop to complete my masters and doctorate. I bought a Dell. I really didn't look at any other computer manufacturers. I had a Dell desktop which had performed well over the years, Dell as the leader in sales of personal computers at the time, and they had (for that time) the best deals on computers. Of course, that was 5 years ago. My how the playing field has changed.

The NYT reports this morning that Acer, the little Taiwanese company that could, is poised to take over second place in the sales of personal computers from Dell. That doesn't surprise me one bit.

At the time I bought my laptop, I purchased the smallest screen (12 inches, more portable), the fastest processor, the largest availability of memory, and the top of the line "glossy" screen. I also bought the most comprehensive, most convenient, most expensive service contract package they had available. The in-home, bumper-to-bumper warrantee, guaranteed for 4 years with a special number that ensured that I was given priority service. It was my understanding that the special number would ensure that I was always connected with American technicians. I was happy with every facet of the purchase. And for the first two years, everything was the bees knees. When I had my first problem with my computer, I called up Dell for warantee service and encountered my first problem with the company: the dreaded call center in India.

What happened to the priority American service I paid for? Turns out, I was given an 800 number to call, where I waited in line to be connected to Dell India just like everyone else. There was no "special number". When you are connected to Dell India and they realize you paid for the "special number" they either asked me to hang up and dial a different number (where I then waited in line behind every other caller again) or they transfer me to the proper department. More often, they transfered me to the wrong department, who transferred me back and the whole process began again. The $300+ I paid for the special treatment was a complete waste and actually cost me more time than if I had never paid it.

Strike one.

Service early in my contract period was competent, relatively speedy, and effective. They always had to send a technician from St. Louis, and since technicians are Dell contract employees, they get paid on the number of calls they complete in a day. Spending a half-day driving from St. Louis to southern Illinois wasn't these technicians idea of maximizing their earning power. And to make matters worse, they often required two trips to complete the repair. One trip to identify the problem and another to make the required repair. I actually had one technician suggest that I meet him half way. I suppose we were supposed to do the work at a rest stop or something.

I felt for them, but I paid a lot of money for top-of-the-line service. I refused.

But the next time I needed a repair, approximtely mid-way through year 3 of my 4 year warantee, something at Dell had changed. When I called Dell India, I was told I would have to work with them to identify the problem myself. This required that I take apart my own computer while they ran through a laundry list of potential problems. When I explained that A) I had paid EXTRA money for special service with American technicians, and B) my warantee specifically said that Dell technicians would do the diagnostic work, they claimed that things at Dell had changed and my service contract was no longer valid.

Whoa. Strike two.

Anyone who has dealt with Dell recently knows the futility of trying to talk to an American and of trying to move your way up the ladder with anyone in Dell India. I admit it. To save myself any MORE aggravation, I took my own computer apart and went with the flow. There was no more "special number" department for me to be connected to.

Strike three to infinity.

Actually, when the technician arrived that time, he basically installed new parts in most of my computer. It was a pretty good deal. My computer has held up as well as can be expected. I had to replace the battery (not covered under warantee). I bought an off-brand and I suspect that many of my current problems are from inadequate battery power. I basically have a portable plug-in computer at this point.

They say you get what you pay for. But in the case of Dell, you don't even get that. Dell did not honor the terms of the very expensive service contract that I bought. For this reason (and the fact that I detest dealing with Dell India), they lost my business. Forever. No amount of cheap computing power will ever sway me their way again.

Dell also changed the way I look at personal computers. The fact that I paid so much money for competent, efficient, quick, high-quality repair service gives an inkling of how important this is to me. The fact that I got nothing of the sort caused me to look at the service reputations of all the leading competitors to Dell. None faired much better than Dell. (Of course, I realize that Mac doesn't seem to have these service issues, but I'm locked into the PC route for now given that all my ancillary software is PC-based. And I have issues with Apple as well, just not as great.)

My decision was to treat a personal computer as a disposable item. Much like an iPod. I decided to buy the cheapest suitable computer and when it breaks, I'll just get a new one. They are now selling computers comparable with my current notebook at prices less than the price I paid for my premium service contract with Dell.

Dell, you want to know why you are losing customers to Acer?

I just told you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

More Panty Twisters

Life is linear. You learn as you go. The past two weeks were a treasure trove of life lessons. Here are a few that caught my attention.

  1. There appear to be two types of people: doers and worriers. I am a doer. I get things done. Worriers get nothing done and chap my ass.
  2. Compromise is a foreign concept to most people, who seem to think that conflict resolution occurs when the other guy gives in.
  3. Conflict resolution skills should be taught in nursery school with a refresher course every Monday morning.
  4. Scientific disagreements should never be taken personally and taking it personally is a sure sign of professional immaturity.
  5. I don't have time to resolve everyone's conflict nor do I have the desire to, and yet, I find myself constantly thrust in that position. Most people don't like my approach to conflict resolution, to which I say, "Tough shit. You involve me in your conflict, you get what I bring."
  6. In any group effort comprised of more than three people, I will get the least desirable job. The least desirable job comes with the most work, the lowest amount of recognition, the highest risk of blame, and the highest probability that you will make the undeserving look competent.
  7. If there is a way for someone to really piss me off, they will exercise it.
  8. I have no respect for people who undermine or misrepresent my work. None whatsoever.
  9. I seem to run into a disproportionate number of assholes.
  10. I like people with foreign gestures. They are fun to watch. I've decided to adopt a few.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shedding some light on a dark continent

News out of the BBC on the incredibly shocking, unbelievably disturbing, and morally outrageous findings that one in four South African men has self-identified as a rapist. Half of that group consider themselves serial rapists. 5% of the them have committed a rape in the past year.

Nearly a quarter of Canadian women have been victims of rape or attempted rape. In some developing countries, women are initiated into sexual activity as a rite of passage. Most rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.

I don't think I have ever had a conversation about rape with any of my friends. Women just don't talk about it. I don't know why.

I was first assaulted by a boy in my grade school who attempted to rape me in my friend's backyard. It was weird. We we playing in her yard. He just appeared. We didn't like that boy particularly. Hadn't spent a lot of time around him. He just showed up and was hanging around. At some point, he grabbed me and threw me to the ground. He pinned my arms. I thought he was just trying to be...well, you know how boys are. They want to prove they are strong. They want to make you squirm. Sitting on you was a means of pissing you off and when any other boy had done it, they eventually grew tired of holding me down, let me up and laughed about it. I usually punched them really hard and threatened them with a swift and violent end if they tried that again.

So at first, I didn't suspect that there was any real danger. I was angry and struggling but I couldn't throw him off me. When I realized the futility, I almost submitted. But then he went to unbuckle his pants. I didn't even know what rape was. I was in the third grade or so and I knew this boy from school. All of a sudden it just clicked in my head. He meant to have sex with me right there in Sheila Arrington's backyard. I screamed. I hollered. I fought with all I had. I kicked. I bucked. I twisted. My God he was strong. He must have been seriously disturbed and a victim of abuse himself to have attempted an all-out effort to rape a 10-year-old classmate. But I knew one thing. I wasn't going to let it happen. He finally let me loose when I began screaming for my friend's mother. I climbed to the top of the swing set where he couldn't reach me and I didn't come down until he had left. Interestingly enough, when this boy assaulted me, my friend walked away and went into her house. She did nothing. She didn't get help. She didn't inform her mother. I was on my own out there. I fought.

I won.

I remember yelling at her later. My only other experience with sexual assault was an instance of "date rape" in which some light petting turned into a forced oral encounter involving a co-worker with whom I accepted a date. I didn't realize that what he did was illegal. I just knew I he was a major asshole and I never wanted to see him again. Yeah, I was naive. I don't know what feelings you are supposed to have after having been sexually assaulted, but in both instances, I was relieved it was over and I was mad. I wasn't mad at myself. I was full-on mad at them. Not enough to kill them, but enough to make me never want to interact with them again. I can't imagine someone staying with a partner who raped them.

If there is a bright side, I am happy that I never experienced anything that seriously injured me or scarred me emotionally. But to think that good girls from good homes aren't subject to the same sort of sexual predators that are out there is insane. One of my childhood friends was sexually abused by a choir director at her local church. Religion, education and money aren't enough to protect us from sexual assault. Rich daddy's can't protect their daughters because some of the son's of rich daddies can't be trusted. You just never know behind which eyes lurk the capacity for sexual assault. There are some seriously disturbed young people out there.

Rape, or the prospect of forced sex are profoundly disturbing. At the age of 10 or so, I got an eye's-wide-open introduction to the big bad world out there. Although I honestly think I didn't extrapolate that experience to all boys (thankfully not). I think I interpreted it as "he just wasn't right". Men like my Dad wouldn't do those kinds of things. I still believed there were good men in the world. Men who would protect me. But I remember wondering, after he let me loose, about what life was like in his house. His life must have been a nightmare. The abuse must have been unreal. It's a cycle. I'm just thankful he wasn't able to complete the circle with me.

If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. And it does happen to lots of anyones. It is time we, and I do mean the universal collective we, do something to put an end to the assault on half of the world's population. It is time to speak out and speak up. This has got to stop.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Group Work

Ask anyone. I hate group work. I had a showdown with a fellow graduate student in one of my classes over the subject of group work. For a while, that interaction was the stuff of legend. People loved to relive their favorite lines from said disagreement. (Although the list of people who were present for said discussion is getting shorter the longer I remain here.) I admit it. I don't like working in groups. My problem with group work is that groups waste time and productivity on social interaction that could better be spent in pursuit of the objective. I can stand a lot of things but wasting time on extraneous matters--like other people's feelings and sensibilities--when I could be getting something done is among my top pet peeves. When I work alone, I don't have to worry about how someone else feels about my ideas, whether or not my perspective is getting it's proper due, and so on. I can just tackle the assignment. So the people responsible for wasting my time when I could be getting things done tend to fall deeply in my estimation. I view group work as an abyss that I'd do best to avoid.

I don't understand our love affair with group work. I think there is this mistaken idea that groups are democratic and therefore are inherently superior to any other schemes, that groups promote cooperation (which seems to always trump efficiency or productivity, much to my puzzlement), that group members have a greater investment in the effort due to broader participation (this may or may not be true, depending on the initial investment of all members in the outcome), and that groups foster creativity in problem solving (of course, this assumes that group members feel secure enough to interact creatively). And why is it always group work? I have seen many a group bypass an expert in some particular field for allowing a group to tackle the problem.

Oh, I will admit, if education and growth are the objective, groups may be the way to go. Giving someone a safe place to expand or experience something might best be done in a carefully constructed group. By and large, however, most groups are not carefully constructed. Who hasn't been stuck in a group because they needed a warm body and you were at the wrong place at the right time? But when conquering some objective is the point, group work can muck up the works. And the main problem in groups is the scarcity of effective leadership and the lack of appropriate authority.

I am involved in a seminar that has crashed and burned due to the misuse of group work. Foremost, the group tasked with organizing the seminar was not given the proper authority. There is a higher body of the organization that can and has abused the schedule to the point that the organizing committee looks unorganized and foolish and feels they have to apologize to the group or blame the higher-ups for the disorganization. Net effect? Group confidence is undermined at all levels. Still, I feel for them. Been there, done that.

And as if we weren't all enduring a shining example of the problems of group work, the entire organization is married to group work. I have been asked to volunteer for committees, based not on my expertise or interests but to fulfill a requirement that I be on exactly 2 and no more committees, that each contain a predescribed number of participants of my category. When our group did not do so willingly, there was a bit more than a little resistance. I offered a solution which was seconded by another newbie like myself and STILL the older group bristled. But my main complaint with the group organization is that I have been asked to do nothing alone. Not only that, but I have been given no time to explore my own thoughts on any subject. Instead, every time I was asked to accomplish some task, I have been asked to collaborate. At every turn, I feel this crushing responsibility to involve my partner in some aspect of every activity that I am not bringing my best self and my best ideas to the project. I have been given no time for personal reflection. The only way I can think to describe this feeling is being sleep deprived. I feel like I am simply being jerked from one situation to the next and asked to react. Who knows if I am acting appropriately, inappropriately, efficiently, effectively or otherwise? I have no time to plan a best approach. It's just, "Here's the task. Go!"

I find this particularly amusing? frustrating? peculiar? because this seminar is about education, and so much in education is about working within people's comfort zones and capitalizing on their strengths. As teachers, we have to provide a range of experiences so that students who work best by reading, doing, and watching can all have an opportunity to learn. And yet, in a seminar about education, I am not given the opportunity to work in the style that works best for me with at least some time allotted for personal reflection. Alone. I would never undertake a project without first thinking through a plan, potential problems, and possible workarounds. But over the past week or so, I have been asked to achieve some goal--even if I am expected to bring some expertise to the table--without having been given the space I need to bring my best effort to the task. End result? I'm doing a half-assed job. I have been paired with someone, then pairs are paired, and pairs of pairs are paired with a more experienced pair and so on.

Tempers are getting short. And it's not just my temper. (Those who know the true me would be proud of the exhibition of tolerance I have maintained in light of my frustration.) I see it in the teachers. I see it in the new grad students. But I think the utter frustration is with the group organization. It's ineffective and people are getting tired of failing. Ok, maybe we aren't failing, but we certainly aren't making progress consistent with our capabilities. Unstable group membership demands we constantly renegotiate leadership positions. Stable groups only have to establish dominance once.

Look, I am willing to let someone else lead. In fact, I like it when I don't have to lead all the time. I am willing to defer, even if it means that someone with less experience gets a chance at learning something from the whole leadership experience. But for God's sake, I need a little space. I need some room to think.

There has to be a place where it is okay for someone with MY learning style to exist outside of a group.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tempest Tossed

While Liv was out on her very own Wild West Adventure, we had a little hiccup in southern Illinois. May 8, 2009. Liv-fav D-ennis, Paul, and Mike Hanson were graduating and I decided to attend. When I left Do Well, it was bright and sunny. Midway through the graduation, I heard something. I ignored it at first. Then I heard it again. Thunder. Thunder you can hear inside an arena is bad. Very bad.

I left the ceremony and went home. They had a spectacularly craptastic speaker who basically did a half hour appeal for capital funds. It was embarassing. So I left to take care of Jake and save my house from ultimate destruction. It was raining before I made it to my car. I had never seen so much water come down so fast. I got home mid-storm and tried to calm Jake. I decided to wait until it stopped raining and he was calm and then I'd go back to school to work. When it stopped raining, I peeked outside. I thought it was over. Oh silly me.

The water. I couldn't believe the water. I snapped some pictures. I narrated some video.

And because I don't know how to combine clips, you have to watch it piece meal.

It started to rain again, so I went in and started working on grades, and just as I was ready to send them out via email, the power went out. No internet. Then the tornado sirens went off. So I gathered up Jake and went in to the utility room to wait it out...that was until the storm blew the screen clear out of my kitchen window. I got up to close it and saw this.

So I had to take a look out front.

The real reason I didn't want to stand there any longer wasn't fear, it was that I was getting soaked.

After the storm ended, I still had no power. So I called Rose at school and asked her how things were down there. She said power was out in the building and everyone was leaving. So I didn't go back to work. I decided to just wait until the power returned and go from there. I figured, you know, 5 hours at the most.

Boy was I wrong.

Tomorrow, I'll post some damage pics from around Carbondale.

an Undeniable Downturn

You know, sometimes I just can't put a finger on what is wrong. But I am smack dab in the middle of a full-frontal funk coming on. Things should be looking up for me. New job. Pays more. New opportunities. New experiences. An entirely new year, but I'm just not feeling the love. I was told that I'm expected to fail, or at least to not do well. And it just took the air right out of my balloon. In fact, with each passing day, I feel more and more....displaced. Like an interloper. Like I've overstayed my welcome. And there is nothing more unpleasant than feeling unwelcome in your own life. Because if you can't move on, it's just a bad feeling that sticks and stinks. Like dog shit on the bottom of your shoe.

I'm in an unusual place in my life. I've never HAD to stay somewhere. If I got fed up, sick of it, feeling restless, unsatisfied....I just threw a dart at the map and away I went. But this damn education thing has me STUCK. I can't walk away. And I'm not happy here anymore. There. I said it.

I am not happy here anymore.

I think I could be happy here again if a whole series of events could miraculously undo themselves. If I could remove myself from the people who are making me feel badly. But I can't.

I keep telling myself: just another year and a half. That's all. You can do a year and a half standing on your head. I try to immerse myself in the work. And you know, that works. Only sometimes, like for these next two weeks, I have to do something other than the work that will get me the hell out of here. And I resent the interruption.

I'm getting headaches pretty regular. And heartburn. And general malaise. And melancholy. Just nothing seems to be looking up. Maybe I'm menopausal. Maybe I'm being dramatic. Maybe I'm right.

I can't seem to clean my house. I can't seem to fix any food. I can't seem to do anything but the bare minimum. And sometimes, I lower the bar on the bare minimum. I want this to end.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


When I was a kid, there was a fast food restaurant in our town called the BBF. Their "spokespersons" were two cartoon characters named Burger Chef and Jeff. I haven't thought of that in years. But I was reminded by the acronym BBW, which was my saving grace out in the field this time.

BBW stands for Baby Butt Wipes.

I don't know why I haven't discovered these things before. Maybe because I'm not a mom. But you guys that are have been holding out on the rest of us. These things are like gold to the field-weary traveler. They are a semblance of cleanliness in a world of dirt, dust, and body odor. They are a little travel miracle in PET.

I'll never go out in the field without them again.

Monday, June 15, 2009

5353 Miles in 12 Days

Folks, that's an average of 446 miles per day. Every day. For 12 days. That's about the distance from New York City to Cleveland.

Every trip is a learning experience. Here's some things I learned.
  1. When you find a population of your study organism, sample it. Do not go 5 miles down the road. Do not eat a sandwich first. Stop the car. Get out. Sample the population. Failure to do so will ensure: A) The population down the road evaporates before you get there. B) You are unable to re-locate the population when you come back, and C) A pack of rabid coyotes, a DNR worker, or a livid land owner will be standing guard when you return.
  2. I don't get Texas. At all. And I'm done trying.
  3. The best Motel 6 ever is located in Oklahoma City.
  4. Colorado has beautiful horses.
  5. If someone is behaving badly on the roadway, invariably they are sporting California plates.
  6. Kansas City, my behind. The best smelling BBQ is found in Moriarty, NM. Jake agrees.
  7. Both Dennys and IHOP put milk in their pancakes.
  8. The average breakfast out costs $12, a price I consider outrageous for eggs and a few slices of bacon and a pancake containing milk.
  9. The cascading flight pattern of desert hares works against them in a showdown with a car.
  10. Jake is a pretty damn good field assistant.
  11. Road signage in the Navajo Nation leaves a lot to be desired.
  12. I owe Rich Spellenberg a bottle of scotch.
  13. It's always a relief when, having the evidence to resolve a long standing feud, you prove the person right who has been helping you.
  14. Everyone should do the drive from Grand Junction to Durango. And the Beartooth Highway. And the ring of Kerry.
  15. Oklahoma could use a lesson or two regarding the appropriate warning distance for upcoming road construction. Seriously. Like before more people die.
  16. Coca Cola always tastes better ice-chest cold and in a glass bottle.
  17. I am intoxicated by the freedom of the open road and answering to no one, which is to say, I have grown fond of traveling alone. Quite fond.
  18. Truck stops are pretty safe places if you have to sleep in your car.
  19. I have people who care about me enough to check on me every single day. And who those people are surprised me.
  20. I can sleep in a car for two weeks without wanting to take someone's head off.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The real reason research takes so long

Adventure in unlikely places

I realize I have a pretty weird idea of fun. And I love food. And one of my favorite things is to find adventure that tastes good. So while on the road, imagine my delight at finding this place. I mean, if a place doesn't just SCREAM adventure, I don't know what else does.

In case you somehow missed that, it's a tortilla FACTORY. Meaning they manufacture tortilla. And they let me see how they did it. There was a young guy named Hector and an older fellow who's name I didn't catch. Or maybe it was that I couldn't pronounce it. But they showed me how they make tortillas. It was interesting. But it was better eating.

OK, so what that it was only 10:00 in the morning. I was out of my time zone element. It was almost lunchtime for me. They were really nice. Hector said I could order anything from the menu. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. So I ordered this....

Mmmm. And that was a chili-rich salsa. Not for sissies or people with ulcers. And yes, that is a Coca Cola in a GLASS bottle.

And then I ordered this.

Chicken chimichanga with beans on the side. When it arrived I had to run back out to the car to get my cheese pills. I was living by a thread on this trip, I tell ya.

I cleaned my plate. I didn't want to eat again until about 11 pm that night. And in case you wondered, the pills worked.

One must remember that they aren't fool-proof. And when roughing it on research trips, playing fast and loose with the lactaid rules can be a very dangerous thing. When the pills fail, as they did on me in eastern Utah...well, suffice it to say that a new camp shovel was demanded after that afternoon. And that was the result of "mystery milk", meaning I'm not sure what I ate that had milk in it, I just know that something did. Just remember that if Mr. Utah DNR had shown up only a few moments earlier, we might have been having quite a different conversation than the one about botany we shared.

But I was home free after this tasty treat from Hector and that other guy's Tortilla Factory.

Oh, and if you are ever in Moriarty, NM, make sure you go to the BBQ joint. It smelled like a little bit of heaven.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Just a quick hello

The problem with trying to do field research alone on a study system that demands you search for it during the day and work on it until well after dark is...that often doesn't leave time for the realities of living: where are you going to sleep? After finding A. nana (finally!!!) about 8:00 p.m. last night, collecting my DNA, running my scent samples then processing them, it was about 10:30. I was 50 mi from town one way at 30 miles from town another. The BLM land didn't seem to have any roads to pull down to camp for free. It was dark. I was tired. Jake had been in the car ALL DAY. I went the 30 mi direction.

The hotel in this town the size of Dowell didn't have any rooms. I went 20 miles on to the next town. No hotels. I went another 20 miles on to Beaver. Beaver had a lot of No Vacancy signs. But finally, I found one. The fellow at the Butch Cassidy Inn (Best Western) in Beaver, UT, wanted to dicker on a price when I told him I couldn't afford $75.00 plus tax for a room. He asked what I could afford, and I said I was looking for something under $50. He started talking to a woman standing next to him (not to me, mind you) about the attributes of his hotel, the time of year, the free continental breakfast (God, I know I can't sleep at night thinking about those free, cheap, sticky pastries that come out of a box), and said that if I was willing to give him $55 he could get me a room.

It was 12:55 am and I've been driving for hours and this jackass wants to start fucking with me over $5?

I don't think so.

He was lucky I only said, "Thank you, no."

So I went down the road at paid $60 at the Country Inn. Whereupon I got locked inside my room for almost a half hour before I could get out. Don't ask me. Usually, I'm pretty good with things like door locks.

Since I spent all my blogging time trying to release myself from my room, this morning, this is all you get.
Happy Tuesday. I think. Oh, and my computer is making terrible whirring noises. I'm not sure how many more blog posts from the road you can count on.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

June is Tripterocalyx month

I have found a lot of Tripterocalyx in bloom. In NM. In AZ. And now in Utah. It's a pretty cool plant.
It has really cool seed heads.

And I hope you are seeing this, but that is a bee-mimic fly working those flowers. I caught that sweet little photo at the Angel's Peak location. Tonight, I found a hawkmoth working the group I found in Utah. Leave it to the Utah working group to employ a highly skilled, massively efficient organism for pollination, while in the Navajo Nation....well, I'll say no more.

Angel's Peak, NM

I tried to drive from Albuquerque, NM to Farmington, NM in one day. I started very late. Very late. I have an excuse. I was trying (unsuccessfully) to find Abronia bigloveii. I looked high and low. I looked until it got dark. And then I tried to drive to Farmington.

Huge mistake.

It was only about 100 miles. But it was 100 miles through the Navajo Nation.

Folks, the Navajo apparently don't believe in fast food restaurants, rest areas, or reasonably priced hotels. So I was suddenly aware of the miracle that happened when I saw a brown sign that said BLM campground.

Holy moly! I couldn't pull down that road fast enough. And then it was another 5 miles. It kept teasing me with signs saying "scenic lookout" and "picnic area". Aaargh. Where was the damn campground?

When I finally found it, I had my pick of the place. I was all alone. A free campground and no neighbors. That's my idea of fun. Too tired to erect a tent, I put my sleeping bag down in the back of the car, let Jake eat and do his thing and then it was all zzzzzzzssssss.

In the morning, I want you to see what I saw just steps away from my car door.

I'm lucky I didn't run over the cliff.

The Road is my Middle Name

I love to travel. I like to take long car trips. I know. It's totally anti-envirochick. But it is a not-so-secret pleasure.

Jake is not as hip on the traveling, but he is digging the extra wide ride he's got going on this trip.

He does enjoy the pit stops.

Ahhh, the open road. Here are some reasons why I love it so much.

In the past three days I have seen:
1. An emu
2. A llama
3. 4 bearded billy goats
4. A cow chewing a very large trash bag
5. About 40 dead armadillos (all in Missouri, btw)
6. A pink Hummer
7. A great new, absolutely free campground in the heart of the Navajo Nation.
8. About 40-11 things I couldn't take pictures of.

But here is a taste of the things I could.

My ride. Sa-weet.

So far, my campsite.

My first sunrise. (Texas rest area near Amarillo.)

Abronia fragrans. North of Amarillo.

Thought I was kidding, didn't you?

This horse let me pet him her over the fence.

Only on Route 66.

Gopher snake in Monument Valley. He is no more. He is a former snake. He's pushing up daisies. I didn't do it. I promise.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

and they're off

...just as soon as I wash Jake. Head to school. Pick up maps, traps, insect pins and chemicals. Oh, and make a few scent collection bags. I can't seem to find mine.

See you when I return. Or when I can't take it and need a shower and spring for a hotel room.

Adios. Wait. I was told not to take that bitching ride into Mexico. So, ta-ta for now!

OK, so Jake didn't get a bath. He's just going to get all dusty on this trip anyway. Sheesh. Cut a girl a break. =]