Help Me Calculate Wooly Mammoth Populations

Ya’ll, I’m sorry, but I need you to put on your calculating hats and help a woman defeat creationists. I have numbers, but no higher math skills to work ‘em out*. Any of you care to calculate?

Here’s what I need to know: how many wooly mammoths can we expect 900 years after the Food?

Let’s give creationists the benefit of the doubt, and pretend Noah kept two wooly mammoths aboard. Let’s further say they were of breeding age when they got off the boat, and there was lots of forage, and they got it on right away. Here are the relevant stats, pulled from their closest living relatives, the Asian elephant.

Breeding age: 10-15 years until around 50-55

Gestation: around 18-22 months

Weaning: around 3 years

Which gives us a birth interval of about 4-5 years.

Life expectancy: roughly 60-70 years.

So, if our wooly mammoths pump out bebbies on the regular, and all is ideal, and we even let ‘em all live to ripe old ages, how many mammoths will we have after 900 years?

Herd of wooly mammoths. Painting by Charles R. Knight, image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Herd of wooly mammoths. Painting by Charles R. Knight, image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

I’ve got plenty of other ways to show that the creationist crap being spouted about wooly mammoths in this textbook is utter bunk, but it would be nice to hoist them by their own petard, while we’re at it. Thanks for your help, my more numerate darlings!

*Gawds, I can’t math. Up until pre-algebra, I was actually pretty good at the stuff, but I got jumped ahead before I had the proper foundation, then had a string of truly awful math teachers and never recovered. I shoulda kept up on the tutorials I was doing back in the early aughts, but I let my skillz atrophy because hey writers don’t need math right?

Let this be a cautionary tale to all aspiring authors: keep your math skills polished. Otherwise, you’ll end up on the intertoobz at three in the ay-em begging your readers to do the math for you and feeling a right nitwit.

Interlude with Cat Eating Bacon Jerky

You knew bacon jerky was inevitable, right? Here is Misha enjoying some with me while we read our newest creationist textbook.

Image shows Misha sniffing a bit of bacon jerky I'm holding out for her.

Misha getting her jerky on. It’s BACON!

Turns out she adores the stuff, so I’ll have to get more. Look, 20 year-old kittehs get what they want. Well, aside from my attention when I’m sleeping, no matter how loud she yowls directly in my ear. Damn cat. I think it’s because I haven’t been filling her porch kibble bowl due to rainy weather. She thinks food on the porch is far tastier than food inside. I’m sure there’s a scientific reason for it.

In case you’re dying of anticipation: yes, A Beka’s newest earth “science” text is as whacked as SPC. Only difference is that it’s got more room to expand on ridiculous ideas, and they’ve corrected a few of the glaringly-wrong facts that made SPC’s geology chapter snigger-worthy. You’ll see what I mean shortly.

Now off to continue grinding through ES4. And possibly feed the cat moar bacon.

Fundamentals of Fungi: Blue-Gray Beauties

Remember way back to those first heady days of freedom after giving ye olde daye jobe the old heave-ho, when B and I celebrated by taking a last-minute trip down the Washington-Oregon coast? Good times, good times! Especially when I stumbled across this beauty at Cape Disappointment which is sure to delight all lovers of fine fungi – and may inspire the next blockbuster horror movie flick.

Image shows some crinkly-edged flat blue-gray fungi poking through stringy green moss.

Fungi I

So there it was, poking through the green moss on the bank of the trail. And it may not look like much in the above photo, but believe me – it’s loving the camera.

Fungi II

Fungi II

Pacific Northwest coastal forests are pretty shady places, and this was an overcast day, but you can still see a gorgeous interplay of filtered light and dark shadow on these beauties.

Fungi III

Fungi III

Of course the little curled-up bits at the end that look like screaming, toothy mouths is a bit disturbing, but still. That fine wavy-frilly shape at their ends, the way they swing out like a flamenco dancer’s skirts, put me more in mind of Spanish dancing than imminent horror movie.

Fungi IV

Fungi IV

Makes me want to go design a dress, actually. Maybe if I fail at this writing gig, I’ll remake myself into a costume designer. Wouldn’t be a bad old life. I would just have to find rich clients who like looking like a fungus. That shouldn’t be at all hard, right?

Eh, maybe I’ll stick to writing. But don’t be surprised if you see me doing some fungus-inspired scarves on the side!

Kudos in advance to the first person who can tell us what this fantastic fungi is.

New Photos of Mount Rainier! Plus Super-Cute Critters

It’s been a long but fruitful day, my darlings. B and I took a little trip to Mount Rainier for you. We hadn’t yet hit the Sunrise VC, you see, so we decided it was about damned time we went. Can you believe I’ve been going to Rainier for years and have never been to top of that road? Scandalous! Now remedied.

Here’s the mountain peeking at some lovely andesite columns you will get to know very well later on:

Image shows gray andesite columns poking toward the road on the right, with a shoulder of Mount Rainier and the jagged crags of Little Tahoma in the distance.

Mount Rainier, Road, and Columns.

Now. I’m going to set the non-geologists in the audience a question: what are the columns telling you about the valley at the time of this lava flow? No cheating by looking up stuff on Mount Rainier, kiddos. But you can go look at Callan’s handy guide to columns wot he made just for us. You can totally get this from just this photo:

Images shows a bunch of gray andesite columns pointed at us.

Here we’re standing direct across the road, with the valley behind us, looking the columns dead in the tops of their darling little heads. Nose of an indeterminate blue sedan for scale.

Right, now you’ve had a challenge, you shall get your cute! This poor little dude was so conflicted.

Image shows a little striped rodent sitting on a somewhat flat rock in an I'm-Very-Tempted manner.

Conflicted ground squirrel or possibly chipmunk, I am terrible at identifying these cute fuzzy things BECAUSE THEY ARE BIOLOGY NOT ROCKS AND I DO ROCKS OKAY?

On the one hand, there was this humungous clump of grass with delicious ripe seeds and it really really wanted them so bad, only there were these people standing there, and it was a little afraid, but it wanted those seeds soooo bad. It spent a moment thinking about it, and dashed up and down a bit, and rushed the seeds and rushed away, and then decided “Sod this for a game of larks” and went and hid, so we left it to get its lunch in peace.

Now, we were up there specifically to look at Emmons Glacier, because I’ve been up the White River Valley it is responsible for, and would have gotten to one of its old moraines if Cujo and I hadn’t been stopped by the small but significant fact that the trail bridge over the river had washed out. So we went down to the Emmons Glacier Vista overlook thingy and had a nice look, and it was really gorgeous.

Image shows Mount Rainier's summit, Little Tahoma, Emmon's Glacier, and a gorgeous glacial valley with a glacier-fed river and lake. Also, much green, because PNW.

A view of Emmons Glacier, and the valley, and river, and a wee little turquoise-colored lake that I could probably identify if I wasn’t too tired at the moment.

Unfortunately, it was a bit hazy, and hot as hell, or we might have gotten better photos. Still. We got some good ones, and yes, someday, you will get more. But if you embiggen this one, you’ll be able to see some snazzy glacial features. Tell me all you can find, if you feel like digging!

We attempted the trail up Sourdough Ridge, but that’s all in bright sunshine, and did I mention is was at least 80 bloody degrees? And I’m not used to high altitudes and heat anymore. So we decided to tackle that in cooler times, and possibly when the air is clearer. We went down to Sunrise Point, where there’s a short-ish side trail to Sunrise Lake.

Image shows Sunrise Lake, a beautiful round pool surrounded by tall trees and mountains. The water is so still you can see the pines clearly reflected in it, even from hundreds of feet above.

Sunrise Lake is a lovely blue-green gem set at the bottom of a glacial valley surrounded by majestic, glacier-carved peaks. Alas, it is down in a valley…

This trail is mostly in shade with a wonderbar cool breeze. Trouble is, it is also a long way down to the lake. Down, of course, translates to up on the way back. But it was worth it. We got to see lots of pretty nature, and the lake, and there was this bird you will squee over when I show you it later this week, and, on a scree slope, this wee little rabbit-like thing running across the rocks with a big sprig of leafy something in its mouth. See if you can spot it in the shot of the slope I took.

Images shows a slope of platy gray rocks surrounded by the usual alpine greenery. There's a little critter on it. Very hard to see.

Wee beastie is somewhere on this scree, I promise you.

Really hard to spot, innit? Alas, I had the camera turned off to conserve battery when the little bugger first darted out, and by the time I had it on, our wee beastie had dashed further downslope. Take it from me, it was cute as the dickens, especially with its bit of greenery clutched in its mouth. Here’s a crop of the above image, and if you can identify they wee beastie from just this blurry pic, I will be very surprised. Also, I will suggest you become a cryptozoologist, because why not?

If you look at the gray rock at the very bottom center, then at the green bush right in front of it, then in front of that bush, you will see a timorous little brown fellow holding very still on the scree and clutching its little sprig.

If you look at the gray rock at the very bottom center, then at the green bush right in front of it, then in front of that bush, you will see a timorous little brown fellow holding very still on the scree and clutching its little sprig.

After the beastie and the birdie, we hauled our sorry butts back up that slope, and I can tell you my lungs haven’t ached like that for ages. Like a bellows, they were. I need to spend less time lounging with the cat and Christianist textbooks, and more time on mountains. So it’s a good thing B has decided we should go back to Mount Rainier before our current pass runs out. Weather permitting, we’ll be up there again at the end of the week. Then, depending on what the weather looks like, we’re off to either the Olympics or over the mountains to Ross Lake. Well, weather and our own energy levels permitting, I should say.

And I can definitely recommend sunset as seen from Highway 410 from outside of Sumner, looking over the Puget lowland toward the Olympics. Oh, my, yes. Alas, we were unable to stop and obtain photos, so I shall just have to ask you to imagine jagged black peaks against a salmon-orange sky, with the dark night blue above and the deep pools of shadow in the valley below, with city lights sparkling merrily, and a huge orange full moon rising over the hills behind. So, so wonderful.

I R Scholarly Cat. This Iz Srs Criticisms.

Damn cat. When she isn’t stealing my lounge chair, she’s stealing my work:

Image shows Misha lying down on the Bob Jones University Earth Science 4th edition textbook, her paws around my pen.

All ur debunking creationist drivel r belong to me.

This is because I went to get cushions for the chair she’s making me use, I’m pretty sure.

There’s a glimpse of how things are coming along, though – that notebook you see stuck within the pages of that shit-pile of a textbook represent the beginning of my debunkapalooza for the chapters on geology. Which I’m doing out-of-sequence, because I’m trying to get all this stuff read before I babble at you about it during FtBConscience. I’ve done A Beka’s Science of the Physical Creation geology chapter already. Yeah, it’s pretty bad. Yes, I’m expecting ES4 to be worse – especially since it goes on for nearly the entire length of the entire A Beka book. And on Tuesday, I should get the more recent edition of A Beka’s drivel, granting the delivery dude doesn’t deliver to the wrong apartment again. Ima try to keep up a decent posting schedule, too, but this shit takes forever to get through, and so I may have to skimp a bit here and there. Also, too, it’s summer field season, and we have some places to go and geology to see before the endless gray returns. But at least you know I’m stocking up plenty o’ posts for the winter, eh?

We’ll also be finishing up with Mount St. Helens – lots to go, believe it or not! It’ll be a bit, but if you want to brush up on the series, the link to the spiffy new page is here. I’ll be bringing over the last few posts about the trees soon, too. That should whet your appetite, eh?

All right, one more o’ the wee beastie interrupting my work, and I’ve gotta get back to it.

Misha's shifted to behind the pen, looking as if she expects me to pick it up and get busy, with her still atop the book.

Why aren’t you werking, mummy?

That My Chair. Also, That My Chair.

I’m knee-deep in creationist textbooks. It takes bloody forever to get through a chapter because I have to constantly stop and look shit up. And I just found a copy of A Beka’s latest mangling of Earth science, so I’ll soon have more work to do. I’ll start posting the results in September for your entertainment/outrage, but for the moment, all I can give you is cat photos.

Misha has a very large porch, and lots of places on it. She has her pillow

Misha's lying on a white pillow on the porch.

Misha upon her pillow.

and her rug

Misha is lying on a multi-color rug on the porch.

Misha’s rug.

and under the new chair

Misha is lying underneath a turquoise patio chair with her tail wrapped around one of the legs.

Misha’s new chair.

and on the new chair.

Misha is sitting on a turquoise patio chair

Misha on the new chair.

But the spot she really wants at any given time is the chair I’m on, which at that moment was the lounge chair. Being a cat, she took partial ownership.

Misha at my feet, looking back and sniffing.

The bottom third of the lounger was now hers. She also wanted my bowl of cereal.

She purred hard enough when I sat back down with the cereal that she had the whole chair humming. Totes adorbs, so of course she got some of the milk. And when I went in for lunch, my chair was forfeit.

Misha sleeping peacefully in the middle of the lounger.

MY chair now.

She thought this entertaining until I sat down on the patio chair. Then it was no fun anymore, because I had a comfy chair, and she’s too old to jump up in my lap at that height. Also, the workers in the next apartment began making too much noise, so she buggered off.

I know, she’s spoiled rotten. At her age, she can have almost anything she wants. Including my chairs.

This is the best part about working from home. She’s still alert and active and curious and feisty. We get to spend nearly every moment together, while she’s still got good times left. I’ll miss her terribly when she’s gone. But at least I’ll have these moments to remember. We’ll squeeze a lot of good times out of these days. And she’ll always be part of me.

I’ll even have the scars to prove it, vicious wee beastie that she is.

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Squeaky Black Shore Birds Parte the Seconde

Great guesses, one and all! I’ve got a snazzy new list of birds to watch for, thanks to you. And this wasn’t really a fair challenge, but you rose to it, and I’m proud o’ ye!

Trebuchet got it – black oystercatcher. How he found that standing bird, I’ll never know – I couldn’t until he said to look for it, and I knew there were a bunch of birds on that beach! The bird landing should also be one. They were hard to see, especially through a camera screen, but I do belive the one that landed is the one in the first photo I shall show you next. I was trying to keep it within my sights. They were all the same – no mixed company for these wee ones. Not at that moment.

I’ll do up the geology properly with explanatory photos soon, but Moarscienceplz wins the punstakes. “I dunite know.” LOLgroan. And also a win with freeze-thaw cycles. I’m certain those rocks are weathering out, not being dragged there by waves. You’ll see some more lines of evidence soon.
All right, here are your further photos, as promised!

Here’s one showing off its neon red-orange beak in a shy but standout manner.

Image shows a black bird with a very long orange beak and a bright orange eye, standing on the cobbles.

Black Oystercatcher I

They sound rather like seagulls, only not as obnoxious. They seem like the much more well-behaved cousins of seagulls. And they’re all over those cobbles like a boss.

Same bird, walking across the cobbles.

Black Oystercatcher II

This one was off to join its mates, who were picking around by the water’s edge.

Black Oystercatcher III

Black Oystercatcher III

There were several of them, but it was hard to get good shots from where we were, and we weren’t about to go down and harsh their mellow. At least we got good enough pics for an ident, right? You, my darlings, are the absolute best.

 

Unidenified Flying Dinosaur: Squeaky Black Shore Birds

So up at Fidalgo Island, I was just taking some pictures of rocks, y’know, the geology sorta thing. Here’s a beach filled with rough cobbles of serpentinite, peridotite, and dunite, along with other things. It’s also got a bird in it.

Image shows a beach full of rough cobbles. There is a black bird coming in for a landing. It's very hard to see.

There’s a bird on this beach. Honestly.

Here, I’ll show you it.

Image shows a black bird with its wings thrust forward, landing amongst the cobbles.

See the bird landing?

Okay. Here’s where I’m going to tell you to stop and try to identify that bird, because otherwise, it won’t be any challenge at all. You’ll have the ident within two seconds if I show you the after-it-landed pics. Ima leave this here, and see if any of you can get it. Most of the clues you need are in the title. I’ll post the other photos later today, so you can see these lovely little things running about and being adorable.

(Also, what can you tell me geologically about that beach, just by the sizes and shapes of those rocks?)

Good luck!

La Bête Noire de la Véranda

Or, potentially, la pesadilla de la terraza.

Image shows Misha on the porch, biting a clear plastic strip I'm wriggling around for her.

Vicious wee beastie murtilates a plastic sheath.

Okay, she’s not actually the bane of my existence or a literal nightmare, but she likes to believe she is. And she spends most of her time on the porch these days.

I brought home a new chair for it yesterday, and as soon as I started removing the plastic wrapper bits guarding the legs, she zipped over and started doing battle with them. This is part of the reason we were late getting going – when you’re elderly felid is in a feisty mood, it’s necessary to humor her.

Since I’ve been home, she’s gotten more curious and playful. She’s also much more sociable and demanding – we ended the night outside, because she’s been getting really vocal about me joining her there. When I’m in the bedroom,  she’ll come back in and yowl from the doorway for a minute, giving me an impatient look. I think that meow traslates as, “You bloody fool, it’s effing hot, what are you doing in there? Get your ass out here!” Then she stalks out, occasionally coming back to repeat the demand. It was warm enough to acquiesce to her request, so I figured why not. We’ll have to do it more often. She likes having me out there.

She also likes to steal my cushion.

Misha is lying atop the cushion on my lounge chair, looking up beatifically.

The beast has got my lounge chair.

She’s definitely a beastie that likes comfort. And yelling at Mom. And occasionally viciously attacking. Her unpredictability is what makes her so much fun.

Fun, Fidalgo, an Ophiolite, and a Very Rude Buck

We made it to Fidalgo Island. Yay! We got lotsa pictures of bonza peridotite and serpentinite. Double yay! I’ll have a proper write-up one o’ these days, but for today, we’ll do some outtakes.

This time, we visited Washington Park. I’ve been there once before, many years ago, and had no idea that Cujo and I had been hanging about on serpentinized peridotite. Yum! Now I knew, and B and I were determined to see all of it we could see. We got a sorta late start, got hung up in Everett traffic, and lingered over lunch, so it was late in the afternoon when we arrived. Let me tell you something about Washington Park: when you’re in the parking lot, you’ll freeze. There’s a sort of saddle between the bay and the Sound, and the wind blows vigorously through, and it’s like standing in a refrigerator. Do not let this deceive you. If it’s a warm day, you’re gonna end up sweating to death. That’s because of this:

Image shows fingers of brown rock jutting into the blue Sound. Framed by a fir tree.

Peridotite benches at Washington Park, Fidalgo Island.

Peridotite is dark, dense, iron-rich rock that seems to love absorbing lotsa rays and reflecting the heat right back atcha. If you get a chance to go here on a warm summer day, bring plenty of water, wear sunglasses, and remember that a bit of seawater judiciously applied to the back of the neck will help cool things right down.

The loop road, which is also a lovely paved trail, is nice and shady, and you can pop through the trees and bushes and get lovely views of the Sound and the San Juans.

Image shows a dead tree jutting horizontally from the cliff. Through its branches is the Sound and a mountain-shaped island.

A lovely horizontal snag pointing toward the San Juan Islands. I think that’s Orcas Island, but I’m horrible at recognizing these things.

The glacially-planed and polished serpentinite/peridotite makes lovely benches from which to stand majestically looking out over the Sound.

Image shows B standing atop a dark black/brown bench of peridotite with a glitter trail on the Sound from the low-lying sun.

B and the Sea.

Here’s a rare action shot of me crossing a crack through the peridotite.

Image shows me landing on the other side of a crevice on a flat brown peridotite bench.

That’s me doing geology! Sorta.

Lotsa glacial action in this photo – see if you can spot it! You’ve been hanging round me long enough you should be able to see at least one or two things.

You definitely should do the loop road, either hiking or driving. There’s another stopoff on the other side that is neato and I’ll show you it in some detail soon, and then you get to the bottom, and there may be a buck and a doe grazing. However, the deer here are rude.

Image is a profile of a little black-tailed brown buck with wee antlers. He's sticking his tongue out. Looks like he's blowing a raspberry.

Rude buck.

We laughed and laughed, of course. There were deer all over, including in people’s yards. Washington Park is huge, and seems to be a happy home for them.

At the end of the day, driving home, Mount Baker was beautifully illuminated, so I pulled the car to the side of the highway and grabbed you a shot.

Image shows Mount Baker. The sun is low, and has pinkened the snow on its slopes.

Mount Baker from Highway 20, just outside of Anacortes.

Wonderful stuff, and much fun. I’ve got to get my talk done, work on the next post in the Seattle Seahawks Superbowl Ring series (which next post is a pain, because just when I thought I had the research finished, bam – came across a series of papers that call all our existing knowledge into question. Darn it all to heck!). But B asked some great questions about peridotite, so I’ll try to sneak some answers in about that in the near-future, and eventually, after a few more visits to the Island, I’ll be whipping up a series on the ophiolite there. And that’s in addition to the ten tons of other great geology we’ve got going on! And summer field season isn’t even over! It’s going to be a super science winter, lemme tell ya.