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.

Mah Stapler. Plus Outrage.

I believe you haz it.

Image shows Misha curled up with a stapler.

She’s a total goofball sometimes.

We’re planning to be off to Fidalgo Island again later today. As I spent the entire night screaming at the climate change chapter of our BJU earth “science” text, I haven’t got anything of substance for today. Enjoy Yet Another Kitty Photo, then go purchase a bite stick, punching bag, ounce of weed, 50 gallon drum of choice liquor, and a three-months supply of your favorite chill pills. Yes, it’s that bad. Worse, actually. Forget I ever said anything nice about BJU. I’ve decided ACE is actually not as awful.

Now, you’ve got time to lay in suitable supplies, because I’m not rebooting this series until September, but you should get to shopping before stock runs out.

I really regret being out of Xanax right now. And I don’t know if I’ll survive this series without a major heart attack. But it must be done.

I’ll have new Fidalgo pics for ye, tomorrow, as long as we make it up there, and possibly more cute cat pics just after. For now, I’m going to try to drain the rage-adrenaline and catch a bit of sleep before we vamanos.

Oy.

 

 

 

 

 

Olde Catte on a Rugge (a la Physioproffe)

No, I haven’t got anything substantial. It’s about to be ridiculous hot without AC here again, so I’ve been working on perfecting the porch. So far, kitty approves. She certainly adores the rug we just got; she zipped out immediately to inspect it, then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening upon it:

Image shows my tuxedo cat sprawled in a Superman pose on a green and tan striped rug.

Misha approves this rug.

Yes, we did a substantial amount of work after shopping. Well, I did. She just loafed.

Misha has all legs tucked under.

Cat loaf.

Worked on what, you ask? Look.

Misha is sprawled out beside the BJU Earth Science lab manual.

Misha lies down near the job.

That’s right, my darlings. I’ll soon be rebooting our Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Ed. And this is prep for my talk. Excited? I hope so! There’s plenty of creationist dumbfuckery on the way!

 

(h/t Physioproffe – the title spelling is an homage to him.)

 

Fundamentals of Fungi: Sēnes of the Meža!

Our own RQ loves us enough to take pictures of mushrooms (sēnes) in a forest (meža). This is the extent of Latvian I can write courtesy of Google Translate, and I have no idea if it’s anywhere near correct, and I still am not sure how to say “fungi” or “wood mushroom” properly. Perhaps RQ can tell us while lovers of identifying pretty fungi figure out what these are.

Image shows a downed log, covered with moss, with a ruin of some sort and a forest beyond. The log has two wood mushrooms visible: one is brick red, the other is larger and black with a touch of red on the underside.

Mystery Fungi I

She can also tell you more about the ruins, if she likes, should you be curious. I’m not sure what that big foundation thingy is. I’m more interested in the lovely fungi growing on the log.

Image shows a black wood mushroom with a red and orange rim.

Mystery Fungi II

How beautiful is that? Dark as the night, with a flare of sunset. Nature is one of the original artists. If I had a horse, I’d make it shoes like this and we’d go dancing.

We have a bonus mystery – I can’t tell if this is more fungi, or lichen.

Image shows some gray bits that might be fungi... or may be lichen.

Mystery…???

Definitely enlarge that and have a gander at the textures.

And, should you want a squee, go look at what I found when I was googling sēnes. ZOMG SO CUTE!!! You guys have no idea how much I want a kitten in a knitted mushroom costume right now. Just… not under the circumstances that kitty had to wear its little costume. Don’t translate the text unless you want your squee to go sad. Here, go read why kitties like mushrooms, instead.

Ima go cuddle my ancient kitty now. Well, attempt to cuddle. You know how she is. Enjoy your shrooms, my darlings!

Cryptopod: Wanna-be-a-Zebra

There are many patterns in nature that repeat. There’s probably a reason for them, but being more into geology, I’m not sure what many of them are. Take this little cryptopod sent in by RowanVT: I think part of it wants to be a zebra.

Silly wasp or bee or whatever you are. You’re not a zebra. Even if you do have zebra stripes on your rear.

Image shows a wasp or bee going in to a hole in the dirt. It's got yellow legs and a zebra-striped butt.

Cryptopod I

You live in a hole in the ground. Zebras don’t live in the ground.

Side view showing a large green eye and hairy shoulders.

Cryptopod II

You have antennae. Zebra don’t have antennae!

Cryptopod III

Cryptopod III

You have yellow legs. Zebras don’t have yellow legs! Also, you have six of them. Zebras have only four (sometimes less, if a lion’s bitten one off).

Cryptopod IV

Cryptopod IV

Now your stripes look yellow! Zebra stripes don’t look yellow. Not unless a lion’s peed on them or something.

Cryptopod V

Cryptopod V

You have thin, clear wings. Zebras don’t have wings of any sort.

Cryptopod VI

Cryptopod VI

You have eyes as big as your head. Zebras don’t have eyes that big. I don’t think you’re a zebra at all, little wasp-bee-thingy.

New at Rosetta Stones: Mount Baker At Last! Plus, a Genuine Watercolor

I’ve got the preliminary findings from our maiden voyage to Mount Baker up at Rosetta Stones for ye. You’re gonna love it.

You may also love this photograph of Mount Shuksan:

Image shows what looks like a watercolor image of Mount Shuksan.

Mount Shuksan reflected in a lovely tarn.

Looks sorta like a watercolor, doesn’t it just? It sorta is: this is Mount Shuksan as reflected in a lovely little tarn on Mount Baker Highway.

It’s the real thing – I’ve just played a bit with the brightness and such. Here’s the untouched version:

Mount Shuksan as reflected in the tarn.

Mount Shuksan as reflected in the tarn, without the fiddling around.

Okay, and I flipped it right-side up, too. See it in its non-reflected glory at Rosetta Stones, and find out why it’s really actually green.

Traveling Today – Have Some Links to Other People’s Work

B and I are off to Mount Baker, because summer is short and it’s hot. But not hot on top of Mount Baker. Which is the point. And I’d have stuff of substance for you, only I’ve be doing the deep-dive cleaning and organizing in order to turn the house into a place where I can work full-time. This is complicated, and involves a lot of standing around staring at piles in despair, and going to the store for Yet Another Necessary Thing, and hunting round places for inexpensive yet useful compact storage stuff, and then attempting to store stuff in it. And then it’s back to the store because you forgot the labels to label the storage stuff so you know where stored stuff is…

Then a day off for throwing apples for cats, and watching MMA and kickboxing, and planning for said trip up to Mount Baker. Which you will love.

While I’m gone, here are a few of the blog posts I’ve been meaning to highlight for half of forever. Enjoy! And when I return, thee shall have brand-new pictures of Mount Baker to treasure.

Image is three photos of a very excited English spaniel. Caption says, "ERMAHGERD."

Alethian Worldview: Everything we need to know about God

I was a conservative, Bible-believing Christian until I was in my early forties, and as a believer, the one thing I wanted more than anything else was to understand God. Ironically, it’s only now, after a decade and a half as an atheist, that I’ve finally reached an understanding that truly does explain everything that seems odd or mysterious about God.

It’s not that I’ve discovered anything that’s really all that new. I’ve just found a way of framing what I know that immediately expresses exactly what we need to know about God in a way that’s both obvious and unavoidable.

A Veil and a Dark Place: A Tirade of Snark to My Clueless Muslim Critics

But the mindset is there, it’s prevalent and rote and you know, sometimes I feel like I wonder if I’m being uncharitable in my positions but there’s such a brewing of disgust within me at the insidious self-righteousness of these sorts of responses that this does not seem at all like a low enough jab but I’ll say it:

You can string out the same tired sentences and stances a thousand and one times and they’ll still be as flawed and dishonest and inhumane as ever, these phrases, ‘oh, Islam grants women her rights, don’t you know, preserves honor, dignity, and doesn’t condone mistreatment’ and seriously, I ask you, do we live in the same world?

A Million Gods: Islamic Economics of Sex

The problem here is not women who do not wear Burkhas but men who wish for women to wear them under the notion of concern and the guise of honour and chastity.

Alternet: Bible Verses That Atheists Love

As a young adult, I struggled to recover from the crazy parts of my childhood. I once had a therapist who said, “You’ll know you are independent from your parents when you can do what you want for yourself even if they want it too.” To my mind, the Bible writers are like dysfunctional parents to our whole society, parents we have turned to, collectively and individually, for guidance. but who all too often instead have caused harm or trauma. One of the ways we will know that we have truly outgrown them is when we are able to claim what we believe to be useful and beautiful, even if they said it.

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Ee’s Not Dead, Ee’s Resting

The richest guru in India died of a heart attack in January. Doctors have declared him dead. But his followers insist that he isn’t dead, he’s just in an incredibly deep state of meditation. So deep that he has no heartbeat or brain activity and has to be kept in a freezer.

All right, that’s enough to keep ye busy for the moment. See you tomorrow, my darlings!

Stachys Standing Proud

One of these days, I’ll get round to making a little e-book of the flowers ya’ll have identified, so I can look it up and say, definitively, “That’s the flower my readers identified as X” rather than, “Oh, hey, there’s one of the flowers my readers told me the name of, I think, only I can’t remember it off the top of my head, but they know what it is I swear!” Either that, or I will have to become fabulously rich so that I can take a gaggle of you with me all over the world, and have you identify things, and then we’ll post the pictures and idents via satellite phone or something, real-time. We could make up special t-shirts and everything. And we would also support various social-justice causes with our treks, and offset our carbon footprints, and all sorts of responsible things. All while subverting creationist drivel with fun facts. Sound good? Let’s do it! Now I just have to figure out how to become rich…

While I’m working on that, have some fun gazing upon one of the flowers you’ve successfully identified in the past: Stachys cooleyae, or Cooley’s hedge nettle.

Image shows a stem of purple-and-white mottled flowers that look like little trumpets, or possibly roaring lions..

Stachys cooleyae, which is hard to learn how to spell, but quite lovely.

This one was growing happily along the trail between Waikiki Beach and the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. The whole place is a riot of vegetation filled with things like snakes and spiders and so-forth, but the beauty of the Pacific Northwest is, very few of those things are dangerously poisonous or even inclined to bother folks, so you can enjoy the flowers without worrying that something deadly is about to sneak out and bite you. Having come from a place where a good number of the creepy-crawlies were either lethal or would give you a very painful time, it’s refreshing.

Image is a crop of the previous, showing a few of the flowers, and the fine white hair that covers the stem and leaves.

A closer view. Look at all those darling little hairs!

See? Beautiful. And while it pays to mind your surroundings and know that even in a place where 98% of everything won’t attempt to annihilate you, there’s always the possibility something untoward will happen, nearly perfectly safe. Unless you have a phobia, in which case, until you’ve gone through the full course of therapy and gained the upper hand, it’s probably best not to run about a place that has such an abundance of potentially terrifying living things. Should I become fabulously rich and famous, such therapy will be offered free to those who wish to go geotrekking with me but find things like sudden spiders traumatic.

I wish I had a picture of the snake that kept popping out to see if we’d gone yet. I’m not sure what was in the spot that it wanted so badly – perhaps it was its favorite spot for catching a few rays – but the poor thing would go under its bush, then nip out after a minute, see us, and zip back again. Several times, this happened, in the few minutes we were at the summit of one of the headlands admiring the view. I almost never see snakes doing that. This one was a fair-sized brown garter snake with a pretty red stripe. I like garter snakes – they’re gentle little things, and they keep pests down, and they’re fun to watch. We tried to respect it by getting out of its territory in a reasonable amount of time.

That’s another thing I hope to do, riches and fame or not: help people develop a better relationship with things that creep and crawl. Suppose I’d best work on getting more photos of them, then, without pestering them overmuch…

Mystery Flora: Bitey McBiterson

The trouble with trees (and every other living thing) is that some of them have had to evolve defenses. Some of them are obvious about it, practically shrieking, “I’ll cut/puncture/poison/stickify you! STAY AWAY FROM MEEEE!!!!” Some are subtle and devious jerks, drawing you in by seeming all tame and pretty, then giving you a stealthy stab.

Such is this beauty, which attacked our own RowanVT, and whom she has dubbed Bitey McBiterson, which is the best name for a bush ever:

Image shows a verdant green bush with yellow flowers. It's very fluffy.

Bitey McBiterson I

You’ll have to ask RowanVT where this was. All I know is that it was June, and she was camping…. somewhere. Somewhere that had many interesting and beautiful things, which she sent to us, and one evil bushy tree, which was actually quite pretty.

Bitey McBiterson II

Bitey McBiterson II

Oh, dear, a philosophical mood has suddenly struck… but this is always how I’ve found evil to be most interesting. A lot of our stories and entertainment make evil ugly. Hairy, lumpy, slavering monsters; a devil with cloven hooves and misshapen features; wicked witches with warts. And yet, evil is often at its most compelling and most disturbing when it’s beautiful.

Another image of a flower, this one showing a red-orange streak to some of the petals.

Bitey McBiterson III

One of the most important lessons I ever learned was that evil doesn’t always come in bad packaging. It’s still hard sometimes to think of anything attractive – whether that’s a person, plant, or other entity – as being bad or dangerous. And that’s as true for non-physical qualities as it is for physical beauty.

Image shows the leaves, which are thick, green, and look somewhat like oak.

Bitey McBiterson IV

But I’m learning, as time goes on, to look at the total package, rather than just the dazzling bits. And I’ve learnt that there’s a lot more to beauty than the wrapper.

I’ve also learnt that plants trying to defend themselves aren’t, in fact, evil – although they sometimes seem so to those of us who are nursing wounds from things like Bitey.

Image shows the fruit, which is a little yellow lump all covered in tawny fuzz. It looks perfectly harmless.

Bitey McBiterson V

Not that it isn’t fun to jokingly attribute human qualities, such as a capacity for deception, to said plants.

Here endeth the philosophy. Here is RowanVT’s description of her encounter, and an invitation to identify this nippy little tree:

The tree with the yellow flowers, which I’m sure is non-native, bit the hell out of me when I gently touched its fruit. Those hairs are barbed and come off reeeeeal easy. >_< It is not a nice tree/bush/thing. Hopefully someday I’ll figure out what Bitey McBiterson is.

Hopefully, someday is today.

Sea Stack Pining for the Sea

One of the first roadside zomg-look-at-the-scenery pullouts at the northern end of Cape Disappointment State Park happens to overlook a wonderful example of what happens when sediment fills in the sea round a sea stack. Can you spot it?

Image is looking out to sea. In the foreground are trees, some snags, and a knob of rock. Beyond it is a flat area covered with vegetation and a strip of sandy beach beyond.

Lonely Sea Stack is Lonely

This is the result when a nice, hard stack of basalt (in this case the Eocene Crescent Formation basalt) ends up in a sea of sediment instead of a sea of saltwater. Poor thing is now stuck inland. The only time it’ll be a stack again is either during a tsunami or if sea level rises.

Image shows a closer view of the top of the former sea stack, which has grown a mantle of moss, grass, and possibly a tree.

Let’s Call it Broody.

There’s probably some technical term for these things. I thought it was “knocker,” but that seems to only refer to knobs of rock within a melange. And my brief attempt to wrestle an answer out of Google was non-successful. Who here knows what they’re technically called?

If there is no technical term, I call dibs on calling them “broodies,” just in case that catches on.