My Carpet: A Fable

Your carpet is old and disgusting. It’s worn and torn, stained and strained. It’s filled with the remains of hairball-hurfing episodes, and smells distressingly of elderly cat urine. Babies break out in a dermatologist-defying rash whenever they crawl over it. The miasma arising from it may be causing a new sort of breathing disorder. Its indeterminate orangey-gray hue with the super-villain-creating toxic-sludge colored spots drains your happiness right out, and is probably contributing to your family’s assorted mood disorders.

“Aftermath” by A National Acrobat on Flickr

But you shouldn’t replace it. Nossir. Yes, you are suffering; yes, you could buy a new carpet and a college education with the money you are spending on doctor’s bills and air fresheners. But a person must have principles. It’s very silly and selfish of you to want a new carpet when there are people in other countries who endure the agony of living on dirt floors. No new carpet for you until everyone in the world has a carpet!

How dare you complain about what the dog did to the carpet while you were away when some people don’t even have a dog, much less a carpet?!

You are a terrible, selfish person, and every decent person should shun you. You are diluting the meaning of carpet-deprivation. You should be ashamed.

Please excuse me now – there’s a sale on carpet at Home Depot, and I’ve got to go. Well, of course, I won’t tolerate the occasional stain on my own carpet, and that color is so last year. What, why are you calling me a hypocrite? I don’t complain to the world about how awful my carpet is!


(Inspired by this bit o’ nonsense, which stands in for all of the “Dear Muslima” and “But there are starving children in Africa!” nonsense.)

Prelude to a Catastrophe: “Something Dramatic”

The earthquake activity at Mount St. Helens had built to a crescendo. When a volcano shakes this hard, it almost always spells trouble: magma rising, an eruption imminent. You can’t know exactly what they are going to do, and when, and to what degree. But you suspect. You prepare as best you can.

On March 27th, the USGS issued a Hazards Watch, informing public officials of the dangers St. Helens might pose. After a week of increasing shakes, there was little doubt in any scientist’s mind that “something dramatic” was about to happen. By 11:20am Pacific Standard Time, something dramatic had.
[Read more…]

What’s New at Rosetta Stones, Plus You Could Be a Rock Star in the Kitchen!

For those of you who rely on ETEV to keep you up to speed on happenings at RS, here’s a little list.

We’ve had a sing-song. If any of you are inspired to share your own favorite geologically-themed songs, you may do so at any time. I plan to keep the Tuesday Tune thing going for a while.

Figured it was time to republish The Seduction of Subduction, complete with many fresh new photos.

And for the Mount St. Helens aficionados, here’s how it changed everything.

As a special bonus for ETEV readers only, this is a super-awesome video I found whilst perusing geology songs on YouTube.

I may have to set up a geology kitchen, because that looks delicious.

Prelude to a Catastrophe: “The Unusual Character of the Seismic Activity Became Clear”

This is the trouble with beginnings: the beginning is often subtle, and unrecognizable at the time. It’s only in retrospect that we can go back, look at sequences of events until we find a place to stab a finger down and say, “Here. Here is where it began. This is the time, the place, the event.” Even then, it’s usually only a beginning. There are many places to put the finger, many events to choose.

It began with earthquakes. [Read more…]

Prelude to a Catastrophe: “One of the Most Active and Most Explosive Volcanoes in the Cascade Range”

Imagine being an extraterrestrial geologist in geostationary orbit above the Pacific Northwest in the 1970s. You’re the first explorers to reach Earth (underpants-thieving aliens aside), and you haven’t got a lot of data on this little blue marble. But your own planet has plate tectonics, so you’re familiar with the landforms caused by the process.

You have a look through your sensors, and see a conga line of volcanoes weaving up the continent.

Map of the Cascadia Volcanic Arc by NASA. Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Now, your image wouldn’t be labeled, of course. But you can see a trench offshore, and a zig-zaggy ridge, so you can sketch in some very small oceanic plates busily subducting beneath the continent. The line of coastal mountains and that volcanic arc, less than a hundred miles from the sea, would have given the game away even if you didn’t have super-cool sensors that can see beneath the sea. You know there’s an active subduction zone here. [Read more…]

The Field Trip Continues at Last! Fun Times at Coldwater Lake

I know, I know, I’ve been an absolute space cadet these last few weeks. Rather odd combo of sewing projects, Apple product releases, and a touch o’ depression, y’see. My brain’s been a bit on the quiet side. It’s really hard to jolt the bugger into useful work when all it wants to do is figure out the next phase of extreme bag mayhem. I apologize for the lack of adequate content around here, and also in advance for all of the eyeballs I’m going to damage the next time I see you in person. I’ll post pictures when the bag is done so that you may be forewarned. Bring sunglasses.

Anyway. Never mind all that. There’s finally a new stop in our Mount St. Helens field trip! We’ve made it to Coldwater Lake, and it’s lovely. Go enjoy a very young body of water, born on May 18th, 1980.

Look, I’ll even give you a preview of it from Coldwater Ridge:

Mount St. Helens and Coldwater Lake from the Coldwater Ridge Visitor's Center. There's a mighty fine delta, if you know where to look. Hooray for hydrogeology!

Mount St. Helens and Coldwater Lake from the Coldwater Ridge Visitor’s Center. There’s a mighty fine delta, if you know where to look. Hooray for hydrogeology!

How yummy is that?

At Last, The Perfect Snark for the “Criticism Murderer Mah Freeze Peaches !” Contingent

You patrons of our fine Freethought Blogs establishments have undoubtedly run into the ridiculous folk who whine and howl about how we killed their free speech with nasty criticism. There’s one such meltdown just this week, which promised to be at least mildly entertaining – until The Denver Atheist took his ball and sulked home, thus infringing upon my right to pursue happiness at his expense.

Still. Must admire his ability to stick a flounce for over twelve hours, a skill which is vanishingly rare amongst those who cry about how meeeaaaannnn we are and say they’re really really leaving and they totally mean it this time. No, seriously, they’re outta here. This time – no, this time – well, definitely this time, they are so leaving because we are soooooo mean and awful that they’ll never be back again. Except for all those times they come back to tell us how mean we are and how right they are before leaving again for reals this time…

Our Freeze Peach Warrierz are nothing if not obsessively devoted to their causes, especially the cause of giving the rest of us headaches from chronic eye-rolling.

And really, what do you say to people stupid enough to argue that we are Taking Away All the Freeze Peaches by exercising our own?

The fine folks at Wonkette, who have some Freeze Peach Crusaderz of their own, have decided to turn a mirror shined with premium snark upon the doughty brigades:

But aren’t we free to write say what we want in this country? We are writing what we think is best for our blog and are not forcing our beliefs on anyone else. Why would you write a comment that disagrees, “sanwin?” Haven’t you ever hear of something called “freedom of speech”? Stop oppressing us with your words, which make it impossible for us to do freedom! This is Amercia!

I shall engrave this paragraph upon something gleaming and durable, with a blank space for the name, and present it to each intrepid Freeze Peach Warriur who comes round crying about how Criticism Equals Tyrrany. Because, really, such behavior thaws mah peaches right out. Sheesh.

Great Moments in Horseback Archery: Shoulda Had a Bigger Shield

One thing you should never do, if you’re the leader of a company of equestrian experts, is allow the Viking announcing events direct the audience to choose your shield. Given a choice between large, medium, and comically microscopic, you can imagine what everybody chose.

The Viking's assistant holds up a shield for the audience's inspection, as Alan looks on.

The Viking’s assistant holds up a shield for the audience’s inspection, as Alan looks on.

No, not that one.

Alan graciously accepts the infinitesimal shield the audience has chosen by popular acclaim. We're such evil barstards...

Alan graciously accepts the infinitesimal shield the audience has chosen by popular acclaim. We’re such evil barstards…

Yepper. That’s the one. You’ll have to look closely – it’s that wee silver thing that looks like a mini flying saucer.

Alan was very gracious about it. [Read more…]

Great Moments in Jousting

Sharpen your eyes and don’t look away: you’re about to see a very unusual moment in jousting.

Did you see the tips crack against each other and come flying apart? That was bloody amazing is what that was. Amazing enough I spent all night fighting with various video editing programs to put together something that would at least attempt to do it justice. Just imagine being there…

Anyway. Thee shall have some lovely photos of the two heavy horses – these animals weren’t bred for slim lines and elegance, they were selected for strength and endurance. It takes a lot of power to haul around knights in full plate armor.

The lighter heavy horse strutting its stuff in the lists.

The lighter heavy horse strutting its stuff in the lists.

Still beautiful, aren’t they?

The Palamino Jouster poses prettily.

The Palamino Jouster poses prettily.

Check out the hooves on these animals – they can cause the ground to tremble as if there’s an earthquake in the offing.

Nice conformance, that horse. Don't let it step on you under any circumstances.

Nice conformance, that horse. Don’t let it step on you under any circumstances.

I want one of each, please.

Anyway. Yes. I’ll be working on the trebuchet montage soon, probably over the weekend – it’s a lot of stuff to work with. In the meantime, I promise I’ll have the occasional new bit of substantive commentary, plus many more horsies. Wait until you see what happened during the archery exhibition. Poor dude shoulda had a bigger shield…

Broughtcha Horsies

I told you I would, didn’t I? Oh, I’ll have far, far more, but this should whet your appetites.

I love the fact they had miniature horse carriages this year. Awesome! Many, many women demonstrating mad skillz in medieval equine martial arts – yet moar awesome. And I discovered that standing beside one of the speakers means I don’t have to fiddle with audio. That’s conveniently provided. Heh.

Alas, there will be no portraits of moi with horsies – we had to rush back home to watch over Luna, who just got out of surgery. Not that you’d know it from the way she was all over the house playing with absolutely everything, at least until the vaccines kicked in and made her drowsy. I hope my hysterectomy goes as well when I finally manage to convince someone to give me one.

Everyone give a big round of applause, including shouts, whistles, and various assorted noisemakers, to our own Trebuchet, who owned the competition once again. There’s a reason we call him Trebuchet, people.

Pumpkin hurling on the way. There’s an air cannon, even. I just have to cut together a nice montage out of all the raw footage, and you shall have pumpkins being chunked. Plus many horsies.

The Faire continues today for those who are in the area and want to go have a great time.