A Very Nifty Rock for You to Test Your Mad Identification Skillz On

So there I was, enjoying the sunshine and a very lazy day with the kitties (yes, both – I made Misha be sociable), and then I check my email, and there is a message from friends from out of state. Their grandmother had a rock collection. They have it now. Would I like to see?

Um. YES!! [Read more…]

Super Blood Moon Eclipse Mania! Definitely the End of the World! Woo!

I know the world is ending today, my darlings. You see, last night was a once-in-a-long-time astronomical event, in the fall, and it wasn’t cloudy or raining in Seattle. We had cloudless skies. That is a sure sign of the apocalypse right there.

S, his friend P, and I went down to Magnuson Park to view the thing. I mean, how could we not? Perfect view over Lake Washington! We got there right at dusk, and the next sign of the apocalypse happened: despite it being a hugely popular destination for super blood moon eclipse madness viewing, we found an actual parking space in the main lot.

There is an utterly lovely view of Mount Rainier from there. So of course I got you a photo! [Read more…]

Mystery Flora: Pretty Sure You’re Not A Crocus, Buddy

I did a double-take when I saw these in the neighborhood! They look like gigantic crocuses to me, and it’s entirely the wrong time of year for those.

Image shows two pale purple flowers that look like very large crocuses springing from the ground by a rock. There are no leaves. They have six broad petals that taper to a rounded tip.

Mystery Flora I

I have since come to find out that there are autumn crocuses, too, but I remain skeptical. Perhaps you’ll be able to pin down the answer: are these crocuses, or a similar-appearing flower? [Read more…]

Made Small by the Mountain

Whilst I was photographing Mount St. Helens, Suzanne was photographing me photographing the mountain. She got a great shot!

Image shows Mount St. Helens, rays of sunshine striking it from low in the west and a thick white cloud over its summit. I'm standing on a grassy ridge to the right, almost invisible due to shadows and my black trench coat. I look very small in comparison to the enormous mountain many miles away.

Mount St. Helens et moi. Image courtesy Suzanne.

Perspective makes the grass look almost as tall as me – I don’t remember it being so high! Then again, I was completely entranced by the mountain, so maybe I just didn’t notice.

It’s not just perspective that makes Mount St. Helens look so huge. It is so huge! To give you an idea of how huge, even with nearly two thousand feet of its summit missing, check this out: [Read more…]

Our Mount St. Helens Epic Adventure: The End of a Quest!

Suzanne and I went up to Mount St. Helens yesterday on a rather spur-of-the-moment whim. The weather wasn’t as clear as we’d have liked, but the clouds stayed just high enough to make things interesting without obscuring the vital bits, so that was a little bit of all right. And at the end of the day, we had a most spectacular moment of success, one that brought a years-long quest to a close. Come join me for a whirlwind overview before I go pass out!

[Read more…]

New at Rosetta Stones: What’s the 2015 Illapel Earthquake Got to Do With Charles Darwin?

As Chile recovers from its monster 2015 Illapel Earthquake, I got to thinking about another Chilean earthquake and a rather famous geologist-turned-biologist. Charles Darwin experienced a very similar quake in Chile during his voyage with the Beagle, and left an exquisite account of it. I bring you that story, plus some useful links about the modern quake. You’ll see that Chile’s had earthquake preparedness down for centuries, and that Darwin is top-notch at earthquake reporting. Enjoy!

Image is a grayscale engraving showing the toppled walls of a cathedral. Nothing is recognizable. Rutted streets pass by it.

“Remains of the Cathedral of Concepción” by John Clements Wickham.

New at Rosetta Stones: It’s the Eve of Destruction

Our third edition of In the Path of Destruction live-blogging is up! This one takes us right up to the seconds before the eruption. Some of the things that happened will leave you sputtering. Some of it will leave you wishing for a TARDIS so you can get people the heck outta Dodge.

Image shows a bearded Dave Johnston sitting in a camp chair with his feet up, smiling at the camera. A forest stands behind him.

David Johnston at Coldwater II on May 17th, 1980. Image courtesy Harry Glicken/USGS.


Bald Blue Jay!

You all did a superb job identifying Ken’s poor molting blue jay in our last UFD extravaganza. I promised you a few more shots of it, and I have at last returned to the intertoobz to deliver.

Image shows a blue jay with a very bald head, in 3/4 profile facing away from the camera. Only its wings are the spectacular blue-jay colors - everything else is either a cloudy gray or missing feathers entirely. Its entire head is bald.

Ken’s bald blue jay. Used with permission.

That’s so sad, rather. It makes me wonder how ridiculous the feathered dinosaurs looked whilst they were molting. [Read more…]

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Midwest Moppets

A bit ago, I put out a call for UFDs, and our Ken responded with some stunning photography. Even if you’re all like, “Oh, pfft, Dana, these are simplicity themselves!” you are still going to love them.

Here’s our first UFD. Ken manages to make it look lovely despite its poor bald head: [Read more…]

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XVII: Wherein Mountains are Laid Low by Ignorance

I hope you’re prepared for mountains of bullshit, my darlings. This week, our Christianist textbook Science of the Physical Creation is delivering enough to fertilize the entire Willamette Valley.

Right off, as we get into SPC’s explanation of mountains and volcanoes and earthquakes oh my, we see we’re in for a whole lotta Godtalk. They don’t start off talking about what mountains actually are, as you would expect one would in an earth science textbook. Instead, they wank on for a very long paragraph about how mountains existed before the Flood because Genesis 7:19-20 sez so, but maybe they weren’t all that “tall, steep, and rugged.” They say “the Bible seems to indicate” God remodeled during the Flood, and that is why we have deep ocean basins and really massive mountains.


Image shows an orange and cream doggie lying on a couch with a very dignified yet skeptical expression. Phrases in various colors surround it: So science, Very Peer-review, Much research, Wow.

Then, finally, they start talking about types of mountains. [Read more…]