Help Me Decide Upon a New Computing Machine

I have decided that, even if the maclargehuge HP laptop could be resurrected, it’s time I got a desktop anyway. A laptop can’t give me the computing power I need going forward in mah bidness. I need something that can handle streaming movies or music whilst also running Photoshop or Corel. I need something that doesn’t mind me having twelve gajillion tabs open while all that’s going on. And the computer repair dude I chatted up at Staples told me that if I want a Windows 7 machine, I’d better act now, because they soon won’t be an option. I do I DO want my Windows 7. I bloody hate Windows 8 with a burning and enduring passion, but I loves my Windows 71.

I’ve been an HP person for decades, but I hear their quality sharply declined in the last few years, so I’m open to other options. I’m looking for a durable machine with an HDMI port, Windows 7, enough processing power to multitask smoothly, at least 1tb of storage, and wi-fi connectivity. I’m trying to keep it under $500, since I’m far from made of money right now.

So far, it’s looking like Lenovo is going to be my best bet with those specs. What do you think? Good brand? If so, should I go with this beauty, this beauty, or a different beauty? Is there another brand I should be investigating? Bestow upon me your wisdom!

And thank you for always being awesome in the helping Dana with electronics department, my darlings. This blog wouldn’t survive without all of you.

Image shows a kitten sitting inside a desktop tower. Caption says, "1 Megacat processor."

1. Yes, more than I would love a Mac. Don’t even talk to me about Mac. People, I was there on the front lines when the very first iPhone launched. I endured selling the fucking things, then doing tech support for them, from the original through the iPhone 5s – 8 of the fucking things. Until our call center specialized, I got to see how they matched up against other companies and operating systems. I had to listen to the fanbois blame everything except Apple for ever single problem. I had to listen to them blame our network for issues even when a Samsung in the same damned room was working perfectly. This has instilled a deep, burning, abiding hatred for all things Apple, and that’s even before we get to the fact that none of the software I have will run on their OS, and the fact they’re insanely overpriced. I’m so sorry if you like them. But fuck Apple. Forever.

Camcorder Advice, Por Favor?

One of the things B and I want to do is start recording videos in the field. I can show you a lot through photos and short snippets of video, but there’s so much magnificent geology around here, and some of it really deserves more of a documentary-type treatment. I’d like to take you on a virtual walk, explaining what we’re seeing. And, major bonus, when we go geogallivanting with Lockwood, you’d be able to experience his expertise like we do. Lockwood is one of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to Pacific Northwest geology, and Oregon geology in particular. I’d like to capture those field trips for posterity, so that everyone has a chance to soak up his knowledge. We get visiting geologists, too, and it would be outstanding to capture their visits on video.

Problem is, I’m a luddite when it comes to video equipment. I’ll have to hope at least one of you knows their stuff. Halp?

I need something light and portable, easy to operate, and preferably cheapish, since I haven’t got a huge amount of money to spend. I also need to know what equipment I’ll need to capture decent audio in the field.

If you could point me towards tutorials for creating watchable videos on the cheap, that would be outstanding. Thankee kindly!

Image shows a cat leaping to one side. Caption says, "Invisible movie explosion"

Alex Gabriel Could Use Your Kind Assistance

Is this you?

Image shows a black and white kitten looking at a coin. Caption says, "I has a money. What I do wif it?"

You could help a writer out! Alex Gabriel is experiencing one of those horrible financial dry spells that happens to freelancers, and could use a hand. If you have a money to spare, do please consider sending it his way.

If need to get some graphic design work done, or require an editor, you could help him whilst helping yourself by hiring him. Everybody wins! I’ve seen how he personalizes his work for each of his clients, and he’s got a definite gift for capturing the essence of a person and their blog.

Thanks in advance for helping a fellow blogger out, my darlings!

Image shows a cat in a box covered in money. Caption says, "Money isn't everything, but it ranks right up there with oxygen."


Get Your Ideas All Up in My Business!

All right, my darlings, it’s now less than two weeks until the day I hang up my shingle, and I haven’t got any idea what name to put on it. Well, I have a few ideas. You may have better ones. Think!

Image is a black cat in a suit. Caption says, "We need to think inside all the boxes."Think of names for a store selling all sorts of geology-themed thingies. And you know I like a nice Spanish flavor. Something like… Mercado Geológica, f’r instance. Mega Mercado de la Verdad? Give me ideas! I rather suck at naming things. One of you has to be better.

Some of you may want to help out, but come up just as blank as I do on names. No problemo! You know what else you can do? Let me know what kind of products you’d like to see. I’m going to be opening up a store on Cafe Press or Zazzle or Red Bubble or some site like that, maybe more than one – what sort of stuff do you want me to put up there?

I’ll be doing some crafty sorts of things and selling them through Etsy. That store will include things like my scarves, mufflers, wraps, hair wraps, scrunchies, and such. Anyone interested in handkerchiefs or other simple little fabric things? I can do simple bags, throw pillows, pillow cases, and things like that. I’ll also be doing custom work, so if you need something done, hit me up for an estimate. I might be able to save you a ton of money on curtains, for instance. And if you have a bit of fabric needing turned in to something, let me know.

Outside of sewing, would you go in for hand-collected pebbles for fountains, Zen gardens for your desk, rock sample magnets, things like that? Would you like me to look in to what it would take to make and sell coal and rock candy?

I’ll be looking in to getting some necessary items soon, too. If any of you has a used rock tumbler that works well and is in good condition you’d like to sell, let me know.

Now, on to writing, which will be the main focus of this whole enterprise: I am most definitely doing the Mount St. Helens book so many of you have requested! Two, in fact: the one about the May 1980 eruption, and I’m going to also do a geology travel guide. Probably more than one, now I’ll have time to investigate the other roads to the mountain! And I’m hoping to write up the more recent dome-building eruption, too.

I’m also writing a geological guide to Discovery Park, a book on women in the geosciences, and will be collecting and expanding some of the best posts from both ETEV and Rosetta Stones.

I’ve got a ton of other things planned, but your ideas are always welcome, so if there’s a bit of geology (or any other subject) you’ve been wanting me to do a post on, let me know.

All right, I’m off to begin putting the house in some semblance of order. Hit me with all your suggestions and demands!

Who Loves Me Enough to Help Fund My Christianist Textbook and Creationist Geology Habit?

So, you know how I am: if I haven’t got more irons in the fire than I’ve got fire, I’m not content. Always need to ping between projects like a SuperBall (remember those?) in an octagonal room. Thus, in the midst of Mount St. Helens (new posts already written and coming soon!), and Discovery Park (which we’re finishing, never fear!), and Pioneering Women in the Geosciences (I shall never abandon them!), and Men and Work-Life Balance in STEM (if you men start sending me your stories again, I’ll be able to publish them), I have begun a new project: confronting creationism.

Specifically: Ima gonna take the creationist version of geology and give it the ol’ critical eyeball.

Now, in order to get myself good and started, I figured I’d best learn what the kids of creationists learn. To that effect, I’ve purchased the earth sciences textbooks from two of the leading publishers of conservative Christian textbooks: Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Book.*

A Beka was simple – a quick search on Amazon, and I am the bemused owner of Science of the Physical Creation in Christian Perspective, 2nd Edition for a whopping sawbuck plus shipping. BJU was more problematic. I wanted their most up-to-date book o’ Christian learnin’, Earth Science Student Text 4th ed., but it’s hella expensive. I looked for weeks and could never find a copy for under $40. “There’s no bloody way I’m dropping that kind of coin on creationist drivel,” I swore. “Especially not when I can get several books on real geology for that price.” So I tried a 2nd edition copy for a mere seventy-five pretty pennies, plus shipping, but it became clear in comparing the table of contents with the 4th ed. that I’d be missing way too much amazing crap if I didn’t shell out. So I did. $45 later, it’s in the mail, and I’m consoling myself by the fact I at least didn’t cough up full price.


For comparison purposes, I got a relatively-recent regular school earth sciences textbook, which I’ve flipped through and fallen thoroughly in love with. Where o where was the good shit when I was a kid?

I’ve also ordered many… creative… Christian creationist “science” books on things like the “Flood geology” of the Grand Canyon and how Mount St. Helens totes proves goddidit in only 6 days. Seriously, people. This stuff exists. In fact, that last one I mentioned I’ve purchased twice: once by accident (and when I realized what I’d snatched up so hastily at the used book store was not, despite being in the science section, an actual science book, I chopped it up for the beautiful photos and chucked the words away), and once by – ahaha – design. I’ve bought so many examples of the creationists supposed best “science” books that Amazon thinks I’ve gone pseudoscientist. Fortunately, I’ve also bought a few counter-creationist books, which will hopefully help its algorithm realize I’m still me.

Now, most of this is super-duper cheap, but some of it’s not. And I want to do this thing thoroughly. No half measures, here. I’ll give them a fair hearing, seek out the stuff they’re most proud of, and see how it stacks up against real science. I’ll seek out recent editions when and where possible so that they cannot claim I’m tilting at old windmills. I’ll compare their books to those containing peer-reviewed science. And I will report my findings to you, dearest readers and patrons.

I could definitely use your assistance.

If you want to help fund this adventure, I’ve added a donate button off to the side there, just under the Recents list. Or you can click this handy link right here. What do you get for dropping your spare change in the jar?

  • The joyful warmth deep in the cockles of your heart that arises from watching certain ideas be thoroughly deconstructed. With snark.
  • The suffusing satisfaction of knowing you had a little something to do with ensuring a wider public knows what creationists’ kiddies are getting shoveled into their brainpans.
  • Help raise awareness that it ain’t just biology creationists need to invalidate.
  • More content than I could possibly provide on me own dime alone.
  • Book reviews and many science facts that will help you confront the creationists who sneak onto your local school board. Or at least give you things to discuss with them when fate throws you into close proximity.
  • And more!

So drop in some coinage if you’ve got a bit to spare, and rest assured we’re going to have a very good time with our creationist friends. There shall even be experiments!

Thank you in advance, my darlings. You are, and shall always be, the very best.

Image is a demotivational poster. The main picture is a quote:

*Yes, I have blatantly stolen this idea from Doktor Zoom, who does the thoroughly enjoyable and often outrage-inducing series Sundays with the Christianists. Yes, I will let the good Doktor know when I’ve started posting, and I hope a mutually-satisfactory post-filching process can commence, wherein ETEV and Wonkette Christianist content is swapped between sites like genes between antibiotic-avoiding bacteria. So, Dok – write me.

Vote for One of Our Own!

Begin super-sekrit communiqué from our own RQ:

I just need your vote, via Twitter or Facebook.

As I may or may not have mentioned previously, my choir is planning a trip to Canada in the summer of next year, for the Canadian Latvian Song and Dance Festival (program here, that’s us on July 4th). So, one of the local breweries here (Cēsu alus, no comments) is running a competition for local groups of singers/dancers to win a rather large sum of money, which we, the choir, would put towards our trip next year – either for plane tickets, or for sight-seeing in Canada (since that costs money, too, and for the vast majority of choir members, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get to North America).

So, please, if you have a Twitter or Facebook account, go here and vote (Click ja to say you’re over 18, then click on ‘Balsot’ at the top, then look for Jauniešu kora SONORE dalība XIV Latviešu Dziesmu svētkos Kanādā, Hamiltonā and click Balsot again), from each account, every day (I’ll be putting out reminders until you’re all sick of me). Please. This would mean a lot to me and my fellow choir members, as it would reduce a lot of the stress and financial worry currently causing doubts in some members.
If anyone doubts our skill, I can re-post some of our music – and I’ll (hopefully) have new music/video after this weekend (amateur choir finals on the 29th).

Anyway, if you can help out, muchas gracias! *hugs*

End super-sekrit communiqué.

Right, simple enough. Let’s get ready to vote! First, a song for motivational purposes:

RQ says that’s a “Latvian epic poem about dead heroes rising again, classic Latvian choir fare and a favourite at any possible venue, no matter how badly performed – one of those songs everyone thinks they know by memory until they actually have to sing it.”

Right. That should have you warmed up a bit. Let’s move on to a “traditional Latvian song about bread and working hard to get it.” We can all identify, even if we don’t understand a word, right?

Right? Now, let’s have “Latvia’s unofficial national anthem, traditional song about going home and getting the girl – now a drinking song because it’s fun to sing off-key.” I like a song that’s fun to sing off-key, because despite the concert choir training twenty years ago, I am still better at singing off-key…

Okay, that should have you thoroughly ready to jump on a Latvian site and attempt to upvote RQ’s choir, I should hope. Happy voting!

Help Give “Survival of the Fittest” a Right Proper Kick in the Arse

Our own RQ sent me pictures that will make you squee.

Bebbe chickadee! Too young to walk or fly.

Bebbe chickadee! Too young to walk or fly.

Isn’t that precious? But wait! There’s more!

Handful o' bebbe chickadees!

Handful o’ bebbe chickadees!

Now, before you start howling that it’s not right and proper for humans to pick up baby birdies, keep this in mind: these poor little buggers somehow ended up out of their nest and on the ground. RQ says, “It is humanly impossible to replace them in their nest and they need to be relocated due to lots of cats in the area, so the chances of their parents finding them are small, and two of them have already been run over because they fell onto a driveway (there are four left, and they’re practically fledglings).” This is a rescue. Are you ready to give natural selection the finger and do some human-assisted selection instead?

Will you respond when a baby cries?

Crying baby chickadee.

Crying baby chickadee.

If any of you know the proper care and feeding for baby chickadees, let RQ know in the comments here. She’d like to give the survivors a chance to continue surviving. What should they eat? How do you encourage them to fly? That sorta thing.

Food? Did someone say food?!

Food? Did someone say food?!

Right. So let’s get to saving a precious handful of chickadee bebes.

Sweet handful

Sweet handful

Atheists Giving Aid Accepting Donations for Boston

If you wish to donate, please go here. Only read the first few paragraphs of the request for donations if you’ve got enough tissue to see you through – you’ll probably end up mingling happy and sad tears. Also,

Boston Atheists and the Secular Coalition for America (Massachusetts Chapter) has officially co-sponsored this campaign. They pledged $500 and will be doing the local groundwork to help up get these funds to the victims and their families. Thanks to Zachary Bos and all the people that help make the Boston area a great place for non-believers to live.

The Humanist Community at Harvard is also chipping in, as they do have a community member who has been directly affected and will need funds. Thanks to Conrad Hudson, Greg Epstein, and the folks at Harvard Humanists.

It’s good to see everyone coming together to get this situation handled. A few tear apart: many put back together. A lot of people are showing the best of themselves right now. A lot of people are showing why it’s good to never give up hope for humanity.

I’ve updated our main Boston page. Let me know if there are any other orgs helping out that we should be aware of.

Now is the Time When We Come Together

Rage settles to righteous anger. Shock becomes determination. In the aftermath of a disaster, we have our chance to rise to our feet, scrub our faces dry on a sleeve, and roll up those sleeves to get to work. We help heal the wounded, comfort the bereaved, fix the damage, and set things as right as we can.

If your faith in humanity wavered, remember: some people ran toward the blasts. The Red Cross had all the blood and funds it needed within hours. People all over the world stepped up immediately to do whatever they could. A few would rip apart: many will put back together.

We will come together and lift each other up. Fall seven; up eight. That’s us. That’s people.

I’ve listed as many resources as I could find. Let me know what I’ve missed.

Find loved ones (h/t):

Google Person Finder

Red Cross Safe and Well (1-800-733-2767)

Mayor’s hotline 617-635-4500


If you have tips or have media (photos, video) from the marathon:



Crisis Counseling:



Help for Victims’ Families:

(I’ve vetted HopeMob to the best of my ability. It seems legitimate, but if they’re not, please let me know ASAP.)


For those needing a place to stay, or who have a place to offer, see here. More resources available at this link. (h/t)



Atheists Giving Aid has a page set up for Boston. The current total (as of 10:45 PDT 4/16) is over $20,000. You all are remarkable!

The Red Cross is reporting it’s good for now:

Thanks to the generosity of volunteer blood donors, there is currently enough blood on the shelves to meet patient needs. The Red Cross also has the financial resources it needs to support this event right now. We are asking those who want to help to make an appointment to give blood in the coming weeks and months. They can do that by calling 1-800-RED CROSS or visiting

If you know of any other legit organizations who are collecting donations, please let me know, and I’ll update this section.

For news (h/t):

Boston fire dept:
Boston Globe:
Boston PD:
Cambridge PD:

Live media feed:
Police chatter:

Massachussetts Emergency Management Agency


Halp! We Need Kittehs for Evelyn!

Our own Dr. Evelyn had quite a scare recently – some asshole broke in to her flat and stole her laptop. She wasn’t harmed, but she’s considerably shaken up and in need of an infusion of kittehs. Send her your cute kitteh photos asap! You can reach her at geokittehs at gmail dot com. We’ll take them all, the more the merrier. Someday, they may even achieve some fame as Geokittehs!

Misha imitating a boulder in a stream bed.

Misha imitating a boulder in a stream bed.