Why I Need to Travel

Oh hello procrastination. I see you’ve come to visit again.

So there is something I just cannot get out of my head. I have some of the worst wanderlust, and I feel so limited in ways to get it out of my system. I’ve always had wanderlust as long ago as I can remember. For a while there, it was scared out of me, thanks to my parents’ paranoia. You know, the usual “someone will inevitability kidnap you, rape you, and then kill you” if you go too far from home. But I got over that by the time I got out of high school. I had a hard time believing it when there were so many other people that were traveling unharmed.

Our department had a foreign exchange student from Australia who I became close friends with over the semester she was here. She truly inspired me to follow my wanderlust. She had been all over the world, and mostly by herself. She has all kinds of stories, all positive, and can only recount two sketchy instances in traveling. Her entire life she’s traveled, and she’s just fine.

After field camp this summer, I went on a road trip from Nevada, to Utah, to Colorado, to Wyoming, and back home again. All by myself. It was incredibly liberating, and self-encouraging in a way. The only planning I made before hand was to just do it. For the entire two week trip, I was only ever by myself once. It was incredible how many friends are willing to open up their homes to you and ask nothing in return. I did a lot of camping, which I enjoyed the most. I went on this trip to meet up with my Aussie friend in Yellowstone before she left back to Australia. I did it to tell her that she inspired me to just do it, and she was incredibly proud, and I was incredibly happy. It was the kind of happy I’ll never experience until I’m traveling again, I’m almost certain.

The more I think about why I truly want to travel, I remember my grandpa. My grandpa was the one true love of my life. I looked up to him in every way. He taught me how to do just about everything I know how to do because he was one of the few people in my family who didn’t think I was limited just because I was a girl. I remember, specifically, the one instance that tears me apart. I was living with him and my grandma at the time, partly because they lived so close to the high school, and partly because I wasn’t getting along with my parents. I loved living there, I never hated it, we never argued, and I had so much respect for my grandpa. He was the coolest person ever. He had tattoos. He lied about his age to join the Navy at 15 years old. He was open about his trouble making past, and how fun it was, and how he was  most definitely not a felon *wink wink*. He was a hard man. My mom and aunt tell me how jealous they were for how he was with me. They tell me he was mean when they  were growing up and how good I had it with him, and yet he would threaten my dad’s life for trying to spank me! I love my grandpa dearly. And now I am distracted with my favorite memories…but to the one that gets to me.

After my grandpa was diagnosed with cancer, which he knew he had but refused to go to the doctor over it because he was not weak (his words). He got pretty depressed there for a while, and of course I wanted to do everything I could to make it better. He told me he wanted to travel the world, and was there a way he could do that on the computer. Google Earth had just come out, and I was excited to let him see the world. The problem was, he had never used a computer before, and I had never taught anyone how to use to one. I tried to teach him, but we both lost patience with each other. He was aggravated that he couldn’t figure it out, and I was aggravated that he was learning too slow.This was the first time he ever snapped at me, and I know that he made a conscious decision then and there to never touch a computer again, all because he snapped at me, and all because I did not have the patience.

This isn’t something I realized at the time, only until later after his death – that I still cannot accept. I have so much guilt, I feel that I robbed him of an experience that he more than deserved to have. Ever since I realized my feelings about this, I have been promising myself to go see things, because I don’t want to be an 80 year old lady who can’t do more than look at the world from my computer screen. And who knows, maybe it’ll be from a contraption that I won’t understand, and I’ll get aggravated and say “if only I just did it back when I was able…”

I miss my grandpa dearly. Even though he is gone, he is still somehow my rock. He is my reference for what I need to do when I am not sure. One of my true regrets is not telling him that he meant so much to me. I’m sure he knew, but I don’t know that he knew I loved him so much, or exactly what he meant to me.

When I see him again, I don’t want it to be empty handed.

Sorry for the sad story.



Iceland: My New Obsession

OH YES. This not so tiny island in the polar regions of the North…This land of fire and ice…and…there I go with accidental GoT references, again.

I would be lying if I said this was any kind of “new” obsession for me. It’s new to me in that it’s a new geological obsession. Have you checked out Iceland on Google Maps, yet? Just zoom in a little and click on the pictures. You don’t have to be a geologist to appreciate how amazing this place is.

I’m sure you’ve heard about it to some extent – It’s been in the news a few times recently with Bárðarbunga still erupting. Not gonna lie, the update page is bookmarked in my browser. Believe it or not, I’m not all that interested in becoming a volcanologist. I was at one point, but there is so much to learn in geology it’s hard to stick to your original goal once you start learning about all the different areas of study.

On my Google Earth, I’ve been placemarking every volcano that has erupted since the 1970’s. I’m definitely starting to entertain the idea of trying to find something to study here. I have an idea, but I don’t necessarily want to talk about it in detail because I have no idea if study-area/idea-jacking is a thing. I recently learned about something called the Graduate Research Fellowship Program. And by recently, I mean two days ago. The deadline for application is November 4th. It requires a lot for finding out about this last minute. I need 3 2-page letters of recommendation…This is going to be the hardest part, next to taking a week or so to decide what I would want to propose to study. Not hard because I don’t think I can get them, but because I’m a shitty person for asking 3 professors to write up a 2 page recommendation letters last minute. My understanding is that you give your professors a few months’ time to work on it, not a couple of weeks.

In my search for topics, I came across what is quite possibly the most badass formainifera study I’ve ever seen. The title is “Foraminiferal Decimation and Repopulation in an Active Volcano Caldera, Deception Island, Anatarctica”. Done by Kenneth L Finger, and Jere H. Lipps. I’m fairly certain it was their PhD project. Okay, I don’t know if one would actually consider the study badass, but the title is awesome.

Look, I just want you all to know that I will make it to Iceland one day. I have it in writing here, and hopefully I’ll be able to post about it on here as a future update.

But since my time is limited, I’d just like to take a tiny bit of it to bitch about my workload this semester, but hey, at least some good things came out of it. This semester is way WAY worse than I expected to be. I just want to be a lazy college senior! That’s all I want! But no, I’m a crazy person and decided to take 4 upper division classes, two science and two that require essays for days. My Friday’s, Saturday’s, and Sunday’s are dedicated to getting any homework done that’s due during the week, so that I can deal with whatever gets thrown at me between classes during the week. But i can’t actually have fun, because all my classes start at 8 in the morning, so that I have time to do errands and even more homework after classes are out.

Since school started, I have written 4 essays, 3 proposals, collected samples for my thesis in the bay via  research  vessel, presented a poster that I created over a year ago, about to write a 5 page proposal as well as my 5th essay, prepare for my 2nd calc II midterm, and just recently received an internship, that starts very very soon.  Which by the way, means I will now be working on top of all this mayhem. I realize this doesn’t sound like a lot, but the amount of time consumed by all of this is astounding. Yes, even writing based on bullshit takes time.

So..on that note…

Hello, gradschool? Yes, this is Tashina. Pls respond.


Unfortunate last name combinations on research topics. See: fingerlipps
Also, I realize the featured photo is not in Iceland. That’s from when I went to Yellowstone.

I…what now? Pink drill bits for fracking?

I’m taking this moment of down time, which has only come about because I had a migraine last night and today, to leave this here and let you think about.

Pink Drill Bits for Fracking

It’s really happening. No, it’s really a thing. If it leaves you saying “Um…what?” Well I’m right there with you. I honestly have no idea how I’m supposed to respond to or feel about…this.



Always Be Professional!

Today I learned the importance of writing properly constructed emails. Not because of an email I sent, but of one I received. I’ve always been super professional when I send important emails, and I am so glad for that, because now I know what it’s like to receive a bad impression.

A few days ago, one of the new students in the department approached me looking to help with my thesis for his Sed project. I gave a brief explanation of what was going on, told him a few of the problems I was having, and that I had a poster of my SEM project hanging up in the department, and that he should read that first, and then email me if he was still interested. You know, normal, “are you a go-getter?” things. He got back to me, yay!

…and then I learned what it’s like being on the receiving end of a shitty email. This is what it said:  “Hey we talked the other day about helping you out with your resaerch I’d love to be a part so please let me know ”

Oh. Okay. Well…Thank goodness he told his name at the club meeting, otherwise I would have been really confused. There’s only 3 other people I’ve never met with the same name I talked to that night…about the same thing. OH right, I think it was this kid..Well, I’ll tell him my plan of attack for the weekend and see if he wants to meet up. You free? His response: “I can do Sunday no problem, I can also do Saturday neither presents any schduleing problem for me I’m free all weekend expect Friday night”

Oh. My. God. Remember when I said my thesis adviser is a double PhD in Paleontology and English? He’s going to tear this poor kid apart. I am genuinely worried for this kid if this is the kind of emails he sends to the professor.

So…Moral of the story. ALWAYS be professional when you are sending an email to someone you don’t know, or just met. Actually, no. Just be professional the whole time. Spell check does everything for you already. Don’t be lazy. I didn’t realize you could make SUCH an impression with an email.

Here’s how my impression went: I started to wonder if he actually read my poster. Did he just look at the pictures or did he read about them? Did he only find it to get my email?  Will he remember what we talked about? Is he going to be able to handle a project I give him? How much trust can I put in this kid for my project? Will I even be able to use his findings?

I’ll be having a chat with this kid when he meets up with me. I’m not really sure how to talk to him about without sounding like an uppety bitch, but I’ll be doing him a favor either way.



Wham Bam, Thank You Foram!

Let me tell you about the nightmare of a thesis I chose. Okay, the subject itself is pretty awesome…but narrowing it down  is what is driving me up the wall. If I leave it as-is, it’s considered Master’s level work. As much as I would like to say I did that amount of work as an undergrad, it’s just not going to happen.

This idea came about on accident, actually, which is what is making me keep at it. I was taking Sedimentology and SEM(Scanning Electron Microscope) simultaneously. Both require a project. I was originally going to keep them separate, but then one of my good friends was in the lab doing a project for a grad-course called Paleoecology. We chat a lot, so I sat down and he taught me how to look for these creatures called foraminiferans, because that’s what he was doing and I felt bad for disturbing him. Forams (for short) are these little tiny amoeba-like sea creatures that have tests (shells). They are typically about the size of a small grain of sand, for your visualization reference.
The cool part is that the sand we were looking for, by definition, was NOT supposed to even have forams. So when my friend and I discovered some, we were a little excited to say the least. BAM I had my SEM project AND my sed project!! For my sed/SEM project, I ended up doing a paleoenvironmental facies analysis – facies being what kind of environment they were living in at the time of deposition. I was able to get the basics down, and went above and beyond for my project work.
Okay, that’s step 1.
Step 2 was the try to figure out why they were there. This is where I keep getting tripped up. There are so many guesses as to what was going on, and your guess it just as good as mine. No really. I have no idea either.
Here are some possibilities – Well, they were found with a bunch of other fossils, as the samples were taking from a shelly lens. One possibility is that the shells were protecting the foram tests from taking a beating. Another possibility is just that the tests were so small they weren’t subject to the same amount of force as the other shells (which were beat to hell, by the way) – but that doesn’t explain what they were doing in the sand to begin with.
Based on the paleoecology report that the grad class did, it was a heavily storm-influenced area. Could have just gotten washed in? But washed into where exactly? The sand is typical of a beach, but all of the other fossils are things that would  not get “washed up” like barnacles(without sticking to something else) and worm tubes, so it would have had to been underwater.  Thinking about the barnacles though, I guess they would have been stuck to some driftwood that got washed up, but doesn’t explain the giant pile of sand and other shells.
I’m also pretty sure that there is a “gradient” of sand-size particles starting from the largest of the area starting at the beach and getting smaller and smaller the farther off shore you go, but I can’t seem to find that specific of information stated in a book anywhere. Also a problem.
This  is a 3D model of the shelly lens in question. Oh yes. I made that. Take note future employers! I know how to use AGIsoft!
But anyways, trying to figure out why they are there (like the actual God-given reason they are there) is for sure a masters-level type of research project that I just don’t have time for, UNLESS I dedicate a semester to it, which I don’t really want to do. Will if I have to, but now that I know what it’s like to have weekends off again, I feel like I can do it next semester. We’ll see.
Anywhoser,  I may be able to just apply a theory and go with it and then concentrate on identifying and naming the forams I found. WHICH it is very possible that I found a new foram species, and I might be able to get away with going through the process of proposing it as one and getting it added to the database as my main thesis aspect.
It’s a hard decision to make when my thesis adviser has a double PhD in Paleontology and English. That means I have zero wiggle room to bullshit, which I’m glad for, I just don’t know if I can supply the amount of information he expects from me.
I mean hell, my prospectus alone is going to have to be 10 pages long.
FYI, the featured image for this blog is one of the forams in question (well, the inside half of it). We refer to this one as “the Hamburger” because we can’t find jack-shit on this bugger. But check out the recrystalization going on in that one! Awyiss.

I hate well-rounded education.

Did I ever tell you how much I hate “well-rounded education”? Whoever decided I should be forced to learn about things I don’t care about was probably kidnapped by the Illuminati, tied to a chair and had their eyes taped open and forced to watch things that had no relevancy to their lives at all and then LIKED IT. I use this analogy because that’s how I feel when I attend a gen-ed class. Every general ed class, even upper division, is just bullshitting your way through it.  Granted it’s only been a week in my Anthropology of Religion and my Changing Family (sociology) classes. But I can tell you it’s exactly how I imaged it would go. (I was wrong about my Soc professor though. She’s way cooler than she let on the first day of class. )

For my 300 level Anthro of Religions class, it’s exactly  the same as my 100 level religions class I took in Community College, only now I get to use bigger words and bash Christianity in a community-like forum. I have a plan already just based on what questions she’s asked us to respond to. One of them was “Discuss the relationship between religion and culture among the Hopi and contrast this with your own cultural experience.” I’ll let you on a little secret – I love American Indian culture. I love their religion and specifically the Hopi. I so wish I had grown up in an environment (as far as beliefs and how hard working they are) that was even remotely similar to theirs. Other than an interest, I have zero relations with their culture or religion. But I can’t actually say that, because that’s not what the professor is looking for. I get “points” for making up some bullshit story about how I TOTALLY relate to these people in some round-about way. If I were Hopi I would probably be  offended at what some of the people have said so far. We were told to watch one video and you can tell nobody watched more ( based their answers ) than the first 10 minutes. OH yeah..back to the plan. So here’s how I’m going to do it. I’m  gong to keep bullshitting my way through the class (like I always have in classes like these) and by the time finals roll around I’m going to talk about how my view has completely changed and how I was honestly thinking how much I was going to dislike learning about this subject or was thinking about dropping the class because it was just “too much”(I’ll think of something better than that) but I stuck it through and I’m really glad I did because now I can go out into the world with a much more open mind! And it’s going to be the same story in my Sociology Class.

The only things I’ve never bullshitted my way through are the science classes. That’s why I like them. I can’t bullshit math. I can’t bullshit chemistry.  You can KINDA bullshit geology, but you better have good evidence or your theory. They force you to think and exercise your brain,  and not your bullshit. Thank you for that, science!

So what the fuck am I supposed to take out from these other classes? I have not become any more or less culturally sensitive, I don’t remember fuckshit from any of these classes EVER, and don’t tell me it’s so I can be exposed to something I may not have ever taken. Because that’s why I’m upset in the first place. I don’t WANT to take these classes. The fact that I HAVE TO makes me hate them more. What I am learning in 5 months I could have googled and thought  about while I was showering and come back with the same level of interest/education/change of opinion. What I did take away, though? A couple thousand dollars more in debt, and then lost a few years of working and being a contributing person to society.


Okay, I have procrastinated enough. I’m going to go read about Chem for FUN and read ahead for my Calc II class because I suck at math, but at least I have to pay attention or take it three more times. Ugh..



Every Student’s Dilemma

Every student goes through this. Probably every year like I do. Stuck somewhere between being a poor college student, and willing to spend a large amount of money on something, anything, that will help you get better grades. 

I’m actually having this dilemma right now. I’m stuck somewhere between needing to pay off my credit cards (gee thanks, field camp), and trying to prepare technologically for the future. I had this dilemma last year as well, and this is what I’ve learned:

Don’t get caught up in wanting NOW NOW NOW

Last year, I needed a new PC because mine was 8 years old started to fritz out. I couldn’t run Battlefield 4 or Titanfall on it, so it had to go (it didn’t help that Office wasn’t working either, because you know, school. Also, don’t judge me). I could have upgraded it, but because it was the type of computer it was, and the way bundle PC’s work now, it was cheaper to get one that was already built, then to try to rebuild my old one. If you’re looking to upgrade your old computer, make sure you’re not going to have to upgrade every component after upgrading one item. This was the case for me, so I just went ahead and spent $100 extra on a more powerful computer that I didn’t know how to build, and would be far easier to upgrade in the future…and some cool accessories that I wouldn’t have even thought to put in my old computer. So I got the new PC. 

I should note that I spent a good 3 months researching building vs buying, debating on what I really wanted vs needed, and pricing. The other thing I learned? That CameCamelCamel is your BEST. FRIEND. It really helps you decide WHEN you should buy. The only draw back is that the item has had to have been on the market for a little while before you get decent information. Thanks to the program, I knew that the PC I was buying was the lowest price it had been and/or was going to be. Thank you CCC!

Now, onto the classic dilemma when deciding it’s time to get a new computer…

MAC or PC?

Honestly, I’ve never been a big fan of MAC. Sorry, dudes. So you’re probably like, well why was this even a dilemma for you? You already knew what you wanted! And you’re right, I knew I what I wanted, but in my case it may not have been what I needed. So far, my experience is that geologists LOVE Mac’s. Most techy geology programs have been designed for MAC’s. There are not even that many students in my department that I know of who don’t have MAC’s. They are the cool kids who get the cool programs because their professors give it to them for free because school licences or whatever. Well I wanna be a cool kid with an in with the techy professors! It also crossed my mind that if this what all my professors (and by all, I mean every single professor) use, what if a MAC is what’s preferred in the industry? I should really invest in one. 

I still decide on a PC because I realized that if an employer really needed me to use a MAC, they would give me one. So PC it is. 

At this point in time, I’m needing a new laptop. When I started community college, I got this tiny little Acer One notebook. I used it for biology and typed all my notes, and it was the BEST THING EVER….until it completely crashed two months into the class and I lost ALL of my notes. I got it fixed, no longer trusted it, and just used it for media. 

That was 4 years ago, and it has since had a dead screen, and I didn’t touch it for a year after that happened.  I fixed it a couple weeks ago, and I’m like yeah I’ll use it for Chem! But then when I think back to biology and I nearly have an aneurysm. 

So…on to the next lesson.

Cheap or Durable?

This one is hard to go over, because it’s really up to the person and their experiences. What are you willing to deal with? You have to keep in mind that, more than likely, you would have to constantly replace something cheap. If you get something that is cheap AND durable, awesome! If you are looking into something that has both options, like I am, ask yourself: If for some reason I have to replace the cheaper item, is it going to cost me the same as buying the more expensive item? 

I’m currently looking at a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It’s VERY comparable to the Macbook Air. There are several versions of this tablet/laptop Frankenstein. Ranging from $200 (I would rather have a Kindle Fire? Does the same things. Had one, didn’t use it, sold it…so this is obviously not what I’m looking for.) to $600. So if I wanted to go for cheap(er) I would look for something in the $500 range. Most of these are refurbished, or older versions. The pricetag for the Pro 3 (Intel i5/128G) is going for $849 student offer from Microsoft.com and is so far the cheapest I could find. Not sure if that comes with the keyboard or not, which is also a major selling point. You should look into it. It’s pretty neat.

For me, it’s my senior year. I’m getting thrown into the real world in T-minus 11 months. I need something that is going to be able to keep up with me, my life, the rest of the world, and withstand the constantly upgrading technology. It would be in my best interest to get the Pro 3. It would also be replacing any need I would have for physical books (save  money on the chiropractor AND electronic books are starting to get cheaper than physical books!), no more printing out the slides for the lectures, and would take away at least 3 notebooks that I would have would buy, thanks to the pen it comes with. 
For me, based on my traumatic experience from my $250 netbook, I can’t deal with worrying about losing my information. I have to go with the safer bet.

I think for the next blog I’m going to talk about how I save money and give advice for those who are super low income like me. (Funny to say when I’m  looking at a Surface Pro 3, eh? Thank goodness student loans exist.)



Side note: Please don’t get my way of thinking confused with someone who just wants top-notch band-name gadgets. I am a person who will spend a large amount of money for something that I will not replace for years. I dealt with my broken laptop for 4 years without buying a new one because that’s how long I felt it should have at least lasted for.

I hope this helps in some way. I’m happy to have any feedback,  advice, or recommendation on other laptops, ect ect.




Lakes Get Tsunami’s Too, Damn It!

Today, I got to work at the local county fair in the tsunami room. Yes, we have a tsunami room. It’s way cooler than it sounds, I promise.

I pretty much just got to stand around and say  “Hello!”. I only said it to people who seemed nice and/or to establish some weird “I’m a designated person for talking to about this particular room and the things inside of it”. We have on display a ponga boat that got washed up on one of the near-by shores. It traveled all the way from Japan. It’s been here two months and it’s owner has yet to speak up. Unfortunately there is a large possibility that it might not ever be claimed, since it is assumed to be tsunami debris from the 2011 Japan Tsunami. It’s a nice talking piece and I clicker-counted ~800 people coming to see it on my 5 hour shift alone!

So there’s this “kiddy corner” that we have set up with a hand cranked tilty-machine that demonstrates how much faster water moves when there is more of it vs. less of it. It also demonstrated that adults turn into little kids when there is a hand crank involved.

The information I explained to the users was that the green (deeper) water moved much faster compared to the blue (shallower) water. You could see that the wave created from the tilt machine reached the other end of the container at different times. I explained that the green waves would represent the bigger faster waves in the open ocean, and that they would reach speeds of up to 500-600 MPH, about the speed of a jetliner. When the wave gets to the shallower water, it slows down to around 25 MPH.

Quite a few adults had this weird association with the colors – that the green water meant ocean water and the blue water meant lake water. So the device could be pretty confusing if you didn’t read the little paper that told you all about the simulation, which happened to this one high school kid and his buddy. There was one kid who was cranking the wheel, stuck in a water-watching-trance. His buddy was on the other side, had read the information, and was quizzing his friend about what was happening. The crank-kid had mostly figured it out, but that damned color association took over. His conclusion from the little lesson was “Oh, so that’s why there’s no tsunami’s in lakes!”

Which I can follow his reasoning…The blue water was shallow water. Blue means lakes. Lakes are shallow. Shallow means no tsunamis!!!

So I decided I’m just going to use this kid as an example and tell you that tsunami’s in lake DO exist!! Lake Tahoe is a great example. There is a ton of research on it’s paleo-tsunami.

There is also this thing called a seiche (pronounced SAYSH), typically defined as an oscillation of a body of water in an enclosed or semi-enclosed basin that varies in period, depending on the physical dimensions of the basin, from a few minutes to several hours, and in height from several centimeters to a few meters. It is caused chiefly by local changes in atmospheric pressure, aided by winds, tidal currents, and occasionally earthquakes. 

Basically, it’s this really neat thing that happens when something causes standing waves in a closed body of water, and it can have similar effects as a tsunami, or can even even be caused by one! Here’s a really boring video of a tank of water with waves in it to show you what standing water looks like in it’s basic form.

(There is a really cool video at the bottom showing what this looks like in a pool during a 6.8 magnitude earthquake) Also, a seiche doesn’t just happen from natural hazards like earthquakes, either. It’s actually a natural thing that is happening in lakes all the time. Usually caused by meteorological effects, but isn’t all that noticeable because the wavelengths are so long!

***By the way, these lake tsunami’s can be caused by volcanoes as well. One of the largest known lake-tsunami wave was recorded at ~850ft in Spirit Lake from Mt. St. Helens. Wikipedia Article

So as you can imagine, this is not a natural hazard that we want our thousands of people and houses who live next to lakes to have to experience.

But hey…Now you have a fancy new word to tell your friends about when you go swimming in the pool.

If you’d like some more information on this kind of occurrence, here is a short article from Earth Magazine about the Great Lake’s seiche history.

No  audio, but here is a short computer simulation of a paleo-tsunami in Lake Tahoe.

Here’s a small seiche from Lake Superior (make sure you mute it or turn down your sound, the video is mostly wind)

And here’s what a pool looks like during a 6.8 earthquake.


Satan Made the Franciscan Complex

Have you ever heard “…and then Satan said, “Let’s put the alphabet in math and call it algebra!” “? Well there’s a geological formation that Satan decided would be just as funny to make…

Growing up in Northern California, I wasn’t landlocked in the strictest sense. Over the span of about 5 4th-of-July’s, I got to drive over to the coast with my family and go camping. I’ve been positively obsessed with the area ever since. I was intrigued by giant redwoods, the greenness of it all, the AMAZING coast line with it’s jagged and torn edges with strips of golden sand that eastern-coast people would never call a beach. I never stopped thinking about it. I knew I needed to live here at some point in life. 

Thankfully, I found a university in the area that has a great geology program – one of the few that focuses more on field work than information from textbooks. So our field trips were always involved with beaches and rock cliffs, and caves you can only get to when the tide is out, and hiking through the redwood forest to get where you need to go.

…Where your pictures always turn out scenic and beautiful. Because that’s all it is, here.1612142_10202260231020716_2054087993_o


There is one not-so-tiny geological formation that I’ve come to hate. I think it’s more of a dissociation, because of what this thing does to you as a student. It tears you down. Destroys your confidence. It makes you second guess everything you’ve ever learned about geology. A liberal arts degree starts sounding really nice. It makes you want to retake Geology 101 because for some reason, you’re not 100% sure what a metamorphic rock is supposed to look like anymore. Why is this shale so slatey? And why is this slate so shaley? Are those joints or faults? Are those cleavage planes or joints? WHY DOESN’T THE T.A. KNOW EITHER?! What do you mean I should know how to map this?

Welcome to the Franciscan Complex! Where one outcrop shows nearly every stage of the rock cycle, and makes your brain feel just as faulted and folded as what you see. Boudinages, colorful melanges, sea caves formed by faults. If you just stop and look at it, it’s one of the most beautiful rock formations there is. You just have to get up close to really take it in the beauty of it. But that wonderment and beauty is replaced with anger and frustration once you start trying to figure it out. 

In laymen’s terms, the Franciscan Complex is this, well..complicated…mix of sedimentary, metamorphic, and volcanic rocks that managed to get really, REALLY chewed up by being stuck between the oceanic Farallon Plate and the North American Plate, but didn’t quite get all the way metamorphosed or all the way chewed up into little grains. It’s looks like a toddler munched on some brown playdough, ate some rather large pieces of green playdough, threw it all up, and then started to play with it.

And that toddler was Satan.