Outtakes at Last Vol. 2: Fog, Sun, Fog

Day Two: Wake up hideously early, realize intrepid companion isn’t going to be awake for hours.  No intertoobz due to wi-fi on the fritz in machine.  What else to do but head out for Hurricane Ridge Road to snap photos of all those lovely road cuts we didn’t get a chance to linger at the day before?

Port Angeles didn’t look promising.  Total gray from horizon to horizon and freezing fucking cold.  But the nice thing about mountains is that sometimes you can rise above all that, and you get to stand in the nice warm sunshine with an ocean o’ fog at your feet:

Bit o’ a delicate blush o’ sunrise, as well.

More below the fold, of course.

You already know the story of how I chanced into a lovely maternal scene.  This is for those who can’t get enough bebbes:

Not all of the wildlife is so gentle and lovable:

I did not see a single goat, aggressive or otherwise.  But I did see a rather charming waterfall:

Notice the slope.  These falls spill over sedimentary rock, which isn’t hard enough here to resist erosion and form dramatic cliffs.

After two warm and wonderful hours photographing geology and wildlife in the sunshine, it was back to Port Angeles, where the freezing fog hadn’t quite lifted:

Don’t be deceived by the bright blue water.  Yes, the sun’s shining, but there’s a fog bank behind the ships, and the sea breeze can only be described as “freezing fucking cold.”

Luckily, it was back to the mountains for us.  We headed up the Elwha River Valley, which is going to be a rather different place after this year.  They’re taking out the dams, so of course we had to go see ’em before they’re gone.  Feast your eyes upon this peaceful little lake, because it won’t be there for long:

That is Lake Mills, and here we have Glines Canyon Dam:

There’s a dirty great chain link fence all round it, so it’s hard to get good shots.  But you can see water spilling over the penstock – they’ll drain the lake by 80 feet, and then start removing the dam bit by bit, starting with the top bits you see here:

… and then removing further bits in stages until they can safely blow the remaining stump to smithereens.

Now, you may be saying, “But Dana, there’s two dams on the Elwha River!”  And so there are.  But we didn’t read the map properly, and so never found the other one, which is on the other side of Hwy. 101. Of course, we can probably get up there to see it next year, before it’s obliterated.  Even if not, well, we saw this one.

I’m rather looking forward to going back up after the lake’s drained, because I’ve got a hankering to study the sediments left behind.  Hopefully, they’ll allow visitors during this process.

While we were up by the lake, we saw lots of white butterflies all fluttering around, and whilst my intrepid companion amused himself with the dam, I spent my time trying to photograph the little buggers with their wings open.  Unfortunately, they landed too briefly and had a horrible habit of folding their wings up in those instants where they were holding still.  Then I found an easy target – one had fallen on its back in a puddle.  So I rescued him:

He spent some time drying out on my fingers before fluttering away.  His wings were a bit chewed up and missing quite a lot of scales, but at least he didn’t die an ignominious death in a mud puddle.

A little bit later, I found another butterfly just hanging about in the bushes.  I lurked around him for a bit, waiting for the instant when he’d fly away and I could capture him on the wing.  He refused to cooperate.  So I waved my hand near him by way of encouragement.  He wasn’t encouraged.  So I decided to see how close he’d let me get:

He wasn’t impressed.  Apparently, I represented a threat level of -10.  He just lingered there long enough for my hand to get tired, and just when I wasn’t prepared to press the shutter, the little bugger took off.  I never did get an action shot.  But it’ll do.

Once we’d been defeated by butterflies, we were on to Lake Crescent, which turned out to be one of the most delightful stops of the trips.  Warm sunshine, cold blue water, and a windsurfer close enough to touch:

The lake’s large enough for sailboats, too.  Cujo’s got the shot I took of ye itty bitty boat against the great big mountains.  Here’s one of it as it came closer, and I zoomed in a bit for a good view:

After lingering a while at the Log Cabin Resort, we made our way back up the road, stopping where the trees thinned enough for magnificent views.  Here’s one that shows the fjord-like qualities of Lake Crescent:

I could spend the rest of my life there, and wish for a few lifetimes more.  I mean, look at the color of this water:

See that wonderful emerald green there in the shallows, shading into sapphire?  I love it.  This is a perfect gem of a lake, and I’m glad it’s protected by Olympic National Park.

Uno mas.  We stopped at a beach along Hwy. 101, and got a view of the back side o’ the mountains:

Go through that fjord-like gap, there, and you’ll be in that peaceful arm of the lake we’d just visited. 

Further on, we found yet another pullout, which we stopped at because it had informational signs.  We spent quite a bit of time here, too, since the beach was littered with the most perfect skipping stones I’ve ever seen, and some very interesting rocks I haven’t yet identified, all down by this highway bridge: 

Again, note the brilliant color of the water.  I’d show you the rocks, but my photograph of one of the boulders is meh.  It couldn’t capture the extraordinary greens and reds, and the chalky streaks.  I’ve got samples here at home, so I’ll get them figured out eventually, and tell you all about them in a future post.

After Lake Crescent, we headed down through Forks (which is pouncing way too hard on the fact bits of the Twilight movies were filmed around there) on our way to the beach.  We’d meant to hit Ruby Beach this trip, but partway down the road to it, we saw ominous clouds and unmistakable signs of rain.  Well, if the weather was going to be that way, we weren’t going to go well out of our way.  Ruby Beach is right on the highway, on our way home, and so we stopped there.  It wasn’t any less cold and cloudy, complete with a light misty rain, but that was okay.  The incoming tide made enough of a splash to make up for it:

I can’t decide which to use, so you’re getting both of mah favorites:

You know, I could spend a lifetime here, too, and never get bored.  There’s all sorts of interesting things on a beach, like enormous clusters of shellfish:

And a sentinel of a sea stack watching over all:

No brilliant sunset colors that day, but they weren’t needed.  Not this time.

I’m lucky to live in one of the most changeable, varied, and astonishingly beautiful places in these United States.  Now if only I could get you all out here for a visit…

Outtakes at Last Vol. 2: Fog, Sun, Fog

Outtakes At Last Vol. 1: Hurricane Ridge or Bust

Yeah, yeah, I know the trip was over a week ago.  Yeah, it took me this long to pull out the bits I’ve decided you can’t live without.  I’m one of those horribly disorganized people whose time management skills are not the envy of all.  More like a laughingstock.  Besides, I’ve been busy pre-writing stuff so you won’t be deprived during the winter fiction-writing season.

But I finally got bits sorted.  Images lovely or otherwise below the fold.

For a while, there, it looked like the trip would be bust.  We here in the western Northwest live surrounded by water, which means drawbridges, which means getting stuck waiting at said drawbridge every once in a while.  At least I finally got to see how one works:

It doesn’t rise up as far as I’d expected.  But still, seeing the road bed rise up in the air is pretty interesting – for a brief amount of time.  Alas, this stop wasn’t brief.  At least the weather was pretty, the sea breeze fine, and we got to inspect Hood Canal up close.

Despite the name, Hood Canal isn’t a canal.  It’s a fjord.  We’ll be discussing it in a future post when I’ve gathered enough photos and info for a post on how the Ice Age made Puget Sound.  At least now you know where to go if you’re in the area and pining for the fjords.

We did eventually make it to Hurricane Ridge.  See?  It says so right here:

That’s part of a very large relief map at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center.  Relief is right – there’s a lot of up and down in the Olympics.

There’s even a mountain with my name on it:

That lovely triangular peak is Mt. Dana, a middling-high peak at 6,209 feet.  For comparison’s sake, Mt. Olympus busts clouds at nearly 8,000 feet, and Hurricane Hill is a piddly 5,757.  Course, the mountains are still growing, so who knows where my mountain will be in another million years or so?

There are incredible views from the Visitor’s Center, but of course the whole reason for being up there was to get out on the trails.  And there are some wonderful ones very close, which are easy walks even for those who aren’t up for much walking.  We took the Cirque Rim Trail, and got to see some wonderful features of the landscape without raising much of a sweat.

Here’s one of those things that continually astonishes people from Arizona – snow that hasn’t even finished melting by August:

We’re not far from having glaciers up at Hurricane Ridge again – cool the planet by a few degrees, and walking on warm dry ground in the summer may become a thing of the past.  Of course, chances of that happening anytime soon are remote – we’re more likely to be talking about the days when glaciers used to live in them thar hills.

I got a kick out of this building.  I’m not quite sure why.

Oh, what, you wanted mountains?  Fine.  Look down upon the Visitor’s Center, and out at what plate tectonics hath wrought:

Note the crumbly hillside below the road.  These slopes look solid, but they’re prone to failure.  Bits of them go slip-sliding away on a fairly regular basis.

Late July and August are when the wildflowers bloom in force up here.  And the Visitor’s Center has a lovely large meadow where you can get your fill of alpine scenery:

And butterflies.  But I’m holding those back for my own nefarious purposes – a post on Northwest butterflies. 

After getting our fill of the easy paths, we tackled Hurricane Hill.  And here’s how immersed in the geology I was: I was so enthralled by a particularly tasty outcrop that it took me forever to hear my intrepid companion hissing, “Behind you!”  I turned around, not a moment too soon, because a doe was practically sideswiping my butt:

She completely ignored us.  I probably could’ve stretched out a hand to touch her, but by the time I’d snapped off a picture, she’d crossed the ridge and disappeared into the cirque below.  Those little buggers can hide themselves in very little cover, I’m here to tell you.

Both the moon and the sun beamed down on us the entire walk.  Here’s the moon peeking over the sandstone shoulders of the mountains:

How gorgeous is that, eh?

Up on Hurricane Hill, there’s a lovely little tarn fed by late snowmelt, and a hillside of heather:

Okay, so that’s not the best-framed shot in the universe, but I was standing in the middle of mosquito central just then, and I wasn’t taking care to aim at anything but them.

After fleeing ye olde mosquitoes, we came to a calmer part of the trail, where we could appreciate the blush of the setting sun on snow-covered peaks with the glow of the moon above them:

And I could take a slightly-more relaxed photo of the tarn:

And here are the three M’s of any highland hike: moon, mountains, meadow:

You can, y’know, kinda click on the picture so the moon’s not a mere speck.

The sun slipped behind the mountains:

And so endeth day one.  Much more to come, my darlings.

Outtakes At Last Vol. 1: Hurricane Ridge or Bust

Phil's Not Faring Too Well

I love Phil Plait.  I respect Phil Plait.  I follow him on Twitter, shall soon be following him on teevee, and enjoy him immensely.  But even the people I love best occasionally do things that earn them a gentle savaging from their peers.  And it seems that his Don’t Be A Dick shenanigans (hereafter referred to as D-BAD) earned him said savaging.

Ophelia Benson, Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers, Jerry Coyne, and now even Peter Lipson (one of the least-dickish people I’ve ever read) have taken some not-so-subtle swipes, when not unloading with both barrels.  I’m sure there’s plenty I’ve missed.  It doesn’t matter anyway, because the whole thing makes me tired.  This “we must be nicey-nice to the poor delicate believers!” bullshit is threatening to condemn me to a life of early dentures.

Just a few thoughts that have been going about in my head during this whole D-BAD drama, and then I am hopefully done:

1.  If you run with the skeptics, your sacred oxen are at risk of getting gored.  If you faint at the sight of blood, better not run.

2.  There is no safety in numbers.  Just because several million people believe a delusion doesn’t make it true.

3.  Niceness and respect have their place, but all too often, it enables the very woo and uncritical thinking skeptics are supposed to be against.

4.  Enable one woo, and you’ve just thrown the doors open wide with a big welcome sign for all the others.

And, most importantly to me personally:

5.  Those “dicks” were the people who snapped me out of woo-tainted thinking to begin with.  All of the happy-joy-joy nice warm fuzzy people kept me thinking for years that some pretty inane shit was legit, because hey, they didn’t seem to mind.  And I’m not a very unique human being at all, so I highly doubt I’m an anomalous data point.  Without the dicks, I’d still be susceptible to pseudoscience and magical thinking.  Sometimes, what a person really needs is a good, sharp slap by an enormous dick to snap them out of it.

Oh, dear.  I suspect that last bit came out wrong, or led to mental images that have you reaching for the brain bleach.  Sorry ’bout that.

Anyway.  What I’m saying is, dickishness has a place and a purpose.  Religious sentiment should not and must not get a safe little reservation all walled off from skepticism.  (That goes triple for you, Quinn O’Neil, oh ye of the most bloody stupid argument I’ve read all week.)

Religious freedom is a Constitutional right in this country, and we dicks respect that.  But respect for a person’s freedom to believe in irrational bullshit does not translate into treating irrational bullshit with kid gloves, nor should it, and as for those who aren’t tough enough to take it – I’ve got a couple of religious friends you should consult, because they might be able to advise you how to take it on the chin and keep grinning anyway.  They don’t burst into tears and run away blubbering whenever I say something not nice about their faith. 

You know what all that crying tells me?  That the weepy religious believers running with the skeptical crowd aren’t sure their faith is legit.  They’re doubting.  Why else do they need everyone to tiptoe around them?  And how do I know this?  Because I did the same sniveling when my faith started crumbling on its own faulty foundations. And everyone who didn’t do their utmost to reinforce those foundations, or at least refrain from breathing on them, seemed like they were personally attacking me.  Guess what?  They weren’t.  They were going after silly superstition.  If you think your superstition isn’t silly, then shore up your own damned foundations, grow a pair, and deal with the dicks.

And don’t tell me that a few unkind words about your favorite form of woo is enough to sour you on the whole skeptical movement.  That’s just petty and ridiculous.  Besides, there are plenty of accomodationists out there happy to wrap you in their loving embrace.  Not all of us have to.  Not all of us should.

Life is full of slings, arrows, and dicks.  You deal, or you don’t.  And if that sounds harsh, well, it is.  It seems that despite some anatomical disadvantages, I am an enormous fucking dick. 

Doesn’t mean I don’t love you, though, irrationality and all. 

Phil's Not Faring Too Well

The Pleasures of Knowing

I’ve taken a brief break from geology to sort through photos of flowers.  Yes, you’re going to get hit with Northwest flora sometime this winter.  Probably more than one post, actually, because I’ve got a lot of photos of flowers.

Aside from giving me a warm, flowery feeling, these pictures have reminded me just how far from nature we get sometimes.  It just didn’t occur to me that some of the stuff we see sold in the flower stalls at Pike Place Market is actually local, and started its career wild.  I mean, lilies and iris grow wild up here.  This, I can tell you, is astonishing for someone from Arizona.  Never even considered that these things originated in the wild, but now I think on it, they must have done.  Even the most artificial of our offerings at the local florist started somewhere wild, however long ago.

So, I now know that the pretty purple irises and the brilliant yellow lilies I stumble across whilst adventuring aren’t escapees from some bugger’s flower garden.  Soon, I shall know far more – and when I’m out on a walk, I’ll not only be able to identify various flowers, but understand why they’re there and what they do.  They’ll help me understand the geology I’m looking at – some plants only prefer certain soils, some can only grow in disturbed ground, some have rocky relationships.  Instead of just exclaiming “Ooo, pretty flower!” I’ll know right down to the scientific name what I’m cooing over.  And so shall you, should you read me upcoming missive and visit the Northwest.

This has brought me in a roundabout fashion to the pleasures of knowing.  Those who claim ignorance is bliss don’t know a damned thing.

It’s getting harder and harder to relate to those who remain deliberately ignorant.  The more I know, the more I want to know, and the more I enjoy the world.  Well, the world aside from those fools who revel in their own ignorance, anyway.  There was a time I subscribed to the inane belief that science deconstructed things, reduced everything down to meaningless component parts and took the mystery out of life.  Well, back when I wanted elves to exist, I suppose that was true.  Science is murder on belief in elves, fairies, and those sorts of things.  But that wasn’t really the main problem.

Science the way it’s taught in far too many schools saps the life out of everything.  They feed us rote fact and formula and pretend that’s science.  And some of us take their word for it.  Some of us had decent schools, but were unfortunate enough to grow up with churches and religious sorts babbling inanity at us and calling it truth, all the while dismissing science as cold and mechanical and in no way spiritual.  Some of us got screwed from both sides.  We end up with a bad taste in our mouths.  (To be fair, they did the same thing with Shakespeare, too.)

That’s really too bad, because none of it’s true.  Science isn’t cold and impersonal and dry and dull.  It doesn’t suck the mystery out of life.  Knowing how something works doesn’t make it boring.  Quite the contrary.  Things seem far more fascinating to me since I started studying science.  Nothing seems like it’s been torn down.  Oh, well, maybe temporarily, while we reduce big bits to easier-to-understand-bits, but we don’t leave the pieces lying around after.  We put it all back together, and with this new understanding, it becomes far more fascinating than it was before.  The truth is more complicated, stranger, more wonderful than anything our paltry imaginations could come up with. 

Astronomy’s an obvious example.  I’m reading a book on tides just now, and the fellow who wrote it laments the fact that astronomy has revealed the stars to be nothing more than giant balls of gas burning away in outer space.  He pines for the days when people thought the dark sky was a solid cover around the world, and stars the light of heaven shining through little pinpricks.

The gentleman may know how tides work, but he obviously doesn’t know jack diddly shit about how stars do, or he wouldn’t be pining for the old light-o-heaven days.  I feel perhaps I should sit down with him, bust out a book of photos from Hubble, and start discussing the fact that we are made of star stuff.  There is absolutely nothing boring about balls of gas burning away in outer space.  Heaven is ho-hum compared to that.

Then, perhaps, I shall take him out digging in the dirt.  Just ordinary dirt.  Ordinary, that is, until you realize that every handful of soil is a thriving community of bacteria and fungi, microscopic (and maybe not-so-microscopic, depending on the handful) arthropods and nematode worms, without which all those lovely large plants we make such a fuss over would not exist.  That’s not even mentioning the minerals, other organic matter, and so forth.

There are more things in a gallon of seawater than are dreamt of in his philosophy. 

The more I know, the less I take for granted.  Oh, it’s a humbling experience, and some people hate being humble, but if a person needs to strut, can’t they at least take pride in the fact that we can comprehend this shit?  Seriously.  When I look at the fact that we can trace, from physics through chemistry on to geology and biology, with plenty of other ologies along the way, how an animal works, it astonishes me.  That’s one hell of an accomplishment, that is.  We deserve a pat on the back for it.  And then it’s time to show some humility in the face of the complexity of even very simple things.  We don’t yet understand the interrelationships between geology, ecology and biology in minute detail, although we’re getting better about comprehending some of the details.  Thing is, it makes me appreciate even the least of creatures when I realize that the little nobodies of the animal kingdom, the dullest of dirt, play starring roles in nature’s show.  Even the mosquitoes that tormented me up on Hurricane Hill bothered me less – I know they’re evil little disease vectors and cause no end of itchy misery even when they’re not carrying something potentially lethal, but they’re also feeding a lot of the wildlife I love so much.  Besides, through the miracle of modern science, they likely won’t kill me, so I can live with them.  And they have a bizarre beauty of their own.

I was sitting on some steps at the visitor’s center, and saw a flying ant.  Before I started studying biology, before I started really looking at such things, I would’ve freaked out.  “Ew, stinging flying insect getitaway!” squish once would have been my response.  Instead, I brought my camera to bear:

Look at how lovely he is!  Or possibly she.  I’m not even sure what it is, but someday I’ll know.  I might even learn why its wings have such pretty stripes, and why it’s that rich mahogany color.  For now, it’s enough to know that it’s an arthropod, one of the most successful species on earth; that its compound eyes see the world in a much different way from ours; and that it’s a fellow creature with a place and a purpose in the local ecology.  We got on famously.  It posed for a bit, then wandered off into the tall grass without bothering me in the least.  And because of science, I saw beauty in the world I never would have suspected existed. 

This little critter evolved, and has a story to tell.  So does every other critter, and the plants the critters live in, and the rocks they land on, and the dirt everything’s buried in.  And you want to tell me science sucks the wonder out of life?  Seriously?  The “Lord God made ’em all” crowd’s the one I usually see giving the minuscule short shrift.  And I begin to understand why some Buddhists and Jains are so careful of insects, although I doubt they appreciate them on the critters’ own terms.  I’ve found that science removes the need for me to anthropormorphize things in order to appreciate them.  I can like them just fine for what they are, without ever ascribing human wants, needs and emotions to them.  Seeing the world through compound eyes – you want to tell me that’s not wonderful?

“God did it” is a horribly dull, boring explanation for all the incredible things around us.  Even if you believe in God, just leaving it there seems like an insult.  Because without knowing how it works and how it’s done, there’s so much less to appreciate, y’see.  Take people who can’t watch Nascar because they find it deadly dull.  I grew up with a man who used to race go-carts with A.J. Foyt.  Watching cars run rings around a track never got boring for us, because my dad knew what the drivers were doing, and could point out the techniques.  “See how that car snuck in behind the other?  He’s drafting.  Notice that little twitch toward the inside lane – somebody’s getting ready to shake things up.”  Fuel consumption, air flow, engineering both for safety and performance, the way the tires respond to the macadam and how different weather conditions can change the entire outcome of the contest – all of these things I knew, and it made the races far more than an exercise in waiting for the next big crash. 

Science, like watching Nascar with a former racer and engineer, turns the world interesting.  It makes life much more than an exercise in waiting for something more interesting to happen.

Goethe once wrote, “He who cannot draw on three thousand years of history is living from hand to mouth.”  Well, he actually wrote, “He who does not know how to give himself an account of three thousand years may remain in the dark, inexperienced, and live from day to day,” but close enough.  So how about thirteen billion and change?  Rather makes three thousand years look like living paycheck-to-paycheck, don’t it just?

The world without science is an impoverished place.  It’s just a shame so many folks don’t realize they’re living in poverty.

The Pleasures of Knowing

Dumbfuckery du Jour

Memo to Gov. McDonnell and idiot friends thereof:  Taking $2.5 billion from the feds to balance your state budget does not make you a brilliant balancer:

The Wall Street Journal editorial board has an item today heralding Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell’s (R) $400 million budget surplus. According to the WSJ, it “proves” the efficacy of the Republican approach, and reminds federal policymakers to “employ the Virginia strategy.”
In his ridiculous economic speech today, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) also singled out Bob McDonnell for praise, noting how impressive it was to see the Virginia Republican “balance his state’s budget … without raising taxes.”
McDonnell himself has started patting himself on the back. Last week, he stopped by the Fox Business Network to boast about the greatness of his “conservative, fiscal, practical approach” to budgeting. McDonnell added his way is a model for reducing the “dependence of people on government.” Fox Business described it as “an amazing story.”
So amazing, in fact, that it deserves a closer look. Indeed, there’s a key detail about Virginia’s surplus that Republican leaders and their media outlets hope you’ll overlook.

Gov. Bob McDonnell decries rising federal spending, but a handout from Washington is helping him balance Virginia’s cash-strapped budget, a fiscal think tank says.

If not for $2.5 billion from President Barack Obama’s economic-stimulus program, the state’s shortfall would have swelled from more than $4 billion to nearly $5.5 billion, according to the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis.

Republicans consider this “an amazing story.” That’s not the adjective I’d use.

Oh, it’s certainly the adjective I’d use.  It’s amazing to me that Cons can be this bloody stupid, ungrateful, and blatant in their lying.

And here’s something else amazing: Faux News and the lengths they’ll go to in order to whip their dumbshit viewers into a frenzy:

My one wish out of all of this is that everyone who watches Fox News for news becomes aware that their second most invested shareholder is Arab and, yeah even I gotta admit, looks like a South Park Cartoon Terrorist. And Fox and Friends just got caught calling this co-owner of their parent company, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a “funder of radical madrassahs.”

One wonders how Prince Alwaleed bin Talal will feel about his money going to an organization that subsequently smears him as a terrorist (though they were careful not to mention said “funder of radical madrassahs” by name because, y’know, the average Faux News viewer can be trusted not to be able to add 1 and 1).

Bing’s rant on this is epic.

Dumbfuckery du Jour

Wither Geology? National Parks Edition

I don’t know if the rest of you have noticed, but the vast majority of parks seem to all but ignore geology.  You find little informational signs dotted everywhere talking about flora, fauna, settlement, discovery, etc.  But just a few pathetic mentions, if any, of the geology behind the spectacular scenery.  Unless, of course, you’re at a volcano, where there’s a smidgen more.

Why can’t more states be like Wyoming, where (mostly accurate) roadsigns point up the fascinating geology even if it doesn’t explode?  (Were these the roadsigns you’d mentioned, my dear Lyle?  After seeing the pictures and reading your description, I am so totally going to Wyoming!)

Olympic National Park was pretty biocentric, but there were dibs and dabs of geology here and there.  In the Hurricane Ridge Visitor’s Center, they actually condescended to have a small display:

I guess it’s a small consolation that I couldn’t fit it into one shot, but still.  And in the whole gift shop, no books on geology.  Plenty on plants, animals, and people, but not the whole reason for the scenery.  Pathetic.  I guess if it doesn’t explode, they figure people aren’t interested.

Up on the Cirque Rim Trail, we ran in to one sign that gave a nod to geologic processes, but only obliquely.  I doubt many people consider what glaciers do to be geology, and nothing up here would make them the wiser:

Well, it’s something.

So, after dozens of signs talking about flowers and weather and animals and such, you can imagine my squeal of joy when we got up on the Hurricane Hill Trail and discovered this unabashed paen to the geologic forces that created the scenery:

Here’s yer folded rocks, because I knows you wants ’em:

So there, at last, we have something calling attention to the incredible forces of the earth, and celebrating rocks.  Then it was a geologic drought as far as signs went for the rest of the hike.

When I went up on the mountain the next day, I caught up to a sign along Hurricane Ridge Road that give a hint that geology wuz here:

Finally!  Ice as a sculptor, rather than just “Hey, glaciers used to be here, and look how all the plants and animals had to adapt to them!”

And here along the shores of Lake Crescent, there’s a sign that actually uses the word “geological.”  I guess that’s something:

And then, at Ruby Beach, a sign with the word geology!

But they had to go and use the “everybody’s gonna die” hook, which is disappointing to me.  I dunno, but I get tired of roping people in by telling them how geology’s gonna kill ’em.

And that was pretty much it.  Just a handful of mentions, nothing substantive, in the midst of so many geologic wonders.  And this was voluminous compared to most parks I’ve been to.  Why is it that geology gets such short shrift?

Wither Geology? National Parks Edition

PZ Is Ailing

Our Cephalopod Overlord got the kind of phone call from his doctor’s office that no one wants to get, the one that says, “Get to the hospital, like, NOW, and if your university has a time machine, we suggest you use it to get there sooner.”  Now he’s wearing the latest in hospital fashion and waiting to see if they slice-and-dice or merely poke a few holes in him in the ay-em.

I’d be a bit more worried about him if my grandfather’s ticker hadn’t outlasted his mental faculties, and this in an age when cardiac medicine was a bit more primitive than today.  There’s an excellent chance PZ will still be one of the Horsemen when I’ve become a doddering old fool.  Still, one worries a little.  Okay, a lot.

And wonders what should be sent in lieu of flowers, because flora just seems wrong somehow. And I doubt they’d let a bouquet of sea anemones in the door.  So, balloons!

And something warm to cuddle up to in those drafty hospital corridors:

Best o’ medical science to ye, PZ!

PZ Is Ailing

Dumbfuckery du Jour

Way to go, fucktards:

For nearly eight years, the right had a simple mantra when it came to defending the Bush/Cheney White House against criticism from the left: liberals were emboldening terrorists. If there was another large-scale attack, it’d be our fault.
It’s hard to overstate how common this was. The left was constantly reminded that al Qaeda had access to modern communications, and could monitor American media. If Democrats, liberals, and other Bush detractors made us appear divided in a time of crisis, and sent a signal to the world that the Commander in Chief lacked Americans’ support, we’d look weak and invite terrorism. Progressives in America, the argument went, were — deliberately or not — helping our enemies.
In the summer of 2010, it’s interesting to see just how much has changed.

Islamic radicals are seizing on protests against a planned Islamic community center near Manhattan’s Ground Zero and anti-Muslim rhetoric elsewhere as a propaganda opportunity and are stepping up anti-U.S. chatter and threats on their websites.

One jihadist site vowed to conduct suicide bombings in Florida to avenge a threatened Koran burning, while others predicted an increase in terrorist recruits as a result of such actions. […]

A U.S. official on Sunday said the administration was taking the upswing in anti-U.S. chatter seriously. “Terrorists like al-Qaeda and its violent allies are motivated already to try to attack the United States, but when it comes to propaganda, extremists are pure opportunists. They’ll use whatever they can,” the official said.

And the right is giving them all kinds of fodder to work with, isn’t it?
“We are handing al Qaeda a propaganda coup, an absolute propaganda coup,” with the Islamic-center controversy, said Evan Kohlmann, an independent terrorism consultant at Flashpoint Partners who monitors jihadist websites.

So, you hystiCon fuckwits, I do not ever again want to hear how anyone on the left is emboldening terrorists or letting the terrorists win.  I do not want to hear a single peep cross your lips about respecting the President of the United States no matter what kind of jackass you all managed to get elected.  I want you to remember that the instant a President took office with a D rather than an R after his name, you all forgot your “patriotic” rhetoric and practically started writing al Qaeda’s recruitment pamphlets for them. 

I expected no less of all of you, considering you stood by and cheered for eight years while Bush the Younger and his sidekick Darth Cheney shat regularly upon the Constitution.  You’ve practically made xenophobia into a religion.  But the last remaining hope I have is that somewhere in the pea-sized rotted smear of gray matter that can only be referred to as a brain due to its location within your skulls, you realize that what little authority you had to babble about “freedom” and tell the left to STFU lest the terrorists win has perished like a snowflake in a blast furnace.

Of course, I’ll be expecting your usual hypocrisy.

Dumbfuckery du Jour

Things I Found in the Twitterverse

I woke up to a slew of interesting links on Twitter this – um, well, afternoon.  Look, I work nights, all right?  The crack o’ noon is my version of other peoples’ 6 ay-em.  I once had to explain this to a scheduling manager at a former job who didn’t understand why we night folk screamed whenever she scheduled us for an early morning shift due to “business needs.”  I’m not sure she quite got it, but the requests to drag ourselves in at what amounted to 3 in the morning for us dropped off precipitously afterward.

Anyway.  On to the fun and interesting bits.

Via Ron Schott, we’ve got a fascinating NYT article on idiocy in our national parks.  Let me just go over a few things that came to mind as I was reading this:

1.  Parents who put their kids on wild animals in order to get a cute vacation shot should not have bred in the first place.  Now, those parents may be thinking, “But it’s an herbivore!  What harm can it do?”  Take it from someone who grew up with horses: lots.  Being kicked, stomped, head-butted, bitten, thrown from, and rolled on by something that weighs over 2,000 pounds is no joke.

2.  People who use their little emergency beacon to summon search and rescue helicopters because their water tastes salty deserve to be charged for the cost of the rescue flight.  People who do it three fucking times in less than 48 hours deserve to be left out in the wilderness permanently. 

3.  Yes, you may want to get a good angle for your photograph.  Yes, backing up to get everyone in the shot seems like a good idea.  No, you shouldn’t do it when standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. 

4.  If you’re one of those people who will ignore the signs regarding scalding hot water at Yellowstone and decide to take a dip in a geyser anyway, please be sure to cook your reproductive organs thoroughly, preferably before breeding, and do not ever adopt.  Thank you.


Let’s move on to happier subjects, shall we?  Also via Ron, I discovered the Arizona State Geologist’s blog, in which I discovered that we still have a week to ensure Kartchner Caverns gets some much-deserved largess from Coke.  Go here to cast your votes!  Bonus – you can vote as many times as you like.  Now, Arizona’s leadership is hideously stupid at the moment, but a national treasure like Kartchner shouldn’t have to suffer for it.

Here’s some incentive:

I’ve been there, and no photograph I’ve found is a patch on the real thing, but it’s incredibly beautiful, supremely fragile, and wholly worth preserving.

I also learned a geologist has been appointed as deputy supervisor of the Coconino National Forest.  Considering how much geology there is in the Coconino National Forest, this strikes me as a very wise idea.

Speaking of much geology, Silver Fox has more delicious pictures up from her Oregon trip here, here and here.  I have three items on my agenda now: visit the Petersen Rock Garden, the Dee-Wright Observatory, and get adopted by Silver Fox.

If that proves impossible, I’ll settle for being adopted by Erik Klemetti, who also visits some of the most beautiful geology on earth – in this case, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, plus a few others

Look, I’m proud to be an engineer’s daughter, but the field trips aren’t half as lovely!  Sorry, Dad.

And, practically in my backyard, Brian Romans of Clastic Detritus has found an undersea volcano going boom, complete with live feed!  Living in the Ring of Fire has its compensations.  Oh, yes it does!

Things I Found in the Twitterverse

Dumbfuckery du Jour

When you become a Con, you apparently get a little license that allows you to be an outrageous hypocrite.  Case in point:

I’m embarrassed to admit, I didn’t see this line of attack coming. It just seemed too ridiculous, even for Republicans, but I’m reminded why low expectations are rarely low enough with these folks.

For the second straight year, the first family has landed on this island of quaint seaside towns, second homes and working farms for a late-summer getaway.

But this year, more so than last, political opponents are trying to hang a question over the visit: Does President Obama deserve a vacation?

The Republican National Committee has taken to calling Obama “the Clark Griswold president,” a mocking reference to the Chevy Chase character in National Lampoon’s “Vacation” movies. With unemployment claims climbing again, the GOP was hoping its criticism would have a certain national resonance. And maybe it will.

I haven’t the foggiest idea whether the public will actually hold a 10-day break against the president, but this even being a subject of discussion is bizarre.
Before 2000, the president with the most vacation time in the modern era was Reagan. Bush not only beat Reagan’s record, he did so with 17 months to spare. Spanning his two terms, Bush spent 487 days at Camp David, and 490 days at a ranch in Crawford. That’s a total of 977 days — about a third of his overall presidency.
And Republicans are going after Obama’s down time? Seriously?

This is taking IOKIYAR to absurd extremes.  These dumbshits are more like a comedy sketch than a political party.  In point o’ fact, there are plenty of comedians who are better at politics than they are – Sen. Al Franken, for example.  There are comedians who deserve to be taken far more seriously than our Cons – Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert spring to mind.  Why we don’t laugh these fucktards out of our political discourse is an impenetrable mystery to me.

Until we do laugh them off the stage, they’ll strangle the political discourse like kudzu.  There are conservatives who have brains and occasionally use them, whom one can disagree with but only after giving serious consideration to their points.  The Cons up on the national stage right now are not those conservatives.  And our discourse, not to mention our nation, suffers for it.

They’re not even useful idiots, unless you’re a corporation looking for handouts, or a rich bastard looking to rake in cash from the pockets of the poor.  They have no fucking credibility on any subject whatsoever.  Can our pathetic political media please start admitting that and taking some time to call them out for their hypocrisy, inanity, and general dumbfuckery rather than just regurgitating their pointless talking points?

Yeah, I know the answer.  Doesn’t mean I’ll stop asking.

And a memo to the idiots using the idiots for fun and obscene profit: fire’s useful, too – until it gets out of control and burns your neighborhood down.  Keep that in mind.

Dumbfuckery du Jour