Unemployment: week seven

It’s been seven weeks since I became unemployed. I’ve watched movies, read, written, and traveled across country to be with family. I’m even turning my master’s thesis into a publishable manuscript. I’ve applied to about 20 positions in the last 7 weeks, and landed one interview so far. Overall, there are fewer positions on the geoscience job market than usual. This time has given me the time to do atypical things, but I need to stay focused on my career. What is my next move?

Academically, I’ve completed a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, and a Master of Science in Geosciences, so I could go on to do a related doctorate. Professionally, I’ve been a mud logger, an assistant geologist, a teacher, and a draftsman—which qualifies me to compete for consulting, public service, or general technical work. To summarize, I could do a doctorate, find another geoscience position, or completely change fields.

A doctorate is appealing, but would take an about 5 years, I would need to move, may leave me financially destitute, would place an extraordinary level of stress on relationships, and I could fail. Consulting is somewhat volatile, but it is experience in my field—plus income. Public service, although difficult get into, is stable, and experience in my field—plus income. Technical work could be in my field or not, and might net relevant experience, but would at least provide income. Overall, public service and consulting are the clear winners since they would add financial stability to my life.

Netgear R6250 & PIA VPN service

Maybe you’re like me, and you use a the Private Internet Access VPN service. Below I have compiled data on for different encryption settings. This assumes you already have a VPN client up and running; if you don’t, try this guide.

Type Regular Faster Fastest
Port 1194 1196 1195
Data Cipher Blowfish CBC AES-128 CBC None
Authentication SHA-1 SHA-1 None
Speed ~15 Mbps ~20 Mbps ~50 Mbps

Note: I used the Kong DD-WRT firmware (available here) and OC’ed to 1ghz.

If you still can’t get this all to work, you can cut your losses and use PPTP or L2TP via the WAN settings in DD-WRT. I get ~15 Mbps with PPTP, and ~65 Mbps with L2TP. More importantly, PPTP/L2TP have a keep alive option; which solves the issue of OpenVPN turning off occasionally—or not working at all.

Unemployment: week two

Early last week I was given the unfortunate news that the oilfield was going belly-up, and that I was to be in the first wave of mudlogger lay-offs. It was a bit of a shock to say the least, but I had been anticipating an oil-bust. Though, I had hoped a geoscience master’s would have kept me working longer . . . I found out the hard way that seniority matters; of which, sadly I had none. In fact, I always wanted to avoid the oil-and-gas sector, since climate change is the major issue of our age—but sometimes you have to take the job you need, rather than the job you want.

Here I am nearing the end of week-two: to date, I have applied to more jobs than I care to count; though, perhaps I should. Luckily, I have landed an interview with the State Water Board, which seems like perfect timing—maybe too perfect. Over the past year, if I had interest from a prospective employer, my former employer knew . . . somehow . . . and I would be dispatched to the field. Conspiracy? No. They just worked me endlessly; to the point where I was rarely home for more than a week at a time. Looking back, it was worth the time investment, but I don’t think I would want to do it over again.

A short history of climate change

Note: This article wasn't intended to be a comprehensive history.

I graduated from high school shortly after the turn of the century (2003), at a time when there was heated discussion regarding global warming in society (e.g. Collins (2003), Murphy (2003)). Though, I now know global warming is more precisely termed climate change in scientific circles, as a high school graduate, I knew little about the issue. After all, none of my K-12 classes touched the subject. Few people from the scientific community had yet to enter the public debate, since most climate scientists work for universities or government institutions, and tended to publish papers rather than engage the public; meaning the general public was receiving climate change information from news outlets, think-tanks, or governments, rather than from scientists directly.

I attended community college right after high school, but didn’t get serious about college until the Great Recession. This was also around the time an inconvenient truth was released. This is typically where I say that I started attending college. Even after I began attending a state university, it was entirely possible that I could have avoided the subject of climate change all together. Many college students will never discuss the subject of climate change in an academic setting; and even more seem to avoid science courses all together. In fact, I only stumbled into the major (environmental science) that would formally introduce me to climate change about 2 years after attending college, and about 4 years after graduating from high school. The course was called earth systems science, and it just happened that the professor teaching the course was a climate scientist.

In earth systems science, you break the earth into distinct spheres (geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere), and observe how each are interrelated. We covered each sphere in depth, but gave special focus to the atmosphere and climate change. Without getting into too much detail, it can be said that natural carbon flux between the three spheres is generally stable on an annual basis, and typically varies gradually over thousands of years. In fact, the last glacial period ended approximately 10 kyrs ago (Petit et al., 1999). However, the natural aspect to climate change was disrupted once humans began burning fossil fuels during the industrial revolution and beyond. After this point, carbon was being released from the geosphere at a rate greater than all spheres were cable of uptaking; this meant significant CO2 increases in the atmosphere. Though, it wasn’t until the early 1950s that atmospheric CO2 could be measured accurately, and even then, systematic measurements weren’t initiated until 1958 (Monroe, 2013).

The first atmospheric CO2 measurement in 1958 was 313 ppm (Monroe, 2013), with a corresponding temperature anomaly of 0.12°C (NOAA, 2015a). Just for background, the reference period for global temperature anomalies (departure from mean) is the average temperature of the 20th century (13.9°C) (NOAA, 2015b). When I took earth systems science in 2009, the average CO2 concentration was about 390 ppm (Tans and Keeling, 2015), with a corresponding temperature anomaly of 0.59°C (NOAA, 2015a). By the beginning of 2015, the average CO2 concentration was approaching 400 ppm (Tans and Keeling, 2015), with a corresponding temperature anomaly of 0.65°C (NOAA, 2015a). The Holocene exhibited relative temperature stability (Petit et al., 1999), under which, human civilization developed. If annual temperature anomalies continue to increase, our climate may depart (likely will) from the relative stability human civilization depends on.


Collins, S., 2003. Climate change issue heats up in Washington [WWW Document]. CNN. URL http://www.cnn.com/2003/TECH/science/07/25/hln.hot.earth.warming/ (accessed 1.22.15).

Monroe, R., 2013. The History of the Keeling Curve [WWW Document]. Keeling Curve. URL https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/2013/04/03/the-history-of-the-keeling-curve/ (accessed 1.22.15).

Murphy, J., 2003. W. House Guts Global Warming Study [WWW Document]. CBS News. URL http://www.cbsnews.com/news/w-house-guts-global-warming-study/ (accessed 1.23.15).

NOAA, 2015a. Climate at a Glance [WWW Document]. Natl. Clim. Data Cent. URL http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/time-series/global/globe/land_ocean/ytd/12/1880-2014 (accessed 2.15.15).

NOAA, 2015b. Global Surface Temperature Anomalies – FAQ [WWW Document]. Glob. Surf. Temp. Anom. URL http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/monitoring-references/faq/anomalies.php (accessed 2.9.15).

Petit, J., Jouzel, J., Raynaud, D., Barkov, N., Barnola, J., Basile, I., Bender, M., Chappellaz, J., Davis, M., Delaygue, G., Delmotte, M., Kotlyakov, V., Legrand, M., Lipenkov, V., Lorius, C., Pepin, L., Ritz, C., Saltzman, E., Stievenard, M., 1999. Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica. Nature 399, 429–436.

Tans, P., Keeling, R., 2015. Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide [WWW Document]. ESRL Glob. Monit. Div. – Glob. Greenh. Gas Ref. Netw. URL http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/ (accessed 2.9.15).