Hey, Hoosiers!

There’s actually interesting natural history in Indiana.  No, really!  And David Orr’s out to prove it.  His new blog, Under Indiana, has an ambitious mission:

After I’d grown up a bit, I learned to appreciate my home state on its own terms. I think it’s a common experience for lovers of natural history: a deepening appreciation of the world that goes beyond the biggest, the splashiest, the most touristy. From the fossiliferous limestone of the south to the glaciated landscapes of the north, from the humblest crinoid fragment to Arcdotus simus, Hoosiers have plenty of natural history to be proud of, to share with the rest of the world, and to inspire new generations. [emphasis added to denote my emphatic agreement with this statement.]

I have to admit, it’s exciting to see my birth state getting some respect.  It certainly never got any from me.  Every time I go back there, I end up suicidally depressed.  It takes about 20-30 minutes before I’m willing to do something, anything, to get the fuck out of there and get back home to me mountains.   But my own dear mother lives there, and I’m fated to visit her, so it’s good to know I’ll have interesting things to look forward to.  Between Lyle and David’s new blog, I do believe I’m set!

Go over and give David some love.  Don’t forget to drop by his other home, Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs, too.

Geo Linkfest!

Since I’m traipsing all over bits of Oregon with Lockwood and ye olde intrepid companion, I’m having to rely on other geobloggers to fill in the gaps.  I’ll use any excuse so’s to have a chance to highlight some truly awesome geoblogging goodness.

When you’re a professional geologist in western Washington, you can’t always depend on the weather to cooperate.  But as Dan McShane knows, you can depend upon it to provide some lovely shots:

That’s haunting, that is.  And there’s more where that comes from, so do go enjoy.

Speaking of enjoy, if you missed Brian Romans’s Unconformity at Point Reyes, head to his place forthwith.  Why do I live for Fridays?  Because of his Friday Field Photos, of course! 

Chris Rowan explores New Zealand’s Alpine Fault, and shows why it could be a bit nervewracking to live in a country bisected by a plate boundary. 

Lockwood reminds us that conservation often clashes with consumption, and that there are certain compromises we have to make if we want to maintain our standard of living.

Callan Bentley shows us how field paleomagnetism is done.  After that post, I feel I understand a great deal more about both field work and paleomagnetism, which is no small feat for a blog post!  As always, his lavish photos have left me mopping drool from my chin:

And, finally, Silver Fox has the perfect photo for the long road ahead.  For the punchline, see here.

I can only respond with a quote from The Walking Drum: “Yol bolsun!”  May there be a road.  Preferably one with signs in.

Speaking of roads, I am wending my way back to you on one, possibly at this moment even.  See ye soon, my darlings!

Geoblogosphere Samplings

Yes, yes, I know most of you have probably read these already, but these selections will be new to some of you, and that’s all the excuse I need.

Brian Romans wrote up the geology of Point Reyes National Seashore, complete with lovely pictures.  And for those who can never get enough pictures of sedimentary structure, he’s got you covered.

Silver Fox has ancient seashores and a delicious dike from Oregon for ye.  You know you want ‘em!

Chris Rowan discusses the fault that made a mountain range, and his co-blogger Anne Jefferson takes on intolerable heat.  Definitely using Anne’s Intolerable Heat Index next summer!

Speaking of the Tetons, Callan Bentley shows us how to calculate offset on the fault.  Pay close attention to the Post-Its.  If math textbooks had been drawn up that way, I might be better at math today.

Do you love geology and horses?  Visit Dan McShane for a little bit of both.

Erik Klemetti discusses the detection of volcanism on extrasolar planets.

And this is just a small sampling of all the geoblogospheric goodness.  More to come.  Enjoy!

Science Bloggers in Motion

Yes, againWired Science has launched a brand-new network, and for once in the new-science-blogging-network world, it actually includes geology!  Our own Brian Romans, in fact.  If you’re looking for your Clastic Detritus, they’ve got ‘im right here.

And that’s not all they’ve got.  Brian Switek finally found a loving home for Laelaps.  Huzzah!

They’ve also landed Dot Physics, Neuron Culture, Frontal Cortex, and Superbug.  That’s a stellar starting lineup by any measure.  Give ‘em a visit!

Strata to Make Your Heart Sing

I don’t go by Wayne Ranney’s blog as often as I should (and he doesn’t post nearly as often as I’d wish!), but when I do, I’m always treated to some of the most beautiful geological images available anywhere in the known universe.  Let me give you a sample:

This is from his rafting trip in Dinosaur National Monument, and there’s a lot more where that comes from.  Go feast your eyes, my darlings.  Read the strata, and weep from the beauty.  Well, that and the envy – what a wonderful trip Wayne had!  Lucky barstard.

And lucky us.  At least we got to see it through his eyes!

The Poetry and Prose of Ellen Morris Bishop

One of my favorite science writers is Ellen Morris Bishop.  She wrote In Search of Ancient Oregon, which I’ve lavished much-deserved praise on here and cannot recommend highly enough.  If I could personally grab each of you by the lapels, give you a good shake, and scream “Buy this book!” in your faces, I’d do it.  You’ll also need a copy of Hiking Oregon’s Geology, dog owners need Best Hikes with Dogs: Oregon, and she’s got a Field Guide to Pacific Northwest Geology on the way.

She doesn’t update her blog often, alas – in fact, last I’d checked, there’d been no activity since 2008.  Silly me, I assumed that was that.  But I dropped by there the other night on the off chance that maybe, possibly, things might have changed, and there are two new posts!  Well, posts from summer 2010, anyway.  New enough, damn it!

I wish I’d known about “Energy and Entropy” when the BP oil spill was still leading the news, but better late than never, especially when a scientist takes on the laws of thermodynamics to explain why we need to get serious about green energy.  Here’s a taste:

We can re-order things now by plugging the well. Period. And we can continue the rest of the system pretty much as-is. Not a lot of energy. Not much change. But also, according to thermodynamics, it will take a minimal amount of energy dysfunction to once again slip into chaos. If we continue offshore drilling without re-ordering our processes and priorities, if we invest minimal political and physical energy in fixing the system, then we will live with chaos on our doorstep. That’s not my opinion. It’s thermodynamics.

Or we can truly change the system. Energize a whole new order to energy and our use of it. It is in these convective overturns of an existing system where new orders are established and, for a time, entropy is driven back. This is an opportune moment to demonstrate mastery of the Second Law.

Once you’re done with that, there’s a poem for ye.   It’s one of those poems that makes a person pause and consider.  And if by some bizarre circumstance I ever end up dying as a soldier, I want it read at my grave.

Now, my darlings, go pester Ellen.  The geoblogosphere needz moar Ellen!  Only, of course, not so much that it slows down the delivery of her books to our shelves.

Some Stunning Geology

I’m off to enjoy me new books and work on a post idea that struck me on the way to work.  In the meantime, here’s some intriguing and awe-inspiring stuff from the world o’ geoblogging.

Silver Fox has posted her Highway 50 links.  I wish more geobloggers would do what she’s doing and post in-depth on a stretch of accessible geology they know well.  Looks like another field trip for moi will be in order, because after this series, I’ll be wanting to sample the geology for meself.  Who’s in?

Those who doubt the power of a mudflow need to watch this video:

Yes, that is a semi being floated off like a little leaf on a current.  I was going to do a little home experiment on the power of mudflows to move boulders, and still might if I remember to buy the damned chocolate pudding, but in the meantime this shall suffice.

Dave’s Landslide blog has this image of the landslides caused by Pakistan’s current monsoon woes:

Talk about yer debris flows.  The size of some of the boulders that came down in that thing is staggering.

Speaking of landslides, Dan McShane’s not happy about finding the Whidbey Formation:

When it gets wet, it gets slippery, and then substantial bits of Seattle fall down and go boom.  As grim as this is, though, his description of it will probably crack you up, so do go visit.  And if you should ever move to Seattle, be sure to check out the geology underlying any home you intend to purchase, lest you find yourself sleeping with the fishes in the Sound.

Highly Anne has an eminently readable post up on social media, diversity and women in the geosciences

Callan Bentley has an absolutely delicious metamorphosed graded bed to show you:

His blog turns me into a drooling idiot.  Not that it’s not filled with substantial science that gives my brain a good workout – it’s got plenty o’ that.  It’s just that when I first click on, there’s usually a picture like the above that gets me salivating, and my first comment is “WANT!” 

I haven’t had time today to do more than skim it, but he’s also got a post up about creationism that I commend to your attention.  I shall be settling in with it over dinner tomorrow night.  If you think it’s only biologists who have to confront creationism, you haven’t hung about the geology department lately. 

I think that’s enough for now.  I’ve got books to delve in to, my darlings, one in particular which led to a sustained SQUEE! when I cracked it open this morning.  I even did a little dance.  The cat was not impressed, but then she wasn’t even impressed by the dancing dog, so how the fuck can I compete?

Oh, and – happy Labor Day weekend!

Things That Caught My Attention

I actually had time to catch up on a little reading today.  Even updated me blogroll to include some of the geology blogs I’ve gotten addicted to recently.  I’m a little distracted just now with terminal PMS and Rocko’s Modern Life, so now’s a good time to share some finds.

Brian Romans at Clastic Detritus made me drool with this Friday Field Foto.

More drooling: Dan McShane shares Notes from the Metaline Formation.  Old, pretty rocks; lovely water. Mmm!

And Callan Bentley’s guest blogger Filip Goc is responsible for some severe water damage to mah domicile – drooling turned to a gusher when I saw this post on the rocks of Glacier National Park.  Bonus drool: tension gash (which is a lot prettier than it looks). 

Lockwood found a box of crayons I dearly wish I’d had as a kid – oh, hell, I’d like them now.

I know most of you have seen this by now, but for those who haven’t: Chris Rowan’s excellent exploration of what lies beneath Yellowstone.

Courtesy of Ron’s Geology Picks, a fascinating new look at plate tectonics.

In non-geo news, Orac explains what happens to herd immunity when the herd refuses vaccination, and lays the smackdown on bogus vaccine ingredient calculators.

For the one of you who doesn’t read Pharyngula, PZ explains the importance of being a dick.

And Cujo’s right when he says it’s time for our better selves to show up – which has nothing to do with DBAD and everything to do with the horrific suffering in Pakistan.

We like to end with sunsets whenever possible, and thanks to Suzanne, we’ve got a beaut.  Go feast your eyes.

I know I’m missing some stuff.  However, my brain has been fried by hot flashes, and it’s time to crawl into bed with me oceanography textbook (yes, I read textbooks for pleasure).  Let me know what I’ve missed!

Things I Found in the Twitterverse

I woke up to a slew of interesting links on Twitter this – um, well, afternoon.  Look, I work nights, all right?  The crack o’ noon is my version of other peoples’ 6 ay-em.  I once had to explain this to a scheduling manager at a former job who didn’t understand why we night folk screamed whenever she scheduled us for an early morning shift due to “business needs.”  I’m not sure she quite got it, but the requests to drag ourselves in at what amounted to 3 in the morning for us dropped off precipitously afterward.

Anyway.  On to the fun and interesting bits.

Via Ron Schott, we’ve got a fascinating NYT article on idiocy in our national parks.  Let me just go over a few things that came to mind as I was reading this:

1.  Parents who put their kids on wild animals in order to get a cute vacation shot should not have bred in the first place.  Now, those parents may be thinking, “But it’s an herbivore!  What harm can it do?”  Take it from someone who grew up with horses: lots.  Being kicked, stomped, head-butted, bitten, thrown from, and rolled on by something that weighs over 2,000 pounds is no joke.

2.  People who use their little emergency beacon to summon search and rescue helicopters because their water tastes salty deserve to be charged for the cost of the rescue flight.  People who do it three fucking times in less than 48 hours deserve to be left out in the wilderness permanently. 

3.  Yes, you may want to get a good angle for your photograph.  Yes, backing up to get everyone in the shot seems like a good idea.  No, you shouldn’t do it when standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. 

4.  If you’re one of those people who will ignore the signs regarding scalding hot water at Yellowstone and decide to take a dip in a geyser anyway, please be sure to cook your reproductive organs thoroughly, preferably before breeding, and do not ever adopt.  Thank you.


Let’s move on to happier subjects, shall we?  Also via Ron, I discovered the Arizona State Geologist’s blog, in which I discovered that we still have a week to ensure Kartchner Caverns gets some much-deserved largess from Coke.  Go here to cast your votes!  Bonus – you can vote as many times as you like.  Now, Arizona’s leadership is hideously stupid at the moment, but a national treasure like Kartchner shouldn’t have to suffer for it.

Here’s some incentive:

I’ve been there, and no photograph I’ve found is a patch on the real thing, but it’s incredibly beautiful, supremely fragile, and wholly worth preserving.

I also learned a geologist has been appointed as deputy supervisor of the Coconino National Forest.  Considering how much geology there is in the Coconino National Forest, this strikes me as a very wise idea.

Speaking of much geology, Silver Fox has more delicious pictures up from her Oregon trip here, here and here.  I have three items on my agenda now: visit the Petersen Rock Garden, the Dee-Wright Observatory, and get adopted by Silver Fox.

If that proves impossible, I’ll settle for being adopted by Erik Klemetti, who also visits some of the most beautiful geology on earth – in this case, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, plus a few others

Look, I’m proud to be an engineer’s daughter, but the field trips aren’t half as lovely!  Sorry, Dad.

And, practically in my backyard, Brian Romans of Clastic Detritus has found an undersea volcano going boom, complete with live feed!  Living in the Ring of Fire has its compensations.  Oh, yes it does!

Fangirl Gets Noticed by the Rock Stars, Freaks the Hell Out

And when I say rock stars, I mean geobloggers.  Y’know, the real rock stars.

My darlings.  Please put down the handy throwable objects.  I promise that’s the last silly pun in this post.  Now stop aiming at my head.  Thank you.

Now, allow to ‘splain, or at least sum up.  Earlier today, several geobloggers I admire (and some I’d never heard of) were discussing Scientopia’s sad lack of geology on Twitter, and I threw in my two cents as a reader by telling them to storm the gates.  I happen to believe every good general science blogging network should have a hefty helping of geobloggers, and it’s about damned time geology got some respect.  Leaving geology out of a science collective is Just Not Right.  It gives the impression geology isn’t a hard science, or isn’t science worthy of equal standing with other branches of science, and it makes it damned hard for readers like me to track down good geoblogging.  Travesties all.

Of course, I expected no response to said tweet.  I’m just an interested amateur egging on the professionals.  Do not consider myself a scienceblogger nor geoblogger.  Take no notice of me, folks, except as a fan cheering you on.  I went grocery shopping.  I lounged on the porch and debated knocking on the neighbors’ door to ask them to please shut the window because their activities were a distraction.  Came back in, checked my email, and just about fell out of my chair, because Twitter was informing me that Actual Professional Geologists such as Ron Schott and Silver Fox were now following me.  Not only that, I had a comment from Real Live Geoblogger Lockwood welcoming me to the Geoblogosphere and saying he’d gotten here by way of Ron Schott’s shared items feed.

It was about this time my mind said, “ZOMG WTF oshitoshitoshit.”

I figured I’d given some poor souls the wrong impression.  I’m a potty-mouthed political blogger who sometimes pontificates poorly on science, but spends quite a bit of time ranting about religion, wanking about writing, and generally going off on whatever else catches my atten – ooo, shiny.  Where was I?  Oh, yes – there was a wild moment of terror in which I wondered if my next step would have to be applying to U-Dub for an actual degree.  Then I realized that Ron would’ve had to comb through all that other stuff to find the actual geology, that my welcome message gives some hints, and that my science posts are usually pretty well-hedged about with the “I’m no professional” and “I have no idea what the fuck I’m talking about” disclaimers, so I could probably stop the I’m-not-worthy routine.  Still, I feel a bit like I would if Neil Gaiman suddenly dropped by ye olde blog and then told his friends and fans that I’m an SF writer worthy of their attention.  I’d wonder if the poor bugger had gone completely mad.

And then I’d wonder what I’d have to do to really earn that esteem.

But, just in case some new folks swing by the cantina with certain expectations that I am, at this time, unable to meet, let’s be clear: I’m a rank amateur whose amateurish attempts at blogging about geology, biology and whatever other bits of science caught my attention that day are buried amid the detritus of politics, atheism, catblogging, squees about music, and, in the right season, fiction writing. 

I’ve taken one (1) class in actual geology, a class in physical geography, and zero (0) in any other science.  All I know, I’ve learned from blogs and books.  And what I know ain’t much.

Why, then, do I bother to blog about science at all?  Follow me after the jump, and I’ll try to explain myself.

Still with me?  Unbelievable. 

Right, then.  Well, I started blogging science because of PZ Myers.  Attended two of his talks a few years ago, y’see, and came away all fired up.  You can read the whole story here.  The upshot of it is, he made me realize that all of us who love science, from the scientists to the science writers to the fanboys and girls, must advocate for it.

Many of my readers already love science.  Some don’t.  I write about science for all of them.  And I hope for two things: that this laywoman’s passion for science will reinforce scientists’ passion to communicate the beauty and the wonder of it, and that these posts will inspire those who never considered science as anything more than a desperately boring requirement for graduation to fall in love, just as I have. 

I write about science because I’m appalled by my own ignorance.  That may seem like a bizarre reason to blog about science – why not simply keep reading, or take a class, and shut up about the shit I don’t know?  I don’t think I really knew the answer to that until I read this at George’s blog:

The generation effect, as studied by cognitive psychologists, shows that knowledge is better retained if it is “generated” by the learner than simply read. “Generation” can be as simple as learning a spelling by “filling in the gaps” or as complex as writing a book about your studies
Alex Kessinger: Notetaking as a way to stay smart

I hadn’t thought of it this way but it could seriously be the main reason I blog.  Yes, I have various passions that I like to share, but my brain is chaotic and unreliable.  Blogging helps me get my thoughts straight.  Once I’ve put it into words, (and when I am lucky, people have commented on it), I have a much better chance of holding on to it and integrating it into my understanding of the world. 

Lightbulbs weren’t even in it – halogens flashed on.  Yes.  Yes.  When I do those write-ups of my geologic journeys, I’m forced to go back and integrate what I’ve read into a coherent whole.  Reading is passive.  Writing is active – I know this because of the buckets of sweat that pour out of me when I’m trying to get the details right.  I’m astonished by how little I’ve actually retained from my reading.  Writing those posts confronts me with the enormous gaps in my knowledge and forces me to fill a few of them in.  Bonus, there’s always a chance that my wiser readers will kick me arse over mistakes and pour a little more knowledge in.

And finally, I blog about science because I can’t not do it.  I go running all over the Pacific Northwest chasing down interesting geology, sometimes encounter fascinating biology, run in to a hell of a lot of beauty, and I’m supposed to keep it to myself?  Some people whip out pictures of their grandkids and wax poetic for ages.  Well, I’m like that about the incredible science I’ve seen.  Remarkably, some of my readers actually like it when I do that to them.  So I keep doing it, for them, and for me.

Sometimes, I consider doing nothing but science on this blog, but I can’t.  I’ve got a magpie mind and a mouth prone to running.  I enjoy taking the Smack-o-Matic to idiotic politicians on a semi-regular basis.  There are times when I can’t help babble about writing, especially during the winter writing season.  Dangle a fundamentalist in front of me, and the temptation to ridicule them becomes overwhelming.  My cat is my kid, so of course I sometimes have to show her off, murderous wee beastie that she is.  And then there are the sublime moments, where something captivates me so thoroughly that I have to point it out to others.  That might be a song, or a piece of art, or just a perfect moment.  There are readers to brag about (because you know all you all are precious to me), and various and sundry to celebrate.  I could no more confine myself to one topic than my cat could confine herself to being a perfect angel all of the time.  For those of you wondering what the metaphor means, put it like this: it would be like a tiger deciding to become a vegetarian.

So that’s it, my long-winded explanation of What This Blog’s About and Why.  Probably silly to have babbled on like this, when I could have just pointed to Lockwood instead and said, “Likewise!”

Geology is important. And it’s woefully undervalued and ignored in our society. When I created this blog, it was mostly for my own entertainment; an online archive, scrapbook, what have you, of things that captured my attention for a while. As it turns out, about 3 in 20 of those things are geology related. That’s certainly a higher ratio than it would be for a typical person. I think I came to geology for the beauty and stayed for the awesome- and I mean awesome in the old, now somewhat archaic, sense of conferring a sense of awe. Of being somewhat paralyzed by the spectacle, by the connections, by the implications of something I’ve learned or seen. Even a little fearful, perhaps. As regular readers know, I’m quite fearful for the fate of our species in light of what we know of the past, and what our collective decision making is like in the present. The earth, and some fraction of its biota, will abide. Humanity, if it cannot learn from its environment, will not.

Having some sort of geoliteracy is critical to understanding our environment. That has become a part of why I do geology posts: I have a great diversity of readers, some geoliterate, some not. I enjoying sharing my excitement with the beauty and power of our planet, and I feel an obligation to help people understand some of the forces that shape it.

Amen, brother.  A-fucking-men.

In that post, he called himself “a peripheral member of this ecosystem.”  I don’t even know if I’m that, really, but I certainly won’t argue if I become so.  There are far worse things than being Pluto in relation to the Really Real Planets of the solar system.  At least we all get to orbit the same sun, even if some of us are distant and awfully erratic.

Finally, and most importantly: Thank you.  Thank you for pulling me into your orbit, and most of all, thank you for blogging the good science.  You give ordinary folk like me knowledge, hope and wonder, and those are never small things.