New at Rosetta Stones: An Ode to Knowing Science Things

Ohai, it’s back to school time, innit? I’ve polished up an ancient essay on how awesome science is and posted it at Rosetta Stones. It hasn’t any naughty words in it, so you teachers can even foist it upon your students who are grumbling about ew, ick, why do we have to science, it steals all the mystery and it is haard. I have also found an outstanding photo of the Milky Way over Mount Rainier for your viewing pleasure.

Image shows Mount Rainier with the Milky Way rising over it in a blue and pink sky. There are streaks from meteorites along with the riot of stars. Little Tahoma peak is also visible..

“Milky way over Mt. Rainier” by Abhinaba Basu (CC BY 2.0)

I also got to see Silver Fox today! She had a long layover, so we skedaddled out of the airport and visited Seahurst Park. I’ll show you some pictures from it tomorrow, once I have edited them. Then I took my elderly kitty outside because she has been bored. She spent nearly the whole time trying to figure out how to get around the table I had blocking the bridge and make a break for it.

Image shows Misha sitting by the bridge over our creek, staring toward the table that is off to the right. She's got a white daisy in front of her.

My flower child contemplates her escape strategy.

Adventures in Christianist Earth Science Education XVI: Wherein Geology is Roundly Abused

My darlings, our trek through these Christianist earth science textbooks has been a long and tiresome one, but our perseverance has at last been rewarded: we have arrived at the units on Geology! Thanks to the Flood myth, God is all over this branch of the earth sciences like long-lost relatives on a lottery winner. Geology is second only to evolutionary biology when it comes to science creationists can’t stand. So this should be good (for sarcastic values of good).

We’ll see if either Science of the Physical Creation or Earth Sciences 4th Edition acknowledge the fact that it was geology that first dealt creationism a mortal blow. I mean, before the early geologists really got to looking at the earth and went, “This overwhelming evidence shows this planet must be very old indeed,” it was possible for a scientist to be a creationist and still be perfectly respectable. But then James Hutton and Charles Lyell kneecapped the young earth theory with a rock hammer. And then, as creationism was thrashing around, hollering “It’s only a flesh wound!” and threatening to bite off their kneecaps, along came Darwin and lopped its head off with the theory of evolution, which itself had been forged in the fires of Lyell’s elegant evidence for an elderly Earth. And ever since, young earth creationists have been hobbling about headless, whilst brashly proclaiming they can still wear a hat.

So let us marvel at their shenanigans by first turning to page 192 of A Beka’s Science of the Physical Creation. [Read more…]

Mystery Flora: Thus Spake The Night Blooming Flower

Hey, look! It’s a flower that is not from the Pacific Northwest! I’ll probably have some more lovely exotic flowers along the way, as I now live in a household with a gardener in it. Speaking of which, if you need someone to rehab your garden, please let me know and I will hook you up.

Anyway. Here’s our beauty:

Image shows a plant with long, almost rectangular green leaves and a white flower dangling from a twisty pink stem.

Mystery Flora I

This plant, I am told, is older than Misha. It’s only a couple of years younger than N, who just turned 30. It had a rough patch recently when it wasn’t living with S, so it’s smaller than it was and only had four buds this year. But you can see the thing is bloody huge and vigorous even so.

Here, you can have a cat for comparison.

Image shows Boo lying beside the pot. She is much smaller than the plant and, lying down, is only half as tall as its pot.

Mystery Flora II

So that’s the bud that bloomed first, a couple of nights ago. It was already partially blown. Here’s one of last night’s buds just as it was getting ready to go. These flowers only bloom for one night, so you want to watch the buds carefully to see when they’re about to bloom. When you see about this much white, you know it’s time.

Image shows a bud, which is turned horizontal to the ground. The pink bracts that enclose it are beginning to thin as the flower petals appear to swell beneath. Some of the bracts are curling at their tips.

Mystery Flora III

These buds are huge. They’re about four or five inches long, and pretty thick at the base. You’ll see why soon.

When a bud is ready to bloom, it begins opening very slowly in the late evening.

Image shows a single bud, which is about 5 inches long or so. It is just beginning to open, and the outer pink bracts are curling away.

Mystery Flora IV

See how the tips are curling outward a bit? Yep. The dozens of long, narrow petals just keep opening and curling over the course of a few hours, until they’ve achieved full magnificence.

Image shows two blooms, one facing right, the other left, one atop the other. They are almost fully open. They look like starbursts.

Mystery Flora V

It’s about now that they’re spreading their scent all over the patio, trying to entice their pollinators to come help them get it on. It’s a sweet and earthy, almost sharp, scent that’s rather hard to describe. It doesn’t smell like any other flower I’ve smelled. And the inside is pretty weird, too.

Image shows one of the flowers in full bloom from the front. You can see the anthers covered in yellow pollen within, and a really odd structure poking from the interior that looks almost like a white sea anenome.

Mystery Flora VI

Here’s a somewhat sharper image of another flower, showing the weird bit from the side.

Image shows one of the flowers from a three-quarter profile. The anenome-like structure is clearly visible, coming almost to the edge of the bloom.

Mystery Flora VII

If I’m still here around this time next year, I’ll try to get them a bit better. I normally don’t use the flash, and it was also dark as fuck outside, so I was shooting rather blindly. I’m happy my camera did as well as this. That little machine always surprises me.

Last night, we had three blooms at once. When they’re fully open like this, they’re astounding, and the scent permeates the entire deck. It was almost strong enough to overpower the woodsmoke from the bonfire in the grill.

Image shows three of the huge flowers extending from top right to bottom left, and progressively looking into the camera, in profile, and then from the back.

Mystery Flora VIII

Since these blooms only last the night, S clipped all three, just before they began to fade, and handed them out to us. There’s one sitting beside my bed in a wine bottle right now, and my whole room is delicately infused with its scent, which is a lot better than old cat odors.

Image shows my rectangular rice paper and cherry wood lamp with the night flower in a bottle in front of it. Image is looking up toward the ceiling, which is cast in a Caribbean blue light.

I love this combo of warm rice-paper lamp hue and blue ceiling I got with the white balance being all wonky, so I left it and called it art.

S says I should have really vivid dreams, as this plant has a neurostimulant effect of some sort. I’ll report back, but alas, there is a confounding factor in our experiment, as I just got my visit from Aunty Flow and am taking tons of ibuprofen. That stuff also gives me vivid dreams. But if they’re anything like the Chantix dreams, then I’ll be able to tell there’s been a turboboost.

You can see a more true-color version of the above photo, plus lots more pictures showing the blooms in their many phases, here at my Flickr page. I can’t wait for you guys to identify this one! I think it’ll blow a few minds. When you ID it, try to include what plant family it belongs to, what its natural habitat is, and what its pollinator is, because all three things are delightful. Happy questing!

Oh, and for those who like black metal, the post title refers to this.

Discovery Park with Funny Diva and an Accommodating Dragonfly

Come join us for my first hike post-B! I took lots of pictures for you.

I haven’t got out much recently, not simply because I indulged in some moping after breaking up with B, but because the weather has been kind of ick. Inordinately large portions of the West have been on fire, and while we’re not burning much immediately in and around Seattle, we kept getting smoke. Damn it, I moved from Flagstaff so I wouldn’t have to smell forests burning every summer, but here we are again. We had a downpour a few days ago that cleared the air nicely, though, so Funny Diva and I went for a Discovery Park adventure.

A seascape! Puget Sound is deep blue in the background, and you can just see an island on the horizon. In the foreground is North Beach, a sandy stretch, with a cheerful spring-green umbrella and a couple of lounge chairs. A little girl sits behind them, playing in the sand.

Beach Scene

The visitor’s center was full up, so we went on down to the north parking lot and traipsed from there. The rain left the trails pleasantly damp and the plants very green and happy. We had lots of sunshine, but also plenty of shade and cool breezes on the way down. When we hit North Beach, it looked like a true beach scene, complete with umbrella.

We had a very patient butterfly, too, who will appear in a future Cryptopod post. I actually had two little orange ones land on me briefly, which was magic. I love those moments.

Image is looking over the Sound toward the south. In the foreground is the top of a driftwood teepee. There is a lot of deep blue water, and then one of the distant bluffs and bits of Seattle. In the background, Mount Rainier looms above a low blanket of white clouds.

Mount Rainier is a majestic backdrop.

Mount Rainier was out in force. Beauty!

By the time we’d reached South Beach, we’d had about enough of sunshine, but we trooped onward. A visit to Discovery Park is not complete without visiting South Bluff.

Image shows South Bluff from South Beach, a tall bluff that is eroding away. It curves from the left toward the right. Mount Rainier is visible beyond the more distant bluff at the right.

A very Mullineaux photo.

I got a very Donal Mullineaux photo out of this trip. He’s one of the USGS geologists who worked on Mount St. Helens during the May 1980 eruption, so I have a particular fondness for him. Longtime readers will recall how I screamed with delight when I learned he’d done a lot of work at South Bluff, using it as the type section for both the Esperance Sand and the Lawton Clay. And, of course, he and Dwight Crandall did quite a bit of work at Mount Rainier as well, so this photo with both the bluff and the mountain in it is dedicated to him. Thanks for the geology, Dr. Mullineaux!

Image is the distant bluff with Mount Rainier almost hidden behind it.

Shy Mount Rainier

As you walk closer to South Bluff, Mount Rainier begins to vanish behind the next bluff down. I love this photo where it almost looks like it’s hiding.

Image shows several silvery-gray drift logs on the berm, with many green bushes behind them. One log is shaped like a bell curve and has a wee hole in the middle of the curve.

Delightful Driftwood

This bit of driftwood pleased Dana. I love how it’s shaped like one of those old-fashioned mantle clocks, and how it’s got the round hole in its curve.

After patting the Olympia non-glacial stage floodplain sediments, and pointing out a wee slide of the Lawton Clay to Funny Diva, we about-faced and headed back.


Image is looking up South Beach toward the Lighthouse. There's a sailboat with a red sail beached on the point. The Olympic Mountains are hazy but visible in the distance.

Red sailboat, white lighthouse.

That red sailboat is such a brilliant little gem on the beach, innit? And I’ve always loved that lighthouse.

For them as likes boats, I got a photo with three kinds for ye:

Image shows a cruise ship with a sailboat and a speedboat in front of it. The Olympic Mountains are a shadowy presence in the background.

Tres boats.

We took the Hidden Valley trail back up: it’s shady and not so steep. Then we went asploring in places I’d never been. We saw a sign for reflecting pools and a serpent mound by the Daybreak Cultural Center and couldn’t resist. On the way, I saw this poor tree that has been providing food for caterpillars or some such arthropods, and couldn’t resist a photo of its leaves against the sky.

Image shows a couple of thin branches with oval leaves against blue sky. The leaves are pierced with hundreds of holes, making them look lacey.

It’s like the bugs are making lace.

I’ve not actually been down by the mound and pools in all my visits to the park. People, it is worth it. You can see a duck trying to be a stork in a reflecting pool (which isn’t reflecting due to all the duckweed):

Image shows a female mallard standing on a piece of wood in the pond. She's on one foot. There is a lot of duckweed turning the water green, and a long-leafed plant at the left.

Unipod. She actually has two feet, she’s just hiding one.

And while you’re watching a duck, a huge dragonfly may hover in many places right in front of you, as if it’s going, “Can you see me now? What about now?”

Image shows the dragonfly hovering over the duckweed-coated water and a board. It's one of the black and blue ones with a little bit of green behind its eyes.

Those eyes, though.

You don’t want to know how many photos I shot trying to get that one great one. Fortunately, Funny Diva is infinitely patient with me, and found herself a shady spot to enjoy whilst I snapped away. I highly recommend hikes with her, people. She is, indeed, funny, and one of the sweetest people I know. She’s also a social justice warrior par excellence. And she knows all the good places to go in Seattle, as you will see.

We finally found a pool that reflects, where it was either too shady for duckweed or the stuff had been washed out by the rain:

Image shows a shaded pool surrounded by trees. The trees are reflected within the dark water.


Hiking accomplished, we went in search of food. Funny Diva recommended Scooter’s, and so we had burger deliciousness, complete with some of the best fries ever. Then we tried to go to Golden Gardens, but everybody else in the Seattle Metro area was already there, and we couldn’t find a parking space, so we went up to Wallingford and had gelato at the Fainting Goat Gelato instead.

Image is the sign for the Fainting Goat, which is like an old tavern sign. It is a bar with a goat cut-out hanging from it upside-down, and the words Fainting Goat inscribed.

How cute is this sign?

I ended up with stracciatella because I bloody love the stuff, but they also had a hazelnut and chocolate thing with the word rock in the name, and I had a sample, and that is what I will have next time we go, because IT IS ALL DELICIOUS. I’ll bet you a lot of fundies miss out on it because they think an upside-down goat is satanic, but everything in the shop is divine and everyone should go there.

Then we came home, where Boo showed off her mad fence climbing skillz.

Image shows Boo, a white cat with black patches, sitting on the cedar fence and looking towards the right.

Boo’s on the fence about everything.

I won’t lie: this first real outing, with my own friend and in familiar places, without B, wasn’t complete easy. A lot of things aren’t easy yet. Some people might say that since I miss B ferociously, I should try to make it work with him again. After all, I was the one who broke it off: he didn’t want to. But while I love him and miss him and hope that someday we can hang out and be friends again, I know I made the right choice. We weren’t working. I hate that, but it’s true.

So it’s onward, ho, making new memories in the old places, spending time with high-quality people like Funny Diva, and doing my bit to make this a better world. The fact it has sunshine and gelato  and social justice warriors in it gives me hope.

Cryptopod: Ghostly Presence

It’s been a fraught week. Let us return to the peaceful shores of Silver Lake, created by Mount St. Helens a couple thousand years ago, and wander through the forest along its shores. It’s quiet aside from the birds and the breeze. Near sunset, not many people come by, so you can be alone for long stretches of time, even at the height of tourist season. The trees crowd out the sky, and shield you from civilization. There’s just nature, and a ghostly presence looms in the dusk. [Read more…]

New at Rosetta Stones: Wherein I Inform You Whether Everybody on the West Coast is Gonna Die

Some of you have been requesting an article from me on the Cascadia subduction zone. That thing scares me like no other geologic hazard, so I’ve generally said

Image is a gif of a running octopus. Caption is flashing NOPE.

and run right away.

Happily, other people have written neato articles, one of which just crossed my radar, and it explains what’s really gonna happen when the subduction zone rips. I’ve linked it for ye, and added a few exciting extras! You will hopefully enjoy it muchly. [Read more…]

Well, That Volcano’s Nekkid

Saturday’s excursion to Mount St. Helens with Suzanne was a complete success. Well, it feels like it was even though we didn’t make it to both of the visitor’s centers I wanted to scope out. That ended up not mattering a bit because we had so much fun. Wish you were there!

Image is a selfie of Suzanne, who is flashing a peace sign, and me smiling in front of Mount St. Helens.

Suzanne, moi, et Mount St. Helens.

Suzanne was kind enough to drive, so I got to lookie-Lou the whole way up. We realized when we got close that Mount St. Helens wasn’t just a dirty girl – she was almost completely nude! She only had a few tiny patches of snow clinging to her. We pulled off at the Elk Rock Viewpoint and had a long look. You can see how nekkid she is. Even Mount Adams, lurking over the ridge to the left there, has been stripped of much of its snow cover. This heat wave is srs bidness! [Read more…]

Mount St. Helens is a Dirty Girl!

Friday certainly was challenging. I woke up late, for starters. That didn’t bother me too much – I wouldn’t get as much as I’d like to do done, but surely I could still do lots! I was on the road by just after two. Then I had to turn around because I’d remembered every bag aside from the camera bag. Still, I’d caught that within a few blocks, so no worries! Traffic into downtown Seattle sucked, but it always does. Still no worries.

But traffic remained not just bad, but atrocious, all the way past Olympia. It took me over three hours to do a drive that normally would take me an hour and change. I didn’t get down to Castle Rock until seven. Gah. I’d meant to explore some bits I’d never seen before, but all I had time for was a walk around Silver Lake. Happily, Mount St. Helens was completely visible, so I could get you a volcano! [Read more…]

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Baker Beauty

No, I didn’t make it to Mount St. Helens today. Didn’t have set plans, of course, and Misha was actually being super-sweet. She decided to cuddle upon my lap in the 90° heat. Well, when your kitty is over 21 and you know time is short, when she wants to cuddle, you cuddle. So we did. And then Boo was busy on the bathmat, giving herself a bath, when I attempted to take a shower. And then Pipa wanted a walk. And then I went to get the car serviced, and then bought cat litter, and ended up leaving my tablet at the store, but happily some wonderful soul turned it in to customer service, so that was a little bit of all right. By the end of all that, though, I was done, and hadn’t even packed yet, so I decided I’d risk the party. I’m currently in the yard listening to a dude relate how he was interviewed by the FBI as an Unabomer suspect. This is an interesting bunch. The music’s good, too.

Yes, that is correct. I am so devoted to you, my darlings, that I blog for you during a party. That’s love, that is! Also, they’ve just started asking me what the word is for a flock of birds that swoops and divides and comes together again. They think murmuration. Damn it, Jim, I know rocks, not birds! I have no idea. So it’s over to you! There’s a bonus UFD sort of thing.

Anyway. I have prepared for you a UFD we saw at Mount Baker, so you will get a few pretty photos in a volcanic setting. [Read more…]

I Am Abandoning Y’all For My Favorite Volcano. Yes, Again.

Between various things going on both in my personal life and online, my ability to cope with people is nearing absolute zero. Alas, our house is being invaded by a great many people starting tonight. I may stick around for the big par-tay, but I am most definitely cutting out for the rest of the weekend. Already got me reservations at a nice little place on the Lewis River, don’t I just? Already made plans to explore the air-conditioned wonders of the various west-side Mount St. Helens visitors’ centers with Suzanne, haven’t I? Ja, you betcha! [Read more…]