Come Join Me For Happy Good News Times!

So, updates. I haz good news! I went in for a nerve conduction study on Friday, and it turns out I have not totally destroyed my nerves. Yay! It appears that the ligaments and tendons are just waay overstressed. So a long rest and some physical therapy have been prescribed. There’s also been some talk of rheumatoid arthritis, which I hope turns out to be as likely as the nerve damage. Of course, with Dragon, even that diagnosis isn’t as scary as it might’ve been otherwise. I mean, it’s not like I’ll have to stop writing or anything, and writing is really the most important thing to me (outside of you, my cat and geology), so that’s a little bit of all right. If necessary, I can get all y’all to bang on the rocks for me. [Read more…]

Ducklings for My Nurses

I’ve acquired strep throat. I could have ended up with the virus that’s going around instead, but no: my immune system got overstressed, and it chose strep. Which is fine with me – easy to survive with antibiotics, as long as you minimize swallowing for the first 24 hours. Bed rest is also lovely, but here’s the thing about the company I work for: you can only get Family and Medical Act leave if you’re out for three days. If you don’t need to be out for three days, you don’t get excused under FMLA. You just rack up the attendance points until you risk getting fired. In the meantime, your chances of promotion or transfer are destroyed, because you’ve ended up on a written warning for the crime of being sick too many times. This is how American companies work. And keep in mind, this is a company with a rather generous attendance policy compared to some.

So you come in sick, sit your highly-contagious self down, and suffer.

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A Huge Step Forward

I just got off a conference call with Amanda Knief and Dave Silverman of American Atheists. They invited me and several of my fellow FreethoughtBloggers, along with other prominent bloggers throughout the community, to discuss the harassment policy they’ve just adopted. You know what’s fantastic? Seeing an organization this large and established step up and do the right thing. That makes 11.

What really came through in that call, from my perspective, was just how sensible doing this is. Dave had a situation recently where an attendee reported harassment to him, and he realized he has nothing in place to deal with it. That’s not a great position for the head of any organization to be in.

They had been considering the adoption of a policy for about a year, and were committed to making it happen. They reviewed a number of sample policies, adjusting them to their specific needs, and will continue refining theirs as needed. They want American Atheists’ conventions to be safe, happy, and informative, where people are allowed to have fun (hell, even have sex!) as long as it’s consensual. Sexual and physical harassment won’t be tolerated: Dave is “emphatically intolerant of harassment.” Don’t pester other people, follow a few simple guidelines, and you’re good to go.

These are the points I found most important:

  • This policy will help create a safe and fun (yes, you can haz both) environment in which everyone can enjoy themselves.
  • Staff and volunteers will be trained.
  • Reporting procedures will be solidly in place for every conference, and incidents will be documented.
  • The policy applies to attendees, staff, volunteers and speakers – no one is exempt.
  • There will be consequences for violating the policy. As Dave said, “Not just don’t do this, but don’t do this or else.”
  • Victims of harassment will have their concerns taken seriously.
  • People who are engaging in inappropriate behavior will be given an opportunity to correct that behavior. It’s not “one strike and you’re out” across the board – although in some situations (such as if you assault someone) you won’t be given a second chance.
  • This is a living policy. It will evolve, adjust, and improve over time. I love this, because it tells me Amanda, Dave, and the rest of the staff at American Atheists aren’t just putting a document up for CYA and PR purposes. They really mean for harassment to be effectively addressed and stopped.

And least people believe this means the end of sexy fun times, keep in mind that nothing in this policy prevents you from having consensual fun with willing partners. Nothing. Here, let me underline that for you: nothing. Folks who are afraid the policy will make everyone turn into terrified mannequins can relax. Good times are good to go. You just have to ensure the folks you want to have fun with are on board for good times, as well.

Amanda Knief is phenomenal. She understands how harassment policies work, she understands how to effectively implement them, and since she’s a lawyer, she knows how to navigate legal minefields while protecting victims of harassment. Reports of harassment will end up in her hands, and I can’t think of better hands for them to be in. Anyone who is the target for bad behavior can feel confident, knowing she, Dave and the staff and volunteers will take care of it. Dave will be the one who makes the ultimate decisions about what happens with harassers, and believe me when I say people do not want their bad behavior reaching him. He and Amanda will be fair, but also very, very tough.

So, y’know, read the policy before you go.*

This is a huge step forward. It’s good to see an organization like American Atheists stepping up and putting policies in place that will ensure harassment is not welcome at their conferences, and is dealt with effectively when it happens.


*I’ll link to it directly once it’s live on the American Atheists site. For now, I’m linking to PZ’s post, which includes the draft we were sent. The Code of Conduct is now online. You can see the press release here.

Cleared for Adventuring

I’m afraid I shall have to negotiate joint custody for my car.

Most people don’t end up with these dilemmas. It’s hard enough to find one mechanic you trust, much less two. I have a mechanic I adore – Jay’s Kirkland Autocare. They’ve always done a fantastic job with no fuss and bother. Plus, they have a view of the Olympic Mountains nearby, and they’re right by the heart of downtown Kirkland, where there’s Earthlight, one of my favorite rock shops in the universe. And Lake Washington is within walking distance. I can even get my hair done. There’s nowhere better to drop ye olde auto off on a warm day.

However, they were booked solid for the week when my car threw a spectacular tantrum on Tuesday night. I have this thing about being without transportation – I hates it. And I was afraid, due to the fact that the engine had died, the steering and ignition completely locked, and the thing put on a rather amazing light show, that this repair was going to take time anyway. So I called round, and ended up having it towed to Ali’s in Woodinville. Mind you, this is Wednesday morning, right before Thanksgiving. They had openings, and they would’ve sent a mechanic to have a look at it where it had broken down if they hadn’t been too busy to spare one. Srsly. Gotta love that.

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A Welcome to New Readers and Paeans to the Old

Oh, my.  When one gets linked by PZ Myers, Maria Dahvana Headley, and Neil Gaiman in the course of a few days, traffic suddenly goes through the roof, and new readers show up.

Allow me to quote Rowan Atkinson: “My god, there are a lot of you.”

Let me just state this clearly and upfront: you are the reason writers write, and I’m incredibly grateful too see you all here, whether you’ve come for a single post or plan to stick around a while.  Without you, I’d have nothing to drive me onward through those lonely dark hours, no reason to strive for the right word in the right place at the right time.  I’d still write for only myself, but not half so much or half so well.  So, thank you.  I’d pour you a drink of your choice, only we’re in cyberspace, so I’m afraid you’ll have to pour one for yourself.  Hopefully, some of us will remedy that someday.

So, introductions would seem to be in order.  You’re very likely busy people without time to delve the archives.  A few facts, then:

I’m Dana Hunter, which isn’t the name on my drivers license but is the name I go by in all situations but legal transactions and at work, so I consider it my “real” name.  I started out using it because my birth first name got filched by one of my characters, who won’t give it back, and my last name is awesome but leads to horrible retail jokes.  And Dana Hunter is now more than a ‘nym, but me.  But if you really want to know my original name, I’ll tell it to you when we meet in the physical world, and you will probably laugh.

Those wanting the story behind the ‘nym, see here.

I have a homicidal cat.  If you stick around, you will be subjected to pictures of her.  Fair warning.

I’m not a professional geologist, but a passionate amateur with a lot of friends who are professional geologists.  I write about geology a lot.  I live in the Pacific Northwest and came from Arizona, which both have the kind of geology that leaves you awestruck by the magnitude of it.  But that’s not the only science that catches my fancy, so you’ll see bits on biology and chemistry and physics and whatever else grabbed me by the lapels and said very firmly about an inch from my face, “NOTICE ME.”  I research my posts as thoroughly as I can and try not to say inaccurate things, but if you catch me in an error, by all means say something.  I don’t like letting mistakes stand uncorrected.

I write SF.  Someday, I will even publish SF.  Those who want an advance peek at my fiction and non-fiction projects can shoot me an email and become a Wise Reader.  Yahoo knows me as dhunterauthor.  For those in the audience who like reading about the craft, I do up a Dojo right here on ETEV every Tuesday, wherein writing is discussed and the wisdom I’ve obtained from others and via my own experience is passed on.

I’m a Gnu Atheist.  That’s “New Atheist” to those without a sense of humor.  I am not fuzzy and accommodating to religion, but if you’re one of the faithful and your religion is tough enough to take it, we’ll all be fine.  This is just by way of fair warning (which the folks who arrived here via Pharyngula don’t need): I write about atheism and religion, and I do not do so moderately.  Oh, and I’m a liberal Democrat.  I started out as a potty-mouthed progressive political blogger and sometimes return to my roots.  If those two things don’t scare you away, then we’re a good match. ;-)

I read each and every comment on every post, but with two book projects, this blog, a full-time job that has nothing to do with either, an erratic but existent social life, a weird paranoia that acknowledging one person means I’ve just disrespected the others, time management skills that can only be described as teh suck, and the memory of a brain-damaged gnat, I don’t respond as often as I should.  I’ll try to do better, but I can make you no promises.  Just know that I do actually appreciate each and every comment.  Live for them, actually.

Right, I think that’ll do as an overview.  Now on to the really important matters: the readers and fellow bloggers who have been here for a long time.

If I tried to get specific, I’d miss some of you and feel horribly about it.  So I won’t try just now.  You know who you are, and you know I’m talking to you right now: all of you geobloggers, my long-time Twitter tweeps, my intrepid companions and my cherished commenters and friends.  All of you who have been there mixing it up in the comments threads and saying things on Twitter that make me tear up while punching the air, because to have done something that made you happy, to have written something you liked, is the ultimate.  You know how much I love my cat, but if some freakish circumstance forced me to choose between you and her, I’m afraid she’d have to go.

You’re everything I ever wanted when I began writing, all alone, oh so many years ago.  You are the wise and the wonderful people, so often smarter or kinder or more talented than me (or all three), who somehow yet find something of worth in the words I write.  You egg me on and lift me up and apply the judicious prod to the buttock when necessary.  You correct me when I’m wrong, and give me sound advice, and cheer and jeer and basically just provide me all the reason I’ll ever need to brave carpal tunnel and all the other hazards of the writer’s life.  You make me believe that this whole writing-for-a-living thing may just be possible.  And you show me wonders.  You give me intriguing new paths to explore.  You inspire me.  You make me do things I’ve never done but turn out to have been a fabulous idea.  A lot of you ends up in what I write, and a lot of what I write is for you.

Without your links and retweets and recommendations, this blog would be nowhere.  I cherish each and every one.  I’m always astonished and flattered and incredibly grateful when you deem something I’ve written as worthy of sharing.

And if my wildest dreams come true, and fame and fortune are achieved, I will never, ever forget you.  You’re all coming with me.

It can never be said enough: Thank you.  Thank all of you.

And now, introductions and paeans achieved, I shall get on with giving you all the very best I am capable of, because you damn well deserve it.

Life-Changing Experience

What a difference less than a year makes!  So no shit, there I was, sitting in training class watching one of the most mind-numbingly boring videos I’ve ever encountered, and my thoughts strayed to all of you.

You’ve changed my life.  And you saved it, just then, when my brain threatened to implode from terminal boredom.  Under the circumstances, I figured it might be time for a big ol’


Seriously.  I mean it.

First off, there’s all of the people who’ve been round here since the beginning, or nearly so.  Without you, I wouldn’t have kept blogging. You made everything worth it, kept me going when I thought that maybe I should bugger off and do something else, and made me think in ways I’d not thought before.  You stuck with me through all sorts of craziness.  You’re amazing.

Then the geoblogosphere adopted me as one of their own.  You know those moments you can look back on afterward and pinpoint as there, right there, life changed?  Yeah, that was one.  The big one.

You want to know how much you’ve changed my life?  This much:

Last year, I didn’t have any science books planned.  I didn’t think I could do any such thing.  Now, because of you, I’ve got one in the works and a few more patiently queued up.  I’ll be writing non-fiction science books because you showed me I could.  I couldn’t do it without you.  Literally could not.

Last year, I was freaking out over how I’d get the science right in my science fiction.  How could I find and understand the information I needed?  How could I get expert insights when I wasn’t comfortable approaching experts and didn’t know where to find them?  But here you are: experts!  Dozens of you.  On Twitter and on this blog, always ready with a helping hand when I need it.  Because of you, the fiction I write will be much sounder in their science, and there’s plot possibilities I didn’t even know existed before you, the experts, introduced me to so much fascinating stuff.  And the best thing? You get to choose where and when you help out, so I don’t have to feel guilty for pestering you!  You’re brilliant, you are.

But it’s more than that.  It’s the adventures.  Late last summer, my intrepid companion and I ended up adventuring in Oregon with Lockwood, and can I just tell you that being shown geology by a geologist is a whole new experience for an interested amateur.  Landscapes spoke in ways they couldn’t have spoken before.  He gave them a voice.  The world becomes far more fascinating when it can speak to you in more than just a few fragmented words.

And the adventures don’t stop there.  Lockwood and Silver Fox plan to join us for a trip to Mt. Mazama and Old Perpetual early this summer.  Some talk of wine and geology on Twitter led to plans (still coming together) for Glacial Till, Uncovered Earth, Helena, Lockwood and me to bring a whole new meaning to “geology on the rocks” later this summer.  Ann will be accompanying me on my next foray into Arizona, and who knows who else will sign on when that trip draws near? 

I sometimes hear people say inane things, like how online friends aren’t the same as the real thing.  All I can say is, they’ve never met my tweeps, my commenters, my fellow bloggers.  They’ve never experienced this community of people.  Always up for adventure, always ready with a helping hand, always bubbling over with enthusiasm for science and various entertainments and the wonders of the world – we may be far-flung, but we’re close-knit, and every single one of you has made my life immeasurably richer.

This life of mine, it’s better with you in it.  Just thought you should know that.

And thanks for saving me from neuron implosion in training, there.  I owe you big time!

Reader Appreciation Day


It’s time to take a moment out of the week’s blogging topics and say, “Thank you!”

You, my dear readers, are absolutely brilliant.

I put out a plea for the things that scare you, and you weren’t afraid to rise to the challenge.  If I end up with the writing chops to create a truly frightening Big Bad, it will be because you – yes, you – stepped up and delved into your minds and risked nightmares and probably worse to let me know what terrifies you.  Without that, I wouldn’t have a clue.  And I wouldn’t have the confidence to attempt this.  Incredible.

Then there are all of you who commented on my last, rather lame Oregon Geology post.  You got me the info on benchmarks I’ll need for this summer.  You’ve inspired me to go out and find some benchmarks and make something of them.  And all those kind words!  All I can say in reply is that I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the series so much, because it’s all been for you.  Wouldn’t be writing this stuff if you weren’t there, you know – what would be the point?  90% of the fun in going out, seeing and doing these things, is in writing them up afterward, hoping I’ll have given you a bit o’ adventure as well.  I take each and every one of you into the field with me.  I get wonderfully excited, finding things you might like.  So it’s a vast relief to know I’m getting the job done.  Thank you for being there.  Thank you for egging me on!

We’ve got quite a few more adventures coming up.  I’ve still got bulging folders full of images from other trips waiting for your viewing pleasure.  And this summer, new adventures!  Requests welcome: I’ll announce each one, and you can tell me if there’s a particular bit you want to see.  You’re along for the ride, even if only virtually.

Now, should I ever, say, win the lottery or make bags of money by publishing books people decide to devour, those virtual trips shall become a reality.  You’re all invited.  Nothing would please me more than to gather groups of you and get out there and see the world with you.

This world is a better place with all of you in it.  Never doubt that.  You guys rock, and you make me the luckiest woman alive.

I Can Haz Monotype Corsiva!

Thank you thank you THANK YOU to all of you who commented, emailed, and otherwise made sure I could, in fact, have my new computer and my Monotype Corsiva too!  You have made me a very happy writer indeed!

And a special shout-out as well to those of you who commented on last night’s missive about reading the scientific literature.  Gave me a warm glow, that did!  Karen’s advice on how to economize said reading shall come in useful (beginning tonight, in fact!), and it’s good to know my babbling could act as Chris Rowan’s backup. 

This is why I love the intertoobz: we’re an incredible community of people, sharing information, encouragement and wonders in a way that would have seemed like total science fiction not long ago.

Cyberdrinks all round, and when I at last get to meet you IRL, it shall be a round of actual alcohol (or poison o’ choice) for all.  Love you, my darlings!

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Scientific Literature

Things have changed rather drastically.  As recently as six months ago, I couldn’t have read a scientific paper to save my life.  Oh, I grant you, I’d tried a few times, but found myself bogged down and stymied by incomprehensible language.  So I usually gave them a miss.

Instead, I read the science blogs, which are for the most part written in layperson-friendly language.  Popular science books, ditto.  Ventured into some heavier stuff written for a non-lay audience and found it heavy going, but waded on through, aside from a few books I had to put aside because I Just Wasn’t Getting It.

Then, a few months ago, I started wanting to read the papers referred to in various and sundry.  Problem being, far too many of them are behind a pay wall, and I am far from rich.  Grumble.  I didn’t really notice my attitude shifting, but it was.

And then, last month, as I developed a sudden need to research ice caves, I turned in desperation to Google Scholar.  Some freely-available .pdfs turned up in my searches, and those, combined with a dearth of suitably-detailed stuff written in regular people language drove me to actually read a couple of scientific papers, and I discovered I liked them.  I enjoyed reading them.  I understood at least the gist of what they said: the language didn’t seem incomprehensible, the big words didn’t frighten me, and I’d absorbed enough of the terms and concepts through other reading that even the denser passages weren’t that difficult to read.  I know I’m still missing at least 50% of what those papers are trying to say, but I’m getting enough of the context that I can understand what they’re getting at.  If a term throws me, a quick Google search resolves the confusion.  The math is still completely beyond my ken, but surprisingly many papers on geology have little to no math featured.  So that’s all right, then.

I’ve been watching my own reading in fascination.  Sometimes, I’ll stop and think, “Holy shit, I’d have had no idea what that meant last year.”  But somewhere along the way, I learned how to read science.  I picked up enough Greek and Latin that I can loosely translate very large, unfamiliar terms with relative ease.  I mean, take this phrase: “cryogenic carbonate precipitates.”  Sounds huge and scary.  But all it really means is carbonate rocks like limestone deposited in a cold environment.  Basically, if you know how things like stalagmites form in caves (deposited by water carrying dissolved calcium carbonate), know that carbonate refers to stuff that contains carbon and oxygen (like limestone), and that cryo means cold, you’ve got it made.  Even “heterothermic” held no terrors.  Hetero – mixed.  Thermic – temperature.  Mixed-temperature.  Easy-peasy!  I’ve got the gist of it justlikethat!  Sure, it’s not 100% precise, but at this point, it doesn’t have to be.

And that ability to translate on the fly didn’t come from studying ancient languages, but simply from reading a lot of books and blogs about science, where the authors carefully defined terms when they couldn’t use plain English, and thus I started seeing patterns in what certain words mean and how they’re used.  I didn’t even know I was learning that sort of thing!  It just happened, and wasn’t obvious until the day I needed it.

You science bloggers and popular science book writers, you may not quite realize what you’re doing.  You’re making it possible for former English-History majors like myself, us college dropouts, us regular old Joes and Janes with an interest in science but absolutely no formal training, to dip into the scientific literature and read it without undue strain.  It’s challenging, absolutely – but thanks to those writing for a popular audience, it’s not an insurmountable challenge anymore.  Give me another year or two hanging about your blogs and reading your books, and it’s quite likely I’ll be a more confident judge of quality, as well – I’ll begin to understand statistical methods better, I’ll have a better sense of what makes the difference between solid and shoddy science, and it’s just possible that even math will hold no terrors.  It’s because you’ve embedded these tough concepts in a matrix of clear prose.  And you’ve thus given me the keys to a whole new kingdom.  I don’t have to rely on translators so much any more.  It’s wondrous is what it is.  So, a thousand times: thank you.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a whole ocean of science papers I’ve yet to dabble my toes in.

Christmas Rocks

In more ways than one.  For instance, I’m not at work.  Woot!

By the time you read this, it’ll be Boxing Day, so Happy Boxing Day!  That holiday always confused me as a kid.  I had no idea why there would be a special holiday for beating people up.  Then I found out it was an extra holiday lucky people in Britain and other such countries celebrated that had nothing to do with boxing, and I think this is where my anglophile tendencies began, because who wouldn’t want an extra holiday right after Christmas?  Even if it did have a funny name.

In fact, it seems no one’s quite sure why it’s actually called Boxing Day.  Who cares?  There’s sales on – reason enough to celebrate!

We have rather more luck with Christmas, where the name is obvious and the seasonal celebrations easily traceable.  Hudson Valley Geologist Steve Schimmrich has a good primer up on all that.  And Doctor Science points out that no, in fact, Christ is not the “reason for the season,” as so many fundies like to pretend (h/t).  And it wasn’t a foundational holiday for early Americans, either.  Our own national hero George Washington saw it as a prime time to launch a sneak attack, as the colonists who would become Americans didn’t celebrate Christmas but Germans did.  Isn’t there something in Sun Tzu about taking advantage of enemies’ hangovers?  I’m sure there must be.

Retailers would have us believe it’s all about buying shit, and giving and receiving gifties is awesome, but Doctor Science has some of the other reasons us secular types enjoy a good midwinter celebration:

To have a green tree in the house, filled with light, in the darkest and coldest time of year, as we feel the year turn from old to new — how can that not be numinous? When we decorate with green branches and red berries, this isn’t from Christian iconography —

“I remember hearing,” said Susan distantly, “that the idea of the Hogfather wearing a red and white outfit was invented quite recently.” NO. IT WAS REMEMBERED.

(from Hogfather, by Terry Pratchett). The rising of the sun and the running of the deer, seeing our families and having enough to eat: all of these things are worth celebrating. Such celebrations don’t have to be either secular or religious, in the usual sense: they are pagan in the sense of “rustic, countrified, what the common people do”. Human, in other words. 

Good reasons all.  And I’m not fussed about what our midwinter celebrations are called.  “Christmas” is a decent enough shorthand for all those midwinter celebrations.  But next year, I might start popping off with “Happy Boxing Day!” just to see how many Americans have no idea what I’m talking about.

But all of that’s just a long lead-up to what we’re really here for: the presents!  And thanks to our geobloggers, Christmas this year rocks!

Follow me after the jump for ye delights.

Let’s start with a sing-song, shall we?  Chris Rowan at Highly Allochthonous was kind enough not to actually sing the 12 Geological Days of Christmas, but he’s got the lyrics and we can carry the tune:

The words below are sung to the obvious tune, and (mostly) just about scans – although my festive gift to you is not to post anything resembling audio of me trying to sing it myself.

On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:

On the 2nd day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
2 concordant zircons
…and an APWP.

Enjoy all twelve!

And here’s another traditional carol, courtesy of Lockwood: “Deck Us All With Boston Charlie:”

Now we’ve got the music going, we can haz gifties!

Silver Fox sends us Xmas Greetings from Nevada:

Many more pretty pitchoors where that came from, o’ course!

Garry Hayes sends us a postcard from the edge!  The Christmas Gift: Storm Passes in the Grand Canyon.

Mmmm, home!  Love the stormlight in Arizona.  Love love love!

Erik Klemetti gave us his gift early.  Dr. Adam Kent answers your questions about Mt. Hood (and more):

Afters months of waiting, I have finally been able to get my act together enough to post the answers to questions you posed to Dr. Adam Kent. If you remember back to the beginning of the fall, Dr. Kent and his colleagues published a paper in Nature Geosciences about the nature of magma mixing and eruptions at Mt. Hood in Oregon. You sent in questions and now you get some answers. Enjoy!

Suvrat Kher has Recommended Holiday Reading:

A passage from Simon Winchester’s Krakatoa, The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883

(And yes, I’m gonna be mean and make you go to the link for your giftie!  Those of you who haven’t read the book yet may want to reconsider after reading it – I had no idea Krakatoa had so much to offer, and I’ve been eyeballing it for years now!  Might be getting meself a little Boxing Day giftie, in fact…)

Finally, we come to the huge package that’s been looming under the tree.  You know, the one that screams ZOMG OPEN MEEE!!! but everybody’s made you save for last because it’s that freakin’ awesome.  Callan Bentley went out and got us a fantastic Serpentite and Melange!

That is an AMAZING thing to see — tectonically-rounded blocks of serpentinite, surrounded by a sheared-out, foliated paste of crushed serpentinite. That is a serpentinite mélange. Look at the way the foliation wraps around these lone survivors, like native prairie grasses swishing around the last two bison in South Dakota:

There are so many drop-dead gorgeous photos in there, so much astounding geology, I didn’t even know what to filch.  Twas the bison simile that did it!  ZOMG, Callan, thankyouthankyouTHANKYOU!

And thank all of you: my wonderful geobloggers, my science and political and melange bloggers, my Tweeps, my friends, family, and cat, and you, my dear, my cherished, my raison d’etre readers!  I love you all to pieces.  Happy hollydaze to you!