Saturday, October 29, 2011

Alcan Geology Series

My two posts on Folded Mountain are perpetually popular, at least from searches, so I've put together this mini-series of roadside geology along the Alcan, or Alaska Highway, or Highway 97 (British Columbia). If I knew more about the geology along that road, I might post more of my photos from my several trips.

Alcan Geology and Related Posts:
Where on (Google) Earth #158
Folded Mountain, B. C.
Folded Mountain, B. C. - A Reprise
Muncho Lake, B. C.
More Muncho
Some Alcan Mileage Links

I also have two more posts about Canada, with some introductory or basic geology:
     Where in the West: October 2010
     Where in the West: Rose Spit, B.C., Canada

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Update from the Lake: Fall with a Bit of Color

And I mean just a bit of color! On our last trip to the lake about mid-month, the leaves on our aspens had started turning, but they hadn't really gotten all that far.
In fact, they were not quite as far along as they were at a similar time three years prior, so possibly this is fairly normal (I'd have to go deeper than the archives held in this blog or on my computer and pull out some backup drives to find out).
While at the lake, we noticed that the pine trees all around had a lot of brown needles, maybe not more than average but it seemed like a lot: many Ponderosa pines had what looked like about 25 to 50 percent brown needles. They usually retain needles for three to four years, which would be an average drop rate of about 25 to 35 percent.
I spent some time walking around the yard, photographing things that caught my eye.
Leafy and needly things.
Needly and leafy things.
Okay, enough of that. Back in the thick aspens where they are intergrown with alder and fir, lots of tiny little greenish yellow birds hopped about and flew here and there, barely stopping long enough for me to get a picture.
But I did! Two sharp pictures, as a matter of fact, out of all the hundreds (it seemed) of missed birds, blurry birds, and bird butts. Not sure what they are, however, other than some kind of sparrow. They are very small, they hardly ever stop moving, and they love all shady and hidden areas.
We were busy at the lake, as were are at times, and one thing we did was to turn off water to our flowers. This year, we had lots of daisies, a few purple cone flowers, and very few gaillardias. We don't know if the gaillardias were getting too much water, were choked out by the vetch that we didn't weed, or if the daisies are providing a negative influence. If the latter, we may weed some daisies next year. Can't have a monoculture.

Other successful undertakings mainly centered around prepping the torn up dining area, acquiring a 12x12 sheet of rock-pattern vinyl flooring, and carefully cutting and dry-laying it. Next year, or sometime in the winter, we will install some matching baseboard trim. Needless to say, other projects remain, some started, some merely thought about. I'm actually hoping to get to one or two of these this winter! We'll see, though. It gets cold, the place gets snowed in, the water will be turned off, and just getting there can seem like a major accomplishment.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tremolite-Actinolite Skarn

A few days ago — after recovering from an average long work stint by relaxing, walking, visiting, helping to lay flooring, and running errands while at the lake, then returning to our little house via Costco and a family meal or two in the big city we sometimes drive through — I wrote a note in an irregularly kept journal indicating that I had been dreaming about diopside skarn and actinolite schist. I understand dreaming about the former: skarns have been invading my territory at work recently, and diopside skarn is one of my favorite types of skarn, introduced to me way back when on the west side of the Inyo Mountains, somewhere near Big Pine, CA. I'm not sure why actinolite schist would pop into my dreaming mind; I haven't worked in those kinds of schists much before. Blueschists yeah, greenschists not so much.

I realized, looking through a batch of rocks lying about our little house, brought from here and there, often from mine dumps, sometimes from close by, other times from places as far away as northeastern Idaho or southcentral Alaska, that I have photos of what I was calling actinolite skarn, but which may really be tremolite skarn. I think the difference might only be apparent by either doing petrography or x-ray work, neither of which will be done on these rocks anytime soon.

So, on with the photos!
The tremolite-actinolite in this skarn is a pale yellowish green, a color my camera seems to want to either distort with too much green, too much blue, or not enough color at all.
The skarn is cut by numerous quartz-calcite veinlets containing pyrite, magnetite, and chalcopyrite. The veinlets are up to a half centimeter wide, usually more like a millimeter in width. Tiny.
The gray, vaguely bluish metallic mineral in the central part of the veinlet is magnetite. The brownish to yellowish mass of sulfides is mostly made of pyirte — you can barely make out a few cubic forms. Some of the shiny golden yellow grains are chalcopyrite. It's hard to say what the pyrite:chalcopyrite ratio is, even when looking at this rock in person.
This photo, especially when enlarged, shows the generally felted look of the fine-grained tremolite-actinolite.
Zooming in a bit, we can see the sheaf-like to radiating crystals of tremolite-actinolite, which are hosted in nearly invisible calcite and are possibly intergrown with other very fine-grained skarn minerals such as wollastonite.
A couple of the larger tremolite-actinolite crystals can be seen near the center of the way zoomed in photo above. The largest of these elongate sheaves is probably no more than a millimeter in length. Fine-grained indeed!

Actinolite is the iron-rich end member of the tremolite-actinolite series. I suspect that these very pale green to white crystals are tremolite. In hand sample, I usually just go by color, prefering my tremolite to be white to clear, but it can be light green, light yellow, brown, and even pinkish.

UPDATE: I've indicated the general area of where I most likely found this skarn rock in the Location shown below.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Making The Photos Sharper least here on Blogspot.

Blogger has made a couple of changes over the last year or so — I really don't remember exactly when these changes occurred, nor do I remember exactly what they were. Nonetheless, the changes have resulted in my already uploaded photos getting blurrier than they appeared when I first uploaded them.

One of the changes at Blogger, implemented whenever, was a switch or an option to use their "new" editor (no longer very new). I rarely use this new editor; we should keep that in mind when I get into the nitty gritty of how I'm currently sharpening up all or many of my old photos. Anything I say may not apply to photos uploaded while using the new editor. At about the same time, the main change here at LFD was me going to a wider main post area with one of the new templates, meaning that I can now display photos in 500-pixel-wide fashion instead of being stuck with the a maximum width of about 400 pixels. I initially dealt with this change by increasing the size of the photo in a particular way. This change is no longer adequate, or else my eyes have gotten more sensitive sometime in the last few months.

There are a few things to keep in mind about photo uploads and HTML here on Blogger. First off, when I upload, I go into Edit HTML mode, getting out of Compose mode and ignoring it almost entirely. In fact, going back between modes can change the way your HTML will look, and it can change the way your post will look at final posting. Consequently, I try really hard to stay out of Compose mode.

Another thing to understand is that the HTML for any photo has two main parts. As mentioned, these will look slightly different if you've uploaded in HTML mode, gone into Compose mode for writing, then gone back into HTML mode for further editing. I'm having to deal with the two different ways the HTML can look because many of my older posts were written in Compose mode after the initial uploading of the photos.

Also to keep in mind, these photos are hosted on Picasa, where they are not blurry, where they are stored in whatever size I had them set for upload. If you host them on Flickr or somewhere else, you may not get a Blogger blurring problem.

First, we'll upload a photo or two, while in HTML mode. The photos will go to the top of the post in reverse order from the way we upload them. I usually upload all or most of the photos before I start writing (unlike this post), and upload the last one first, working my way 5 photos at a time until I upload, last, the photo I want to be first. (Urrggh.)

Before uploading the two photos and one image I'm going to use in this post, I'll resize them in my photo editor (on my computer) so that the maximum dimension for each photo or image is 800 pixels. (You can use whatever pre-upload size you want; the larger the size, the longer your blog posts will take to load, in general.) Then I'll sharpen my two photos and one image in my photo editor, so that these resized photos and images will look less blurry than they do after my pre-upload decrease in size. I'm now uploading them; their HTML code has duly appeared at the top of the post in the Edit HTML mode. I'll now copy the HTML code for these photos and move them down below.
The upload window is set to "Center" and "Large". Note that the HTML for these photos depends on your upload settings; the HTML will be different to begin with if you use some other setting like "Right" and "Medium".

Here are the two edited and pre-sharpened photos, uploaded as described above, at the regular uploading max dimension of 400 pixels. The first is 400 pixels wide, the second is 400 pixels in height.
Photo 1
Photo 2Looking at the almost* unadulterated HTML code for Photo 1 below, we see that there are two main parts to the HTML code. Note that I'm using brackets, [ and ], instead of the HTML sideways carats, whatever they are called <>, because the HTML carats can't be used in regualar language without them trying to create an HTML phrase or a photo. *I did change the original margin setting from "margin:0px auto 10px" to "margin:20px auto 10px" because that's the way I nearly always set my margins for centered photos. Also, I added a label in the alt part so that it says alt="Photo 1", which will cause the words "Photo 1" to appear over the photo with a mouse hover. I don't usually do this.

Photo 1:
[a href=""][img style="display:block; margin:20px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 400px; height: 266px;" src="" border="0" alt="Photo 1"id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5665972585654398066" /][/a]

The first part of the photo code, a href through IMG_6358_3.jpg, all inside the first set of brackets, will not be changed. The first part shows the size as 1600 with the little bit "/s1600/". I've bolded particular parts of the second part of the photo code, which I will change. These changes are all inside the second set of brackets (remember these are sideways carets in the real HTML). The little /a inside the third set of brackets/carets is there to mark the end of the photo HTML. It is required.

1A: Simply enlarging the photo by changing "width: 400px; height: 266px;" to "width: 500px; height: 333px;" results in a very blurry picture.

1B: I used to change the width and height from "width: 400px; height: 266px;" to "width: 500px; height: 333px;" as in 1A, and also changed the second size "/s400/" to "/s1600/" — do not use quotes unless they are already part of the code — to get my pictures to 500 pixels wide here on the blog while retaining some modicum of sharpness.
NOTE: The height you use while changing the width will have to be of the right proportion; I use standard photo height:width ratios and have a little chart written on a wall next to me so I don't have to recalculate these numbers all the time.
1C: This old way of enlarging my photos (1B) no longer works so well, so I'm now deleting this part: width: 400px; height: 266px; (be sure the quote following the 266px is still there) and changing the second size to "/s500/" — which will work just fine on a photo with width dimension larger than height.

All three enlarged photos are shown below, the first being very blurry, the second being somewhat blurry, the third being fairly sharp. The changed code is shown with brackets instead of carats, below the three photos.
Photo 1A

Photo 1B

Photo 1C

Code for Photo 1A:
[a href=""][img style="display:block; margin:20px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 500px; height: 333px;" src="" border="0" alt="Photo 1A"id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5665972585654398066" /][/a]
For the first photo, I enlarged to 500 maximum dimension (width), but left the second size at s400: Very Blurry! Don't bother with this, leave it at 400 or do the second of the following two changes.

Code for Photo 1B:
[a href=""][img style="display:block; margin:20px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 500px; height: 333px;" src="" border="0" alt="Photo 1B"id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5665972585654398066" /][/a]

Code for Photo 1C:
[a href=""][img style="display:block; margin:20px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" src="" border="0" alt="Photo 1C"id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5665972585654398066" /][/a]

Remember that if I'd alread gone into compose mode, the code for these photos would look different, and I'd still have to get rid of the width and height part of the code and change the second size part. We'll see what that looks like later.


Now we'll look at photo 2. This photo has a height greater than the width, so it will be treated slightly differently.
Photo 2
Photo 2:
[ href=""][img style="display:block; margin:20px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 300px; height: 400px;" src="" border="0" alt="Photo 2"id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5665972582915410210" /][/a]

I'll enlarge photo 2 the same three ways, 2A blurry, 2B not so blurry, 2C much sharper.
Photo 2

Photo 2

Photo 2

Code for Photo 2A:
[a href=""][img style="display:block; margin:20px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 500px; height: 667px;" src="" border="0" alt="Photo 2"id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5665972582915410210" /][/a]

Code for Photo 2B:
[a href=""][img style="display:block; margin:20px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;width: 500px; height: 667px;" src="" border="0" alt="Photo 2"id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5665972582915410210" /][/a]

Code for Photo 2C:
[a href=""][img style="display:block; margin:20px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" src="" border="0" alt="Photo 2"id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5665972582915410210" /][/a]

The only difference with Photo 2, with it's height dimension larger than it's width, is that in the final setting, where I get rid of Blogger's specific reference to width and height (width: 500px; height: 667px), I have to change the size to the maximum dimension, 667px, to get a width of 500px, which is what I want.

If I wanted different widths than 500px for my photos, for example, I wanted a width of 400px on the last photo, I would have to use a different size in the second part of the photo HTML. For the last photo, I'd have to use 533px:
Photo 2D

Photo 2D code:
[a href=""][img style="display:block; margin:20px auto 10px; text-align:center;cursor:pointer; cursor:hand;" src="" border="0" alt="Photo 2D"id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5665972582915410210" /][/a]

Compose Mode:
If I've used Compose mode anytime during my editing or post-writing process, instead of just sticking to Edit HTML mode the way I prefer, when I come back to Edit HTML mode, the HTML code for the two original photos will have changed, and it will look like this:

Code for Photo 1 after Compose mode:
[a href=""][img style="TEXT-ALIGN: center; MARGIN: 20px auto 10px; WIDTH: 400px; DISPLAY: block; HEIGHT: 266px; CURSOR: hand" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5665972585654398066" border="0" alt="Photo 1" src="" /][/a]

Code for Photo 2 after Compose mode:
[a href=""][img style="TEXT-ALIGN: center; MARGIN: 20px auto 10px; WIDTH: 300px; DISPLAY: block; HEIGHT: 400px; CURSOR: hand" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5665972582915410210" border="0" alt="Photo 2" src="" /][/a]

I will now have to delete the WIDTH: 400px and HEIGHT: 266px (leave any semicolons) in the first picture and WIDTH: 300px and HEIGHT: 400px in the second photo. I'll then have to change size from s400 to s500 in the first photo and to s667 in the second photo to get my desired results of Photo 1C and 2C:
Photo 1C
Photo 1C Compose-modified code:
[a href=""][img style="TEXT-ALIGN: center; MARGIN: 20px auto 10px; DISPLAY: block; CURSOR: hand" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5665972585654398066" border="0" alt="Photo 1C" src="" /][/a]

Photo 2
Photo 2C Compose-modified code:
[a href=""][img style="TEXT-ALIGN: center; MARGIN: 20px auto 10px; DISPLAY: block; CURSOR: hand" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5665972582915410210" border="0" alt="Photo 2" src="" /][/a]

Final Notes:
Please remember that I have no idea what photo code looks like if you've been using Blogger's new editor. I rarely use that. The same basics probably apply, but the HTML may look different, so different changes may be required. Maybe no changes are required to get sharp photos, but somehow I doubt it.

Also, I've seen blurry photos on blogs that use other blog platforms such as Wordpress. I have no idea what the HTML looks like for these photos or what needs to be done to fix them.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Road Song: Buffalo

Quite a while back, as the result of this post at En Tequila Es Verdad, I was turned on to Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers. Dana not only blogged about them, pointing out a road song or two of theirs, but get this: she sent me a CD of their songs! So, I'm finally getting around to posting a video one of their many road songs, Buffalo.

Note that while this qualifies as a road song by mentioning the iron rail and freeway, it is actually an anti–road song. And the lyrics remind me of the movie Little Big Man.

RCPM: Buffalo
Album: Sonoran Hope & Madness, 2002
Roger Clyne's tequila

And hey! This it the 800th post here at LFD!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

An Evil Geologist Lair

I've been thinking about the ideal location for my own personal evil geologist lair (in case I develop any evil tendencies in the near or far future), and realized, with great sadness, that now that Mt. Shasta has already been taken by Garry Hayes, and because the best beach is already occupied by Jessica Ball, that I'd have to look somewhere else besides volcanoes.

In fact, the only fitting possibilities would be something like a really deep, scary, haunted, open pit like the one in Desperation (Stephen King's novel, Stephen King's film), or (more likely) a nice pleasant underground mine hidden away somewhere in the desert outback, left to me and me alone by the old-timers that dug the mine. One in particular pops into my mind, the Mary-Drinkwater Mine, on Mineral Ridge above Silver Peak, Nevada. Unfortunately, however, that mine, which had beaucoups levels dug into en echelon, low-angle quartz veins, is probably not the same after undergoing open pit mining. So, I'll have to choose another place. (I know where, but ain't tellin'.)

A good underground mine will be in a location not known to anyone else, so I can get away when needed and not be found when being searched out by whomever might be doing the searching (black helicopters have been suggested). It will therefore not only be in an obscure location, but its opening — a typical adit into some hillside either somewhere in Nevada, the Mojave Desert of California, or Idaho (don't ask me why the latter) — while looking like any other adit if you happen to be passing by on the surface, will be absolutely hidden from view from overhead. In fact, it will have multiple openings, as all underground mines should. The main adit opening will look rather uninviting to casual passersby, including most geologists, and would only possibly be entered by the most dedicated of exploration geologists seeking out gold or quartz or hidden structures.

A second opening, way back into the hillside, will provide good ventilation (an air shaft), and will probably be so hidden on the hillside above that not even a scurrying-by pocket monkey or prairie dog will see it.

A third opening will be down a side tunnel, through an open stope that shows indications of incipient caving toward the left, so that most people in the know (underground miners, desert rats, exploration geos) will either avoid the room entirely or will at least skirt it far to the right, where booby traps can be set and sprung if needed. This open stope, once negotiated correctly, will lead into some drifts in solid quartz. Multiple levels will open up from this point, with elevators going up and down between levels, following the old, originally hand dug and now widened, raises. A back exit, only obvious with some digging around and following of anomalous air flows, will allow escape through an active underground mine on the other side of the mountain, where I will be able to exit surreptitiously with all the other miners at shift change.

A fourth opening, the entrance of which will be partially caved so as to look uninviting, will lead past a caved open stope to a hallway of gold-bearing quartz that will impede the approach of even the most dedicated gold-seekers (they will have to stop for samples and won't pass further without taking their sample bags out to a typical mineral exploration pickup, thereby allowing time for any evil denizens of the deep who happen to be present to escape deeper into the mine). Beyond the wall of gold-bearing quartz, a flat-lying metal grizzly made of old mine rail will bar access to the last escape route. If anyone makes it this far into the deeps of the lair, they will not know to press a button inside a panel hidden behind the pile of slabbed, broken waste rock sitting nearby. In fact, they will ignore the waste rock entirely and go for the ore sitting next to the grizzly, large chunks of gold-quartz ore that the old-timers left because it didn't fit through the grizzly.
Meanwhile, the denizen of the lair (that would be me), will be running down the haulage tunnel below the grizzly, heading for its opening in the wash right above the old, hand-built road, an opening now obscured by decades of flash flooding down a steepening canyon. The ATV awaiting me at this exit, will allow me to pass nearly unseen and certainly camouflaged by ordinariness, down the mountain to The Alternative bar, where I will blend in with miners and geologists alike.

One view from a good lair.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

First Snow 2011

The absolute first snow of 2011 began sometime midday on October 5th, approximately tying with 2007 and 2009, and much earlier than 2010 (tracking since 2007). Snow continued falling through the night, and early the next morning, the 6th, I grabbed a few photos around and near our little house.
Our garden looked like this. Tall flowers were knocked over by the snow, chard was frozen though not irretrievably, and staked tomatoes were safe inside a now heated mini-greenhouse.
Chinese elm trees all across town, heavily laden with snow because leaves hadn't fallen and were fully green, suffered broken branches, sometimes with severe to complete damage down and into the central core. At least some of the branches hanging over this fence will have to be completely cut back. The tree will presumably survive, but will probably require energetic pruning. Hanging branches of the same tree, also heavy with snow, looked like this in spring, 2010 (last four photos).
Down the road, another view of hanging branches with leaves still green. The brown leaves on these elm trees are from munching by beetles, not from any early fall color change.
The early morning of the 5th saw our first freeze of 2011 (temperature only reached 30° F at the airport, was probably not as low at our little house), and we had a relatively hard freeze of 21° F sometime during the night of the 5th and early morning of the 6th (again, it probably wasn't quite as cold at our house). This first freeze of 2011, October 5th or 6th, came much later than in 2008 (27° F at the airport on September 2nd), later than 2009 (27° F at the airport on September 22nd; first hard freeze at our little house on September 30th), and later or earlier than 2010, depending (26° F at the airport on September 6th; first frost at our little house was seen on the morning of October 12th). Dates were tracked here and here.

We're now back on a weak warming trend.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Update from the Lake: Early Fall

Early fall construction in Austin, Nevada

In a departure from the semi-standard format of my on-again, off-again updates from the lake, this post will have zero pictures from the lake itself, just from the road to/from the lake. Why? Because I didn't take any! Really!

Our fairly recent visit to the lake was one of getting a little less accomplished than planned, with accomplishment of one or two things not planned, including the fixing, eventually, of a semi-broken water heater. Semi-broken means that if one went out and occasionally tripped the reset, the heater would come back on, heating fully until the next time the thermostat, upper or lower or both, went haywire and caused the thing to shut off. That was the main thing not planned for, which, as far as we know, was fixed successfully just as we were leaving. (No way to really tell until we go back and run the hot water.) A second unexpected accomplishment (or event) was a special trip to town for a family birthday dinner.

Looking downhill while waiting for the pilot truck in Austin, Nevada.

Overall, it was a mostly lazy, restful interlude. I had no problem sleeping in or napping, and my state of restfulness carried over nicely to the beginning of this most recent work stint, which started sometime last week (I already don't know what day that was, or what day this is: the perils of long work stints.)

We didn't get new flooring down in the dining room, but we did find a likely store and probable choice: a rock-patterned vinyl.

Oh, and we discovered that one thing we thought we had accomplished back in early summer had been left undone, with our local handyman having disappeared with his payment plus tip. He took the money and ran! We are hoping a neighbor will be more thorough and conscientious.

Our drip line was still running, flowers were still blooming, birds were chirping, and leaves on trees hadn't started to change. It was summer when we arrived, fall when we returned.

In other news, we are back at our little house and well into the middle of our work "month." It's turned suddenly fallish and is expected to snow tomorrow; the tomatoes in the garden are safely enclosed in an impromptu greenhouse made of stakes and thick plastic. Flowers here are still blooming; it is hoped that green tomatoes will ripen despite the impending snow.