Late Roses

It’s been a rather lovely fall, up until the last couple of weeks, during which nature has decided to make up for not raining enough during early and mid October and has rained nearly every day. Some of the local roses didn’t seem to want to let go of summer. It’s always nice to be able to stop and smell them when the leaves are changing.

Now, I’ve seen October roses in Oregon before. I’m always delighted to see them again. When we went to visit Lockwood, we stopped at the rest stop just outside of Albany, and the bushes there were enthusiastically abloom.

Image shows a red-orange rosebud just beginning to open, surrounded by younger buds.

A lovely set of buds.

And, for those who are fans of the single:

The same bud from a slightly different angle, with the other buds cut out.

A single half-blown rose.

But that’s not the most interesting rose. There was one that intrigued me. See if you can spot why:

Image shows a rosebush that has a variety of roses on it: some red, some pink, some red-orange.

A very interesting rosebush.

Here’s a different shot that may make it clear:

The same rosebush from a different angle, clearly showing the different varieties.

Intriguing.

See how many different colors there are? I’m not sure if this bush is a lot of bushes planted together, or if they were grafted to the same root stock, or something else, but it was odd and fun to see all those different kinds of roses popping out from what appeared to be a single bush.

Turning now to more local roses: some of our natives planted up by the creek have been enthusiastically blooming this fall. You got a sneak-peek when I showed you one that bees were hanging about on. But I took shots of a bunch, and they were lovely.

Image shows two dark pink wild roses blooming side-by-side. There's the remnants of an older bloom between them.

Native roses.

Some of them were in full bloom, while others were just getting started.

Image shows a dark pink rosebud, most of it tightly closed, but with a couple of petals beginning to unfurl.

Rose. Bud. Extra points to whomever gets the Rocko’s Modern Life reference.

Some were just on the verge of unfurling.

Image is a single dark pink rosebud, looking down into its opening petals.

Unfurl.

And the scent, people. I’m telling you, our native wild roses put a lot of cultivars to shame. Yeah, I buried my nose deep in to the ones that hadn’t got insects in them. Inhaling the last of summer, right there by the roadside. I try to set a good example for my fellow citizens.

Here’s one that’s nice and inviting. You can put your schnoz close to the screen and imagine, right?

Image is a single dark pink open rose.

Smell me!!

Notice the brilliant red rose hip there just below it. Love it when they’re all ripe and vibrant like that.

Fate intervened in the form of a kidney infection, or I may have been out there sniffing away as often as I could. But I got one last chance when B and I ventured out for a gentle walk to photograph fly agaric last week. There were still a few roses in bloom, despite the fact their own leaves were turning.

Image shows a different dark pink native rose in bloom, which has fewer petals than the other. Many of the leaves around it are still green, but a fair number have turned bright yellow.

Last brave roses.

See the raindrops on the petals? That’s my northwest, right there.

I had to take a last lingering look at that rosebush, blooming whilst turning yellow, and with a tree turned brown behind it.

Image shows the rosebush from the previous picture, with a tree behind it. The tree's leaves have all turned a russet brown.

Fall couplet.

I love how things hold on around here. Life was rather more sparse and cautious in the desert where I’m from, even up in the more alpine parts of the state. Here, the stuff grabs hold wherever it can, and generally holds on til the very last instant. There are almost always flowers. And it gives you plenty of opportunity to smell the roses, from early spring to late in the fall. I don’t think I’ll be trading this for anywhere else any time soon, unless someone’s got a little cottage on the Mediterranean they want to set me up with. In that case, I suppose I can relocate for a few seasons. But I’d want to come back here. Between the geology and the biology, it’s one of my favorite places on Earth.

 

 

Dana’s Super-Awesome Mount St. Helens Field Trip Guide III: Coldwater Lake

Right. On with our Mount St. Helens field trip extravaganza. We’ve brunched at Hoffstadt and got a nice overview at Castle Lake Viewpoint. Now we’re on to get intimate with a bouncing baby lake.

Stop 3. Coldwater Lake

This is an ideal place to be on a hot summer day. Easy little trail, lovely cool water, and unlike many places within the blast zone, there’s even some shade! In just over half a mile, you’ll see a wide variety of geology, some brand new and some a little more mature.

As you start down the trail, you’ll notice some rather large lumps. You’re walking on and alongside the portion of the debris avalanche that dammed Coldwater Lake. The tall lumps are hummocks, knobby little hills made up of bits that until recently formed the beautiful symmetrical come of Mount St. Helens. Chunks of volcanic rock, some quite large, peek out from a matrix of ashy, stony rubble. It’s rather like glacial till, all sorts of unsorted bits all jumbled together. You can tell it wasn’t transported by water not only because it’s not arranged neatly with larger bits sorted from the itty bitty bits, but also because water transport would have rounded off the angular edges. These are unapologetically pointy.

Get yourself out on one of the little docks that give you a good view of the lake. Here, the water’s shallow, and quite clear. Have a close look at the lake bottom. It’s telling us more about this lake than you may suspect, and I’ll bet you can puzzle it out. Take a moment to ponder.

Coldwater Lake's very rocky bed.

Coldwater Lake’s very rocky bed.

You’ve noticed that the bottom’s mostly rocks of all shapes and sizes, but virtually no mud. You’ll also have noted that this jumble of rocks isn’t your typical beach rock bed – their edges are pretty jagged, and there’s a big range of sizes. We’re on top of the debris avalanche here, and the lake covers the part of it that thins out toward the middle of the valley. We know there was a lot of fine-grained material in that deposit. So what we’re seeing here is water energetic enough to wash out the fine stuff, but too sedate to tumble the rocks. They’ve been left pretty much in place. This isn’t a body of water prone to roaring floods, strong currents, or storm waves.

But here’s a strange thing: logs. Many large logs, washed up on shore, much like the gigantic ex-trees you find piled on the berm of any storm-wrecked Pacific Northwest seashore. But why, if these waters aren’t able to toss rocks around, would they be able to give entire mature trees the old heave-ho? And without crumbly bluffs for those stately old forest citizens to fall off of, why so many?

Well, of course, wood floats, so it wouldn’t take a lot of mad wave action to nudge logs ashore. Notice the strand line isn’t very far back. As for where those logs came from, you’ve probably already realized they’re the remains of trees mowed down by the debris avalanche and lateral blast. Once it was reasonably safe to return to the area, loggers came in to salvage as many downed trees as they could, using tugboats to transport rafts of logs across the baby lake. The trees you see are some of the logs left behind.

Mount St. Helens from Coldwater Lake. Note the large log on the right, and the dense young trees growing happily on the delta, just in front of the ridge and our violent but beautiful volcano.

Mount St. Helens from Coldwater Lake. Note the large log on the right, and the dense young trees growing happily on the delta, just in front of the ridge and our violent but beautiful volcano.

Speaking of trees, you’ll notice a fine young forest growing practically in the lake between you and Mount St. Helens. This is the South Coldwater Creek delta, a fine bit of fluvial geology that started growing almost the instant enough water backed up to create Coldwater Lake. South Coldwater Creek flows behind that ridge St. Helens is peeking over, and heads into the lake. It’s carrying a goodly amount of stuff eroded out of the volcanic deposits it flows through. When it arrives in the lake, that sediment-laden water slows beyond the point where it can transport its load. Suspended particles drop out, forming the delta those trees have found to be such a happy home.

The delta would be smaller, but in 1985, engineers built a tunnel to provide a safe outlet for Spirit Lake. The water carried by that tunnel is deposited into the headwaters of South Coldwater Creek, increasing its power to erode. Coldwater Lake, only 8 kilometers long and 55 meters deep, will eventually fill in with sediment from the delta and other sources, becoming a marsh, and eventually an ordinary meadow. So enjoy this gem while it lasts.

Head on out to the end of the board walk, which provides you an unobstructed view out over the lake. We’ve lots of delicious geology to see, some of it older than the May 1980 eruption.

Looking toward the far end of Coldwater Lake, you can see quite a bit of hold (and cold) geologic action. Peruse the picture to see how much you can spot!

Looking toward the far end of Coldwater Lake, you can see quite a bit of hold (and cold) geologic action. Peruse the picture to see how much you can spot! Click for a larger version.

From right to left, you’ll see some peaks peeking up over the unnamed ridge between us and South Coldwater Creek. One of the tallest is Coldwater Peak, where geologists have set up an observation post to keep a close eye on its feisty young neighbor. The peak right in front of you is Minnie Peak. It’s not a volcano: it’s formed from the hard grandiorite of the Spirit Lake pluton, which intruded and cooled between 20-23 million years ago. You remember all the babbling I’ve done about batholiths, right? This is the same thing, only smaller, and it’s been uplifted a good distance – Minnie’s 1,711 meters (5,610 feet) high. She’s all carved and sharpened by glaciers.

You can actually see some cold glacial action close by. Have another look at our unnamed ridge. It’s got glacial drift plastered all over it – stuff left by the ice of the Hayden Creek glaciation, which was around 140,000 years ago. It’s kind of exciting to find glacial deposits that old – newer glaciations often wipe out traces of the old. And we know glaciers were here more recently. Take a look toward the narrows there in front of Minnie Peak and see if you can spot the lateral moraine.* Its from the Evans Creek glaciation, which happened only about 11,000 to 22,000 years before our times. You can see a big landslide scar in it – glacial deposits aren’t very well consolidated, alas, and gravity works.

All right. Look to your center-left. You’re seeing the long slope of Coldwater Ridge, and in front of it, the brown lump of an island. That’s a hummock, tall enough to avoid being buried by the rising lake waters. Its face is so steep that even our determined PNW plants can’t get a root-hold. It shows that the debris avalanche made it a fair way up the valley. I’ve taken to calling it Hummock Island, but if you come up with a suitably awesome name, we can switch.

Now for some rather more mature geology. Look at Coldwater Ridge, a little ways to the right of Hummock Island. You see outcrops of lava there, jutting from the flanks.

Layers of old lava speak of a long-vanished shield volcano, and crustal warping.

Layers of old lava speak of a long-vanished shield volcano, and crustal warping.

See how they’re genly tilted eastward? Those belong to the Pole Patch Syncline, a broad downwarp in the crust. To give you an idea of its size, its axis is around 25 kilometers (15 miles) away. The lava flows are basalt and andesite. Geologists think they were part of an Oligocene shield volcano, erupted on its flank sometime between 34-23 million years ago. Mount St. Helens is just the most recent volcano in a long, varied, and exciting area eruptive history.

Coldwater Ridge is covered in stumps, making it look like a ridge that’s decided not to shave for several days. You’ll also see logs lying about here and there. The ridge was being logged before St. Helens exploded, so you’ll notice some stumps are relatively smooth-topped while others are jagged and splintery. A pre-May 18 photo shows its top neatly shaved. The volcano finished what the loggers started, and then some.

You can spot the Coldwater Ridge Visitor’s Center, which will be a fabulous place to stop if you’ve got time on your way back. The vista of Coldwater Lake and Mount St. Helens is breathtaking. Take a moment to remember Gerry Martin, a ham radio operator working for the Washington Department of Emergency Services on the morning of the cataclysmic eruption: he died in the blast.

Take the other limb of the loop trail back to the parking lot. If you’ve come in summer, you’ll be treated to a riot of flowers growing happily on the hummocks. This part of the trail is a botanist’s delight. Don’t worry – geology gets its own back further down, where one of the hummocks is too steep and crumbly for much vegetation. This is a good place to pause and get a feel for the size of these things. No wonder they formed an effective debris dam. It’s pretty stable now: the channel that engineers cut to control lake levels in July of 1981, forming Coldwater Creek in the process, worked a treat. They monitored it for some time, concerned about the possibility of an outburst flood, but discontinued that monitoring in 1998 – the blockage is now so stable that it’s considered safe.

We’ve gotten a feel for the hummocks, see a quite young lake with a spiffy delta, and enjoyed some icy geology along with the hot. Now we’re going to leave the cool lake breezes and shady trail behind. It’s time to go walkies on the largest landslide ever witnessed.

 

*It’s at the center right, at the end of the ridge; it looks almost like someone dumped it there to build a road bed, dunnit?

Previous: Dana’s Super-Awesome Mount St. Helens Field Trip Guide II: Castle Lake Viewpoint

Next: Dana’s Super-Awesome Mount St. Helens Field Trip Guide IV: Hummocks Trail

Originally published at Rosetta Stones.

References:

Burns, Scott (2011): Field Guide to Mt. St. Helens north. Portland State University.

Decker, Barbara and Robert (2002): Road Guide to Mount St. Helens (Updated Edition). Double Decker Press.

Doukas, Michael P. (1990): Road Guide to Volcanic Deposits of Mount St. Helens and Vicinity, Washington. USGS Bulletin 1859.

Pringle, Patrick T. (2002): Roadside Geology of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and Vicinity. Washington DNR Information Circular 88.

Do These Photos Make My Rock Magnet Look Phat?

I’m trying my hand at product photography for the first time. After a bit o’ the afternoon spent perusing some how-to articles, I taped a piece of white paper up, put white tissue over my halogen lamp, and gave it a whirl. Now I want your opinion! What do you think – does my serpentinite magnet look fairly spiffy?

Image shows a bit of dark green serpentinite glued to a magnet.

Serpentinite Magnet, right profile.

Here’s the other side.

The other side of the same magnet.

Serpentinite Magnet, left side.

Something of a top view:

Serpentinite Magnet, top view. Now we can see some of the variations in color, with darker and lighter green streaks, and one rusty brown one.

Serpentinite Magnet, top view.

Oh, and I suppose some scale would be nice!

Image shows the serpentinite magnet with a wooden ruler for scale.

Yes, that’s an American ruler, and that’s an inch you’re seeing there. Sorry!

I’ll also be taking photos showing them in-situ on the fridge, but first I have to wash the fridge. It’s got a bit grubby since I scrubbed it last. I doubt photos of a pretty magnet on a dirty fridge will inspire people.

I’m going to make a light box studio sorta thing, but first I have to scrub myself, then go to the craft store (Michaels, not Hobby Lobby) and buy the appropriate supplies. We’ll see if that turns out any better – I’m hoping for a smoother, brighter white, which a plain ol’ sheet of printer paper just can’t give me. But this’ll do for the moment, I suppose. What do you think? Does this magnet look phat?

This little beauty is from the Patrick Creek stop Lockwood and I made. Let me know if you’ve fallen in love with it, and must have it. My loyal readership definitely gets dibs on it before it ends up on Etsy! You can reach me at dhunterauthor at gmail. And if you have any special requests, please let me know – I can collect and design to order, as long as you don’t ask me to get you anything from places where collecting is verboten, like National Parks.

Some #Gamergate Links Hand-Selected for the Curious

A lucky few folks have heard the word GamerGate, but have no idea what it is. If they’re anything like B, they’re getting curious, and would like some links about it. They may even have a feminist friend who’s made their eyebrows rise to their hairline with stories about the shit GamerGaters get up to, like driving women from their homes with death and rape threats.

But, y’know, they may also have heard rumors that it’s actually about ethics in video game journalism.

Image shows Dr. Evil doing air quotes. Caption says "#Gamergate is about 'Ethics in journalism'"

I collected several select links at B’s request. Then I figured B probably wasn’t the only person in the universe who wants said select links. So I offer them to the internets at large, plus some explanatory verbiage, knowing I risk having a bunch of angry GamerGaters appear in my social media. They can howl their lungs out, if they like: that only gives me ammunition.

Right. So, let me let other folks introduce you to the raging bunch of misogynist shitstains who hide behind ethics figleafs in order to viciously attack women.

It’s utterly clear that GamerGate started as a harassment campaign against women in gaming, and all the bullshit about “ethics in video game journalism” is just a smokescreen. Their own fucking IRC logs prove it. Observe:

Do you still think that #GamerGate is a spontaneous movement against game industry corruption? Zoe Quinn has some screenshots to show you.

Zoe Quinn’s screenshots of 4chan’s dirty tricks were just the appetizer. Here’s the first course of the dinner, directly from the IRC log.

Spamming, Doxxing and Sockpuppeting: 4Channers’ dirty tricks, straight from their IRC log.

Let us pause and sum up the story so far with a meme.

Image is a screen shot from Jaws with the shark getting ready to rip a dude's legs off. Caption says, "Actually it's about ethics in videogames journalism. Great white sharks oppose eating boats. I already reported that other shark to the Coast Guard. You probably bit yourself in half."
That’s GamerGate in a nutshell, for those who don’t want to wade through all the linkage.

So, at this point, you’re probably wondering who Zoe Quinn is. She’s the independent game developer whose ex-boyfriend decided to destroy for the crime of sleeping with other men. She might have cheated on him, but I’m not really willing to grant that, considering he complained about her sleeping with other people when they were broken up. I don’t think he understands relationships or boundaries or that it’s okay for women who once dated him to sleep with other people after they’ve discovered he’s a fetid shitcanoe of a boyfriend. Anyway, his manifesto unleashed a howling mob of various assholes who can’t stand the idea that women play video games, and would like some video games to reflect interests outside of the narrow confines of the shoot-kill-fuck-everything storylines beloved of said assholes. They attacked Zoe with vigor, because she had the audacity to create a game called Depression Quest. Because she once slept with a video games reviewer, they decided they could pretend this was all about ethics in games journalism, even though said reviewer never reviewed her game. The whole saga is unfolded in many posts at We Hunted the Mammoth. There are a lot, so you’ll want to be sure to click “Older Posts” down there at the bottom.

It was not enough for GamerGaters to merely attack one woman. Oh, no. They have gone after game developer Brianna Wu, driving her from her home with vicious death and rape threats, for… stuff, I have no idea what. And no, she hasn’t slept with any game reviewers, so no, this isn’t, in fact, about ethics in video games journalism. It’s pretty much about the fact that she retweeted a meme that made fun of them:

Image is a composite of several memes, all with a child in a red shirt grabbing its head and shouting. Captions read: 1. "Gamergate is not about oppressing women." 2. This is about corruption (tweets 500 things attacking women)." 3. "Says 'Go start your own game studio' to woman who owns a game studio." 4. "Lectures women on how to respond to the problems he causes." 5. "Fighting an apocalyptic future where women are 8% of programmers and not 3%." 6. "Bases entire identity in games. Feels like a badass."

The horror. The cruelty. So forth. Yes, I’m sure that threatening a woman and her family with grisly sexual assault and death is a completely reasonable response to such a terrible attack. I mean, the fragile male ego must be defended at all costs. It is so precious. /snark.

Anyway. Brianna is a badass and won’t back down. Definitely read her piece.

Let us now observe the disparate treatment dished out to men who criticize GamerGaters and women who say something quite tentative, mild, and sad.

Chris Kluwe, who is a former Vikings player and one of my favorite people in the universe even though I have no interest in football, ripped GamerGaters a new one. I mean, it is an epic rant, and I bow to a superior ranting power and hope that, after reading his book, I can unlock that achievement. GamerGaters might have mumbled a few things, but they barely responded.

On the other hand, Felicia Day, who is one of the shining stars in the nerd entertainment firmament (Buffy and The Guild, people, nuff said), posted a heartstring-tugging piece talking about how GamerGate has made her afraid of the gamers she used to eagerly approach and schmooze with. She also mentioned that she’s been afraid to say anything for fear of getting doxxed by these assholes. Their response? She was doxxed within an hour. Deliberately. After she’d mentioned she has stalkers who might kill her if they could find her. Some ethics in video games journalism activism, eh?

Chris had a few choice things to say about that. More men like him, please. Fewer GamerGate shitstains.

Anitia Sarkeesian, who has been relentlessly harassed ever since she started her Tropes Versus Women in Video Games series, has had the harassment reach a crescendo with GamerGate assholes. She ended up having to cancel a talk at the University of Utah due to a very specific threat to massacre her and the students. She’s the kind of badass who wouldn’t cancel a talk even for that, but Utah is a bright-red state that loves its guns sooooo much it will allow people to run around with them concealed on campus, and even a very specific, credible threat to shoot up lots of people won’t make them disarm people going to a talk. Oh, but you can’t carry a backpack in, because that will help. GamerGaters love to claim this threat didn’t come from one of them. Sorry, dudes, but it came from one of your dudebros, a fellow hater, and you don’t get to disown him just because he didn’t use the right hashtag in his email. When you unleash torrents of harassment, you give murderous fuckwads cover to unleash their inner Elliot Roger. You own him.

Arthur Chu has particular insight into the minds of these assclowns, having been a reclusive gamer type himself once, and having met Felicia Day in the days before GamerGaters came along to make her leery of weird fans. I hope that many GamerGaters read his words, and that they eventually sink in, and make them realize they’re being horrible human beings and stop. They should be more like Arthur Chu, who is a gamer and a decent person, too.

Finally, our own Tauriq Moosa has written several excellent pieces on GamerGate. I recommend them all.

On Gamergate: Loose thoughts.

Gamergate: Two faced bullies, suicide and general hatred.

An actual journalist gives gamergate a parental talking to.

#Gamergate is giving a voice to voiceless? Your voice is better elsewhere.

But she’s wrong though…

And, finally, the definitive takedown of the idea these ignorant gits even know what ethics are, much less are all about ethics:

#Gamergate and the failure of ethics.

That’s not all the excellent stuff I’ve read about GamerGate, but it’s a start. For those who may have become addicted to reading about this inanity in the course of following these links, search GamerGate and Ophelia Benson, Amanda Marcotte, and PZ Myers, for a start.

And remember, it’s all about ethics in video game journalism or something. Even when they’re launching propaganda campaigns on Tumblr, in which they are advised to hide their misogyny and homophobia and avoid using sexist slurs because people are starting to catch on that people comfortable using that language and attacking women for basically being unapologetically female in their vicinity aren’t, actually, about ethics at all.

Image shows an adorable white kitten tumbled on its back on a red velvet background. Caption says, "I are cute kitten and I support #gamergate. I totally r not part of a cynical 8chan plot 2 take over tumblr with cute cat pics."

Thank you, Dave Futrelle.

Yeah, Not So Nice and Complimentary, Is It? #DudesGreetingDudes Hashtag Unmasks Catcalls

This is one of the most hilarious consciousness-raising exercises I’ve seen in a while. One of the reasons I love Twitter is because it’s the perfect medium for this sort of thing. Sometimes, like with the #iftheygunnedmedown hashtag, it’s heartbreaking and intense. Other times, like with  #DudesGreetingDudes, it’s pointed and satirical.

Screen shot of a tweet from Elon James White. Tweet says, "You see a dude looking all hard & shit. Roll up on him like "Aye yo, smile, son. Damn." BRING SUNSHINE TO HIS DAY. #dudesgreetingdudes."Elon James White started the hashtag after getting into a Twitter discussion about street harassment. “I’m surprised women don’t just tweet “go fuck yourself” every hour on the hour. It would be a really reasonable response to this bullshit,” he tweeted. Shannon Miller suggested, “Since there’s such a wealth of these ‘nice men’ who just want conversation, why can’t they just strike up one with each other?” Elon took her suggestion and ran with it, birthing the #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag.

Screenshot of a tweet from Elon James White. Text reads, "Dudes. If you feel society has lost it's decency, let's bring it back. Let's start the #DudesGreetingDudes movement! Say hi to each other!" There’s absolutely no better way to prove that catcalling and street harassment aren’t about merely saying hello or complimenting people like telling dudes to do it to other dudes.

Image shows profile of a cat looking at something off-camera. Caption says, "Excuse me, but... WTF?"

Like Amanda Marcotte said, if it was all intended just to be “nice,” men would stop once they realized the majority of women don’t think what they’re doing is nice at all.

The point was made extremely clear: Men aren’t “just” saying hi. They are being extremely selective at who they say hi to and it’s based primarily on who they think owes them attention. If, in fact, we actually lived in a culture where everyone was chattering at strangers all day, it would be miserable, especially in pedestrian-heavy cities like New York. Only women have to put up with this bullshit. That is why it is sexist, even if you take the weird sexual bullshit out of the equation.

And again, if you were just saying hi, the fact that your targets don’t like it would cause you to reconsider your behavior. If you’re trying to be nice to people, the first rule is to do things they like instead of constantly badger them with behaviors they have indicated they don’t like.

You can see that these so-called compliments aren’t complimentary at all by the fact that straight white dudes, seeing them aimed at their own precious selves, suddenly feel like it’s all homophobic. Nope. Alyson Miers explains:

Screenshot of a tweet by Alyson Miers. Text reads, "If #DudesGreetingDudes elicits homophobic anxiety, then cat-calling behavior is clearly not JUST friendly."Another tweet by Alyson reads, "If cat-calling were strictly non-sexual, pro-social behavior, then homophobia wouldn't even be a factor in discussion. #DudesGreetingDudes"And in case that wasn’t exquisitely clear, Elizabeth Plank explains further,

To be clear, this is not about men hitting on men, a subject with deeply-ingrained stigmas of its own. The #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag was designed to highlight why exactly its disingenuous for apologists to argue that a catcall is somehow a normal form of discourse between two strangers, and not a specific form of harassment designed to bolster a gendered power hierarchy.

And dude, that discomfort you’re feeling? Not a patch on what women feel every day as they try to navigate public spaces. So think about it. If you’re this uncomfortable thinking of some random dude coming up to you and complimenting you on how those jeans really show off your ass and thighs, hey, do you work out, bro? – don’t you think, maybe-possibly, a lot of women may be feeling just as uncomfortable? Think maybe that means you shouldn’t invade their space, demand their attention, even if all you want to do is tell them they look nice?

Feeling squirmy because some random stranger dude joked about demanding you have a burger with him because you look American? Think of how a woman of color feels when you approach her on the street and suggest you go out for Chinese because lol she’s Chinese.

That’s the point of this hashtag, straight white men. Maybe you really do think those are nice jeans, maybe you really would just like to talk to an interesting-looking person about their culture or your shared interests or whatever, but if you wouldn’t want some guy on the street to ask you to compliment your clothing or ask you to do stuff with them, now you know how the vast majority of women feel. Congratulations! Put your new insight to good use.

And if you’re wondering why, if there’s nothing sexual about it, you may still feel uncomfortable being a dude talking to a dude, check out what Miri Mogilevsky has to say about it. A lot of it’s to do with how different genders are socialized in this culture. But there’s some other, fundamental stuff going on:

Men who approach women in this way may or may not be consciously aware of that gendered difference. It may be simple social learning—throughout the course of their lives, women have tended to pay attention to them in this way and other men haven’t, so they’ve learned to approach women and not men. A more cynical (but still probably accurate) explanation is that men know quite well that women are taught to indulge them, and so they choose women as the targets of their attempts to make conversation with strangers.

There’s also the rarely-spoken fact that many men are almost as afraid, if not as afraid, of other men as women are. If a man pesters a woman on the street, she is very unlikely to respond with physical violence. Other men are more likely to.

So here’s another golden opportunity to put yourself in women’s headspaces. Think back to a time when you said something offhand to some big dude, and he gave you a look that made you suddenly worry you were about to get the snot beaten out of you. Remember that fear? Remember that uncertainty? Yep. Women feel that around men all the time.

Does this mean you’ll never ever be able to strike up a conversation with a female stranger? Nope! There are social settings where doing so is totally appropriate. Say we’re standing in line together waiting to see a show or meet an author, and I look your way and smile. You can say something like, “This is exciting, huh?” And if I say, “Yeah, it is!” we might even get to talking enthusiastically about our shared interest. Wow, right? (If I give you a death-glare, though, go talk to someone else and assess what about you may have set off the ZOMG CREEP alarm.)

Maybe you can ponder other appropriate settings. But start with three simple rules:

  • When in doubt, STFU
  • Don’t bother women who are walking or taking public transit, especially not when they’re studiously ignoring you.
  • If a woman tells you to fuck off, then off you should fuck. Graciously. (Hell, if you’re All That Plus The Potato Chips, fucking off when told to do so might just change her opinion of you, dude.)

And I think the #DudesGreetingDudes hashtag has taught us the Golden Rule of Male/Female Stranger Interaction: if you wouldn’t do it to a strange dude, definitely don’t do it to a strange woman.

Image shows a perplexed dude in the middle of a group of partiers. Caption says, "It's called a cat call because it's as effective as trying to call a cat and get its attention."

Darwin’s Geologic Sense of Humor

Looking for a sophisticated way to call someone’s grasp of geology rudimentary or primitive? Want to tell them they’re backward without coming right out and saying so? Charles Darwin has you covered:

His Geology also is rather eocene…

You can adapt this phrase to any creationist of any background or gender, as well as use it on people who think they know a lot about geology but actually don’t. If they get what you’re saying, it’s just possible they’ll be able to extract their head from whatever orifice they’ve got it stuffed in and reconsider their understanding.

Something tells me I would have enjoyed spending time with Darwin.

Here is the phrase in context, in a letter to Joseph Hooker:

…I have been very deeply interested by Wollaston’s book (‘The Variation of Species,’ 1856.), though I differ GREATLY from many of his doctrines. Did you ever read anything so rich, considering how very far he goes, as his denunciations against those who go further: “Most mischievous,” “absurd,” “unsound.” Theology is at the bottom of some of this. I told him he was like Calvin burning a heretic. It is a very valuable and clever book in my opinion. He has evidently read very little out of his own line. I urged him to read the New Zealand essay. His Geology also is rather eocene, as I told him. In fact I wrote most frankly; he says he is sure that ultra-honesty is my characteristic: I do not know whether he meant it as a sneer; I hope not. Talking of eocene geology, I got so wrath about the Atlantic continent, more especially from a note from Woodward (who has published a capital book on shells), who does not seem to doubt that every island in the Pacific and Atlantic are the remains of continents, submerged within period of existing species, that I fairly exploded, and wrote to Lyell to protest, and summed up all the continents created of late years by Forbes (the head sinner!) YOURSELF, Wollaston, and Woodward, and a pretty nice little extension of land they make altogether! I am fairly rabid on the question and therefore, if not wrong already, am pretty sure to become so…

I have enjoyed your note much. Adios, C. DARWIN.

P.S. [June] 18th. Lyell has written me a CAPITAL letter on your side, which ought to upset me entirely, but I cannot say it does quite.

Though I must try and cease being rabid and try to feel humble, and allow you all to make continents, as easily as a cook does pancakes.

See? He even closes his letter with Spanish! Someone call the Doctor and get the TARDIS over here so we can go visit this man.

Charles Darwin, circa 1881. Photograph by Messers. Elliot and Fry. Via Wikimedia Commons.

Charles Darwin, circa 1881. Photograph by Messers. Elliot and Fry. Via Wikimedia Commons.

(h/t Glenn Branch)

Happy 25th, Fall of the Berlin Wall!

Twenty-five years since that wall came down. I was a teenager, watching on teevee as citizens pulled it apart, climbed up on it and celebrated, uniting Germany. I remember being astonished that it was happening in my lifetime, and feeling giddy as I watched people reach out and grasp freedom with both hands. It was awesome.

The Scorpions captured the mood of the late 80s and early 90s well, as people in Eastern Bloc countries wrested political control from their masters, and embraced democracy. Winds of change definitely were blowing.

The Cold War ended. And spy novel writers everywhere had to find a new Big Bad to write about…

Now if we could just end other wars, that would be outstanding. I’d love to see the world united. Yes, of course, we’d still have our differences and problems. No, of course it wouldn’t be perfect. But to be able to work things out without war, cold or hot? I’ll take it. Moar winds of change, plz.

Image shows people standing in front of and atop the Berlin Wall. One person is being helped up to the top by others.

People atop the Berlin Wall near the Brandenburg Gate on 09 November 1989. The text on the sign “Achtung! Sie verlassen jetzt West-Berlin” (“Notice! You are now leaving West Berlin”) has been modified with an additional text “Wie denn?” (“How?”). Also in blue is the logo for ONCE, whose cycling team was started in 1989. Image and caption by Sue Ream via Wikimedia Commons.

Unidentified Flying Dinosaur: Odd Behavior

A mysterious birdie goes swimming and diving for foodstuffs in the McKenzie River valley’s Clear Lake, Oregon. This isn’t going to seem like particularly odd behavior for a water bird, but it is if it’s what we think this UFD is. I won’t say much so as not to give anything away. You can judge yourselves from the pictures and video.

Image shows a dark gray water bird swimming with its wings slightly raised. It has a rather short, thin beak, so we know it's not a duck.

UFD I

It was just a wee silhouette on the shadier side of the lake at first, and we watched it do the typical water birdy things without knowing what it might be, other than it definitely wasn’t a duck.

Image shows the dark silhouette of the water bird. It has jumped up on a log that crosses the lake there, and it walking about amongst the vegetation growing on the old wood.

UFD II

Now we could see its shape a bit better, but keep in mind, it was pretty far off and we didn’t have the same zoomed-in view this photo has.

The water bird, still in silhouette, has a foot up and is plucking a bit of something from it.

UFD III

It seems to be plucking a bit of plant from between its toes, there.

The water bird is now walking along the log.

UFD IV

In the above photo, we can now clearly see it hasn’t got webbed feet, but looks to have distinct, narrow little toeses. Rather odd for a paddling bird, innit? Yet when you watch the video, you’ll see it swimming and diving like a pro.

The bird is perched on one end of the log, looking in to the gap where the log has rotted away and water is flowing.

UFD V

Finally, it’s moved to a sunnier area, and we can see it’s a charcoal gray, not black. Not the most colorful bird ever, but if it’s what Lockwood and I think it is, this is a pretty exciting sighting.

The bird is leaning over the side of the log, getting ready to pluck something from the water.

UFD VI

You can see the feet pretty well in this shot, and it definitely looks like there’s no webbing.

I don’t really have an excuse for including this next photo. I just think it’s cute.

The bird seems to be scratching its chest with its beak.

UFD VII

And here you can see some faint markings on the wings, like little white stripes, possibly, but very subtle.

The water bird is in partial profile and looks like it's gazing toward the camera.

UFD VIII

I know what this little delight looks like, and when you watch the video, it’s behavior may have you exclaiming, “Is that a -?!” much like Lockwood did. Truth is, I dunno. So it’s down to you, my darlings. Watch its feeding behavior in the video, check out the photos, and decide if it’s acting just a smidge out of character for what it is, or if we mistook it for something else that’s acting perfectly normal.

 

Camcorder Advice, Por Favor?

One of the things B and I want to do is start recording videos in the field. I can show you a lot through photos and short snippets of video, but there’s so much magnificent geology around here, and some of it really deserves more of a documentary-type treatment. I’d like to take you on a virtual walk, explaining what we’re seeing. And, major bonus, when we go geogallivanting with Lockwood, you’d be able to experience his expertise like we do. Lockwood is one of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to Pacific Northwest geology, and Oregon geology in particular. I’d like to capture those field trips for posterity, so that everyone has a chance to soak up his knowledge. We get visiting geologists, too, and it would be outstanding to capture their visits on video.

Problem is, I’m a luddite when it comes to video equipment. I’ll have to hope at least one of you knows their stuff. Halp?

I need something light and portable, easy to operate, and preferably cheapish, since I haven’t got a huge amount of money to spend. I also need to know what equipment I’ll need to capture decent audio in the field.

If you could point me towards tutorials for creating watchable videos on the cheap, that would be outstanding. Thankee kindly!

Image shows a cat leaping to one side. Caption says, "Invisible movie explosion"