A+, Plus Drool-Worthy Geology, AW #49 Info, and Other Bits

Blowing the dust off ye olde computer to say “Allo, allo, I’m still alive!” Taking a break, still, although I’m dipping my toes back in to a desultory bit o’ work. Like, this post.

First off, I just want to throw my support to Jen McCreight’s brilliant Atheism + idea. When my brain is back from its temporary vacation, I’ll have something more to say than “Woo! Count me in!” But this, plus the overwhelmingly enthusiastic reception, reminded me once again why I’m so damned proud to be a part of FreethoughtBlogs, and why I won’t ever give up on the atheist movement. People like Jen see problems that almost seem intractable, roll up their sleeves, and get to work.

Judging from some comments I’m seeing, at least a few folks are going to say, “Huh huh humanism!” with a greater or lesser degree of snark. So allow me to provide some links to read before too many people start protesting that A+ is just a snotty way of saying secular humanist. I have helpfully put the links most focused on the humanism vs atheism+ discussion in bold, which means you should read them carefully before launching into a tirade.

How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club & Why It’s Time for a New Wave of Atheism

Atheism+

Why Atheism+ and not Humanism?

Atheism+: It’s time to walk the walk

A new atheism

Standing on Our Own

A new dawn

The difference between “atheism+” and humanism

Atheism Plus: The New Wave of Atheism

Is “Atheism Plus” Just Secular Humanism?

Atheism, Plussed And Nonplussed

The New Atheism +

I hereby join my fellow atheists +. This is it. This is the right spot for me. Although I’m a rebel and just had to change up one of the logos to suit myself, because I don’t like red and blue juxtaposed. Deeep riiifts!

A+ logo by by One Thousand Needles, with one minor modification by moi.

I like this. I feel very good about this. And I hope Surly Amy gets to work on the A+ Surly-Ramics ASAP. Want.

Right. Position staked, on to other matters. I’m in week 3 of nicotine withdrawal, for those interested and wondering how that’s going. Answer: nawt too gooood. I think this is the week where The Addiction Strikes Back, because it’s being a bastard. I still, however, am not smoking, although at the moment, I’m not happy about it. I feel like most of my personality has been cored out. That’s the trouble when a not-insignificant part of your identity was tied up in a particular habit. I will adjust, and I am definitely enjoying the fringe benefit of not coughing all the damned time, but it will take a while longer before the physical addiction subsides and I have managed to reinvent myself. In the meantime, I’m staying mostly offline and away from the usual routine. I’ve chosen to spend the majority of my time reading classic freethought and atheist works, in between bouts of cooking and eating all the food in the universe, and sleeping. Lotsa sleeping. Soooo much sleeping. It’s as if a twenty-year sleep debt has tracked me down and demanded paying. Chantix combined with ordinary pre-Aunty Flow fatigue, I’m relatively certain. The cat’s mostly enjoying my immobility, except when she becomes bored by it and amuses herself by yowling in my ear.

The dreams continue apace. Some have been rather dramatic, some have been prosaic (I hate the dreams about work. Chantix makes each dream more vivid, so I feel like they should be paying me for this shit). Some have been wonderful sci-fi extravaganzas I hate waking up from, because I want to know what happens next – and for some reason, I always wake up on a cliffhanger. And then there was the wonderful one where I was talking to a theist, one of the sorta mushy-gushy mystical ones, who dramatically announced that religion is the moon and stars, then asked me what atheism is. I thought about it for a moment. Then I looked up at the blue infinity above me, held my hands up to compass it, and said, “Atheism is the sky.” And I believe he got my meaning: a bright, clear place where a person can breathe and think and is not boxed in by old myths.

I quite liked that dream.

Food-wise, this has been an adventure. One side-effect of quitting I didn’t expect was a sudden interest in vegetables. Seriously. I’m craving things I don’t ordinarily crave: squash, spinach, corn and the like. I’m more of a meat-and-taters person, so this is rather odd. I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, and since quitting smoking, I’ve wanted sweet stuff even less. To the point, mind you, where I even like water. In moderation, of course. Let’s don’t get too crazy. Water’s still mostly for washing in, but I’m drinking more than before. Weird.

And yes, I’ve put on weight. Not much, but some. There are a few bones I can only feel if I prod for them now. Judging from my father, I’ll end up looking malnourished, though: pot belly with chicken arms and legs. That’s just how our side of the family rolls.

Now, I promised you some eye-popping geology. Courtesy of Hexidecima, here ’tis, and I’m shamelessly stealing a teaser photo so that you’ll go read the post and look at the others and begin to drool with soft noises of ecstasy, as I did.

Looking westbound. US 322. Image courtesy Club Schadenfreude.

Want.

And this brings me to a point: those of you who write geology posts should always be bold and pimp them in the comments, even if unrelated to the current discussion, because I like to drool.

Also, if anyone wants me to start open threads to encourage jibber-jabber and such sharing between cantina regulars, I’m happy to. Say the word, and it will be so.

A quick note on Accretionary Wedge #49: some of you have never encountered the Wedge before. It’s basically geobloggers getting together monthly to post around a common theme, chosen by the host of the month. The host announces the theme, those of us inspired by it write a post about it, plunk the link into the host’s comments, and then, ideally, the host gathers all links together into a single post for all to enjoy. Does that mean you have to have a blog to participate? No. If you haven’t got a blog, but want to write up a little something on otherworldly geology, I will be happy to put you up as a guest post right here. Just send the draft to me at dhunterauthor at yahoo dot com. Make sure you have the rights to any pictures you include, because this is a commercial blog, and copyright rules are important.

And, finally, it’s time for the arachnophobes to avert their eyes, because Jean Gogolin sent me this link. Yes, that’s a new spider. Yes, it dwells in the Pacific Northwest. Yes, it has wicked claws. And yes, I’m going to be looking for one! I’m hoping to catch it using its claws on some poor unsuspecting prey, so I can make a new discovery for science. Hopefully, I won’t be announcing it eats humans….

That’s about it. I’ll probably be going dark again, have to get some research done and fight my poor addicted brain a bit more. Thank you all for your support and understanding. I’ll be coming back refreshed soon, and then I will present you some geology that will make your eyes pop.

Especially if Lockwood and I end up following Trebuchet’s footsteps into the John Day Fossil Beds this fall… Yum!

Stuff and Nonsense

I hate doing this, but circumstances insist: I shall be going to a somewhat light to virtually non-existent posting schedule over the next week or so. I’m getting me arse kicked by research, my darlings. On top of this, I’m still adjusting to a lack of nicotine, which seems to involve endless eating, sudden bouts of inertia and exhaustion, and other such woes. When I attempt to concentrate, my brain wails, “But I haven’t had a smoke in almost two weeks!!” and I have to stuff it with non-taxing stuff to get it to stop sniveling. My memory is shot, my concentration ditto. The weather is, by Seattle standards, blazing hot. All signs point to dialing back for a bit.

So I’ve been avoiding the computer. Which, alas, means neglecting you. But that won’t last forever! Soon, you’ll get some posts I’ve written but haven’t yet typed up, some of which will contain substance.  And you’ll get a few things like this:

Moi at Meadowdale Park, pausing at the exit of the pedestrian underpass to gawk at the creek flowing out from underneath the boardwalk. Image courtesy Cujo359.

Random outtakes. Yes, indeedy. And your UFD, and probably Mystery Flora, and perhaps a reader-submitted geomystery, if I’ve got one I don’t have to attach many words to.

Anyway. Outtakes. Meadowdale. Yes, my intrepid companion and I decided to go there on Sunday because hey, we’ve never been! And it turns out it’s a long bloody walk to the beach, and my lungs are readjusting to this oxygen idea, and it was exhausting. But the view of the Olympics was nice, and the itty-bitty estuary was pretty, and there were trains, and I saw UFDs.

Moi stalking UFDs. Don’t worry, I didn’t upset them any more than the kids chasing them with sticks did. Image courtesy Cujo359.

You notice I’m paying bugger-all attention to the train, but never fear – I shot a video of its arrival, and if a few of you clamor for a train video, thee shall have it.*

This is one of the few times you’ll ever see me in flip-flops. Enjoy.

Moi getting ready to wash sand off my feet in this very convenient creek-under-a-boardwalk. Image courtesy Cujo359.

I’ll be back to more intensive posting soon. Never fear! We have enough delicious geology to keep us busy for the next few years – I just need to get it studied and organized for you.

 

*I’m using Terry Pratchett’s version of thee/thou etc., so don’t bother to correct it. I can also speak Elizabethan English when talking Shakespeare. I just find this more charming.

Items of Interest

Some quick updates and interesting items before I get to some epic post-writing:

  • Via Skepchick: a tale of cyber-woe, and some good security tips. I’ve spent a few moments tonight hardening myself as a target – do yourself the same favor. Also, do not rely on companies’ policies for over-the-phone account management to keep you safe. Social engineering is alive and well.
  • At Skepchick: a very nice answer to people you suspect are JAQing off, or engaging in a little hyperskepticism. Not that they’ll listen, but if they don’t, then you know you’re dealing with a doofus and/or douchebag and can respond accordingly.
  • Stephanie Zvan makes me blush quite a lot. Also, she has a post up that connoisseurs of fine fundie fuckery will wish to see if you haven’t already – learn why fundies hates teh maffs!
  • Craig daGeek would like some input on a grad-school funding idea: “Okay. So here is a thought. I got knocked out of my masters degree by being financially dependent on a homophobic and bigoted professor last year. I am thinking I want to return to grad school, but I am ambivalent about accepting funding and being trapped by the whims of unethical profs. I was thinking of giving Indiegogo a try to self-fund at least partially my next go around. I was going to tell my story of harassment, bullying, discrimination, and unethical behavior I experienced as my selling point. That way I have more say and can keep the ability to fight back hard and fast in my hands alone. I was totally brutalized last year and wish not to go through that again. I need feedback from earth science folks in particular.” You can leave comments here if you don’t have a G+ account – I’ll ensure he gets them. Also, if you know of good resources for math practice for the GRE online or off, please let us know!
  • And on the quitting front: the deed ’tis done, absent any backsliding. I had my last smoke on Saturday night. Despite work doing its utmost to make me return screaming to the loving arms of nicotine, and my bronchial tubes informing me they believe the nice coating of tar was a protective against asthma, I’ve not had one since. I reserve the right to the occasional fumble in these early weeks, but mostly because that opt-out has kept me from opting back in. I am now going to go stand on the porch for three minutes sucking a sour straw candy in lieu of a smokie, because I bloody miss those breaks on the porch, and it just ain’t the same without a reason to be out there. We’ll see if that does the trick. The cat will be thrilled – she was getting pissed about this never going outside with Mommy at night anymore. (Also, yes, I have gained weight, for those who might be curious.)
  • Finally: I’m about to begin an epic writing session for Rosetta Stones. You know what’s coming. Grab tissues and possibly something to bite down on, and stand by for Volcano Day.

Off to the Blast Zone

My intrepid companion and I are off to Mount St. Helens for the weekend. We’ve got a full dance card: quite a bit of hiking on Saturday, and taking Suzanne for her first look at the mountain on Sunday.

View of blast zone from Johnston Ridge, Mount St. Helens, WA. September 2011.

This means I’ll have limited access to the intertoobz, and first-time commenters will be stuck in moderation until I can set you loose. Sorry! If it’s any consolation, at least you’ll have lots of delicious photos of one of the most geologically fascinating places in the continental US soon.

I’ve got posts pre-loaded, so the blog will chug right along. Wish me luck getting some great St. Helens UFDs. At least there aren’t so many trees for the little buggers to hide in…

Update on Quitting, and Why I’ve Been Scarce

So, this was supposed to be the Big Weekend, where Chantix kicked in and I became a quitter. I should have remembered my body’s reaction to drugs: “So?” It shrugged off the half-milligram like it was nothing. When the dose upped to one milligram a few days later, still meh. And the urge to smoke was strong as ever – stronger, in some ways, because I know I’ll be giving it up soon, and damn it, I’ll miss it.

I had my first violent dream recently. I was trying to get a hotel room, and the clerk was being a complete jerkwad. Nasty, condescending, and a crook to boot, insulting me whilst trying to bilk me out of money. So I slapped him across the face. The little old ladies in the lobby heartily approved. I made a triumphant exit as he looked on in confusion. And that was that: the most violence I’ve experienced in a dream since starting this stuff. This is lame. It makes me fear the drugs won’t work. According to the horror stories, I’m supposed to be having all sorts of violent ideations. Instead, it’s mostly been a lot of geology field trips and a wee bit o’ erotica.

Saturday, the beginning of week 2, the dose went up to two milligrams daily. And I went walkies. We haven’t seen the sun here much for days. It peeked out briefly. I headed east toward the Cascades, ended up in Sultan briefly, acquainted myself with a few back roads, found a place that sells bamboo plants that I’ll have to investigate soon, and went back to Monroe to re-visit Al Borlin Park. I was last there in June 2011. It’s a bit different, now.

Skykomish River at Al Borlin Park, June 2011

The river then wasn’t at its highest, but was certainly vigorous, and had ripped bits off the bank. When I went back this July, the bank was boringly intact, and my first impression was “Holy fuck, look at all the gravel!”

Skykomish at Al Borlin Park, July 2012

Obviously, the river’s gone down, which I should have expected: summers here are fairly dry, although this one’s been full of enough rainy days to make me doubt we’re going to get our three months of summer this year. Still. Not complaining. It could be 100+ degrees and horrid humidity.

I also found a great mystery flower, which leaves me in a pickle, because there are about ten billion great mystery flowers from Marys Peak I still need to post. This one’s pretty neat, though, and I might skip ahead briefly. It was worth the mosquito bites I got taking it. Note to self: the next time you plan to do a river walk in July, either wear bug spray or don’t stop moving for an instant.

I went home. I meant to post. I got involved in some research, and read a paper that made my brain hurt quite a lot, and read a few other things trying to make sense of it, and by the end, with my brain aching and a purring felid on my legs, I decided a post could wait. Sorry.

So I meant to post something early Sunday, but I spent too many hours living my life through Chantix. It’s the kind of thing where I crack an eye open, decide I can snatch another hour, and go back to dreaming. Lots and lots of dreaming, mostly about geology, which is fun. Then when I finally rousted my lazy arse awake, I got up just long enough to wee and flopped back down to check the internets on the Kindle. This is when my homicidal felid decided to help me quit smoking. She curled up in a tight little ball on both my legs and stayed there, purring occasionally, for three hours.

I want you to understand something. I can never go three hours in the morning without a smoke. Never, ever. That cat would’ve been ejected after a half-hour, an hour at the outside, in the past, and to hell with the consequences. But Sunday, we stayed put together. I caught up on some reading, and then dipped back into the Ingersoll book I’m reading, and thought about diving back into some Serious Papers before deciding no, it’s Sunday and I’m feeling lazy, and I got the occasional “A cigarette would be nice” twinges but nothing that drove me to evict the cat. What did was that can of Coke I’d been drinking. Some urges even Chantix can’t stop, and that’s probably for the best, as I’ve heard bladders can explode.

By the time I was free to get to my computer, I was in full Lazy Sunday mode. Tonight has mostly been about Dumbucks who Make Rape Jokes and the Dumbfucks Who Defend Them, which I’ll have something to say about later, when I’ve thought of something Stephanie Zvan and the commenters at Pharyngula haven’t said better. Now I have to finally get some of that work done I promised myself I’d do.

Speaking of work, Evelyn’s beginning some. Wish her and Jackie well.

So, that’s the sit-rep. Looks like by the end of the week, I’ll have either cut back dramatically or quit smoking completely. Which is good. Because I may need to stop Chantix early so I don’t sleep the rest of the summer away…

Twin Falls: A Test Post with Pretty Pictures

I’m fiddling about with settings. Next step is to test. Other things beginning with T and S: Twin Falls on the Snoqualmie River.

Cave, falls and plunge pool at Twin Falls

I knew nothing of geology when I dragged my intrepid companion here the first time. Also, I didn’t have my super-spiffy shiny Sony Cyber-shot HX5V. So I have two excuses for going there again and collecting photos for you.

Still. I really like this one my intrepid companion shot whilst we were playing down by the river.

Moi on a huge rock at Twin Falls. Image courtesy Cujo359

His camera kicked my Photosmart’s ass.

Right. So. Some of the changes: I’ve added the G+ and PressThis sharing buttons. I know, exciting, right? You’re under no obligation to use them on this post, unless you want to. But they’re there for you if you ever wish to employ them in the future. And, hopefully, you enjoyed these images, even if one of them was shot with a sub-standard camera.

So, my darlings, what other waterfalls do you recommend?

Slowly Emerging

Figured I’d better check in and let everyone know I’m still alive. Buried in Agatha Christie, still, but alive.

I’m slowly clearing the email backlog, so those of you who’ve emailed without reply for a while should be getting responses soon. I cleaned up ye olde inbox at last, flagged things needing attention, and downloaded all of those papers that have been languishing therein. They’re all loaded on the Kindle, and the Docs folder is looking pleasantly plump. Pretty soon, I’ll be through the Agatha Christie, and on to the science.

It’ll be a relief. I love her, I do, but this concentrated dosage wears a bit. It’s just that I can’t bloody stop… I’m coping by suspecting absolutely everyone, alive or dead. That way, when the murderer is revealed, I can say, “I suspected him/her all along!” It’s a hollow victory, but I’ll take it.

Writing will probably return soon. I’m getting restless and fretful, with occasional flashes of ideas, which is a good sign. And if worse comes to worse, I can always beat something out of myself with a rock hammer – I’m going down to see Lockwood soon, and I have a feeling that will provide the necessary goad to ye olde Muse.

I’ve been out of the loop for a long time. I’ve no idea what’s going on, aside from the fact that Washington State approved gay marriage, and Gov. Gregoire should be signing it into law. Weddings! At last! I’m proud of my adopted state, and hopefully shall be attending a wedding or two this summer.

So what else have I missed? Let me know the happenings, the awesome science papers, and whatever else comes to mind.

And thank you for standing by while I get my shit back together. You, my dear readers, keep me from giving up. I owe you.

 

It Was the Best of News, It Was the Worst of News

And with that melodramatic Dickensonian post title, I shall now announce nothing much of substance. Aren’t you glad you clicked over? I knew you were.

The good news is, having mostly finished my blog reading backlog, Los Links will be fat and sassy this week. The bad news is, I still have to compose it. Good news: I’ve got some old school Doctor Who to watch, during which links shall be linked. Bad news: my brain is so fried after several hours of solid reading that it’s oozing gently from my ears, which means Maclargehuge Post Containing Actual Substance and a Quote by Ed Yong Hisownself shall be delayed. Sorry.

The good news is, I called my mother whilst walking over to Quiznos for some sustenance, and she sounds miles better. Very nearly as good as she gets. Good enough that I could broach the topic of her signing a release so her doctors can share information with me, and she didn’t freak out, but thought it was a brilliant idea. The bad news: good times don’t last. We just savor them while they do, and do our best to ensure there’s more good than bad, which isn’t such a bad thing after all. Every life is a matter of trying to extract more good than bad, and we haven’t done so badly, overall.

The good news: kitteh and I eschewed the living room for the bedroom today, where beautiful bouncing sunshine leapt through the windows. The bad news: that bloody bouncing sunshine woke me up. Argh. And now it’s close to setting. Double argh. The good news: I write best in the dark.

And speaking of writing, I have got good news on that front: I’ve been beavering away steadily on ye olde WIP. The bad news: I had to return to the notebooks to figure out why the story stalled. The good news: I have made what seems to be a breakthrough, and may be able to wrestle some story out of what seemed like a pile of disjointed words. Bonus good news: I’ve filled quite a few notebook pages with useful thoughts. The bad news: I forgot to stop by Staples to replenish the notebook supply. The good news: Staples is close by.

And that’s about where life is at the moment. Now for the really bad news, the worst possible: it’s laundry day.

I shall see ye for Los Links if the pile of dirty clothes doesn’t eat me.

Geology Pays! Plus Other Things of Note

I’ve been lost in NaNoMadNess and neglecting you terribly. So here are a few things by way of apology.

Andrew Alden has a wonderful little piece telling of victories made possible by geology, and celebrating its influence on and connections to the other branches of science. I think it’s quite possibly one of my favorite things this week.

Daniel Fincke has got a lovely roundup of delights from around Freethought Blogs. I say delights, but some of them aren’t so much delightful as they are important, such as Greta Christina’s piece on the American Cancer Society and its rather desperate attempts to pretend it wasn’t discriminating against atheists at all. That’s more infuriating than delightful. But I’ll tell you what is delightful: Daniel’s new banner. It has made me consider the logistics of modifying my bathroom to fit a camel with a hammer. I wish I wasn’t so certain the cat would be terribly upset by such a thing. Perhaps I’ll just have to frame the art in there instead.

Go say hello to Maryam Namazie, who is our newest FreethoughtBlogger, and makes me even more honored to be a part of this collective. She’s an incredible woman.

And, finally, go perform a good deed for the day and tell Delta to stop with the anti-vax insanity, if you haven’t already.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go enjoy a brief visit with my bed before I have to abandon it again….

The Days of Doom

So, here’s the status: the company I work for is getting far more annihilated by the release of a certain phone than anticipated. This means I’m catastrophically behind rather than merely dramatically behind in my reading, research, and writing. Time to answer comments, emails, etc. is severely lacking. So if you’re met by a wall of silence, it’s not because I don’t love you, but because if you want Los Links to be more than five links long and hope to see quality content on this blog soon, it may take me a while to get back to you.

I’ve got some prewritten posts ready to go. The cantina won’t be falling silent. But you’ll notice a rather heavy emphasis on matters SF, as those are the ones I’d written up in advance. I’ll try to leaven those with some fresh geological goodness.

Things should calm down a bit after Sunday. I say should. If they roll out mandatory overtime, however, that happy state of affairs could get unhappy in a hurry.

There are also some health issues interfering with my ability to type for more than a half-hour at a time. No worries, it’s just the usual complaints brought on by years of typing ten+ hours per day. When I do email you or respond to your comments at last, I may sound a bit terse. I’m sorry about that!

Incidentally, if you’ve ever wanted to guest blog for the cantina, now’s the time to mention it. I could use some pinch hitters, and I know there are some brilliant writers in this crowd who may be wanting to get some eyeballs on their work. I’m thrilled to oblige. You can find me on Yahoo under dhunterauthor. Pitch me a topic.

All that said, keep the comments coming. You lot have been amazing, and you’re a large measure of my success as a writer. Without you, much of what I do would not be possible. You’ve earned an enormous drink. Go have one forthwith.

See ye soon, my darlings!