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First week of telemetry

Posted by ben | work | Thursday 4 November 2010 12:11 am

Well, I started a new job at a company here in town that originally started in Broomfield, CO being what they call a telemetry scientist. Telemetry is, well, a word few need to define or comprehend which leads to the the demaind of the invariably inevitable question of what exactly do you do. What do I do, well honestly I’m not sure yet as to the full scope of my job and I don’t think I will be for awhile. Let me try to do my best using what I know so far and what I have done this (well really last) week.First few days are filled with the joys of online training, government mandated defensive driving courses (we are contracted by the DOE), rounds of hellos and nice to meet yous with obligatory hand shake, paperwork of course, choosing of benefits (should not be as cryptic or confusing as it is), cleaning of office (south facing window is key) and of course setting up the computer and email and everything else that goes along with it. Some people were out in the field making the beginning of the week a little slow. Hooked up a datalogger and a temperature sensor for a bit, did a lot of reading on the loggers and their capabilities/limitations.The job works with a lot of dataloggers and sensors across the US (but primarily concentrated in the SW) that were once sites of environmental contamination by radioactive substances (free samples of Uranium to the first 5 commenters). We now manage the site and groundwater cleanup as the surface (soil) has been remediated (think Rocky Flats Plant) and use these dataloggers and sensors to monitor progress of cleanup, the general site characteristics and any other information deemed necessary. This is all then sent via wireless (using an array of communication devices) to a central server where it is parsed and given a front end. That’s the quick and nitty gritty of it all.Friday I was able to journey out into the vast open field that is monticello, ut, though there was a great view of Lone Cone and the Southern San Juans. There are two treatment tanks that are being fed contaminated ground water through a packing of zero valent iron and out into Montezuma creek as water with a considerably lower concentration of Uranium. In addition to the tanks there are two flow meters attached to the datalogger (amongst other things) that needed to be calibrated. So using a calibrated flow meter from the lab we used datalogger info, the calibrated meter and the field flow meters and all were within 5% of each other. I was able to see the tailings disposal cell which was revegetated nicely. Before leaving we looked at a pyranometer (how much solar radiation there is) on a meteorological station because it simply was not working and needed to be repaired or more likely be replaced.That essentially was my week.

Powderhorn Telefest

Posted by ben | skiing, backcountry | Sunday 8 February 2009 10:31 pm
telefest 2009
Having helped with Powderhorn’s 4th Annual Telefest (I did the poster) I wanted to post my current thoughts on telemark.  Working the event on Saturday the 31st provided amazing weather at 9000′ with a blaring ball of fury beating down relentlessly.  Sunscreen can be a very handy thing to have in your ski bag no matter what.  Having now been telemark skiing for the past few years I’ve realized that while telemark has its place the competitive edge it used to have as being a light, quick and easy way to traipse into the backcountry has been superseded by the technological improvements in AT (Alpine Touring) gear.  Enjoying the telemark turn is, as I imagine, why people take up the activity.  Maybe it’s analogous to why people choose to drive manual over automatic; they want more precision, something more interactive, a slightly different way to reach your destination.  Maybe it’s not.

Telemark is in declining in popularity compared to the burgeoning AT /slack/side/back/country industry and I for one am glad. There are some amazing AT bindings that range from the ultralight to the just as good if not better than alpine AT bindings.  Maybe I’m bored with tele but when there is no fresh snow to tele can be a chore to make it down the slope.  Also, the majority of telemark skiers are most likely strong alpine skiers able to transition between tele turns and parallel turns easily.  SO, while I still enjoy the tele turns in the powder and in the backcountry having an AT rig makes those less than ideal conditions at the resort more enjoyable, especially with a little kick wax and desire to find something untouched.

My Albums of 2008

Posted by ben | music | Sunday 18 January 2009 9:50 am

So, I drank too much coffee too late in the day and instead of sleeping I’m still up writing an idea down, listening to music and working on some photos.  With that said I also want to make MY list of the best 2008.  Indie rock say you?  Yes there was a good deal of it out in ‘08 for me.  It goes without saying that this list is quite subjective to my tastes at the moment but there have definitely been albums that stick out above others.  Some of these albums have been out for approximately a year so they’ve had time to either sweeten or sour in the marinade while others have that highly intoxicating fresh new plastic wrap (or codec of choice).   MMMMMmmmmm.  ON TO IT.

New For 2008:

Blitzen TrapperBlitzen Trapper - Furr ~ Black River Killer instantly makes you want to continue listening, find out why the girls body is in an open pit. A somber song indeed but don’t let that fool you about the entire album.  Furr is a full on rock album with a grandiose opening song ‘Sleepytime in the Western World’ setting the stage for great things to come if you’ll invest the 38 minutes.  Sub Pop continues to amaze me with their ability to keep their firm grip as masters of their domain in the ever changing music world.  The album does not hold me through and through, ‘Not Your Lover’ could have been dropped on the floor and I would not mind.  Saturday Nite is the disco song you hate to love but do anyways, infectious to the core with nothing but a funky beat and some super pressed sound.  Does that even make sense?  Listen to Furr.

The Hold SteadyThe Hold Steady - Stay Positive ~ You gotta stay positive.  Watch out for the townies, they will suck you in.  Everything is brighter in Memphis.  Excuses and half truths and fortified wine.  There’s a bit of harpsichord in this album.  While I’ve only spent a month or so with this album I have to say it deserves to be in the top 2008.  Stay Positive provides an entire album of great songs with a few, Sequestered in Memphis, ‘Lord, I’m Discouraged,’ Slapped Actress providing momentary lapses of amazing auditory hallucinations… or was that reality?  One of my favorite line from the whole album off of the tasty track Yeah Sapphire;”‘Cause dreams they seem to cost money, But money costs some dreams.”

The Helio SequenceThe Helio Sequence - Keep Your Eyes Ahead ~ You can’t say no, even if you wanted too, even if you could to a listen of this album.  Definitely rock but instead of ripping guitars with hard edges The Helio Sequence, oh by the way the band is two talented guys, blends effervescent sounds with soothing catchy melodies with some songs taking the mind to the clouds.  The bubbly intro of ‘You Can Come to Me’ reminds me of what a mandolin might sound like to a robot.  Eyes Ahead provides a backdrop for a quiet but not tired evening or a rainy day.  However, in 2008 this album was listened to a lot on the walk or ride to work in all the different weather and moods.  “Finding out what you want is not what you need.”

MGMTMGMT - Oracular Spectacular ~ Along with Vampire Weekend, MGMT had an early January release that has been gaining speed and a following in the almost year released.  Solidly driven electronic beats, poignant lyrics and a propensity for the different MGMT was love at first listen.  This album provided late nights, injuries along with big smiles but versatile enough to provide a serious listen on the headphones cranked to 11.  However cheese this may sound; the summer of 2008 would not have been the same without MGMT.  Oracular Spectacular made no excuses and provided a sonic landscape with multiple moons, crazy audiographical features carved by the force of the quiet and powerful river of sound.

Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
~ Almost a year old now Vampire Weekend, along with MGMT, were the definitive summertime, poppy-feel-good warm albums.  These guys from New York and their 34 minutes of song.  Having been one of my most listened to albums for many months this deserves to be one of the years best albums.  So, when the time comes to grab a cold beer, sit on the roof comfortably in a t-shirt and watch the sunset burn over the desert landscape don’t forget to put a little Vampire Weekend in the background.  It just feels so natural, Peter Gabriel too…

Thao Thao - We Brave Bee Stings and All ~ Clocking in at short 1 minute 47 seconds, Travel has a sweet voice over an open air symphony which includes a great guitar riff and enough speed to keep anyone interested for 2 minutes.  Currently, it is my most played song to date in 2008.  Where did Thao Nguyen come from?  I don’t know but her voice has a slow, bleeding quality punctuated with moments of sheer exultation.  Some albums deserve to be swirled around like wine in a large glass while others should be put down like a cold can of PBR.  For me, We Brave Bee Stings and All is a PBR;  easy to put down and enjoy without giving my taste buds too much to think about.  FINE, the surface is where I’m comfortable with this album and that’s where I’ll be staying.

The RaconteursThe Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely ~ As much as I enjoy the White Stripes I’ve always wanted more band I guess you could say, something more than two members.  The Raconteurs, since 2005, have been fulfilling that desire of mine. ‘Switch and the Spur’ offers up a sinister swinging rock with blaring brass that has a flare for the occult and dangerous.  The songs are engaging and using a variety of instruments pulling from the backgrounds of the four band members the album rocks.  Unlike some albums of this year 2008 Consolers puts in some serious time without being repititious or predictable.

The Whigs

The Whigs - Mission Control ~ “We need to realize our minds, we need to realize we’ll die, the world below us, it will never own us”  Once we have that under control life is free to all and enjoyment comes naturally. I don’t know how to describe this album  other than very enjoyable to listen to.  ‘Like a vibration’ is a simple catchy tune while 3 tracks later ‘Right Hand on my Heart’ creates an incredible sound with a solid drum line and guitars that will hook your brain and trick you into listening to them again and again.  Would you make a new start if you had new money?  ‘Hot Bed’ has a subtle bass line that instantly grabs your attention and for me keeps me on my toes.  Turn this album up real loud and enjoy.

BeckBeck - Modern Guilt ~ The drums on ‘Wall’ told me through the song and sound to put Modern Guilt on the list due to Becks persistence at constantly producing quality with quite different sounds.  Yet at the bottom of it all is Beck and his ability to bend instruments into what he wants them to sound like.  By now ‘Chemtrails’ has been played in many places but it is not hard to see why; what starts as a quiet song explodes with beat that makes it hard to turn down.  If you are a fan of Beck the chances of you liking this album are very high.  If for whatever reason you have missed this album make it a point to throw it on the speakers.

FoalsFoals - Antidotes ~ I’ve been having a hard time with this album.  To list it or to not list it.  Like a lot of things in life the first time can be a little awkward, embarrassing and reflected upon.  Antidotes, once I thought more about it keep creeping back into my mind asking for another listen.  Gradually the sharp rapid driving distinct guitar style, as emphasized by ‘Cassius,’ continued to bring me back.  There’s also a  trip-hoppy atmospheric element that invades the album giving the Foals a sound of their own that is highly enjoyable.  Big Big Love (Fig 2) is one of the albums strongest and best songs having an open sound that attaches itself to your ears.

While Radiohead’s In Rainbows was street released in 2008 they had previously released the album online via their website bypassing the whole traditional release in 2007 thus not being on the list.  Probably very few of these albums will be listened to in 10 years by myself but there are some great songs that will surely stick around for a long long time.  Albums worth mentioning and checking out are Blind Melon - For My Friends, The Gaslight Anthem - The ‘59 Sound, Cold War Kids - Loyalty to Loyalty, Drive By Truckers - Brighter Than Creation’s Dark, Black Mountain - In the Future and the many other albums of 2008 that were fun to explore.

Air quality in/around Colorado…

Posted by ben | web sites, environment | Friday 24 October 2008 1:06 am

 I found this site a year or two ago and while it hasn’t been updated recently I do really like the information presented.

Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action is the only group dedicated to protecting clean air for healthy children and healthy communities in Colorado and the surrounding region. We are fiscally sponsored by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, all donations are tax deductible.

Check that site out at

I also stumbled upon which is a pretty cool site for general western environmental news!


Posted by ben | videos, music | Sunday 5 October 2008 8:41 pm

I like the song (Amsterdam) and the video (Planet Earth)

Soundtrack of the minute…

Posted by ben | music | Sunday 30 March 2008 3:17 am

So I like to listen to music.  A lot of it, like most people hopefully.  Recently it’s been to the point where music is on from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to bed.  In between speakers the headphones come on and the jams are pumped.  Looking back on the past week of listening habits I find that upon waking the music is mellow, but on the way to work it’s any guess what will play.  Once at work the music, hard rock or some , is generally turned up to 11 until I open.  From there until I leave the music is up to the whims of the satellite dj or a premade playlist.  I’ve found that even though you THINK your music is clean and socially acceptable that the shuffle mode will dig out little gems of profanity.  Yesterday was a Soundgarden day and a few minutes after I open, Ty Cobb starts playing while a mother and her children are looking around.  That was quickly fixed.  On the way home from work it just shuffles and while at home it’s up to the computer to decide when I need to listen to.

Music balances your moods.

Ophirica Avalanches

Posted by ben | backcountry | Monday 24 September 2007 2:02 am

I just saw this video today and it was really cool. Definitely watch it. The video is of a small town in Southwestern Colorado in the heart of the San Juans that had a wicked winter for avalanches.