Sunday, March 11, 2012

Blog Crawl Gems

Recent Treasures:  blogging and writing, deadly plants, missing rocks, field trips in Wyoming, sandstone dreams

I am behind on my Blog Crawls; work and other similarly mundane obligations can get in the way of important things.  I’ve limited my time spent reading and writing blog posts due to demands from “meatspace” as Ron Schott puts it.  Ron has gone cold turkey with regards to posting, aspiring for a week of social media silence.  So don’t write to him :)
Real-world demands have kept me busy -- like picking out a new ride for Sparky.

The Economist’s Style Guide has returned, same guide but easier to browse.  In my journey in search of better communication, I periodically peruse the SG, often finding helpful clearly-written suggestions.  The introductory paragraph is exemplary:
“The first requirement of The Economist is that it should be readily understandable. Clarity of writing usually follows clarity of thought. So think what you want to say, then say it as simply as possible.”
I highly recommend the full Introduction.

Helen McGranahan has a great essay about plant defenses at Botany@suite101.  Plants have certain handicaps -- they are tasty and they can’t run away.  Instead they rely on things like yukky flavor, deadly chemicals, and of course nasty spines and prickles as we know.  But did you know that a plant can warn others that a predator is nearby? or attract insects to help in defense?  Once again Nature proves to be more complex than we might have imagined.
Some plants when attacked by spider mites give off chemicals that
attract predatory mites, which then kill the spider mites.  You can
see for yourself in this video (warning, contains graphic images).

Written in Stone has posted Part II of the “Great Unconformity of the Grand Canyon”.  He steps far back and looks at the Big Picture, linking the missing rocks of the Grand Canyon to the “Rifting of Rodinia and the Snowball Earth Glaciations That Followed”.  Like Part I, this is a lengthy interesting well-illustrated post, one that I’m sure I will read again in trying to grasp the geologic story of the western USA, my playground.  And there will be a third episode ... thanks in advance, WIS.

Bald Ridge on right, courtesy musicman82
Looking for a field trip? The Wyoming Native Plant Society newsletter includes a list of candidates in the northwest part of the state. These are special natural areas on Shoshone National Forest, including the Sawtooth Palsa-Fen, the only remaining permafrost site in Wyoming, and several sites underlain by limestone with concentration of rare calceophiles (plants restricted to limestone). Details can be found at the Forest website (with effort).
Beartooth Butte, courtesy US Forest Service.
In June, the WYNPS annual meeting will include field trips to penstemon hotspots in the Laramie area, and a visit to the Ferris dunes to see the rare blowout penstemon.  In July there will be a field trip to the Wyoming Range with its high-elevation exposures of sedimentary rocks, unusual for Wyoming where most of the mountain ranges are granite-cored.  See the newsletter for details.
Blowout penstemon, Penstemon haydenii.
Courtesy USFWS Mountain Prairie's photostream on flickr 

Finally, my latest favorite Earth Science Pictures of the Day probably are related to recent recurring daydreams about a trip to high-desert-and-sandstone country.  Why do these landscapes make my brain feel so good?  I had exactly the same experience the first time I saw them, on a trip to the Moab area in the late 1970s.  Check out a dramatic monocline, and a spectacular river panorama.

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