30 November 2008

A Faulted Dike

In geology, a bedding plane is where sediments settled over a really long time and turned into layers of rock, with the oldest at the bottom and youngest at the top. Sometimes after this happens, the land shifts around so that the bedding plane isn't horizontal anymore, but might be tilted at an angle, or folded in curvy patterns.

A dike or sill is when a finger of molten rock penetrates through regular cooled, hard rock. If it's going in the same direction as the bedding plane, it's a sill. If it cuts across several of them, it's a dike.

A fault is when there's a really big crack that turns a bedding plane into two pieces, and one piece shifts position relative to the other piece.

And this:

is the sort of sight that would make your average roadside geologist swerve off the road while staring in fascination. That's a dike (or sill) that got cracked up into fragments. It's next to the Hoover Dam in Nevada/Arizona, where the land looks like it went through so much violent upheaval that there's no bedding plane at all anymore, it's all been crinkled into rubble. I imagine it's great fun trying to piece together what happened, and how, and in what order.

Note: I was on foot. No motorists or pedestrians were harmed in the taking of this picture. Also: click on the picture to get the full effect of its scale; those metal things at the top are electricity towers.

28 November 2008

Flowers in November

In the quad of the place where I work, there's a bush that seems to think it's spring, not late fall. Therefore, I took pictures, just so Michelle can see them. ;)

And here's one with trees against blue sky for Ilya if he happens to wander by. ;)

25 November 2008

Nanowrimo 2008

50,167 words at the bottom of the 24th. :)

24 November 2008

An Anecdote

At the beginning of some of my yoga classes, the instructor asks us to "pick an intention for your practice, a dedication to someone or something, a reason for why you're here today. Could be a part of your body that especially needs work, could be anything."

Mine tend to be about areas of my body that need work - neck, shoulders, that incessant ringing in my ears that started last December and refuses to go away. Sometimes I'll pick writing, either as a whole or a particular character that I'm writing for.

One day a few months back, something odd happened.

Me: "Hmmm... is my shoulder extra stiff today maybe?"
Voice1 in my head, suddenly speaking up: "God."
Me: "Huh?"
Voice: "GOD."
Me: "Umm. God? Why would I pick that?"
Voice: "GOD. GOD. GOD."
Me: "Okay, well, what kind of God? There are lots of different versions of--"
Voice: "Christian2 God."
Me: "But I'm not--"
Voice: "Specifically, the Catholic God."
Me: "..."
Voice: "GOD. Definitely GOD."
Me: "Well umm, I do have a character who is a knight templar, and that's how he'd feel about it, so, how about I just think of him then?"

This seemed acceptable to the voice in my head. The class moved on to the usual variety of poses and stretches, and I got too busy keeping track of proper posture to wonder why I was suddenly a devout worshipper of the Catholic God, when the most involvement I'd ever had with them before was to attend the occasional wedding or funeral in one of their churches.

After class, a young man three mats away from me started talking about a horrible car accident he was in several months ago. It was amazing that he was still alive, and although his back was seriously screwed up, he was lucky to be walking and not paralyzed. His father told him that the very first thing he said, upon waking up from his month-long coma, was "I was walking with God." The young man said, "I'm so thankful to God, I wouldn't still be here if it wasn't for Him."

A few days later, while I was driving home from a completely different yoga class (one that didn't have that young man in it, and where no voices suddenly insisted that I had a deep, hitherto unknown devotion to God), I finally thought (I'm slow that way sometimes): "...oh. So THAT'S where it came from."

Stuff like that happens to me all the time.

1It wasn't an actual, verbal voice. It was a sensation of strong conviction. One that as I poked at it trying to figure out what it was, I got more and more info out of it.

2Every religion (and Christian denomination) has a slightly different conception of God, which makes their 'feel' slightly different. This is most noticeable in their churches. God comes in a lot of different distinct flavors that are distinguishable once you've seen them enough to recognize them. Churches that are mainly used for worship by their members will convey their flavor strongly, while churches that allow lots of different views are more generalized, and churches that double as tourist attractions usually lose their signal to all the noise.

22 November 2008

Yay Activism!

The postcard I sent to Obama for Project Postcard:

I'm not sure what it says about me that I find all this political activism to be highly amusing. I'm just happy to be able to do something, I think. Plus it's the first I've participated in anything like it. Next up: Day Without a Gay - a boycott and strike that happens Dec. 10. Since it's on a Wednesday when I'm off work anyhow, that one should be pretty easy too.

20 November 2008

Pointless Thought for the Day

Magnets. They open up whole new categories of possible surfaces to put things on.

18 November 2008

Sunset over the Skidaway River

John Scalzi posted a picture of Sunset in Ohio today, to which Jim Wright counterposted a picture of Sunset in Alaska. In the best tradition of "Oh yeah?" everywhere, here's a picture of Sunset in Coastal Georgia. It may have no baying wolves or lowing mammoths in it, but it's more sunsetty than Jim's. :)

These pictures were taken in mid-September 2007.

And since the "links to this post" feature seems to be nonfunctional, here's a few more sunsets:
Sunset in Colorado
Sunset(?) in NYC
Sunset in Washington

17 November 2008

Gay Marriage Politics

Over the weekend there was a nation-wide protest of the passing of Prop 8 in California during the last election. (Actually there were a few participant cities outside of the U.S. as well. but it was mostly national.) Prop 8 is a ban on gay marriage. Individual states have been arguing for or against such a ban since 2004; Georgia, for example, passed such a ban into its constitution back then. This year there were several states asking its citizens the same question, including California - that famed bastion of gays and liberalness. Surprisingly, they voted to pass it.

So there was a protest. According to the overall organizer website, Savannah had one scheduled. We were to meet at the corner of Bull Street and Broughton Street and march to Johnson Square.

I didn't find out about this until an hour before. Also it was forecast to rain all day. But I went to check it out. Unfortunately, I was the only one there as far as I could tell:

After about half an hour of walking back and forth by myself (without the yelling or sign waving; I had no sign), I gave up and went home. It started raining heavily about five minutes after I was back in my car.

Fortunately for the rest of the nation, it looks like a lot of other cities had successful turnouts. Next time, whoever's in charge in Savannah (if there is anyone in charge, and I'm guessing there isn't) needs to give louder and earlier notice about such things.

Meanwhile, it would probably be more effective to bring the issue to the federal level and get a SCOTUS ruling for the entire nation instead of doing it piecemeal like this, one state at a time.

15 November 2008

Little Green Tomatoes

My tomato plants finally started making tomatoes after I moved them away from the chives. Apparently chive flowers are much more interesting to bees than tomato flowers.

I counted seven promising-looking tomato fruits this morning. Now I'm hoping they'll turn into something edible-sized before it gets too cold. :)

05 November 2008

Yes We Can

A year ago today, we had no hope. Our current president and his administration were committing atrocities on a nearly weekly basis, making a mockery of the Constitution he had sworn to uphold, and demonizing half of us to pander to the other half. The Congress we had elected in 2006 to stop him ... wasn't. Our leaders were too busy playing shell games with each other while feeding us lies and platitudes, and no one knew what to do about it. I doubt I was the only one who was waiting for a revolution to come.

A year ago today, the dominant race and culture of America had all the power, and they did not mean people like me when they talked about "real Americans." Every day in a thousand subtle ways they told me that I am not one of them, I am not the same. My voice is irrelevant because I am merely a guest here and I do not matter.

Then came a man with a voice from the other side. A man who has lived in the same America that I live in, who sees all of the flaws in it that are invisible to every leader that has come before, those that we're "supposed to" vote for by tradition (of the dominant race and culture). A man who speaks sincerely and plainly about the things that actually matter, a man who isn't trying to fill us with platitudes to hide his true agenda, a man who cuts straight to the truth.

Thank you, President Obama, for finding a way to bring on the revolution from within, for having the courage to reach across the Decider's divide, for volunteering to redeem us in the world's eyes. Thank you for daring to take a stand as a black man representing the voices of all minorities, for challenging us to add our voices to yours, for letting us take back the country that was and always has been ours. Thank you for showing the world that we are Real Americans too.

A year ago, we lived in fear. Now we have hope. A year ago, I was ashamed to be an American. Now I can be proud.

Yes we can.

03 November 2008

A funny thing happened to me on the way back from the grocery store ...

Today I saw a fire truck.

Its sirens were on, and its blinky flashy lights were blinking and flashing. Nobody was moving as it approached the intersection, but nevertheless it stopped at the red light.

This isn't unusual for a fire truck to do in this day and age. Back when I was a kid, emergency vehicles had every right to hit your car if you were too dumb to move out of the way. Park in an emergency no-parking zone and an emergency happens? Say bye bye to your car, and no you can't get them to pay for it because it was your own damn fault for putting it there.

I'm guessing people didn't like that much, and complained enough so that now, instead of barreling right through intersections no matter what light it is, they're all required to stop and look both ways before continuing on. An emergency vehicle looks really dumb when sitting at a full stop at an intersection with all of its sirens and lights going, but as I was saying, in this day and age it's normal emergency vehicle behavior.

So this fire truck stops at the intersection. Then it just sits there. And doesn't move. Nobody else does either, because, well, it's an emergency vehicle and we're supposed to all stop for those. After about half of the opposing green light time has passed us by, everyone apparently decides it's not going to move after all, and so they go back to normal driving.

THEN, right as its own light was finally about to turn green, it suddenly remembers: Hey, wait! I'm an emergency vehicle, and I'm on my way to an emergency! Lots of honking ensues, everyone swerves out of the way, and it finally barrels its way through.

I guess there's all kinds of being asleep at the wheel.

01 November 2008

Eating the Moon

Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the more important holidays in Chinese culture. It celebrates the largest full moon of the year, under whose bright light people can bring in their harvests. By the western calendar, this generally happens in mid-September.

Nowadays it's more about the eating of mooncakes.

Mooncakes (lotus seed paste filling) from John the Scientist who sent them from San Francisco, where they're sold year-round. Thanks John! :)

A mooncake is not a cake. It's a dense pastry with a thin outer crust and either bean paste or lotus seed paste filling the interior. Often there is a whole egg yolk in the middle. Bean paste is used in lots of Chinese bakery items that are available all the time, but lotus seed paste is only found in mooncakes. The latter is more expensive but also tastes better.

Mooncakes should not be confused with moon pies. Moon pies (which are not pies) are a popular chocolate and marshmallow snack item in the south-central U.S. They're yummy too. :)