For Those Who Think Dating A Writer Would Be Awesome

Think again.  Every point you think is a phenomenal benefit is actually a drawback, as the writer of that list so ably demonstrated.

I stumbled across the above post courtesy of Brian Switek, and it’s rather unfortunate I did so whilst at work.  I couldn’t help howling with laughter.  Coworkers gave me strange looks.  That’s okay.  As a writer, I get a lot of those.  But there are 20 items on the list, and I laughed my ass off at all 20, which I think nearly landed me in my manager’s cubicle for a little Talk about not disturbing the other denizens of the call center.

Can I ever testify to – well, every single item!  Such as

2. Writers will write about you. You don’t want this. Trust me.

My friends used to pester me to write them into my stories.  So I did that once.  Strangely, they haven’t asked again… 

Look, a writer has to sometimes do utterly awful things to their characters, and just because they’re based on you doesn’t mean they get a free pass.  And when we’re annoyed with you, even worse things might happen to “your” character.  And we may not see you the way you want to see yourself.  The awakening can be a bit rude.

8.  Writers are really passionate. About writing. Not necessarily about you. Are you writing?

No.  You are not.  And you will discover this, probably sooner rather than later.  I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve abandoned a relationship because the person I’m with is not my writing.  After the first flush of hormones vanish, that desperately-wanted relationship sours because Time With Significant Other = Time I Could’ve Spent Writing.  It’s hard on a person when the person they’re trying to have sex with is hurrying them along because they want to get back to writing.  And what’s a writer thinking about when they’re making the Beast With Two Backs with you?  Not you in the majority of cases, I can assure you.  Most people I’ve dated can’t handle being second fiddle to a piece of paper.  Unless you can, don’t try it.

14. Writers may be able to adjust their schedules for you. Writers may be able to adjust their schedules for writing. Are you writing? Get in line, then.

That’s the one that nearly put me on the floor.  So damned true!

18. Writers are surrounded by interesting people. Every last one of whom is imaginary.

This is the point where I sank down in my chair, and had I been drinking milk, it would have squirted through my nostrils and caused the folks who service our equipment some serious difficulties.  It’s true.  Completely and utterly true.  The key word here is “surrounded.”  I know some very interesting people IRL.  I am not surrounded by them because I am too busy writing.  The only interesting people who actually surround me are the ones in my head.  And you, my dear potential date, play a distant third fiddle to them.

Those are just a few highlights from the list.  Go read the whole thing.  And the takeaway lesson here is that if you are not an emotionally strong person who’s happy being treated as an inconvenience except when the writer needs a brief bit of nookie or an errand runner, who can tolerate long periods of enforced solitude while your writer writes frantically, and likes to be used as a sounding board, test subject, and therapist, you have no business ever dating a writer.

If you think all of the non-bolded items on that list describe your ideal relationship, then find yourself a writer forthwith.  Good luck prying one of us from the page long enough to get a little something started…

Dumbfuckery du Jour

The Priorities of PG&E.

When asking for a $5 million rate hike in 2007:

PG&E asked the PUC for permission for a $5 million rate hike to “replace a section of the same pipeline that blew up in San Bruno.” The PUC approved PG&E’s request, allowing it to hike its rates so that it could repair the line in 2009. 

When not using the $5 million rate hike to repair the dangerous pipeline:

While the company failed to spend the $5 million it took from customers in 2009 to repair the faulty pipeline, it did spend that exact same amount in the same year on bonuses for its executives, according to TURN. 

When asking for yet another $5 million rate hike to fix the dangerous pipeline in 2009:

In its request, PG&E warned that if “the replacement of this pipe does not occur, risks associated with this segment will not be reduced. Coupled with the consequences of failure of this section of pipeline, the likelihood of a failure makes the risk of a failure at this location unacceptably high.” Despite these admitted risks, the company could only promise to make its repairs by 2013.

What PG&E was spending its millions on in the meantime:

Calitics notes that while PG&E failed to use the millions it charged consumers in rate hikes to repair its pipeline, it did manage to spend millions of dollars supporting Proposition 16, which would’ve allowed it to secure its monopoly over the power sector in the state.

And this is what they say about spending the five million meant to fix the deadly pipeline on executive bonuses, and spending further millions that could’ve fixed the pipeline on trying to buy a monopoly instead:

Local news station KTVU asked PG&E President Chris Johns why his company failed to make the repairs on schedule, despite recognizing that the pipeline was a considerable risk and using a rate hike on consumer to do it. “Some things happen when we’re going down, and a year later maybe some other item becomes more emergent that we need to fix,” replied Johns. “And so that’s why we will redirect funds to take care of the things that are urgent today, and then go back and say what are the things that are urgent tomorrow.”

Four people died and several were critically injured, while hundreds of others lost everything they had, because these assclowns didn’t think that pipeline was “urgent today.”  Except, of course, when they were asking for more cash from their customers.

I’m not a huge believer in the death penalty.  Not for individuals.  But some corporations need to be put down like rabid dogs.  PG&E is one.  Send its executives to the unemployment lines, shut it down, and put people in charge of the utilities who believe that the things that are urgent today are the lives and safety of human beings, not the already-overflowing bank accounts of executives and manipulating the political system to further engorge an already engorged company.

These fucktards are beyond despicable.  There should be no place for them in a civilized society.

Pop Rocks

In the time-honored tradition of posts that a blogger writes when they’re too busy to write their own content, I have decided to filch a collection of rocks that have made my eyes pop lately.  Don’t forget to click through the links for the posts these came from.  Enjoy!

Gualala turbdites

Bad-ass driller
Glacial drift over advance outwash
Nu’uanu Pali

You know why I love my geobloggers?  Well, if we had to count all the ways, we’d be here for a week.  But this post highlights one of the big reasons: they give us eye candy!

Dumbfuckery du Jour

Primary Day is a very dangerous day.

In Delaware, the Teabagging hoardes overthrew the sometimes-sane Mike Castle in favor of a candidate who believes there’s just as much evidence supporting Young Earth Creationism as there is evolution, says condoms can’t stop AIDS, thinks coed dorms will lead to “orgy rooms”, and wouldn’t have lied to Nazis to save a Jew.  Among other insanity.  At least she’ll be entertaining, but I hope to fuck the people in Delaware are smart enough not to let the Teabaggers propel this moron to victory.

In New York, Teabaggers ensured Andrew Cuomo faces off against a man whose pasttimes include sending out racist, pornographic emails, and who thinks the poor belong in prison.

You probably heard quite a bit of screaming Tuesday night.  That was because the Dems were screaming for joy, unable to believe their luck, while Republican Party officials were howling, “We have to support what?”  The Republican slate of candidates is now almost exclusively filled with freaks, lunatics, and incredibly fucking stupid people, and Cons know that once the non-Teabagging cadre of voters gets a good look at what’s on offer, they might run screaming to the other party no matter how disillusioned they’ve become.  What was supposed to be a banner year for the Cons is rapidly turning in to a test of the Cons’ ability to sell insanity to the sane.  The NRSC and others don’t seem to be terribly happy about it.

To which Steve Benen says, “Reap what you sow, you silly fuckers. Suck it!”  Although he puts it in somewhat more polite terms.

I hope you had a few metric tons of popcorn and several thousand gallons of butter handy, my darlings.  We shall need it this fall.

It’s Not ADD! It’s Creativity!

So Jonah Leher at Frontal Cortex has this post up: Are Distractible People More Creative?  Well, being a distractible person who likes to believe she’s creative, I found myself clicking through – after, of course, getting distracted by a few other things, like making dinner while watching Head Rush and trying to catch up on Pharyngula.

Turns out there’s good news for the terminally distracted:

Consider a recent study by neuroscientists at Harvard and the University of Toronto that documents the benefits of all these extra thoughts. (It was replicated here.) The researchers began by giving a sensory test to a hundred undergraduates at Harvard. The tests were designed to measure their level of latent inhibition, which is the capacity to ignore stimuli that seem irrelevant. Are you able to not think about the air-conditioner humming in the background? What about the roar of the airplane overhead? When you’re at a cocktail party, can you tune out the conversations of other people? If so, you’re practicing latent inhibition. While this skill is typically seen as an essential component of attention – it keeps us from getting distracted by extraneous perceptions – it turns out that people with low latent inhibition have a much richer mixture of thoughts in working memory. This shouldn’t be too surprising: Because they struggle to filter the world, they end up letting everything in. As a result, their consciousness is flooded with seemingly unrelated thoughts. Here’s where the data gets interesting:  Those students who were classified as “eminent creative achievers” – the rankings were based on their performance on various tests, as well as their real world accomplishments – were seven times more likely to “suffer” from low latent inhibition. This makes some sense: The association between creativity and open-mindedness has long been recognized, and what’s more open-minded than distractability? People with low latent inhibition are literally unable to close their mind, to keep the spotlight of attention from drifting off to the far corners of the stage. The end result is that they can’t help but consider the unexpected.

One of the reasons I write at night is because I’m so very bad at filtering out distractions.  There’s less of that in the wee hours – noisy neighbors go to bed, Twitter and email slack off, phone doesn’t ring (not that I keep my ringers on anyway), cat’s usually mellowing on the couch and friends aren’t begging me to head out for some fun.  I still manage to lose incredible amounts of prime writing time haring off after tangential factoids, spelunking the intertoobz for things unrelated to my original query, and ten thousand other things unrelated to what I should be doing.  For instance, this paragraph just took me several minutes longer than it should have because I kept messing around trying to rid myself of minor discomforts, pulling up various and sundry songs, and thinking about a zillion other things.


If the research is right, that sort of distractibility is one of the reasons I can build worlds and tell stories.  Instead of cursing it, I should probably be reveling in it.  However, I got distracted on the way to the celebration.  Well, “The Human Stain” is an incredible song.  And my hair needed adjusting.  And Yoshitaka Amano and Michael Whelan are incredible artists, so of course I had to spend a moment appreciating their works on my walls.  Did I ever tell you about the time I talked to Michael Whelan’s wife?  She’d called in to order business forms for their gallery back when I worked for the printing company.  When I found out who she was, I asked her if I could ask a very personal question – how old is Michael?  (This was back before the intertoobz could answer each and every trivial question without having to embarrass oneself.)  She told me.  And I said, “Oh, thank the gods.  I wanted him to still be alive so he can do my cover art when I’m finally published!”  She laughed and said Michael would be delighted to oblige.  She’s a lovely person, and one of my fondest memories.  And yes, I still want Michael’s art gracing my novels.


Where were we?  Oh, yes.  Distracted people and creativity.  Righty-o.  So, this is the article I shall shove at anyone who accuses me of having ADD.  Look, it’s not illness, it’s inspiration!


Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve just gotten distracted by something else…

Tip o’ the shot glass to Brian Romans.

Science Bloggers in Motion

Yes, againWired Science has launched a brand-new network, and for once in the new-science-blogging-network world, it actually includes geology!  Our own Brian Romans, in fact.  If you’re looking for your Clastic Detritus, they’ve got ‘im right here.

And that’s not all they’ve got.  Brian Switek finally found a loving home for Laelaps.  Huzzah!

They’ve also landed Dot Physics, Neuron Culture, Frontal Cortex, and Superbug.  That’s a stellar starting lineup by any measure.  Give ‘em a visit!

Dumbfuckery du Jour

It’s weird.  Cons are getting their arses kicked in primary after primary by batshit fucking insane freaks, and yet they seem to have this overconfidence problem.  They’re utterly positive they’re going to win big in November.  So positive, it seems, that they have no qualms showing their true colors.

They’re throwing something of an orgy.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but it seems they’re relishing some corporate dick-sucking.  Why, today, Cons voted in lockstep to keep very burdensome IRS reporting requirements in place for small businesses.  Is it because they’re throwing a tantrum over their pet proposed fix having gone down in flames?  No.  It seems they threw a tantrum because the sensible fix would have reduced subsidies to oil companies.  That’s right.  Businesses of all shapes and sizes will find themselves struggling to satisfy the tax man, but that’s okay to these Cons, because we couldn’t possibly pull oil companies’ mouths away from the public money fire hose.

How that one squares with Teabagger anti-IRS rhetoric is a mystery to me.  Feel free to speculate.

Then we had Sen. Johanns telling small businesses they “need another loan like they need a kick in the pants.”  This must be a thrilling statement to all those small businesses needing loans so they can expand, meet payroll and all that. 

Sen. Mitch McConnell’s been in rare form.  He made this incredible statement:

“We can’t let the people who’ve been hit hardest by this recession and who we need to create the jobs that will get us out of it foot the bill for the Democrats’ two-year adventure in expanded government.”

Now, considering that the only people who are going to see any sort of tax cut expiration under the Dems’ plan are those who are already making a shitload of money, that’s a pretty amazing thing to say.  “Hit hardest”?  Why, according to Mitch McConnell, those of you who’ve lost your jobs altogether, who are struggling to put food on the table, who are losing your homes to foreclosure, you’re all doing just fine.  It’s those poor rich people who maybe can’t afford the third mansion and the yacht who’re really suffering.

And as if that belief isn’t amazing enough, he also believes it’s a good idea for Cons to fight against tax breaks for the middle class.  If the filthy rich can’t keep their tax cuts, McConnell’s reasoning goes, then the middle class and the poor can go fuck themselves and lose theirs, too.  Interesting.  I wonder what the Taxed-Enough-Already crowd will have to say when their tax bill comes up and it’s all Mitch’s fault?  He must be counting on their native stupidity to help him sell the idea it’s all the Dems’ fault.  And while I’ll admit Teabaggers can look and act pretty fucking stupid, I’m not sure they’re quite that stupid.  Dangerous game you’re playing there, Mitch.  And while you might fool all of the Teabaggers some of the time, I think you’re going to find the swing voters taking a swing away from you and yours if this little stunt succeeds.  They may be pissed at Dems for, well, nearly everything just now, but when the Cons in Congress so blatantly stand with the rich against the middle class, not to mention directly affect the middle-class pocketbook, well, those angry independents might discover they’re not all that pissed off Dems after all.

I know that Dems are the champions in turning a winning situation into a losing one, but it seems like the Cons are scrambling hard to match up.

Geological Humor. Plus, Choices.

Woozle has been a cherished patron of this cantina since very nearly the moment it opened.  Whilst I was away viewing non-flaming geysers, he left this note:

…and on a completely different tack, some geological humor for you

I clicked the link.  I viewed link.  I read the link.  A giggle grew to a guffaw, and then an outburst of laughter that left the cat rather disgruntled.  I would have screamed, “I love you, Woozle!” but the neighbors might’ve objected, seeing as how it’s after midnight.

My darlings, you must go read



There’s more.  There’s far more.  And yes, it does get exciting.

As if Woozle wasn’t enough, Karen made me blush, shuffle my feet, mumble “aw, shucks,” and want to give her a hug fit to crack her ribs.  Mind you, this was after I’d jumped up and down screaming “She’s alllliiiivvvveee!”  Worried about my Bay-area readers after that whole San Bruno thing, y’know.

Now, since I was off chasing after mythical flaming geysers all day, I didn’t visit so much as one political blog, therefore no Dumbfuckery du Jour.  However, when I got to my intrepid companion’s house, I found he’d taken care of the situation for us.  Let’s just say that, although I’d nearly gotten squished by a couple of idiot drivers on the freeway and had just discovered my camera was safely home over thirty miles away, I still ended up laughing my ass off.  Cujo does an excellent job trivializing the trivial, so consider his post our Dumbfuckery du Jour.

And, finally, I missed #womeninscience.  Whoops!  Allow me to make some amends by pointing you to Anne’s post at Highly Allochthonous, and this old post o’ mine celebrating some unsung women of science.

So, raise a glass to all the wonderful women in science, and then raise another to yourselves.  You all make my day, each and every day. 

But Why Is the Geology Gone?

My intrepid companion and I made a valiant attempt to see the famous Flaming Geyser today.  The first thing that went wrong is that I forgot my camera.  That’s right.  Left it sitting right at home, and didn’t realize it until I arrived at my IC’s house, which is a bloody hour away from mine.

Needless to say, all photos that follow are courtesy of my IC’s camera.  Grr.  Argh.  (But I do have to say, while it’s no Sony Cyber-Shot, it did its utmost to fill in, and I adore it for that!)

The second thing that went wrong is this:



No, that’s not the Bubbling Geysers.  That, my darlings, is the Flaming Geyser.

Yep.

Flaming.



Yeah.  And, adding insult to injury, the route leading to the outcrops of Puget Group Shale and the actually-supposed-to-be-Bubbling Geyser, our only access to good geology in the entire fucking park – closed.  Fenced off.  Unsafe bridge.  No alternate route.



O-kay.  Take stock, here.  See what can be salvaged.  We found a few things.

Like, uh, yeah, an interesting leaf:



Yup.  That leaf sure is interesting.  Floating in the water there where the fucking Flaming Geyser should be.

I’m not sure what the hell happened to the park’s namesake.  The park’s website talks about upgrades and repairs and so forth, but not a single bloody word about the fact the Flaming Geyser’s drowned in a pool of water. Regardless, this famous little methane seep has a lot to tell us about Washington State’s geologic past, so let’s have a listen:

Allow me to translate: it’s saying that back in the Eocene, the coastline was right about where Puget Sound is now.  Back in them days, floodplains and deltas dumped sediment all over the Black Diamond-Auburn area.  And in the lovely subtropical climate, lots and lots of plants flourished.  Over time, sand and mud buried the flora, more flora grew, bury-grow-bury-grow etc.  Some squishy, some pressure, some crunchy faulting-and-folding, and voila – we have sandstones and shales complete with coal seams and pockets of natural gas.

The pocket that feeds the formerly-Flaming Geyser has been venting ever since 1911, when a gentleman prospecting for coal seams drilled down 1403 feet and got gas.  It used to be quite the sight – up to 15 feet high and 4 feet wide.  Now, alas, it is a shadow of its former self: when not drowned, it can manage a flame of around about a foot.

At least it’s still bubbling.  That’s something, even if it does remind me of cowboy bubble bath.

Alas, we didn’t get to see the shale outcrops, or the Bubbling Geysers caused by carbon dioxide gas, and we caught merely a glimpse of a nice cut in the sediments and till forming the hills around the park:



That’s it.  That’s all we got.  Couldn’t even look at the cliff to see what it’s made of, because there’s bloody Authorized Personnel Only signs everywhere over there.  Argh.

We decided to see if there was a back way on to the trail.  On our way, we discovered that Mother Nature has done some remodeling to the park.  She has, for instance, decided one of the picnic areas could do with a marsh:



And then we discovered an arm of the marsh sneaks up through the lawn, so you trap yourself in a sort of v-shaped area between a narrow marsh and a wide marsh and have to go round.  As we were walking that way, something jumped from beneath my feet.  Turned out to be the first actual frog I’ve seen in Washington State:



First time I’ve seen rather than merely heard these little bastards in three years of living here, and it’s the day when my camera, with its 10x zoom and its outstanding macro mode, has bloody well been forgotten at home.  There was Language spoken, my darlings.  Then I stuffed my IC’s camera back in his hands and decided that, if the camera couldn’t go to the frogs, the frogs could go to the camera.  Besides, I haven’t caught myself a frog since I was a kid.  I couldn’t resist.

The first one was relatively calm about the whole situation:



He sat with his dear little toes gripping my finger for quite a while.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough light for a good shot using my IC’s poor camera.  So most of the close-ups came out blurred.  And then my amphibian amigo decided the photo shoot was over and jumped away. 

Luckily, we found another, albeit more energetic, subject:



See his dear little toeses?!?  They’re covered with little grippy pads, and they feel slightly tacky on your fingers.  So cute!

So that was worthwhile.  Then we climbed a damned hill, and all we found was a single big glacial erratic buried in the till:



The rest of the geology was covered in biology.

Defeated, we headed for the Sound.  Hadn’t been to Redondo Beach since 2000, when Garrett and I visited the city and I fell in love.  We’d stumbled over this delightful little spot by sheer accident.  Well, my intrepid companion knows where it is.  We had sunshine and warmth, probably among the last we’ll get for the season, so we decided we’d better take advantage.

One of my fondest memories of Redondo is the huge granite arch there:



With the sun sinking in the west, you could see flakes of mica sparkling all over it:



And yes, that is a bright blue sky in Seattle.  It happens sometimes.

Of course, I had to play around a bit with it.  Took a shot through the arch with the granite in focus:



And one with the Sound in focus:



Because it’s fun, that’s why.

My intrepid companion caught me fondling the granite:



And this interesting little nodule:



Not sure what that is.  Ideas, anyone?

Got me feet wet in the Sound for the last time this summer.  My IC caught me picking up bits on the beach:



I found an absolutely marvelous bit of gneiss:



And a wee little crab:



Dead, alas, but still flexible, and morbidly cute.

Charles Darwin had his barnacles. So did I:



Found a chunk of them down on the beach.  I planned to take it home, but then some of the little buggers popped out trying to filter-feed, and so they stayed behind.  I’m not sure if they’ll find a place where they can survive or not, but it’s worth trying.

The back of them had a very intriguing pattern:



When I saw others encrusting the metal pilings holding up the sidewalk, all became clear: rust and paint.  I can only imagine the maintenance headaches these little buggers cause.

When we finished splashing about in the freezing-cold waves, we headed out on the boat dock for a nice long sit.  The water was an extraordinary blue:



When you’re looking out over that amazing azure sea, you’re gazing at a seascape carved by an ice sheet.  Hard to imagine on a warm day like today, but none of this scenery would exist in quite this way had it not been for 3,000 feet of ice.  Thanks, Canada!

This being the seaside, of course we had seagulls.  The fat brown juvenile stood at the end of the opposite dock and screamed for a while, at least until he found a friend.  Unfortunately, he proved why he hasn’t got many friends:



Afterward, he chased his very annoyed buddy down the dock with a desperate-to-be-loved expression.

We didn’t stay for the sunset, but Suzanne caught a lovely one tonight, so you’re all set in the sunset department.

And that’s pretty much it.  Not much geology, but a lovely day nonetheless.  I’m rather going to miss summer.  Good thing I still have a ton of stuff left over – dearest Karen, rest assured that no one shall be deprived of geological adventures this winter!  We’ll dream some summer dreams while the snow falls.  Okay, rain.  It’s usually rain, here.  Lots and lots of rain.  Which probably explains why putting the formerly-Flaming Geyser in a shallow, undrained pit was such a very silly idea….

(Tip o’ the shot glass to the Hiking Guide to Washington Geology, which provided the geologic info for Flaming Geyser State Park.  It’s not their fault the damned thing’s drowned.)