Northwesterners: Don’t Forget Dawkins!

Tomorrow afternoon, people: Working Together for a Secular Society, A Celebration. I want to see a horde of ETEVers there. Doors open at 2pm. It’s the last time I’m getting out of the house before my life explodes into chaos for a while, and the Northwest Free-Thought Alliance would be happy to see lots of people turn out, so these are excellent reasons for showing up. Directions to the venue here. I’ll be wearing my usual blue jacket, so I should be relatively easy to spot. Let’s celebrate reason, shall we?

The Bat Signal! In a Thunderegg!

I have a habit of looking for geology-related stuff when I’m in the little shops attached to parks. Usually, I’m disappointed. Geology gets very little mention. But you’d expect Lava Lands Visitor’s Center to have a little something, seeing as how their whole thing is the volcanoes. They had a nice bin full o’ bits of the rock types you find round Newberry Crater, collected from the area, which was awesome. They also had Oregon’s state rock, the thunderegg.

It’s amazing what rhyolite gets up to. In this case, little nodules have formed within the lava flow and filled up with all sorts of delicious chalcedony. The Ore Bin has a nice PDF on how it became the state rock and what a thunderegg is.

The patterns within can be wild. And these weren’t expensive, so I decided I might as well get one. I went through several, looking for a pleasing pattern, before this one caught my eye, and I knew it was The One:

Bat Signal Thunderegg

No self-respecting Batman fan and geology addict could possibly pass that up, amirite?

I couldn’t decide whether russet or navy set it off best, so I took a photo of both:

They’re amazing little things. Look at the outside, and you’d never suspect what’s inside:

Thundereggs exterior

Then you cut ’em open, and bam! Beauty. Also, Batman.

Beauty and the Bat

Fun with rhyolite, people. This is how I spend my evenings. I’m such a geek.

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur

At last! Trebuchet requested mystery birds, and I finally got one of the bastards to hold still long enough for a good shot. We’d have had this long ago if crows, robins, seagulls, red-tailed hawks, cormorants, bald eagles, and blue herons counted, but if they’re easy enough for a clueless git like myself to identify, they don’t quite count as UFDs.

I’ve been on the lookout for unknown birds ever since Trebuchet’s request, and I’ve seen a few, but the fuckers never hold still. I’ll be like, “Ooo, mystery bird!” and swing my camera round, and the bird’s all like, “Ha ha ha fuck you! You’ll never photograph meeeee!!!” as it flies into places my camera can’t reach. This one at Seward Park tried the same nonsense, but it went and hid in a tree with lots of gaps in it.


It’s got speckles! That’s so cool. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen one of these round here before, but then, I’ve usually got my eye on rocks and landforms and flowers and insects and other such things that are easier to take photos of.

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Go, Evelyn!

My dear friend and fellow Geokittehs blogger Evelyn Mervine is finishing her thesis tonight. She defends it on Friday the 13th. It’s been a long georney, and she could certainly use all of the support and encouragement we can muster. Give her your love, my darlings, and if you can fill this thread with really bad geology puns, so much the better!

I’m going to attempt a small cheer, although I haven’t got an outfit, and I suck at cheerleading.

G is for Georneys,

O is for Ophiolite.

GO Evelyn! GO Evelyn!

Finishin’ your thes

Gettin’ PhDs

Will be really gneiss

And we’ll be shouting twice:

The Doctor Rocks!

The Doctor Rocks!

You’re the schist! Woo!

In Which I Play the Geological Host

There’s this place in Seattle called Seward Park, where, after an easy amble up a nicely-paved walk, you dodge off onto a wee little trail and come bang up against a fault scarp.

Mah Boys with Fault Scarp

I did a wee write-up on it a bit over a year ago. Good thing, too, because I keep missing the geology walks they do there sometimes, and when you’re showing off the local geology, it helps to know a little something about it. I dusted off ye olde research and read up a bit to refresh ye olde horrible memory, so there were a few moments during which I could answer questions. Such as, “What’s a fault scarp?” Which is answered at the link.

I’ll be doing a more in-depth write-up soon, once I’ve drilled down a bit. There’s so much more to this park than just one fault scarp, although that’s bloody awesome.

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We Can Haz Geokittehs Stoar!

Yes, a store! And you can get stuff with Geokittehs on it! Evelyn is amazing – we kicked this idea around for about twenty seconds, and the next thing I knew, it was a reality. While she’s busy with her thesis, no less. And I haven’t even posted a Geokitteh in ages!

I am so lame. Thankfully, Evelyn is not. Neither is the first offering: a Stalacatite.

The proceeds will be used to fund those geology field trips Evelyn and I keep meaning to take and never quite get round to, us being on opposite sides of the world and stuff. But that’s not all! 10% is going to fund no-kill kitteh shelters. And what do you get? Awesome geology with cats on, that’s what.

This is a very much a work-in-progress. So, what sort of geokitteh-themed stuff would you guys want? And do you have any geokittehs you’d particularly like us to include? Let us know!

I Will Hold On to Life Like Grim Death… No, Wait, That’s a Horrible Metaphor

I’m jonesing so hard for the Doctor right now. Oh, sure, I’ve got classic episodes I’ve never seen, and I’m enjoying those quite a lot. They help fill the void. But, and I hope long-time fans of the show forgive me for saying this, it’s like having a margarita when what one actually wants is a straight shot of El Caballo Estrella Tequila Añejo. Or possibly El Jimador Tequila Añejo, but while it’s reputed to be “an extraordinary sipping tequila,” it wasn’t named after a horse and bottled by a family who had a dairy farm in a place called Volcancillo. A geology and horse lover must opt for El Caballo Estrella, unless given two shot glasses, in which case there is no need for sacrifice.

Where the fuck was I? Oh. Right. The Doctor.

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What To Do If You’re Bored This Weekend

If you’re in the Seattle area, or don’t mind a bit of a drive from elsewhere in the northwest, you can head on over to the Northwest Free-thought Alliance Conference. Can’t attend the conference? No problemo! Join me afterward to see Richard Dawkins, Sean Faircloth and Elisabeth Cornwell. They’re doing a special appearance on Sunday called Working Together for a Secular Society, A Celebration. It’s $5, free if you attended the conference, and there’s been some talk of ETEVers arriving either on horseback or in Viking ships. You should absolutely join us. Here’s where to park the ponies (or dock the ships, whichever):

The main entrance (the one we are using) is on the west side (toward I-405) of the main building.

There is a parking lot on the west of the building as well, for the early arrivals.

If that lot is full, there is a bigger lot on the east of the building, but you’ll have to walk around the building.

To park in the west parking lot, turn east off 124th Ave SE.

If that lot is full, you can turn west off Factoria Blvd. SE. Walking around the building to the south may be less walking than going around on the north side of the building.

Doors open at 2pm on Sunday, April 1st, people. Be there. Also, they may still need volunteers for registering folk at said event – let me know if you hereby volunteer, and I’ll pass the word along to the proper peeps. Yahoo finds me at dhunterauthor.

There is an auction, by the way, and you could possibly be one of the ten lucky people who gets to have Richard Dawkins record your voicemail message.

But say you live on the opposite coast, near, oh, I dunno, Fort Bragg, NC. You can’t make it to this Northwest gig. You know what? There’s something for you, too. You may have heard a little bit about it.

And it’s free! So if you’re anywhere within driving distance, and you have nothing critical to do on Saturday, like get emergency surgery or spend the day with your dying friend/family member/pet, get your arse down there. Support our atheist troops by being enormously entertained for free. Also, it’s free, did I mention?

Come prepared to donate some food, though. Y’see, unconstitutional evangelical proselytizing events on the military time and dime are allowed to do good works, but apparently atheists are not. That’s okay. We know how to subvert the system, don’t we just? And for those of us who can’t actually make it to RBB, there’s a handy little donate button at that link to ensure we can participate anyway.

Right, so there’s our weekend plans on both coasts all sorted. What’re you folks in the middle doing, eh?

Edited to add: Also, go read Cuttlefish’s poem.

The Mystery of Strike and Dip

There are things that remain somewhat mysterious to me. You can read about things like strike and dip for months, years even, but they’re words. You know dip refers to something tilting down. It’s right there in the word. Strike is more vague. I usually think of it as “striking out,” perhaps for parts unknown.

And if you’d asked me to demonstrate strike and dip in the field, I would’ve laughed in your face. The whole concept has a sort of je ne sais quois to it. I can recognize the words. I know it’s measured with a compass. I had absolutely no bloody idea how to see it.

Until now. Observe. Lockwood will show you in four photos of Sunset Bay, OR he posted on Twitter and gave me his kind permission to use, with the captions taken from his tweets.

#1: Oblique view of a single bed- rocks in sand lower middle right show up in 3 & 4 as well...

Now, experienced geologists and geology students will have no problem seeing what Lockwood saw. To folks like me, this is just some bent-looking rocks. And you might, like me, be too busy wrapping your head around the idea that apparently bent rocks are actually straight to even consider strike and dip.

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Sign the Petition for Trans Rights

It infuriates me that we have to have discussions like this in the 21st Century. It outrages me that we have to beg people to give folks their basic human rights. Why haven’t we reached the point where it’s obvious to even the dimmest and most backward among us that it’s not okay to deny people jobs, relationships, safety and their lives simply because they’re transsexual?

Oh. Right. Bronze Age religious bullshit and the general population’s total inability to consider the humanity of people different from them.

We need to give society a push in the right direction.

First, read Natalie’s piece on the Canadian bill that would give trans folks a chance a regular, decent lives.

Then go sign the petition to make it happen.

We can make a difference. We must.