Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Big changes for "...Or Something"


I have done it ... I made the big switch from Blogger (blogspot) to WordPress.

I took this opportunity to also rename my blog. I pondered a long time if a "rebranding" was a good idea or not. I've focused much of my blogging on Earth science, and sedimentary geology in particular, over the course of the life of ...Or Something. That name doesn't really represent what this blog is really about (plus, then I get to choose a geeky name).

So, the new name is .... drum roll ... Clastic Detritus

The new URL is: http://clasticdetritus.com/
The new feed is: http://clasticdetritus.com/feed

Hopefully this won't cause too many problems. I know some of you receive my posts via feed aggregators (e.g., GoogleReader) so you will have to update that (sorry). I guess you'll have to update your blogroll lists as well (sorry sorry).

Why the switch to WordPress?

  • Wordpress.com allows you to use your own domain but still host it through them. Although I had to purchase the domain ($15/yr), I feel that having my own is better in the long run.
  • I've never been fond of how commenting is done in Blogger. It is often clunky and inefficient.
  • I like the idea of having static pages associated with the blog (the tabs on the bottom of the header image).
  • I like the look and feel of WordPress much better. When it comes to aesthetics everyone has their own preferences.
  • The navigation for managing the posts, pages, and comments is also better (in my view).

I also felt the timing of changing the name would be better combined with the blogging software switch. The migration was relatively painless. All the posts and comments made it over, although I haven't gone through everything yet. I will write a post about that soon.

The new URL is: http://clasticdetritus.com/
The new feed is: http://clasticdetritus.com/feed

This whole switch-over is happening at the same time as The Accretionary Wedge gets under way but I don't foresee any problems.

A call for posts for the inaugural edition of The Accretionary Wedge: Why do you study geology?

As of 8/28/07: ...Or Something is now called CLASTIC DETRITUS and has moved to: http://clasticdetritus.com/

You can find this post exactly as it is below here. Kindly put any comments there, but I will be checking both to make sure nothing is missed. Thanks!

This move does not affect The Accretionary Wedge geology carnival...it will simply be hosted at my new blog (which is pretty much the same as this blog). Sorry for any confusion or hassles!


If you are first hearing about the geology blog carnival, read this post and associated comments first.

We are organizing a geology blog carnival called The Accretionary Wedge.
What is it and how does it work?

  • write a post related to the chosen theme
  • one blogger will collect the posts and then distribute/announce
  • there will be a different host each edition (me for this one)
  • looks like about once a month (more-or-less) is a good frequency

Okay, so for the inaugural edition of The Accretionary Wedge we have come to a consensus that it would be a good idea to introduce ourselves to each other and the blogosphere at large by writing about why you study geology in the first place. What aspect of Earth/planetary science fascinates you the most? How or when did you decide this was the path for you? And so on.

This topic is purposefully wide open. It can be technical, it can be funny, it can be serious. As The Wedge evolves we will come up with other more focused topics. For this first one, it would be nice to just see the breadth of expertise and personalities the geoblogosphere has to offer.

Please e-mail me links to your post by 6pm (Pacific time) this Sunday (9/2). I will then put them together and release later that evening (with short blurbs introducing each submission). Please put the word "wedge" somewhere in the subject of your e-mail so I can filter it. My e-mail is in the "About Me" box on the sidebar.

If this timing is too soon, we can move it (although I will be out of town and away from computer from Wed 9/5 to Mon 9/10). If I don't hear anything in the comments below, I'll assume this works for everyone.

Please pass this announcement on to other geology bloggers!

Finally, although it's not necessary a simple logo for the carnival would be cool. We can discuss that in the comments below.

Monday, August 27, 2007

An e-mail I hope to get more often

In the midst of trying to write a manuscript, dealing with data glitches, and putting together the first edition of The Accretionary Wedge, I received an e-mail from the chair for a session at the upcoming American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual meeting in December.

I sent him a note, asking about the session, whether it was an oral or poster session, and so on.
And then I get this note back:

I have added you as an invited author.
One less thing to worry about....although I do still have to actually submit something (deadline is Sept. 6th, by the way).

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Calling all geology bloggers!!

Okay, I think we are getting somewhere now with getting a geology blog carnival going.

If you have a geology-rich blog and don't know what I'm referring to, read this post and associated comments from last week first.

Coturnix from A Blog Around The Clock was kind enough to chime in and provide me a link to a post from last year outlining what a blog carnival is and what it should be (take a look). This is helpful...as the comments from last week revealed, many of us geo-bloggers are aware of carnivals but not quite sure what they are.

What is a blog carnival?

A blog carnival is:
- well-defined
- well-archived
- regular
- rotating
- linkfest

So far, we have agreed that the (still) unnamed geology carnival will be rotating (hosted on a different blog each issue), regular (about once a month, more-or-less), and, of course, providing the links to the posts.

We are still working on the 'well-defined' part of this equation. What should it be about? This is a tough question. Here's what I gathered from the comments in the original post last week:
  • we don't want to focus on a single discipline within earth sciences (e.g., seismology, geochronology, sedimentology, etc.); the best aspect of a blogging community is the breadth
  • but...we don't want to be completely unfocused either
A couple of ways to strike the perfect balance (that we thought of so far) are to have editions of the carnival focus on:
  • a geographic region -- in this way, bloggers can share their expertise and knowledge but we will have a 'theme' within which the (hopefully) numerous posts will fit
  • similarly...focus on a specific geologic time (e.g., Cretaceous, Archean, Holocene, etc.)
  • share stories and photos about field work or field trips -- many of us have chosen the path of geology as our scientific discipline because of field experiences

At this point, it seems there is a decent consensus to have our first edition of _________ to be about a geographic region. I think this is a great idea. I was also thinking that since plate tectonics is what ties everything together....it is our closest thing to a 'grand unifying theory'... that for our first edition we should choose a tectonic plate to blog about (maybe one of the bigger ones to start).

In this way, we can choose a region but, at the same time, have a geological foundation from which the individual posts can start.

Any thoughts?
Does a 'plate' theme work for everybody? The host of each edition could be the one that gets to choose the plate (everybody has their favorite).

If everybody is on board with this, then I can go ahead and put together the first 'call for posts'. But, please don't hesitate to comment on potential shortcomings of this approach....I really want this to be a community decision.

One final, but very important issue: We need a name and a logo!!
I don't know....maybe "Plates and Periods" .... or something.
Let the brainstorming begin.

image of plates from here

Wilco at The Greek

"You were right about the stars
Each one is a setting sun"

That is one of my favorite lines from Jeff Tweedy, the creative foundation for the band Wilco. We went across the Bay last night to see them at the beautiful Greek Theater on the Berkeley campus. The weather was perfect and although we got there a little later than we wanted, we didn't miss any of Wilco's set and got pretty good seats.

They played a lot of tunes from their newest album, Sky Blue Sky, which has seen a lot of play on my iPod in the last month or so. It's a great record. Some of the songs are simple, even light, acoustic guitar melodies while some are more raucous rock songs. A few have a very Lennon/Beatles quality to them, especially "Hate it Here".

I am a huge fan of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)...I think that'll always be their best, it is their Sgt. Peppers in my eyes. But this newest album might be my second favorite. The show last night was fantastic....a good mix of new and old. Jeff Tweedy is a great performer and the rest of the band members are all excellent musicians. I'm no Wilco historian but I think Tweedy and the bassist John Stirratt are the only members left from the original line-up back in the mid '90s. Guitarist Nels Cline is a maniac!

It was a beautiful night and a great time. If Wilco comes to your town I highly recommend you shell out the cash to see them.

photo of Wilco from here
photo of Jeff Tweedy from here

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Field Foto #27: Cretaceous marine shale

I was browsing my collection of photographs this morning looking for a Friday Field Foto and, as happens when you start looking at old photos, I was reminded of when we were doing this field work. Today's photo is from the Cretaceous of central Utah (the Book Cliffs). When I was working on my master's in Colorado we took many field trips in the western Colorado and east-central Utah. I've shown some photos from the Book Cliffs before (here, here, and here).

What's obvious in the photo is the cliff-forming sandstone unit capping the mesa. These strata represent the movement of the ancient shoreline through the area. The underlying thick shale sequence (the drab, slope-forming gray 'rocks') are offshore marine deposits. If you look closely (click on the image to get a better view*), you'll notice a darker gray path heading up the gray slope to the base of the sandstone cliff. Me and another guy measured a stratigraphic section and took some samples up that hill. We were out here helping out another student and this was supplemental data for him....he was trying to look at the nature of the marine shale over a thick sequence.

This falls into the category of "hey, whatever happened to that data?"

*I'm pretty unhappy with the quality of embedded images in Blogger. One shouldn't have to click on an image to get a better view. Photos on other blogs, WordPress for example, tend to look much crisper. Maybe i'm just being anal. If anyone has any positive or negative comments about WordPress and/or migrating a Blogger blog to WordPress, please comment below.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Scientific Integrity Editorial Cartoon Contest

Head over to Union of Concerned Scientists to see all the finalists for this contest. They are all pretty good...but this one is my favorite.

The personification of nature: a preface

With a post title like that, you might be expecting a long and well-written essay....well, as much as I'd like to do that right now, I have to have will power and keep working on "real" work (some deadlines are approaching fast and furious).

Instead, this post will be a short rant (and preface to a longer, more organized essay) about my dislike for these kinds of phrases:

"Mother Nature has been really cruel to our state the last four or five days."
This is a statement from Wisconsin governor about recent floods and the effect they've had on the people of that state. I really think that this personification of natural events should stop. We all do it, and I'm not excluding myself...I can think of a few instances where I've made similar remarks. Maybe you're thinking that this isn't such a big deal, that it's merely a colloquialism we use and there is no harm. Perhaps. But, I would argue that the practice of demonizing (and applauding) natural events or systems is unwise and, in the long run, a detriment to our advancement as a species.

But...I need to cut myself off before I blow off the work I'm supposed to be doing right now. If I start writing down my reasons for thinking this, then next thing I know, two hours will have elapsed! Hopefully I can come back to this topic very soon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Paper out in Geology


A paper i'm a co-author on is in the September edition of Geology. I'm swamped right now and don't have time to write a coherent post about it....but I will soon.

In the meantime, check it out (if you have access, of course):

Highstand fans in the California borderland: The overlooked deep-water depositional systems
Jacob A. Covault, William R. Normark, Brian W. Romans, and Stephan A. Graham

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Ideas for a geology blog carnival: Part 2

UPDATE (8/25/07): Please see updated post for the latest

To all those with earth science-rich blogs,

The success of science blog carnivals such as The Boneyard (paleontology/paleobiology), Tangled Bank (variety of biology-related topics including ecology, evolution, and genetics), and Carnival of the Blue (ocean sciences) makes me yearn for a geology-focused carnival.

So....I'm hoping that this post can serve as a place to bounce ideas around and get the first edition of this carnival up and running. For example, should we have a 'theme'? Do we want it to focus on a particular topic? Or do we want to highlight the breadth? Does anyone have a good idea for a name? A logo? Do we want a separate blog site, or should we just take turns hosting it?

Let the ideas flow.....hopefully we can reach some consensus and get the inaugural edition, which I can host here, up soon.

Oh. My. God.

From the annals of American idiocy, I bring you the results of the latest World Net Daily poll. Please use as fodder for humor and/or evidence for the continued demise of America's grasp and appreciation of science.

The readers of WND are a special group. If you combine the first two answers, the vast majority (nearly 80%) truly believe this is all a hoax. Not that we are wrong about the warming or the attribution, but that it is all made up to take over the world (i.e., a globalist power agenda). I am willing to have discussions with people about the science (although i'm not a climate scientist, I try and keep up). But....I doubt I could even have that discussion with these people. I really hope this is another parody site that duped me into thinking it was real.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Technology and evolution

Before going on with this post, please add your ideas for a geology blog carnival.

I've talked about the TED conference talks before. Last time I showed a video of techno-prophet Ray Kurzweil talking about when technology and biology merge. This talk, by Kevin Kelly, discusses the topic of technology and what it means a little differently. Instead of predictions, Kelly discusses what technology is and how it is intermingled with the human species itself.

For example, he talks about how life, in general, develops "hacks" to get through life, or how to "do" life better. In this context, evolution is technology. This is a fascinating way to talk about technology. We are too ensconced in a consumer-centric perspective of regarding technology as a product...something to invent, something to build, something to sell, and something to purchase and utilize. Kevin Kelly discusses a framework where our technological advancement is part of our evolution. As we advance further into biotechnology, this should become even more apparent.

The talk is about 20 minutes....take a break from working and watch it.

Friday, August 17, 2007

This sounds way cooler

I have found a new title for what I do. I am now a:


The field of morphodynamics is defined as the study of the evolution of landscapes and seascapes in response to the erosion and deposition of sediment. As a geologist, I am largely concerned with the record of ancient sedimentary systems, hence the paleo prefix. Sweet!

I gotta go order some new business cards.