Sweeping Sands

First, let me take your breath away. Just for a moment. I’ll give it back, I promise.

Sand Dunes, Oregon Coast

Back in 2010, my intrepid companion and I went geotrekking with Lockwood, and he took us to see some ethereal dunes on the Oregon coast just north of Florence. This photo comes from a viewpoint somewhere past Darlingtonia Wayside, below Seal Rock Cave. I’ve had it on my mind to write up for ages now. I still haven’t got the research done, but Brian Romans and Galileo’s Pendulum have declared Sand Dune Week, so now’s as good a time as any to tease you with a few photos, and reminisce about Sand Dunes I Have Known.

Where I grew up, sand dunes were a dry-land sort of thing. There’s all sorts of places in Arizona where you can do the dunes, Yuma being among the more impressive. We passed through there on the way to San Diego once, and I recall being rather astounded by the sea of sand. Those dunes would qualify as mountains in some of the flatter parts of the country. I snapped a picture of them on the way through, but have since lost it. So, engage your imagination, and pretend we’re looking at a picture of pale yellow sand looming outside the car window, with a wonderful little blurred bare tree accenting just how much sand and how little vegetation we’re looking at. Someday, if they’re very lucky, those dunes may end up looking like this:

Coconino Sandstone, Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona. Photo Credit Cujo.

This isn’t the best example of cross-bedding in the entire universe, but you get the idea. And another:

Moar Coconino Sandstone, Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona. Photo credit: Cujo

Once, this part of Northern Arizona was like Yuma, covered in pale sand piled up into dunes. They’re now fossil landscapes. You can find lithified dunes all over Arizona.

Page Sandstone, Page, Arizona

Spent quite a few years running over the slickrock, without ever knowing I was exploring an ancient dunescape. It may have once looked like Sossusvlei. That’s a hell of a thing to contemplate.

There’s a reprise going on, along Highway 89, just after 89a splits off. You go through a magnificent road cut blasted through the ancient dunes, and right on the other side, cuddling the cliffs, you’ll see little red sand dunes. The sandstone here is returning to its roots.

Down in Sedona, you can travel through a variety of sandy old landscapes, deserts and coasts, and they loom over you at Slide Rock. It’s dramatic scenery. Too bad the cat didn’t appreciate it.

Moi avec chat, Slide Rock State Park, Arizona. Shot by Cujo.

In Arizona, the sand dunes that have not got turned to stone don’t tend to have much vegetation on them. So it’s fascinating to loop back round to Oregon, and see so much stuff growing on the sand that the dunes are practically immobile. Not to mention all that blue wet salty stuff off to the west.

Sand Dunes, Oregon Coast.

Some misguided fools last century actually planted some sort of grass so the dunes would stop moving around and annoying the land owners. And it’s done a bang-up job of paralyzing once-free dunes. But here and there, the sand slips free.

Free Sand!

And maybe, just maybe, someday, the dunes will move again.

I’ll leave you with one last image, this one from Holman Overlook:

Oregon Coast Sand Dunes, Holman Overlook

There. Lovely. And someday, I’ll give them the write-up they deserve. For now, I leave you with these other fine Dune Week posts:

Clastic Detritus: Grain Flow on a Martian Dune.

Galileo’s Pendulum: Who Needs Shark Week? Let’s Have Dune Week!

Cocktail Party Physics: Of Granular Material and Singing Sands.

 

Georneys: Sand Dunes in Death Valley.

Looking for Detachment: Sand Mountain for Sand Dune Week.

Geology Home Companion: Can Dune!

Agile Geoscience: Wave-particle duality.

Research at a Snail’s Pace: Dune Week.

Pools and Riffles: Sand Dune Week: The Sand Hills.

European Geosciences Union: Sand Dunes at EGU GA 2012.

Sandatlas: Mysterious dunes in Estonia.

In the Company of Plants and Rocks: Dune Week: virtual field trip to the Oso Flaco dunes.

Catherine Curtis: Namib sand dunes.

EPOD: Death Valley Dunes and Former Lake Bed.

MRO: NASA Orbiter Catches Mars Sand Dunes in Motion.

Let me know if there’s anybody I missed.

I Adore Labradorite

There’s a word, begins with s, means something like coincidence. Synergy? Sorta kinda not really. Szygy? Awesome word, totally incorrect. Synchronicity. That’s the word. This is synchronicity. Synchronicity has just happened. Because, you see, I wrote a bit about anorthosite and labradorite doing up my geolantern for the Accretionary Wedge, and whilst I was babbling about how totally amazing the mineral labradorite is, I thought that someday, I’d have to get round to photographing my bit of it and write it up. Along came a meme, and it seems someday is today.

Here she is:

Labradorite! From Madagascar!

I know, right? She doesn’t look all that exciting. You certainly don’t look at her and immediately think, “ZOMG the Moon is made of that stuff!” But it is. Anorthosite is what the lunar highlands are composed of, and anorthosite is predominately labradorite. This makes me want to grab a moon rock, polish it up, and start playing with its labradorescence, but NASA would probably become upset.

(If anybody’s got a bit of anorthosite from the moon that doesn’t belong to NASA and is within the price range of a second-tier cell phone tech support person, do let me know.)

So. We’ve got a rock that has exotic cousins and comes from a pretty exotic locale – I mean, Madagascar, amirite? But it’s just this dark little lump with a hint o’ shimmer. Pretty, but not extraordinary. Why all the fuss? It’s about this time that geologists and rock shop addicts in the audience start grinning that little oh-just-you-wait grin and do something that’ll make your eyes pop.

They tilt the rock, like so:

Getting shiny...

And you say, “Nope, I still don’t see it.” And they say, “Wait for it,” and tilt just a little bit more. And then, and then

Ba-boom!

There it comes. Labradorescence. That black rock turns brilliant blue with the flick of a wrist. How gorgeous as that? And it makes me wonder: if we could polish up the Moon, and tilt it just so in the sunlight, could we have a blue moon every night?

Keep tilting, and eventually the whole stone becomes a sea of deep blue fire:

Deep blue sea in a rock

Labradorescence is one thing that makes this mineral so special. You can find an outstanding definition of labradorescence and a fantastic writeup of anorthosite and labradorite at Sandatlas. It can look a bit like opalescence (adularescence), but you’ll see from his description that it’s not quite the same. Those interested in the optical phenomena of various minerals can spend some very happy moments here and here.

The other thing special about it is how very old it is. The anorthosite on the Moon is ancient. On Earth, the youngest you get is from the Proterozoic, so we’re talking nearly a billion years at best. There’s also quite a bit from the Archaen, stretching almost back to the beginning of the planet. Nothing newer that we know of. There are mysteries in this stuff we haven’t solved. And that’s an eye-popping thing to realize about my little bit of rock. It’s not just beautiful, it’s old and strange. Much like another beloved bit of my life:

Something Old and Something Old

I believe you can see why I squeed like someone encountering a basket of free kittens when I found this delight at that wonderful little rock shop in Vantage, Washington.

For those of you who like geology and goggies, Garry Hayes has got you covered.

Right. Meme’s live in the geoblogosphere. Getcher labradorite on!

You Call Those Evil Volcano Lairs?

They’re quasi-evil. They’re semi-evil. They’re the Diet Coke of evil…

Erik Klemetti may sneer at the Geological Society of London’s Top 5, but Mt. Erebus? Sure, he’ll have well-dressed minions, but he’ll also be too ice-bound for true evil. Jessica Ball’s on to something with Pagan Island, but her evil lair will be overrun with tourists within six months. Garry Hayes has a beautiful evil setting in Mount Shasta, but everyone knows you can’t rely on Lemurians to carry out one’s plans for world domination. Silver Fox isn’t disclosing the location of her evil lair, which is wise, but it’s not even a volcano. You can’t have an evil volcano lair if there’s no volcano.

No, the truly evil geologist knows there’s only one volcano that qualifies as an Evil Volcano Lair.

Olympus Mons. Image Credit: NASA

It’s three times the height of Everest. What evil geologist wouldn’t want their lair located in the tallest volcano in the solar system? And at 370 miles wide, there’s plenty of room for an evil empire to spread out. This will be critical as plans for world – nay, solar system – domination come to fruition. Since Olympus Mons covers an area the size of Arizona, no henchmen have to worry about doubling-up.

Olympus Mons relative to Arizona. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

It has a total of six calderas in its summit, which are up to two miles deep. These are idea for placement of death rays and lasers and other implements necessary to the proper functioning of an evil empire.

Olympus Mons Calderas. Image Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

And the volcano’s outer edge is an escarpment up to five miles high, with a wide moat roughly one mile deep encircling. Every lair should have a moat. We don’t even have to dig one, thus freeing my henchmen for other nefarious tasks.

As an added evil bonus, Olympus Mons’ extreme elevation means that any pesky do-gooder secret agent types will not be able to parachute in. There’s not enough atmosphere up there for a parachute to slow their decent. I don’t expect them to land. I expect them to die

And a thick dust layer will bog down any rovers my nemesis manages to sneak up there. This will not be a problem for me and my evil lair construction equipment because I am an evil genius. I’d tell you my plans for overcoming the technical obstacles, but then I’d have to kill you.

Olympus Mons is loaded with lava tubes, which provide ideal locations for cunning and complicated traps. Some of the tubes will be quite large, which will give our lair the proper deep, dark, sinister cave ambiance. Ambiance is important, and should never be underrated in an enterprise of this sort.

One may even find water-saturated zones in the sediments beneath the volcano, which will still be toasty warm due to residual heat from the magma chamber and the geothermal gradient. This ensures my henchmen will always have access to hot showers without diverting critical energy resources away from the death rays, lasers, et al. As dirty henchmen lead to an unhappy evil empire, this is an important consideration. Then again, who needs henchmen when you can have… robots! So perhaps I shall keep all of the hot water for my own personal use.

Olympus Mons is suitably close to Earth for climactic takeovers to be easily launched, yet far enough away that the place will not be overrun daily by pesky secret agents. Viruses can be mutated by leaving them outside the protective shell of the ship while in transit, thus ensuring victory over Earth’s population. And additional funds to finance the evil empire can be obtained by selling transport and renting facilities to scientists, who will not be able to pass up the chance to personally investigate the Red Planet. Geologists will be given a discount, of course.

With Olympus Mons as my evil volcano lair, nothing shall stop my evil plans. Nothing!

Information and images filched from: Wikipedia, NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, ESA’s Mars Express, and the NSSDC Photo Gallery. Special thanks to the creators of Austin Powers and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Stay evil, my friends!

SF Book Bonanza – Getcher Meme On!

NPR has released its Top 100 SF books list. Some damned good stuff on here! Also some things I tried to read and decided after a few pages were not worth continuing *coughswordofshananacough*. I felt the overwhelming need to go through and put the one’s I’ve read in bold. It’s a meme sorta thing – wanna do the same? Grab the list off NPR and go! Bung a link in the comments so we can all peruse.

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood’s End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God’s Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel’s Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer’s Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

This they whittled down from a list of 237 finalists. As some of my favorite books are on that Finalist list, but didn’t make the magic 100, I shall include them here:

Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman
The Baroque Cycle, by Neal Stephenson
Bridge Of Birds, by Barry Hughart
The Coldfire Trilogy, by C.S. Friedman
The Eyes Of The Dragon, by Stephen King
The Incarnations Of Immortality Series, by Piers Anthony
Memory And Dream, by Charles de Lint
The Sarantine Mosaic Series, by Guy Gavriel Kay
Song for the Basilisk, by Patricia McKillip
Tigana , by Guy Gavriel Kay
To Say Nothing Of The Dog, by Connie Willis
Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler

Some of those books really deserve more recognition than they got. But then, I’m pretty partial.

Sedimentary Sentiments

Right.  So, Callan Bentley’s pointed out that we in the geoblogosphere haven’t had a good meme in a while.  My Doc Holliday instincts kicked in.  “I’m your huckleberry.  That’s just my game.”  So let’s have a meme.  Love and sediments.  Give me a sedimentary rock or structure you’re sentimental about.

I’ll begin:

Sedona in miniature

That rock there is a microcosm of Sedona.  I’m not sure what formation it came from.  Could be the Schnebly Hill Formation, or a fragment of sandstone from the Supai Group.  I picked it out of a creek bed during that memorable physical geography field trip many years ago.  It delighted me because it looked like the contact between the deep red rocks of the Schnebly Hill Formation and the blazing white of the Coconino Sandstone.  More likely, that white bit at the top just represents a long soak in the creek, but still, a girl can dream.

It’s a piece of my history.  It represents scientific discovery, and childhood, and ancient worlds.  Just a tiny thing, fits in the palm of your hand, but it stands for something enormous.

This is the place I once called home:

My Valley

If you look to the left, down in the dip, you’ll see the red tile roof peeking through the trees.  That’s my old house on Mountain Shadows Drive.  We didn’t have much of a view down there, but if you walk up the hill a bit, opposite the steep bit where my idiot dog slept in the road one night and ended up at our friend the vet’s office with my dad and the vet sewing her up while drinking beer (true story), you’ll find yourself facing a panorama that has made many a photographer scream for joy.

That little round mound in the foreground is Sugarloaf, a lump of the Schnebly Hill Formation that looks a bit like a flying saucer landed in the middle of the West Sedona suburbs.  UFOs are big in Sedona, but for some reason, the UFO freaks didn’t hang round Sugarloaf.  They all thought the aliens lived in Bell Rock instead.

The enormous mass on the left is Grayback, imaginatively named because the back of it is mostly gray, or so I’ve been told – I’ve never actually seen the back of it.  To the right is Coffee Pot Rock, which looks remarkably like one of those old coffee percolators.  I spent a good amount of my time in the shadow of those rocks, scrabbling around at the base of Sugarloaf, sliding down the loose and crumbly walls of a deep gully cut in the shales and mudstones of the Hermit Formation, upon which Sedona is built.  Where I’d grown up, in Flagstaff, dirt was tan or brown.  Down here, it was a deep, dark red, so very red that it could stain white clothes rust.  I’d come home coated in the stuff.

Those rocks were the only solid thing in my world back then.  We’d just moved down from Flagstaff, where I’d spent the vast majority of my young life.  My parents had almost gotten divorced, and while we were there, my mom had her first bouts with bipolar disorder.  I had very few friends.  I was surrounded by people even stranger than my mother (at least she had the excuse of an actual psychiatric disorder).  Little wonder, then, that I spent so much time alone in the wilderness, sometimes with my friend Crystal in tow, exploring every nook and cranny of those old red rocks with their white Coconino Sandstone hats.

They were alien to me, in a way: I identified with the volcanic peaks of the San Francisco Volcanic Field, where I’d spent the happiest years of my life to that date.  There was something almost too beautiful, too surreal, about those magnificent red rocks.  I didn’t know what they were back then.  Didn’t know I was surrounded by ancient beaches and dune fields and floodplains.  But I knew they were something special.  Sometimes, they were even friendly.  Their texture, slightly rough, gave my sneakers good purchase as I scrambled up steep cliffs on impossibly narrow ledges.  Some of the finer-grained sandstones made for good nail files in the field, for those times when I broke a fingernail climbing.

Those red rocks loomed.  They were solid, stolid, and steady, and yet could change in an instant: in the angle of the sun, in a passing cloud, in a dusting of snow or a soaking of rain.  Their colors shifted through a million shades.  I don’t know how to describe the intensity of that color, how it’s never quite the same from one moment to the next.  It doesn’t feel like a human setting.  It’s something primal and almost painful.  You are this drab little thing among it, until the colors soak in to you, and it makes you a part of it, some little wild thing scurrying in the shadow of monoliths.

Some people got interested in geology, living there.  Some people turned to crystal magic.  And some got obsessed with UFOs.  It can be hard to tell whether the local business folk are laughing at or with the UFO nuts, but they do take full advantage:

Moi avec UFO fountain at the diner

Holding that little lump of stone in my hand brings it all back: the taste of Permian dust in my mouth, gritty on my skin.  The deep red earth, in turns silty-soft and sandy.  The ancient-world smell of wet slickrock after a high desert rain.  So many long drives down from the Rim, watching as gray basalts turn to cream-colored sandstones and finally, dramatically, to rusty-hued sand and siltstones.  The coolness of that crack in the earth, tracing the Oak Creek fault, as the creek ran alongside the road, soft sound of wind and water through the open window, and the scent of all that boisterous green life – something you don’t get in many places in Arizona.  Blackberry brambles and sycamores and ferns, earthy and sweet, demanding you fill your lungs to the bursting again, again, again.  And under it all, the slightly-sharp, hot, impossibly old smell of lithified landscapes.

Sentimental?  Yes, I should think so.  How could I not be?

There’s one word for landscapes like this, and it’s the name of
a road in Sedona:

Inspirational Drive

Those are some of the sediments that I love.  What are yours?

2010 Year O’ Travels, or D’oh, Shit, Another Meme!

Silver Fox, once again, has tagged absolutely everybody for a meme.  And, since it gives me fodder and a chance to put up pretty pitchoors, why the hell not?

In years past, this meme would’ve been dead easy: twelve months of “Ummm…. nowhere.”  I didn’t tend to get out much.  Then I met my intrepid companion, who endures any number of inane schemes, and off we’ve gone.  But I’ll have to get a bit creative with the winter months.

Ready?  Let’s go!

January:

I went to other worlds!  Winter writing season, y’see.  Furthest I got from home was in my own mind, where I kicked around Athesea for a bit and did some desultory world-building.

February:

Look, Ma!  I can escape the Muse, flee the house, and go see Epica!



Okay, so I only made it so far as downtown Seattle, but that’s an epic* journey during the winter writing season, lemme tell ya.

*No pun was actually intended.  No, seriously. 

March:

Other worlds!  Thrills!  Chills!  Carpal Tunnel!  Woot!  As far as leaving the house, about the most exciting it got was the grocery store.  And the Home Depot.  Betcha didn’t know there’s good geology to be found at the Home Depot, didya?

***Update*** Oh, right, the squirrel.  How could I forget the Burien Squirrel?!

April:

I escaped the Muse and went to see ginormous rhodies down in Federal Way.  Made friends with a White-Barked Himalayan Birch.  Ah, spring!

May:

Gearing up toward the summer adventuring season.   I gently slipped free from the Muse for an afternoon by telling her we had to do downtown Seattle for “research purposes.”  Same for Madrona Park on a lovely early summer day.  Bonds duly loosened, my intrepid companion and I then managed to bugger off to eastern Washington for two blissful days of superb geology and waterfalls with butterflies.



Upon our return, we took a side trip down the fossil freeway.



And that pretty much finished May, and put paid to the last few days of the winter writing season.  Summer adventuring season, here we go!

June:

Lessee… we started out with the Seattle Art Museum, where I saw amazing art that included some geology, acquired superpowers (thanks to our own George W.) and made friends with stone camels

 

Shortly thereafter, we buggered off for the first real ramble I’ve ever taken through Oregon, where there were rose gardens and incredible coastal geology and more incredible coastal geology and got pretty pitchoors and saw the Columbia River Gorge for the first time, although I haven’t written that bit up yet.

 Then we had the Museum of Flight and Lincoln Park.



Which was more than enough adventuring for June, but we only stopped because we ran out of June.

July:

We solved the mystery of the Mukilteo Lighthouse, and I got some super-spiffy photo sequences of waves breaking with Mt. Baker in the background.



Then we engaged in a lot of sea mammal molestation at the Seattle Aquarium, and by that, I do mean a lot.  Ha ha!  I got to see the octopus before PeeZee did!  Nyah-nyah!

Not content with mere sea mammal molestation, we branched out at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium and molested regular mammals, along with a sea mammal molestation reprise, capped by an evening at the beach.



 And I got to see PeeZee and Ophelia!  Woot!

August:

It was all about the mountains, baby, yeah!  First, we headed up Mount Rainier for a walk in the clouds:



And then came our big trip to the Olympics.  ZOMG.



I shared some preliminary geological findings, outtakes, and more outtakes, and I’ve still got 10 tons of photos left to blog!  So much nummy geology!


September:

Last month o’ the summer season, which meant I had to milk it.  I started out with a quick jaunt to the scientific wonderland that is Seward Park, and visited a quite-lovely fault scarp.  Enjoyed some quiet time by a glacially-carved lake, as well:



And then it was off to Lockwood in Oregon, where I killded my car dead, but with Suzanne selflessly running rescue missions and my insurance company’s eager assistance, we managed to salvage the trip.  I love them all more than I can possibly convey (and let’s not forget my intrepid companion, who wouldn’t let a little thing like my totaling the car stop us).  So we got up to Mary’s Peak, which has some of the most astounding geology I’ve ever seen, and we made it down the coast, which I haven’t written up yet, but will knock your socks off when I do.

October:

Winter wasn’t coming, so we went to Discovery Park, where we found the lighthouse gleaming and the bluff looming.



And as summer gasped its last gasp, we visited St. Edwards State Park, where I did a little geology without help of geologist or book.  Guess all that geo-travel taught me something!



And that was that.  Summer all gone.

November:

The start of the winter writing season, and I’m off to Xtalea once again.  There’s nothing like building a world to help you understand this one!

December:

Blind fucking Guardian:



And a Chinese fucking Elvis. Furthest from home I’ve managed to get IRL.  Far enough for now, innit?

It’s been an eventful year, and next year’s shaping up to be more eventful still.  Looks like we’ll be revisiting this meme come a year from now.  In the meantime, if you haven’t written your travels up yet, and you feel like revisiting your adventures near and far, feel free to consider yourself tagged!

Twelve Months of Verdad (2010)

Oh, dear.  End-o’-year memes.  Silver Fox has got one, and tagged each and every one of us, so here we go:

The rules for this meme are simple, as explained by DrugMonkey: Post the link and first sentence from the first blog entry for each month of the past year.

Without further ado, then, I present: Twelve months o’ Verdad.

January:

Feliz Ano Nuevo

It’s 2010!

February:

I Feel Ashamed

I have a confession to make.  

March:

My Readers Are Going to Kill Me

I have come to this realization after filling in a few blank spots leading up to a few things in my narrative outline, and contemplating the deeply emotional reaction of X-Files fans to that bit in the movie where Mulder and Scully almost kiss after several seasons’ worth of sexual tension, only to be interrupted by a very bad bee.

April:

I’ve Become a Proud Republican

Join me after the jump for further details on my conversion.

May:

Just For the Record, I Hate Apple

Oh, yes.  

June: 

Quote O’ the Day

Aunty Flow is here, and has been pestering me with chronic cramps all day, which means I don’t have the energy to wield the Smack-o-Matic on some politician’s deserving derriere.  

July:

Dumbfuckery du Jour

Apologies for the lack of beating up dumbfucks lately.  

August:

Now That’s an Engineering Project!

When we went to Arizona last year, my intrepid companion and I crossed Hoover Dam.

September:

Dumbfuckery du Jour

I don’t know whether to thank the Cons or scream:

October:

Commending These to Your Attention

I have to go to bed early so that I’m nice and fresh for fending off used car salesmen in the morning.

November:

A Bloodbath, Not a Massacre

Because if it was a massacre, Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell would’ve ended up added to our list of national embarrassments. 

December:

Dana’s Dojo: Just Get the Facts Straight, Ma’am

Today in the Dojo: Why the willing suspension of disbelief and the factual facts depend utterly upon each other.

 Right, then.  There it is.  And you can bet I’ll be working on snappy first lines in the new year, because this was rather a bit embarrassing.

If you’re up to the task of posting your last twelve, consider yourself tagged.

Now Would Be a Good Time to Tell Me How Awesome You Are

(Postdated in hopes all shall participate. Speak up! I beg you! Love and hugs to all who already have. New content below.)



There was a meme running around ScienceBlogs for a while there, asking lurkers to de-lurk, stand up and be counted.  You know what, why not?  The most important part of blogging is you, my darlings, and at least just this once, step into the spotlight and take a bow!  I promise you can run back to the shadows afterward, if the shadows are your preference.

Tell me who are you (although you can choose to remain anonymous, pseudonymous, or any -mous of your choice).

How did you get here?

Why are you here?

What do you want from me?  Which is actually a pretty serious question, although you can be snarky if you like.

Any of you wanting to engage in shameless self-promotion, by all means do!  This is your time to shine.

Right, then, my darlings, it’s over to you.

Curses! Tagged Again!

Reader N.B. shares some eerie similarities with my dear friend and co-blogger N.P. The initials, of course, stand out. Both write wonderful blogs: N.P at The Coffee-Stained Writer and N.B. at Secundum Artem. And both seem to take perverse pleasure in tagging me for memes so they can watch me scream.

This, with the election heating up, and my every waking moment spent obsessing over tight races all over the country.

But what the hell. It gives me a prime opportunity to tackle N.P. with a meme instead of being the one on the bottom of the dog pile. And N.B. is a fellow tuxedo cat slave, not to mention having exquisite taste in potty-mouthed political blogs. So why the fuck not?


Here are the rules for the game.

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Right, then. Let’s have a rummage around the old brainpan.

Random bit numero uno: I once came within spitting distance of being certified as a pharmacy worker. I threw that over for a brief career in the credit card industry because I couldn’t survive a training class in which the majority of our time was spent watching the instructor stare hopelessly at his computer screen, wondering what he was supposed to be teaching next.

Random bit numero dos: The tuxedo cat who owns me has a disconcerting habit of startling herself awake, meowing at me, and then biting me gently on an exposed limb before jumping off the bed. I have no idea why.

Random bit numero tres: I have a bust of Alexander the Great by my bedroom door. Alexander the Great, in fact, is one of my favorite people of all time. Despite being a conquerer, he was actually an astonishingly nice guy. This is how nice he is: as he lay dying, he was asked when he wanted his subordinates to perform his funeral rites. “When you are happy,” he said. Thinking of his people to the last.

Random bit numero quatro: I used to be an enormous Dukes of Hazzard fan. My bike was named The General Lady. Somehow that squared with my obsession with Knight Rider, which led to me attempting to persuade my mother to buy me a Trans Am when I was eight years old. She was unswayed by my passionate logic that it would be only another eight years before I could drive it. (I did end up getting a Firebird from that era when I was seventeen, so it all worked out.)

Random bit numero cinco: Greatest moment in smoking evah: Years ago, I was having a quiet smoke out in front of the mall where I worked when a woman stumped up and launched into a lecture. “You shouldn’t smoke. That’s going to kill you someday.” I took the cigarette from my mouth, looked at her somberly, and said, “Yes, ma’am, I know. It’s called population control.” Her jaw slammed into the sidewalk, and she did about thirty seconds of a beached salmon impression before the guy who was with her managed to stop laughing long enough to haul her away. Priceless, I tell you.

Random bit numero seis: I used to hate J.R.R. Tolkien, politics, and alcohol. Now I’m a Lord of the Rings fanatic with a political blog who adores tequila and wine. Funny ol’ world, innit?

I do hereby annoint N.P at The Coffee-Stained Writer as my successor. I do not, as a matter of policy, foist these things on others, and so it’s up to the rest of you to annoint yourselves. If any of you tackle this meme, let me know in comments, and we’ll have a special linkfest of a post a bit later on.

Enjoy!

Argh! Tagged Again!

And it feels a little strange to be suffering a meme courtesy of Progressive Conservative by way of NP.


The idea is to write your memoir or epitaph in six words. If you can add an image to go along with it, so much the better. Then, simply sneak up behind 5 unsuspecting friends and whap them in the back of the head with it. Links need to be provided to the person who whapped you and to the originator of the meme, so they can see how far the thing goes. You can check out the place where it all began for a better explanation of the rules.

Well, the rules basically say I’m supposed to do a lot of things I never do. Such as tag people. My philosophy is that people can bloody well tag themselves, so if you want to take on this six-word meme madness, let nothing stop you.

Not even finding the right bleeding picture.

Right. Brilliant. More decisions to make. Which could have been my six-word memoir right there, but I’ve got something a little better, I think:

“Writing consumed me. So did cats.”
That really is the story of my life in six words.

All of you reading this blog who find this meme irresistible, consider yourselves tagged. I’ll shout “You’re IT!” in your comments after the fact.