Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Fraidy-Dinos

Ibis3 sent me a photo that will hopefully make you work for it. Ya’ll have had it easy lately. I feel like I’m not giving you proper challenges. Perhaps a semi-sasquatch photo where the bird’s all blurry will help make things challenging. Besides, it’s a rather nice bird.

UFD I

UFD I

Here’s it’s story:

The picture was taken on October 3rd, about a kilometre and a half from the north shore of Lake Ontario, approximately 80 km east of Toronto. There were about four or five of them in my back yard but as soon as I got my camera and went outside to take a snap, they decided it was too scary and departed forthwith. If you have any other questions, I’d be happy to answer.

So we have one slightly braver bird in a cluster of ‘fraidy-birds, who held still enough for a snap but not still enough for a glamor shot. I have every faith in you, my darlings. Go forth and identify!

Friday Freethought: “A Peril Dared for the Advancement of Truth”

Being one of the dreaded gnu atheists, accomodationists make my teeth itch. Mind you, I believe there’s a place for all kinds of atheism: the soft and fuzzy kind believers can snuggle up to has its uses, just as does the hard and sleek kind that shows no mercy to belief (but don’t mistake that for lack of compassion for believers!). No movement does its best without diversity. But the accomodationists who seem to think that criticism of religion is right out of bounds and turn on any atheist who isn’t afraid to call silly buggers on silly beliefs – ugh. Don’t put me in a room with one, please. If I find myself alone with someone like, oh, say, Chris Stedman, I may find myself saying something Not Nice.

Then again, I have many elegant and eloquent Victorian-age atheists, agnostics and freethinkers to turn to now. Perhaps I’ll just pull up a quote in the Kindle and hand it to them. The freethinkers who came before dealt with this crap. They dealt with the believers whining, “But you never talk about the good things about my ridiculous beliefs!” and they dealt with people telling them to STFU. They got accused of all the sorts of things we do. And they weren’t at a loss for words.

Some of their words were Not Nice according to some tastes. But they said Not Nice things in lovely language, and I think those things are Very Nice indeed. Take, for instance, this section in M.M. Mangasarian‘s The Truth About Jesus: Is He a Myth? He’s speaking mostly to believers, but many of these words work for the soft-on-religion-hard-on-freethinkers kind of accommodationist as well. [Read more…]

Erratic Quartet

The story of the Puget lowland is one of plate tectonics (forearc basin, donchaknow), but it’s also one of continent-spanning glaciers, and those glaciers dragged evidence of plate tectonics over and left it strewn practically all over my doorstep. The drumlin we’re on is lousy with erratics. I’d discovered several recently, and been itching to get after them with the rock hammer before bad weather set in. Luckily, our beautiful weather held out until I got my shot at vacation at the beginning of October. I grabbed the hammer and headed up the drumlin for some quality rock-breaking time whilst the kitteh basked in the sunshine.

These beauties are at the top of a nice paved trail. [Read more…]

Right Round the Horseshoe Bend

There’s very little I miss about Page, Arizona, but the landscape is one. Well, the only. I still get nostalgic when I stumble across it.

And then Garry at Geotripper has to go and publish a post on the Horseshoe Bend.

Horseshoe Bend by Garry Hayes. Used with Permission.

This is one of those places the locals, geologists and photographers know well, and strangers almost never see. And it’s one of the places I took John from New Zealand to.

I’ve mentioned John before, in connection to kittens named Jesus. I thought I’d told the story of how we met, but I can’t find it. So I’ll bloody well tell it again. If you’ve heard it, just head over to Garry’s place now.

[Read more…]

New at Rosetta Stones: In Which Pompeii is Discussed

Yeah, so there was this BBC article in which a Cambridge professor said Pompeii was buried by lava… and George pointed it out… and I couldn’t help but to read a few papers, and ask Professor Beard to please clarify, and then write up a post. Yeah, I could’ve left it at “It wasn’t lava, it was a pyroclastic flow,” but would we have really learned anything?

A wall in Pompeii with some spectacular autumn color. I knew some of you would appreciate it. Image courtesy Kari Bluff.

A wall in Pompeii with some spectacular autumn color. I knew some of you would appreciate it. Image courtesy Kari Bluff.

I learned a lot. Hopefully, there will be a bit or two in there you didn’t know.

The ruins of Pompeii. Image courtesy Carolyn Conner.

The ruins of Pompeii. Image courtesy Carolyn Conner.

Microadventure! Thrills! Chills! Defiant Dandelions!

The sun came out for more than ten minutes on Sunday. It came out on Saturday, too, but both the cat and I slept through it. Dunno why the cat preferred to hang about in bed than snooze in a sunbeam, but I can tell you exactly why I was spending most of the day unconscious:

Meanwhile...
Artist’s rendition of my uterus on Saturday. Image courtesy Heartfelt Posts. Thank you, Rebecca Watson, for alerting me to its existence. This picture expresses my experience perfectly!

In my brief moments of wakefulness, I read about Krakatoa blowing up and cursed my useless reproductive organ. Whee. (For the record: Simon Winchester kicks Alwyn Scarth’s arse, even with a tendency to get some things wrong and over-emphasize others. At least he puts actual damned geology in his books. Gah.)

But things improved dramatically on Sunday, and the sun stuck around. I left the cat happily basking, and went to go look at some interesting fungi I’d seen on the verge when my area director and I were scoping out the floods last week. They were still there, and I shall have a full report with about twelve billion photos shortly. Fungi lovers will swoon. Seriously. No matter what, I promise. Because if you look at them and go, “Yawn, those are soooo common where I’m from,” I can pluck one from the ground, bean you with it, and you will definitely swoon. They’re that bloody big.

Of course, that would be assault with a deadly fungi, so this will remain a strictly hypothetical situation.

I also have some awesome aftermath of North Creek flooding. But that, too, will wait. I’ve got to read up on Pompeii unexpectedly. Outtakes first, then!

The Pond
The Pond

The pond was looking particularly lovely today. Also, larger. And I love how the willow trees got the memo it’s winter, crumpled it up, and threw it away. They’re still decked out in their autumn finery. Which reminds me: I shall need more autumn songs stat. I got you some more autumn images. Some will make you gasp – there were some seriously stunning trees that also crumpled their winter memos, then burned them.

Heron the Firste
Heron the Firste

Good day for seeing herons. Wasn’t much else (although Trebuchet got us something nice, I’ll show you it soon). But the herons looked quite fetching, especially against the subdued colors.

Lovely sediment
Lovely sediment

I loved this pattern in the muddy sand. Imagine if I’d sliced in to it, I would have seen some interesting bedding patterns. However, I was wearing my new shoes, and hadn’t thought to put on the old ones for tromping round in muddy creeks, and it was also butt-ass freezing cold (by Seattle standards), so the idea of getting my feet soaked didn’t enthrall. If I was an actual field geologist, I’d get proper shoes. And then promptly forget to wear them on walks like this because all I’d really meant to do was photograph fungi on a lawn anyway.

Sigh.

Dandelion
Dandelion

I came across a very defiant dandelion, blazing away like the sun, with the real sun striking color from it. It instantly became my favorite flower of this winter. Mind you, there are a few others grimly clinging on, but they’re coddled cultivated kinds and for all I know were recently whisked out of a nice, warm nursery. This one’s got to go it alone, on the edge of a lawn, with mowers and weedkiller everywhere. And it hasn’t seen the sun in well over a week. Yet still it thrives. Reminds me a bit of George’s sturdy plant. Perspective, doncha know.

Wooly Bear
Wooly Bear

Last thing I expected to see in the path was a wooly bear. But according to Wikipedia, I should not have been in the least surprised:

The banded Woolly Bear larva emerges from the egg in the fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form, when it literally freezes solid. First its heart stops beating, then its gut freezes, then its blood, followed by the rest of the body. It survives being frozen by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues. In the spring it thaws out and emerges to pupate. Once it emerges from its pupa as a moth it has only days to find a mate before it dies.

These little buggers are hardcore. I shall have to gather my myriad photos of them and do a proper essay someday. Perhaps after I’ve done with all the volcanoes. Ack.

Pretty moss
Pretty moss

Love this lovely bit of moss. It’s a gorgeous color, and when you have the combo of the weathered wood, freshly exposed wood, and the fall leaves in the background, well, it’s a shot you’ve gotta take. I love moss anyway. Did you know that moss was one of the first things to grow on the remains of Krakatoa? That’s according to Iain Stewart, and I believe him because of his Scottish accent. Well, that and because I’ve seen what moss will do in wet environments. Some that was scraped off our roof landed on my porch and still thrives there, living on nothing but air, sun and water. Well, it used to get a wee bit of cigarette ash, too, but it doesn’t anymore.

Pine cones version one
Pine cones version one

Then there were these quite nice pine cones with the spider webs on them. I like the way the sunlight silhouettes them, and the gleams of light in the blurred background. But then I started playing with exposures, and I like this one, too, although it washes out the subtle play of color in the little light dots.

Pine cones version two
Pine cones version two

One can have entirely too much fun playing with different exposures when one should be reading papers. Cough.

Heron the Seconde
Heron the Seconde

And then there was this fine heron, hanging out by the creek. I wonder if it’s the same one that flew over the car when my area manager and I were out looking at the floods? (At this juncture, I’d like to mention that my area manager rocks. We flooded five years ago, and the person in charge then didn’t keep an eye on the roads – the police had to come shoo us out, and by then, the roads were rivers of water up to the car doors. I’m from Arizona. I’ve had it drummed into me all my life not to drive into a flooded road, no matter how shallow or still it looks. People die doing that. So the fact that my area manager pays attention to this stuff and is willing to shut us down before it gets out of hand is a huge relief. I love the fact he actually did recon. It didn’t stop me from deciding to flee on the small possibility of it getting worse when the skies opened after lunch, mind, but knowing he wasn’t waiting for all routes to be cut off before allowing everyone to flee is awesome. And of course, it stopped raining right after I got home, and the city had cleared the gutters, and there were no horrible floods anyway. I’d show you the floods we did have, but I didn’t have my camera. Sigh.)

So there we are: a microadventure in winter. If it snows. we’ll have another adventure along North Creek, because I’ve already told the person I commute with that I’m not bloody driving with Seattle-area drivers in the snow. We will damned well walk. And I’ll bet you the scenery will be spectacular. I’m glad most of you are atheists. It means I won’t have to bean you with a huge fungi for praying for a blizzard.

Sunday Song: Afterimage of Autumn

Autumn images have proven unexpectedly popular, so it’s a good thing I’m not out of pictures – or songs – yet. But all good things, etc. This will, alas, be the last – until next autumn. Of course, if you’re all very fortunate and I’m unlucky indeed, we may have some spectacular winter shots coming right up. Don’t hold your breath, though. This is Seattle. Gray and drippy is much more likely than white and sparkly.

Let’s get in the proper frame of mind with a traditional rendition of “Sato no Aki.” [Read more…]