. . . I've been told that I write novels for email messages. Perhaps this is the way to go. I'll try to make each entry, or Gemstone, a "precious" one. On mediocre days, all I might be able to produce is a "semi-precious" entry. In any case, an entry might be a "neat" Gemstone--something that is uniquely mine.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I had problems falling asleep last night and laid awake for a while just thinking. Since I had just watched the next-to-the-last episode of True Blood that was Tivo-ed, vampires were on my mind. I got to thinking about the similarities between True Blood the HBO series and Twilight the books.  

A few similarities came to mind and made me wonder which came first: the novels that True Blood was based on, The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris or the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer. Of course, I haven't read the eight books that have been written so far that True Blood is based on, but I have read the Twilight series. Since I was in bed and didn't want to get up to research at 11:00 at night, I just pondered for a while.

So lets talk about the similarities and then I'll share what I found out when researching:
  1. The main character, a female human, falls in love with a male vampire (Sookie—Bill vs Bella—Edward)
  2. Shape shifters make themselves known (Sam, a dog most of the time vs Jacob, a wolf) and occur because of genetics
  3. Murders are occurring all over a small town (Bon Temps, LA vs Forks, WA)
  4. There are good vampires who don't attack humans and bad vampires that do in both stories
  5. Mind-reading abilities (Sookie vs Edward)
Book 1 of The Southern Vampire Mysteries, Dead Until Dark was published in May 2001.  Book 1 of the Twilight Saga, Twilight was published in October 2005.  So this answers the "which came first..." question. What I wonder is if Stephenie Meyer read The Southern Vampire series before writing Twilight. The Southern Vampire series is still being written and book 9 will be coming out in May 2009. But the Twilight series is completed.

No matter what, I really enjoyed Twilight and am enjoying True Blood. The Southern Vampire Mysteries are on my wish list for "books I want to read."

Monday, November 24, 2008

What is "Emo"?

The term "emo" is out there in the music world, the news, and comes up every now and then in conversations and in the school environment.  I was wondering what it really meant and someone had the great idea to Google it. So I did. Amazing what comes up!

According to Emo Corner, when you are referring to someone as "emo", you are stating that they are sensitive, or that they have an emotional personality. Attached to the personality trait is the music, and in some cases, hair and fashion. Emo music is tied very closely back to the punk music of the 1980's where lyrics are direct descriptions of feelings, without metaphors, and the melodies are hard, but simple. Popular emo bands today were influenced by such 80's bands like The Cure (one of my old favorites) and include Suicidal Tendencies and Evanescence. (I've heard from and liked some songs by these bands :-))

Wikipedia writes, "In recent years the popular media has associated emo with a stereotype that includes being emotional, sensitive, shy, or angsty. It is also associated with depression, self-injury, and suicide." That is the scary part of emo.

Hair is dyed black and is spiky and cut chunkily. Makeup is heavy for both boys and girls. Clothes are dark and tight. 

Besides emo fashion and hair, there is also emo poetry. Emo poetry is very harsh, direct, and full of stress and emotion. The main goal of emo poetry is to give the writer an outlet for these tormenting feelings. The poetry is often about suicidal thoughts, painful topics, and anger, and is considered art. Some poetry is not about suicide. Here is one from the Emo Corner website:
Autumn Times
Autumn breeze frigidly touches ailing dreadful lives
Harshly darkness quietly surrounds the broken souls
Mellow serenades that once played between hearts
Pathetically have transformed into bitter sad songs

Somewhere beyond the flossy clouds
Cupid has lost his romancing arrows
Plays sad sonorous tunes on his bow
Dedicated to all weepy lonely hearts

Howling chilly wind blows through the mist
Sounds of sorrow spread allover the place
Fuzzy humid air submerges the inner lust
Lives decay slowly as the autumn leaves fall...
So now I think I understand the emo movement better after spending some time exploring the Google hits that came up. It isn't as scary as some people say it is. I can definitely think of some teens that are very emo-ish, even if they don't dress or style themselves that way (yet).

The decade and the name may have changed, but teen angst and pain is universal.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Enjoyable Hours

I went to see a movie yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. I actually went all by myself since nobody I knew was into the Twilight Saga books by Stephenie Meyer (besides some 6th grade girls at the school I work at). The theater was not only filled with teenage girls like I expected, but also had pre-teen girls and boys plus adult women and men there.  I had the popcorn and soda all to myself.

There was a new trailer for the Harry Potter 6 movie, The Half Blood Prince that looked really good.  Too bad that it doesn't open until next July.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Threatening Obama

Sometimes human beings absolutely disgust me. I couldn't believe it when I heard that there is a convenience store in Maine that has a betting pool over when an assassination attempt will be made on President-elect Obama. Sure, it probably started off as a joke, but has gotten way out of hand. For $1, a person can be part of this Osama Obama Shotgun Pool. The person who picks the date closest to when an attempt on Obama's life is made will get all the money. To make this even more disgusting, there was a sign posted that says, "Let's hope we have a winner." Can you believe that? These people actually want Obama's life threatened? I am sure that the pool has been shut down by now.

Apparently, this incident isn't unjustified. According to the article I read, Obama has had more death threats than any other president-elect. White supremacists have multiplied. Obama has become a target and I worry for his and his family's safety.

Let's not let these people ruin what might be the best political event of our lifetime!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mystery Solved....Or Is It?

Once upon a time sand was deposited on the shore of a warm inland sea. This sand was rich in iron so was a lovely shade of red. As the sea receded, the sand dried out and hardened. Eventually, the sand turned into red sandstone.  

Over time, water returned to the area and carved its way through the rocky area. The red sandstone was exposed for a long while as the water lapped around it. 

As the temperature changed, the water began to evaporate and become more concentrated. As this happened, the water began to bleach out the stone in areas where small cracks wound through it, causing light colored stripes throughout the red.  

The sandstone spent many centuries exposed to the elements, weathering time.  

Eventually, the rock broke apart and tumbled to the ground, pieces landing in a talus pile below.  

The broken chunk of rock, with its intricate striping design, laid within the pile of rubble until a human came by and took it home to be in their rock collection.

That is one possibility, anyway!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Geology Meme

From Reporting on a Revolution Blog:  The Geology Haiku Meme

Suvratk's is:

deep in a bioreef
a Permian story
calcite dripstones tell

Rules: Three lines and a max of seventeen syllables. Use of kigo, which is the traditional reference to a season, may be substituted by a reference to a geological period. The use of kireji, which is a word that serves to give structural support to the verse is not widely practiced in English haiku, so you may give that a pass.

Here's Mine:

Welded tuff
Bands of pink and tan rock
Ash compacted from volcano


The Mystery of the Rock is Still a Mystery

As you have seen, I've had photos of a special rock that used to be my grandmother's embedded here on my blog. There is a description of the rock and a bit of the story behind it written below.  

This is a special rock that once belonged to my grandmother.  She lived most of her life in Oregon and northern California... The grains are silt-to sand-sized and in two colors.  Both the lighter "matrix" color has the same size grains as the dark.  Is it volcanic?  Is it sedimentary?
I posted on a couple of geology blogs in hopes that someone had seen a similar sample somewhere, and although I've gotten some great ideas, the mystery of the rock is still a mystery.  My sister even asked a blogger friend if he knew about such a rock.  There are three viable ideas floating around (the infilling of mud cracks idea was shot down quickly because of the rounded corners of the red--dessication cracks are a brittle process that causes sharp edges).  My favorite idea is the first one bulleted below:

  • In-situ leaching along microfractures in a fine-grained rock causing the red iron minerals to get flushed out and leaving the light matrix.  The rock type could be either a sandstone or fine-grained volcanic.
  • An igneous rock that has been hydrothermally changed along a zone of alteration (which could also be related to the idea above since it has to do with water moving through the rock or sediment).
  • A conglomerate that formed when broken up red sandstone was quickly deposited into a fine-grained, lighter color sand, then compacted and hardened.
These are great ideas, but WHERE would such a rock have been formed?  

Many people did like to call the rock "fossilized giraffe skin".  One thing for certain, I saw nothing like my rock when Googling images of rocks with the descriptions bulleted above.  

A few people encouraged me to take my rock sample to a university and ask professors there about it.  That is a good idea, but I don't have a university nearby with a geology department. Next time I am in Albuquerque on a weekday I can try to find the Geology Museum there on campus!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I've learned a lot from the art teacher at the elementary school that I work for (Previous Post). Recently, I've learned that impressionists paint light and that cubists paint what they know. Now, he is teaching us (the 6th grade class and me) that surrealists paint what they imagine.  The prefix, "sur", means to be above, so surrealism is "above reality".  

He began the lesson by saying that we experience life through the senses. Reality is what we experience through sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. But how do you know that something is absolutely for certain real? How do you know you aren't dreaming? Senses can be deceived. If you close one eye and point your finger at an object across the room, and then open your eye, the object moves. Sight has deceived you.  It is not "real".

Descartes said, "I think, therefore I am."  I exist because I can do the thinking and ask the questions.  I exist because I can use my energy to create something, like art.  And Freud's work with dream analysis and the hidden unconscious led surrealist artists to revolutionize the art of the time by painting from their imaginations instead of just what they saw or knew.

So what if you rose above reality and created art through your imagination or dreams? You'd have shapes shifting from something that is real into another form that is surreal.

One great surrealist painter is Salvador Dali, who painted this well-known piece of art called "The Persistence of Memory." Of course, I didn't know what the title of the painting was, nor who painted it until my art teacher taught me, but I did know of the painting.

One of our art teacher's favorite sayings is, "Talking about art is like dancing about architecture." He told us that he had talked long enough and now it was time for everyone to "DO IT."  Create our own surrealist art.  And not just "produce" art because any animal can produce art (such as Bill the Chimp, RIP).  But humans can "create" art and when we use our imaginations, pretty awesome works occur.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Feelin' Groovy!

This is how I've been feeling all day--just grinnin' and feelin' groovy!


This morning when I was driving to Starbucks to meet my friends for our weekly Wednesday coffee and chat session, I thought of the election results and tears came to my eyes.  I'm such a doofus, but it is still such a moving experience for me.  Last night's results and Obama's speech were so touching and I feel so uplifted to know that we will start fresh as a country and there is hope to improve and be strong again.  

"We all made this journey for a reason...you came here because you believe in what this country can be.  In the face of war, you believe there can be peace. In the face of despair, you believe there can be hope.  In the face of politics that's shut you out, that's told you to settle, that's divided us for too long, you believe we can be one people, reaching for what's possible, building that more perfect union." -- President-elect Barack Obama on February 10, 2007 at the beginning of the campaign.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Fixing Autistics?

When getting caught up with some blogs that I follow I found this heart-wrenching video posted on the blog, Autism Square 8.  It really resonated with me but I don't have the words to talk about it just yet.  Watch it for yourself and see why.

From her blog, she writes:  I am no longer scouring the internet looking for a "cure" or even a "cause" but rather spend my time helping him find out who he is and how to give him that one thing that everyone in this world needs...Passion. Don't get me wrong here, I still try every day to help him learn and grow, just like any other parent helps their child. The difference is that I no longer feel the need to "fix" him. 

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hikes are Therapy

I got to spend a couple of hours outdoors on a hike today.  I always seem to forget that one way to release stress is to get out and go on a hike.  I tend to just sit and suffer until I feel better.  I take the hard way instead of doing something easy--taking a hike!

So today I tagged along with a group from my church (Unitarian Universalist) of middle school kids and a couple of their advisors. We set out to explore the Quemazon Trail and find the Cave of the Winds.  I've never been on this trail so was excited about setting out somewhere new.  We parked at the little lot at the trailhead, walked along the trail, then turned left at the water tank to go up the hill.  Some of the trail had us walking in ponderosa pines that had survived the fire but most of the trail was in the burn area. The view from different points along the way were beautiful.  This photo on the above right is of our Omega Bridge, which connects our townsite to the Laboratory that is the major employer of our town.  You can see the Sangre de Cristo mountains in the distance.  Santa Fe is below the mountains in the valley toward the right.

I found out that the Quemazon Trail used to be a main route from the Pajarito Plateau to the Valle Caldera and there were wagon ruts carved into the soft volcanic rock along the trail that we walked on.  I could imagine the early homesteaders taking this route in their wagons and how difficult it must have been to go up and down the slope.  I wonder how many days it took.

At the top of the first hill, we walked into the recovery area, and it was an area of such contrasts.  There were broken off trees next to new ponderosa pines that were planted as seedlings the first years after the fire.  I know a lot 
of those seedlings didn't make it, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that there were quite a few around that looked healthy (reports say that 45% of seedlings have survived).  There were grasses everywhere also, which were green a few months ago, but now are brown.  Some purple asters and a few little berry bushes were also dotted around the area.

We found a trail marker off to the left of the trail that marked the way to the Cave of the Winds.  Without that trail marker and someone who had been on the trail before, we would not have made the left turn!  We walked a little way toward the canyon and at the edge, we headed down. The opening to the cave was about 50 feet down the hill and my knee felt every foot of it (damn patellar tendonitis!).  

One by one, we went into the small opening and I was surprised that the cave opened up to a large space that was the size of my living room, maybe even bigger (left photo).  There was an extra "room" off the back side of the cave that we discovered and once we got into that area, we turned off all our flashlights.  It was completely dark!  Flashlights did pop back on pretty quickly :-)).

After exploring the cave, we climbed out to sit on the rocks and 
have some water and snacks.  I was surprised again when looking across the canyon to the other side.  The other side of the canyon was devastated by the fire while the hill that we were sitting on still had tall ponderosa pines scattered all over it.
I thought that this is what was meant when the news reporters said that the fire had "jumped the canyon" and was headed toward town.  The fire just jumped over the slope we were on and burned the top of the hill.

The walk back didn't feel like it took as long as the walk up.  I think it was a total of about 2 miles and just the right length for someone who hasn't hiked in a while.  The weather was beautiful, the company was pleasant, and the kids didn't complain at all.  It was a fun expedition and I can't wait until the next time I can go out hiking.


Do Geologists Need Math?

I just had to laugh at this Calvin and Hobbes comic strip when I saw it in the book, Structural Geology (by Pollard & Fletcher), and wanted to share it here.
Number 1:  I sure didn't use all that much math when I was working as a geologist, just water well or sample depth calculations.

Number 2:  What do you mean "Geologist" isn't really a job!!!


Vampires Went Out At Night

We had fun at a party last night and were the only vampires there. Most everyone else picked a decade and dressed as they used to dress back then.  There was a couple dressed from the 50's as a T-Bird and a Pink Lady from Grease.  We had hippies and disco dancers from the 60's and 70's, plus someone dressed as Ace Frehley from the band Kiss.  And a couple dressed in 80's Madonna-like clothes (woman) and 501 jeans/Izod shirt/Members Only jacket (man). From the 90's you could put the couple dressed as Homer and Marge Simpson from the t.v. show since it was most popular then.  From today's time we had a woman dressed as Sarah Palin (accompanied by her husband who dressed as Sarah's mother--unsure of the reasoning behind that).  And, we also had a couple dressed as Genevieve and Sir Lancelot (or he might have been King Arthur) from the Camelot era.  I think the only couple that didn't fit in with the "decade" theme was the pig and farmer.  Oh, and Captain Morgan, too.  Anyway, I hope your Halloween festivities were as fun as ours!