Call for posts – Accretionary Wedge, Geollowe’en Edition

In the absence of anyone more suitable, I am going to be hosting the November Accretionary Wedge. It being November’s, it will be Hallowe’en themed, or much more appropriately, Geollowe’en (which works pretty well with my accent at least). So, keep an eye out for the geological pumpkins, rock candy (that is a thing, right?) and trick and treating trilobites in order to share them here. This call for posts is a bit early, in order to allow people to keep an eye out in a few weeks. Deadline to be around 14 November-ish? I am not really sure that I will have much to post myself, since South Africa does not do the whole Hallowe’en thing in any sort of seriousness, let alone Geollowe’en, but I look forward to what other people have spotted. Comments are open on this post.

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Greytown MTB Festival

The 12th of May, mothers’ day. Fittingly, my mum decided that she had nothing better to do, and came along. Also the Greytown MTB Festival’s main race. I had signed up for the 20km race. Leaving Eshowe early we went the back way, via Middledrift and Kranskop. Our reward was watching the sun rise over the Tugela Valley. Arriving at the venue, it was cold. Like frost and blizzard cold. Well, not quite, but certainly much colder than a Zululand boy likes. The turn out was pretty good, with a number of people milling around. The coffee stand was doing a roaring trade. The profile showed a relatively non-scary race ahead, with no huge climbs or descents. The announcer pointed out that I was in flagrant violation of the CSA rules about “both wheels needing to be the same size” or similar malarkey, which I think amused him as much as it did me. The start was fairly flat and uneventful, going along some good farm roads. The marshalls were generally flabbergasted at my coming through. I managed to stay in touch with the field here, but got left behind on a long, sweeping downhill, so I was soon in […]

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Construction Day

So I built a few things today. The first was finishing my stilts off: I think I might need to replace the current velcro straps with something that I can pull tight, but we shall see. These are a pretty modest 50cm or so high, and largely experimental. I might make so taller ones once I get the hang of these. The second item was a rola bola (also termed a balance board). Basically a PVC pipe and a 12mm thick board of shutterply. Feels very strange, sort of like floating. The last item was a box to put all my toys in: This still needs to be painted, but has room for quite a bit more stuff. It currently has a whole mess of balls, mostly for workshops/teaching, my clubs, a diabolo and a couple sets of poi. Quite a successful day, I think. If anyone wants designs or more photos, email me or get in touch on twitter.

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Zini Buffalo Classic

The first of my local races for the year is the Zini Buffalo Classic. I did it last year, and it is the first race in the Big 5 Mountain Bike Series. I did four of the five races last year, and apparently have become a bit of a talking point. It seems taking on 25km worth of mountain bike race on a unicycle gets one noticed. My sister, her husband and my mum decided to come along, just because. So we all trooped down to Mtunzini. At the start were many familiar faces from last year. Lots of the usual reaction (something along the lines of: “No bloody way” or “Are you actually serious?”) while waiting for everything to get started. I did offer to swap, but no one took me up on it. Strange, that. Last year I did the race with Johnny, but I think he was on call or otherwise engaged. The start was the same as last year, down the fairway and back up the next one, then into the Zini River Estate and down to the river proper. Someone had realised that it was better to let the faster 50km riders go in front […]

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Landscapes

Yeah, so this is not a race report, but it is of interest. The current curator of @curateZAR happens to be a travel nut (that might be putting it mildly…). Since I travel a far bit in northern KwaZulu-Natal, I figured she might like some of the photos I have taken. Without further ado: Hope these are enjoyed.

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Karkloof Classic 2013

So, I owe you all some race reports. First up is the Karkloof Classic. Which was half rained out. And the half that was not was as muddy as a muddy thing. The idea was that this was a whole festival, with numerous races, including a night ride on the Friday, an enduro on the Saturday and the feature event, your choice of 60km, 40km, 20km or 10km on the Sunday. I entered for the enduro and the 20km event. Arriving at the site, I immediately wished for the gumboots I had left at work. It was muddy and wet, and the rain was still coming down. I would have been even more worried if it was coming up or sideways, because then there would have been some truly horrible winds. I squelched over to the registration table and did all the required stuff. The enduro was to start a short distance away. Except, being non-local and with the direction sense of a… Well, actually my sense of direction is pretty decent, but there were no signs and no indication of where to go. After wandering around the back roads near Howick I decided to pack it in and laugh […]

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Accretionary Wedge 55 – When Rocks Fight Back

This month’s  Accretionary Wedge is asking about injuries obtained in the cause of geoscience. I do not really have any photos of gaping wounds and such, but nearly had a fairly nasty one once. While looking at a roadcutting along the N2 a short way outside Grahamstown, I got fairly high up on the roadcut to look more closely at somwthing that seemed interesting. My background in rock climbing probably makes me a little blase about clambering on rocks, so I was higher than I probably needed to be for this particular exercise. I then needed to get down, so started to descend. Then, because of a quirk of the Rhodes geology department, summarised as “light rain will not deter fieldwork”, I slipped on the slightly slippery rock. This lead to a poorly controlled careen down towards the base of the outcrop. If there had been no road, I would have been able to run it out easily. As it was, because my mind was occupied with things other than looking both ways before I cross a national route (note to kids: this is a bad thing), I elected to take the fall harder than needed. This lead to me […]

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Thought of the Week – Science on Twitter

In an attempt to blog more regularly, I will be trying to take one thing that I read or came across in the past week or so and writing something about it. I am going to kick off this series with something from twitter, asked by @JacquelynGill: If you follow someone for science, does whether they tweet personal things make you more or less inclined to follow them?#themeinmedia My take on this is simple: Organisations should be impersonal, people are, well, people. To elaborate: If you are tweeting on behalf of an organisation, then you should only be tweeting about or for that organisation. Saying something like “The office is a bit haywire today, expect slow responses”, especially you are doing helpdesk type stuff is fine, in my view. On the other hand, posting links not related to your organisation’s field of interest should not be happening. This goes for humour or gossip or opinion. Why should, for example, a geological society care about Lance Armstrong having taken banned substances, or who won an Oscar (unless they were portraying a geologist, or something like that, I suppose). Both of those are simply recent news items, which are possibly of general interest, but […]

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Why Dinosaurs?

This may be a bit of a whiny post, but I am wondering about the prevalence of dinosaurs as the archtypical fossils. I mean, many small boys who have no inclination to learning anything can still rattle off a string of dinosaur names. Or at least they could when I was one. But why dinosaurs? They are not the only interesting fossilised things. Trilobites seem to be common, especially as tattoos, but beyond that there seems to be little variety. Why does no one talk about therapsids in the press? Why are pterosaurs and pre-dinosaurs like dimetrodon considered dinosaurs by many? Why are the many different non-dinosaur marine reptiles considered dinosaurs (mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, icthyosaurs &c)? I suspect part of it is due to the majority of US fossils (that I have heard of at least, feel free to correct me) being dinosaurs. This, combined with movies such as the Jurassic Park franchise, have brought them to the fore when considering fossils, in the same way as the dodo is the archtypical extinct animal due to direct human causes. In addition, there are some amazing fossils coming out of the fine-grained Jurassic- and Cretaceous-aged limestones that other fossils just can not hold […]

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Daves

This is a rather odd post, but bear with me. There are three Daves whom I have a great deal of respect for. I interact with one Dave fairly regularly, one had immense influence on me during my formative years and one I know only through the internet and do not interact with much, beyond an occasional e-mail. Looking at various similarities between them highlights some interesting things that I feel are worth talking more about. The most obvious one is that they are all creative, in different ways. Rather than merely consuming content, they create it. At least two make (some) money off this, the third does it simply for the love of it. Creating things, music, writing, whatever it is, is something that more people should try to do. Personally, I do some juggling and the occasional bit of writing (see exhibit A: this blog), but the creative approach to the Daves is something that they could probably not turn off if they tried. Secondly, they are all tolerant. Well, tolerant of most things. A big exception is intolerance. You are able to hold dissenting views to them, but back up why you think a certain way and […]

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