Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A letter to Bobby Jindal

I highly encourage anyone who might read this blog to let Mr. Jindal know how ignorant his "something called volcano monitoring" statement was by writing him a little email.. My letter is below my piece of art.

Mr. Jindal,

I cordially invite you to join my Turlock High School geosciences education classes as we embark on a seven day study of the volcanoes found within the United States and throughout the world. The United States ranks third in the world for having the most active volcanoes within its borders. It is imperative that my students can identify the hazards that our nation’s volcanoes produce so that they can plan for, and prepare a means of evacuating volcanic hazards should the need arise.

I was dismayed to have read your recent disparaging comments toward the stimulus money slated for volcanic observation and monitoring. As a an elected government official whose home state was devastated by a horrible & predictable natural disaster just three years ago, one would think a person such as yourself would be very interested in life-saving data that could be obtained through scientific monitoring. A USGS study has shown that a $1.5 million dollar investment to study Mt Pinatubo (Philippines) prevented over $250 million dollars in property damage.

With many National Parks & metropolitan cities in the west situated near or on historically active volcanoes, it is imperative that the government do its best to inform its citizens of the risks associated with those areas, as well as provide a planned coordinated response in the event of an impending eruption. The $140 million slated for “something called volcano monitoring” will create many geology-related jobs to monitor, interpret and maintain data sources for the volcanic observatories. Geologists’ spending their income stimulates the economy just as much as any other professional’s spending.

My students will have a full understanding of the concepts I have just presented within a week. I hope the same time frame is applicable for your improved understanding of the benefits that are provided by the USGS Volcanic Observatories. If not, the invitation is always open to visit my classroom.


Ryan J Hollister

Geosciences Educator

Turlock High School

Turlock, CA

Monday, February 23, 2009

Smart-alec retort: Niagra's got nothin' on these...

The waterfall meme planted a seed in my head when Outside the Interzone ranked Niagra Falls as the number one waterfall in North America. As a mature "neener-neener" to currently flowing falls, I offer some falls that dwarf Niagra 10-fold!. OK, ok, so maybe Niagra still has water, but this stiched photo show evidence for one of the most infamous "waterfalls" in North America. Any guesses as to the name of this place? I'll give you a hint: a one-time high school biology teacher helped turn the then accepted geologic definition of uniforminarianism on its head.

I'll give you one last clue with the photo below. Good Luck!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I fall for Waterfalls

Outside the Interzone has a new waterfall meme going, and apparently that's what it's going to take to get me out of my blogging hibernation. To be truthful, I'm just procrastinating on studying for a few exams and creating the week's track practices.

Like most folks, I too love waterfalls and wanted to share some pretty ones even though I haven't been to many on the list below.

#10 Lower Calf Creek Falls, Escalante National Monument, Utah (been to through the park several times, but haven't had a chance to visit these falls)

#9 Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (The brinkview that geotripper mentions makes pretty rainbows in the spray)

#8 Upper Whitewater Falls, in southwestern North Carolina (NC isn't one of the three staes east of the Mississippi I've been to)

#7 Snoqualmie Falls, between Snoqualmie and Fall City, Washington (One of my best friends lives in Snohomish, so I Will check this one out next time I'm up there.)

#6 Havasu Falls, Supai Village, Havasupai Indian Reservation, Grand Canyon, Arizona (Have you seen the moon-lit shot of this in National Geographic? I can't find a link, but it left an indelible image on my brain.)

#5 Shoshone Falls, Twin Falls, Idaho (My wife and I get the privilege of seeing this waterfall every spring break on the to Jackson, WY.)

#4 Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon (Uh-uh.)

#3 Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite National Park, California (I have to disagree with the #3 ranking, but maybe I'm just a bit calloused from going to the park several times a month. Here's Bridalveil in an unusually forzen state. BTW, 44 folks have fallen to their death over Yosemite's falls. Beauty can sometimes breed a sense of safety and people get careless.)

#2 McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur, California

#1 Niagara Falls, Niagara, New York (maybe someday a barrel roll will be in order, but for now I really have no desire to see them.)

Here are a few of my favorites:
Johnston Falls, Banff NP, Alberta, CA
A favorite from my honeymoon 3 years ago. The catwalk to get to these falls was something else too.

Chilnualna Cascades, Yosemite
For my money, the best waterfalls/cascades in the entire park. It's a non-stop butt-kicking 4.25 mile, 2800' grind to get to the top, but well worth the effort. The main falls and cascades roar in the spring run-off. The fishing is quite good too! Here's my main photo album of Chilnualna Creek Hike

Mystery Falls? Near Silverton, Colorado
These falls just outside Silverton were tumbling next to Paleozoic ripple marks. Beyond the beauty of the falls themselves, I thought the juxtaposition of old and new made this one of the most special falls I've ever laid eyes upon. The scale is hard to ascertain, but this drop is well over 300 feet.