Cedar Breaks National Monument = Bryce Canyon – (.5 * Bryce Size) – (.95 * Bryce Crowds)

Basically Bryce Canyon, but not as big and definitely not as crowded. Similar hoodoos though. I was there on June 22nd, driving from SLC to San Diego.

Later that night I slept at a rest stop on the California side of the CA-NV line. I-15. The idling semi trucks were like white noise. The person whose car alarm went off once every two hours will one day pay for his (her) insolence.

Long before that, though:

Cedar Breaks National Monument

DSC_4049

A marmot.

A marmot.

The road out.

The road out.

It’s a national monument that warrants about four photos and I *do* now realize that I should have taken more (a non-zero number of) pictures of the rest area. Although you’ve probably been there yourself – metaphorically if nothing else.

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Mills Lake Hike and Rocky Mountain National Park

This happened a long time ago. Before I did my dissertation defense. Before my niece even got married. A long time ago.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a National Park located in Denver. There are a ton of people since in Denver (fine, “in Denver”, where “in” means less than 90 minutes away). The Mills Lake Hike was one I found out about online. It was pretty good. Get to the trailhead early to ensure parking and that the way up the trailer won’t be in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

I stayed at some campground just outside the park. It cost $26 because it’s in Denver.

Here’s the payoff from the hike:

Mills Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park

Nice, right? I think it’s probably the highlight of the whole park.

On this photo, I think the horse’s head should be crossed out:

No Horses Sign

And somewhere along the way you see this:

Alberta Falls at RMNP

I think it’s called Alberta Falls. There’s no better angle without a helicopter and wires. Sorry. They should have angled the waterfall differently, I agree.

I actually remember thinking it was a great hike three of four weeks ago or whenever it was I actually did itt. I’m just a little jaded right now since I’ve been outside for the last week and seen a lot of mountains and lakes. Tomorrow I will see more mountains and lakes. We’ll see how disappointing they are. Here’s another photo of Mills Lake sort of with some mountains behind:

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There was an ice field you had to walk across close to the lake. I got to the parking lot by like 8:30 or so. No problem finding parking and not too crowded on the way up. On the way down, all of Denver was on its way up. And most of Denver is part of one of a variety of youth groups. Then some dude commented on my hat so he could get to his punchline about how dumb it is for Under Armour to make pink camouflage underwear for girls.

After the hike, I drove through the rest of the park. Given that it’s located in a major metropolitan area, the drive over the crest of the park (parks have crests now) was conducted in heavy midday traffic and looked like this:

The top of RMNP

Vorwärts. Immer vorwärts nur.

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Climbing Pikes Peak (in a Car)

Pikes Peak is super-close to Colorado Springs. It’s a 14,000+ peak to which you can drive. It is the highest elevation to which I have ever driven. It’s sort of like a toll road operated by the NFS.

Whichever of those peaks is the highest, that's Pikes.

Whichever of those peaks is the highest, that’s Pikes.

At the edge of civilization before you start climbing up to the pass toward where the entry booth is located, there’s a gas station+barbecue place. I used their restroom and bought a rice krispie treat there. The bathroom was the better of the two experiences.

  •  19 miles from the toll booth to the top (IIRC).
  • Somehow takes about an hour-plus to get up there.
  • Most people driving up it are totally reasonable, but it only takes one Minnesotan without the self-awareness to use turnouts to ruin everything.
  • Which is how it takes an hour-plus to get up there.
  • I get a little dizzy and light-headed at 14,000 feet.
  • Also my fingers get a little numb and tingly.
  • There are a lot of hairpin turns.
  • They tell you to only ever use first gear on the way down.
  • Halfway down there’s a checkpoint where an NFS employee tests the temperature of your brakes and if you’re over 300, they make you stop. Mine were 293.0 degrees (Fahrenheit I hope).
  • Here are some other photos:
Backhoes on the road also slow the procession.

Backhoes on the road also slow the procession.

DSC_3801

DSC_3785.NEF

DSC_3780.NEF

DSC_3798.NEF

Probably enough.

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Black Mesa State Park: Highest Point in Oklahoma, Good Clouds

Driving from Norman to Salt Lake via Rocky Mountain National Park while avoiding Kansas results (or did in this case) in traversing the entire Oklahoma panhandle. At least Oklahoma is actually pan-shaped. Florida and Texas would be hard to cook anything in. Also not sure the Texas handle would provide enough grip for the entire state.

At the far western end of the panhandle, basically in New Mexico, is Oklahoma’s highest point, Black Mesa. They have a campground nearby, although the campground offers no views of the mesa, which doesn’t actually come off as being all that tall in reality. It does, though, have views of some swampy creek thing with a lake.

Black Mesa State Park

Viewpoint - Lake Carl Etling

They also have landscapes without swamp lakes.

DSC_3686

Camped there for a night. Super windy. Loud wind that inhibits sleep. Hard.

Next day, I drove out to the mesa. It was okay. There are actually a bunch of mesas clustered sort of together a few miles from the campground. Eventually one of them is Black Mesa. It might have been this one:

Black Mesa

There’s a trail you can take to the top of the mesa. I took it for about a half a mile instead and found scrubby trees.

Black Mesa Trail

And then I headed back toward the highway. Here is evidence of that portion of the overall journey:

DSC_3752.NEFLooks like something you’d expect to see in the far-western plains. I liked the clouds.

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Finding a Job in Academics (A Q&A with Myself)

Everyone likes Q&A formats, right?

Yes, everyone.

What field are you in?

Information systems management and it’s worth noting that everything contained in this document is sort of specific to my field. Other fields will have similar processes and cognates, but eventually the specifics end up being unique to a given field.

How do you find out about academic jobs?

Depending on the field, there may be different sources of information. My primary sources were a list-serv mailing list put out by the Association for Information Systems and the same organization’s website. Word-of-mouth also eventually played a role.

Are all the jobs basically the same?

Yes and no, of course. Yes in that almost all tenure-track positions require some combination of teaching and publishing and in that in almost all cases you have about six years to prove yourself as an assistant professor before your tenure case is reviewed.

After that, we start getting into some no. There are different tiers of departments that range from research-focused to teaching-focused. The research-focused jobs tend to be those that pay better and are considered higher-prestige (to an extent that on occasion can seem a little uselessly destructive). They usually require more publications in “better” journals to reach tenure, but also tend to have lower teaching requirements.

Also, there’s a lot of variance among departments in terms of how research- or teaching-focused they are. The most research-focused also generally have PhD programs and are rated highly for their research (e.g., by the Carnegie something or other ranking system). For some reason, most universities with big-time football programs tend to also be major research universities. It’s worth noting that a given department’s focus (whether more research-leaning or teaching-focused) is not necessarily dependent on the university’s research profile as a whole.

Teaching schools tend to be the liberal arts schools and the state schools named after cities or with compass directions in their names. This is not at all an absolute, but it seems to trend that way.

How much do new (tenure-track) faculty have to teach?

In most cases, new assistant professors at top research schools (in my field) are expected to teach a “2-2 load” (meaning they’re required to teach two classes in the fall semester and two in the spring). Many schools lighten this for the first 1-3 years by requiring only a “1-2″ load, however, to help new professors focus on publishing. That said, not all teaching assignments are the same. If a new professor has a 1-2 load, but is required to teach three different classes that change every year, each of which have 200+ students, that’s a considerably heavier load than someone has who is teaching a 2-2 consisting of the same course each time with 20 students per class and ready access to a pool of graders and/or teaching assistants.

Outside the “top research schools”, teaching requirements generally get heavier. It’s not weird to hear about 3-2 loads, 3-3 loads, or 4-4 loads, depending on the school’s profile.

How do you know what kind of job you want?

I’m not sure you do before you have the job and find out. I have definitely met PhD students who “knew” what they wanted during their entire time as PhD students, but I think that’s mostly down to ego (either Type A and have to have the prestige or self-doubters who don’t think they’re good enough or dedicated enough or whatever to handle the rigors of a top school) with a good deal of confirmation bias thrown in.

If you start out at one kind of school can you move to another?

From what I’m told, it’s relatively easy to move to a less research-focused school, but difficult to move to one that’s more research-focused. In other words, if you start at a research school you can reasonably readily go to a teaching school, but you can’t expect to go the other way around. That said, mobility has more to do with your research publication success than anything else and it’s certainly possible to get yourself widely published while working at a more teaching-focused school. However, the more time you’re required to teach, the less time you have for research. Further, if you are in a faculty without a lot of serious researchers, you have less access to co-authors and collaborators than does someone working in a faculty that is research-focused. For those reasons more than any sort of prejudice against “upward” mobility (IMHO), it’s difficult to move from a lower research school to a higher one.

So then are all the research-focused jobs basically the same?

Not really. First, every department has its own sub-focus. In my field, there are two major research camps: behavioral and econometric. In many cases, IS departments adhere to either one or the other of these (i.e., either all faculty in the department perform behavioral research or all faculty in the department perform econometric research). Within these, there are a number of sub-camps based on methodology (e.g., experiment, archival data, economic modeling) and/or topic area (e.g., software development, IT usability, IT economics).

Usually, departments are looking for applicants who research topics similar to theirs and are not looking to diversify themselves with regard to research interest. While on the one hand this seems to run almost counter to what you expect a university should want, there are practical reasons why this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Particularly from the standpoint of a new faculty member, who needs to create publishable output, having senior faculty with similar interests who are available locally can (I’m expecting) be extremely helpful.

I do personally wonder whether better and more interesting research would begin appearing if this wasn’t the case (e.g., if behavioralists and econometricians more regularly interacted and learned from each other). I’m going to wait until I’m tenured and well-known in the field before I tackle that issue though. Academic disciplines have many of the positive and negative characteristics small towns.

How does the job-getting process work? When do you apply and interview?

This varies significantly by discipline. For instance, in the marketing area, interviews occur about a year in advance of the prospective start date, with job offers being given soon thereafter. I have a colleague in the marketing department who got her job in (I think) October and will start the job this coming August.

The process has four main steps: (1) application, (2) preliminary interview, (3) fly-out interview, and (4) job offer.

In my field, job postings begin appearing mid-summer and new jobs continue to be posted as late as January. Thus, applications are submitted starting in mid-summer. Applications are often talked about in terms of an “application package”. This package generally consists of a cover letter (specific to the school hopefully), CV (your resume showing all your publications, conference presentations, teaching experiences, successful grant applications, etc.), research statement (what you have researched, what you expect to research), and teaching statement (what you have taught, how well you taught it, and what you hope to teach in the future).

Based at least a little bit on your application package, schools then invite candidates for a preliminary interview (usually). Although more and more preliminary interviews are occurring via Skype, traditionally these have occurred (in my field) at one of two conferences: AMCIS, which usually takes place in the United States and is held in August, and ICIS, which can be held anywhere in the world and is scheduled for December. ICIS is typically/historically the marketplace for the more research-oriented positions, while AMCIS is usually the province of the teaching-focused positions. This timing creates a bit of a conundrum for some job market candidates, since the teaching schools sort of have “first dibs” on candidates, who may be expected to make a decision about a job offer before the research school job market has really kicked in to gear. That all said, any type of school can start interviewing at any time and at any reasonably relevant conference.

These interviews are usually with at least two members of the hiring committee and often are with the entire committee (I think five was the max number with whom I preliminarily interviewed). I think the interviews I had were all meant to either (a) see if I was really the person my CV implied I was or (b) force members of the hiring committee to actually look at a few lines of my CV. I don’t mean that second one quite as cynically as it probably comes across. Most of the questions are generic (what have you researched? what have you taught?). In the case where this really is the first time they’re looking at you seriously, what they want to hear is that you’re a good fit with their department — that you research things that agree with the interests of existing faculty, that you want to be at their kind of institution (e.g., that you really want to be at a teaching school and that you’re not just using them as a back-up in case you don’t get the job at MIT), and that your personality isn’t a problem.

If you pass those thresholds and your background is strong enough, you’ll then maybe get invited for a fly-out. This is where you visit the campus for a day or two (the interviewing school pays travel expenses), interview with all the relevant faculty (half-hour interviews, very benign-seeming), interview with the dean of the school (unless the dean is out of town), and give a 90-minute presentation of your research followed by a Q&A. If the school has PhD students, you’ll also probably meet with them (they may also be the ones asking most of the questions during your presentation).

In my field at least, schools usually seem to invite their top three candidates for the fly-out. While all faculty interviews are important, as alluded to earlier, most schools have a “hiring committee” that consists of a sub-set of the faculty. Members of this committee are those that eventually make the final recommendation/decision. Both fly-outs I had included a real estate tour, which I think is pretty common also.

You’ll hear back from the school in one to x weeks, where x might be infinity. I’m sure it has happened before, but no matter how well you did at the fly-out, the school is not likely to make you an offer before you get on the plane home. They have to interview all their candidates, have committee meetings, talk to their dean, etc. I had two fly-outs and received two offers. One came about a week after I got home and the other about five weeks. In the latter case, I had assumed that things at the fly-out must not have gone as well as I thought they had, but I was apparently mistaken. I would guess that most of that lag time has to do with bureaucratic issues, although it’s also possible that the time would get extended if you’re not the #1 choice, but they still might want to hire you if their #1 choice turns them down.

Once you get an offer, you’re expected to give them an answer in a week or two. This can be a little tricky if there’s some school out there that you’re hoping will offer you, but you haven’t heard back on a fly-out yet. I didn’t have that issue, but it’s not an uncommon one.

The job market (my field specific) is mostly played out by March for jobs starting that upcoming fall.

Also, just in case any of this sounds cavalier or preposterous (I can imagine a humanities or physics PhD viewing some of these statements with incredulity), the market for new PhDs in business disciplines is relatively good. New graduates don’t always get the job and salary they want, but they usually get a job and a salary, which I know is pretty different from experiences in a lot of areas. In IS Management in particular, this last job cycle was the best one (for job seekers) in at least four years.

What things signal “fit” to hiring committees?

Research departments want to see that you’ve focused on research during your PhD time, that you’ve worked with Important People, that you’ve at least submitted a paper to a journal that they consider an A journal (i.e., a top journal in the field), and that your PhD comes from a serious research department such that it won’t be hard to explain to their colleagues from other disciplines why they hired someone with a PhD from that school.

Teaching departments want to see that you’ve taught effectively and that you aren’t a research person. The latter point is interesting. Teaching schools will refuse to go forward with you in their process if they perceive that you’re using them as a fall-back in case the research schools don’t come calling. To that end, they’re pretty indifferent toward your publication goals (you still have to publish, but often lower-tier journals and conferences are sufficient to make tenure) and may prefer that your PhD comes from a less-researchy (and, thus, less well-regarded) school. If your PhD comes from a research school and you want a job at a teaching school, you’ll probably have to fight to get them to believe that you really want their job.

Word-of-mouth is also a big fit-signal. Networking is highly important in the job market. Faculty advisors in particular can play very important roles in getting you known, getting you interviewed, and convincing hiring committees of your appropriateness and competence. It’s also pretty common for new PhDs to get jobs at schools where there are current faculty who also received a PhD from that school.

For how many and for which jobs should one apply?

Having gone through the process, I don’t think there’s any reason to apply for a job that you won’t get. In other words, you need to have some angle by which your getting a given job will make sense to the hiring committee, keeping in mind that what they’re looking for is a fit for *them*. If all you’ve done is behavioral research, there’s probably no point in applying to an econometrics school and vice versa. If you’ve focused entirely on teaching during your PhD, you can probably skip the research schools. While the marginal cost of applying to an additional school is low-ish, if you’re going to bother in the first place to send one, then you should bother to tailor it to the school. Further, given that many schools aren’t very selective about the candidates they preliminarily interview, it’s worthwhile to consider that those interviews take a toll, especially when they get stacked together on the same day at a conference.

Further, they’re going to be a distraction from the schools where you have an actual chance at getting the position. If School X is a good fit, but you’re worn out from interviews with Schools A, B, and C, you’re less likely to impress School X (by, for instance, having a good idea about their MBA programs, knowing who on faculty researches what, etc.). IMHO, focus on the good-fitting schools and don’t bother with the others.

I ended up applying for 15 jobs. I’ve heard of people applying to 60 or more. Of the 15 to which I applied, there were probably five or six I could/should have skipped. For instance, I applied to the University of Washington because I’m from the Seattle area, my parents still live there, and I’d love to live there again myself. However, the faculty are all econometricians, so it was never likely to work out (although I had a preliminary interview with them and they were cool/nice/interesting people). Just because the location was a good fit for me, that didn’t make me a good fit for the department (or, really, the department for me).

There were probably also another five or six for which I would/should have applied, but didn’t due to geographic preference.

How soon after a job is posted do you need to apply?

Immediately would be good. Based on my own experience, I think there are a number of schools who stop looking at applications not submitted within the first week or so after a job was posted. There are also a lot of “inside jobs”, where a school already knows the candidate they want to hire and the application process is just a formality to comply with the law or the dictates of the HR department. I also got the impression that submitting an application close to the posted application deadline often results in your application not being reviewed, presumably because the school had already received enough worthwhile applications. Fortunately, once you have your application package (your stock cover letter, research statement, teaching statement, and CV), it’s not too difficult to customize your materials to meet the requirements of each individual school as soon as a posting is spotted.

If you want to live in a certain city/state/region, will it work out?

Depends on a lot of things. If there’s a school that’s hiring and for whom you’re the best candidate in that city/state/region… eh, you know. This wouldn’t be a good thing to count on happening, at least not on your first-choice terms. If you absolutely have to be in Location X, it can work, but you may have to be willing to make a lot of sacrifices on the job characteristics (e.g., smaller school, lower pay, heavy teaching requirements, non-tenure track, etc.).

When I started my PhD program, my top criterion for a job was to end up on the west coast and it didn’t matter what kind of school it turned out to be. That perspective evolved considerably, especially once I started in on the preliminary interviews, to where the main criterion became the job itself and my preference for a very high research school with a PhD program. At that point, the west coast became particularly difficult. There are not a lot of top-tier research universities in the west that have IS departments, let alone very good IS departments. At one point I counted about 15 of these in a “West” that included every state (and province) in the Pacific and Mountain time zones (a large area).  Further, not all of these 15 were good fits for me from a research interest perspective — that number decreases to something like 3-5, depending on which rumors are true. Of those 3-5 schools, one had a job opening, but was looking for someone who had a publication record stronger than mine.

Do the schools care about your pre-PhD background?

Assuming we’re talking about work “in industry” prior to beginning your PhD program: some more than others. The information systems field sometimes lives in different parts of the university, though it’s usually in the business school. Given that I have an MBA myself and spent 10 years working in (corporate) online marketing (mostly) positions, this gave me a good story as to why I would connect well with business students. Research schools don’t always care that much about teaching competence, though, so I think this was generally viewed as more of a nice-to-have rather than anything super important.

That said, not every department or job is the same. One of the things that was very attractive to me about the University of Oklahoma was the IS department’s involvement with the business community. For them, my background looked like it fit well with their objectives to build and strengthen those ties. For me, I liked the idea that my pre-PhD background mattered and could be used to some positive end for which there were already established structures.

How did you decide what kind of job you wanted?

As mentioned, this evolved a lot during the interview and job search process. I’m not sure how I would have come to satisfying decisions here without going through the process the way I did. I applied to a variety of schools at the outset, including some that were more teaching-oriented. I did preliminary interviews with these schools to understand what they were about and draw my own conclusions about how they were or were not good fits. I also was able to interview early on with one highly prestigious research school. Being able to compare those experiences helped me understand the differences and what those differences would me to me far better than anything else could have. While, as it turned out, I probably didn’t need to spend the time applying to the teaching and mid-seriousness research schools, or the time and money to attend AMCIS, I think it was probably worth it from an information-gathering standpoint.

 

What’s the appropriate way to conclude this kind of post?

Not sure.

Map for My Post-Dissertation Road Trip

Although it’s also sort of a during-dissertation road trip.

2014 Road Trip

Not pictured is the flying from San Diego to Pittsburgh and back. Long may it remain unpictured!

Presumed worst parts (in chronological order):

  • Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois
  • OK to the Rockies
  • I-80 across Wyo (time permitting, maybe I’ll drive the Colorado route instead)
  • North Texas

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Packing List for the Next Road Trip

It’s not so much a road trip as it is living out of my truck for two months. Partly on roads.

This is my old list from the 48 state days, but with cross-outs to make me feel like I learned something.

  • Tent & Footprint
  • Flannel Sleeping Bag
  • Nylon Sleeping Bag
  • Inflatobed/Cot (or both)
  • Stove (+ Backpacking Stove?)
  • Fry Pan
  • Sauce Pan
  • Lantern
  • Water Jug
  • Cooler
  • Utensils
  • Flashlight
  • Hatchet
  • Mallet
  • Day Pack
  • Overnighter Pack
  • Rope
  • Headlamp
  • Knife
  • Camera (Point & Shoot)
  • DSLR
  • Power Inverter
  • Laptop
  • Kindle
  • iPod
  • Headphones
  • Earplugs
  • Trekking Poles
  • Legal Pad
  • 2x Pen
  • Pencil
  • Hike Boots
  • Hike Shoes
  • Water Shoes
  • Flip Flops
  • Dress Shoes
  • 2x Quick-Dry Shorts
  • 2x Normal Shorts
  • 1x 2x QD Pants
  • 1x Rain Pants
  • 1x Camp Pants
  • 1x Jeans
  • 1x Business Suit
  • 2x Ties
  • 2x Belts (one nice, one indestructible)
  • Nice Watch
  • Parka
  • Rain Coat
  • Tritium Watch
  • 7x Hiking Socks
  • 7x QD Socks
  • 3x Dress Socks
  • Long Underwear Top
  • Long Underwear Bottom
  • 10x 4x QD Underwear
  • 4x 10x Normal Underwear
  • 4x 1x QD T-Shirts
  • 3x Normal T-Shirts
  • 4x Long-Sleeve Warm Shirts
  • 2x Short-Sleeve QD Shirts
  • 2x Short-Sleeve Shirts
  • 2x Long-Sleeve Dress Shirts
  • 1x Golf Shirt
  • Stocking Cap
  • Boonie Cap
  • Baseball Cap
  • Thin Gloves
  • Thick Gloves
  • Beach Towel
  • Normal Towel
  • Camp Towel
  • Blanket
  • First Aid Kit
  • Hiking First Aid Kit
  • Kayak (Inflatable)
  • Paddle
  • PFD
  • Bike
  • Helmet
  • Bike Shoes
  • Bike Shorts
  • Water Bottles (Bike)
  • Bike Gloves
  • Fishing Rod
  • Reel
  • Fishing Tackle & Box
  • Road Atlas
  • Gas Generator
  • Blackout Window Coverings
  • XBox & Screen (?)

Basically. Something like that. In that vicinity. I’ll probably take more normal-person clothes than this. If I’m going to backpack the Sierras, I’ll also need my sleeping pad. Probably also take my iPad, so with the legal pad I should be pretty well covered on pads.

Mostly I’m just looking forward to being able to say that I live in my truck again.

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My Winter with the Mountain Collective

If you’re unaware, the Mountain Collective is essentially a season-long ski pass that:

  • Gets you two free days at each of six (high end, mostly huge) ski resorts, namely: Alta-Snowbird, Aspen (all four areas), Jackson Hole, Mammoth, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, and Whistler-Blackcomb
  • Plus half price for any additional days.

Of course, with a set-up like this, one feels naturally challenged to go to all six resorts. I therefore did that this winter (because, as this is my last as a grad student, I’m unlikely to have time/flexibility for it in future winters).

Mountain Collective Passes

I didn’t get in on the early-season sale at the $349 price point, so I ended up paying $379 for it. Considering that most (all? probably all if you insist on Alta-Snowbird being considered one ticket) of those resorts have walk-up ticket prices north of $100 a day, you can see the inherent value.

Two days each at six world-class resorts across western North America.

So how was it?

It was stupid.

Whistler/Blackcomb, January 9-10

Logistically speaking, this one came together all right.

I’d received a grant to attend a conference in Milan just before Christmas and I bought the return ticket to Seattle rather than Pittsburgh. My parents live in Tacoma, so it was good to spend the holidays with them, got to ski at Crystal and Baker while there, plus I was able to borrow my dad’s (brand new!) Jeep for the drive up to Canada. At the border, the crossing guard asked where I was from and, when I told him Pittsburgh, we started talking about hockey. I was nervous he would eventually figure out I didn’t know anything about the sport, but I faked it long enough to secure entry into that great northern fortress. Continue reading

Colorado National Monument: Canyonlands for People Who Don’t Want to Get Out of the Car

Real Canyonlands is better, or course, but it also requires getting out and hiking some.

Colorado National Monument is located near Grand Junction, Colorado. The drive is the interesting part; it looks like southern Utah, so long as you look toward the mountains. If you look toward the valley it looks like Grand Junction. And if you reach the top of the drive, it looks like a bunch of boring, scrubby trees. The in-between, though!

As testimony of the thing that Colorado National Monument does well, then, here are photos I took while driving.

IMG_0425 IMG_0413 IMG_0407 Colorado National Monument IMG_0369 Tunnel Entrance, Colorado National Monument Colorado National Monument

  • I think the photos are shown in reverse order of when they were taken. I don’t know how WordPress decides.
  • For variety, one of those photos was taken through the passenger window rather than the windshield.
  • It seemed like they could have used more guard rails in places.
  • The road and trails and stuff were apparently a CCC project. Of course.
  • I hadn’t taken a bunch of pictures of red rocks since last time I was in southern Utah.
  • It was definitely worth the, oh, 90 minutes including bathroom time?
  • I did also take a walk to some view point. It was mostly for walking’s sake.
  • I was driving a rented Nissan Versa hatchback. It looked like this:
It looks better than it drives.

It looks better than it drives.

I’m still planning on one day putting together a photo essay entitled “Through the Windshield”. Maybe after the dissertation. Or maybe FOR the dissertation…! Probably not though.

That’s plenty.

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Stuff from 2013 about Which I Never Posted

2013 wasn’t much of a blogging year. Trying to make up for it I guess. Or, just, I’m going through my all-day allergy shot desensitization process and what else am I going to do? Besides research, I mean. Always research.

Posted a bunch of stuff about the ski trip to Tahoe in March already. Don’t think this one made it in, though.

As good a through-the-windshield photo as I took last year.

As good a through-the-windshield photo as I took last year.

In May, my brother and his wife came and visited with their daughter. I always feel weird about posting photos of other people on the blog (without their permission or their having done something stupid to deserve it), but I guess that doesn’t apply to people under three.

My niece, not impressed by Heinz Chapel.

My niece, not impressed by Heinz Chapel.

Or by the Monongahela.

Or by the Monongahela.

It was cool. More people should visit Pittsburgh. It’s underappreciated.

Some time in July I went to a symposium in Boston where I was the discussant for a hardcore economics modeling paper written by people of whom I’d heard. It rained most of the time and I didn’t take a lot of photos.

A photo of Boston that I took.

A photo of Boston that I took.

On the way back, I stopped off at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and took a short tourist hike to see a waterfall.

Dingman's Falls in the Delaware Water Gap NRA.

Dingman’s Falls in the Delaware Water Gap NRA.

So when you go there, there’s a main viewing platform at the base of the falls. On that platform, there is one prime corner that is the closest corner to the falls itself and the only place that affords a full view of the falls without full view of a bunch of other co-tourists.

So, of course, this delusional amateur has set up permanent residence in The One Corner.

So, of course, this obviously very important guy has set up permanent residence in The One Corner.

I’m sure his stunning photo of this walk-up waterfall is going to motivate gallery audiences to tears. Totally worth preventing anyone else from experiencing The Corner. Plus he’s got a vest on, so you know he must be a professional high amateur guy who wears vests. (He was camped out there for the entire half hour or so I was at and around the site.)

On the rest of the way home, I went to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa. Here’s evidence:

It's unprepossessing.

It’s unprepossessing.

Not sure what I expected. More than this, obviously. That said, I’m not sure what else they can do with the scene of an air catastrophe. Flaming wreckage? Would have been nice. They actually do a good job of keeping things factual in their displays, rather than appealing to baser emotions. Still, there’s just not a lot to experience here that you can’t get from reading the Wikipedia article or watching the movie.

I also went down to Beckley, W.V. in September. I used my other camera for these. I still think I might write a whole post about the experience, but in case I don’t:

New River Gorge Bridge, with Clouds

New River Gorge Bridge, with Clouds

It used to be the highest bridge of some sort, but it isn’t any more. I was not there for Bridge Day either.

Then in November, after two months of appointments and waiting for appointments, I got tested for allergies.

Allergy TestTurns out I’m allergic to dust. I’d been trying to tell them I was allergic to dust, but thanks to this test, they agreed. The two dust mite pricks were itching after about 30 seconds, but it took the medical staff another 20 minutes to accept this particular reality.

Finally, one more picture from Milan that didn’t make it into the other article (and the story that goes with it!):

Always set to 25.

Always set to 25.

Every day, I’d come back to my hotel room in the evening and find that housekeeping had re-set the thermostat to 25 (about 77° Fahrenheit) at which point, every day, I’d turn it back down to 20 (68°). They never got the hint. Or, I guess, *I* never got the hint.

And then it became 2014.

bkd