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My rage associated with feminist issues has been extremely close to the surface this past week, thanks to all the GamerGate sexism/misogyny and Utah State University refusing to put public safety before gun laws for Anita Sarkeesian’s talk. But plenty of people have written about these issues this week, and I’ve been sharing links to articles and blog posts on my social media outlets for days.

So instead of repeating what these eloquent people have already said on the issue, I’m going to talk about the new Old Spice ads that spark my rage every time they appear on Hulu.

The implications here are that women (particularly gorgeous ones) are too stupid to notice that the guy in their hot tub is a robot, despite how obvious it is to the viewers, just because he smells good. Really? REALLY?? The sexism is practically shouting from this ad. Here, women aren’t people, they’re just objects to be won by man robots who smell nice.

And this one:

Another gorgeous woman reduced to stupidity because a robot – this time, fried wires hanging out for the world to see – smells like a human man. And she was already at the dinner table with a real man.

Aaaaand this one:

I don’t even have words for this one. Creepy robot dude falls on a pretty woman and can’t get up. Gross. The hot tub commercial is definitely the worst of all of these. But all of these portray stereotypically gorgeous women as idiots. Please, can we not?

What happened to weird horse guy? That one at least was just strange and oddly charming. These new robot commercials make me want to vomit.

Just for good measure, and to show that Old Spice is not the only company guilty of sexist ads this past year, here’s the KIA ad in which human-sized male hamsters (who actually have the anatomy of a real hamster) turn real-sized pet hamsters into human-sized female hamsters who creepily have the body shape of human women. Also hair, like human women. The boys also steal one of the female’s cars, and then everyone parties together. Objectification of women at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.

I apologize if you are now as enraged as I have been over these, but the more voices out there pointing out the blatant sexism in these commercials, the more likely it is that the right people will hear about it, and be in a position to change it.

Soup Night Recipe

Last year in my geology graduate program, we started this thing we call “Geowomen’s Soup Night.” Once a month or so, all the women geology grad students gather at one of our houses for good dinner, good wine (or beer!), and good conversation. Of course, the host is not required to make soup – they can make whatever main course they want. But no one has ventured outside the realm of soup yet.

I hosted the first Soup Night of this semester, so I thought I’d share my recipe, as I’ve learned some modifications you can make when you can’t find some of the ingredients, or you don’t have a slow cooker. I got it from a Good Housekeeping cookbook called Budget Dinners: 100 Recipes Your Family Will Love. It’s saved me on more than one occasion on my poor college student budget. This recipe served 6 of us, with a side salad, bread, and veggies and dip as an appetizer.

Winter Vegetable Chowder

Ingredients:

2 medium leeks (about 8oz) – If you can’t find leeks (this happened to me with this last batch), you can substitute with a combination of shallots (I think I used about 4 large cloves) and green onions/scallions/chives (I think I used a whole bundle from the grocery store).

3 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces – You can leave these out if you’re a vegetarian, or cook them on the side for your meat-eaters. I also tend to make way more bacon because bacon is delicious and it adds a certain something special to this chowder. Last time I made it, I had to keep the bacon out, and ended up making an entire small package of bacon. Maybe 10 slices? We went through most of it. My point is, you can use as much or as little bacon as you want.

2 large all-purpose potatoes (1 1/2 pounds)

1 large celery root (1 1/2 pounds) – This is the ingredient I most often have trouble finding. If I don’t have time to hunt for it, I’ll replace it with an equivalent amount of carrots.

1 medium butternut squash (2 1/4 pounds) – This is essential. My advice is to try to find one that will be easy to cut – so the less curves it has, the better.

28-30oz vegetable or chicken broth – I like the kind that comes in a box rather than a can, but either will do just fine

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1 cup half-n-half or light cream – I use whichever I can find first when I’m looking in the store.

1. Cut off roots and trim dark green tops from leeks; cut each leek lengthwise in half, then crosswise into 3/4 in slices. Fill a large bowl with water and put the leeks in. Swish them around with some vigor. Make sure you separate all the pieces. Leeks often have a lot of sand/dirt in them, and this is the best way to get it out. I will usually dump the water and repeat the process once or twice to be really thorough. Drain them in a collander. If you’re using shallots and green onions instead, just chop them up into 1/4-in pieces and set them aside.

2. Cook the leeks and bacon over med-high heat for about 10-15 minutes in a 12-in or more skillet, until browned. The original recipe says 7-10 minutes, but it always takes longer for me. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and celery root (peel the carrots if you want, but I normally don’t because I’m lazy) and cut them into 1/2-in chunks. Cut the squash in half, discard the seeds, and remove the peel. Then cut the squash into 1-in chunks. I usually cut mine a bit smaller than that.

3. Dump the potatoes, celery root (or carrots), and squash into a 4.5-6 quart slow cooker or large pot. Stir in broth, thyme, salt, pepper, leeks/bacon (or shallots/green onions), and 1 cup of water.

3a. If you are using a slow cooker – cover it with the lid and cook on the low setting (as manufacturer directs) 7-8 hours or until all vegetables are very tender. If you’re away from home for longer than that, it will just sit on the “keep warm” setting and it will be fine.

3b. If you are using a large pot on a stovetop, turn the heat on very low and let it simmer to a gentle bubble with the lid on. This method will take about 45 minutes to an hour to cook.

4. Once everything is cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer about 2 cups of cooked vegetables to a small bowl. Coarsely mash the vegetables with a fork, potato masher, or pastry blender. Stir these vegetables back into the slow cooker/pot, then stir in the half-n-half. Heat through, and you are ready to serve!

If you have any questions about the recipe, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments! I’ve have this soup several times, several different ways, and it is one of my favorites.

And on that note, I’m going to continue devouring my breakfast of bacon on over-medium eggs with pepper and parmesan on fresh baked asiago bread. You don’t even need a recipe for that one.

Arcadia's choice

Arcadia’s Choice, the 3rd part of the Arcadia trilogy by Jesi Lea Ryan came out last week, and I was given an advanced review copy! I tried to finish it for last week’s blog post, but school makes reading fast rather difficult. So, here I am finally with my review!

Let me start by saying I absolutely adore Arcadia (Cady) Day. She’s the kind of heroine I wish I saw more often in YA novels. Cady struggles to understand the difference between what she wants, and what she needs, and when it’s ok to put herself before others. Considering she’s a compassionate empath, this is considerably more difficult that it might be for a regular person. Cady also reminds me a lot of myself – she wants to make everyone happy, and that is an impossible task, something she learns throughout the trilogy. I enjoyed watching Cady grow as a character during this series, and every time she made a smart, strong female character-like decision, I felt proud of her. She goes through some really crazy things in this story, and comes out of it all strong. Her characters ends up in a totally different place from where she starts. Not so secretly, I’m hoping we’ll get to visit her world again in the future, but I’m content with the story as it ends.

Now, as for this book all by itself (I mean, obviously you should read the first two books before you read this one, but this is a book review, after all) – lots of things happen. It almost feels too busy, but everything happens for a very specific reason, and it all leads to Cady figuring out what she wants to do with her life after this part of her story is over. It’s fast-paced, and it’s exciting, and everything from the first two books gets resolved with plenty of surprises along the way. Some things I predicted, but just as many of them I didn’t see coming. I would happily hang out with these characters for another whole trilogy if given the chance.

I will say there is a bit of a love triangle, but it’s a subplot, and it becomes clear who the decoy really is early on in this book (if you hadn’t figured it out in the second one – which really, you should have, because Cady is NO Bella Swan). Honestly, there’s so much going on it’s a wonder she even has time to deal with it, but she does, and she’s mature about it, and takes care of herself. Cady is an excellent role model for young adult women. I can’t wait for my sister to be old enough to read these books!

As for the empathy – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love how unique this story is. The supernatural element is a variety of psychics, which is refreshing in a world full of vampires and werewolves (don’t get me wrong – I love those too, but sometimes I like something a bit different). It actually reminds me a bit of a young adult, less-dark-humor version of Carolyn Crane’s Disillusionist trilogy (I also highly recommend that series).

So, if you’re sick of vampires, love young adult urban fantasy, and want to read about a fantastic, mentally strong female character, I highly recommend the Arcadia series. The finale does not disappoint!

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.

seds

 

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.

microscope

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.

bill nye dropping science

 

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.

photo 1

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.

photo 4

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.

photo 3

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.

photo

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.

photo 5

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.

cast-the-fades

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

618w_the_fades_2

 

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.

thefades102

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

The-Fades-the-fades-25506630-500-585

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.

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