Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
July 2014
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[RST] The black Sunday shoes

During a quiet moment at Church today I glanced at my feet and my black Sunday shoes. Try as I might, I couldn’t remember when I’d bought them, except to note that I’m fairly sure it was BEFORE I moved to Melbourne, which makes them over 16 years old. They’re neither flash nor fancy; just a […]

Midlands #2014-9N

My efforts to thwart jet lag after returning from Arizona may have been totally successful if only I hadn’t forgotten that I still had my alarm set to 4:30am as required for our departure nearly two weeks earlier! Similarly, my weariness might not have been exacerbated if, two days after returning, I had not had to […]

Highest earth-bound point to date

And finally, before travelling to the airport for a flight that would easily outstrip the altitude I am about to report, we drove up to the Arizona Snow Bowl, on the flanks of Mt Humphreys. There was no snow, with it being blazing mid-summer and all, but I have to confess I hadn’t fully realised what […]

Walnut Canyon cliff dwellings

The first part of our final day of seeing the sights around Flagstaff was spent visiting Walnut Canyon National Monument. Here a narrow canyon twisted through the landscape, almost making an island out of a central outcrop (see the second photo below). The canyon’s narrow floor was far below us (over 100m away) and devoid of […]

Wupatki National Monument

We had one final destination planned for the day, which necessitated hastily covering the 220km from Petrified Forest back to Wupatki National Monument, north of Flagstaff. At the northern end of the same reserve that contains Sunset Crater, the Wupatki National Monument contains a number of ancient Native American ruins.

The most elaborate of these is a […]

Petrified Forest

Our main reason for heading towards Albuquerque (and not getting there) was to visit the Petrified Forest National Park. As the photos show, this is a bizarre landscape of treeless eroded sedimentary mesas and, scattered in different sections of the park, there are big logs of petrified wood, some still as full trees and others broken […]

Meteor Crater

On the second of our holiday days, we jumped in the car early and headed eastwards. It became a bit of a standing joke between Noleine and I to suggest we were going to Albuquerque, because it’s such a querque name (and the I40/Route 66 on which we were travelling does lead there eventually). As we […]

Sunset Crater

About 1000 years ago a volcano erupted in Arizona, and some really cool evidence remains, not least of which is a very large hill known as Sunset Crater. For a number of reasons you can’t walk up on the crater itself, but there are extensive lava fields and cinder debris, creating a very dramatic landscape. We […]


Following the conference my friend Noleine and I had planned a couple of days of sightseeing. I felt game enough to drive (I have driven in North America before, although it was a while ago) and so we hired a car, allowing us to travel further afield according to our own desires and timetable. For our […]

Jewels of the solar system

While I was at the Lowell observatory there was something in the souvenir shop that caught my eye, and after a brief moment’s thought I decided I had to have one.

It is made of different stones/minerals; the asteroid belt is there, and a single small metal sphere represents Pluto and the Kuiper belt dwarf planets and […]