Detroit Architecture, the saxophone and Geochemistry

I’ll start with the good things:
I went to a meeting last week in downtown Detroit. Right smack downtown. In the Buhl building, for those of you who know Detroit. Across from the Buhl Building is the Guardian Building.

view inside:

view when you walk in the main doors:

I love this building. I love walking through the doors and having my breath taken away by the grandeur and beauty of the whole place.

Anyways - So, after enjoying myself in the Detroit that I love, I went to my meeting across the street. As I was walking across Griswold Street, there was a guy, playing saxophone on the corner. He was playing quite well - good jazzy tunes, some classic favorites, some R&B tunes. If I had walked right by him, I probably would have put a dollar in his case.

So, I continue to the 3rd floor for my meeting...and throughout most of the meeting...

we. still. heard. him.

How cool is that? right? I felt urban. I felt sophisticated. Here I was, discussing the future spending of the Great Lake Restoration Initiative Stimulus dollars, and how we could work for future growth...and I'm humming along to a version of "Endless Love". Nice...

And the other thing I wanted to share with you...my geochem homework...

Show all work. Circle, underline, or box your final numeric answer.
1. Water is supplied to the atmosphere by evaporation from the surface and is removed by precipitation. The total mass of water in the atmosphere is 1.3 x 1016 kg, and the global mean rate of precipitation to the Earth’s surface is 0.2 cm/day. Calculate the residence time of water in the atmosphere.
2. Draw a multibox model of the sources of nitrate to surface waters. Use the nitrate sources provided in class. At a minimum, include boxes for the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, soils, and lithosphere. You may need 1-2 additional boxes, depending on how you classify sources.
3. A pond (1000 m3) sits above a mine tailings pile which contains PbCO3. A stream with no Pb2+ present in its waters enters the pond with a flow rate of 3500 m3/day. The PbCO3 in the tailings pile dissolves with a rate of kA(Cs – C), where k (0.2 /m2day) is the rate constant, A (1 m2) is the surface area of PbCO3 exposed to the pond waters, and Cs (15 mol/m3) is the saturation concentration of PbCO3. A stream exiting the pond has a flow rate of 3500 m3/day.
a.) Draw a simple one-box model for this scenario.
b.) Calculate the steady-state concentration (C) of Pb2+ in the pond.
c.) How does this concentration compare with the saturation concentration? Is the pond water saturated with Pb2+?
d.) Calculate the residence time of Pb2+ in the pond.
FYI: Recall that for any chemical mass balance, Mass = Volume × Concentration. The general steady-state equation we’ve talked about in class, dm/dt (change in mass with respect to time) = sum of sources – sum of losses, has units of mass/time (mol/day; kg/hour; etc.). As you set up a steady-state equation for this scenario, you’ll need to make sure the units on both sides of the equation are equal.

Just in case you were wondering....


I've been lax...deal with it.

OK – so, I’ll admit – I’ve been very lax about updating the blog lately.  I have tons of pictures to share with you – including 1st day of school pictures.  (yes, I realize that school has been in session for 3 weeks, but I’ve had my mind elsewhere).  I also have pictures of an awesome cake that I made, and a wonderful girls night I had with a very dear friend.  But, I’ll get to them in due time.

I’ll leave you with a story –


Every summer from 1988 until 1992, I went to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp.  And I spent 2 weeks (sometimes 4 weeks) there, playing the French Horn, making new friends and really enjoying myself.  But by the end of the session, I missed my family.  Even though Denise and I didn’t really get along until after I graduated from college, there were fleeting instances where I (as a 14-year old girl), missed my mom.  Now, for those of you who have never been to a fine arts camp, the whole gist is this:

1.       You arrive on day one, nervous as all get out.

2.       You audition, and are placed in a group which matches your abilities

3.       You spend 2 weeks practicing, playing, learning music theory, having sectionals, and practicing with a large group.

4.       At the end of two weeks, each band/orchestra has a 1-hour long concert for the parents, when they pick their kids up.

I looked forward to this last day the most…not because of the concert, but because of the lunch that Denise brought for me.  For the 5 sessions that I attended, she brought this every single time…and I love it.  Even my friends that I’d known for several years got used to her bringing this dish – and we started to share.

Fried Chicken and Rhubarb Pie.  - Simply the best. 

Now, we rarely, if EVER had fried chicken at home.  This was a treat….cold as it was….My parents would bring the chicken from KFC, in a bucket, and it was cold by the time they drove all the way to BLFAC.  And the rhubarb pie would be homemade, of course.  And we would sit, at a picnic bench in the woods, sometimes near the cabin, sometimes near the band shell to watch the other concerts…but we always had that same meal.  And it was a tradition.  A small, inconsequential tradition – but it means a lot to me, thinking back about it. 

Thinking back now, I wonder how many traditions we had…or still have?  What do I do that my son will still remember one day when he is older and looking back on his life?  What are the things that we are doing as a family that will be impressionable, and make the most memorable experience? Should I start new ones?  I suppose we have some…but are they enough? 


Do YOU have any traditions? 



25 Fast Facts about Me.

1.       I love Detroit. 

2.       I love trees, nature, rivers, water, the good stuff. 

3.       I am a working mom, and darn proud of it.

4.       I have an amazing husband, and I don’t tell him often enough.

5.       I have a 6-year old boy that is my world.

6.       I love red wine, red meat and all my veggies. 

7.       However, I could just as easily be a vegetarian. 

8.       I love good coffee - I'm a fan of local bean places, but Caribou will do.  Not a fan of Starbucks.

9.       I am obsessed with Twilight.

10.   I love to read - just about anything. 

11.   I love the books of Virginia Lee-Burton - her illustrations are amazing.

12.   I play piano and french horn.  My musical tastes range from Mozart to Nine Inch Nails.  Anything except country.

13.   I am into photography - as a hobby, not a profession.  Architectural detail, local, flavor, B&W, pattern and rhythm. 

14.   I am an avid runner, even though I suck at it. 

15.   I am REALLY into gardening - urban gardening to be more specific. 

16.   I can, I preserve, I bake and I eat what I grow.

17.   I miss sourdough bread.

18.   I secretly love to grocery shop.

19.   I hold grudges for a VERY long time.

20.   I am horrible at keeping in touch with people.

21.   I want to ride my bike to work, but I’m scared to do so.

22.   I want to ride the bus to work, but I’m scared to do so.

23.   I can tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue.

24.   I like to use only blue ball point pens, not black.

25.   However, if I am using an ink pen (not a ball-point), than the ink must be black.


How about YOU??? What are your 25 fast facts?




Another Day...

Mood: excited, nervous
Music: Decode - Paramore

This has been a little bit of a rollercoaster last few days for me. I’ll make a list, because I do better with lists:
1. Certified Stormwater Manager Exam – from the APWA website:

The purpose of the Stormwater Manager Certification is to promote excellence and commitment to public service by advancing the knowledge and practice of stormwater management to benefit the community, public agencies and the profession.
The Certified Stormwater Manager is intended for experts in the public and private sectors who coordinate and implement stormwater management programs for city, county, state, provincial, and federal agencies. These individuals assist in administering drainage, flood control, and water quality programs.

I took my exam on Saturday morning, down in Columbus. Holy Crow it was hard. My brain hurt after taking the test…but the worst part is…I finished before everyone else, and I HATE that. It makes me think that I missed half of the test, or I forgot to answer some of the questions. I don’t get the results for another 6 weeks. I think I passed – I hope I did. And if I did…I will be SO HAPPY! I’ll even get to put letters after my name: Jennifer Lawson, CSM oh yeah.

2. Grad School.
I think (if UM approves my petition)…I will be graduating in December. I have to take 2 classes this Fall (Environmental Geochemistry and Ecological Design) and then I’ll be done. DONE DONE DONE!!!! I started crying when my advisor told me this was possible. Crying. On the phone with Joan Nassauer, my graduate advisor whom I am afraid of. She seriously is like a bulldog. A very smart, well-spoken, landscape architecture ICON bulldog. So help me, I am going to finally walk in commencement and be DONE!! After 10 years, having a kid, losing a parent, having a career, changing jobs, having a life…I will finish Graduate School. Do you hear angels singing and celebrating? I sure do. .

3. Class reunion
Ugh. It is in a few weeks, and I’m frustrated. I wish there were more people attending. We haven’t had the greatest of ticket sales. How do you get people to want to come to the reunion? Any hints? I do have a cute dress though.

4. Celiac Issues
Warning. Wendy’s French fries have gluten in them. They dust their fries with flour, and they also use the same fryer for the breaded chicken/etc. duh. I should have known this. but – they tasted so good, and I was hungry – we were on the road, and they were quick, not messy. So, I spent Saturday night not feeling so hot…duh. Lesson learned.


He lost his first tooth.

Oh yes. The Milestone. He lost his first tooth. It's been wiggly for a while now, but he didn't want to wiggle it. Can you see the hole in the front bottom? On the right?

Yes, he looks a little like a monster here...you can see the adult tooth that was already coming in...
The tooth fairy left his this certificate...

You have to go to the website to view this video...


Labor Day Ramblings

Little Joe and I went to GFV on Saturday morning. We had intended on going to see the Christmas Carol Train. New Disney movie with Jim Carrey...Yeah - the line was crazy-ridiculous long. So, we just hung out. We ended up running into B, one of my "sisters"...and got to hang out with her family. Little Joe LOVES little kids...and I mean LOVES little kids. Especially little boys. I think he wants to be a Big Brother...we've reiterated to him time and again that he will be be ever ever getting any siblings...but he can have all the surrogates that he wants. I'm glad B and K have kids that he can be the older brother for. :) anyways - Little Joe was such a good big brother to B's son...it made me kind of wish that we would have had another munchkin. But then I slapped myself and came back to reality. :)

After GFV, we ran errands, then came home. we spent alot of time cleaning, doing laundry, watching movies. Good times.

But then...dinner. I had no clue what to make. Big Joe ended up staying up north to hang out with a friend...so I had free rein in the kitchen...what was I going to make...Hmmm... I checked out the freezer and found some chix thighs that I bought last week on special. I thought of the tomatoes sitting in the garden window....and I made the best darn Chicken Cacciatore EVER! (why did nobody tell me how unbelievably EASY this dish is?) I made is with Chardonnay, instead of red wine, because that is what I had. Dear. God. This dish was GOOD!! And, btw...it's GLUTEN FREE!!! Even better in my book! I don't think Big Joe would eat it...but, it's in my recipe book now!


Mood: Ambiguous
Music: Verdi’s Requiem

Hee. It’s one of those days. It’s Friday. I like Fridays, except when it’s a 3-day weekend coming up, and that means that I have even less time next time to get work stuff done. I know this is a SICK way of thinking, but it’s true.

Got my horoscope today:
Old friends might brighten your day and help you remember why they became friends in the first place. Value these relationships.
I like that. I wonder who those "old friends" might be. Hmm...who knows. I know horoscopes can't exactly tell the future, but they make you think about the future....and that in itself can be a positive thing. And you have to do that, you know. Look for the positive. It might be REALLY hard to find...but there has to be something. For example - this morning, it was dark when we left the house. Very dark. and as I driving, I saw the moon. The Full Moon. and I smiled. I mean, how often do you get to see the moon in the morning, and you know I looked to see if I could see the Man in the Moon. (I couldn't make out the outline, I was also trying to drive at the same time). Maybe the Moon is my old friend today...yeah, I'm hoping for something more exciting than that.

Little Joe and I had to leave the house early this morning...he was still sleeping when I put him in the car for our long drive up to Bloomfield. And this is what he looked like...how unbelievably cute is he?!?!?

School starts for the boy on Tuesday. He'll be in first grade. Holy Crow. We find out who his teacher is today...they post the list in the window of the school. So, I promised him that we would walk up to the school today after we got home, so he could see who his teacher was. He is hoping for Ms. Stone. (I think it is because he can't remember the other 1st grade teacher's name!) His school doesn't send postcards, like Lincoln did when were there. I loved those postcards. It was like the MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF PAPER EVER!! Or, at least, that hot, humid day in August every year, it was.



Mood: overwhelmed

Music: The Beauty of the Rain, Dar Williams


Sigh.  Deep Breath.  What the heck am I getting myself into?  I have 2 more classes to finish my Master’s Degree.  (and my thesis, but that’s another story).  UM – A2 is expensive.  As in $900 per credit hour.  I have 8 credit hours of coursework, and 3 credits of thesis work left to do.  You do the math. 

I might be able to transfer some classes from UM-Dearborn, at a MUCH cheaper rate…like MUCH MUCH cheaper…and I’ll be done with all my coursework, and be able to concentrate on my thesis.  I won’t have this pending umbrella of disappointment over my head.  I won’t be constantly nagging myself about my failure at Grad School.  So, I might be signing up for 2 classes this Fall.  They are both night classes.  One in Monday night, the other is Thursday night.  Both are from 6-9, in Dearborn.  It’s only 15 weeks.  15 weeks until I can breathe a sigh of relief that I’m yet a step closer to completion and success.  One is Geochemistry, and the other is GIS.  (Ironically, I could probably TEACH the darn GIS class, but it’s a stupid requirement, so I don’t really have a choice). 

This will turn our lives upside down for 15 weeks.  My life is busy already.  I’m scared.  But I NEED to do this.  I hope my family and friends understand if I disappear for a while.  I hope that I can handle being a mom, a wife, an employee, a friend, and a student.  Sigh. 

Give me strength.



Mood: anxious
Music: Eyes On Fire - Blue Foundation

So much going on. Turns out I have Strep A. Not Mono. (which is a good thing in my book). So, I'm on antibiotics. However, I learned a few things:
  1. Do not take 2 Advil PM and a dose of Theraflu together. (Even if the doctor tells you to!). I went to sleep at 3PM, and didn't wake up until 8AM the next morning. I don't remember anything. I'm glad my husband is so awesome.
  2. Don't try to do everything, especially when you know you are sick.
  3. When your co-workers quietly put a bottle of antibacterial handwash on the light table, understand that they love you, but want you to leave.
Above all the sickiness...Little Joe has remained wonderful, as always. He wanted to wear his "new" jacket the other day. This jacket is an Old Navy courdoroy jacket with the white fluffy stuff for lining. I got it for $9.50 at Once Upon a Child. I love that store. I also taught Joe the word "vintage". It sounds so much cooler. :) And his wardrobe rocks for first grade...and it didn't kill the pocketbook!

In other fun times - I am having tomatoes every night for dinner, and I made salmon with a tomato salad on the side last night. Firstly, I LOVED the tomato salad. Secondly, I realized I don't like salmon. I LOVE smoked salmon, and/or cured salmon, but I REALLY DON'T LIKE salmon, grilled, broiled, sauted, whatever. Ew. gross.

And...the piece de resistance...check out the crab boat that Little Joe built last night. Oh yes. From scratch. Obviously, he watched Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel...(great show, btw). and he loves this show...so much that he decided to recreate one of the crab boats...he said it was the Northwestern. He is going to be an engineer...I just know it.