Lets Talk About the Weather

Now I’m going to take a moment to be serious.

The Midwest is seeing a strange….what do we call this? Ice storm? Enormous freeze? Arctic weather not in the Arctic? You get the point. Chicago is colder than the Arctic right now. The literal Arctic. Polar Bear weather. Or maybe more extreme than Polar Bear weather?? Is that even possible? All over my feed people are sharing their experiences as the weather settles in for a deep chill around them. Doors to Starbucks (STILL OPEN BY THE WAY) are frozen over, inside hinges of homes are frozen over, there are warnings of frost bite with blackened ears and toes. This is insane. I’ve been constantly reminded of The Day After Tomorrow, a movie about apocalyptic weather overcoming the US and the trials that ensue. In one scene, a group of survivors in New York trek across the frozen city to a safer place. Those who stopped to rest died in the extreme cold. In another scene, a sudden temperature drop swept through the area, literally freezing everything instantaneously. (The theatrical moment saw walls icing over, flags freezing where they used to wave, etc) Maybe this wasn’t possible back in the day, but I don’t think we should underestimate the capability of Earth anymore.

Which brings me to my point. I’ve been mulling over this idea for a while, but now it seems solidified in the historical events happening around us. The time of humanity is over. Earth is changing, whether in order to rid itself of us or not. We see this as hurricanes become more powerful, summers and winters more extreme, the ice is melting, the seas are rising, tectonic plates are moving, etc. Global warming, yay.

You may roll your eyes or shake this off. Even refute it. But we consider ourselves masters of the Universe and this is simply not the case. We are tiny, insignificant, proud coincidences. (I already see religious outrage coming. Leave it at home, yall) The sun could drop out of Space tomorrow and we would be doomed. The Sun could change even the slightest BIT and we would be doomed. Another planet could crash into us and we would be doomed. The moon. Our Earth. Everything is a perfect coincidence. A PERFECT happenstance. Maybe it was created by a superior being, maybe it wasn’t. But this fact remains; we have no control, and we are not all powerful. We are very very fragile. We sit on our plush, fake thrones and play politics with other fragile humans as if it actually matters. We debate and call each other names like it matters. Tiny human minds. You’re dying.

I guess the moral of this post is to see who we really are in this universe. Even if you believe in a god, see this truth. Everything could fall apart in a heart beat. Everything kind of is, already. So pray, help your neighbor in these hard times, help the Earth.

Now I want to know if there are Polar Bears at the Chicago Zoo and whether they’re loving this or not…turn on the Polar Bear cam, yall.

Just Rocks

I thought taking Physical Geology would be fun. Good for me. A knowledgeable experience. I chose a Bachelors of Science because I’d rather learn about the Earth than spend 4 semesters in a foreign language I’ll never really master, and probably forget the moment I graduate. So, I signed up for Geology, because rocks.

Do you remember in grade school, how they would teach us Sedimentary, Metamorphic, and Igneous rocks? I always loved that unit. I love staring at the cliffs lining highways and the crazy lines running across the cut faces. I thought I could handle this class….after all, it’s 10x better than Biology.

Oh how wrong I was…

My TA looks like Glenn from The Walking Dead. This is the only thing going for him, in my opinion. He’s awful at teaching. He doesn’t answer questions, and when he does, he tells me in vague replies that don’t suit my learning style at all. I need you to show me the difference between Fracture and Cleavage on a rock and explain why it is so.¬†Half the time, we ask him a question about a rock, he picks it up, flicks it around a bit, then tells us “this is a nice specimen. good cleavage.” or something like that, then walks away. Knowledge gained=zero.

On the first lab day, he informed us that we would be having a Midterm Practical the week before Spring Break (TODAY). He didn’t lie to us at all. Apparently less than half the entire Physical Geology class (all sections included) passes the Practical. Now, help me out here….WHY WOULD YOU CONTINUE TO GIVE A TEST THAT NO ONE CAN SEEM TO DO WELL ON? I’ve heard of professors like these who love to watch students retake their classes again and again. I even know of one who dresses up as Satan on test days. Why.

Upon realizing the test was a week away, I immediately set out to make my trusty flash cards. I figured that if I could memorize how to characterize the rocks and minerals before tutoring on Friday, I could go in, get some pictures in my head to match the characteristics, and continue studying over the weekend. I did just that. I felt so good about everything after tutoring! I had been studying twice a day all week, had the rocks and minerals pretty much down, and I still had two more days to go. Then came Saturday. My brain was tired…I couldn’t handle the flashcards. Sunday….no flashcards. Today, I resigned myself to whatever fate was in store for me. If I knew it, I knew it. After a weekend of seeing flashcards with Dolostone, Calcite, and Gneiss pop into my head with little information to follow, I was ready to be done with my Practical.

As I waited outside to be called in alongside lab mates and students from other labs, I heard a group of girls discussing the Practicals they took last year. Because, you know, they didn’t pass last year. Because this class sucks. My lab group was shocked to hear the test would not be multiple choice after all. (HE. PROMISED. MULTIPLE. CHOICE. Damn it Glenn!!!) I set down my flash cards and stared at the wall until I was called. Resigned.

There was no way I could have been prepared for this. This Practical might seem easy to majors who have spent they’re entire college experience categorizing rocks, but not a lab of non majors who only meet once a week for 2 hours. Every week we were introduced to a new batch of about ten rocks with a new batch of characteristic terms and identification tools. I’ve spent a month in this class, there was no way. At each table there were about ten different rocks with one or two questions associated with them. Some were naming, some were about technical texture terms, some were about placing the rocks on the Hardness scale.

At one point I got to a rock that had two questions to it. I don’t remember the questions. I think I only answered one. I remember dropping to eye level with the rock and staring at it for a long time, because there was no way for me to characterize it. My brain had failed me for at least the twentieth time in that hour. To me, it was just a rock. It had no name other than rock. Because, in all honesty, that’s all they are. They’re rocks. You pick up a rock on the side of the road, and it may be comprised of minerals with names, but this was just a rock. I could have seen this very rock in my front yard back home. There was absolutely nothing special about it….so I sighed, stood up, and moved on.

Not much later, I was on the final table. I picked up a rock and immediately knew it was Hematite. Two questions belonged to this rock, to which I knew the name of. Do you know how often I absolutely knew the names of the rocks and minerals during that test? Once. ¬†Hematite. You want to know what questions belonged to Hematite? Not “what is the name of this rock?” I can assure you. I knew it was Hematite. I didn’t know its economical uses or whatever the second question was. At that point, I wanted to begin writing all of the knowledge I had gathered on my answer sheet, because I have knowledge in this class. I know things. That….I didn’t know. It frustrated me to no end. I moved on.

Halite, Calcite, and Quartz look very similar. Calcite bubbles in acid and Halite tastes salty. I’ve tasted Halite before, just out of curiosity, but I wasn’t going to lick it in the middle of my Practical. So I stared at it for a minute or two, playing Einie-Meenie- Minie- Mo in my head. (Get ready to be proud, mom) Then I remembered “You can see daylight through the Halite”, decided this mineral was clear enough to be so, and wrote it down. That’s about as confident of an answer as I was gonna get on that test.

I left a few blank. I guessed on too many. I probably only got a handful right out of fifty questions. The point of this pitiful story is….don’t take Geology if you don’t have to. It’s not just Sedimentary, Igneous, and Metamorphic anymore.