A (Not Actually Very) Brief Introduction to ETEV, With Icebreakers

I imagine we have a few new folk now that we’re in shiny new digs, so before we get back to our usual routine, let’s have a few introductions. Then I’ll bring you up to speed on what’s ongoing round the cantina. And then you’ll have the floor.

So, a semi-brief history of Dana, then. I grew up in Arizona, which had lots of rocks and not enough plants to cover them up. This probably explains why I’m inordinately fond of rocks of all kinds. I mean, this is aside from the fact that rocks are a lot more fascinating than many people think. You may be dubious right now, but my long-time readers can tell you: geology rocks.

Also: geologists are really fond of terrible puns. Sorry. (But listen: if you have friends who love rocks and puns and are impossible to buy gifts for, I am an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and can hook you up with some certified Holy Schist. Just drop me a line at dhunterauthor at gmail, and I’ll get you sorted.)

I wanted to be a speculative fiction writer. So I spent my youth filling endless notebooks and reading books and thinking I was too much of a word person to math, which meant I wouldn’t be so great at professional science. But I wanted some science in my fantasy worlds, and I was really super tired of made-up places that were basically just big blobs of landmass surrounded by an ocean with random mountains and rivers bunged in. So in college, I took some geology and physical geography courses from one of the best teachers ever, and found out even number-averse folks such as myself can understand science. Still didn’t think of myself as a scientist, though.

I moved to Seattle because it’s gorgeous and I’d set some stories here, and I was bloody sick of endless sunshine. I had a vague idea I’d be moving to a place with some interesting landscapes, but I didn’t realize it would reignite my passion for geology. I ended up traipsing all over the place looking at rocks (which is harder here because, unlike Arizona, plants grow everywhere). I wrote about the rocks. Geologists found out I was writing about rocks and claimed me as one of their own. They taught me far more than I ever expected to learn. They made it possible for me to get hired at the Scientific American blog network, even! And so I became a science blogger without ever intending to.

Image shows me standing under a lip of massive basalt, in front of streaky sandstone rocks that the basalt overlies.
Moi showing off a lovely contact between sedimentary and igneous layers at Elephant Rock in Oregon.

Around the same time, I was busy discovering that I’d lost my faith in any sort of god whatsoever. I’d been through all the stages, from vague sort of “there must be something out there” to a few months of being a Pentacostal Christian, then drifting through some vague “God exists but you won’t find him in church” Christianity, on to paganism, with a stop at Buddhism and Taoism before the day that I took that God Delusion Index quiz and discovered I’d actually lost all faith in the supernatural whatsoever. And I knew just where to turn, because I’d already found Pharyngula whilst researching biology in order to build some better aliens. So I was able to find atheist bloggers like Greta Christina and Stephanie Zvan and a great many others. It all worked out great.

For a while, I was a Dawkins-reading, fire-breathing New Atheist. But the Bush years had turned me into a certified-liberal political blogger, and my family and teachers had spent a lifetime instilling me the idea that it was up to us to speak up, speak out, and change the world. A lot of those SF novels I’d spent my life reading taught the same. Reading history had shown me the power of social justice movements. And hanging around with the feminist and social justice contingent within the atheist movement had caused me to encounter quite a lot of atheists who, in fact, were not actually more enlightened by their lack of faith: they were just as prone to bigotry, sexism, racism, and misogyny as their religious counterparts. Obviously, conquering religion wasn’t going to fix everything. Atheism alone wasn’t enough.

And so, here I am today, one of those social justice warrior atheists: completely unapologetic about my atheism, a staunch feminist, trying to do my part to dismantle the systems of oppression that hold people down due to gender, race, orientation, class, and disability, among others. I came to The Orbit because this is where we’re going to be able to take that to the next level, and I couldn’t be more excited.

But it’s not all rocks and revolution round here. We do plenty of fun stuff. We talk about our pets, for instance. See, I’ve got this cat who’s just about 22 years old now:

Image shows Misha, a black and white tuxedo cat, lying down on a blanketed set of legs with her eyes closed. She looks very regal. Possibly a bit smug.
Misha rests upon her human throne.

She has reached this advanced age not due to any special food or care I’ve given her, but because she apparently won a genetic lottery, and possibly due to a pact with some underworld lord or other. She is one of the most homicidal cats I’ve ever owned. She regularly tries to eat chunks of my guests. She bites me when I talk about getting a dog, or when I let the other cat in. If she’d been my human child, I’d probably have been on the news apologizing to the victims’ families long before now. But she can also be sweet and adorable and funny and kind, and so I’ve spent over half my life with her as my companion and been happy to do it. Best hellcat ever. You’ll see lots of her round here and even more if you follow me on Facebook.

We currently live in a house containing two other pets, Boo the born-on-Halloween kitty, and Pipa the miniature pinscher. They are Misha’s polar opposites, in that they are the sweetest so-and-sos in the universe. Misha sometimes deigns to let them mingle with us, and they go on adventures with me, and so you’ll see them round here, too.

Image shows Pipa, a black and tan miniature Pinscher, lying down in the foreground. Beyond her is Boo, a kitty with big black and white patches, curled up and asleep. They are lying on a bed covered in green and blue blankets.
Pipa and Boo hanging out on Misha’s bed.

One of my housemates is a gardener, and the other is a musician, so you’ll see plenty of plants and get word about the Seattle music scene from time to time. You’ll also meet friends like Funny Diva and B, who are my two staunch adventuring companions. You’ll also encounter my friends from the geoblogosphere, especially Lockwood DeWitt, who continues to teach me a remarkable amount of geology as we ramble all over Oregon in the summers.

Image shows me and Lockwood crouched on the basalt beach at Cape Perpetua, with a bit of ocean in the background. We are both intent on something on the ground that Lockwood is showing me. Lockwood is an older man with long gray hair, wearing a forest green jacket and a cap. I'm waring a blue jacket and have my long brown hair in a ponytail.
Lockwood and me inspecting features in the basalt, Cape Perpetua. Image Credit: Cujo359.

We’ve got two ongoing series at the moment. I’m doing a page-by-page review of Escape, which was written by a woman who fled the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints cult with her children. It’s a harrowing tale, but an important one. You can get caught up here if you wish to join us.

I’m also reviewing three sets of creationist earth science textbooks. Creationists hate evolution, but they hated geology first, and continue to do so. They have this young earth version they try to do, and, well, it’s probably even worse than you think. The similarities and differences between the different textbooks is fascinating. The ways they twist and turn science to try to fit their narrow beliefs is extraordinary. Sometimes, it’s funny. At times, it makes me wish I was still drinking whilst I’m reading, but I learned early on that I’d die of alcohol poisoning if I drank enough to cope, so I’m doing these sober. You can catch up on those posts here.

Do please drop by on Saturdays, when we have our Saturday Song. And if there’s any particular themes you’d like me to run with, do let me know!

At the end of the month, I’ll be starting back up with my Mount St. Helens series over at Rosetta Stones, so if you’d like to get up to speed on those, begin here.

Right. So that should about have got you up to speed if you’re new round here, and maybe reminded you of some good ol’ times if you’re a regular. I’m turning this over to you now, my darlings. I’d like to see the newcomers get to know the regulars and vice versa. So, let us begin: tell us about your passions, your pets, and what brought you to En Tequila Es Verdad. I’ll fish you out of moderation as soon as possible, but please bear with me: I’m posting this right before my bedtime, so I won’t be around for the next several hours.


A (Not Actually Very) Brief Introduction to ETEV, With Icebreakers

14 thoughts on “A (Not Actually Very) Brief Introduction to ETEV, With Icebreakers

  1. 1

    Geologist and geoblogger here. Long-time reader of ETEV. Don’t have any pets but used to have a great Australian sheppard and some various cats.

  2. rq

    Oooo, passions and pets!
    First, hi, my ‘nym is rq, and I’m originally from the North American continent, but due to various extenuating life circumstances, I have been living in eastern Europe for ten years this June.
    I like roses, science fiction and melodramatic romantic movies (and music), but that last one’s a secret, so shhhh. I work in a scientific field closely related to law enforcement, and have recently undertaken some endeavours that may or may not lead to professional development. Time will tell whether shit-stirring actually pays off in the long run.
    As for pets, currently I have three kids, two cats and one dog (who is a recent acquisition and is the reason the cats’ relationship has thawed somewhat – common enemies and all that). And a husband, who is wonderfully house-trained and overall capable, so I consider that a win.
    I read ETEV off and on as an aside to reading Pharygula, but I first started commenting when Dana inadvertently (through wilful ignorance!!!) misidentified yarrow as queen anne’s lace. I like to consider that the moment when Dana’s unidentified flower posts really took off, but that may be giving myself too much credit. Since then, I have been a stalwart follower of Dana and an aficionado of everything geologic that is associated with ETEV – with a special focus on Mount Saint Helen’s, of course. I’m waiting for Dana’s book on the subject, which I will hawk to all possible friends and family, because it will be that great.
    The atheism part for me came slowly, through various (mis)adventures in having a first child out of wedlock and seeing some of the responses of supposed friends. I suppose I still hesitate to call myself an outright atheist, even though that’s what I am – I’m an atheist with a fondness for the ritual of catholicism (basically, going to mass kept me sane during university – weird, right?) and for the funtimes of paganism (because growing up in the culture I did, you go to church, and then you celebrate all the pagan festivals, and that’s how it happens).
    That’s probably more than I’ve said about myself on FtB ETEV over all the years I’ve commented there, but I’m pretty sure none of this is particularly new information to any regulars.
    So that’s me! Also, I’m a staunch defender of pretty much everything that Dana writes. The only nonsense I like to put up with is hers. :)

  3. 3

    I mostly lurk. Sometimes I don’t. I enjoy learning about social justice and geology. Amazingly enough, there’s a blog for that!

  4. 4

    G’day all and, wow, Dana Hunter, did not see this change of blog hoster coming! Good luck and following you across from FTB where you’ve been my favourite blogger for a while now.

    Me? Aussie living in Adelaide South Australia – up in the hills. Part time worker and volunteer bush-carer. Huge astronomy buff & SF fan, grew up on Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Pamela Sargent (Venus terraforming trilogy, Earthseed etc ..) and so many more. Love space exploration, botany – especially my local native plants, ecology, geology especially in relation to planets, history, science generally. Also really worried by the Global Overheating (“warming”is a misleadingly mild word to use for it in my view) and the massive loss in biodiversity planet-wide which we’ve inflicted on our pale blue dot.

    Am owned by a black tortoiseshell cat named Zosma after the proper name for the star Delta Leonis and a Jack Russell x Fox terrier (which I didn’t name) called Harry.

    – StevoR

    (Er, preview is calling me “anonymous” although I’m logged in, hopefully just a temporary glitch?)

  5. 5

    PS. Also a feminist and proud SJW.

    FWIW. My whole system of ethics is basically summed up as the axioms that

    1) People are people & should be treated like people i.e. with respect whoever and whatever else they are.

    2) The world is already awful enough without any of us ever needing to make it worse for others and the world around us generally.

    3) So think and be kind.

  6. 6

    SteveOR – Seems to have been temporary. Your name is showing just fine! We’re still mucking about with the stuff under the hood, so there will probably be oddities. We’re doing our best to make it better.

  7. 8

    RQ’s here!!!! She’s my expert cheerleader and ass-kicker, folks. She knows that being a staunch defender of an author means equal parts providing encouragement and giving that author hell when they’re off-base. And she brings us the best geology from Latvia! :-)

  8. 11

    Hey hey. I don’t think I ever commented back at FtB because I could never get my login to work, but I’ve been reading for a while and now I’m here. I hope this is a big success. I’ve got to admit I worry there’s the potential for groupthink and/or an in-group vs out-group mentality arising from a blogging collective with explicit political commitments. Obviously that risk is far from unique to social justice movements though, and I too am an SJW, so I hope this entire collective, as well as your blog in particular, are massive successes.

  9. 12

    Thanks Dana. Yes, all’s good. Must admit I got a surprise after missing just one day of being on the computer. But its looking good. Like the Orbit notion and logo and name and idea.

  10. 13

    Hi Dana and all. Just got around to signing up.

    I have to admit that I’m a bit concerned about ads. Will there be an ad-free option?

    Oh, and for Dana: I’m already building catapults for this fall!

  11. 14

    Hi Dana et al. I’m an environmental biologist, long time reader of ETEV, happy to see this new network established and wish all of the writers the very best. Looking forward to great discussions here in the future.

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