Saturday, February 7, 2009

8 Years of Tax Cuts

They've done such a good job of strengthening our economy......I can see why there's such widespread bipartisan agreement that we should have eight years more of the same. From here. Oops, did I say bipartisan? Those darned democrats really don't seem like they've boarded the bipartisan boat.From Jesus' General. The dems just don't seem to understand the opportunity for creating educational fairy tales to inspire and enlighten the next generation. Remember, if a dead, starved horse isn't doing the work it needs to do, you should first consider getting a stouter whip. That is much more likely to be effective than wasting money buying feed for the other horses. A message from Proud Of Republicanism, Totally Like You (PORTLY).

Caturday- There's Cat Hair in My Laptop's Bag

Another of Ozma's favorite sleeping spots is in my computer bag. Though lately she seems to have moved back into the spice cabinet. She moves around. After a week to 10 days or so, she'll move on to some other spot.

Friday, February 6, 2009

What This Blog is Worth

$2792. So there. If I figure minimum wage as $8.00 per hour (which is basically what it is in Oregon), that would represent basically 350 hours of work. I suspect I've put at least that much, probably more, into writing and mechanics (trying to figure out how to make things work the way I think they ought to work). If I consider how much time I've put into finding and cogitating on the stuff I post here, I'd guess it's working out to nearly a buck an hour. Of course, as you can tell by all the advertising here, the money is what it's all about. So that's it folks, I'm out of here.

Hee, hee.

Website Value Estimator here.

Friday Fragment: Welded Tuff

Today's fragment is a rock from eastern Oregon: a very nice welded tuff. I've just spent a little time trying to "disambiguate" tuff from ignimbrite; I've always sort of assumed that the ignimbrite was the event, the process so to speak, and tuff was the deposit, the product. According to wikipedia at least, both are deposits. And I'm left not too clear on exactly what distinguishes the two words. (Late addition: actually, I think tuff implies that the deposit is lithified; the deposit is an ignimbrite, whether it's lithified or not) But the general outlines, without worrying too much about terminology, are pretty easy. A large, explosive volcanic eruption ejects a sizable amount of pyroclastics (pyro=fire, clast=broken) which then travel across the countryside- I've described it to kids as a very powerful volcanic sandstorm. When this fragmentary material settles out to the ground different processes may cause it to solidfy as a rock. Whatever the process, the result is known as a tuff.

With a welded tuff, the fragmentary material is still hot and "sticky" or plastic enough to cement together as it settles. So this is not just a "volcanic sandstorm," it's a molten volcanic sandstorm. Imagine a "sandstorm" strong enough to carry rocks the size of a golf ball, and hot enough to still be a little molten (probably in the range of 700 degrees C, or about 1300 F) Now imagine this "storm" covering hundreds to thousands of square miles. It would be a very bad day. As I used to say when I was doing some volunteer teaching, it would be a fascinating event to witness. From low orbit.The major components of this rock are glass, sanidine, lithic fragments and more glass. I've looked at it in thin section, but I don't remember anything really being identifiable other than sanidine (a high-temperature form of potassium feldspar) and very dirty glass. The lithic (rock) fragments are presumably fragments of the country rock that were ripped out by the explosion and transported along with the ash flow. They're a mixed bag, though clearly of volcanic origin themselves. The thing that's really cool about this particular flow is the abundance of fiamme.
I think in all my previous rock and mineral posts, the full pictures have been reduced to 15% of original along both horizontal and vertical, and the "crops" have been bits of the full-sized picture, without reduction. The above is a crop, but reduced by 50%. I also have now figured out how to set the picture size in the the html, rather than settling for Blogger's default. This should be reflected with better resolution in my pictures. (As an aside, any geoblogger who'd like a full-sized copy of any of these pictures is welcome to contact me. I'd be happy to email the .jpg files; they're generally around 1.5 Mb) At any rate the above picture shows a nice pair of fiamme. As I mentioned in last week's Friday Fragment pumice can be thought of as the volcanic equivalent of popcorn; an enormous portion of the rock is pore space. If a pumice fragment is buried under a significant burden, and it's still hot enough to deform, it's easy to picture the pumice simply being mashed flat. The gas is pressed out of it, the walls collapse, and the glass bubbles weld together to form a more or less solid mass of glass. This isn't the only way fiamme form, but it's the common mode in welded tuffs.The above crop (full size) shows a couple of interesting features. First, you can begin to get an idea of just how abundant the sanidine is in this rock, though you can see that pretty well in the previous picture too. This picture also shows a couple of the lithic fragments along the middle of the right side. The large one is quite angular (as you would expect from an explosion fragment), and with the long axis about 60 degrees off from the bedding plane (which is basically horizontal). A fiamme would be concordant with bedding plane.I picked up this sample in spring of '84, and have never had an opportunity to get back to the spot, or more accurately to look for it and stop. I'm sure I would spot it on a daytime drive-by; I've got a clear mental image of the outcrop. But I don't know exactly where the spot is, other than it's not too far E-SE from Burns on route 78. In the above GE map, Burns is the town on the left (west) side; the road coming in from the SW and passing out to the NE is US 20. The road leaving Burns directly eastward then turning SE is 78.

This whole quadrant of Oregon is lousy with welded tuffs. When people think of Oregon volcanoes, most think of Hood, Mazama (Crater Lake), basically the big composite cones of the Cascades. People with a little more background will certainly know about the Columbia River Basalts. But it takes a while trotting around the state before you realize how ubiquitous, and varied- in composition, age and form- Oregon's volcanoes are. I think I would be quite accurate in saying that the only state more uniformly volcanic in nature is Hawaii.

57 Years Ago

One of the perks of moving into middle age is hearing over and over again of the deaths of icons from your youth. It was widely reported yesterday that Lux Interior, the frontman for the "punk" band The Cramps had passed away. The Cramps weren't my favoritist group ever, but I liked "Human Fly," and a number of their other songs. It's just odd to consider such an energetic, full-of-life, and brash kind of guy, one who I always sort of thought of as "my age" (though it turns out, a decade older), is gone. I dread the loss of Clint Eastwood, certainly a hero of my teens and twenties.

But as I commented to my mother a year or so ago, the one I can't even contemplate is The Queen. There's only one: Elizabeth II. It's not so much that she has anything to do with governing England in my mind (very little to none, except as a state representative, as far as I understand); it's more like she's the living corporate logo of that nation. And in this case I use corporate both in a "business" sense and in an "embodied" sense. She is the emblem, the public face, of our mother country. The idea that she might not be some day is very nearly inconceivable to me.

57 years ago today, her father died, leaving her the Queen apparent.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why Am I Even Doing This?

Callan at NOVA Geoblog has started another meme: Bold each of the highest points in each state (and DC) where you have summited. So here we go:

Cheaha Mt., Alabama 2,405'
Mt. McKinley (Denali), Alaska 20,320'
Humphreys Peak, Arizona 12,633'
Magazine Mt., Arkansas 2,753'
Mt. Whitney, California 14,494'
Mt. Elbert, Colorado 14,433'
Mt. Frissell, Connecticut 2,380'
Fort Reno, Washington, DC 429'
Ebright Azimuth, Delaware 448'
Britton Hill, Florida 345'
Brasstown Bald, Georgia 4,784'
Mauna Kea, Hawai'i 13,796'
Borah Peak, Idaho 12,662'
Charles Mound, Illinois, 1,235'
Hoosier Hill Point, Indiana 1,257'
Hawkeye Point, Iowa 1,670'
Mt. Sunflower, Kansas 4,039'
Black Mt., Kentucky 4,139'
Driskill Mt., Louisiana 535'
Mt. Katahdin, Maine 5,267'
Backbone Mt., Maryland 3,360'
Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts 3,487'
Mt. Arvon, Michigan 1,979'
Eagle Mt., Minnesota 2,301'
Woodall Mt., Mississippi 806'
Taum Sauk Mt., Missouri 1,772'
Granite Peak, Montana 12,799'
Panorama Point, Nebraska 5,424'
Boundary Peak, Nevada 13,140'
Mt. Washington, New Hampshire 6,288'
High Point, New Jersey 1,803'
Wheeler Peak, New Mexico 13,161'
Mt. Marcy, New York 5,344'
Mt. Mitchell, North Carolina 6,684'
White Butte, North Dakota 3,506'
Campbell Hill, Ohio 1,549'
Black Mesa, Oklahoma 4,973'
Mt. Hood, Oregon 11,239'
Mt. Davis, Pennsylvania 3,213'
Cerro de Punta, Puerto Rico 4390'
Jerimoth Hill, Rhode Island 812'
Sassafras Mt., South Carolina 3,560'
Harney Peak, South Dakota 7,242'
Clingmans Dome, Tennessee 6,643'
Guadalupe Peak, Texas 8,749'
Kings Peak, Utah 13,528'
Mt. Mansfield, Vermont 4,393'
Mt. Rogers, Virginia 5,729'
Mt Rainier, Washington 14,410'
Spruce Knob, West Virginia 4,861'
Timms Hill, Wisconsin 1,951'
Gannett Peak, Wyoming 13,804'

That's right! None! So all you who have been feeling embarrassed at having done so few ca take comfort in the fact have done fewer. I've been on the flanks of several of these, but to the top of none. This can also serve as a convenient "blank."

Is This Real Life?

I passed by this the other day. My friend Kyle said I really needed to watch it, but I had lost the link. Fortunately, I found the clip again. Kyle is right. You really need to watch it. Apparently the kid has just come out of some kind of oral surgery. No "apparently" about it: he's doped to the gills. Doctor? I'll have what he's having.

It Was Funny the First Time

Face it, we guys never really grow up.
song chart memes
more music charts

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wednesday Words

Reviewing last week's words, we had "tatedlec," which might have been more recognizable in it's more common form, "TATE-DLEC!" This is the sound of an old-style, wind-up clock that's keeping you awake at two o'clock in the morning. We had "expraph," which is the explosive expulsion of a beverage from one's mouth from either laughter or disbelief (Jon Stewart demonstrates this well, though I don't have a video clip at hand). Then there was boriffe, which Callan says is a boring Giraffe; I had thought it might be the island resort near Teneriffe that's really, really dull. Dean Wormer used the world-famous etymology texts at Farber University to determine that "brarthe" is the breathe a woman tries to take when her bra is too small, though I could have sworn that it was what Lisa called her brother when she was first learning to talk. Finally, according to dguzman, a gragabox is the little buzzing sound generator that people with laryngectomies use to replace their voicebox (dguzman, I'm still getting giggles from that one; it's perfect. I would pay to hear someone with a gragabox say "gragabox."). My little siblings also used that word to describe how to get a large cardboard container from one side of the room to the other.

I've been enjoying seeing this practice of trying to make sense out of the word verification pictures in comments to my blog, and some of you have seen my own "captcha" comments on your blogs. Keep up the good work, and eventually we can write a novel in .jpg format. Here are another five for our collective vocabulary:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

It Wasn't Me. Really.

Greg of Greg and Kris fame has tagged me with another meme that I've seen going around. I was saving this for election day, but oh well:

So here's the rules, quoth Greg: "Now you're it. Go to your picture folders and pick out the fourth folder and then the fourth picture."

It's BAD Here

I'm not one to claim familiarity with all internet traditions, but I'm a decent learner. I've been seeing this B.A.D. thing all over the place, but wasn't really clear on the idea. Turns out, basically bloggers are supposed to blogroll (list on the side) blogs that are "smaller" (get fewer visitors) than their own. In a discussion over at E.B. Misfit's place, Connecticut Man linked me up with the post from a couple of years back that was apparently the inspiration for this particular tradition.

Well, first, I'm not sure how to tell if a blog gets less traffic than mine if they don't have a counter up. Second, in nearly every case, when other blogs have counters they get much more traffic than I.

So I almost concluded that I should just blogroll every blog I read that doesn't have a counter. Instead, I found I could have Blogger just list all the blogs in my RSS feed. The lists down the side are organized more or less as they are in my feed. I have combined "Political Humor and Satire" with "Fun," the latter category often including cultural/social buzz. I also combined US News with International News, but I kept Oregon News separate. The distinction between "Mostly Harmless: Liberals," "Politiblogs," and "This 'n that" has become a little fuzzy, but originally was as follows: Politiblogs are almost strictly political news and commentary. Mostly Harmless members are generally people who's views are much like mine, but post about things other than just politics. This 'n That blogs may post politcal stuff, but that's not most of their material; these blogs may have anything show up... you just never know. That is, incidentally, where I have this blog listed.

If your blog or site is listed here, you have my thanks. At the very least, I skim over everything you post. If you are a science blogger (geo, astro, phys, weather, bio) I pretty much read everything you post, unless it's so esoteric I can't follow it. Likewise with funny, Mostly Harmless, and This 'n That. I tend to skim over the politiblogs; first there's a lot of repetition, and echoing, which sometimes leads to useful disagreement and discussion, but sometimes is just noisy reverb. Second, too often people have the misconception that blogging consists of copying and pasting whole articles with a one-line exclamation at the end. That's unfair to the original author. Explain why it's important or noteworthy, take an excerpt, and give me a link. I have little patience with those types of posts.

I do tend to at least skim over the international news feeds I have listed here, even though the averge number approaches 150 posts a day. Oregon news and National News tend to be the categories that get "marked as read" at the end of the day, again, each with 100-150 posts per day.

You guys rock my world, and it does seem the least I can do is list you in my sidebar.

Even if you do get more visitors than I do.

Does Your Watermelon Bite?

That's not my watermelon. From Buzzfeed.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Extraterrestrial Browser

I like this, but I like many of the posts at this site.Variable Star V838 Monocerotis Totally Looks Like Firefox Logo
see famous look-a-like faces
Variable Star V838 Monocerotis Totally Looks Like Firefox Logo
Here's another that cracked me up:
This Funky Cat Totally Looks Like The Funky James Carville
see famous look-a-like faces
This Funky Cat Totally Looks Like The Funky James Carville

Monday Mineral: Natrolite

Starting with a crop from the first picture in last week's Monday Mineral, you can see the acicular (needle-like) crystals of natrolite in amongst the blocky crystals of apophyllite. Natrolite is a member of the zeolite group of minerals. They are hydrated alumino-silicates, meaning that there is water bound onto an aluminum and silicon oxide framework, along with various metallic ions; in the case of natrolite, the major metal is sodium.The name "zeolite" comes from the Greek "zein," meaning "to boil," and "lithos," meaning "stone." As a group, heating them causes them to swell and give off water vapor. Natrolite doesn't show this as well as some others, but it does show it. There are two reasons to start with this particular zeolite: first, I've got a couple of decent samples. : ) Second, it's the most common zeolite around here. As a budding geo undergrad, it was the first mineral I could dependably identify. Like apophyllite, it is tetragonal, It is orthorhombic (I really should look this stuff up rather than counting on my memory) but only a few samples I've ever found allowed me to actually observe that symmetry. The crystals are normally in dense, radiating clusters. They seem to start at a point of nucleation, then grow outward en masse. So the color (white to light pastels) and the radiating bundles, along with occurence (mafic to intermediate igneous rocks, as a secondary mineral in fractures and voids, especially in pillow basalts), are the features I find particularly useful for ID. The above picture shows the surface of a goup of clusters; below is an oblique view to show the side and top together. And below is a side view of the clusters. This is the bottom of the same sample; this would have been the surface from which the whole mass grew.
Since it's a very showy mineral, and contrasts with its darker host material, people out on hikes tend to pick it up and carry it home. Eventually it makes its way to the garden, as with this piece I pried out of a neighbor's yard this morning. I put it back before I ID'd the glassy mineral on top of this sample; trying to tell from the picture, I suspect it's either calcite (but the cleavage doesn't look right) or analcime (another fairly common zeolite). The sample pictured in the middle four images is from a quarry on McCulloch Peak in McDonald State Forest. The forest is a Oregon State Research facility, so you can't drive here without permission and a key to the gates. But you can hike, bike, or ride a horse; the public is allowed on the forest lands, they just can't drive onto them. And the built-up area to the lower right (SE) is my lovely home town- or a small corner of it. Pin coordinates are 44.634523° -123.346144°

Superb Owl

I'm not a fan of sports, as I've mentioned before, but as long as the event doesn't impose on me (with, say, screaming in the streets), I can tolerate it. Thus yesterday's event had little impact on me. It is fun to read about people's culinary experiments, and fun to read about folks having fun. It's my kind of sports. But I have to say, this piece by Teddy Partridge at FireDogLake moves it from "indifferent" to "positive" for me. And heading it with a clip of Roseanne Roseannadanna is genius... necessary, but genius.

FDA Warning

The FDA has issued an alert to keep the computer laser-mouse devices away from children. There is apparently serious concern that kids can get LED poisoning from them.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dropped Call

I don't have a phone. Dislike them intensely. I understand they're a necessity for many, but why for God's sake do you need to have it out at Crater Lake? Maybe taking a picture, I don't know. But the short story is, man drops phone, friend tries to retrieve it, falls 200 feet into the Crater Lake Caldera, stops 20 feet from a cliff that would have dropped him into the lake.

Long story with pictures here. Cell phones aren't worth it.

Interzone People: Nicholas and Ben

Ben snapped these the other day. The cute kid in his lap is Nicholas, Iris and Bill's younger boy.
He's less of a howler than Jonathon (their older son) was at the same age, very good natured and giggly.
Incidentally, I waited until I asked Iris if I could post these. I think it's important to have permission before I start slapping people's pictures up on the interwebs.
I'm not really sure about that funny hat Ben's wearing, but the colorful wall that really makes these pics vibrant is the mural in the west room here at my favorite coffee shop.


I'm not a huge fan of Thomas Friedman- his enduring support for the illegal war in Iraq has irritated me from its beginning. However, I do think he is thoughful, and I sometimes agree with what he says. When I don't, it's like a puzzle in that I try to find substantive ways to argue with him. From time to time, he passes on a real funny.

From today's column: "What is the capital of Iceland? Answer: $25."