Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Maryland Duo

You lot are genius – I’m getting some lovely UFDs. Some are more unidentified than others. Take this gorgeous girl from Rwahrens – even those of us who haven’t got a clue about birds know roughly what she is. But like he said when he sent her, how often do you see them sitting still?

UFD I. Rockville, MD, Aug 2009. “Probably deciding which flower to target next…” Image courtesy Rwahrens.

Dunno if you can figure out her species with her back turned, but it’s worth a try. Isn’t that a fantastic shot? I love it.

This one’s adorable, too:

UFD II. Rockville MD, April, 2007. “He/she was nesting in a ceramic nest hanging from our magnolia at the time.” Image courtesy Rwahrens.

Lovely. Thank you, Rwahrens!

I’ve got a few more reader submissions waiting, but I could always use more. Even if it’s a mostly Identified Flying Dinosaur, if you’ve got a shot you want to share, send it on. And, of course, send us the ones you can’t identify for the life of you. Put “UFD” in the subject line, and send them on to dhunterauthor at yahoo dot com. I can’t wait to see what we get next!

Info Request for GRE, Quitting Update, and Kitteh Rescue

A few items on the agenda, here.

Firstly, I’ve got a G+ friend named Craig DaGeek who is investigating the possibility of getting into grad school for geology. He could use some insight from those in the know: what’s the new GRE like? Do you know of any good study resources for it? Any info you can give him would be much appreciated. Let’s get another geology major into grad school and out in the field!

Lockwood alerted me there’s a kitteh in Sequim, WA that could use a home. Keep an eye on the comments section there if you’re interested: they may have found a place for it, but maybe not, and it would be nice to know it has several potential homes willing to take it in just in case one falls through. Lots of people have already pledged to help with vet bills and transportation. Yay, crowdsourcing!

(For those wondering why I’m not in a car to Sequim right this moment, let me just say Misha would murder us both upon arrival home. We lost the chance at a fantastic brother because she wouldn’t accept the idea of a second kitteh. I still have moments where I deeply regret not being able to keep him – he was the sweetest thing in the universe.)

On the quitting front: the dreams are fading, which makes me sad. I’m tempted to ask Dr. John if it would be safe to up the dose to bring them back! Outside of that, Chantix is beginning to work. I’ve had four cigarettes this weekend, which is unheard of for me. I went an entire phone conversation with my best friend without smoking, which hasn’t happened in over fifteen years.

The cravings still come on rather strong at times, but I can go up to 8 hours now before it gets to the point where I need to smoke a bit to allow myself to focus on other things. Some of my friends who were on Chantix said it took them three or four weeks before they were able to quit completely, so since we’re only one day into Week Three, I’m not stressing. We’ll see what happens at work tomorrow, though! After the second or third call, it’s possible I will be marching into Dr. John’s office asking if dosage can be upped. Yeesh.

My stepmother, who is undergoing quite a lot of stress, is still smoke-free. My mother is trying to quit. My father, damn him, quit over a year ago without a single patch or pill. Damn him.

We live in hope that the whole family will be non-smoking by the end o’ the year. Woot!

Right. That’s the end of the housekeeping items. Please do mention to current/recent grad students and other such denizens of academia that we’re in the market for GRE info – I want to see Craig DaGeek become Dr. DaGeek, and know we gave him a little help along the way!

 

Geoscience and Technology: The Internets Made Me a Geoblogger

I missed the last Accretionary Wedge because, let’s face it, I take utterly awful field notes. Of course, it doesn’t seem like the actual round-up was posted. And I almost missed this one because busy with field tripping and Mount St. Helens. Also, what would a total amateur have to say about all the nifty technology that’s doing great things for geology?

Well, lots, actually, considering the fact that without technology, I wouldn’t be doing geology.

The path that took me from rank-amateur-casually-interested-in-geology to becoming one of two Scientific American geobloggers led right through the internet. Without the internet and social media, there’s no way I’d be doing this. So I want to talk a bit about how technology led this ordinary person into geology, because it’s a path any citizen can follow, in whole or in part, as far as they like. Some of them will move in directions I’ve not dreamt of. And it’s all good for geology, which deserves some fame, damn it.

I started writing back in the days before the internet was a household thing. My research was done through books. I didn’t have access to journals once I left college, and I had no idea how to read them anyway. There’s only so much you can learn from the popular science books that are available and within a poor person’s budget. And books are one-way. You can’t ask questions. If you don’t personally know any scientists, you don’t have anyone to grab while you wail, “But I don’t understand!!!

There weren’t that many books on geology then, and there aren’t now. For a depressing exercise, go in to Barnes and Noble. Unless yours is different than mine, the science section is overwhelmingly physics and cosmology, with a considerable chunk of general science, some biology, and maybe maths. You can find chemistry if you have a high-powered microscope. Geology isn’t there. Not a single bloody book on the subject. Some idiot decided it belongs back in the Nature section, so that people looking for Science won’t stumble across geology by mistake.

Bastards.

For geology, I had a book or two on earthquakes and volcanoes, a geology textbook I’d picked up used, and my old physical geography text. There were some popular books out: ones on the Grand Canyon and other famous places. When I moved up here to the Pacific Northwest, I discovered that there’s a fuck of a lot of geology around, and that people were proud enough of it to write guidebooks. I found several – you can see a list of some of them here.

There was also, now, Amazon. Amazon has sooo much geology.

As you can tell, I was still in book-learning mode, but the internet had already begun to change things. I’d started a blog, did a bit of science, used the internet to write up the Juan de Fuca Plate. I’d started reading some geoblogs, and discovered that wow, there’s actually quite a lot of information an aspiring SF writer who wants to build a world can get their hands on. Awesomesauce.

Also, with all those books telling me about the delights our local subduction zone was offering up, I figured it was time to get visiting. My intrepid companion and I took a trip to Oregon. I wrote it up for the enjoyment of my few readers. I didn’t think anything of it. But the geoblogosphere noticed what I was up to, and laid claim. I had, without intending to, become a geoblogger.

This is when that little incident where Erik Klemetti of Eruptions decided he was leaving ScienceBlogs but didn’t yet know where he was going to land became important, because before then, I’d sneered at Twitter. But it was the only place he was going to be. Couldn’t live without Eruptions, so I followed him there. I got swept up into conversations with and between professional geologists there. Just watching them talk, reading their blogs, discovering new geobloggers, being able to ask questions and get encouragement, transformed everything. I wasn’t researching alone anymore, trying to understand something I’d never been trained in with nothing more than words on a page and a few photographs. I had a plethora of geologic mentors. I had help. This, more than anything else, encouraged me to follow that passion for geology that had waxed and waned since I was a child. They told me I had something to contribute. They gave me the ability to figure this stuff out.

They introduced me to Google Scholar. And between those conversations I’d eavesdropped on, the questions they’d answered, the posts they’d written, and the books I’d read, I learned enough to feel confident tackling actual papers. Not stuff written with a lay audience in mind, but stuff written by professionals, for professionals. And I discovered it was exciting.

Lockwood, who is the best resource for geology the Pacific Northwest has, takes me out in the field two or three times a year now. The internet is all well and good, but sometimes, you’ve gotta get out there and pound rocks with a professional. That, really, was what tipped me over from someone barely treading water to someone who could paddle out just past the shallow end and not drown. But he’d never have been there, these adventures would never have happened, if we hadn’t met online. And it doesn’t stop with him! I got the opportunity to explore some of New England’s geology with Dr. Evelyn Mervine, right after she’d gotten her PhD. Together, we did some ground-breaking research. (Humor, of course, is a very important component of popularizing science. Also, it’s fun.)

I’ve met up in meatspace with Silver Fox, Ryan Brown, Helena Mallonee, Michael Klass, and Aaron Barth, all of whom are brilliant geologists, amazing writers, and fantastic companions. I’ve hung out in Ron Schott’s G+ Geology Office Hours and been a part, even if usually just a listening part, of a lot of fascinating conversations with geologists.

And because all of this was taking place in a very public setting, my writing was out there for folks to notice. Bora, when looking for another blogger for Scientific American, decided I would do. This was only because my fellow geobloggers, especially Anne Jefferson and Christ Rowan, had assured him I could do the job. Without the support of my friends in the geoblogosphere, never would have happened. But they got me there.

This is all pretty astonishing stuff for someone without a science degree, lemme tell ya. And I’m not special. I’m not some super-genius. I just got lucky. That luck wouldn’t have happened without the internet and the social media is spawned.

Ordinary folk can read the blogs geologists write, and learn some geology in the process.

Ordinary folk can watch geologists discuss geology amongst themselves. And we may not understand everything that’s being said, but we’re on the internet – we can look it up.

Ordinary folk can access scientific papers, a surprising number of them for free, and while they can be heavy going at first, understanding them gets much easier with time. Not to mention, they can tell outstanding stories (pdf) if you know a little bit going in. (Seriously. Go read that paper I linked. It’s fascinating – if you know just a bit about geology, it’s like reading a detective novel and adventure story all in one.)

Ordinary folk can even find themselves making friends with working geologists, and sometimes getting opportunities to get out in the field with them. Fantastic!

And if ordinary folk can research and write and have quite a lot of passion for it, they can become science writers without having to get fancy degrees. All the resources they need are freely available right here on the internet.

This is outstanding for geology. We don’t have to worry about people getting round to writing popular books, and trying to get B&N to acknowledge those books as, y’know, science. We can take geology directly to the public. We can use Twitter to ask and answer questions, either between professionals or between professionals and interested members of the public. We can react quickly to geological news, correct errors in mass media, and babble about our beautiful rocks, thus getting people interested who have never even looked twice at a rock, much less wonder how all this stuff works. We can do our own damned PR, and we can do it brilliantly. I mean, c’mon, who has the beer? We haz the beer!

And our science rocks.

Moi with ripple marks at the dinosaur trackway near Holyoke, MA. Image courtesy Dr. Evelyn Mervine.

This post is dedicated to my friends and mentors in the geoblogosphere. ¡Muchas gracias, y salud!

Fun With Disasters

Several days ago, Woozle shared this post with me on G+, jokingly wondering if I could identify the “rock formation” this hand sample came from:

Disaster Batch of July 19, 2012. Image courtesy Harena Atria.

And I was all like “Ha ha ha Woozle you are teh funneh – wait. I have something that looks very much like that.”

Check these two photos out:

Crop of another Disaster Batch photo. Image courtesy Harena.

Crop of one o’ mah rocks. Read on for the reveal!

Not a perfect match, but eerily close, innit?

Both of these things came about through disasters. One was a batch of soap that went terribly wrong. Harena says, “The dark stuff you see in the bars is this fascinating gel of not properly saponified oils (it is not caustic at all that I can tell).” I’m going to have to take her word for it, because I don’t know the first fucking thing about soap.

The second photo in the above pair is an extreme close-up of a fascinating bit o’ rock. It’s from a rhyolite outcrop Lockwood adores. It’s in northern Nevada: you can see its location on Flash Earth here. Someday, I will have to entice a volcanologist to it: we don’t know quite what it is, and only some heavy work with thin sections is going to resolve it. But a great exchange on Twitter between geobloggers came up with some likely possibilities, rhemorphic tuff being the prime candidate.

This would have been a definite disaster, but it’s a beautiful one.

Full image of rock the crop was taken from. Don’t worry: scale to follow.

Here’s a small piece of that outcrop. One one side, you’ve got this kind of bubbly texture going in a pale yellow something – I don’t even know what it is (hopefully Lockwood will drop by and tell all he knows, because I know he knows more about these minerals than I do). I believe this is botryoidal texture, which is a habit a lot of minerals have. Of course, I don’t know if this looks like the classic “bunch of grapes” because of the mineral or something else. So much I don’t know about this outcrop. Yet.

Flip this sample over…

Other side of hand sample.

I mean, that’s pretty damned spectacular, amirite? I don’t know what’s causing the brilliant orange, but it’s fantastic.

So here’s a much larger chunk, and it’s displaying some of the abundant spherulites we found all over this outcrop.

Spherulites formed in rhyolite tuff.

The spherulites are all those little rounded thingies, which is why I’m not positive about the botryoidal texture – could be lots of spherulites clumped together and coated with stuff for all I know. I need to thoroughly investigate this, but I’ve been busy investigating other things. Give me time. I could do a whole bloody series on this outcrop when I’ve done the proper research. I mean, take a bumpty brownish rock with a little bit of orange on it, flip it over, and…

Other side of the sample.

Yowsa! Colors pop, textures asplode, you can see a bit of what looks like flow banding, there’s clear bubbly glass all over it. Gorgeous!

Macro of the gorgeous stuff.

How spectacular is that? Wait, it gets better:

Even more macro. Yum!

Absolutely do click for the larger versions of those. And keep in mind, varied as these are, it’s only the beginning of the fascinations that outcrop displays. I could keep you occupied for a solid week showing you different aspects of it.

This, my friends, would have been a disaster if you’d been there. If it’s a rheomorphic tuff, that is some seriously hot rhyolitic ash that descended upon the area. The Pacific Northwest was no fit place to be between sixteen and fifteen million years ago, when we believe this beauty erupted. The Columbia River Basalts coated absolutely everything, or so it seemed, and then the bits they didn’t cover, the McDermitt volcanic field did. Nevada may have been laughing at Oregon and Washington – “Ha ha, look at ya’ll, getting all flooded by basalt. We’re doing fine here! Ha ha ha!” – but it wasn’t laughing long. Let Wikipedia put it this way: “The northwest Nevada calderas have diameters ranging from 15–26 km and deposited high temperature rhyolite ignimbrites over approximately 5000 km2.” (That would be calderas 9-16 miles in diameter devastating an area of around 3,100 miles for those of us allergic to the metric system.) This translates to zomg everything’s covered in super-hot clouds of ash and the whole world seems like it exploded!!eleventy!!

And it left this utterly gorgeous, glassy rhyolitic tuff behind.

I promised thee scale. Here are both beautiful babies with a dollar coin for scale.

People often wonder just what the fuck I find so fascinating about rocks. Then I show them stuff like this, and tell them what I know of its story, and after they’ve collected their jaws from the floor, most of them wonder no more. (It also helps that I sometimes bring samples and the rock hammer to work, and take folks on mini field trips during break. They loves them some hammer time!)

And there you have it: as long as no one was hurt, disasters can be fun, and unexpectedly beautiful.

(Please don’t judge Harena’s Handmade Soap by one disaster. It’s usually quite lovely and not disastrous at all.)

Mystery Flora and UFD Double Header

I promised you a two-fer today, and by West Coast standards, it is still today. See? I keep my promises sometimes! Sorta.

So here’s flora: little star-like flowers with a purple stripe, gracing the trails on the summit of Marys Peak in Oregon. I see flowers like these everywhere round the Northwest, and you may have identified something like these, but if so, I can’t remember when or what they are.

Mystery Flower

When we have enough entries, I might put together an e-book. That would be pretty awesome, actually – an ebook full of flowers you lot have identified, which we can all download and use for things like field identification and bragging rights. I might very well do it in the future. So if you want it to be less Northwest-centric and have a few mystery flowers of your own, you’d best send me some of your unidentified beauties. Put “Mystery Flora” in the subject line and send to dhunterauthor at yahoo dot com.

Right. On to Unidentified Flying Dinosaurs (which we should also do a book on someday). This is both a joy and a fuuuck. We saw it whilst driving down a road up near Quartzville.

UFD I

You have to keep in mind, I’d spent the entire trip trying to catch sight of a bird, and all I’d gotten to that point was tittering from the trees. The birds in Oregon are worse than the ones on Washington for staying hidden while lustily singing at the top of their little lungs to let me know on no uncertain terms that they’re there but they ain’t gonna give me the satisfaction of a photo. Little bastards. One particularly beautiful and strange one flew overhead at Marys Peak, timing its flight so that it would be long gone by the time I got the camera aimed. So when we saw this one running down the road, I stopped the car and got out as quickly as I could – just in time to see the baby bird following it dive into a ditch. Fuuuck.

But at least Mama was too busy sussing out us potential threats to realize, “Aha! That’s Dana, with a camera – I should go hide and then start singing at her before she gets the camera turned on!”

And then, just when I’d snapped the first photo and was getting better positioned for a second, she started for the underbrush.

UFD II

And I was all like, “NOOOOO!!!!!!!!” and she said, “Okay, fine, just one more then, make it snappy, you freak, I’ve got a kid to track down.”

UFD III

And verily, I rejoiced.

It’s a good thing you lot have been sending me UFDs, the way the ones up here treat me like I’m radioactive. Maybe I’ll try putting on a birdseed suit next time I’m out, but I suspect that will only lead to becoming coated in squirrels. And raccoons. And corvids and seagulls, because they have no shame when it comes to food. I’ll have to make sure someone’s following me with a video camera, because the resultant war over my body should be hi-larious. Help me avoid that, and send me more UFDs, please! Same email address as above, o’ course, only put “UFD” in the subject line.

Also, does anyone know where you can purchase birdseed suits? Cause I would totally wear one anyway.

Too Awesome to Wait! Meet Volcanologist (and St. Helens Survivor) Dr. Catherine Hickson

You’ll get your UFD and Mystery Flora super combo later today, I promise. Right now, I just have to gush. I’m super-excited: I found another geologist who witnessed the May 1980 eruption! Catherine Hickson was a geology student from Canada, and she was only 15 miles east of the summit when it blew. She wrote a book on the experience (which I just ordered), and went on to become a renowned vulcanologist. Scha-weet!

Dr. Catherine Hickson. Image courtesy It’s MY Day.

There is an excellent story on her and her husband Paul’s escape from the blast zone that day. These lines give me shivers:

“I was frightened that entire morning,” she recently recalled. “But it changed me. It changed what I studied. It changed what I became.” She became Canada’s most celebrated volcanologist.

Can you see why I couldn’t wait to introduce her?

You know how I found her? USGS Professional Paper 1250 has a “Summary of Eyewitness Accounts of the May 18 Eruption.” And I’ve read it before, but I was reading it closely this time, because I’m deciding which survivors’ stories to highlight. The paper, in the beginning, just has a table with first initials and last names, location, and what they saw/did. There were quite a few witnesses interviewed – geologists were trying to piece together just what the hell had happened, and these folks with their accounts and sometimes photographs were invaluable to that effort. So they did up a whole paper with just their stories, this little table, and in the body of the paper, they’re pretty much just identified by their location: Dr. Hickson is “15E.” And I’m reading the first snippet from 15E:

“As the avalanche reached the halfway point on the mountain, the summit eruption began with a dense black cloud followed by lighter gray material. A second eruption halfway down the slope occurred moments later…”

And I stop, because in the intro, the authors of the paper have already stated that they used the witnesses’ own words. “That,” I thought, “sounds an awful lot like a geologist.” So I looked up “15E” in the table, found P & C Hickson, and googled “P Hickson Mount St Helens” on the off chance. And found Dr. Catherine Hickson. She, from the bits and pieces I’ve read, is amazing. So one of these days soon, I’m going to see if I can get in touch with her by email and see if she’ll do an interview for us. I’d love for us all to meet her!

Let me know what questions you have for a young geology student who came down for a gander at St. Helens and ended up having her entire future career changed. And if you of you lucky barstards gets to meet her IRL before I do, buy her a drink on me if she’s so inclined. I’ll reimburse you. She definitely deserves a toast!

Oh, and in case you couldn’t tell: “SQUEE!!!!!!!”

Finding out about awesome geologists like her is one of the major reasons why this blogging schtick is so damned rewarding. Ranks right up there with you, my darlings. Between the science, the scientists, and my readers, I have a perfect trifecta of win. So thank you!

New at Rosetta Stones: Beginnings

So, Nature Network bloggers have a sniny new home at SciLogs.com, and we SciAm bloggers joined the beginnings bash to welcome them. My contribution is a post on the beginnings of geology, my beginnings as a geoblogger, and call for new beginnings. If you’ve not begun to be a geologist, but think you might be interested, begin now!

Now I’m beginning to think of bed, but before I go, I want to give a shout-out to two particular SciLogs bloggers. GrrlScientist has Maniraptora there, and I wanted to make sure everyone who loves her knows where to find her. Also, SciLogs boasts a soil scientist, Karen Vancampenhout at Down to Earth. I figured you folks interested in rocks might enjoy a little dirt, too, eh? I surely do!

By now, you’re probably all like, “Three posts in one day, but she can’t give us UFDs and Mystery Flora in a whole week?!” Never fear. I have a double-feature planned for ye tomorrow, my darlings. In the meantime, enjoy a little slack Friday time with science. Plenty to choose from.

Answer to a Geologic Riddle: Well-Rounded

I expected this one to be simplicity itself, which is why I salted the clues with ambiguity – and apparently ended up being too deceptive! But all of you who guessed “pillow basalt!” shouldn’t feel bad. For one thing, the clues can easily be construed that way. For another, that’s the first thing I shouted when I saw that outcrop, too. And I had my nose to it!

But there’s another thing that can cause that nicely rounded shape: spheroidal weathering. This is a fine example of spheroidal weathering in basalt. Ron Schott wins a – um, well, there aren’t any prizes yet, so he wins our adulation, I suppose.

Spheroidal weathering made this lovely little basalt glob.

All of you who guessed basalt also win adulation. ‘Tis basalt! Well, I thought it was basalt, anyway. I was pretty sure I’d remembered that right, but there’s a lot of gabbro on Marys Peak as well, and I couldn’t remember if this was that or not, and I could have taken the rock hammer to it to get a fresh surface, but it’s such a nice little round shape, a perfect exemplar of spheroidal weathering, and… so I decided to check with Lockwood. He confirmed basalt:

Siletz River Volcanics, so basalt. That sample is a bit coarser grained than is usual for basalt, but still nowhere near coarse enough for me to be tempted to call it diabase- intermediate between basalt and gabbro. The fact mafic magmas are less viscous, and have ionic mobilities higher than felsic magma, means crystals can grow more easily and  rapidly- which means you can easily get grain sizes readily visible to the naked eye, but not really large enough to ID readily. In turn, I think this is why we have the term diabase as an intermediate to basalt and gabbro, while, as far as I know, there is no equivalent term for intermediate or felsic igneous rocks.

I’ve seen plenty like that in lava flows in Arizona, where crystals gleam and sparkle in flows that obviously didn’t spend ages slowly cooling underground. This one seems quite like those.

The reason I threw in the clue about its weight is because I didn’t want anyone haring off after ideas that it might be a concretion in a sedimentary formation: this piece I collected is little, but quite a bit heavier than an equal bit of sandstone would be. Yet, at first glance, it does look like a very dark sandstone.

Here’s the outcrop from whence it hails:

Basalt dike through volcanic breccia, Marys Peak, OR

Lockwood explains:

It’s a dike through a coarse volcanic breccia. Some poor sorting and bedding is visible in the breccia in some spots. The thing that particularly impressed me on this visit was the degree of weathering. That cut was made shortly before I moved out here, so about 35 years ago. Hard to believe, when I first saw this spot, it was basically pristine and fresh.

Now it’s all crumbly and weathered to hell. But still fun. Look! Baby spheroidal weathering!

Incipient spheroidal weathering in basalt, Marys Peak, OR

That bulgy bit on the right, with the little white spot of lichen or something, is aspiring to be the next well-rounded bit of basalt you can hold in your hand. Adorable!

Loved all of your guesses. If you’ve no objections, I believe we’ll keep doing riddles. This is awesome good fun!

Dude. This Shit’s Actually Working…

Just a quick Chantix update. I’m almost done with Week 2, and I was despairing, because I still wanted to smoke. I made myself cut back a bit, but the cravings came on pretty strong, and I was all like, “Shit. My body isn’t going to let me be in that group that just loses interest, is it? It’s burning through this just like it does Demerol (and believe me when I say penchant for blowing through painkiller 5x faster than normal people sucks leper donkey dick when you’re dealing with kidney stones). We’ll have to treble the dose to get any result, and no doc in their right mind will ever do that. Wah!”

But I was able to cut back a bit, which until now had been unheard of.

And then came today. Aunty Flow arrived after I’d only gotten two hours of sleep, and this was one of those “Whee, let’s cause as much pain as possible!” cycles, so I decided fuck work and called out so I could lie about moaning all day. Normally, when I’m in acute pain, what I want are cigarettes and lots of them. Standing there smoking often helped the pain. This time? Nah. I took my ibuprofen, and settled in with Robert Ingersoll, and read for a couple of hours until the drugs kicked in. Then I napped. Then I woke up in more pain, as per usual, and popped more profen, and read some more, and finally in the very late afternoon decided that since I had a halfsie on the porch, I might as well go smoke it before it got too stale. Then I read for a while longer before I did so. And my brain didn’t do the “ZOMG nicotine!!!” dance. It did the, “Meh, that was alright, nothing special” thing.

This shit actually works. Even on people whose metabolisms burn through prescription drugs, alcohol and anything else in about 2.2 seconds. Even on people whose bodies seem to take a perverse pleasure in responding to medication in unexpected ways. I mean, I’m the person who can’t take NyQuil, because instead of sending me off to coma-land, it acts like a methamphetamine: jacked-up heart rate, paranoia, extreme wakefulness…

The dreams continue somewhat vivid. I had a fantastic one a few nights ago where I went up to Canada to blog about astronomers tracking an asteroid, and they caught me as I was taking pictures of the observatory. I thought I was going to get kicked out, being there unofficially, but they were delighted a layperson was so interested and invited me up to join them. They even let me play with the equipment, take lots of pictures for the blog, and gave me copious information on what and how they were doing. We enjoyed the intersection of geology and astronomy. And all was wonderful until I realized I’d crossed the border with my drivers license, not a passport, and wouldn’t be able to go back to the States, because our border guards are shits. Whoops! I briefly panicked until I realized Natalie and Jason would probably help me arrange couch surfing until I could get a passport arranged. That crisis sorted, I went back to enjoying science with the pros, and it was one of the greatest dreams ever.

I love this shit.

New at Rosetta Stones: Risk

I’ll have the answer to our geologic riddle tomorrow. I’ve got all the bits now, thanks to Lockwood, but I ran short of time. Had to get our next installment of Prelude to a Catastrophe written, didn’t I? And by the time I finished, it was five in the bloody ay-em, wasn’t it? Yep.

Locked gate on Highway 504, leading to Mount St. Helens. USGS Photograph taken on May 3, 1980, by C.Dan Miller.

So go enjoy some risks in the meantime.

Mount St. Helens from YMCA camp. Skamania County, Washington. April 27, 1980. Image courtesy USGS.