Donors Choose: Final Stretch!

Right. So remember how I said I’d match two $50 donations? And remember how we had two challenges going on, so I kinda figured I’d split my fundage between the two of them?

Heh heh heh whoops. Left it too late. We are down to one unfunded challenge, thanks to your awesomeness. So I put down the complete matching donation on that one. Here ’tis:

Mah Contribution to the Cause

I also want to mention, strictly as an observation, that the only person currently beating us on Freethought Blogs is Jen McCreight, and she has traffic that is an order of magnitude greater than mine. Which, I think, just goes to prove that geologists don’t just rock, they are very gneiss, not to mention the schist.

Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

So, Ms. C’s library project only needs $97. We can do that. In fact, we don’t even need big donations to do it. Here’s a chance for those folks who can only afford tiny donations to make a huge difference. $5, $10, more, less, whatever – it all adds up. The Donors Choose Challenge ends Saturday, so time is of the essence. Get thee to my giving page.

But we’re not stopping there.

I’ve added two projects. They’re not cheap projects. But you know what? These projects will allow kids to get out in the field. They’ll get their hands on geology right out in the field, in Great Basin National Park. Field trip!

There’s nothing like a field trip for making a future geologist. I want to get these kids out in the field, people. I want to make this happen for them. And I believe you guys can do this.

So here they are:

1. Discovering the Wonders of Nevada. “Every year we take 150 fourth graders on an overnight field trip to Great Basin National Park. Our school is a Title One, 100 percent free or reduced lunch school. Our parents are hard working and very supportive, but can’t always provide the enrichment activities their children need. The fourth grade students look forward to the “Ely Trip” every year.” $1006 to go.

2. Exploring the Wonders of Nevada. “Every year we take 150 fourth graders on an overnight field trip to Ely Nevada. For many of our students, this is the first time they have been in a rural setting. Our school is in a lower working class neighborhood. Our students are well-behaved, enthusiastic kids who could use a little “boost.” Our parents are very supportive but can’t always provide the supplies needed for the school year.” $357 to go.

All right? Let’s do this thing. Again, you don’t have to be Aunt or Uncle Moneybags. Little amounts count. Every single dollar gets these kids closer to an experience with geoscience that will stay with them throughout their lives.

So. Incentives. I shall give thee incentives, because this is something we should all do together.

1. I’ll write a short story for the highest donor. You can even choose the subject, if you like, and you’ll get a paper copy complete with autograph, if you wish. You’ll have to give me until the end of the year, because I’m stupid enough to try NaNo this November, but I’ll have it written and sent to you in January. Yes, I will haul my arse to the hated post office just for you.

2. The second-highest donor will get a personally-collected hand sample. That’s right! I’ll post a list of places I’m going this summer (once I know what they are!), and you tell me what hunk o’ beautiful geology you want me to package up and mail to you.

3. I’ll match 4 (count them, 4) donations of $50. So you $50 folk get to double your money! Don’t let that stop you from donating more, of course! And if you guys manage to fund these projects before I can whip my credit card out, you can each pick a project of your own for me to donate to.

4. Starving Students Offer: Those of you too strapped for cash to manage more than small donations can still get a little something! Send me an email telling me what you’re studying, why you chose your major, and why you donated, and I’ll showcase you guys on the site. Plus, I’ll write a poem for the person whose note makes me punch the air and shout, “Yes! Science can haz future!” Same caveats apply as the short story deal.

5. I’ve also got some super-snazzy Mount St. Helens posters, so all who have donated to any of our projects and want their names in for that have a chance at winning one of Mother Earth’s great works of art. Yahoo knows me as dhunterauthor.

We’ve got until Saturday, my darlings. Make it so.

Dana’s Dojo: A Time and Place

Today in the Dojo: How do you establish a story’s time and place?

Among the many pitfalls just waiting to impale the unwary writer is time and place. You’d think it would be so easy, right? How hard could it be to let people know the when and where of things? That’s nothing compared to the complexities of character, theme, plot, rising action, hooks, style…. Setting time and place is a walk in the woods after that!

That high-pitched shriek followed by the meaty thunk is yet another writer falling into the pit. A walk in the woods, indeed.

Not only is it harder to clue the reader in subtly to time and place than one might believe, it’s one of those chores that seem unimportant. As long as I let them know by, oh, say, page Three, we should be okay, right? you say to yourself, and Yourself agrees: Of course! Joe won’t be thinking about it being 1994 and living in Nowhere, Arizona when he’s in the house fighting with his wife. Of course it’s okay to only show that after he’s stormed out of the house.

Of course not. And I’ll show you why.

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Teaching Geosciences in a Religious Country: A Discussion

Ron Schott, who is the geoblogosphere’s Bora Zivkovic, hosts Geology Office Hours on Google+ every Monday and Thursday. It’s a time for geo professionals and the geocurious to get together, chat about whatever topic comes to mind, and sometimes show off our rocks. Anybody with a webcam and a G+ account can get in on the fun.

I’m not as good a talker as writer, so don’t join one of the Monday sessions expecting especial brilliance. I’m mostly there to eavesdrop. Didn’t really expect to do so today – I had a ton of stuff I should be doing, and I hadn’t even got out of my pjs, but I’d just got done shooting the cat with some particularly lovely little hand samples, and jumped on to see what Ron thought of them. You know how that goes. You’re all like, “Hey, I’m not really dressed, but quick, look at the pretty rock!” and the next thing you know, a lot of people you admire particularly (like Chris Rowan and Harold Asmis) have joined the conversation, and they get on the topic of geologic timescales and religious students, and you suddenly forget you’re sitting there in your jammies with a head of hair that might frighten small children.

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Los Links 10/14

Herein are contained the links that saved my life last week. At the end of long days spent explaining to angry people that, when millions of them all try to activate their snazzy new iPhone 4s at once, and those anxiously counting the days until their upgrade decided they could all at least have OS 5 right now, it is not the cell phone carriers’ fault that the Apple servers got completely overwhelmed. Not to mention, even their hold music said “Sod this for a game of larks” and buggered off to do something else, leaving nothing but silence as the endless wait for technical assistance ensued. This, also, was not the fault of the cell phone carriers. But we got blamed anyway.

I will not discuss the specifics of the week from hell. I will only say that I appreciate Apple for ensuring my continued employment, and that if I hadn’t had some excellent science blogs to come home to, I would have ended up unemployed anyway due to a nervous breakdown.

Let these links work their magic for you!

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It Are My Weekend

I plan to spend it eating and sleeping, followed by some sleeping and eating, followed possibly by sleeping while eating, if I can manage it. I’ll plunge into some long-neglected geology research, after I get done with the sleeping, eating, etc. It’s possible I’ll finish up with watching some Doctor Who.

The cat is fully on board with these plans.

And if anyone so much as mentions the iPhone, I’ll shoot them in the face with this:

Image Source

I love how it looks like it’s dancing.

Finding Reality Via the Back Door

So I was having this conversation with my best friend one Sunday, and we got off on this long rant about reality.  Turns out one of his friends had given him a lecture about how glorious reality is.  This brought on by the fact that, like me, he writes speculative fiction.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love reality – or at least, appreciable bits of it.  But I think she was talking the prosaic reality of Everyday Life, not the astounding reality of Science.  She’s a slice-of-life type writer.  I know and love some slice-of-lifers, but there’s a certain subset of them that treat imagination as a black sheep.  Then they see fit to lecture us SF types on How We Should Be More Realistic.  They sometimes go on to give us a stern talking-to about Living In the Real World.  I shall now provide a helpful illustration to sum up my subjective experience when faced with such people:

Image Source.

That is a very realistic interpretation of my sentiments, if you pretend the awesome geek is actually someone spouting this nonsense.

But, as goads so often do, my friend’s friend managed to initiate a fruitful line of discussion, and inspired a blog post, so it’s not all bad.

What follows is some ranting-out-loud on Writing, the Universe, and Everything.  You’re under no obligation to follow me after the jump, but I’ll be happy if you do.

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Cantina Quote o’ The Week: Quintas Ennius

We do not regard what is before our feet; we all gaze at the stars.

-Quintas Ennius

This is the father of Roman poetry, the Homer of Rome, and it’s really too bad his work exists only in fragments. There are many ancient writers I’d love to read, if I could hop in a time machine and head off for some literary tourism, and he is one.

He wasn’t likely to be the kind of man I’d have enjoyed an evening of conversation with, judging from what’s said of him: a man’s man, sounds a bit macho, and he liked his aristocracy. But who knows? Writers are writers, and it’s just possible a conversation over a bowl of wine or two might have been scintillating. This was a man, trilingual, who liked to say he had three hearts. A three-hearted man has got many interesting things to say.

And the things he said! This quote has always struck me as bitter and sweet. It’s true, and it’s hopeful, and it’s a bit sad. He packed a lot of human understanding into these few words. Depending on your mood, you can see it as a celebration or a condemnation. That’s the power of poetry: to give us words that say more than what they would seem to on the surface.

He also said, “Let no one weep for me, or celebrate my funeral with mourning; for I still live, as I pass to and fro through the mouths of men.” This is our immortality: these words, passed from mouth to mouth, mind to mind.

Why I Love Scientists: Kraken Kraziness Edition

This exchange happened recently on Twitter, retweeted by Brian Switek, and exemplifies why geologists and paleontologists generally get along. I present it to you in its full glory: scientists making fun of the kraken story. Enjoy!

 

Encouraged by recent media attention given to the #Kraken "study," I am now working on "Pegasus landing traces" study for next year's GSA.
@Ichnologist
Anthony (Tony)Martin
Moreover, the "Pegasus landing traces" precede Hyracotherium in the fossil record, which proves that horses are secondarily flightless.
@Ichnologist
Anthony (Tony)Martin
@ It's amazing what tracks can tell us! Our footprint collection has what looks like baby Pegasus tracks. Social behavior?
@andyfarke
Andrew A. Farke
@ @ @ When you all find the flying trilobite nests, I will laugh maniacally.
@flyingtrilobite
Glendon Mellow
@ @ Agreed, and we need at least 3-4 talks about how all of those "theropod feathers" in China are actually equine.
@Ichnologist
Anthony (Tony)Martin
@ @ It's all so obvious, isn't it? Nature News, here we come!
@Ichnologist
Anthony (Tony)Martin
@ @ Nature News. . .heck, we're going for Nature! With feathers, it can't fail.
@andyfarke
Andrew A. Farke

 

Freethinking in YA Land or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Enjoy Narnia

-Guest post by The Ginger Waif.

 

For my first Christmas, I received a handsome boxed set of all seven Narnia books. It should be noted that I was born in October, and the gift was first wrapped by my gleeful parents and then unwrapped in front of a two-month-old baby. That was how we did things in my household, but despite their very sensible attitude toward books and many other important subjects, my parents are distinctly in the believer category. They’re the sort of liberal, pragmatic Catholics who don’t do or mean any harm, but I was sent to a religious school and reared with a rather in-depth education on all things theological (which is, of course, the perfect way to get an atheist at the end of twelve years).

So how’d I fail to notice until around middle school that C.S. Lewis’s fantastical opus is intended to be approximately 100% Christianity by volume?

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You Call Those Evil Volcano Lairs?

They’re quasi-evil. They’re semi-evil. They’re the Diet Coke of evil…

Erik Klemetti may sneer at the Geological Society of London’s Top 5, but Mt. Erebus? Sure, he’ll have well-dressed minions, but he’ll also be too ice-bound for true evil. Jessica Ball’s on to something with Pagan Island, but her evil lair will be overrun with tourists within six months. Garry Hayes has a beautiful evil setting in Mount Shasta, but everyone knows you can’t rely on Lemurians to carry out one’s plans for world domination. Silver Fox isn’t disclosing the location of her evil lair, which is wise, but it’s not even a volcano. You can’t have an evil volcano lair if there’s no volcano.

No, the truly evil geologist knows there’s only one volcano that qualifies as an Evil Volcano Lair.

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