Fundamentals of Fungi: Nature Decorates with a Delicate Orange Crepe

No 2000+ word screeds today, I’m afraid – I’d had all the research done for what I wanted to write, only it turned out to not be what I want to write, and so I’m busy with further research for what I really want to write, which is hopefully going to be what I want to write about tomorrow. I’d be a good distance along by now, except I put an episode of Vera on in the background and got sucked in by mistake. Someday, I’ll have to talk about that show. A complete dissertation will have to wait until I’ve acclimated to the accents. Getting there.

Anyway, seeing as how Seattle’s continuing its campaign to ensure our winter is nothing but cold, wet, soggy, and far from picturesque, I thought I’d put a dash of color in. This is a strange little something I saw growing all over a tree at Juanita Bay during a drippy February two years ago. [Read more…]

A Refresher for Allies

Recently, I watched a conversation among allies go sadly awry. This was a private venue and I won’t repeat the specifics. They’re not necessary, really: gather together a mixed collection of people whose goals are similar but backgrounds are not, and you can watch the same thing happen. The folks in the group that are members of whatever minority or underprivileged group will eventually end up in the unenviable position of explaining to members of the the majority or privileged group that the tactic they think is so clever is problematic. Rather than admitting this is so and dropping the subject, members of the privileged group tend to dig in. It looks something like this: [Read more…]

Mystery Flora: Early to Rise

People. There’s stuff blooming in the bleeding middle of January. Either the plants are very confused, or this bush is very brave.

Mystery Flower I

Mystery Flower I

Here ’tis, lustily blooming on in the middle of a deep freeze. This was taken on the same day I went about looking at needle ice and  leaves encased in ice. And right across the street from those frozen leaves, here’s this bush, acting like it was a warm spring day rather than the kind of weather that could freeze the toes off a sled dog. [Read more…]

Sunday Song: Eternal Ice

I’ve been pining for winter. Yes, I know it’s winter, but it’s one of those warmish Seattle winters where it’s just solid gray and dribbly. No lovely white snow (and right now, I’d give up a day’s driving for snow. Snow! Sparkly white pretty snow! Just something, anything, different than this endless dripping gray). Too much greenery amongst the gray. It’s not a proper winter at all, yet it’s cold. Ish. Not cold according to people who know from cold, like Minnesotans. But cold according to Seattle standards. That just makes the whole thing drab and disappointing.

It has gotten so bad that I went out in the dead of a dark night to tromp through the millimeter of snow that was falling, because snow.

We did have an interesting stretch of below-freezing weather coupled with brilliant sunlight that had the frost working overtime. Oh, people. Such frost! We had freezing fogs, and frozen ground, and frozen things everywhere, some of it tough enough to withstand the sunshine so that it gleamed and glistened, some that survived only in the shadows. So lovely. I put on ye new winter clothes (part of my angst is that, for once, I am properly kitted out for winter adventuring – and there’s no winter adventuring within walking distance), and I went out to get some lovely images. I found all sorts of wonderful things. Now I have spelunked YouTube for winter songs, and I can get us properly set up with winter music and winter scenes. Huzzah! [Read more…]

Something Beautiful, Something Blue: Seattle from Alkai

I love my adopted city. I’ve never been much of a big-city person, and I’d frankly rather be out in the mostly wild spaces most of the time, but I’ve always adored Seattle. I find her beautiful from most every angle. I love wandering round downtown, rambling among the hills and the shops and the art and architecture. I love her culture, and her old buildings, and her waterfronts. The only thing I don’t like is driving there, but even that isn’t horrible. Merely awful. Best to take the bus and a comfortable pair of shoes, and make a day of it.

"Something Beautiful, Something Blue." Seattle from Alki, view across the Sound with a spray of water over the Space Needle.

“Something Beautiful, Something Blue.” Seattle from Alki, view across the Sound with a spray of water over the Space Needle.

I love her skyline. I took this image from Alki Point one summer. There’s a strip of beach with excellent views toward the city center, and a set of concrete stairs, and waves that splash dramatically against said stairs, and give a photographer a chance at a little artistry. I like how, after a bit of mucking about with contrast and saturation, it ended up looking a bit like a watercolor.

My fair city isn’t without her faults, though. In fact, we’re pretty much standing on one here, and one day I shall tell you about it, once we’re done with all this volcano nonsense.

Friday Freethought: “Laws spring from the instinct of self-preservation”

Lawyer cat considers ten catmandments instead

One thing one learns from reading the works of 19th century freethinkers is that the arguments of the religious haven’t changed. That being so, when theocrats like Alabama high court buffoon Roy Moore spout bullshit like “most of what we do in court comes from some Scripture or is backed by Scripture,” we don’t have to come up with a fresh argument of our own. All we have to do is heave a small sigh, take down Volume II of the complete works of the Great Agnostic, and turn the page to the following. Take it away, Robert Ingersoll:

It has been contended for many years that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of all ideas of justice and of law. Eminent jurists have bowed to popular prejudice, and deformed their works by statements to the effect that the Mosaic laws are the fountains from which sprang all ideas of right and wrong. Nothing can be more stupidly false than such assertions. Thousands of years before Moses was born, the Egyptians had a code of laws. They had laws against blasphemy, murder, adultery, larceny, perjury, laws for the collection of debts, the enforcement of contracts, the ascertainment of damages, the redemption of property pawned, and upon nearly every subject of human interest. The Egyptian code was far better than the Mosaic.

Laws spring from the instinct of self-preservation. Industry objected to supporting idleness, and laws were made against theft. Laws were made against murder, because a very large majority of the people have always objected to being murdered. All fundamental laws were born simply of the instinct of self-defence. Long before the Jewish savages assembled at the foot of Sinai, laws had been made and enforced, not only in Egypt and India, but by every tribe that ever existed.

It is impossible for human beings to exist together, without certain rules of conduct, certain ideas of the proper and improper, of the right and wrong, growing out of the relation. Certain rules must be made, and must be enforced. This implies law, trial and punishment. Whoever produces anything by weary labor, does not need a revelation from heaven to teach him that he has a right to the thing produced. Not one of the learned gentlemen who pretend that the Mosaic laws are filled with justice and intelligence, would live, for a moment, in any country where such laws were in force.

We are so very done here. Be a dear and play Justice Moore off, won’t you, Keyboard Cat?


New at Rosetta Stones: Buried in a Blast Cloud

We’re concluding our eyewitness accounts of the Mount St. Helens lateral blast with tales from those who were on the ground – literally. These are among the most harrowing of the survivors’ stories. These were folks who were caught outside, no shelter, in the direct line of the blast. Not everyone with them survived. And keep in mind that all of these folks were in “safe” areas, many of them protected by ridges, outside the red zones. It took wits, luck, quick thinking, and the bravery of rescuers willing to face down an ongoing eruption to get them out.

A couple of extra pictures that didn’t make it into the original post help illustrate the devastation these folks survived.

North side of Spud Mountain at equipment site, northwest of Mount St. Helens. Cowlitz County, Washington. June 5, 1980. Image and caption courtesy USGS.

North side of Spud Mountain at equipment site, northwest of Mount St. Helens. Cowlitz County, Washington. June 5, 1980. Image and caption courtesy USGS.

Margin of blast zone, south side of North Fork Toutle River. Cowlitz County, Washington. May 20, 1980.  Image and caption courtesy USGS.

Margin of blast zone, south side of North Fork Toutle River. Cowlitz County, Washington. May 20, 1980. Image and caption courtesy USGS.

Here endeth the eyewitness accounts. Next, we’re going to see what science tells us about the blast, and you’ll get a very intimate look at what such amazingly powerful eruptions leave behind.

Where Was This Contraction Contraption When I Needed It?

(Warning: the following is not for those prone to calling the waaahmbulance. You have been Warned.)

So my uterus is doing that thing where it reminds me it’s still young and healthy by simulating a day or two of labor, and interfering with any useful work I might be liable to get done otherwise. I’ve had male persons whine at me that “men have that time of the month, too!” and it’s a wonder no one’s lost teeth after saying that within punching distance. I’ve always been at a loss to explain what the pain is like. A particularly sensitive and caring male friend of mine who is not afraid to come up with the kind of analogies that cause most of his compatriots to curl up in a protective whimpering ball at the mere thought of them gave me some ideas that would get me arrested for grievous bodily harm, and still wouldn’t quite capture the sensation. Put it like this: the day the doctor told me kidney stones hurt worse than labor was the day I decided labor was a cakewalk, because my cramps at that time beat kidney stones in the pain olympics.

But not all people have experienced kidney stones, and so it’s hard to come up with comparisons people who have never been attacked by an internal organ can understand. Until now.

Well, Dennis Storm and Valerio Zeno, hosts of the Dutch TV show Guinea Pigs, put their testes where their uteruses ain’t. With electrodes strapped to their stomachs, they experienced simulated contractions with slowly increasing intensity over two hours until they’re screaming in agony. It’s truly some fucked-up Fear Factor craziness.

Thank you, science. Thank you so, so much. *wipes away tear*

If you can stomach (ha) it, go watch the video at that link. Note that one dude didn’t even make it through the whole two and a half hours. Imagine suffering that kind of pain and not being able to make it stop for days. Keep in mind that these men were not bleeding from their nether orifice, nor did they have to squeeze out a watermelon-sized object through narrow parts of their anatomy. Well, neither have I, but doctors don’t like to prescribe narcotics for “mere cramps,” or at least they didn’t when I was young and needed them to. No, I was told to suck it up, have a heating pad and some ibuprofen, it’s not that bad. Then the (male) administration at my high school were all like, why are you missing so much school merely because you feel like someone’s repeatedly breaking your pelvic bone with a vise? Later, it was oblivious people writing attendance policies at work who hadn’t thought things through.

If only I’d had one of these contraction contraptions. I could have explained it so much more clearly, once I’d gotten them to sign the consent form…

New at Rosetta Stones: Interview Madness!

Chris Rowan has posted his interview of me, and I have posted about his posted interview, and now I am posting about posting about etc. It’s a good thing I haven’t got a third geoblog or this could have got rather fractal.

I’ll be returning from hiatus soon, hopefully. Thank you all for your kind thoughts and hugs and encouragement – there are many things in this ol’ life I couldn’t do without you, and this is one that I would have managed, but not nearly so well. I miss you! I can’t wait to return bearing lovely photos for you. There are also difficult subjects to be tackled. This shall be done. And then we shall have more beautiful things, because they do help us handle the difficult ones, as well as being wonderful in their own right.

Love and hugs, my darlings. See you soon!