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Bread Salad Recipe

I was going to write a book review tonight, but… I’ve been working to hard to stay awake long enough, it seems. Super frustrating, as I love this book and I just want to read it all the time.

Arcadia’s Choice comes out in TWO DAYS on September 30th! It is the 3rd part of the Arcadia Day trilogy by Jesi Lea Ryan. I’ll likely have a full review of it by next week, but you should read the first two books – they are fantastic.

So, instead, I’ll share my version of a bread salad recipe I made last night for a BBQ that was a huge hit! Some people were asking for the recipe, so here it is.

It’s from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop, but I make a couple alterations because I do not have grill-using skills and broiling the bread works just as well. The recipes might all be vegetarian, but you could easily add meat or turn any of these into a side to a meaty main-course. Everything I’ve had from this book is delicious.

Ingredients:

4 large slices of country bread, cut 1in thick (about 12 ounces). I personally don’t know what 12 oz looks like, and I don’t have the patience to measure that, so I just slice a whole smallish loaf, and leave the ends for snacks. It also works better when you have bread that’s a day or 2 old, but I always forget when I decide to make this, and just let the bread sit out of the plastic for the day before I put it all together. This sort of makes it “stale,” but not really. It’s still good though, so I don’t care.

4 tbls extra-virgin olive oil (I don’t measure this, just use what I need and eyeball it)

Salt

1 large garlic clove, peeled (I always go through several of these – you have to grind the garlic into the bread after it’s “grilled” and I have never seen one big enough to last through all the slices of bread, top and bottom).

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2in dice (I tried to weigh these, but all the scales at the grocery store were off, so I just slice tomatoes until I get tired of it, and I don’t really core them)

1 15oz can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained

1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved, cored, and halved again, then cut into 1/2 in chunks

2 tbls chopped fresh basil leaves (I just buy one of those small packages and cut all the leaves)

2 tbls chopped fresh parsley leaves (I grab a handful and chop them up)

2 tbls red wine vinegar

Fresh ground black pepper

8 cups tender lettuces torn into bite-sized pieces

1. The recipe calls for grilling the bread, but I broil it, so this is what I do. I brush it with the olive oil, but I don’t measure it out, just kind of pour it over a spoon and use the spoon to coat the bread (I don’t have a brush). Sprinkle with salt. Then I broil it for a few minutes on the top rack, and flip it over when the first side starts to get a bit crispy/golden brown. This takes longer than actually grilling the bread, but it give you time to put together everything else. Once both sides of the bread are kind of golden brown, you take the bread out and forcefully rub the garlic into both sides of the bread, leaving bits of garlic behind. Then let the bread cool.

2. Combine the tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, herbs, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

3. Cut the bread into 1-in cubes and add the bread to the bowl with the tomato mixture. Toss to coat. Set aside, tossing once or twice, until the bread softens a bit and soaks up some of the flavors of the salad, about 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings as desired.

4. The recipe says to line the plates with the lettuce, then spoon the salad on top. I just shred lettuce into the bowl until the bowl is full and mix it all together.

5. Serve!

Enjoy! It’s super delicious and filling.

I went fishing for the first time today, and I’d love to write about it because it was REALLY fun – but I only managed to get one photo, and I technically was in between casts, so I wasn’t really fishing. Just sitting on a boat looking cool with a dog. Oops. So stay tuned for a post about fishing later, after I’ve had a few goes at it (and taken some more photos!).

Instead, I’m going to attempt to explain sequence stratigraphy and my graduate thesis project to non-sedimentary geologists!

brace yourselves knowledge

First, some Geology 101:

Sedimentary rocks are rocks that are made up of sediment (gravel, sand, clay, mud, etc. derived from other rocks that were weathered and eroded). Water (and other things, like wind, but mostly water) moved this sediment around via rivers and waves and tides. Eventually, this sediment settles down for the long haul and slowly gets buried by more and more sediment. This burial causes the sediment to squish together and compact. At a certain point, the sediment “lithifies” and becomes a sedimentary rock. Welcome to my favorite part of the rock cycle.

Sedimentary rocks are conglomerates (gravel-sized sediment held together by smaller sediment), sandstones (basically sand that has become a rock via the process described above), shales (really fine grained stuff, generally too small to see without some kind of magnifier), and mudstones (the finest grained sediment).

The type of sedimentary rock you’re looking at, the size of the sediment grains, and any sedimentary structures that were preserved (like ripples, crossbeds, planar beds, etc,) can tell you what kind of environment the sediment was deposited in. Composition of the sediment grains (minerals and rock fragments) can also help, but sometimes the grains are too small to determine that without a microscope. You might imagine that a sedimentary rock created by a lake (mostly very fine-grained sediments like mud and clay) would be very different from one created in a beach environment (mostly sand), which would in turn be very different from a rock from a river environment (gravel and pebbles). Of course, all of these environments can be variable, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

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Stratigraphy is the study of these sedimentary deposits/rocks, and how they are layered.

One more thing before we start putting things together into sequence stratigraphy. Over time, sea level around the world rises and falls for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s climate – either global (eustatic) or local. Sometimes it’s caused by plate tectonics – the movement and interaction between crustal plates.

Now, let’s put these concepts together:

I’ve talked about depositional environments, and I’ve talked about sea level change. At the most basic level, putting these two concepts together is sequence stratigraphy. Burial is what ties them together.

I’m going to put this into context with a coastline, because that’s what I work with, and that’s what makes the most sense to me. On a coastline you might have the river meeting the ocean, a beach, a tidal flat, and the deeper, offshore environments.

Imagine you’re on a beach, and sea level begins to rise. Pretend you can breathe under water/sediment, and you’re immortal, so you can totally watch things change on a geological time scale.

First, your beach sand would get buried by finer grained sand from the tidal flat, and as the water continued to get deeper, the beach sediment deposit and the tidal flat deposit would get buried by the deep offshore deposits (really fine muds with maybe a little really fine sand).

That, my friend, is a sequence. If you cut a slice into the sediment right where you were standing when sea level began to rise, you would see this stratigraphic sequence, and the sediment would be getting finer closer to the top. We call this a “transgressive” cycle, because the shoreline is “transgressing” across the land – it is moving landward. Also, the furthest the shoreline extends at the end of transgression creates a surface called the “maximum flooding surface” – hopefully this seems pretty obvious: as sea level rises, you are flooding the environments that were there before sea level began to rise.

Now, pretend you are still standing in the same place on that beach (now buried under quite a lot of sediment), and sea level begins to drop. You might see the return of tidal flat deposits, and eventually you’d see the beach again, and if sea level drops far enough, you might even see the river environments at the very top. This is what we call a “regressive” cycle – the shoreline is regressing away from the land and moving seaward.

If you were to step back and take a slice out of this whole sequence I have described – from the first beach deposit to the fluvial deposit, and then studied how these depositional environments changed laterally and vertically, you would be studying sequence stratigraphy.

Of course, it is a TON more complicated than this, especially since these processes are often erosive, so you don’t always get a perfect sequence that records an entire cycle of sea level rise and fall, but hopefully you get the idea. There are also these things called “significant surfaces” (the maximum flooding surface is one of them), which help us define sequences. They are usually created by some form of erosion – either transgressive or regressive, but involve some kind of shift in either the direction or speed of sea level rise or fall.

One important aspect of sequence stratigraphy is the source of sediment, and this is where the focus of my thesis project lies. You can hopefully imagine that river sediments come from somewhere upstream, while beach or tidal flat deposits might be sourced from somewhere else on the coastline, or they might get sediment from the ocean. Sediment comes from all over the place.

In my field area, the previous graduate student identified three different sources of sediment. I’m going to be looking at the composition of all the sandstones (sorry, sand can be found in many different environments, try not to thing about it too hard) in my rock formation and comparing them to see if there are significant differences between these different sources – and if the sands from the same source have similar compositions. Again, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s the general idea. Also there are GREEN minerals in my sandstones (not a common sedimentary mineral color). I get to identify them – I’m pretty stoked.

Sequence stratigraphy is like studying history, but it’s history of the earth rather than of people, and that’s what I love about it. Sequences of depositional environments is very intuitive to me. Plus, looking at things in a powerful microscope (a few different kinds actually), is really fun.

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That thing up in the right corner that looks like plaid? That’s called “tartan twinning.” It’s a potassium feldspar grain. It GREW like that. Plaid is found in nature, guys. Chew on that.

If you’re curious, or you need me to explain something differently, please feel free to leave questions in the comments, and I’ll do my best to help you understand! This stuff comes as second nature to me (and I already find it fascinating), so it’s difficult (as any specialty can be) to break it down and keep it interesting. I hope you at least learned something about sedimentology by reading this post.

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Fun fact: “Sedimentology” is not recognized by computer dictionaries. My entire area of study does not exist to technological devices.

Yes, I mean actual diamonds. I cut rocks with diamonds. Be jealous.

Ok, so they’re REALLY tiny (microscopic, even), and they’re synthetic, so it sounds a lot cooler than it actually is.

Oh, who am I kidding, cutting rocks is one of the best things about being a geologist. Especially when you’re cutting sedimentary rocks with a diamond rock saw – it’s like slicing butter with a hot knife. If someone ever asks you if you want to try cutting a rock, just say yes.

Last Friday I got to cut some rocks as part of my thesis work. I’m going to attempt to explain my thesis project in non-geologist terms in a later post, but right now I just want to brag about cutting rocks and feeling a little bit like a god while doing so. This particular batch of rocks were all from a fresh rock core (someone drilled a tube into the subsurface and pulled out a cylinder of rock – essentially). The core was also thankfully already sliced in half. You might imagine that flat edges would make rock cutting much easier, and you’d be right.

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This is what the rocks looked like before I started slicing them, except for the 2 at the top. The goal is to cut a thin section “blank.” They go by many names (billet, chip…), but the piece you cut before it gets shaved down enough that light can pass through it under a microscope. They’re roughly 1″ x 1 & 7/8″ and about half an inch thick. Then we send them off to a lab where everything is standardized and we get a bunch of perfect thin sections returned like magic. And then I have to count 70,000 individual grains, among many other things. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

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The rock saw! It’s basically stationary, and you put your rock on the rack, and move the rack under the blade. That chip sitting on it is a typical thin section blank. Fun fact: it’s pretty difficult to cut yourself on this blade, even though it’s designed to cut rocks. It’s actually pretty blunt – about 1/16″ thick. I meant, don’t get your finger trapped between the rock and the blade, but you could probably hold your finger right on the blade as it spins and it wouldn’t cut you.

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Look! I’m doing science! Literally just sliding the rock into the blade, and it just cuts. You gotta go slow, so you don’t fracture the rock or damage the blade. But not THAT slow. At least, not with sedimentary rocks. We were able to cut about 15 samples in about 3 hours – and that includes refilling water buckets and labeling everything. I have to cut about 85 more though… going to be a busy few weeks.

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In the end, this is what we had left. I failed to take a photo of any of the actually blanks, because… I have no excuse, it just didn’t happen.

Honestly, I am just really excited to get this part done. Microscopes are fun. Probably I’ll change my mind about this after I spend many hours staring down into them, but rocks look really cool in thin section. I’ll hopefully post some photos of that when I get around to that process. My project is mostly a sedimentary petrology deal (petrology = looking at rocks under a microscope and identifying minerals and figuring out where the sediment came from), and I am just really anxious to get to the data collection part. Collecting and preparing samples is only fun for the first few days, in my opinion.

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Then there are the big cabinets in the lab that just say “ACID” on them in giant red letters…

I was going to write this post about sequence stratigraphy and my thesis project, and attempt to explain it for non-geologists (or non-sedimentologists, for that matter), but I spent a long weekend doing nothing but sequence stratigraphy on a field trip this weekend, and now it’s 10pm and I just want to go to bed.

So, instead I will tell you about my new favorite show, The Fades.

the fades

It’s a weird mix of horror, drama, comedy, and fantasy/sci-fi from the BBC. I personally love things that cross genres like this does, and rather than being a clunky switch from one to the other, the writing is so good that they all blend together very well.

I must admit that I am only two episodes into this show, and it only has one season of six episodes. Yet I have no doubt that I will enjoy every second of the rest of it.

Our hero, Paul, is played by Iain De Caestecker (some of you may know him as Fitz in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and he’s super awkward and hilarious… and also happens to be our only hope for the future. Maybe. His role in the apocalypse (because of course, there is one) is not exactly clear. He is joined by his best friend Mac (Daniel Kaluuya), and his mentor-ish character, Neil. There are loads of other characters, and while the female representation is a bit skewed (half of them are already dead, and half of them only appear to be props for the main character… oh, and there’s the evil one), it’s well rounded enough for me.

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It all begins when Paul and Mac ride their bikes around an abandoned building, and witness some gruesome weirdness…

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Then something happens to Paul, and he has a vision of the future – basically an apocalypse that turned everything to ash. Probably everyone is dead. It’s not a pretty sight.

The plot revolves around the Fades – ghosts of people who have died who couldn’t move on for one reason or another (Natalie Dormer is one of them, and she’s pretty much amazing in everything she does, so I’m excited to see what they do with her character). If they stay in our world long enough, and become detached from their humanity, they become sort of feral and evil. Some people, called angelics (I think, I’m only on episode two, ok?), can see these ghosts, and the evil fades like to kill them. For the longest time, these ghosts couldn’t touch humans. But lately they’ve been snacking on live humans, and this apparently gives them the ability to make contact with things in the real world. This is the horror part.

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So everything is extremely dire, and our fate appears to be in the hands of Paul, who is… a teenager…

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So there’s horror, and death, and drama, and then… there’s a boatload of comic relief that mostly revolves around the fact that Paul and Mac are teenagers and really just want to find girls who will like them enough to have sex with them. Oh, and they LOVE making Star Wars and other nerdy references. I love this humor because I actually get all the jokes, and I am extremely guilty of nerd-dom.

Don’t get me wrong, though – the “juvenile” humor doesn’t overpower the direness of the situations they’re in, or the fate of the world, or the super creepy terrifying fades. Like I said before, it all blends together perfectly. I alternate between being terrified, grossed out, and laughing hysterically throughout the entire hour that I spend watching this show every night. This is some very well written and well-acted entertainment. Check it out. Have some fun.

I’ve just finished a long day of organizing 267 rock samples into boxes today, and so have decided that this week’s blog post will be my drunken review of a random, and probably terrible, movie. Tonight, I have chosen “The Returned” as my victim. It wins because not only is it a futuristic zombie movie, but it co-stars Kris Holden-Ried, my future celebrity husband. It’s possible this review could devolve into reminiscing about the brief moment I met him.

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Yup. He is tall and I am short, and he said it was nice to meet me. I was smitten because the previous day he’d told us at his panel interview that if he could be any supernatural creature he would be a vampire so he could be immortal. We’re soulmates, ok? Leave me alone.

I am literally only half a glass in and I’ve already gone on a tangent. Oops.

But seriously, I love zombie movies. So does my roommate, so I feel a little bad about watching this without her (especially since she watches Lost Girl, for which Kris Holden-Ried is famous), but probably this is the kind of movie I would watch multiple times, no matter how bad it ends up being.

Before I begin this movie, I’d like to point out that the top 3 movies Netflix says are like it are called “Zombie Massacre,” “Hell,” and “Devil’s Knot.” The internet is being weird so I can’t see what the photo on the cover is, but those are great titles.

The-Returned-2013-Movie-Poster

So much blood and death and creepy footage during the credits. Off to a good start.

Ah, so they’re going with that whole, main character had a tragic past and watched her parents get eaten by the zombies thing. Bummer. Now seems like a good time to mention that in this future, there’s an antidote to zombie-ism. There’s just not enough for everyone. Our heroine appears to be a doctor, and Holden-Ried is the adorable boyfriend? Husband? I dunno… he still looks like a werewolf to me.

Why do we care about the security guard’s haircut?

Oh snap, The Returned are the discriminated group of the future! There are protesters outside the hospital, but I still have no idea what they’re protesting. Can I have some plot please? Where are all the zombies?? All I see are ex-zombies! I DEMAND ZOMBIES NOW.

HEY IT’S A LOST GIRL REUNION PARTY!! Dyson and the evil guy from season 3. Yeaaaaaah

The novel pitch this woman just gave is… absurd… and somehow it’s a segue into THE BIG SECRET REVEAL which is actually really freaking obvious given the circumstances. Note to self: always be prepared for zombies. NO NO NO don’t ring the damn bell!! Zombies are attracted by noise! EVERYONE KNOWS THAT.

That was supposed to be an epic bomb drop. But… he’s on the cover image for the movie as half-zombie, so… not surprised. Bummer Dyson, er… whatever your name is in this. Secretly I want to see him become a zombie anyway.

Hehe this is a Canadian zombie movie.

Ok, so, the whole premise of this movie is that they are running out of the zombie antidote. Because of a lack of funding, or a cutback in funding. Um. Shouldn’t anti-zombie funding be everyone’s #1 priority? I mean seriously… even the Pentagon has a plan for a zombie outbreak. According to this movie, the person needs to get the first shot of the antidote within 36 hours. Money should be pouring in to mass produce this shit. But instead they are discriminating against the Returned. The assholes of the world would rather just have them killed or segregated than spend money to try to cure them/keep them supplied with meds. I sense a parallel to something like HIV/AIDS research, but that could be the wine talking, because I actually know nothing about HIV/AIDS research… Whoa… this just got really political. I’m actually enjoying the buildup of the plot now. This movie might not be as terrible as I anticipated.

Oh daaaaamn a big red “RETURNED” note gets slapped on your ID if you get diagnosed with zombie-ism and survive. This movie is really depressing.

Well, this is different… the scary thing isn’t the zombies, but the returned-haters. This is awfully depressing for a zombie movie. What the hell, Canada?

Ooooo fucksocks.

Aww they are still bros, and it’s beautiful.

They just had a bonding moment about counting the vials of zombie-antidote. Adorable.

DID SHE JUST SAY “FRAKKING”???? NERD. Oh wait, I do that all the time…

“That’s kind of spooky.” Ok, you’re watching ye old Dracula, but I’m hearing weird thumping noises around my house and I’m home alone. THAT is spooky.

Seriously, what are those noises?

Hey look, that guy’s from “Bitten”! Canada, do you have more than 15 actors? I am growing concerned. I mean, they’re good. But… don’t you have more of them?

I’m sorry Canada, I promise I really love you, and I only jest in a loving way.

ZOMBIEEEESSSSSS

Ok… what… what just happened….  NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I was not expecting this movie to be so good NOOOOOOOO everything is terrible. The depression continues and everything sucks.

This movie is not about zombies. It’s about really shitty friends and horrible illnesses. This might be the wine talking. You should watch this movie. And yell at it.

This is going to go very, very wrong, I can already tell. Never has a zombie movie been this depressing.

Would I run someone over just to get the zombie-antidote they stole from me because I loved someone who was infected? Maybe. Maybe not. Wow this movie is intense.

I am seriously nearly in tears over this movie. What the hell. It’s about ZOMBIES. Canada, go home, you are drunk, and doing this wrong. Oh wait… maybe I am the drunk one.

NOOOOOOOOO WTF CANADA WHY HAVE YOU DONE THIS TO ME.

Those characters should die. Horrible deaths. Gods damn, Canada, only you could make a zombie movie this tragic.

I need a hug.

No one is here, so I’ll just watch an episode of X-Files to feel better about life. Somehow this works. It’s, um, research for Halloween?

I just returned home from my roommate’s wedding, so I’m feeling a bit sentimental. I also haven’t quite gotten back into the swing of things since I returned from Houston and then from field work, so this will once again be a bunch of photos with captions. Sorry, not sorry.

#1. My friends

See? I told you I’m feeling sappy. I got to spend a long weekend with half of my Missoula friends for my roommate’s wedding, and I had a fantastic time catching up with them. Hopefully I get to do it again with the other half next weekend on the geology grad student hike! Ok, so, no photo for this one, because I obviously don’t have one that has all of you in it (besides, most of you probably don’t actually want to be ON my blog anyway), but you ought to know who you are by now. I missed you guys. ALL SUMMER. I am very happy to be spending the next year of my life in this town with you all.

The rest of these are in no particular order.

The mountains! And also the UM campus.

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9460_17660_Missoula_Mountains_mdHouston is VERY flat. I only knew which direction was North when I was on the road that lead to both my home and my office. Mountains are extremely important to my internal navigation, as it turns out. Flat country is not good for me. Plus, they’re absolutely gorgeous, any time of the year.

As a bonus, here are some mountains up around Glacier, where the wedding took place. Montana is beautiful.

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These dogs:

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Five on Black, the best place to get quick, cheap, delicious food. My roommate and I go here at least once a week. We have joked about opening one in Bozeman and retiring. If you are ever in Missoula, you should definitely check it out.

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My office. Though currently, it’s under construction, and likely won’t be finished in time for classes to start tomorrow. There will be 6 of us working in there at my last count, and none of us can get to our desks at the moment. The whole place is a mess, and no help from our massive rock sample collections. At least a lot of mine are in boxes that don’t need to be moved…

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BBQ’s!!! Ok, so we only managed to do this once before I left for the summer, and we’re having an unusually cold August, but… There will be a BBQ before the warm weather COMPLETELY goes away. I hope.

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Did I mention that I missed these dogs?

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My walk to campus, especially in the winter. It might be cold, but it’s also gorgeous, especially when the river freezes.

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SKIING!!!! You cannot ski in Houston. Ok, you can’t ski in Missoula in the summer either. But… skiing is just a short drive away, if there isn’t enough snow right in town. I’m hoping to take my cross country skis out more than 3 times this year.

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And as a final bonus, golden dog was EXHAUSTED after the wedding festivities, and was therefore very good for snuggles.

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Missoula is a wonderful place, and if it wouldn’t have been totally weird, I might have liked to hug the sidewalk when I finally got to come back. Come December, expect a similar post about Seattle.

 

 

For the first time this year (as far as I can remember anyway), someone in the blog pact failed to update on time. So, lucky for you guys, you get an extra post from me this week! But I just got home from doing field work today, so I ran around doing errands all day, taking a friend of mine out for drinks since he’s about to graduate (yay!),catching up with my roommate after her bachelorette party,preparing to go to the wedding for the weekend, AND getting ready to begin the new school year. Needless to say, a punishment post could not have come during a worse week so far this year.

So you get more photos!

Here is a beautiful coal bed that is a little interbedded with some muddy bioturbated sandstone. Figure that one out.

 

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So I stumbled upon this in my field area on the last day. It seems relevant to note that this was on the land belonging to a country club. There were lots of trails and things, but residences are all far away. A bottle of toilet bowl cleaner appearing here is a complete mystery. If you have any insightful theories, please leave them in the comments!

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When I got home, this gorgeous golden dog was super happy to see me, and just wanted to hang out and follow me around. I missed her terribly the last several months, and I am thrilled to hang out with her for the next year! She’ll stop me from buying my own dog before I graduate.

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