Westward Ho

Location: Lander, Wyoming, United States

I'm just a western boy living the good life and enjoying every minute of it.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Countdown to the Big Move

No, I haven't bought a house yet, although I am still in the search process. There's very little on the market right now, but I'm keeping my hopes up for this summer. The big move is referring to our work relocation. Right now, the DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) is separated into two buildings. About 2/3 of the employees are in a building the DEQ shares with the City of Lander. The rest of us (including me), who comprise the Division of Water, are a few blocks away, upstairs from a bank. The state has decided to renovate an old building just out of town on state property to provide a new home for us. An email update today assured us we would be ready to move in near the end of June. For the first time in many years, the Lander office of the DEQ will all be in one building. Let's just say, it should be interesting. The 11 of us over here in the "bank building" have developed a close friendship, kind of a men's club since the only woman here is one of the three revolving secretaries. We all understand each other here and know our limits when it comes to joking, etc. We also all think the the majority of people in the other office are dull and uptight, with some exceptions. Oh yes, it will be an interesting combination of personalities at the new building.

For the most part, I'm looking forward to the move, as I do have a couple friends in the other office, and I will finally have my own office with my own four walls and door. But there will be obstacles and drawbacks. First of all, our current group will likely get spread out throughout the new building, so we likely won't have the comraderie that we do now. Second, the commute will be longer, although this is tiny in comparison to what a lot of people deal with. A 9-block commute through a sleepy, little town turns into about a 1.5-mile commute. To us small towners, that's a heck of a long way! Third, just the thought of packing and moving all those file cabinets, desks, computers, books, papers, and every other little item makes me shiver. It's a damn good thing our field season will be kicking in right about then.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Extreme frustration, elation! Extreme frustration, elation!

Friday's shouldn't have to be this hard on the brain. I have recently been learning how to use a GIS program (Geographic Information Systems) so I can calculate the drainage areas of the streams we sampled this past field season. I consider myself to be a pretty smart guy, but this program is quite taxing on the brain. My boss, who has used it a bit more than me, walked me through the basics and said we would likely need to troubleshoot a lot because the only way he learned anything so far was by trial and error. Boy, was he right. I very quickly ran into my first problem, trying to load a topo map onto the GIS. After about 2 hours of increasing frustration, we finally figured out what we were doing wrong. We got the maps loaded correctly, and I was on my way. Wrong. About 15 minutes later, I ran into my next problem. This time, it took about an hour to figure out why our other layers weren't lining up correctly. When we figured it out, we were ecstatic. Nothing to stop me now from getting those pesky drainage areas. Ummm, how come my numbers are coming up really screwy? Ugh. A new set of problems. Another hour goes by while we fiddle with the program, trying to tease it into giving us the answer we want. Oh, how can we be so stupid? We didn't move the curser far enough over. There's more data at the end of the scroll bar. Whew! Another problem solved. TGIF. My brain is fried.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


After much buildup and anticipation, the big lunchtime hockey game today has been canceled...due to weather. No, not inclement weather, good weather. For the past couple of days, the temperatures have reached into the upper 40's. Not good for an outdoor ice rink. Yesterday, the ice was a little soft, but we were hoping for a cold night to re-freeze the surface. Didn't happen. Now we are in hockey limbo until another cold snap comes our way. Damn the cursed good weather gods!! Pray for cold and snow in Lander. Wayne will live to see another day.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

It Begins Again

Hi everyone. This is my first blog in a couple weeks. Partially because I'm not sure how many people are actually reading my blogs anymore, so I figure why pander to one or two people? Another reason is because not much exciting has happened to me in the past two weeks, besides a fun 3-day weekend to Cody, Wyoming with my gal and skiing at Red Lodge, Montana. But what really inspired me to write again was the renewal of a favorite winter event...lunchtime hockey! For those of you who don't know, I live in Lander, Wyoming, where the average snowfall is 108" a year and it stays cold generally from October through April. Around mid-December every year, the Parks and Rec put ice down on top of the softball fields and put boards up around the ice to make a hockey rink. (There is NOTHING like skating on fresh, outdoor ice.) Two weeks ago, us hockey faithful at the DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) revived the tradition of pick-up hockey during lunch. We do this no more than once or twice a week, since it is brutal on the body. On average, we have 4-5 people out there, but on good days we have 7 or 8. Four of us played today (2 on 2 with the net turned around backwards), but we are expecting 8 tomorrow. You really get an appreciation for hockey players once you've gone out yourself and chased a puck around. I can think of few workouts better than non-stop hockey action. And when you make that pretty pass or sweet shot, you feel like the next Wayne Gretzky. There's nothing like it in my mind. Tomorrow, lunchtime hockey will make another visit, and I shall be known as Wayne.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Year in Review

It's a new year. It has been welcomed in this week with a new load of snow, which I am relishing. At the start of a new year, it's sometimes (not always) fun to look back at the past year to see how you've progressed. Let's review.

January: I met my girlfriend Melissa. Yes, it was a Match.com meeting which likely scares some people, but I am extremely pleased with the results. I have never met someone more compatible with me than her. Also in January, first time skiing at Red Lodge, Montana. Going there again in a couple weeks. Played lots of hockey as well.

February: Had a great weekend of skiing at Jackson Hole with an old coworker from Maryland and his friends. Played lots of hockey.

March: Saw Metallica in concert for the 3rd time. Excellent. Some not-so-great end of season skiing at Jackson Hole, but still a fun weekend.

April: Trip to the Bahamas with my mom, stepdad, brother, nephew, and stepbrother. Excellent time.

May: Trip to Denver with my buddy Nate to watch a couple Colorado Rockies games. Spent Memorial weekend in Sterling, Colorado for a Rieger family reunion and my cousin's high school graduation.

June: Multiple weddings to attend. Got in some good hiking and golf.

July: Trip out to South Dakota to see my dad, brother and nephew. Always fun to go back to the town I was born in and see what's changed. Trip up to Missoula, Montana for a week-long training class for work. Stayed at a beautiful lodge and did some great stream work.

August: My mom and stepdad came out to visit/fish/hike. Heavy into field season for work, so lots of camping and outdoors time. Came within about 5 feet of a really pissed off rattlesnake.

September: Spent Labor Day weekend in Denver with my girlfriend and her brother, mom and dad. Watched the Pokes start out the football season down in Laramie.

October: Watched the Pokes upset Ole Miss, a perennial SEC powerhouse. Traveled to North Dakota for my uncle's funeral, spent time with my dad and brother in South Dakota also.

November: Watched an extremely cold football game between UW and the #6 ranked Utah Utes. Spent a great Thanksgiving with my girlfriend, her grandma, and her brother and his fiancee. Traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah, then New Orleans, then boarded a cruise ship to Mexico (see previous blog detailing the trip).

December: Started the month still on the cruise, then a few days in New Orleans again, then back home. Much Christmas shopping and festivities. Had Christmas in Thermopolis with Melissa and her family. My mom and stepdad came out the next week through New Years.

Well, it's been a great year. Here's to an even better 2005! Cheers!