FtB Con Is Coming! What Do You Want From Me?

Hey, check this out – there’s a new FtBCon happening August 22-24. Now, in the past, I haven’t managed to swing it, but I asked my new boss if I could have the time to participate, and she said,

Image shows a closeup of Misha sleeping curled up on a pillow. Beside her, a colum of zzzz

Asleep on the Job

So I’m assuming that means I have her permission, and I’m a gonna go for it. I’m giving a talk! On what? Well, I figured we’d talk about stuff. And things. Like, maybe, a little presentation on Christianist Earth Science textbooks? Or I can do a talk on some of the magnificent geology we’ve got here in the Pacific Northwest, complete with lovely photos and a theme of “See – you can still have a sense of wonder as an atheist!” Maybe you’ve got a different idea for the kind of talk you’d like me to talk, and I may say, “Hey – that’s totally something I can talk about!”

Tell me what you’d like by, oh, say, this Sunday (July 20th). Then I’ll figure out what I’m capable of delivering, and whip it up for ye.

And if the boss doesn’t like it, well, she shoulda woken up long enough to say something.

I’m Back – With a Challenge!

I’ve returned safely home with enough neat new photos of the Oregon and Washington coasts, plus manylots of waterfalls, to keep us busy for ages. And summer field season ain’t even over!

Here’s an image from the final day of the trip, when we scooped up Lockwood and went geotripping along the coast around Newport and Waldport. I’m doing the Vanna thing at the contact between some seriously massive basalt and the Yaquina Formation sedimentary rocks at Seal Rock State Recreation Site.

Image shows me standing under a lip of massive basalt, in front of streaky sandstone rocks that the basalt overlies.

Moi showing off the lovely contact.

What I’ve learnt on this trip is that I’m going to have to invest lotsa time and effort into catching up with the current professional literature. I can’t really speak intelligently or intelligibly about the geology right at this spot – the field guides are ages out of date, and the geologic map I’ve found is also quite old. If any of you know geologists whose study area includes this bit of the coast, and they love to talk people’s ears off about their work, well, send ‘em my way!

Right, here’s another image, and this one has a challenge within it. It’s from Yaquina Head, and it has got a seal. Can you see it?

Image shows a tight cluster of basalt sea stacks. The ones in the background are tall and covered with birds. The ones in the foreground are nearly at water level. A gray seal is lounging on one set of them.

Thar’s a seal in them thar rocks…

Now, I know you’ll be tempted to identify all the twelve trillion birds on the rocks, but I’ll be posting much better photos of those soon, so hold yer horses! You’ve already got severe enough eyestrain from finding that seal!

As a special bonus, here is a totes adorbs photo of B watching a seal. It’s pretending to studiously ignore him in this image, but it had actually been scoping him out for a bit, following him along the shore.

Image shows B looking out into the near-shore waves, where a seal head is visible.

B with Seal

I’m of to die of the heat and take a long-ass nap. I’ll be back with much more geotrippy goodness a bit later!

A Glimpse

Oh, my darlings, I will have so much scenic goodness for you. So so much. And restaurant recommendations. And adorable fuzzy animals. And hawt hawt geology.

But we’ve got one day more, then I have a coma day set aside to recover. So I’ll just tease you a bit.

The lighthouse at Cape Disappointment:

Image shows a green-capped basalt headland with a lighthouse upon it.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Twas overcast, but it was pleasant, and the scenery was certainly not a disappointment. Then we got to see our Suzanne! And little Token, who cannot ever get enough tummy rubs and has a doggy grin for anyone who’ll keep giving ‘em.

Day Two plans went gang aft agley because of Rainier Days, which had filled every hotel within a billion miles of St. Helens, and a storm that Weather.Com apparently could not see coming. So we improvised, and went to Silver Falls State Park instead. People, it utterly did not suck, and you will be amazed.

Image shows moi standing beside a very lovely waterfall which is plunging over a lip of Columbia River Basalt.

Lower South Falls

And then tomorrow, it’s off to the coast with Lockwood. Excellence awaits. I’ll be back in Seattle shortly, and shall show you All the Things.

The Most Beautiful Moon I’ve Ever Seen

We haven’t even left yet, and the views are spectacular. The Moon at sunset tonight was magnificent.

Image shows the full moon surrounded by whispy pink clouds.

Sunset Moon

It was one of those fortuitous things. A few minutes earlier, a few minutes later, and it wouldn’t have been there, the way it was. Synchronicity. Lovely.

Image if of the moon and sunset clouds with a bit of forest below.

Sunset Moon with Lovely Forest

If this is even a hint of what the trip will be like, we’re in for some scenic times. Wait til I show you them…

Rocking the Magnets, Baby, Yeah!

You know, I’m never going to be bored again. Well, there may be occasional moments, but not that many. I have a list ten trillion miles long, and I’m going to need a few extra lifetimes to get everything done.

I’m also going to need to find new and better ways to get superglue off my fingers. But the results have been totally worth it. At least in my opinion. Alas, the kitchen fluorescent isn’t the most flattering light, but here are the first rock magnets:

Image shows a small cluster of rock magnets on my fridge.

Yay rock magnets!

I always knew there was a reason why I collected buckets of rocks when out with Lockwood. Now I can do pretty things with them! And soon, you’ll be able to pick some up in the soon-to-be-named-and-shortly-thereafter-launched store. All hand-collected and hand-made. Whee!

The ones above are serpentinite, surrounding a wee bit o’ garnierite. I’ve spent the day selecting samples, trying a bit of varnish on a few of the ones that look best wet, and gluing them to magnets. It’s been pretty fun.

Image is a larger version of the previous, showing the rock magnets beside other magnets of various waterfalls and space scenes. There's also a magnet I got from the FBI.

Rock magnets outcrop.

Then I cleaned out the car, which wasn’t as fun, especially since it was a hot and sunny day. But we’re going to Oregon on Saturday, and we need room in the trunk. After sweating to death hauling books and packs of soda up the stairs, I decided that I would do what I’ve always wished American workplaces were wise enough to do, and had a siesta through the hottest part of the afternoon. Then, more magnets:

Image shows a cluster of rock magnets on a paper plate.

More rock magnets!

These are larger bits of serpentinite and a couple of pieces of garnet mica schist. I’m hoping they’ll turn out well, but being bigger pieces, they were also more stubborn about the whole being glued thing. I’ll be going back to my favorite glue, one that near-instantly glues pretty much anything to everything, yet doesn’t seem to take up long-term residence on my fingers.

Now it’s off to clean the house, and then B and I will be doing the necessary acquiring of essentials before we head out, so the blog will probably be quiet for a few days. I’ll post some preliminary photographs from the road as time and hotel wi-fi permit.

For now, I shall have to leave you with Mount Rainier at Sunset from my former office window:

The summit of Mount Rainier as seen from our third-floor window. I do have to say, the views from that particular part of the building never sucked.

The summit of Mount Rainier as seen from our third-floor window. I do have to say, the views from that particular part of the building never sucked.

See ye soon, my darlings!

New at Rosetta Stones: What’s the Big Bang Got to Do with Super Bowl Rings and Geology?

Glad you asked! (If you didn’t ask, just read the title out loud. Hey, thanks for asking!) I’ve got the first part of the answer for you over at Rosetta Stones. This has turned into a mini-series. Also, I had way too much fun making images of the ring with the Seahawks app.

Image shows my fingers holding a piece of citrine against a blue sky. The Seahawks ring is pasted atop it.

The Seahawks Super Bowl ring and a beautiful piece of citrine.

I even made the cat participate:

Image shows Misha lying in bed next to the Seahawks ring.

Misha and the Seahawks ring.

Look, it’s shiny and I can’t help myself.

Alas, I had no place to put this amazing picture of the Moon when it was just a ring around the Earth.

Image shows a molten Earth surrounded by a hot rocky debris ring.

Our Moon before it was even a moon. Image courtesy the American Museum of Natural History.

You can watch a video of it here. And Seed Magazine had a neato article. This space stuff is neat – especially as it relates to geology!

Name That Business Round 1: Vote Names Off the Island (and maybe some new names on)

All right. It’s hammer time!

Today’s the last day I shall be at ye olde daye jobbe. Tomorrow, due to a technicality, I’m not self-employed. Then we’re going to Oregon for the weekend. And when I get back, I shall be working for the worst boss in the world:

Image shows a younger Misha standing upright with her front paws clutching a red sofa, mouth wide open and eyes glowing with rage.

Rage Cat aka Misha

And the second-worst:

Image shows me in a black cowboy hat, black sunglasses, and black jacket, leaning against a limestone wall and kissing a rock hammer.

Love my hammer! Photo Credit: Amanda Reese. Hammer credit: George Wiman.

And that means I shall have to have a business name. It will mostly be for the non-writing bits: the rocky gifts based on geologic puns, the endless stuff with my images upon it,

Now, some of you have already made suggestions. Some of you made lots of suggestions. Now it’s time for you to pit those suggestions against each other. Ruthlessly eliminate those which don’t meet your incredibly high standards. And, if new ones pop into your head, give ‘em to me. This is an elimination round, but the competition is not yet exclusive!

All right, here’s the list. Cast your votes for the ones that make it to Round 2!
1. Tequila is the Bedrock

2. Rock On

3. The Rock and the Hard Place

4. The Rock and the Soft Place

5. Vucanovia, the Place for All Things Eruptive

6. Gneiss Schist

7. The World is Made of Rock

8. Tectónica

9. Sierra Madre

10. Las Entrañas de la Tierra (Earth’s Entrails)

11. Xisto

12. Granito

13. Marble

14. Pinatubo

15. Lava

16. Quartzo

17. Feldspato y Mica (the composition of granite)

18. Subducción

19. La Presea Azul

20. Thinking Outside the Rox

21. Thinking Inside the Rox

22. A Stone’s Throw…

23. Richter Sales

24. Kitties Rock!

25. Dana Rocks (or Dana’s Rocks)

26. Hunterite Accretions

27. Tequila Rocks

28. Dana Hunter

29. Sewing Unconformity

30. Geology Rocks!

31. Geoveras

32. Hunter on the Rocks

33. Lodestones

34. En Tequila Es Verdad

35. Sedimentary Sentiments

Image shows a penguin diving off an ice shelf, with a bunch of other penguins behind, appearing to push it into the sea. The caption reads, "Suvivor votes yet another off the island."

Which Should I Use?

I’ve got an explosive post coming up on Rosetta Stones for ye on Thursday. But I’ll need your help with it, my darlings. I’ve spent all night playing with photo editing programs to create a single illustration. I ended up creating two, and now I can’t decide which is better.

Reader’s choice time!

Is it to be Diagram #1:

Groovy stellar nucleosynthesis diagram wot I made #1

Groovy stellar nucleosynthesis diagram wot I made #1

Or Diagram #2:

Diagram wot I made etc. #2

Diagram wot I made etc. #2

Of course click to embiggen. Then cast your vote!

Image shows three kittens wearing clothes with ballots in paw, lined up to drop them in a ballot box.

Nature, So Green And Lovely

Did you have a nice weekend, my darlings? I hope you had a nice weekend. Our weekend was spent mostly indoors watching people beat each other up, and it rained on the 4th anyway, so I haven’t got any fireworks photos. And I haven’t got any photos of playing chase-the-little-green-apples with the kitties because I was too busy throwing apples to take pictures. In other words, we attempted laziness and mostly succeeded.

And there was near-constant eating. So. Much. Food.

We did head over to Juanita Bay on Sunday evening for a little light exercise, and I got a few near-sunset images you may like.

I quite enjoyed these tall waving grasses against the wetlands trees.

A field of grass. The tall grasses have seeded, so there is dark-green grass with amber seedheads waving gently in the lake breezes, and in the background, some tall old trees.

A field of grass.

And there’s a bird in this photo – I’ll let you explore for it.

Image shows the inner bay, filled with water lily pads, looking toward the tree-covered spit of land where the boardwalk is. There's a bird flying above one of the trees.

The beautiful bay.

The moon was out, and with the angle of the sun, some bits appear brighter than usual:

Image shows a half-moon in a blue sky. You can see the maria, and some brighter spots.

The moon.

Quite a nice water lily:

Image shows a white water lily surrounded by lily pads

A water lily

The water lilies haven’t got super-busy yet – there’s still only a few here and there.

Bellevue’s downtown was beautifully illuminated by the setting sun:

Image shows some of the high rises of Bellevue as seen from across the lake. The setting sun makes the buildings glow a bit pink.

Downtown Bellevue.

And here ’tis the whole shebang from the end of the boardwalk:

Image shows a lot of green marsh grass in the foreground, then the lake, then the Bellevue skyline.

Lake Washington at sunset.

I have a feeling I’ll end up at Juanita a lot once I’m (hopefully) gainfully self-employed. It’s peaceful and refreshing and the scenery is to die for.

Three days left. Doesn’t feel quite real, yet, and I’m afraid my place o’ work will find some way to make me stay. But if all goes well, when I leave Wednesday night, it will be the last time I do it as an employee. Then I can devote my entire life to writing for you. Well, that and creating fun and possibly clever things for folks to buy. You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to turning the billion tons of rocks I’ve got into neato little things people might enjoy. And I’ll bet the cat will love it, too. She’s ancient, but she’s still got all her kitty curiosity, and she loves it when Mommy starts doing unusual stuff. It’s nice that I can spend the last years of her life making her happy.

Right. Off to prepare myself for the home stretch….

Why Fireworks Depend on Geology

America is about to blow up a bunch of stuff for its 238th birthday. I love it! Who doesn’t love fireworks? Well, aside from my childhood dog, who invariably hid under the bed in cowering terror. And people who have had enough of explosions to last them a lifetime. People who don’t like loud bangs. People who are phobic about fire. All right, so there’s a long list of people and other animals and possibly plants who don’t like fireworks. But hopefully most of this audience does, and even if you can’t stand ‘em, perhaps you like geology, chemistry, physics, and pretty colors. Fireworks have got them all.

Fantastic fireworks display, courtesy of Bayasaa on Flickr.

Fantastic fireworks display, courtesy of Bayasaa on Flickr.

Oh, yeah, definitely geology. There’d be no fireworks without geology. Geologist High Maintenance Mom provides a great overview of the science of fireworks, explaining in kid-friendly ways how physics, chemistry and geology combine to create pyrotechnic magic. She’s a great resource to start with if you want to make your trip to see the fireworks show a fun teachable moment for your kids.

    A very gorgeous burst of fireworks by Nigel Howe on Flickr.

A very gorgeous burst of fireworks by Nigel Howe on Flickr.

For a more adult-oriented overview, see this excellent article on Geology.com. Lots of diagrams and nifty information, including this section regarding how geology fits in. Those beautiful colors wouldn’t be there if geologists weren’t finding the minerals that create them:

What Causes the Colors?

Chemistry holds the secrets to the color of a fireworks burst. The colors that you see in the sky are determined by metal salts that are deliberately added in very small amounts to the stars when they are manufactured.

As the stars burn the metal atoms absorb energy, become excited and emit a specific color of light. Some of the metals that produce the colors of fireworks are tabulated here.

Image is a table of colors caused by different metals. Red: strontium, lithium. Orange: calcium. Yellow: sodium. White: magnesium, aluminum. Green: barium. Blue: copper. Purple: a blend of strontium and copper. Silver: titanium, magnesium, aluminum.Go memorize that article so that you can pull a complete geek on your friends. While other people are screaming “Oooo! Ahhhh! Wow!” you can shout, “Titanium! Copper! Strontium!”

Ooo, I know this one! Image courtesy Nigel Howe on Flickr.

Ooo, I know this one! Image courtesy Nigel Howe on Flickr.

Strontium plus copper! Copper! Maybe some sodium!

Speaking of sodium, did you know you can do an awesome flame test using stuff you can pick up at the grocery store? Check out llinois State Museum Geology Online’s “A Burst of Light (pdf)” lesson – this is something you can, with proper precautions, do safely at home or in the classroom. And there’s more information on the minerals and colors in fireworks at this pdf from the U.S. Bureau of Mines.

So take a geology field trip if you’re in the States today and go see a fireworks display. Raise a beer to the geologists whose ability to unearth (ha) minerals made the whole thing possible. And drink a toast to the chemists and physicists and pyromaniacs who also helped.

A golden grand finale. Image courtesy Karen Blaha on Flickr.

A golden grand finale. Image courtesy Karen Blaha on Flickr.

Science: making awesome things awesomer since humans invented it.


Originally published at Scientific American.