Thursday, October 23, 2014

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Fossil workshop yesterday

We had a great time collecting Cretaceous fossils in West central Alabama yesterday. About 20 of us went to a site on private land where the University of West Alabama is excavating vertebrate skeletons and other interesting fossils. Participants saw a sea turtle and two different kinds of large fish that were being protected and carefully removed from the matrix. They also got to pick through some fine gravel that contained fossil sharks teeth. This had been scooped up from a stream and brought to the workshop as lagniappe. All kinds of things were found in the Cretaceous chalk yesterday, but the pièce de résistance was an ophiuroid (a brittle star). This is an extremely rare find and will go into the Black Belt Museum.

We will do this again next fall. We are aiming to educate K-12 teachers, but if the workshop doesn't fill up we are open to anyone else. Most years, people who are not formal full-time teachers are able to go along and that was the case this year.


protips for time travelers

carry spare parts
a forge and generator
first aid kit, cook pot
world history in 1 volume
2 pairs of shades

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


A day in the Cretaceous

two brittle stars in death embrace
lost, 82,000,000 years;
found, they double what we know
still hidden from our minds--
whether descendants in their thousands writhe
in the abyss

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Two Views of a Window

wasp waits for out
to return with food
its feet gripping chilled glass
spider waits on yesterday's web
for sun to loosen joints
and wake its prey
pane slumps millennially
towards Earth's center of mass
the observer has no effect
but remembers summer

arthropod philosophers postulate
that the sham worlds in glass
receive faithful souls after death
souls of the impure
rot in their empty husks


Yesterday, somebody, either my wife or our yard man, cut down the nasty tree that was trying to grow up under/in front of the bird feeder. I can see the bird feeder a lot better, which means I can very clearly see there is no bird seed eating action going on. I did see a mockingbird keeping a close eye on Simon, our cat. I also see a wasp, which has been hanging around on the inside of my window for a couple of days, poor thing. On the outside, a garden spider is waiting for the sun. The only part of her web I can see is the zipper, and it is the most messy zipper spider web zipper that I have ever seen. It's just a blob with a couple of smaller blobs next to it. What is the world coming to, when even spiders have no pride in their work?