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Monday, September 29, 2014

From Snadstone to Sandstone: The Promise of Literary Sensitivity

      Sandstone, often misprinted as snadstone (even occasionally today, in a spell checker world) in-spires in its magical, swirling layers:

         autumn colors, shadow, light, eroded surfaces, 


 and miniature landscapes:

          Thanks for the sand and sandstone topic idea, jan. A good introduction to sandstone, mostly reddish, yellowish or brownish in color, is here. Emily Eggleston describes the strength of the atomic scaffolding of silica in excellent Wisconsin frac sand. [Lego, could you kindly post a photo of one of the frac sand mines some time?]

     Sandstone, the poster rock for autumn, is a great stone for weaving in this comment from Dr. Susan Van Dyne, a professor at Smith College, on one of my essays typed on onion skin paper in a course called "The American Dream:"

         My mom sent a box of stuff last week with a gray, non-descript folder containing my ancient essays lining the bottom (I almost missed it and happened on it today while getting the box ready to be reused and filled with fruit for my daughter).

          The last line of her critique reads "You have promise of literary sensitivity in all of your essays." Red! Red! Red!

        (shell of 8 on CT River 9-29)

          Her words, after buckets of red ink all over a semester of short papers, meant much more to me than all the A grades in high school. Finally, true sandstone! Beautiful, cross-bedded, fine- to coarse-grained sandstone (not snadstone). 


     As the former Editor-in-Chief of The Mountain Geologist, a technical journal of the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists (RMAG),

I encountered an astounding number of snadstones. One of my associate editors was John Hickenlooper, who is now Colorado's governor. We (and all of RMAG) had many chuckles over snadstones, prompting a whole bit (not a drill bit) in the organization's monthly newsletter written by a fictional, crotchety, old prospector in search of the elusive snadstone.

     As to the last word today, I will leave it to Dr. Van Dyne's critique to pave the trail for my summary:

      "Always better to end essay with your own words rather than a quote -- as critic and organizer of discussion you deserve last word."

     I am publishing a bit early today so tomorrow's annual trek to Hell's Hole (weather permitting--it's been a wild hail and snow afternoon) will be open to the whole day for a sedimental (well, actually, it's mostly granite and lots of metamorphic rocks) journey.

      See you after my trip to Hell and Back!

      Sandstone. Sandstone. Sandstone.



September 30, 2014 Hell's Hole Trail and environs, CO

     Things are orangier than they have ever been in Colorado this autumn. Might our very wet year in CO account for more oranges than yellows this fall?

     "When you're going through Hell's Hole, keep going," to paraphrase Winston Churchill.

     Splendid day, if a bit windy and chilly:


      And the solution to just about everything is swimming outside in October:



  1. Sorry for dissing your fine sand last week. You showed True (North?) Grit in coming to its defense. But... I still don't really understand how there could be a global shortage. There's a lot of sand out there.

    And, while we're speaking of grit,

    Illegitimi non carborundum.

    ("Grit" also brings to mind the rural American weekly newspaper of the same name. In the late 1970s, I once flew my father, a printer, to Williamsport, PA, to consult there. After I dropped him off, I flew to College Park, MD, the world's oldest continually operating airport. I took a cab back to the airport that day, but the driver wasn't sure where it was. I was directing him to the general vicinity, when I spotted a Cessna in the traffic pattern. It felt great to have an opportunity to say, "Follow that plane!")

    1. There's lots of water, too, but it is a finite resource. . .The use of sand in cement is a major sand sucker, as 80 % of the cement mixture is sand.

      Aolian or wind-blown sand is highly prized because the grains are so uniform and generally spherical.

      Your "Follow that plane!" anecdote made me smile.

  2. Even though I am in Wisconsin at the moment, and a mere proverbial snadstone’s throw away from a big frac sand mind, I am too lazy to actually venture out to snap a photo of their operations. And, anyway I do not have a decent camera with me.

    So I googled “Barron County Wisconsin frac sand mines pictures.” Here are a few links that were the fruit of that search.

    The sandstone images are poetry in frozen motion, Steph. Very windsweepy and river-flowey (anemonious and alluvial?), almost agatey, anything but raggedy.

    I remember reading ads targeting impressionable, pocket-money-craving kids like me to sell Grit in the back pages of comic books (?) and/or Boy’s Life in the late 1950s/early 1960s (far, far back sharing ad space with the “X-Ray Specs” and Charles Atlas “build muscle so that bully won’t kick snad in your face when you’re at the beach with your Sweetie” ads). I might have bit on that Grit offer were I not already a St. Paul Pioneer Press paperboy.


    1. Lego, your three links took me to the same place, the home page for KQOW. Thus, I missed the windsweepy and water flowy images.. .

      Might you try again?

      Steph ( the tired )
      Maizie ( asleep already )

  3. I have hiked Hell's Hole near West Chicago Creek on or about September 30th for 14 years. The very same aspen trees that have always been golden yellow are now decidedly orangeish this year. They look like they've been eating carrots. Could our very wet year account for the carotenoids in the aspen taking on the orange hues?

    Beautiful, if perplexing. ;-)

  4. Steph,
    Orange hues being a bit anthropomorphic? Aspens don't eat carrots (except for Wisconsinite and former Secretary of Defense Les Aspin... He enjoyed an occasional carrot). (Incidentally, I enjoy a nice glass of orange hues with my occasional carrots.)

    Regarding the three links I posted above, I realize they are all WQOW links, but is not each a different WQOW news story about Wisconsin sand frac mines?


    1. Hey Lego, the links all go to the main news page. I tried searching the "More Stories" link but clicked through not to frac sand and beautiful photos but to a naked man in the Wisconsin State Capitol Building. Lego? ;-)

    2. I wonder if Anita Bryant was ever approached to do a campaign ad for the John Boehner / Eric Cantor Republican House leadership team? "A day without Orange/Jews is like..."

    3. Hehe, jan.

      Speaking of orange, Piper Kerman, Smith '92, author of "Orange is the New Black," will be speaking tomorrow at John M. Greene Hall on campus at 4:30 p.m. Anyone close enough to go and give us a report?

  5. Replies
    1. After a few micrometeoroid impacts, will the spacecraft be the holey GRAIL?

      The picture of the moon from above the Oceanus Procellarum reminded me of learning about early lunar images from a perspective other than the Earth's, images made before the Space Age. They would take a telescope photo, project it onto a white sphere, and then photograph it from a different angle. Obviously, you can't see anything on the far side, but you can see nearside features as they might appear from lunar orbit, e.g.

    2. Holey GRAIL it is.

      It's all about perspective.

  6. Er, GRAIL.

    Oceanus Procellarum on the moon. . .

  7. Swedish meatballs.

    Lots of possibilities here for PEOTSers. "Every Grain of Sand", "Like a Rolling Stone", "Subterranean Homesick Blues", etc.

    1. I really, really, really want to make you laugh.

  8. I was observing the flags at the pool were showing a wind from the south for a couple of swims when the next day they went back to the more usual wind from the north (or west). I was ready to take a photo when the flags started flapping both ways quite loudly OBSERVE EVERYTHING

    1. Yeah, it's my experience that most winds are headwinds, and most rides are uphill both ways, so this fits.

    2. ;-)

      My sense of smell seems to be getting keener:


    3. I once worked with a guy who claimed that he walked to and from school as a kid, uphill both ways.
      Here's the deal: He lived with his parents at the bottom of the hill. The school was part way up the hill. His grandmother's house was further up the hill. Both his parents worked, and their schedules were such that neither would be home when school let out. So, in the morning, he walked up the hill to school, and, in the afternoon, he walked up the hill to Grandma's, had dinner, and waited for either Mom or Dad to pick him up and take him home.
      You know I'm not clever enough to make up something like that!

    4. Just once, Paul, I'd like to hear someone say "It was a downhill battle."

    5. Another take on your send of smell.

      So, if a declining sense of smell correlates with impending mortality, does that mean that old people can't smell that old people smell?

    6. That should've been sense of smell, of course.

    7. That was an interesting article, jan. Of course, you ought to trust a Brown Smell Researcher named Rose.

  9. No,, I did not mean 'selenology', but thanks anyway.

    1. Paul, are you getting up early for the Blood Orange Moon Wednesday morning?

      Viewing Chart is above.

    2. I hope to see it not terribly early, if the weather cooperates. Even if I'm not sure about being able to tell that the moon is eclipsed after sunrise (at 7:01 a.m. EDT).

    3. We are going to Kunming Park at 4:30. A reasonable hour for Maizie and me.