Fundamentals of Fungi: Triple Fall Fungi

I just realized I missed Amanita muscaria season this year. Sigh. Perils of moving to a new place: when I lived in Bothell, I couldn’t miss them because they were these enormous red things popping up under the oak trees beside the road.

My move to the west side hasn’t been completely fungi-free, of course. This is western Washington. We have fungi everywhere. And I have new places to look at them.

Pipa and I found several specimens in Warren G. Magnuson Park. There was this large white one bounding up through the grass.

Image shows a large disc-shaped mushroom poking up through bright green grass and weeds. It's mostly white with a little bit of beige tint.

Mystery Fungi I

It may not be super-exciting and colorful, but it is large. Here is my hand bracketing it for scale. [Read more…]

Updated for 2015: Dana’s Super-Gargantuan Guide to Science Books Suitable for Gift-Giving

Ohai! It’s another midwinter holiday gift giving season, and you’ve probably got a reader or dozen on your list. Did they give you some titles? Fantastic! Gift giving shall be easy, and if you purchase through this link, you can get your gifties and support ye olde blog, too. No list? No problem! I’ve got you covered with a super-awesome, super-gargantuan guide to many books suitable for secular gifting.

Through the next couple of weeks, I’ll be updating our lists with additional titles. Here’s a wonderland of science books not previously listed in our Super-Gargantuan Guides!

Image shows Misha lying on a pile of geology books. Caption says, "I'm on yur geology goox, demonstratin superpuzishun."

Photo by moi, meme created by Lockwood DeWitt.

[Read more…]

All the ITPOD!

When Mount St. Helens erupted cataclysmically on May 18th, 1980, a lot of people were caught in the blast zone. Some witnessed the eruption from within the devastated area. Some were in the air, some on other Cascades peaks. Some didn’t survive, but left photos and notes behind. Everyone had a unique story to tell. USGS geologist Richard Waitt collects their stories in a volume that will chill, thrill, and keep you up at night. Anyone who’s at all interested in volcanic eruptions needs this book. My liveblogging of the reading experience can be found right here.

Live-Blogging Richard Waitt’s In the Path of Destruction: LOLspeak Edition

Live-Blogging Richard Waitt’s In the Path of Destruction II: Ominous Swelling Edition

Live-Blogging Richard Waitt’s In the Path of Destruction III: Eve of Destruction

Live-Blogging Richard Waitt’s In the Path of Destruction IV: Big Ba-Boom Edition

Live-Blogging Richard Waitt’s In the Path of Destruction V: Mountaineering During an Eruption Is Complicated Edition

Live-Blogging Richard Waitt’s In the Path of Destruction VI: The Devastation from Within

Live-Blogging Richard Waitt’s In the Path of Destruction VII: The Difference Between Life and Death Is Luck

Live-Blogging Richard Waitt’s In the Path of Destruction VIII: Different Views

Live-Blogging Richard Waitt’s In the Path of Destruction IX: “Is This What Pompeii Was Like?”


To be continued…

Photo of my copy of Richard Waitt's In the Path of Destruction, which has a black and white photo of Mount St. Helens erupting.

If you love this book and need it instantly, you can pick up your own copy of In the Path of Destruction here. Purchases through that link help support my blogging, so thank you!

The Dana Hunter’s Gneiss Schist Maclargehuge Cyber Monday Sale!

Ohai, it’s time to think about the midwinter gift-giving holidays! Do you have a geologist on your list? Someone who likes pretty rocks and/or volcanoes? A person needing some inspirational stuffage consisting of pretty photos and really bad Bible verses? A reader who could really use a snarky look at the worst bits of Genesis and Exodus? I absolutely have you covered on all fronts! And lots of stuff is discounted TODAY ONLY. Gitchoor shopping done early! [Read more…]

Mystery Flora: Orange Trumpets of Heady-Scented Delight

Mystery Week concludes with one of the best flowers ever. Seriously, if you all could smell it right now, you’d want to come live here. It’s been blooming pretty much all summer, and it is incrediballs.

Here it is with a tent for scale:

Image looks down from our upper to our middle deck. There is a domed two-man tent pitched on it. Beside it is a flowering bush about 3/4 its size. It has large bright green leaves with downward-pointing, trumpet-shaped orange flowers. There are dozens of blooms.

Mystery Flora I

Yep, that is one huge and happy plant! And the reason the tent is out there is because S spent most of October sleeping with it. Those luscious blooms put out a delightful perfume.

Image is a close-up view of three of the flowers and the huge green tear-drop shaped leaves. The leaves have broadly serrated edges, coming to four or more points down each side, before ending in a drip tip.

Mystery Flora II

I find the scent hard to explain: it’s a bit like the rich, smooth scent of many tropical blooms, but not quite as ponderous. There’s a hint of pollen, and a hint of spice. It’s quite lovely without being overpowering. Which is good, because it has come to live with us in the house now. It’s a summer-loving thing and can’t take the cold.

Image shows one of the blooms in a stray beam of late fall sunshine. It shades from yellow-green at the base to a deep and vibrant orange at the trumpet.

Mystery Flora III

It lives in the south picture window, and fills the living room with its lovely fragrance. But that only happens at night. During the day, you can’t smell a thing. But as evening falls, you catch a whiff, then the scent gradually strengthens until it fills the large, open room. Even just one or two blooms will perfume the entire space.

Image looks into the open end up to the anthers and stamens.

Mystery Flora IV

I have stood there at night, in the dark, cradling Boo and breathing it in. Then I put Boo down and pick leaves off of her food bowl, because the thing is shedding everywhere. It’ll soon be nothing but bare branches, much like my dad’s rubber tree. Then S can prune it back. It feels like it’s taking up half the living room right now! When things warm up in the spring and it leafs out, it’ll go back outside to live in the sun.

Image shows one of the blooms outdoors. The photo was taken looking up into the trumpet, with the leaves fanned out above.

Mystery Flora V

There are more images of this lovely mystery flower here, including some artsy ones of it reflected in our wall o’ mirrors. When you identify it, all of you who love floral scents are going to want one. You can apply to S for a cutting of ours. I think he’s going to have some extras when he gets done pruning this ginormous beauty!

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Uncooperative Little Barstard

Mystery Week continues! I know there’s a lot of awful and outrageous stuff going on, but I don’t have the spoons to write about it right now. Need a breather. If you need my occasional sharp commentary on various breaking news, however, you can click this little button right here if you’re a Facebook denizen:

And then you will be able to follow me as I fume. I also post a lot of pictures of cats.

Anyway. Some of you may remember our little trip to Frenchman Coulee a few weeks ago. While we were there, R and I were serenaded by this little delight. [Read more…]

Mystery Flora/Cryptopod Double-Header: Flowery Sprays

Mystery Week continues! In this edition, I’ve got some lovely flora and fauna for ye. Well, lovely as long as you love sprays of flowers and the occasional insect.

Our selections today come from Juanita Bay, where in early July we had many loverly flowers blooming, and lots of insects buzzing round.

Image shows a spray of tiny white flowers dangling from a tall plant. There's a long, narrow brown insect dangling upside-down from it.

Mystery Flora/Cryptopod I

I think we may have had this white one before, but I don’t honestly remember. There are enough new folks round the cantina we can have another go with it anyway. But the most essential part of this photoset is the wee little brown beetle.* [Read more…]

Cryptopod: Latvian Lovers

Hello and welcome to Mystery Week at En Tequila Es Verdad! Thanksgiving is coming up in the USA, I’ve got a book to finish and publish by Friday, and there’s enough Serious Stuff going on that I feel like maybe a break would do us good. So we’re going to have nothing but mysteries and pretty pitchoors!

Let us begin in Latvia, where RQ photographed some absolutely marvelous cryptopods over the summer. [Read more…]

Autumn Color Pops at Stratigraphy Viewpoint

Funny Diva and I got very lucky on our October trip to the south side of Mount St. Helens. The autumn colors were out in force! It’s getting to the gray part of the year in the Northern hemisphere, so a little splash of color will do us good. Let’s have a look at the wonderful ways the deciduous trees and bushes enhanced our views at Stratigraphy Viewpoint.

Image shows a length of the cut bank at Stratigraphy Viewpoint. Red-leafed trees and bushes are visible amongst the evergreens at the base of the bank and on its top.

Stratigraphy Viewpoint Fall Color I

One of the more botany-oriented folks in the audience will have to tell us what’s causing all these luscious fall colors. I suspect maples of some sort, but I dunno. We didn’t get across so I could inspect leaves.

Image shows a zoomed-in version of the previous photo, showing a particularly vigorous red tree. The bank is shades of pale gray, cream, and yellow-tan.

Stratigraphy Viewpoint Fall Color II

Speaking of botany, do you see that fluffy green bush trying to get all up in our stratigraphy? The nerve of some plants!

There are more fall colors splashed about in the photo set, if you want to go explore them. I shan’t overwhelm you with slight variations upon the theme here. Instead, let us turn to a stratigraphy photo that didn’t make the cut at Rosetta Stones, but which I love. First, you have to see it complete with the maclargehuge tree topping it like a birthday candle on a cupcake:

Image shows a tall portion of the exposed bank with a very tall lodgepole pine rising far above the surrounding trees.

Neato stratigraphy I

Look at that magnificent giant surrounded by short younger trees! It must have been there watching while Mount St. Helens went all asplodey and hurtled mudflows at it. And it was strong enough to endure the whole thing. Hats off to that tree.

Now, you may want to drool all over the bank it’s growing on.

Image zooms to the bank, which is a slice through tan, gray, pale brown, and yellow layers.

Neato stratigraphy II

How gorgeous is that? If you zoom in on it, the individual layers become fairly distinct, even though we’re shooting late in the day from across the wide river channel. You can even identify many of those layers yourself! Use this photo for reference. How many did you spot?

New at Rosetta Stones: We Get to Visit Stratigraphy Viewpoint at Last!

Whelp, it’s taken me a lot longer to get here than expected, but I’ve finally got the Stratigraphy Viewpoint at Mount St. Helens displayed for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy! And sometime soon here, I’ll have more photos up for you including all the spectacular fall color we saw there that day. You will love muchly!