Economic science can make the World Cup even more fun. Penalty kicks are a rare real-life manifestation of two-person zero-sum games. Gelf Magazine: The Game Theory of Penalty Kicks.

Today I embarked on my last field trip with Parsons. My last day is Friday. On Monday, I start a new job with the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA). Parsons has been a great company to work for and it was very difficult to leave. I started with Parsons about a year ago and have been helping with the biological research for groundwater development in Eastern Nevada. Specifically, we are doing field work to characterize the wildlife of the area to help mitigate the effects of proposed groundwater development.

We have been working on a variety of projects which has been very fun and educational to me. As a bonus, I get to see some amazing parts of Nevada. First of all, we have been working with bats. Although we have done some mist-netting for bats at springs, most of the bat data we get from automated acoustical monitors that we place near the springs. Every night a timer turns on a sensitive microphone which records sonograms to a CF card and then a consultant reads the sonagram and identifies the bats.

We also have been doing mammal surveys. This winter Aaron and I did many days of pygmy rabbit surveys along proposed pipeline routes. During the warmer months, we have been doing small mammal trapping. This entails setting out several hundred live traps, and trapping the nocturnal rodents. We’ve found all kinds of critters including deer mice, pocket mice, grasshopper mice, kangaroo mice, kangaroo rats, chipmunks, squirrels, and even a few voles. We’d also catch the occasional cottontail rabbit, horned lizard, or spadefoot toad. One site we trapped dozens of hungry mormon crickets.

In the winter, we did winter raptor surveys and now we are doing some breeding bird surveys. So tomorrow, I’ll be up at 3:00 A.M. and heading from Ely over to Eureka County and spending the morning counting birds. I can’t believe I am giving up this job!

Of course, all of this work with Parsons was for SNWA so my new job isn’t going to be very different. In fact, my desk will move about 200 feet and I will keep the same phone number and email. I know the people I will be working with and I really like them. The main change is a change in departments. I was supporting groundwater and I am moving to surface water. Surface water entails a lot of work at Lake Mead and the two small rivers we have in Southern Nevada, the Virgin and the Muddy. I’ll be catching fewer mice and more fish. There will be less travel. There will be more heat and no more snow. I will get to play around on boats. There will be less travel and fewer nights away from home which is the main reason I applied for the job.

I must say that I really appreciate everything Parsons has done for me over the last year. They are a top-notch corporation and really treat their employees well. In fact, my supervisor suggested that I apply for this SNWA job and I cannot thank them enough for the support they have given me.

NASA astronomers got some cool video of a 10 inch diameter meteoroid hitting the moon. You may think that is a small object, and it is. However, it was moving fast. When it hit at 85,000 miles per hour, that kinetic energy was mostly changed to heat energy, 4 billion joules worth, creating a flash visible from earth (almost bright enough for the naked eye) and blasting out a crater 14 meters wide and 3 meters deep. That’s the equivalent of 4 tons of TNT. Wow. Yet another reason that it’s a good thing we have an atmosphere to protect us. Link.

I just helped my old college friends Melanie and Andrea get together. Andrea found my link about Kooshie and left a comment. I gave her Mel’s email; Andrea emailed her; Mel just happened to be in Anchorage where Andrea lives, and they got together for dinner. Then Mel crashed at Andrea’s house. And all through the Magic of Syzdekistan!

Glowing reviews below…

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We almost didn’t make it back to Vegas from our Texas vacation today. In fact, if we were flying with Southwest out of Hobby Airport, we wouldn’t have made it back. That airport was closed after about 9 inches of rain fell in the area in about 90 minutes. Of course, being a weather nut it would have been very cool to see that almost three years of average Syzdekistani rainfall fall in 90 minutes. Flying out of George Bush Intercontinental on Continental we were only slightly delayed (which was very fortunate because we probably would have missed our flight otherwise). So George Bush was good for something…

Some official weather information under the fold…

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I was a little surprised when this came over the Nevada Skywarn mailing list today:

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Congratulations to our good friend Kristen and her husband Kevin Westley on the birth of their son Brendan. The kid already has some great pictures on his blog. I used to work with Kristen at the Desert Tortoise Center a while back. Although she lives on the East Coast, last time I saw her was summer of 2004 up at Red Rock. Its great to run into a good friend out on a hiking trail.

From the National Weather Service:

Statement as of 5:33 PM PDT on June 4, 2006

… New record temperatures set on June 4 2006…

The low temperature reported at McCarran International Airport was
81 degrees today. This break the previous high minimum temperature
record of 80 degrees set in 2004.

For the second consecutive day Needles California broke a high
temperature record. The high temperature reported in Needles
California was 117 degrees. This breaks the previous high
temperature of 115 degrees set in 1996.

Also, on June 2, Zion National Park tied a record high set in 2004 of 101 degrees. This is significant because I was backpacking in the park at the time. It was hot, not extremely so, but hot enough to be uncomfortable and to make our pace fairly slow. The day before, we actually hiked at night (due to some difficulties in getting out of town at a reasonable time) and it was actually really nice. It was warm and the moon was bright enough so headlamps weren’t needed. I’ll blog more on that trip soon.

From the National Weather Service:

Statement as of 4:15 PM PDT on June 1, 2006

… Las Vegas records third warmest may on record…

The average temperature in may 2006 was 81.0 degrees. This was the
third warmest may on record. The warmest may on record was 82.2
degrees set in 2002 followed by 81.6 degrees set in 1997.

There were 10 record high minimum temperatures set and one record
maximum temperature set.

I’m fairly confident that most of the record high lows are due to urban heat island effects as Vegas grows.

Today we had to put Kooshie to sleep. Kooshie was truly my cat. I got her back in my college days in 1991 or 1992 when she was about a year old. I took her “temporarily” for my college girlfriend Melanie when she moved to an apartment that wouldn’t allow pets. Even before dating Melanie, I remember playing with this tiny ball of fur with razor sharp nails and biting teeth. When Kooshie moved in with me at my parents house, she was extremely secretive and hid from my parents for months. It would take her months to warm up to anyone new. When Nancy and I married she came with two cats, Kooshie continued to be secretive in our new house. She didn’t tolerate our move to Denver very well at all and spent months in the basement. Late at night she would creep up the stairs and join me on the couch for chin scratch.

When Caroline came along in 2003, Kooshie didn’t appreciate this new intrusion into her quiet life. Eventually, she learned to tolerate Caroline as a toddler and would sleep under Caroline’s bed. Almost 16 years old, Kooshie began to slow down a little bit. Around the beginning of May, Kooshie began sleeping a lot on the new tile floor of Caroline’s bathroom. We just chalked that up the weather turning warm. She began to eat less and stopped coming down for her nightly snuggle on the couch.

On May 12, Nancy went home from work early and found Kooshie breathing labored. Alarmed, she called me and took Kooshie to our fantastic veterinarian, Dr. William Taylor. Dr. Taylor found out that Kooshie had fluid in her chest cavity that was impeding her breathing. He drew off 150 mm of fluid, took some x-rays, and ran some blood-work. Here, Caroline gives Kooshie a welcome home kiss as she returns from the vet.

Kooshie Kiss

The next week was difficult. I was working in the field in an area with no cell phone service. Nancy communicated with the vet’s office and I made occasional calls to Nancy via satellite phone. The test revealed that Kooshie suffered from lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph system. Her prognosis was poor. Even with chemotherapy, she had about a 40% chance of living for up to nine more months. We decided to have her put to sleep when I got back from my work trip.

Kooshie spent her last week much more comfortable now that she had the fluid removed from her chest. She spent much of her time sleeping in a cabinet in the laundry room and she snuggled with Nancy in the evenings. One day Caroline noticed the shaved patch on her side from the fluid removal procedure. She said “Kooshie has owie, mommy! She needs Band-Aid.” Caroline went upstairs to her bathroom, opened the drawer, got out a Band-Aid, and put it on Kooshie’s bare patch. When Nancy told me this story over the satellite phone it nearly broke my heart.

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Friday came and I got back into town late morning. The appointment at the vet was at 2:30 P.M. I got home a little after noon, gave Kooshie some tuna (which she ate) and then spent about an hour on the couch with her lying contentedly on my lap. About 15 minutes before I had to leave, I took her outside in the back yard and she rolled in the warm sun. Then with a heavy heart, I took her to the vet.

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