Bodacious Botany: A Biological Nova

Lockwood and I see some pretty amazing plants on our geological journeys. Take this bright yellow beauty we found at Coquille Point in Bandon, Oregon:

Image shows a plant that slightly resembles an ornamental lettuce. It's bright yellow int he center. The leaves closest to the center are yellow-green, gradually becoming more green the further from the center they are.

Mystery botany I

That’s like a botanical nova on the ground! It was hugging the scarp along the hillside.

Image shows the same plant from a distance. It's hugging a cliff of unconsolidated sediments behind it.

Mystery botany II

Oh, yes, I see you eyeballing all that geology there. Never fear, we shall be exploring it in earnest someday! Meanwhile, revert your eyes to the plant in question. It insists.

Image shows the center of another plant. It has tiny yellow flowers closely-packed. A few stamens are extending from them.

Mystery botany III

You can see how the wee flowers of the inflorescence start out rather subdued, but they appear to bust out in a kind of botanical riot as they age.

Image shows the center of the plant. There is a riot of spiky yellow flowers.

Mystery botany IV

Or perhaps they shed all those bits and reduce back to the flowers. I’m not sure. All I know is that a plant that looks a bit like a silly ornamental lettuce at first glance repays close inspection.

Image shows a smaller, younger-looking version of the same plant.

Mystery Botany V

And it’s surrounded by some pretty hardy stuff. This is an Oregon Coast headland, which is subjected to a lot of strong wind and lashing rain. There aren’t a lot of trees growing here. I suspect it’s because of the geology, but we’ll find that out when I finally write up the location. Someday. I promise it will happen!

Meanwhile, let’s zoom out and take one last look at our splodey yellow friend.

Image is a zoomed-out version of the plant above, showing it surrounded by other hardy headland plants.

Mystery botany VI

Oh, nature. Even your modest little lovelies are somehow epic.

Gimme Really Horrifying Bible Verses

I need your help, my darlings!

Among the roughly ten trillion projects I’ve got in the works is the Really Bad Inspiration from the Bible initiative. I’ve got lots of beautiful photos, y’see, like this:

Image shows a silhouette of trees, and a lot of sunset-colored clouds.

Lovely sunset. Would look great with bizarre Bible verses.

Plenty of them are the kind of things you see on inspirational posters what has Bible verses about soft, fluffy stuff, and I figure, it’s about time to show what the Bible’s really like. I’m going to make my own inspirational images, quoting the worst, bloodiest, most intolerant or bizarre bits of the Bible. It’ll look roughly like this: [Read more…]

Amusing Ammunition You Can Lob at Your Conservative Family Members

Ah, yes, tis the season when many of us are forced to display some false jolly with relations and family friends who treat Fox News as the gospel truth. Normally, those conversations are terribly awkward and often infuriating. But this year, my darlings, I have got something for you that should help ease the pain.

When next your relation/relations/family friend begins a full-throated conservative cry on Things That Must Be True Because Fox News Said So, show them this shining example of Fox’s journalistic integrity. [Read more…]

Winter Break

All right, my darlings, I’m out for the week. I’ve got Aunty Flow on the way, a ton of work to get done, and I hear there’s a holiday lurking somewhere up ahead. By the bye, if you’re way behind on the gift-giving, you can send an ebook instantly, and there’s a handy set o’ lists right here. You’re welcome.

The kittehs are here to wish you a very merry midwinter celebration sort of thing, if that is your thing. [Read more…]

The Position of Research Assistant is (Badly) Filled

Thank you to all who expressed interest in the position of Research Assistant, which I never actually posted. I’m afraid the position has been filled for some time. Not that my assistant has ever provided much assistance: she thinks she’s helping, and that’s what counts.

Image shows Misha wedged into the space on the bed between my laptop and the book The Creationists.

The Assisstant

Due to a fair bit of insomnia and a cat using me as a mattress, I’ve finished Numbers’s gargantuan book. I supposed keeping me pinned down with no choice but to read or go slowly mad from inactivity is assisting. I’d fire her, but I value my life. You can try to remove her from her position, but I warn you: she’s quick with the teeth for an old fart.

Let’s Play Spot the UFDs

We get to see how sharp your UFD-spotting skills are, and see if you can actually identify a few dots. You guys are wizard: betcha you can do it.

All right, first you gotta spot the UFDs in this lovely nature scene:

Image shows the snow-capped Olympic Mountains, the Kitsap Peninsula, and part of Puget Sound.

I solemnly swear there are UFDs in this photo.

I know, it’s not really fair, is it? Huge photo, itty bitty birdies. But I have complete faith in you. My faith is extra-special, as I am an ordained minister. How’s that feel, my darlings? Or should I say, my meatballets?

Okay, yes, you’re allowed to slap my hand with a wet noodle when next we meet. That was a very bad joke.

All right, try your luck with this photo. [Read more…]

Mysterious Cargo

Here’s one for the engineering detectives.

Image shows a large freight train passing another, very short train that has four cyan blue cylindrical objects pulled by a single engine.

Mystery Freight I

We took advantage of a wee bit o’ sunshine last Sunday to head to Richmond Beach. That’s the neato one with ten trillion stairs and trains. The oddest train I’ve ever seen passed us: a single engine pulling four cyan cylinders. Now, before you zoom in and see what we’re dealing with, lemme give you another clue: this train’s headed south.

Image shows the same train. It's almost reached a bend around the bluff.

Mystery Freight II

Now, south of Richmond Beach is downtown Seattle, and then a bit south of that is Boeing. So if you were thinking these looked like airplane fuselages, you were totally right. The airplane lovers in the audience may be able to tell us what kind of planes they’re building.

Image shows one of the fuselages up close.

Mystery Freight III

Apologies for the rather sub-par quality here, but it was a moving target on a cold, windy beach with the sun shining at a very awkward angle. So it goes.

I’ll have some lovely little (well, reallyreally big) mountains for ye soon. They were out in force, and amazingly pretty, and show just how astounding the slow, inexorable force of colliding plates is. You’ll love it.