Talk Comics To Me

I’ve never been a hardcore comics fan, but I’ve admired the medium since my friend Justin very sensibly got me addicted to Sandman. (If you have any literary-snob type friends who sneer at comics but like a well-crafted SF novel, give them Sandman next time they start an anti-comics rant. That’ll shut ‘em up.)

Cover of Sandman: The Dream Hunters

Cover of Sandman: The Dream Hunters

Alas, he became a husband and father and religious man, and I moved away, and thus my entertainment executive was lost. With no one feeding me comics on the regular, I’ve lost touch. That’s true of all fiction, mind – since I became a geoblogger, I haven’t often had time for recreational reading. The things I’ve missed! And I was a DC/Vertigo girl, so I know very little of Marvel.

This, I realized whilst watching The Avengers recently, was a terrible oversight. Fucking Natasha, people. I am in love with her. I mean, down-on-one-knee-and-pop-the-question in love. I don’t want to have her babies, but if she has any, I will babysit them. I need to know her. Please tell me she is as epically badass or better in the comics. Tell me what to read.

Cover of Jenny Sparks

Cover of Jenny Sparks

Also, I hear Thor is becoming a woman. (I had a great time explaining to B how the gender-swap is completely believable because Loki became a woman – well, mare – and even gave birth in the Norse myths.) Captain America is going to be black. Apparently, these two facts have greatly upset some of the least desirable denizens of the manosphere. The wretched tears of shattered menz taste like victory. I’ll be reading those stories once they’re in graphic novel form.

What else is out there? What are some of the best story arcs I’ve missed? Which graphic novels do you think every person on earth should read?

Talk comics to me, people!

Cover of Transmetropolitan: The New Scum

Cover of Transmetropolitan: The New Scum

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: You Guys Jealous of Seahorses or Something?

Winter generally isn’t my favorite season, but there are a few compensations. When the leaves are off and the plants have died back, you can see the geology better. There’s lots of night-time in which to write, which is awesome for a nocturnal person. The cat gets cuddlier the lower the temperature drops. And there are winter visitors. Like these little guys at Juanita Bay.

Image shows a bird with a brown wing, black back, white chest, black face, and white head that looks oddly like a moonpie with all but a single stripe of chocolate along the edge munched off.

UFD I

There’s usually at least one group of birds around I’ve not seen before. I’m always on the lookout when we got walkies for something new (to me – one of you has probably already identified the above birdie). Our leisurely ramble around Juanita Bay a few days ago didn’t disappoint – these were very eye-catching specimens, both in appearance and behavior.

Image shows a back view of the same bird, showing off the white stripes on its wings.

UFD II

There were two of the above variety, and one that I’m relatively certain is a female of the same species, based on the fact the guys were acting like idiots around her.

Image shows two males clustered together, looking toward another bird who is darker with a burnt-orange flare of feathers on her head.

UFD III

It was getting on close to sunset on a cloudy day, so the light wasn’t the best, and she was too dark to really stand out well. But hopefully this shot gives you a general idea of what she looks like.

Image shows same female bird. The head feathers are much different, looking more like a mohawk than a moonpie, but she's of a similar shape to the others, with similar white stripes on her wings, and a nearly-identical beak.

UFD IV

The dudes were doing their best to impress, swimming around her, showing off. They’d swim a bit, then rear their heads up out of the water and curve their heads and breasts back, looking for all the world like avian seahorses. And they’d make a really odd noise I’m having a hard time describing. Good news is, I don’t have to! I took a video for ya. Just turn up the sound, and when they rear back, listen closely: you’ll hear a kind of hollow creaking noise.

That’s them. They sound like sound effects in this Pharoahe Monch song. (If anybody knows what that sound effect is, please enlighten me. It’s now driving me mad.)

Such birds add enjoyment to a winter excursion. Hopefully, we’ll see many more awesome birdies this winter. If global warming’s good for anything, it should be good for sending new and different birds our way, eh? Although these could be regulars I’ve just never noticed.

The whole trio, with one of the males stretching its neck.

UFD V

I’ve put the full set up at Flickr for those who haven’t gotten enough yet. Enjoy!

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education IV-d: Wherein there is a Climate of Sneer

If you’re one of those whacky people who thinks the opinion of 97% of scientists counts for something, you may want to grab a stick, wrap it in leather or a leather equivalent, and place it between your teeth. One of those mouth guards for people who grind their teeth in their sleep would also work. A stress ball may also help avoid damage caused by clenching hands. If you’re prone to pounding surfaces when frustrated to the point of apoplexy, please acquire a pillow or punching bag before continuing.

Yep. ES4 is about to present itself as the voice of reason by misrepresenting, misconstruing, misunderstanding, and otherwise manipulating all the data they possibly can. Because God. Brace yourself as you’re told how to “formulate a Christian perspective of climate change.”

Image is a demotivational poster showing a polar bear in a zoo, on its hind legs, with its paws over its eyes. Caption says "GOD DID IT. Lalalalalala..."

They move very quickly to assure us climate has changed in the past. They also pose four questions that look reasonable on their face:

In any discussion of climate change and global warming, we need honest answers to four questions:

1. Is the earth warming?
2. If so, are people causing it to warm?
3. If it’s warming because of human activities, is that bad?
4. Will solutions that politicians and scientists suggest actually fix the problems?

Considering their tendency to put rational, well-evidenced answers to those questions down to “radical environmental bias,” I don’t think we’re going to get honest answers to those questions from this source. Of course, they claim this book can’t answer them. We shall see.

They certainly don’t hesitate with the right-wing speculation: See, for instance, this remarkable bit of Pollyanna thinking in their sidebar on melting polar ice:

The effects of changes in polar ice may surprise you. Many people are concerned that melting glaciers may raise sea levels to dangerous heights. But the results of melting glaciers may not be all bad. In the Arctic, the long-sought Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific north of Canada may actually open up. Icebreakers and merchant ships may be able to steam through Arctic ice in the summer. Around Greenland, oceans that are now ice-free for more of the year than they were before are exposing long-hidden sources of oil.

Unmentioned are several sobering facts which may have served to bolt their unbounded optimism to the floor, if they could be persuaded to accept any such thing as a fact:

Image shows a man in overalls leaning against a ramshackle wooden building, looking dejected. The hill beyond is  eroded into gullies; the whole area looks like a desert.

A farmer gazes at his severely eroded fields. Image courtesy USDA.

This is just a short list of the consequences either already happening or likely to happen as the ice melts away. There’s so much more…

So getting giddy over the prospect of Arctic shipping routes, lotsa drill-baby-drill, and an actually-green Greenland is like celebrating the prospect of celebrity if you should lose your legs in an historic thousand-car pileup on the freeway. Sure, junkyards will see a surge in available stock, and funeral directors will enjoy booming business, and you may have exciting opportunities as an inspirational speaker… but it would be better, on the whole, if the entire wreck was prevented to begin with.

All this wrong, and we’ve barely dented this section. Sigh.

Next we are treated to “A History of Climate Change,” in which we get the worldview bullshit slathered on thick and hot. Both old earthers and young earthers know the climate’s changed dramatically in the past, but the explanations obviously differ. One group explains the evidence by noting “global climate depended on the amount of continental surface area exposed above the ocean surface, the amount of heat received by the sun, volcanic activity, and even the kind of life existing on Earth during a given geologic time-frame.” Why, how silly is that, when every good Xtian knows Goddidit:

A young-earth view of history involves global climate change, too. God created a world completely suited for His purposes. It was a world with a climate ideal for life. But our sin brought God’s curses on the earth and all its processes. The earth’s climate drastically changed because of God’s judgement through the global Flood. We believe that the Flood set up the conditions for a global cooling period that produced a single Ice Age.

Since then, they say, outside of a few assorted mini-Ice Ages, the earth has gotten warmer and warmer. And the Bible sez it’ll keep changing! But don’t worry! Because Genesis 8:22! Here endeth climate history!

At this point, I would like to remind you that this utter poppycock is being presented as actual science to Christianist high school students. Kids who are, in fact, being told they can go to college and earn STEM degrees and become real live scientists after studying this nonsense.

This is nothing short of educational neglect and negligence.

And it’s making our survival as a species much more precarious than it would otherwise be. It’s this fucked-up fundamentalist thinking that’s got the United States shirking its duty on combating global warming, and arguably aggravating the problem. We’ve lost time we can never make up because of these people. And they’re the same ones who will ensure our politicians do nothing to help the people suffering the effects of their ignorance, yet scream like banshees if their own comforts aren’t seen to. They’re the ones sinking the boat, then taking every life jacket for themselves – of which there aren’t enough because they didn’t believe in the need for safety measures to begin with.

Gah. I’m too pissed to finish, and besides that, I have a feeling the BS factor is about to increase exponentially. Until next time…

New at Rosetta Stones: A Whole Hornfull of Geological Links!

I’m having one of those weeks where there are twelve billion things to do and less than 168 hours to do them once you factor in time to actually, y’know, sleep. But others in the geoblogosphere have been writing excellent content, so I’ve highlighted a few of them. There will be more! Like a whole post catching up with Evelyn, f’r instance. Who else would you like to see highlighted at Scientific American? Let me know your favorite geologists, whether they’re working on this world or others!

Image shows white rock powder in a silver dish on the rover.

Mars Curiosity with a sample of powdered Martian rock. Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS, cropped by moi to show off sample.

Enjoy the first of what will become many-lots of posts featuring links to delicious geologic content written by some of the best bloggers around.

Dana’s Super-Awesome Mount St. Helens Field Trip Guide IV: Hummocks Trail

We’ve left the lovely breezes and rippling blue of Coldwater Lake; a road crossed, a tiny distance traversed, and we are in a rather grimmer place.

If you had been standing here in the North Fork Toutle River Valley on the morning of May 18th, 1980, you would have died. Never mind if you had your car carefully pointed towards a speedy escape. By the time you realized it was time to flee, it would have been far too late. There are people still entombed in the debris avalanche not far from here. This is the place to pause and reflect a moment on the power of geologic processes. Earth demands respect.

We’re about to hike over the results of a sector collapse. When a volcanic edifice becomes over-steepened and weakened, it can come down catastrophically. A major part of the mountain roars and tumbles down at incredible speeds. Clouds of dust and debris boil up as the mass churns and slides down-mountain. Some unfortunate valley is filled with hummocky debris. A volcano is left with an enormous gouge in its face. And this is without a lateral blast: what happened here would have been impressive enough alone. “Maclargehuge” is a word you might use to describe it, but when you get a good look at the thing from ground level, you’ll want something a bit stronger. I think “gigantinormous” will just about cover it, but should any other terms occur to you, please share them here.

Before you start down this trail, get prepared. It’s sunblock time. Slather that stuff on – I’ll not have my readers die of melanoma. Make sure you’ve got more water than you know what to do with. Yes, I know, we’re only going half a mile in, then turning back, but trust me on this. It will suck you dry if the sun’s shining. You are going to get baked without mercy. Shade is nearly non-existent. And what if you get all intrigued by the outstanding geology and decide to keep on till the river, eh? I’ll not have my readers suffer heatstroke and dehydration, either, so take as much water as you can carry.

Right? All right. Let’s go see some geology.

We’re going to take the trailhead on the left, following the loop clockwise. You’ll know you’re on the correct bit if you see an interpretive sign: the first quarter-mile has lots, and they repay a perusal. This is a scientific research area, so please do stay on the trail. There are scientific studies of the area’s recovery going on; this is a fantastic chance for us to see how the landscape evolves and ecosystems recover after a catastrophic eruption, so don’t muck it up. Besides that, this is an area you really don’t want to get lost in.

The early part of the trail moseys through some beautiful, lush meadows and baby forest. The tall grasses are tangled with abundant wildflowers, and skinny young alders partially shade everything. You can see hummocks under thick green mantles: notice their steep, almost conical shapes. Some are more rounded than others, but a lot of them look like debris piles dumped any-old-how – and that’s basically what they are.

Lovely meadow scenes along the Hummocks Trail.

Lovely meadow scenes along the Hummocks Trail.

You’ll soon see bare or sparsely-vegetated hummocks peeking from behind thin screens of trees. Some are too steep and too well-drained to support plant life. This is the kind of thing that makes geologists scream for joy, because we can actually see what’s going on.

Let’s pause a moment and get a handle on what we’re seeing. If you’ll recall from reading up on the subject, the gigantinormous landslide came down in three fairly distinct blocks. Blocks II and III are the ones that made it this far. They actually turned 90° to the west when they hit Johnston and Harry’s Ridges. The landslide decapitated the North Fork Toutle River and left a jumbled, lifeless surface behind. This particular lumpy terrain is a dead giveaway for a huge debris avalanche.

Debris piles too steep and well-drained for even the ubiquitous Pacific Northwest flora to conquer.

Debris piles too steep and well-drained for even the ubiquitous Pacific Northwest flora to conquer.

Those lumps contain quite a bit of Mount St. Helens’ history: watch for it as you walk. There’s some lovely pastel-hued rock, which is hydrothermally-altered dacite from domes erupted during the Pine Creek eruptive period. Black basalt and basaltic andesite were erupted during the Castle Creek period. The bluish-gray and reddish-brown andesites hail from the Kalama eruptive period. Young light-gray dacite comes from the domes formed during the Goat Rocks eruptive period. And you might see some brand-new breadcrust bombs: they surfed in on the debris avalanche. All of these varied rocks keep the hummocks from being a uniform shade of blah. There’s a nice sign along the trail that will show you where on the mountain all those bits came from. You can look from it to the crater and then the hummocks, and marvel that all that stuff from up there ended up way down here. And despite the chaos, geologists can actually figure out which is what and where. (I’d say hats off to ‘em, but don’t doff your cap unless it’s overcast. That sun is fierce. A respectful tap on the brim should do.)

Bits of Mount St. Helens' history. Can you identify their origins?

Bits of Mount St. Helens’ history. Can you identify their origins?

All of this stuff came roaring down the valley at incredible speeds. You don’t usually think of land breaking speed limits, but out in the center of the valley, it could’ve given a sports car a challenge, and possibly outrun the police. Consider: the landslide came roaring along at 150 miles per hour (around 70 meters per second). Porche’s lovely Cayman only beats it by 15 miles per hour – and that’s on a lovely smooth track, not a lumpy-bumpy river valley floor filled with enormous old trees. Also, landslides haven’t got sleek aerodynamic design. Wowza, right?

Speaking of enormous old trees, you’ll see a few buried in the debris here and there, some barely visible and some sticking up any-old-how. Like this giant one, here, which really makes you give your best Keanu-Reeves “woah!” That poor thing was probably treated like a pickup stick that’s got in the way of a bulldozer, which combined with the lateral blast, completely ruined its century.

Moi with enormous trees entombed by the debris avalanche.

Moi with enormous trees entombed by the debris avalanche.

Just beyond it, after you’ve wandered along between more hummocks and been treated to some truly spectacular views of St. Helens, you’ll come to the sign marking the junction with the Boundary Trail. Look left, and you’ll see a fabulous dike exposed in Johnston Ridge. This is a beautiful remnant of Tertiary-age volcanic activity, and an excellent reminder that our own belligerent beauty hasn’t been the only fire mountain on the scene here. The dike is big and sold, which means it formed a bit of a barrier to the debris avalanche here. You know what groins do to coastal sediment. Sort of the same thing happened here, with 16 feet (5 meters) worth of landslide piling on that (“upstream”) side of the dike relative to the other (“downstream”) side. And the way that debris piled on tells us it was moving at a leisurely 22 miles per hour (10 meters per second) out here on the margins of the flow. Which, come to think of it, still isn’t the kind of speed you want earth and rock achieving on its own.

View of Mount St. Helens from intersection of Boundary and Hummocks Trails. The Tertiary dike is on the left.

View of Mount St. Helens from intersection of Boundary and Hummocks Trails. The Tertiary dike is on the left.

This is a nice place to look out over the lumpy terrain and consider relief. No, not relief from the sun, although you’re probably considering that pretty closely by now. We’re talking terrain. So between the hummocked-up bits and the low bits, we’re talking up to 246 feet (75 meters) of topographic relief. And it’s got a distinctive appearance that will allow geologists to tell this was teh result of a mega-huge debris avalanche for centuries to come.

As the flow came down-valley, it was able to spread out laterally. Some of the resulting deposit compacted more than other portions, causing much more lumpiness. Then you’ve got your phreatic explosions leaving monster holes all over the place as water from streams and ice from ex-glaciers eventfully encountered hot rocks. New stream banks failed after the lahars roared through. And as time passed, chunks of ice that had survived everything else eventually melted, leaving kettles behind.

And changes continue, as change does. Erosion began having its say about 10 seconds after everything came to rest and hasn’t stopped since. The hummocks slump and ravel as gravity asserts itself. Rain carves gullies and causes debris flows, which change the face of the deposit. And Mount St. Helens occasionally contributes, although it’s been quite quiet lately. The land gives the sense that it’s a huge hunk of clay plunked down by a potter: the potter’s hands still knead it, prodding it toward the shape it will assume as time ticks on.

Time to head back, now, to the stands of slender trees filled with cavorting birds, and the meadows with their bobbing grasses and flowers. If you’re lucky, like we were, you’ll see a wee froggy scrambling out of the path, back to its peaceful pond. Life is assertive, and returns, enjoying the boundless opportunity to be embraced between catastrophes.

We’re about to come face-to-crater with the instigator of the most recent catastrophe. I know we’ve seen a lot today, but, my darlings: it is the merest prelude to what comes next.

Previous: Dana’s Super-Awesome Mount St. Helens Field Trip Guide III: Coldwater Lake

Next: Dana’s Super-Awesome Mount St. Helens Field Trip Guide V: Johnston Ridge

Originally published at Rosetta Stones.

References:

Burns, Scott (2011): Field Guide to Mt. St. Helens north. Portland State University.

Decker, Barbara and Robert (2002): Road Guide to Mount St. Helens (Updated Edition). Double Decker Press.

Doukas, Michael P. (1990): Road Guide to Volcanic Deposits of Mount St. Helens and Vicinity, Washington. USGS Bulletin 1859.

Pringle, Patrick T. (2002): Roadside Geology of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and Vicinity. Washington DNR Information Circular 88.

Gnaughty or Gneiss Cards Ready for the Holidays!

Tired of mass-produced department store greeting cards? Are you wanting something a little unique for the rock-lovers in your life? Excellent! My first-ever greeting card design is up on Zazzle and ready for purchase. See if it’ll meet your needs. If so, getcha some!

Here’s the cover and interior art (the cards will be sans-watermarks, o’ course):

Image shows a cartoon Santa head, looking pensive. Santa's hat has a rock hammer on the white brim. Thought bubble says, "Gonna find out who's..."

Geologist Santa card cover.

Here’s the interior top:

Image is a photo of a lump of coal and a piece of gneiss. They've been filtered as a watercolor. Caption says, "Gnaughty or gneiss."

Card Interior.

I hope you like it! Visit the snazzy new Dana Hunter’s Gneiss Schist store on Zazzle and play around with the options. I’m afraid it’s the only product there right now, and probably very lonely, but there will be others as soon as I get some designs done. Let me know if you’d like this one on t-shirts and so forth. We can definitely arrange that! Zazzle has a ton of products – just let me know what you’re interested in.

If you’re curious about the rocks: the coal is a bit from Black Mesa in Arizona. The gneiss is a lovely bit of Skagit Gneiss, which is a delightfully sparkly variety of orthogneiss.

Given enough time and luck, B and I will also have actual hand samples ready to go in time for holiday shipping. So if you like the cards, but are looking more for a stocking stuffer or fun little gift, stay tuned. We should have some Gnaughty or Gneiss-themed rocks up on Etsy soon!

We could definitely use your help getting the word out. So please do share this link with the rock-lovers in your life. Thank you!

The Trilogy That Will Wash Fifty Shades of Grey Away

Someday, I’ll tell you the story of how Fifty Shades of Grey murdered my libido in an adult store. I hated that series from the moment I heard of it. No, I didn’t have to read it to judge. It’s Twilight fan fiction that glorifies abusive relationships, people. On top of that, it’s atrociously writ. So fuck that.

And yet, despite the fact it murdered both my libido and my faith in the reading public, I have to be somewhat grateful for its existence. After all, it was in reading critical analyses of it that I learned quite a bit about actual BDSM, which has been liberating. It also taught me more about abusive relationships and how to avoid them. And… there’s the fact that one of the best romances I’ve ever read wouldn’t exist without it.

I generally can’t stand romance. Most of the ones I’d read, back when I bothered trying, were vapid, awful things filled with phrases like “his throbbing member.” The “hot” sex was generally introduced by a virgin getting raped, then spending the rest of the book falling in love with her rapist. When I worked for a bookstore, the assistant manager and I used to pull the returns from the romance section when we were starving but it was too early for lunch. Just reading the titles was guaranteed to kill our appetites for a few hours. I’ve spent the majority of my life thoroughly loathing romance, so it’s a little odd to be thoroughly loving a trilogy based on The Worst Romance of Our Time.

It’s Jenny Trout’s fault.

She wrote a thorough takedown of the FSOG trilogy. Somewhere in there, she also decided to jump in the inspired-by-FSOG pool, and show everyone how an actual champion can write. As Abigail Barnette, she wrote The Boss trilogy, which is basically the finest fuck-you to FSOG ever. It’s everything FSOG isn’t: scorching hot BDSM between a sophisticated billionaire and a smart, confident woman. It doesn’t get into extreme stuff, but it goes far enough to show how truly awful and fake the FSOG version of BDSM was. It’s also feminist. I am in love.

SPOILER ALERT: I’ll be reviewing these books in some detail. Stop here, download The Boss, and proceed with reading that if you want to find out what happens without me blurting a lot of it at you in advance.

Cover shows the torsos of a man and a woman in evening dress, sexily pressed against each other. Image is black and white.

The Boss Cover art.

The Boss starts off with Sophie Scaife, overworked PA to an incredibly demanding fashion magazine maven, discovering her boss has been tossed out. She won’t have to take the boss’s dog in for ear candling anymore. Yay! Her new boss, Neil Elwood, the billionaire who unexpectedly bought the magazine to eventually give to his ex-girlfriend and business partner, doesn’t have a dog. He does have a history – with Sophie. Yes, the new boss being the man she had a one-night stand with in a hotel room six years ago definitely complicates the transition.

After some misunderstandings and divesting of baggage, they resume their relationship. He’s in the throes of a divorce, so there are shenanigans in a very posh hotel room rather than his house. They go beyond the spanking and anal they’d engaged in before, and start exploring the delicious depravity of a great BDSM relationship. People, this is a book you need to get for all your FSOG-loving friends, right now, and you can get it for all of them because right now, it is free. It models what a good relationship should be:

  • Consensual (and believe me when I say consent makes it extra-sexy).
  • Respectful: Sophie and Neil respect each other’s boundaries, wishes, and careers. Safe: both in the no-abuse sense and the watch-out-for-STDs sense.
  • Caring: they take good care of each other, checking in and generally assuring the relationship and the hot sex within are good for both parties.

There’s conflict, of course: things like Neil deciding to make the magazine cruelty-free (which everyone else, Sophie included, is convinced will sink it); Sophie putting her career ahead of her fuck-buddy without being completely open about it, and the difficulties inherent in having sex with your boss. They work these things out via communication. Love happens. The Sophie gets pregnant, Neil gets sick, and they (briefly) break up.

SPOILER ALERT! Stop reading here if you don’t want to know about the rest of the trilogy, but would rather read it unspoiled.

Black and white image of a sexy woman wearing a man's white shirt and nothing else.

The Girlfriend cover art.

Never fear! Because it’s a trilogy, and you know they get back together. There’s no Sophomore Slump with The Girlfriend. In fact, in my opinion, it’s the best book of the series. How many romances start with an abortion? One during which neither partner wangsts, and guilt is not felt, and after which freedom from parenthood is enjoyed? They have to savor the brief time they have, because Neil has got leukemia, and it has come roaring out of remission.

And so Sophie decides she will move to England with him while it’s treated. They have a lovely Christmas. They go to Paris. They go to a BDSM dungeon there and have a blazing-hot three-way. They have a happy New Year. And then they go through hell, because cancer is horrible. Yet the book remains romantic and wonderful and sexy as hell. Including Neil directing the action as Sophie and Paris-three-way guy go all the way, since chemo has made it more difficult for Neil to perform, but he wants Sophie’s sex life to thrive, and they both have the hots for that dude.

The end of this book had me bawling, people, and I don’t tend to feel that way in romances. I mean, I was dissolved in total sad-happy tears, the kind of crying that only happens because you love these characters intensely and you know they may lose each other and yet even death isn’t going to end the romance, because they have convinced you it’s That Kind of Love.

SPOILER ALERT: Stop here etc. You know the routine by now.

Black and white image shows a man and woman kissing in bed.

The Bride cover art.

It’s not a supernatural trilogy, so you know Neil survives. Mark of a good author, though, is having you half-convinced he won’t.

The Bride is life-after-cancer, and mostly family drama. It didn’t really pick up for me until the last third, when Sophie lost her best friend due to having to rat her best friend’s soon-to-be wife out for corporate espionage. And the ex-girlfriend business partner nearly destroys happily-ever-after. I don’t want to give too much away. Just that the end had me punching the air and shouting “Yes!!” and budding with happiness and sexual satisfaction. Oh, and did I mention this series improved my sex life by 1000% and taught me how to masturbate better? It absolutely did.

You will find passion, kink, and plots within these pages, all of which were lacking in FSOG. You won’t find abuse of any kind masquerading as love. Sophie and Neil aren’t sad little codependent freaks: they’re accomplished, independent adults who are wild for each other, and work through their problems with open communication and couples’ therapy. If people want to pattern their lives on a fictional love story, burn their copy of FSOG and give them this trilogy instead.

Best. Alternative. Ever.

And Hollywood? I want these made into movies. You owe us after putting FSOG on the silver screen. Give us a groin-grinding feminist romance with fully-realized characters facing real-life trauma and drama for once. Give use role models worth modeling ourselves on. The world – and our love lives – will be better for it.

PS. The fourth book in the no-longer-a-trilogy-but-is-now-a-proper-series will be out soon! Read a preview chapter here, and I’ll update this post when ordering info is available. Or you could just read Jenny’s blog, which is worth doing anyway.

Free* to a Good Home: One Obnoxious Uterus, Lightly Used

Hello, there! Are you unhappily joined to a defective uterus, or missing yours altogether? Are you in the market for a working model, but can’t afford a brand-new one (mostly because medical science hasn’t advanced to the point where they can be mass-produced in the lab quite yet, and so you’d have to be a trillionaire to afford the R&D)? Have most of the used uteri you’ve seen for sale been too expensive, too extensively used, or otherwise incompatible?

You’re in luck! I’ve got just the uterus for you. It’s (reasonably) young, has never been used for childbirth, and is only slightly evil. I’m giving it away free* to a good home. It could be yours today!

Image shows a pink smiling uterus plush toy.

Not actual uterus. This is a plushie uterus that belongs to Ruthanne Reid, via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

Of course, as with any uterus, there are quirks you should be aware of before transplantation. This uterus likes to masquerade as a threatening caller from horror films. About ten days before menstruation is due to begin, it will begin making calls, hinting about the agony to come. The frequency of the threats will increase as it comes closer to following through on its terrible promises. Bribe it with copious amounts of ibuprofen and cursing, however, and you should be fine.

Image is a someecard with a woman in a Victorian dress. Caption says, "Wow uterus. Sorry for not getting you pregnant. No need to throw a temper tantrum."

Once it’s established this pattern and you’ve become accustomed to it, this uterus will switch tactics, and strike with no warning at all. It may wait until you are on vacation and have forgotten to bring feminine protection and pain medication. You can avoid serious problems by always making sure you’re within a few miles of a drugstore, even if you’d rather lose yourself in the wilderness for weeks.

Image is a medical diagram of a uterus. Caption says, "Important occasion? Time for your period."

Other times, it will begin its ten-day warning calls, and keep them up for weeks or even a month, without ever following through. It will stop responding to all over-the-counter attempts to shut it the fuck up. All you can do in this case is slowly grow more miserable and angry until, at last, it tires of tormenting you psychologically and begins the physical part of the cycle. I’m sorry, but all you can do is tough this technique out. It’s a small price to pay for a working uterus, if a working uterus is what you want!

This uterus has been my boon companion through decades of menstrual excitement, and now it could be yours! It’s eminently suited for providing you offspring, which is a good enough reason for putting up with the damned thing bringing it home today!

Image shows a round embroidery hoop leaning against a couple of rocks. The hoop holds a blue fabric with a uterus embroidered on it in purple thread, with white puffs representing the ovaries.

Awesome uterus art from Hey Paul Studios, via Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

Uteri like this would normally sell for thousands of dollars. But it’s yours free* if you take delivery today. Act now, before this once-in-a-lifetime offer is no longer available! Don’t let some other person end up with this prime reproductive organ that could be nestled in your very own body. Have this beauty become your very own transplant, and begin enjoying its benefits immediately after your recovery!

While you’re recovering, why not embroider a symbol of your wonderful future with your bright sniny new uterus? Just imagine all the fun you will have together!

Act now! Operators are standing by. They’ll just have to scrub first.

*The uterus itself is free of charge. However, in order to take possession, transplantee must pay donor’s medical expenses, plus reasonable recovery costs. Ovaries not included. Uterus is non-returnable, non-refundable, and includes no warranty. Offer void where prohibited by law.

 

 

 

A Water Ouzel at Lunchtime, With Bonus Hygiene Footage

You confirmed our suspicions, my darlings – Lockwood and I did indeed see a water ouzel at Clear Lake. Bloody odd for a water ouzel – RQ says she can’t find any other footage of them swimming, and from what I’ve read, I do believe it’s rare behavior. I’ve seen them several times in the wild now, and I’ve never until that day seen them paddling around like any ol’ waterbird. Generally, they’ve been flying into waterfalls and walking boldly into swiftly-rushing water. Like Trebuchet says, it’s “quite amazing.”

Trebuchet’s remark actually reminded me I’d got footage of one at McDowell Creek Falls County Park a little over a year ago. Lockwood and I went there on a lovely May afternoon, and while we were kicking around one of the waterfalls, he spotted a water ouzel. We first saw one or two of them on a ledge up by the falls.

Image shows a water ouzel standing on a wet ledge of rock beside a waterfall.

Water Ouzel, Waterfall.

The little bugger flew straight into the waterfall, I swear to you. I think I even caught a shot of it – you can look here and see a dark little smudge to the left of the right-most branch hanging over the falls. It caught my eye because my camera shot that scene twice to get a better exposure, and that smudge wasn’t in the previous shot. The next photo has got the ouzel landing happily atop the waterfall. Alas, my camera thought we were doing branches, so the ouzel’s blurry. (Yes, I should get a DSLR, but I’m not fond of bulky cameras.)

Lockwood wandered down to the creek below the falls, while I messed about with the rocks and flowers a while longer before following. He pointed out another ouzel, or perhaps the same one, now fishing in the swiftly-flowing water downstream.

Water ouzel fishing in the creek. It's in a relatively shallow part. Behind it, whitewater is towering above it.

That is one brave bloody bird.

Alas, I didn’t get any shots of it walking underwater, and my luck wasn’t in whenever it buried itself in the whitewater. Lockwood got a shot that gets the point across, though.

Image shows the water ouzel in whitewater. Its head appears to be buried in the water, and a wave had broken over it in a splash of droplets.

Fearless Avian Menace to In-Stream Edibles, by Lockwood DeWitt.

The water flow was so fast and full that it looks almost fake in the videos I took. But there’s that bird, unconcernedly wandering around munching. Here’s a video I shot of it lunching for your viewing pleasure.

Of course, before that, it took its own sweet time getting cleaned up. Here’s the bonus video showing water ouzel hygiene routine.

And if you just can’t get enough of this ouzel, there’s a whole photo album full of it for ya. If fortune smiles upon us next summer, I may even be able to get you some more intense water ouzel shots. I fully intend to get back to McDowell Creek with Lockwood and B. I hope our water ouzel is there, washed up, and ready to demonstrate the full range of its native awesomeness for the camera.

Holy Cat

More Misha in sunbeams. Some would take this as a sign from God.

Image shows Misha lying on the floor in sunshine. Shadow on the wall is in the shape of a cross.

We skeptics of course know it is the inevitable result of sunshine shining through one of those windows with the rectangular thingies meant to make it look like it’s got lotsa fancy panes. But shhh. Don’t tell the it’s-a-sign folk. Quick! Look holy!

Same image as before, but Misha has turned her head, looking a bit like she's bowing it.

She’s got that false humility pose down, don’t she? I should take her to church. Imagine their faces when I tell ‘em it’s my cat who’s the Christian. Although I’m pretty sure she actually worships herself.