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Jul 15 2012

Dreaming on Chantix. Plus, Answers to Reader Questions, Including Some Nifty Geology.

Yeah, I meant to have waterfalls ready for ye, and then I fell asleep. I’m not sure if massive sleeping will be a side effect of Chantix or if it’s just a result of finally having time off after a strenuous trip to Oregon. I can tell you, after my first dose of Chantix, that sleeping is far more interesting than it used to be.

The dreams… well, they’re not quite Technicolor yet, but they’re as detailed as those I used to have when I was writing fiction regularly. They’ve not been violent, as some folks report – mine have been along the lines of geologic field trips. No wonder I’m still tired when I wake up, right? One that I remember had a big group of various geobloggers and coworkers headed up to Erratic Rock State Natural Site, and we attempted to have a picnic until we decided the hilltop was too hot and exposed. Also, the state was doing some improvements, including new paved trails and a nifty new informational sign, so the area was a little torn up. As we were rounding up kids and gathering food, I snapped a photo of it to read later, then my friend Anthony came by with a bag of green olives. He poured me out some, including juice, and I could taste them. So much for the morons who claim you can’t taste anything in dreams: you can, and I haven’t even needed to take Chantix to do it. That glazed donut that one time remains a fond memory. Mmm, yeasty bread and sugar!

Anyway. Yeah. So it’s mostly been geologic excursions, but I also had one where Starspider and I went to point and laugh at some Islamic creationists with the local skeptics group. They played a song, which was a mix of Arabic and English, and had the lyrics scrolling on a screen beside them. Unfortunately, the bastards didn’t translate the Arabic bits, although they’d transliterated it (in Arabic-style font, mind you: kinda curly and fancy, hard to read whilst scrolling). But it’s interesting, looking back, to know I was seeing Arabic as well as English, and some of those were Arabic words I knew, like Allah. Someone once told me you can’t read in dreams, either. They’re full of shit. I’ve done it often.

The Islamic creationists may have been hideous at science, but they were damned good musicians. Very catchy song, excellent beat, and quite fun. One of the verses was asking how people could worship someone as lame as Jesus and said how much cooler Islam is, which made me LOL. At the end of the presentation, I was going to get in line to meet them and say that they have much better music than Christian creationists, but that’s all they have going for them, then decided against as the line was long and it wasn’t that important.

So that’s it. That’s Chantix so far. I’m enjoying the dreams enough that I have a suspicion I’ll be sleeping more than I should. I’ll try not to let that interfere with blogging. Much. As far as other side effects: none. No nausea, no life-threatening skin conditions, no other problems. Still smoking, but it takes about a week before the drug starts doing its thing. We’ll see if the urge is reduced once the dosage goes up on Tuesday.

Because reading about other people’s dreams is boring, I’ll take this opportunity to answer a few reader questions.

Hotshoe said on my “I’m Back” post, “Hey, cool rocks. What I want to know is did you find the geocache?”

We didn’t, on account of not looking, but the gentleman looking for it did. You can see him to the right in this photo, looking for it:

Geocaching bystander at Erratic Rock State Natural Site.

Poor Lockwood was about to fall over by that point. Comes to that, so was I.

RQ said in the answer to the geologic riddle, “Wow, yay us smarty-pants, do we get a prize? Like another riddle or something? :)”

I have got another riddle coming. Lockwood and I are still mulling over how to present it, but yes, you will have another riddle. Probably more than one, as I sort through various adventures with riddles in mind.

In the same thread, F asks, “Do we have any idea when the stratum this was found in was formed and and under what conditions?”

Lockwood certainly does, and I’ll have him answer in some detail. I’m not sure of the age – I believe he said it was formed around the Pleistocene. This is on Quartzville Drive, and we’ll have a map as soon as I can dragoon Cujo into making one. We’ve got mileage and stuff: it’s 11.2 miles from Green Peter Dam, and would have been an early stop if we hadn’t missed it on the way in. We dropped by at the end of the day, when we were all exhausted and not thinking clearly. The outcrop is listed in the field trip guide (item 17) as “a roadcut in which sandstone, siltstone, and volcanic material are exposed as bedded units. Note the eastward dip of the beds. At the east end of the roadcut the sedimentary sequence is overlain by a basalt flow. The black layer which separates the two units is a paleosoil horizon which was baked by the heat of the basalt flow. This soil zone contains some petrified wood fragments.” They got the sandstone, siltstone, and volcanic material all right, but that massive stone above isn’t basalt – it’s a debris flow. It is manifestly a debris flow. Which means the wood was already burnt when it was buried, possibly in a forest fire. So you’ve got a paleosol with large trees growing in it, which were burned, and then a massive debris flow buried them before they could rot away. Silica got down in that charcoal and turned it into something seriously hard. The whole outcrop lithified, and the debris flow is solid enough now that some experienced geologists have mistaken it for a lava flow. Kinda nifty!

And, finally, on the Derpy Caturday post in which I mentioned I’d thrown over blogging for scrubbing shiny rocks whilst watching classic Doctor Who, Aliasalpha asks, “What stories did you watch?”

Lessee. I watched “Colony in Space” the first night, then “The Curse of Peladon.” You may notice “The Daemons” and “Day of the Daleks” missing – that’s because either Channel 9 didn’t broadcast them, or my DVR forgot to record them, not sure which. I’ll catch up later.

Impressions: while the special effects are atrocious, and the storytelling is sometimes, ah, how shall I put this… not all that could be hoped for, I absolutely adore Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. Out of all the classic Doctors I’ve seen, he’s by far my favourite. He’s the first who’s made me feel that I’m actually watching Doctor Who, that this is the Doctor, and that I pay almost undivided attention to. Granted, I’ve been scrubbing rocks, but I don’t need to focus on that. I can sorta feel my way around them with the toothbrush whilst I watch.

As far as Three’s companions… I bloody miss Liz Shaw. Favorite. Companion. Ever. Okay, so Jamie was awesome, no argument there, but Jo Grant is driving me nuts. She’s starting to grow on me a bit, but I adored Liz from the moment she appeared, and I wish she’d had a longer run. It was nice to have someone calm, competent, and science-savvy running about with the Doctor, and so often giving him a look that said, “I cannot believe you are that much of an outrageous idiot.” Glorious!

I can’t wait until Sarah Jane Smith appears on the scene. I hadn’t realized she started off with Three. Woot! Two of my favoritest in the same place!!!

And, it appears, I’ll still be scrubbing rocks when we get to her episodes. Some of the dirt on these quartz samples is determined to stay put. Sigh. Ah, well, it’s worth it to bring out the sparkles. Sparkles is how you hook innocent folk on geology. Perfect lure. And it allows me to claim that my Doctor Who watching is actually work, doncha know. Shh. Don’t tell anyone it’s actually recreation.

14 comments

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  1. 1
    Lockwood

    Most of the volcanic and clastic rocks in the area are Oligocene in age; the granodiorite where we had lunch is dated at 18 ma, and the cinder cone and associated flow is on top of glacial till, so it’s an anomalous Pleistocene in age. The age of the outcrop in question is not certain, but roughly 30 ma would be a reasonable guesstimate. A number of environments can be interpreted at the “petrified charcoal stop,” but I think overall it can best be viewed as a broad valley floor, where a stream approached the coast of the Willamette Embayment. (What we now call the Willamette Valley was at the time below sea level.) There are at least two debris flows lower in the section, which can be recognized by graded bedding. Overlying that are some fairly well sorted layers of silt and sand with leaf and other plant fossils. So I interpret that as a forest ecosystem growing onto stream sorted and deposited sediment. Then there’s the brick red paleosol, with the overlying carbonized wood. Some chunks of black are entrained in the subsequent debris flow, and while you can’t really get at them to look closely, we presume those represent more carbonized and silicified wood that got picked up and mixed into the slurry rather than pinned onto the surface and buried, like the pieces we can get at.

  2. 2
    F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

    Wow. Thank you, Dana and Lockwood. Very cool, and much appreciated. So the Willamette was already very much a trough prior to the Missoula flood(s). I hadn’t gotten to that before. I love this stuff. And now I have a lot of material to play with.

    Chantix: Somehow I’ve been having weird and vivid dreams since you started taking Chantix. Could be that vivid dreams were suggested in your posts. Could be random chance. I don’t know.

    Jo Grant: I never quite got the hang of the Jo Grant character.
    Liz Shaw: Exactly. What you said.
    Sarah Jane: I like Elisabeth Sladen (minus the fear portrayals and screaming she was required to produce at an alarming rate as Sarah Jane). Otherwise, I really liked the character. It seemed unfortunate that Eldrad must live.

    1. 2.1
      Lockwood

      The Willamette “Valley” isn’t a “true” valley, but a structural depression. The Coast Range is a topographic high due to compression and folding, the Cascades are high due to volcanism piling up lava, and the Willamette Valley is low due to nothing happening. The main reason it’s above sea level is the accumulation of sediment, partly from the Missoula Floods, but even more importantly from debris excavated by glaciers in the Cascades.

      1. F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

        Oh. Something I had come across (and I’d have to look for it now) indicated that it was a syncline in the underlying rock. Or is that folding due to the rise of the Coast Range and the Cascades, rendering my question meaningless? (I.e., it is both lower and folded because the land rose on either side from orogenic goodness?) I’ve also seen Basin and Range extension implicated, but never with enough of the actual text to find out what happened where, when, and in what order.

        I’m going to need to start ordering more library books.

        1. Lockwood

          It probably isn’t accurate to think of the WV as a syncline… on the Coast Range side, that’s not *too* inaccurate, but there’s a number of fault boundaries as well. On the Cascade side, the shallower rocks actually nose deeper- they’ve been shoved down by the younger lavas piled on top of them. At its simplest, it’s just a linear basin where little has happened beyond sedimentation (though there clearly is some faulting down there, and some of those faults may pose risks), while the land on either side has gone up- one side from folding, the other from piling on volcanoes and associated debris.

  3. 3
    Rob

    Dana/Lockwood

    When you say debris flow are you talking flood/lahar type debris flow or could it be a pyroclastic flow? I have no idea what the surrounding geology is but the thought occurred that a high temperature debris flow could carbonise the wood and then fuse quite solid. We have some examples like that around here.

    1. 3.1
      Lockwood

      It’s pretty clearly a debris flow/lahar- in an environment such as this, the two terms are basically interchangeable. While the sediment is poorly sorted, it’s clearly from a varied source, that is, there are a variety of rock types. Also, larger clasts are rounded. With an ignimbrite, one would expect mostly homogenous material, and large lithic clasts/xenoliths would be rare. However, your suggestion is quite reasonable, and was definitely one I considered when I realized the original guide Dana links was mistaken about the overlying lava flow.

      1. Rob

        These posts are great and the area sounds fascinating. Any chance of a field trip if I can make it to the other side of the planet?

        1. Lockwood

          You bet, and I’d be willing to bet Dana wouldn’t mind an excuse to go back for a somewhat less intense second visit. We’ve only just started talking about this trip; what you’ve seen so far is just teasers.

  4. 4
    Cujo359

    Jo Grant was supposed to be a spy of some sort. It’s hard to believe she was one. Liz was smart and adventurous, rather like Martha Jones from the new series. Until Sarah Jane came along she was about it for smart companions.

    “Colony In Space” and “Curse Of Peladon” were two of the better stories from the Pertwee years. They may be skipping around a bit.

    Just to clear up any confusion people may have, the old Doctor Who is broadcast on Channel 28 here, KBTC. Channel 9 doesn’t seem to carry any science fiction these days.

    1. 4.1
      Cujo359

      I should add that the last Patrick Troughton episode is the beginning of what you’d probably consider the real Doctors. Before that, he was an eccentric who was basically a human. That episode, and what followed with the next two Doctors, really defined who his people were.

      1. F [i'm not here, i'm gone]

        Heh. Hartnell and Troughton captained some of the weirdest Who serials evar. Like The Celestial Toymaker. (And then there was the brief Douglas Adams era during Tom Baker’s run.)

    2. 4.2
      Aliasalpha

      Jo’s character was supposed to be a fresh out of training newbie, not only that but one who got the job because of strings being pulled by an important relative. She certainly wouldn’t have been convincing as an experienced agent but she seemed right as a n00b.

  5. 5
    Aliasalpha

    Ooh you missed some of Pertwee’s best stories in The Daemons & Day Of The Daleks. Particularly obvious in The Daemons is how well Perters & Roger Delgado worked together, they were a fantastic double act.

    As much as I liked Liz Shaw, she wasn’t quite right as the third doctor’s companion, or at least she could have been written better so she didn’t disrupt the explanation of the plot. She & Doc3 were just a bit too similar

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