ZOMFG, Geokittehs and Rosetta Stones in the NYT!

You guys, something totally beyond belief happened Tuesday – Geokittehs got written up in the New York Times!

Moi with our very first mention in the NYT!

Moi with our very first mention in the NYT!

I wish they’d mentioned Evelyn by name – she’s the one who does all the work – but it was nice to see the author, Jennifer Kingson, spend most of her blurb talking about the actual Geokittehs site rather than focusing on that one Geokittehs post I did on Rosetta Stones. (You know – the one I forgot to mention here, so if you missed it, here tis!).

This has been an astounding day, and I wish I’d thought to have the camera handy when I told B his kittehs had got their names in the Times. Priceless!

Thank you again, Evelyn, for all the heart and soul and love you put into Geokittehs, and keeping it alive when I’m distracted elsewhere. And thank you, my darlings, for the kittehs and egging us on. I’m glad that something fun (and “mildly educational!”) ended up featured in the major national newspaper – but it never would’ve happened without you. Gracias!

 

Misha helpfully indicates where you can find our blurb.

Misha helpfully indicates where you can find our blurb.

Ding Dong the Wicked DOMA’s Dead!

Now seems like a good time to let my LGBTQ friends know that they can call upon me should they need a writer’s services in crafting wedding-related stationery items. Despite the fact that our Supreme Court is full of conservative shitheels like Scalia who like to stomp all over important rights, most of DOMA is dead. Prop 8 is pretty much perished. The non-bigoted portions of the wedding industrial complex are screaming for joy, while the Jesus-cries-angry-tears-at-gay-weddings crowd is wailing and gnashing their teeth. Same-sex couples, those who may become such couples, and those who support them in their quest for equal rights are cheering. Sweet sounds all.

Marriage = Love. Image courtesy Fibonacci Blue via Flickr.

Marriage = Love. Image courtesy Fibonacci Blue via Flickr.

It’s over. The religious right has lost. There will be a few scattered skirmishes in places where bigoted assclowns good Christians outnumber kind people, but I’m betting on a full defeat of the anti-equality forces within my lifetime. Probably before I’m eligible for AARP membership. And that ain’t that many years away.

About bleeding time same-sex marriage rights were recognized. Long past time, actually, and there are still far too many states that still refuse same-sex couples the right to marry. Let’s get crack-a-lackin on this marriage equality thing. There’s absolutely no reason why consenting adults of the same sex shouldn’t get married, aside from bullshit religious ones. Fuck religion. None of these delusional anti-equality shitlords have a hotline to God (or Allah). Until Jesus shows up in person on daytime talk shows saying Daddy don’t want no gays getting hitched, I’m gonna say that any ratfuckers saying that God hates gay weddings are functionally full of shit and should be shuffled off into a corner to rant to themselves. The rest of us have cake to eat and rice to throw.

The Supreme Court didn’t go far enough, but they opened the door to the clerk’s office. Up to us to ensure all of our same-sex couples get to walk through it.

Happy weddings!

You Can Haz Easter Bunny

Ah, Easter! The time of year when devout Christian folks celebrate an impossible sequence of events, and the rest of us sometimes engage in some of the pagan rituals incorporated into the holiday, especially if we have kiddos. I won’t be hunting any eggs myself, but I got you a bunny.

Wild bunny at North Creek.

Wild bunny at North Creek.

Sorry it’s not chocolate. But it’s cute and fluffy and sweet.

Ducklings have a little something to do with Easter for some reason, don’t they? Excellent. Have the cutest baby duckie I’ve got.

Baby duckie along North Creek.

Baby duckie along North Creek.

I know, right? You’re welcome.

I may celebrate later today by reading the Easter stories in my Skeptic’s Annotated Bible. Or not. It’s supposed to be nearly seventy degrees and sunny. I may just go sit outside with a notebook for a few hours and soak up the sun. I like celebrating life like that. I’ll read what Steve Wells has to say about Easter later.

Have a happy day, my darlings. I hope it’s filled with lots of delicious and fun things, just as every day should be.

I Got You A Wooden Octopus and Some Beatles for Your Birthday

Jeez. PZ makes it another lap around the sun and thinks it’s something special. Piffle. It’s not like it’s his birthday or any- wait.

Well, I’ve had this giftie in the closet for a while. Seems a good time to gift it.

Wooden octopus shelf brace at a little cafe in Depot Bay, Oregon. I have been trained to think of PZ every time I see cephalopod art. I think it's a conspiracy.

Wooden octopus shelf brace at a little cafe in Depot Bay, Oregon. I have been trained to think of PZ every time I see cephalopod art. I think it’s a conspiracy.

I’ve also got this very bizarre Beatles birthday song video thingy. I hope you like it.

No, I won’t pay for your therapy after that. Go cuddle your octopus. Be careful of splinters. Oh, and happy birfdai!

Tuesday Tunes: New Year’s Day

Oh, hai, 2013! Glad u maed it!

Gotz party favorz

Ai tink we shuld taek this srsly. We shuld haev srs tradishunal song. Culdn’t find wun in lolcat, soree. But it’s pritee.

We culd drink to dat! Who haz teh bubblee?

invisible champagne

Furst rool grate drinkin’: start wid champagne an build.

tequila catDunno. Don’t tink moderashun iz here. We’ll have anodder drink while we wait. U culd haev wiskee, if u no like teekeela. Wiskee an a tradishunul sawng. Wi’ bagpipes!

We culd have anodder tradishun, too. Dis iz mai tradishun. Alwayz play dis sawng at Noo Yeerz.

An den I gives u mai favurite Noo Yeerz wish:

“May the best you’ve ever been be the worst you’ll ever see.”

Wuv u, mai darlings! Happee Noo Yeer!

Lol love

An latur tooday, we kin say:

rum gone kitteh

Dat’s how we know it wuz gud partee.

A Triumph for the Mount St. Helens Institute – And You

Not long ago, I received an email from the Mount St. Helens Institute saying they were going to be posting my Prelude to a Catastrophe series as their Holiday Reading series, by way of trying to get to 2013 likes by 2013, and would I be at all interested in helping? And I was both flattered and interested in helping, so I plugged them a bit on Facebook, and was prepared to do a big push here and at Rosetta Stones if they needed a further plug, but it appears congratulations are in order instead:

Mount St Helens Institute reaches 2013 Likes - huzzah!

Mount St Helens Institute reaches 2013 Likes – huzzah!

Congratulations, my darlings, you did it!

So that seems like the right geology-related picture to end 2012 with. It’s been a hell of a year, one in which I went from amateur science writer to really-real science writer who can introduce self by saying, “I blog for Scientific American” – I think I’m saying that without blushing, mumbling, and looking away now. It’s been a year in which I got published in a really-real paper book. It’s been a year in which I’ve gotten to know Mount St. Helens more intimately than expected, and discovered that people will go the distance with you as you engage in a marathon series. It pops up in the oddest places at the oddest moments, like that moment when MSHI told me they’d picked it to help them get to 2013. And that feels good, to have written things that people like, and find useful.

We’re not half done yet. And there’s so much more. There’s so much more to see, and do, and show you, and I can hardly wait. 2013 will be a good year for geology, my darlings. And it’s all because of you. Without you, there would be no such thing as ETEV on FtB, or Rosetta Stones, or Prelude to a Catastrophe/The Cataclysm, or the power to help MSHI make it to 2013. Without you, I’d still be doing geology, but I’d have no one to show it to. No one who would ooo and awww(e) and ask for more. Certainly no one who would ask questions that get me started on finding out new and interesting things. Certainly no one who would teach me more than I ever thought I could learn.

So, if you haven’t yet, and you’ve got a Facebook account and you wouldn’t mind, go like the Mount St Helens Institute so they can go further than they ever dreamed. Pour yourself a toast, and drink to your awesomeness. And come along with me into this new year, during which we will go so much further than we ever have before.

A Christmas Sermon by Robert Ingersoll

Something tells me that Robert Ingersoll and Bill O’Reilly wouldn’t have gotten along. I like that.

I hope you’re currently surrounded by food, friends, and family (whether by birth or family you chose). For those of you stuck at work, I wish you an easy shift, and thank you! Did everyone get their gift from Karen? Isn’t it lovely?

I’ll see you all tomorrow, unless the cat makes a fool of herself begging dessert from a person she normally shuns, in which case I’ll see you later today. Love to you and yours, my darlings, now and always!

Winter sun on snow. Image courtesy Nomadic Lass on Flickr.

Winter sun on snow. Image courtesy Nomadic Lass on Flickr.

A CHRISTMAS SERMON

by Robert G. Ingersoll

 

THE good part of Christmas is not always Christian—it is generally Pagan; that is to say, human, natural.

Christianity did not come with tidings of great joy, but with a message of eternal grief. It came with the threat of everlasting torture on its lips. It meant war on earth and perdition hereafter.

It taught some good things—the beauty of love and kindness in man. But as a torch-bearer, as a bringer of joy, it has been a failure. It has given infinite consequences to the acts of finite beings, crushing the soul with a responsibility too great for mortals to bear. It has filled the future with fear and flame, and made God the keeper of an eternal penitentiary, destined to be the home of nearly all the sons of men. Not satisfied with that, it has deprived God of the pardoning power.

And yet it may have done some good by borrowing from the Pagan world the old festival called Christmas.

Long before Christ was born the Sun-God triumphed over the powers of Darkness. About the time that we call Christmas the days begin perceptibly to lengthen. Our barbarian ancestors were worshipers of the sun, and they celebrated his victory over the hosts of night. Such a festival was natural and beautiful. The most natural of all religions is the worship of the sun. Christianity adopted this festival. It borrowed from the Pagans the best it has.

I believe in Christmas and in every day that has been set apart for joy. We in America have too much work and not enough play. We are too much like the English.

I think it was Heinrich Heine who said that he thought a blaspheming Frenchman was a more pleasing object to God than a praying Englishman. We take our joys too sadly. I am in favor of all the good free days—the more the better.

Christmas is a good day to forgive and forget—a good day to throw away prejudices and hatreds—a good day to fill your heart and your house, and the hearts and houses of others, with sunshine.

Holiday Gifts For You

When I decided to go back to school to study geology, I really had to start at the beginning with the upper-division undergraduate courses, since my previous education had been in computer and software engineering.  The first class I took was Earth Materials, where I learned to recognize various rock types and incidentally fell in love with petrology.  We studied a lot of hand samples, and during finals week I took some photos of my favorites.  I really wanted to use them as computer wallpapers, but I hate tiled wallpapers that repeat awkwardly.  So I fired up a photo-editing tool called The Gimp, and made smoothly-repeating tiles that wrap both horizontally and vertically.

The original samples I photographed are all the property of San Jóse State University in San Jóse, California, USA.  The images themselves are copyrighted by me (Karen Locke) and are available for all non-commercial uses without attribution.

The first tile is a granodiorite from the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.  This I know the most about because I’m very familiar with the rock type; I spend a fair amount of time in the Sierras.

"Sierra White" granodiorite

“Sierra White” granodiorite

This granodiorite (and granodiorites in general) are made up of quartz, various feldspars, and “accessory minerals” like hornblende and biotite mica.  It formed underground in a magma chamber that slowly crystallized and became solid rock over a very long time.  The magma chamber that ultimately produced this rock was hot, active, and feeding a volcano back in the Mesozoic.

The next tile is a schist.

Mica schist

Mica schist

The shiny bits the photograph as bright white are light-colored micas.  Without looking at the rock again, I can’t really identify the other minerals, though there’s undoubtedly some chlorite in there somewhere.  Schists most often start out life as mud that, under high pressure and temperature, progressively gets metamorphosed into mudstone/shale, slate, phyllite, and finally end up as schist.  Along the way minerals get converted to other minerals, which then get converted to other minerals…

Here’s a gneiss.

Gneiss

Gneiss

Gneiss is another metamorphic rock, produced at moderately high temperature and pressure.  Under those conditions the minerals in the rock actually migrate, producing the light and dark colored bands you see in this sample.  The parent rock was probably something like a granodiorite.  The orange stuff is probably iron staining from weathering; most of the dark minerals in rocks like this are iron-rich.

And finally, here’s one of my favorite rocks, eclogite:

Eclogite

Eclogite

Sometimes called “Christmas Tree Rock”, eclogite consists of garnets embedded in pyroxene.  It’s created when basalt is subducted all the way into the mantle, because it requires mantle pressures to form.  It’s fairly rare to find it on the surface; it must be exhumed fairly quickly (in geologic time) to prevent the minerals from changing into other minerals at lower temperatures and/or pressures.

So, assuming the editor hasn’t clipped my artwork, any of these should give you a seamless wallpaper when you select “tiled”.  Enjoy!

Happy Holidays,

Karen

What Pass for Winter Scenes In Seattle – With Basalt, Baby Sloths, and Sea Otters

It’s not going to be a white Christmas here. More like a gray wet one. That’s how Seattle goes. Still, when the sun peeks out for ten seconds, and the new basalt column fountain’s going, it’s quite pretty even without the frozen white stuff mucking up the roads.

Basalt column fountain in winter.

Basalt column fountain in winter.

So, it’s Christmas Eve here in the United States. Another War on Christmas season is almost over, and I’m thinking for the next one, we should design some less tacky displays to plant in the public square next to all of those gawd-awful nativity scenes. There was only one nativity scene I ever came close to liking, and that was the live one we had once. Only the camel ended up wanting no part of it, and I have no idea where the sheep had wandered off to, and it ended up just as lame as the plastic ones. Still. I got a glimpse of a live camel, which when you’re young and from a smallish American town is pretty damned awesome. We should invent some sort of nativity for the FSM, if there isn’t one already, involving exotic animals. Preferably ones that won’t get bored, like sloths. We’d have children clamoring to see the atheist displays if they included baby sloths, and I’ll bet the adults wouldn’t put up as much of a fight as they might have done otherwise.

display on a courthouse lawn and do anything but go

Baby sloth. How could anyone see something like this at a holiday display on a courthouse lawn and do anything but go “Ooooaaaawwww!!!” without being labeled a terrible person by bystanders of all denominations? Image courtesy Jennifer Jordan on Flickr.

So that’s a thought. Someone get to work on some sort of nativity story for the FSM or spawn of FSM that includes baby sloths. Also, sea otters. Give them a pool and they’ll stay put. And everyone who isn’t a horrible person turns to mush in their presence. They’re sort of like kittens of the sea.

Sea otters at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. I defy you not to melt in a mushy puddle. I double-otter dare you.

Sea otters at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. I defy you not to melt in a mushy puddle. I double-otter dare you.

Where are your camels and sheep now, Christians? Mwah-ha-ha! Oh, wait, it’s Christmas. Ahem. Mwah-ho-ho!

Anyway, where was I before that seg ued? Oh, right. Showing you our snazzy new fountain against a winter sky. Righty-o.

I love the curlicue of water on this one.

I love the curlicue of water on this one.

Not that you can really tell the difference in Seattle. The only difference between the winter, fall or spring sky is really whether the tree to the left has leaves on it, and what color they are.

Speaking of winter trees, here is an attempt at being all solstice-artsy.

Snazzy new basalt fountain and dormant trees.

Snazzy new basalt fountain and dormant trees.

Yes, I know, a light dusting of snow would have made it perfect, but I was off that day, so of course it wasn’t going to snow. Do you think it snows round here when I don’t have to drive anywhere? Hells to the no. It was going to snow a little on Christmas, until it noticed I was off that day, so now it’s not. And here I was going to get all sorts of lovely winter scenes for you, but all I can do is give you solstice sunshine (well, close enough) and basalt fountains, semi-artistically contrasted.

Solstice sun, columnar basalt, falling water.

Solstice sun, columnar basalt, falling water.

That’s your Happy Solstice etc. card this year, my darlings, unless the weather does something a little more artsy before the new year.

Have a happy, and raise yourselves a round. Much love to you!

Also, another baby sloth, because why not?

Two-toed baby sloth. Image courtesy Matt McGillivray on Flickr.

Two-toed baby sloth. Image courtesy Matt McGillivray on Flickr.

Let Breathing Recommence

Oh, thank the people sane enough not to vote for Mittens.

Thank you. This is your victory.

The lead image at barackobama.com. That smile on his face? There’s one like it on mine, too. Whew!

You know what, he’s not perfect, and he’s practically a Republican (the sort of Republican you might have found in the mainstream before Republicans lost their shit), but fuck it. Compared to the batshit bizarre fuckknobs now infesting the Con party, and the magic-underwear-wearing psychopath that is Romney, I’ll take him. Hells to the yes, I’ll take him. With utmost pleasure.

Congratulations, President Obama!

In my own home state, we’ve so far cleaned the Cons’ clocks. We’re also poised to become potheads (which means far fewer folks in jail for enjoying weed), and it looks like I’ll be shopping for the appropriate attire for attending weddings in. I’ve only got the one dress I like, and several sets of friends in committed same-sex relationships. Yay, wedding bells! I’ve always said they should be allowed to suffer enjoy wedded bliss like us heteros.

Ladies: give yourselves a round of applause and drinkage. Women pwned the politial world tonight!

I’d like to extend hearty congratulations to probable Governor Jay Inslee. Woot!

I’m pretty proud of my state right now.

And I’m proud of the majority of my country. A bare majority, mind you, but still a majority.

(As for those of you who voted for Mittens, until you’ve perfected the “I’m sorry I was so stupid, and I’ll never be that stupid ever again” speech, you can kindly never speak to me again.)

My uterus and I are going to attempt to concentrate on Mount St. Helens research now. It’s hard – we’re both grinning like idiots and a bit bouncy. It’s just damned nice to know that we’ll be employed, have health care, and won’t have Cons poking about our persons. Huzzah!