Christmas Rocks

In more ways than one.  For instance, I’m not at work.  Woot!

By the time you read this, it’ll be Boxing Day, so Happy Boxing Day!  That holiday always confused me as a kid.  I had no idea why there would be a special holiday for beating people up.  Then I found out it was an extra holiday lucky people in Britain and other such countries celebrated that had nothing to do with boxing, and I think this is where my anglophile tendencies began, because who wouldn’t want an extra holiday right after Christmas?  Even if it did have a funny name.

In fact, it seems no one’s quite sure why it’s actually called Boxing Day.  Who cares?  There’s sales on – reason enough to celebrate!

We have rather more luck with Christmas, where the name is obvious and the seasonal celebrations easily traceable.  Hudson Valley Geologist Steve Schimmrich has a good primer up on all that.  And Doctor Science points out that no, in fact, Christ is not the “reason for the season,” as so many fundies like to pretend (h/t).  And it wasn’t a foundational holiday for early Americans, either.  Our own national hero George Washington saw it as a prime time to launch a sneak attack, as the colonists who would become Americans didn’t celebrate Christmas but Germans did.  Isn’t there something in Sun Tzu about taking advantage of enemies’ hangovers?  I’m sure there must be.

Retailers would have us believe it’s all about buying shit, and giving and receiving gifties is awesome, but Doctor Science has some of the other reasons us secular types enjoy a good midwinter celebration:

To have a green tree in the house, filled with light, in the darkest and coldest time of year, as we feel the year turn from old to new — how can that not be numinous? When we decorate with green branches and red berries, this isn’t from Christian iconography —

“I remember hearing,” said Susan distantly, “that the idea of the Hogfather wearing a red and white outfit was invented quite recently.” NO. IT WAS REMEMBERED.

(from Hogfather, by Terry Pratchett). The rising of the sun and the running of the deer, seeing our families and having enough to eat: all of these things are worth celebrating. Such celebrations don’t have to be either secular or religious, in the usual sense: they are pagan in the sense of “rustic, countrified, what the common people do”. Human, in other words. 

Good reasons all.  And I’m not fussed about what our midwinter celebrations are called.  “Christmas” is a decent enough shorthand for all those midwinter celebrations.  But next year, I might start popping off with “Happy Boxing Day!” just to see how many Americans have no idea what I’m talking about.

But all of that’s just a long lead-up to what we’re really here for: the presents!  And thanks to our geobloggers, Christmas this year rocks!

Follow me after the jump for ye delights.

Let’s start with a sing-song, shall we?  Chris Rowan at Highly Allochthonous was kind enough not to actually sing the 12 Geological Days of Christmas, but he’s got the lyrics and we can carry the tune:

The words below are sung to the obvious tune, and (mostly) just about scans – although my festive gift to you is not to post anything resembling audio of me trying to sing it myself.

On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:

On the 2nd day of Christmas, my true love sent to me:
2 concordant zircons
…and an APWP.

Enjoy all twelve!

And here’s another traditional carol, courtesy of Lockwood: “Deck Us All With Boston Charlie:”

Now we’ve got the music going, we can haz gifties!

Silver Fox sends us Xmas Greetings from Nevada:

Many more pretty pitchoors where that came from, o’ course!

Garry Hayes sends us a postcard from the edge!  The Christmas Gift: Storm Passes in the Grand Canyon.

Mmmm, home!  Love the stormlight in Arizona.  Love love love!

Erik Klemetti gave us his gift early.  Dr. Adam Kent answers your questions about Mt. Hood (and more):

Afters months of waiting, I have finally been able to get my act together enough to post the answers to questions you posed to Dr. Adam Kent. If you remember back to the beginning of the fall, Dr. Kent and his colleagues published a paper in Nature Geosciences about the nature of magma mixing and eruptions at Mt. Hood in Oregon. You sent in questions and now you get some answers. Enjoy!

Suvrat Kher has Recommended Holiday Reading:

A passage from Simon Winchester’s Krakatoa, The Day the World Exploded: August 27, 1883

(And yes, I’m gonna be mean and make you go to the link for your giftie!  Those of you who haven’t read the book yet may want to reconsider after reading it – I had no idea Krakatoa had so much to offer, and I’ve been eyeballing it for years now!  Might be getting meself a little Boxing Day giftie, in fact…)

Finally, we come to the huge package that’s been looming under the tree.  You know, the one that screams ZOMG OPEN MEEE!!! but everybody’s made you save for last because it’s that freakin’ awesome.  Callan Bentley went out and got us a fantastic Serpentite and Melange!

That is an AMAZING thing to see — tectonically-rounded blocks of serpentinite, surrounded by a sheared-out, foliated paste of crushed serpentinite. That is a serpentinite mélange. Look at the way the foliation wraps around these lone survivors, like native prairie grasses swishing around the last two bison in South Dakota:

There are so many drop-dead gorgeous photos in there, so much astounding geology, I didn’t even know what to filch.  Twas the bison simile that did it!  ZOMG, Callan, thankyouthankyouTHANKYOU!

And thank all of you: my wonderful geobloggers, my science and political and melange bloggers, my Tweeps, my friends, family, and cat, and you, my dear, my cherished, my raison d’etre readers!  I love you all to pieces.  Happy hollydaze to you!

Winter’s Tale

Picture a scene: a long, straight stretch of I-17 between Prescott and Flagstaff.  You’ve emerged from the Verde Valley and are in for the long haul up a steep grade, climbing from 4,000 to 7,000 feet.  Scrubby pinon pines and bushy juniper trees dot the hillsides along the road.  And, due to the adiabatic cooling rate, the temperature drops rapidly.  Soon, you’ll be in pine country.

It is winter.

It has begun to snow.

You are prudent, and so you slow to a reasonable speed as the black road turns white.  You don’t mind being stuck behind RVs, tractor-trailers, and other assorted painfully slow folk.  Occasionally, though, you pull into the fast lane so that you can get around folks who intolerably slow.  Which is how you end up with an SUV on your ass.

The driver of the SUV apparently has decided it’s a warm summer’s day on a dry road.  And this is normal – apparently, all car salesmen in Arizona promise an exemption from the laws of physics with the purchase of any SUV.  You look ahead at the long, white road and then find a gap in the slow lane.  You watch the SUV sail by with a burst of acceleration, and you chortle, because you know what’s coming next.

The SUV vanishes into the winter white.  You continue your crawl up the hill at prudent speeds.  And you slow down even more a few miles up the road, and start looking to the side.  Because you know three things:

1.  Snow in the pine country often falls wet, heavy and slick, as this snow is.

2.  The chances of any snowplows here this early in the storm are remote indeed.

3.  The road, which has until now been straight as an arrow, soon bends.

And, sure enough, while the road has taken a new direction, the SUV has not.  It’s currently making friends with a stand of pine trees several dozen feet off the interstate.  There are no tracks for a good stretch between the road and the hollow where the SUV currently resides, which tells you that the vehicle briefly believed it could fly.

You see that the occupants of the SUV are standing morosely beside it, and so you can indulge in guilt-free schadenfreude while you dial 911 on your cell to report yet another SUV owner who has vastly overestimated their mad winter driving skillz.

Ah, winter.  How exciting you are.  Which is why I have abandoned you for a city where snow is only an occasional annoyance.

But sometimes, only sometimes, I miss the sweet schadenfreude of watching SUV drivers discover that they are not quite so invulnerable as they believed.

Brought to mind by the discussion surrounding this post at Decrepit Old Fool.

Boxing Day is a Very Dangerous Day

Happy day after festivities, when many of you are contemplating neon orange socks or other useless gifts, and wondering who this year is going to piss you off enough to assuage the guilt of regifting.

Some of you might not be contemplating anything due to your pounding hangover.  In that case, you’ve done Christmas right.  I just hope you remembered not to do anything that would have continuing effects:

I know of at least one person who wasn’t considering the consequences of their actions:

He’d best not wear any tight shirts whilst that chest hair’s growing back in.  Women know what I mean.

Speaking of hair, someone wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas:

I apologize for any nightmares that might result.

I do hope your holiday photos turned out well.  Certainly they couldn’t be much worse than this:

Moral: be careful what you’re wearing when you take your kiddie to see Santa.

I hope that, along with the neon orange socks and the candy you can’t eat due to tree nut allergies and that sort o’ thing, that you got something well worth having.  Conspicuous consumption is, after all, the reason for the season.

No, alas.  The best presents ever were discontinued due to the potential for third-degree burns and radiation poisoning. But I suppose endless boxes is some consolation.

Some cats are confused by our traditions:

If your cat asked you that question, you should show him or her this educational video:

After all, it’s only 364 days until the next Conspicuous Consumption Day.  Education can never start too early.

Just don’t get so wrapped up in educating your cat that your forget the after-Christmas clearance sales.  You’ll need hideous wrapping paper for the regifting you plan to do, but there’s no reason to pay full price for it.

Rest up, my darlings.  We all need to be in prime shape for the New Year, after all.

Merry Catmas!

I’m having a hard time wishing you a Merry Catmas because there’s a cat in the way.  I’m coming at the keyboard from some very interesting angles indeed, trying to get around her dear little noggin.

But it’s worth the effort to bring you some fine Catmas cheer:

Oh, dear.  That wasn’t the cheer I was looking for.  How about…

Hmm.  Not too cheery, either.  Lessee…. perhaps this kitty will be full of holiday happiness:

O-kay.  Not so much.  Any happy kittehs?  Anybody?  Bueller?

Well, what would make kittehs happy?

Wrong season for that, I’m afraid.  But it’s a season of forgiveness as well… right?

Apparently not.  Ah, well.  All will be well as soon as Santa gets here!

Ahhh… oops.

Well, my darlings, we may not have happy kittehs (except for the one currently monopolizing my lap), and Santa may be dead, but at least we still have each other.

And what to my wondering eyes does appear – hark! A kitteh with a smile, not a sneer!

Merry Catmas, my wise and wonderful readers!

Oh, all right.  Merry Doggiemas, too!

And now, a word from the cantina lawyer:

Merry Christmas Disclaimer

Please accept without obligation, express or implied, these best wishes for an environmentally safe, socially responsible, low stress, non addictive, and gender neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday as practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice (but with respect for the religious or secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or for their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all) and further for a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated onset of the generally accepted calendar year (including, but not limited to, the Christian calendar, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures). The preceding wishes are extended without regard to the race, creed, colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform, or sexual preference of the wishee(s).

Merry Catmus Eve!

Due to my wonky work schedule over the holidays (i.e., having to work the entire stretch), posting will be light-to-nonexistent for a few days.  Pollyticks can wait.

Besides, cats are more fun.  Especially when there’s decorations involved.

Just be careful when decorating the cat:

If you find a fat man in a red suit clawed to death tomorrow morning, interrogate your feline:

If you’re at a loss as to what to get your cat, you might find some clues in a traditional holiday song:

Appears to be a bit of overcrowding in Bethlehem:

Christmas Day can be a very dangerous day:

Inanimate objects aren’t safe:

Let’s hope Santa’s a glass-half-full guy who’s not a dog lover:

I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday.  Even if you take some foolish risks:

I’ll Be Goofing Off for Christmas

Substantial political snark will return to this blog after I’m done playing around the intertoobz. For now, I’m playing Santarina and bringing you the gift of awesomely silly Christmas weirdness.

This shall take its place among the most politically incorrect Christmas stories ever: A Joe Camel Christmas.

Have you ever wondered how monks under a vow of silence could put on a Christmas concert? Firedoglake has the side-splitting answer:

Did you know there’s a War on Solstice? Man your battlestations!

And finally, a Public Service Announcement from Santa Claus:

Whatever holiday you celebrate, have a wonderful one!