Sunday, November 23, 2014

High school and geology

A reminder just showed up in my inbox of a message that I never actually received through my high school alumni website. The message was sent three years ago. Cyberspace is weird and wonderful.

I have never been back to my high school and never seriously considered going. I suppose if I still lived in town I would have gone to some alumni events, even though I only had a few friends in high school, but as it is I live far away and my friends and family are no longer in that town (Charlottesville Virginia).

I was warned yesterday that I'm going to be interviewed by some college students about how we know the age of some rocks the state. That won't be a problem, but it might be a challenge to make the answer seem interesting. It is for a documentary film that they are making. Because the answer is that some spores whose age we know showed up in the rocks in Alabama and some shells whose age we know showed up in the rocks in Alabama; I will be hard-pressed to set the blood pumping faster with that. Of course, ultimately, we know the ages because of volcanoes! Volcanic ash beds and ancient lava flows can be dated using unstable isotopes. That's where all of the absolute ages come from.


for a bookish protagonist,
Corwin of Amber, say,
library-based adventure
rarely involves books

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What I've been up to

I am still finding pecans on the ground in the driveway. A windstorm blew through earlier this week and today will be my first chance to get somebody to help me pick them up. This afternoon. So we will have a whole bunch of organically grown pecans in the shell for people snack on if they want to.

This evening we are going to a wedding and have yet to buy a present. I guess Sheila is going to do that this afternoon. We found a new really good fantasy author named Martha wells. I got a free book in the mail from the publisher and we liked it so much we ordered a trilogy of novels. We will be passing those around the family to the people who like fantasy novels as time permits. She comes very well recommended by other science fiction writers, but I guess her name is too ordinary for it to have made an impression on me before now.

I haven't spent much time outside lately and I didn't go to the dog park with Sheila this morning. I did walk around the yard and check out what's growing (not much, but it does include Holly seedlings where we used to have and no longer want a Holly Bush. I Don't Know Why Dragon printed those words in capital letters; perhaps it is somebody's name.

An editor I know asked me to send him some poetry for his magazine. He publishes weird fantasy and horror and I sent him a few poems. He didn't like them, so I wrote a blank verse sonnet that was really pretty horrific. he may publish that & is holding onto it for a while. So he suggested I send the first three poems to another publisher. I did, and they were rejected there. He Likes to publish the same kind of stuff, so I tried to write something for him. However, it went horribly wrong and became grotesque instead of weird and menacing. You've probably already read it.

We are supposed to get bad weather tomorrow, after it gets up into the 70s (21C). I don't think we have to go out in the evening so we will probably be okay. I see that the bird feeder is still mostly being frequented by the execrable European imports: house finches. I did see a few chickadees there recently. They are probably the bravest birds, most likely because they're so small it's hard for predatory birds to get their claws on them. Or maybe their heads are so small they aren't smart enough to be afraid.

Yesterday I attended a very enjoyable talk about the Hodges meteorite. Ann Hodges is the only person known to have been struck by a falling meteorite. It made Sylacauga Alabama famous for something besides its boring white marble (I believe that Sylacauga is an Indian word that means boring rock). Anyway, a friend of mine was a witness to the event; he was five years old in 1954 when it happened. Now he is a great storyteller and gave us an entertaining lunch hour

I, too, am aghast

The Noxious Abyss

As winter's pallid rays struck through the pane,
Behind the fridge a leprous cap uncurled,
Upon the wall a swelling blackened stain,
Ungummed its eyes and gaped its ragged gash,
The ceiling fan miasmal foetor swirled,
Across the floor rose up a livid rash.
The growing light calls toxic vapors forth,
Elicits from the inner room a snort.

So stumbling from its bed a haggard form,
A gaunt and fetid wreck or something more,
Inheritor of lordship over they,
Who gunk and rot and filth perceive as prey,
It stretches, yawns, and then it belches too,
It dares to breech the fridge and taste its goo.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Teacher of the Year -- awarded by American Association of Petroleum Geologists

This is a pretty decent award, and it goes to a teacher who has taught earth science specifically as it relates to natural resources. See below.

Applications and nominations are being accepted for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists 2015 Teacher of the Year (TOTY) Award until December 1, 2014. The TOTY award, given by the American Association for Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) Foundation, will once again be granted to a K-12 teacher within the United States who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the field of geoscience education. Six teachers across the country will be identified as finalists, each from one of six U.S. geographic regions (Pacific, Rocky Mountain, Mid-Continent, Southwest, Gulf Coast, and Eastern). The regional award, presented by AAPG-Eastern Section and the AAPG Foundation is $1,500.

All applicants must adhere to the following requirements in order to be considered for the TOTY:
o Minimum of 3 years full-time U.S. teaching experience at any K-12 level.
o Teaching at least one unit per year on natural resources. Natural resources are defined as earth materials used by civilizations past and present such as:
o Organic materials such as petroleum, natural gas, coal and oil shale.
o Inorganic substances found in the Earth such as mineral ores, building stone and aggregate.
o Energy resources from the Earth such as geothermal energy.
o Teaching should include the scientific study of these resources, their origin, discovery, extraction, and historic and present use. It should also include the preservation of the environment, reclamation, the conservation of resources, and the use of earth science knowledge in decision-making.

After regional winners are named, the Foundation’s TOTY Committee will convene to pick the final winner of the 2015 Teacher of the Year Award. The National TOTY winner will receive a $6,000 award which will be presented to the individual at the AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition (ACE) in Denver, Colorado, May 2015. The award includes $3,000 for school use under the teacher’s supervision for educational purposes and $3,000 for personal use by the teacher. The winner will also receive an expense paid trip for two to ACE to receive the award. Check out the link below for important information about guidelines, deadlines, how to nominate and/or apply! Application deadline is December 1, 2014.

Visit this link to nominate or apply today:


First Spring

terraforming brought water
atmospheric pressure
warmth to a dead world
soil was tilled
schools built
purple cysts split
sent up shoots
then they grew faces
billion-year wait ended


The Cloud Roads, Martha Wells. A world of crumbling cities, flying islands, and fabulous aliens. One orphan can transform into a fearsome winged form, but who (where) are his people? Wonderful storytelling; first of 3 novels so far. *****