It pains me to announce this. It really does. Once upon a time, and not really all that long ago, I recommended Dana Hunter for Freethought Blogs. I wasn’t the only one by any means, but I started the ball rolling. Today, however, Dana is leaving us.
That isn’t the truly painful part, though.
Maybe we should have seen it coming. Dana has always been something of an “evangelist” of the rocks. Her post on Sunset Crater, the paean to geology that earned her a spot in OpenLab, both communicated the strong connection she had with rocks.
It really wasn’t until this week, though, that the nature of that “connection” started to become clear. That was when Dana started talking about the “mystery” of the rocks. That’s when she started drawing diagrams pulling out features that were kinda, sorta visible in the picture–if you squinted right.
I don’t usually comment on Dana’s geology posts. I don’t really know what I’m talking about, so I don’t have much to add. It was the same here, but the post left me uncomfortable enough that I felt I should say something. So I sent Dana an email with a little joke about mystical rocks.
Dana’s response floored me. As much as she gets hardcore with people who try to dumb down science, Dana is incredibly genial. We have a standing date for margaritas any time we end up in the same state. (The tequila, unlike the cake, is real.) Or we did.
Dana’s reply to me was a full-bore lecture, and not the informational sort. There was a “how dare you?!” or two in there as well.
I wasn’t really sure what to do. Had I done something unforgivable? I forwarded the email to Dana’s friend and fellow rock afficianado, Lockwood. If anyone would be able to tell me how badly I’d screwed up with my joke, it would be Lockwood.
I had a tense couple of days waiting for his response, but honestly, I’d rather not have gotten it at all. I’d much rather have committed some unforgivable geologist faux pas than what actually did happen.
“She says the rocks are showing her things. As far as I can tell, she’s completely serious. I’ve taken a day off so I can travel to Seattle tomorrow. I’ll know more then, but right now, I’m worried.”
If Lockwood was worried. I was worried. Too worried to wait. I asked Dana if we could do a Skype call so I could apologize. I still wasn’t sure quite how I’d transgressed, but mostly I just wanted to see her for myself.
It was a disaster. Dana was happy enough once I’d apologized, but she kept sending me links to pictures.
“See that? See that?!?” She was terribly excited.
It was a rock, of course. I didn’t see much of anything special about it, but I just said, “Wow.”
“And that! Look at that!”
Another rock. “Huh. Interesting.”
I mentioned above that I don’t really know what I’m talking about when it comes to rocks. I’m not always sure what it is Dana wants me to see in the rock pictures she posts. She gets the same way when I talk about economics. It’s always fun to talk to an enthusiast, even if some of the details slide by.
This time, though, everything just sort of slid by. I couldn’t see anything the rocks had in common.
Then she got to the last picture. I blinked hard, not wanting to believe what I saw.
“Mary? It’s Mary that you’re seeing in the rocks?”
Dana sounded suddenly suspicious. “And Jesus. Jesus too.”
I knew I was in way over my head. I tried to sound enthusiastic again. “Of course! Right. And Jesus.”
That appeased Dana. She went on for a while, sounding for all the world like any evangelical convert–except that she was talking about rocks. I managed not to cry until I got off the call.
Lockwood has been and gone. Dana’s fine, as far as anyone can tell. She’s still enthusing over rocks (and Doctor Who and her Kindle and ponies and the monster she calls her cat). It’s just that now those rocks have Jesus in them.
It took her a day or so, but she’s finally conceded that it would be best if she went back to her own blog. She doesn’t really want anyone mocking her Jesus rocks, and they’re not really appropriate for FreethoughtBlogs. So Dana is moving on. It’s sad, but it’s for the best.
Go wish her luck on whatever it is she does next, won’t you? Be nice. I’m still hoping this is a brief phase and she’ll come back to us shortly.