Category Archives: Rock On


What to ask a Rock

I’ve been poking around some geologists’ blogs and found this terrific post about a mystery rock. Diego wrote to Evelyn Mervine about a rock he had found. He wanted to know if she could tell him what kind of rock it is. The great thing about her response is the list of questions that she would ask of the rock.

Read the post and the comments to see how geologists think as they solve puzzles like this.

Another Balancing Act

I went away this past weekend for a private retreat after ScienceOnline2012. During some of the time I worked on balancing some rocks. These rocks are smooth, round, river rocks and are much more difficult to balance than the rocks I usually try to balance. I love the focus that it takes. I close my eyes and “feel” the weight of the rocks, move them until they “sink” into balance with gravity. Simple pleasures. Fleeting works of art (the wind or other vibrations will knock them over soon enough).

Looks simple... but there is only a small area of contact.

Here's the point of contact. Kind of like balancing two balls.


I write (although I wouldn’t consider myself a writer). I am supposed to write a good deal. Many of my projects are large. I am not a linear writer. In other words, I don’t start at the beginning and just keep going until I get to the end (and then edit, edit, edit). Instead, I visualize the entire project and see an outline or skeleton. As I find resources, material, quotes, literature and even websites that I need to include, I try to place them on an appropriate “hook” in the outline in my mind. This can get crazy. Especially if you are juggling several projects. So, I went on a search. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have an exceptional wordprocessor (Mellel, which, by the way, has a new update. Get it!) and I use InDesign for extensive design and layout work. But, that doesn’t help me when I am organizing thoughts and working on various parts of a project (typically out of linear order). So, the search eventually led me to an amazing application which is the subject of this post: Scrivener.

What is a scrivener?
Scrivener definition

But what is Scrivener?
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(A few of) Karyn’s Essential Non-Digital Tools

This collection was actually harder to compile than my digital tools list. I’ve decided to limit this short list to items that help keep me and my office stuff productive.

RadTech ScreenSavrz
This little piece of miracle cloth will keep everything that builds up on your laptop keyboard from getting on your display. Moisten the microfiber cloth and you can clean the display and case. Soaks up spills before they cause a nightmare situation. At $16.95, you can’t afford to be without it. I have the leopard skin version, but you have your choice of several solid colors too. While you are at the RadTech site, check out their Portectorz and maintenance items.

Post-it Brand Flags

I prefer the translucent flags and I use hundreds of them. I mark books, articles, notes. I like to write brief reminders on the flags. When I’m organized I will read a book and notate in different colors as I read (be sure to keep a color key for each book you mark), then I can easily go back and find what I need to type up quotes, citations, and ideas.

WaterField bags
Made in San Francisco, these laptop bags and gear pouches are outstanding. I use the VertiGo (Mambo Combo) and several of the Cableguy and Gear Pouches. Exquisite design and meticulous workmanship. Phenomenal customer service (truly). You may have to save up to afford a purchase, but you won’t have to buy something again for a very, very long time. If you like to keep your cables, cords, and accessories organized and at hand, this is a great option.

[Warning: Do not laugh] Isokinetics Ball Chair
You will have to trust me on this one. A real conversation starter. I sit at my computer for hours and hours at a time and often ended up with sore neck, shoulder, and back muscles. I needed something to help me improve my posture. This chair promotes “active sitting” and I love it.
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2 bits ain’t worth what it used to be

You might be living under a rock if you are unaware of all the financial woes of the last year. It is hard to find someone who is not directly affected (or has a friend/family member affected) by unemployment, housing issues, or a loss in the stock market. But even if you are aware, do you really understand what’s going on and how we got into (some of) this mess? The folks at NPR‘s This American Life have boiled down some of the issues and done a superb job of making very complicated systems understandable.

I recommend two episodes in particular. The first is an explanation of the housing/mortgage crisis (The Giant Pool of Money, May 2008) and the second is an explanation of the collapse of the banking system (Bad Bank, Feb 2009). Each episode is 60 minutes (well worth the time) but you can also download a transcript to read at your leisure.

If you like their ability to explain financial things, you should check out their blog, Planet Money, or their podcast.

Keep Reading (Hebrew, that is)

One of the greatest challenges after a few semesters of Biblical Hebrew is to maintain your skills. Even more critical is to improve your skills! The single most efficient way to maintain and increase your BH is to read! But too many folks never find a way to make that happen. While there are many suggestions I could make (and will in the future!), today I want to encourage you to use one tool that should be in your BH toolbox. What? You have misplaced your toolbox? Get another one started!
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