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Monday, April 19, 2010

"Global warming"

I posted this as a comment to remarks on facebook and thought I would post it here so I can copy and paste it in the future when people are being lame about climate change.

"If you don't believe in global warming maybe you can answer why gravity data from GRACE satellites (GRACE data) show that continental ice sheets are melting at rates of well over 4 cm/yr while global sea levels are rising slowly? I'm sure myself and the entire scientific community are open to other possibilities.
Until then I would say that looking at increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 (Recent CO2 trends) which were down at ~270ppm before 1800 and CH4 concentrations being more than anything analyzed from core samples in the last 600,000 years (CH4 data) and the fact that we know those gasses trap infrared radiation, which then re-radiates back to Earth, (CO2/temp correlation) makes human contribution to the melting of continental ice and rise in temperature a pretty viable cause."

Friday, April 16, 2010

I heart Earthquakes

I'm sure someday I'll eat these words when the Wasatch fault finally moves and I break an arm or my computer gets knocked off a shelf and snaps in half, but for now. I love earthquakes.

Being a Geology major has made me a self-proclaimed expert on the subject that's all the rage the past day or so. Now to be honest, I'm not an expert. If I were to compare geology knowledge to basketball skill, Paul Hoffman (professor at Harvard who came up with the Snowball Earth hypothesis) would be Lebron James and I would be that guy on some moderately good college basketball team who comes off the bench, but still sees pretty good minutes. So by no means an expert - but better than any of you!

Anyway, over the past few months there have been some big earthquakes. There was a 7.1 in the Solomon Islands, that devastating 7.0 in Haiti, a 7.0 in Japan, then a goliath 8.8 in Chile, and a 7.3 in Baja and people start talking about how it means Jesus is coming again and posting on facebook that we need to repent because it's a "sign of the times." I love this. Mostly because there is an average of 18 7.0+ earthquakes per year and between Jan 1 and Apr 16 there have been 5. Spot on with the average! Unfortunately three of these earthquakes have happened close to major population centers, one of which was far from prepared for a large earthquake.

Then today a 4.9 earthquake happened out about 40 miles east of Logan on some crappy Crawford Fault (that I'd not even heard of until today, but I believe it's part of the East Bear Lake Fault Zone) Well I've had fun correcting people who think that this earthquake is a precursor to the "big one" that the Wasatch Fault is expecting, being as these fault zones aren't even related. Then I had someone on the X96 facebook page tell me that a 10.0 was coming soon on the Wasatch Fault, okay even if this 4.9 earthquake DID happen on the Wasatch Fault and even if earthquakes were always correlated (which does occasionally happen, but very rarely). Think about it, a 10.0 earthquake? Okay first of all a 10.0 earthquake would make the Haiti earthquake seem like a cell phone on vibrate and they just don't happen (the largest ever was a 9.2) and on top of that I can't even imagine a 9.5+ earthquake happening anywhere in the world, not Alaska, not Chile, not the Himalayas, and certainly not on some random normal fault system in the middle of a continent about 700 miles away from the nearest plate boundary.

Another guy went off on how this meant a 6.8 earthquake would happen in Utah now any time and I was like "whoa dude, if you can predict earthquakes - hook me up with your methods." and he talked about how a 6.8 is the maximum earthquake the WFZ could ever have and that it was going to happen soon. Okay, granted there's not been a large earthquake on the WFZ for like 400 years (and scarier, not one on the Brigham City section in 2400 years) but saying a big one will happen any time now is pretty bold. It could happen tomorrow, sure, but it wouldn't surprise me if nothing happened until well after my lifetime. Then narrowing it down to a 6.8 is pretty bold too. Could it be a 6.8? Sure! Could it be a 7.1 or a 6.3? Sure! Some evidence suggests the WFZ can have earthquakes up to 7.5 (though I'm skeptical about that.) Ah well, confidence is good to have I guess. This guy wasn't too bad, so I'll have to finish with another real moron.

Okay so, in my opinion, conspiracy theorists are among the dumbest people in the world. I read a comment from this one guy who wrote that these earthquakes were all signs that that that made up planet (Niburu?) is getting close enough to effect the earths gravitational field. Okay first of all, why is it that only conspiracy theorists know anything about this alleged planet that is going to collide with Earth in 2012? Then secondly, if it's a dwarf planet, like Pluto or Eris, and it's still two years away how is it possibly causing earthquakes? The moon is 5x the mass of Pluto and it's like ... right there *points at the moon.* Pretty sure the moon just pulls the ocean water around to different places, not entire crustal plates. How does this smaller and farther away Niburu planet do it? I bet the aliens that live there have tractor beams! I think I actually heard that Barack Obama was one of them.. yes.. and the Soviets know about it. I hate conspiracy theorists.

I still have to say that my favorites are the prophesiers of doom though. Yes, a 4.9 earthquake happened in Utah, better roll out the red carpet for Jesus! Don't take into account that 13,000 4.1-5.0 earthquakes happen per year and we do live in one of the more seismically active 48 states. This epic 4.9er in Randolph is a sign. We're totally experiencing the end of the world. Idiots. I wonder what these people would be like if they lived in L.A. and had frequent earthquakes that shook your pots and pans around (or knocked various freeway overpasses down). I guess Jesus would come about as often as birthdays. That would be kinda cool, I bet he'd bring awesome presents.

I was kind of disappointed that I didn't even feel the local earthquake today though. Ironically enough I was playing frisbee with some other geology students and none of us felt it. First earthquake I've really had a good opportunity to feel since the 7.3 Landers earthquake in 1992 and I missed it, lame. Well I guess there was the Big Bear quake like 2 hours later, but whatever, same day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pride

I dunno if it's pride, but I can't think of a better word for it.

I don't know how many people realize this about me, but I care way too much about what people around me think. I'd say if I were to rate my seven deadly sins from top to bottom, pride would be number one. For some reason I just think it's important to be dignified and respected. I don't know when exactly this started, but I would say sometime in the area of 2005-2007 as I can think back in the past about times when I couldn't care less what people thought of me. I would act pathetic if it achieved whatever it was that I wanted. Now there is no way I would. It's pretty bad. I suppose writing a blog about a weakness of mine is a step toward beating it, but I don't think it helps much.

So what is it I do that makes me prideful? Well I have a hard time asking for help. Yes, I realize all you femme-nazi's think this is just a male trait. It's not that. I don't have a hard time asking for directions to find some place I don't know the location of. It's more like things I feel I should be able to do I refuse to ask for help with. Geophysics for instance. I attend lecture every day and even read the textbook every so often. The class still is so confusing to me that defining it as over my head would be a stretch. That implies it comes near my head. This stuff is more like above the elevation of my head and offset by 20 meters to the left. Not once have I gone and asked my professor for help. I've emailed him a couple times, sure, but I can't get myself to go to his office when I'm confused. I even like the guy. He knows me, I call him by his first name, we say hi if we see each other on campus. I just don't want him thinking I don't understand his class, which believe me, I don't.

Another aspect I see this prevalent in is dating. The reason I never ask girls out is probably slightly because I'm shy with girls, but I think it has a lot more to do with the fact that it puts me in position for possible rejection. I won't let someone think they're rejecting me. In nearly all of my recent relationships I've ended things, and when Rachel broke up with me I acted like I didn't give a fuck. I pretty much told her it was cool and I was over her already. Knowing that she would take some time to get over me and having her think that I was over it already made me feel as if I was the one ending the relationship and she was getting the crappy end of the deal. I truly had myself convinced of it too. Almost a year later I realize wow, I should have tried to keep her. Though that is a stupid thought because it would have possibly ended in her legitimately rejecting me and a relationship between an outdoors loving, fairly spiritual Christian, Utah native who only eats red meat when it's inconvenient not to and an arthritic religion hating atheist, New..Hampshire..ian..?, who would rather starve than eat fish wouldn't have worked.

Also this pride rolls over into my sex life. I feel empowered when I reject a girl for sex. I feel like I'm breaking stereotype and being different and they'll remember being told no by me, so that makes me important. Sure there's a side of me that really doesn't want to sex anyone 'til I marry or find someone super special, but let's be honest - if the girl is hot enough and wants me bad enough I really don't care THAT much, and I've definitely dated a couple of girls who were hot enough and wanted me enough. I think the empowerment of saying no is just about as influential on this aspect of my life as the waiting thing. Then again maybe it's just a sadistic thrill I get. Drive the girl wild, make her beg for sex and then deny her. Kinda hot really.

I guess it's not a terrible quality to have. I mean it forces me to better myself from time to time. When I was 20 I realized being a high school drop-out made me somewhat of a loser, I would lie to people about my GED to make myself feel better. That sucked so I fixed it and now I don't have to lie, I think it makes me awesome. I'm slightly self-conscious about my body and up until the last couple years had a hard time letting people see me shirtless (I'm really bony and white), but since then I've tried to fatten up and I've gained about 15 lbs and it looks better. I mean of the seven sins I think if I had to pick one to be my worst that would be it. Envy, wrath, sloth, greed, gluttony and lust all suck worse in my opinion. Well I dunno - wrath would be pretty bad ass if it turned me into Liam Neeson from Taken.

Friday, April 2, 2010

April 2nd

Ah, what a long book. I just got done reading Snowball Earth, which isn't actually a long book at all, but I had to do it in two days because I had a 5 page report on it due ... well today (it's after midnight.) So we all (yeah right) know that interesting life first started on Earth around 550 million years ago during the Cambrian. This is the age in which Earth, which for the past 4 billion years had been void of anything you or I would consider life decided to really come alive. Life has been on the planet for almost 3 billion years now, but only recently have multicellular organisms found their niche in the world. Only the last 1/9th of Earths existence have we had organisms as advanced (yes, advanced) as worms, flies and leafy plants. Well actually multicellular life extends back into the Ediacaran period, which started about 640 mya, but most people don't get anal about this.

So anyway, apparantly there is evidence such as glacial deposits at rocks which were, at the time, on the equator and banded iron formations (that only form when the ocean is not in contact with the atmosphere) in the rocks from just before the Ediacaran that imply a global freeze of the planet. The entire planet looked like Antarctica for millions of years. Volcanoes continued erupting and greenhouse gasses continued to come up through the ice and create a blanket, warming the Earth to the point of melting the ice and leaving a nearly lifeless Earth. Since there was so much empty and unpopulated space it is theorized that life exploded (much like it always does after a mass extinction event) and diversified, forming the first multicelluar life and 640 million years later allowing for me to write this blog. Interesting huh?!

I like that thought, the whole Earth being a giant snowball just tumbling around through space with it's neighbor the moon looking down and getting chills just thinking about how cold Earth must be. It's humbling, thinking humans have only been around for approximately 200,000 years. I can't even comprehend that length of time, let alone how long ago the Cambrian explosion (When all the new life developed) took place. Yet to the Earth, complex life has only been on the planet for about as long as I've been in college, about 1/8th of my life. If I were to compare how long humans have been on the Earth with my life - it would be since about Tuesday morning (I'm writing this on a Friday at 1am.) Though, unlike the Earth, the past week hasn't been the most interesting part of my life.

Last weekend I went camping with some geology students. We went out to Southern Utah, looked at rocks and partied. It was honestly one of the best experiences I've had to date as a college student. I sort of felt like I fit in with these people. They were all a little older, but not overly mature. They were smart, but not like the engineers who were smart about stuff that I didn't care to hear about. They even partied a little. No one in the group wanted to be drunk, we just wanted to have fun and relax after a day of driving, hiking and looking at outcrop. I met some legitimately cool people that I felt like I fit in with. I may be wrong since, besides the trip, I've not really socialized with anyone in my major outside of class, but at least I know that in the future when we go on field trips I'll have fun with the people I'm with.

For so long I've felt like an outcast here because of my inability to conform to the dominant religion of this state. I tried describing this to a friend earlier. For me it's like this:

Pretend that nearly everyone you know believes in aliens and that these aliens do special things for them and will care for them after they die. You grew up being told about these aliens, but then one day you realized it was all kind of a strange story full of holes and decided, "Hey, maybe there is something else to life than just these aliens that no one has actually met. Now I'm not discounting them, they really may exist, but I'm not going to just blindly follow the laws laid out in the alien accord." Now everyone around you seems to feel a little taken back by the fact that you don't follow these alien teachings and you have trouble being respected the same way and girls that are attracted to your personality and looks won't give you a chance because you can't hold special, seemingly made up, titles these aliens have bestowed upon the human race. No one really takes into account that you basically follow the alien laws, you just aren't blindly convinced that they exist exactly how their followers claim they do. All the realize is that you don't go to the meetings and don't believe in them the same way you do.

Would you not feel a little outcast? Would you not feel it's a little ridiculous that you're treated differently because you happen to disagree on the metaphysics of life. Even though you would never judge or treat differently a follower of the alien teachings, most of them feel differently about you.

Really think about that - well that's how the LDS church makes me feel. Then people wonder why I have trouble wanting anything to do with it. I respect the LDS church and think it's a fantastic organization. I think President Monson is an amazing person and may even speak to God (which yes, I do believe in God.) I just don't know this, and if I don't know it why should I pretend that I do? Maybe those aliens exist - but you aren't aware of it. You don't discount it and you follow most of their teachings because the teachings are good. You've just never seen or felt an alien, so you have a hard time knowing that the followers are 100% right.

Loose analogy, I'm aware, but I like it.

My friend Katie and I played an April fools joke in which we were engaged to each other. About 3 people that I knew fell for it. With Katie it seemed like a lot of her friends and family fell for it. Now granted I go to Utah State and she goes to BYU and people up here are just a little more sane than people down there and tend to think things through a little more, but a lot of my friends said things to me like, "I just know you aren't the type to get married. You're bitter towards marriage and you don't want someone in your life." This kind of bothered me, but as I thought about it, I can understand why they think that. It's not true. I'm not really bitter towards marriage. I just think it's absurd how people rush into it and will settle just because they want to hurry up and get it done before they turn 23. Really, you've got about a 17 year window from the time you turn 18 until you get married to do this. Take your time - find someone who is right for you and don't settle.

I'm not bitter towards marriage. I would love to be married to an amazing woman and think certain relationships (yes even at young ages) are absolutely amazing and they make me very happy. Unfortunately I've just not met someone yet who I think I would be happy and content with spending the rest of my life with without one of us compromising something important. Well that isn't 100% true. One girl - it didn't work out, but close enough. Until that time I'm perfectly content being single. I like myself. I don't typically have trouble finding a girl to hang out or go out with. It just always stops shy of serious. Sometimes it's my fault, sometimes it's hers, sometimes we just realize it isn't working, however typically, for the last 3 years anyway, it's because the girl doesn't want someone who won't take her to the alien sanctuary temple.