28 June 2007

Santa Barbara

Here's a fun thought experiment: take the old phrase "heaven on Earth" and imagine for a moment what exactly that would look like. Have you conjured up perfect temperatures, sea breezes, beautiful buildings, abundant wildlife, and a horizon punctuated by mountains? If so, you've just imagined Santa Barbara, my home for the next month. It is very hard for any Northwesterner to admit that anywhere in Southern California could possibly be nice, let alone idyllic, but I have to confess that in this case it's true. It's not perfect, of course, but if you don't mind the occasional threat of earthquakes and have the money to survive in the opulent world of Santa Barbara, you'd be hard-pressed to find much better. Several of us spent today exploring the city, from the old Spanish mission down to the harbor and its massive wharf, and I'm sure that all of us could supply a long list of glowing adjectives to describe the experience. Incidentally, for those of you who think I'm making up that bit above about "abundant wildlife," in the last day I've seen lizards, a skunk, bats, dolphins, a bluebird, hummingbirds, pelicans, scrub jays (the last three birds aren't particularly rare, but they're all among my favorites, so I figured I'd list them anyway), and swallows galore, to say nothing of the floral extravaganza that is Santa Barbara. The only downside to spending a month in paradise? Most of that time will be spent indoors crunching numbers (tomorrow we begin morphometrics, hardly the most inspiring topic in paleontology). On the other hand, if it weren't for this all-expenses-paid course, I wouldn't be here to begin with, so it would be awfully stupid and ungracious of me to complain. Besides, it's hard to get too upset about anything in Santa Barbara...

1 comment:

Hans said...

The only downside to spending a month in paradise? Most of that time will be spent indoors crunching numbers

Correction: That should be the highlight of the trip. Who needs natural splendor when you could have the timeless beauty of computation?