Blogs

BREAKAGE VS. UPROOTING & HILLSLOPE GEOMORPHOLOGY

Just published in Geomorphology:

Samonil, P., Danek, P., Adam, D., Phillips, J.D. 2017. Breakage or uprooting: how tree death affects hillslope processes in old-growth temperate forestsGeomorphology 299: 276-284. 

The abstract is below:

Posted 14 November 2017

 

Brad's Blurb

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Thanksgiving

I am going to use this edition to write about a family tradition that I am looking forward to during the Thanksgiving break-watching the film classic from director John Hughes, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (1988).  The movie stars John Candy and Steve Martin.  Although, not necessarily “one for the kids” based on some very colorful language (one particular scene between Steve Martin and a car rental agent), the movie has a memorable ending that might just leave you feeling a little contemplative about Thanksgiving.  Some other notables you might recognize with bit parts in the movie include: Kevin Bacon, Dylan Baker, Ben Stein, Edie McClurg, Michael McKean, and Ruth De Sosa. 

Brad's Blurb

We have all been there at some time in our lives: We have started a new job that brings with it a rollercoaster of emotions.  At first you feel like you have zero idea of what you are doing, or even what you should be doing.  You are lost trying to figure where to find information you need, or exactly what the protocol is for using the breakroom microwave and coffee machine.  But soon, you get your feet underneath you and your confidence improves with each new day.   As a result, you start to receive praise from your colleagues on what great job you are doing.  From that point on (weeks or months) maybe the accolades come less often and you begin to wonder when the last time was that you were called a “lifesaver” and was commended for a “job well done.”  Cue the panic and dip in the rollercoaster.  We all experience something similar to this.  Getting comfortable in your job usually results in fewer compliments from your supervisors – which, unfortunately, can make you feel like you’re not as great as you once thought you were, or even worse, actually stagnating in your position.  But, rest assured, that’s likely not the case.  So here are, for what it’s worth – a few signs that you are an excellent employee, even if you don’t hear it on a routine basis. 

HOW COMPLEX CAN IT BE?

Back in 2006, novelist and country music singer-songwriter Kinky Friedman ran (unsuccessfully) for governor of Texas. His campaign slogan, a rather pointed reference to the fact that recent occupants of the office George W. Bush and Rick Perry were not the sharpest tools in the shed, was "how hard could it be?" I can't answer that, but I can answer, after a fashion, the question of how complex or simple an Earth surface system can be.

A guide to Día de los muertos celebrations in Lexington

It’s a good weekend to be a hispanista in Lexington. Granted we’ve had a great fall; from the Lexington Latino Festival to the many activities surrounding the Arts and Sciences Passport ¡Viva México! program, those of us who love the Spanish language and Hispanic culture have been busy. Still, this Friday and Saturday are special. 

This weekend we celebrate Día de los muertos, or Day of the Dead, a well-known holiday that has become increasingly popular in the US. On November 1st and 2nd, families throughout Latin America (but especially in Mexico) build altars and visit cemeteries to remember loved ones who have passed away. The holiday is joyous, despite the macabre theme. Día de los muertos is a time to laugh with death, to accept the fact that we’re all headed that way eventually, and to give those we have lost a place at our table for the night. Here are some suggestions for how you can celebrate this weekend, just follow the hyperlinks to more information about and directions to the events. ¡Qué vivan los muertos!

Preparations

Crossroads

While going through Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" I noticed in Act 3, Scene2  this little speech from Robin Goodfellow:

My fairy lord, this must be done with haste,

For night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,

And yonder shine's Aurora's harbinger,

At whose approach, ghosts wand'ring here and there

Troop home to churchyards. Damned spirits all,

That in crossways and floods have burial.

The play is supposed to be set in ancient Athens, but, of course, it's not. It's interesting that Shakespeare has knowledge of the practice of burying suicides in crossroads. Crossroads as liminal areas, places betwixt and between, places of filth and dirt, have a long, long history.

Images courtesy of Martin Liebermann: 

www.martin-liebermann.de".

 

 

 

Бурана

This weekend a couple local friends and I drove out to Burana Tower, a former minaret in a town called Tokmok, about an hour by car outside the capital Bishkek. The minaret, along with mausoleums, grave markers, and castle remnants, is all that remains of a 9th century town in Kyrgyzstan’s Chui Valley. As usual in such a diverse country, Burana Tower makes for a fascinating and beautiful scene. The brick minaret and its winding staircase tower over the area, while grave markers resembling Easter Island statues are scattered throughout the valley. Yurts, the traditional form of Kyrgyz nomadic housing, are set up throughout the vicinity, and the ubiquitous snow-capped Kyrgyz mountains surround the entire valley. It was a fun trip with lots of adventures along the way, including asking a Tajik farm worker for directions, and stopping for кымыз, the traditional Kyrgyz refreshment made from fermented mare’s milk. All in all, a great way to spend a Sunday morning here in Киргизия.

Higher Ed and the Presidential Election

Writing in the final days leading up to the 2012 presidential election, I am struck both by the importance of higher education to the presidential contest and the deep engagement of our College faculty and students with the election. As our nation debates its future, it is no surprise the future of higher education has become a key issue. Our future depends on increasing access to college; affordability of a college education and the availability of student loans are thus essential. Funding for research is equally essential. Public research universities, including the University of Kentucky, are responsible for more than sixty percent of the nation’s academic research and educate over seventy percent of the scientists, engineers, doctors, and professionals that we produce in this country. Continued public investment in our basic and applied research is therefore essential to the health, prosperity, and technological advancement of our nation.

Грецкие Орехи

While on a командировка in Jalalabad, Kyrgyzstan this month, I had some free time to visit Arslanbob, the largest walnut grove on earth. In Russian, the term for walnut is грецкий орех, which literally translates to “Greek nut.” 

MIT Opens its Doors to Online Ed...even wider!

Mit is developing a new online tool platform called MITx that will hopefully bolster MIT's already success OpenCourseWare by:

  • organizing and present course material to enable students to learn at their own pace
  • featuring interactivity, online laboratories and student-to-student communication
  • allowing for the individual assessment of any student’s work and allow students who demonstrate their mastery of subjects to earn a certificate of completion awarded by MITx
  • operating on an open-source, scalable software infrastructure in order to make it continuously improving and readily available to other educational institutions.

You can check out the full article here you can see the details on how they plan to revolutionize the quality of online education in America. Very exciting times indeed!

MIT President Susan Hockfield said,

                       “MIT has long believed that anyone in the world with the motivation and ability to engage MIT coursework should have the opportunity to          attain the best MIT-based educational experience that Internet technology enables..."

 

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