Monday, April 27, 2009


Ashamed. I am deeply ashamed and embarrassed. I usually pride myself on having fairly good grammar, punctuation, and spelling, but after reading over a couple of my last posts, I was appalled at what I saw. Mistakes everywhere. I guess I shouldn't just write and post; now, I'm going to need to run spellcheck and read everything over after I'm done so I can escape this feeling of chagrin. Sorry everybody. Sorry pride. Sorry dignity.

Today was spent doing GIS (geographic information system- a tool to map, process, and interpret data of many kinds) tutorials to brush up on rusty skills and learn some new ones. Unfortunately, this meant that Ian thought I was a level 100 GIS Wizard (some dorky humor for you real dorks) and started rattling off all these projects he wanted me to do and actually asking me questions he didn't know the answers to. Scary. What a sucker.

We did get out into the "field," though, for a bit. Sidebar: anytime you leave the office in the Forest Service, you are venturing into "The Field." The Field seems to be different, yet the same, to everything you are familiar with. "Going to the river?" "Yes, we're going into The Field." "Going to the Ashland offices?" "Yes, I get to go into The Field." And so on. Anyway, a group of various scientists from various sectors of the government came out to The Field (on a field trip, they often call it) to inspect several plots of land where they ran a fuels (things that catch on fire- mostly understory) control experiment. The experiment mostly has to do with riparian corridors and whether or not removing the riparian corridor when removing fuels (by slash and burn) makes a difference to several biotic variables. Interesting stuff. This fuels control thing seems to be big right now especially in the Forest Service and especially in this part of Oregon (they have had several dry years). It's also a very contentious issue. On one hand, most federal lands fall into the wildland urban interface, so the feds have to take public safety into consideration. Also, they claim that it keeps the forest healthy. On the other hand, it's unnatural. The jury's still out for me; I need to know more. My soft, liberal first impression says we don't like it, but as I do learn more, I realize it's just not that simple and there are some good conscientious scientists and foresters (that I got to listen to today) that want to, ultimately, to the right thing.

My driver's test is tomorrow. First, the written, then the practical (including 4x4). Wish me luck.

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