For Suzanne

She made this possible:

View from the beach near Devil’s Churn



You see, a funny thing happened on the way down to Oregon.  We took the scenic route.  On that scenic route, there are many, many curves.  I’d driven through about 16,897 of them before Newton’s Law of Inertia caught up to us.  I learned a valuable lesson the hard way: no matter if you’ve gone nearly 20 years without doing something monumentally stupid behind the wheel, there’s always a first time.  Driving too fast on an unfamiliar curvy road definitely counts.  Thankfully, there were no other cars in the way and a nice dirt berm to stop us.  We had airbags to keep us from banging ourselves on hard bits that the seat belts may not have saved us from, and so I love them, even though those damned airbags deploying are probably the sole reason why my poor Nissan Sentra will be sent to the scrap heap rather than the body shop.  There’s not much damage – I wasn’t being suicidally stupid – but the insurance company tells me the airbags may end up costing more than the car.

So no shit, there we were, unharmed but stranded.  If it wasn’t for Suzanne coming to rescue us, we’d probably still be in a tiny town near the Oregon coast trying to figure out how to get to a city with an actual rental car agency.  She spent a good portion of her afternoon and evening fetching us and delivering us to a place with a hotel and a rental car, and acted like it was no big deal.  You can’t repay kindness like that.  All you can do is be there when huge favors need returning, and she knows I will be.

My intrepid companion took the whole thing with amazingly good grace.  I figured he’d want to head home immediately, but no, he was still up for adventure.  I have remarkable friends, you know that?

That all happened on day one.  By Day Two, we were off and running again, albeit taking curves about about 20 mph.  Grandmas look like speed demons compared to me these days.  We made it to Corvallis, where Lockwood showed us some of the finest geology I’ve ever seen.  He took us up a mountain and down to the sea.  We got to play in turbidites and tide pools.  I’ll be days just sorting through the pictures. 

(By the way, if you’re fortunate enough to have Lockwood invite you on a field trip, go.  You utterly will not regret it.)

More to come later.  For now, it’s time to catch up on sleep, cuddle the kitty, and reflect on the fact that I’m incredibly fortunate to have friends like these.

I owe all y’all not one, but many.

Geo Linkfest!

Since I’m traipsing all over bits of Oregon with Lockwood and ye olde intrepid companion, I’m having to rely on other geobloggers to fill in the gaps.  I’ll use any excuse so’s to have a chance to highlight some truly awesome geoblogging goodness.

When you’re a professional geologist in western Washington, you can’t always depend on the weather to cooperate.  But as Dan McShane knows, you can depend upon it to provide some lovely shots:



That’s haunting, that is.  And there’s more where that comes from, so do go enjoy.

Speaking of enjoy, if you missed Brian Romans’s Unconformity at Point Reyes, head to his place forthwith.  Why do I live for Fridays?  Because of his Friday Field Photos, of course! 

Chris Rowan explores New Zealand’s Alpine Fault, and shows why it could be a bit nervewracking to live in a country bisected by a plate boundary. 

Lockwood reminds us that conservation often clashes with consumption, and that there are certain compromises we have to make if we want to maintain our standard of living.

Callan Bentley shows us how field paleomagnetism is done.  After that post, I feel I understand a great deal more about both field work and paleomagnetism, which is no small feat for a blog post!  As always, his lavish photos have left me mopping drool from my chin:



And, finally, Silver Fox has the perfect photo for the long road ahead.  For the punchline, see here.

I can only respond with a quote from The Walking Drum: “Yol bolsun!”  May there be a road.  Preferably one with signs in.

Speaking of roads, I am wending my way back to you on one, possibly at this moment even.  See ye soon, my darlings!

The Wolf in the Fault and Other Stories

I have to admit something: I may be an atheist, but I’m also a complete sucker for Norse mythology.  When I shared my home with cockroaches, I even sacrificed them to Odin.  It’s somehow more satisfying that way.

Every Thursday, I squee with glee, because I know it’s Thorsday at Lockwood’s place.  I love all of the old Norse gods and goddesses, their monsters and giants, their epic tales and their strange Nordic sense of humor.  A good portion of my writing has been inspired by them.  The imagery, the poetry, all of it’s just perfect for creating something fantastic.  Seeing Lockwood’s posts on the subject brings back all the delight of discovering that non-Greek and Roman mythology kicks serious arse.

Last Thorsday, Lockwood had a bit up on Loki, which inspired David Bressan to delve until he came up with a connection between Norse mythology and earthquakes.  The rest, as they say, is the History of Geology, which in this installment shows the mythical connection between the dire wolf Fenrir (Fenris, if you prefer) and earthquakes (and sparks a little reaction of its own).  Before professional geologists, earthquake science went to the wolves, eh?

Ragnarök obsesses one of my main characters, Chretien Pratt.  The twilight of the gods provides a fitting metaphor for what the world faces in this series (I’m not nice), and imagery of Fenrir swallowing the sun at the end of all things haunts him in his unfinished origin story, where he’s learned he’s fated to speak the world’s eulogy:

I dream of nuclear winter, ash like snow covering the bare branches of blasted trees and shrubs, broken walls of houses, pitted concrete and melted asphalt where streets and cities used to be.

There are no people here, just the great wolf Fenrir swallowing the sun.  When I look at him, I see that he has Jusadan’s gray eyes, and he is weeping.

***

Fenrir’s mouth burns from the heat.  The sun is halfway down.  Only a sliver lights the landscape now, and it’s thin and cold like watery gold moonlight.  Ash drifts down; heavy, silent, bitter.  I smell charred wolf flesh, old decay from a billion rotted bodies, the burned-ozone tang of radiation.

Shades of the dead fill my vision for a hundred thousand miles.  I only see a fraction of them here in this charred shell that used to be a city park, but they represent the totality.  Through them, I see all the rest, and all of them hear me.  I stand on the crumbling edge of a fountain whose statue melted into the pool halfway through the war, hand clenched around the handle of a scythe sharp enough to slice the quarks from a photon.  I have to speak, but I still don’t know what the words are.

I never wanted this.  I never wanted to be the last, and now I am forever.

Someday, we’ll talk about Odin as well, who has the unfortunate fate of being munched by Fenrir there at the end.  Did I mention I’m not nice to my characters?  Well, the Norse were really not nice to their gods.

That’s probably why I love them so.

Volcanoes and Debris Flows and Experts, Oh My!

Pop quiz: name Washington’s five major volcanoes.  No peeking at teh intertoobz!  I’ll give ye some photos to jolly your memories along:







Courtesy of Eric’s Base Camp

Courtesy of Wikimedia

Give up?  Then jump below for the answers – and some more volcano-landslide-expert goodness.

Bet you got at least the first four – Mount Baker, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, and Mount Adams.  But you probably struggled a bit with Mount No. 5:

I often think of Glacier Peak as being the sneakiest at it lies tucked back into the core of the North Cascade Range where its summit and flanks blend in with the high peaks around it. Hence, it is easily the least known of Washington’s five strato volcanoes. Although not well known, it has been an active volcano with at least three major mud flows since the end of the last glacial period 13,000 years ago and Glacier Peak dacite fragments show up in preglacial period sediments throughout Puget Sound.

Dan McShane’s wonderful post reminds us Western Washingtonians why we shouldn’t ever forget Glacier Peak.  When most folks think of volcanic hazards, they worry about things like big booms and lava flows.  Well, debris flows aren’t no picnic, either, and they’re much more likely on our mountains.  Considering how much we’ve built on top of old debris flows from various and sundry volcanoes around here, we’d best pay attention to such matters lest we end up underneath a lot of matter.

Speaking of a lot of matter falling down, our own Silver Fox wrote up the Blackhawk Landslide.  When one thinks San Andreas, one thinks cracks in the earth and buildings falling on top of people.  Well, that’s not all by half!

The reason for northward thrusting is the bend in the San Andreas fault, causing the westward, southward side to be pushed northward, breaking over the steepened San Bernardino Mountains in low-angle faults. The thrusts cause brecciation, and the steepening, brecciation, and low-angle faulting predisposes the area to massive sliding. Stratigraphy is somewhat retained in the slides, and gold has been mined from nicely pre-broken landslid rock of the Blackhawk Slide. Silver occurs in somewhat disturbed veins in the Silver Reef Slide.

Rather good at getting things all broke up, innit?

Whilst we’re on the topic of volcanoes and bits of land going down, you’ve got a bonza chance to get your burning questions about Mount Hood answered by Dr. Kent, who’s been studying the place.  Get yer questions in to Erik before September 24th!  Contact info at the post.

Geoblogosphere Samplings

Yes, yes, I know most of you have probably read these already, but these selections will be new to some of you, and that’s all the excuse I need.

Brian Romans wrote up the geology of Point Reyes National Seashore, complete with lovely pictures.  And for those who can never get enough pictures of sedimentary structure, he’s got you covered.

Silver Fox has ancient seashores and a delicious dike from Oregon for ye.  You know you want ‘em!

Chris Rowan discusses the fault that made a mountain range, and his co-blogger Anne Jefferson takes on intolerable heat.  Definitely using Anne’s Intolerable Heat Index next summer!

Speaking of the Tetons, Callan Bentley shows us how to calculate offset on the fault.  Pay close attention to the Post-Its.  If math textbooks had been drawn up that way, I might be better at math today.

Do you love geology and horses?  Visit Dan McShane for a little bit of both.

Erik Klemetti discusses the detection of volcanism on extrasolar planets.

And this is just a small sampling of all the geoblogospheric goodness.  More to come.  Enjoy!

Quote o’ the Day

Courtesy of Cujo:

The light we’re seeing from this nebula today started out its journey when Babylon was just getting started. Nearly all of our history has happened since. I’ve said it before, but if you need to believe in some deity to be awed by this universe, you don’t know very much about it.

Absofuckinglutely.

Go to the source for a lovely image indeed.

Accretionary Wedges

The geologically inclined among ye have got a couple of very important deadlines coming up!  First is September’s Accretionary Wedge, to be hosted at Outside the Interzone:

…the topic I settled on is “What is the most important geological experience you’ve had?” The key word there is “important,” and the real task is going to be figuring out what that means for you. It may (or may not) be something that led you to the discipline (Note that August 2009’s AW was “Inspiration,” what inspired us to get into geology, and this isn’t really intended to be a repeat of that, though for some, it might be.), or a class, or a work experience, or a field experience. It might have been a puzzle or problem solved, or job landed, a degree completed. Perhaps it was something else entirely. It could have been an awful, disastrous experience from which you learned an important lesson. Maybe it’s still in your future- something you’re looking forward to. Additionally, explain why it was important. Was it something you’d recommend to others?

Lockwood reports there’s still room for more, so getcher entries in by September 27th.

Already done?  Great!  Get a jump on October’s AW:

October’s theme is going to be “Desk-crops.” This can be any rock or other geological* specimen that you have lying around your office/desk/lab that has a story to tell. The spookier the better. Photos and/or illustrations are very important (although not absolutely required). This is taken directly from Ron Schott’sdeskrcop series” of his rocks and such – great examples of what I had in mind with the theme (but not the only way to skin this horse).

If your submission’s submitted past the October 29th deadline, one of two things might happen to it: Trick or Treat.  Take a wild guess as to which.

Gone, But Haven’t Forgotten Ye

Whelp, my darlings, I’m off to get packed and see more outstanding Oregon geology.  Lockwood‘s taking us field tripping.  But just because I’m out doesn’t mean the cantina’s closed.  No, I’ve pre-loaded some posts for ye.  More precisely, other bloggers have provided content, and I’ve engaged in some link love, for the most part.

Due to the fact this machine’s wi-fi went boom, I won’t have an online presence for a few days.  If Blogger chooses this time to decide you’re spam, never fear!  I’ll get you out of purgatory when I return.

Shall be back online no later than Thursday.  I’ll miss you, my darlings, but I’ll bring you back lots of lovely photos!

Jerry Coyne’s Traveling Cats

Love cats, love science, really love a scientist who loves cats!  Jerry Coyne’s had a felid road show this week.  We’re talking about a man who carries a box of cat food around with him for teh kittehs.  He’s got lots of travel photos with kittehs!

U can see dem in Greece:



And Istanbul:



And on teh way to a glacier:



Dey r in Guatemala:



And dere are kittehs in teh biology lab doin science:



Dere r moar kittehs at teh linkz!

Dumbfuckery du Jour

The reasons for a special Friday Dumbfuckery are two.  Firstly, I’ll be abandoning all you all for Oregon, which means no fresh pollyticks till Wednesday at the earliest.  Secondly, and most importantly, both of the following items made me pound my desk with mirth.  So I figured you should enjoy yourselves as well.

Firstly, please welcome our next great candidate from Delaware.  Teabaggers gifted us not only with Christine O’Donnell, whose insanity is exhaustively cataloged here, but chose Glen Urquhart for the House:

And just to get a sense of what kind of congressional candidate Glen Urquhart is, note that he believes the notion of separation of church and state was crafted, not by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, but by Adolf Hitler. He recently told voters, “[The] next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of church and state, ask them why they’re Nazis.”

Seriously. He actually said that.

PPP’s Dean Debnam noted this week, “Delaware has really worked out well for Democrats.”

Heh.  No shit, eh?

You may, at this point, be wondering how one could possibly follow that up (if you’re not too busy contemplating why you’re a Nazi, that is).  Well, there’s really only one way to do it:

The International House of Prayer, an “end times” ministry based in Kansas City, Missouri, is being sued by a pancake restaurant which claims that it has already staked a claim to the “IHOP” acronym:

The International House of Pancakes has a filed a lawsuit against a Kansas City, Mo.-based religious group that calls itself the International House of Prayer over the acronym “IHOP.”

[snip]

Amusingly, because trademark infringement cases often come down to whether the defendant’s use of the plaintiff’s mark is likely to cause confusion” between the two parties, this case could turn upon whether anyone is likely to confuse a church with a pancake joint.

My friend Sean believes that it will all come down to whether IHOP (the church one) also hosts pancake breakfasts.

And, just in case you haven’t topped up on stupidity yet, the Texas Board of Education [sic] is at it again.  This time, they have become upset because Muslim beliefs are mentioned more in Christian beliefs in textbooks that Texas students haven’t used since 2003. 


I can hardly wait to see what the right wing comes up with next.  It’s said that if you don’t laugh at these idiots, you’ll cry, but I’ve just ended up laughing so hard I cried anyway.